He beguiles Eve (she admits this). He says that eating the fruit won’t be fatal. False. He says that eating the fruit will make Adam and Eve into Gods. False. He says they can hide from God. Wrong. He says that mortality will make us wise. Not so’s you’d notice. He excuses himself to God by saying that he was only doing what’s been done before. As if he’s just a loyal functionary making sure the smooth celestial routine rolls on right. Which he isn’t.
There are other instances of deceit. They are subtler. I didn’t notice them until recently.
First, the devil wears clothing that symbolically is an assertion of priesthood authority, i.e., of valid authorization to act in God’s name. Second, he gets Adam and Eve to put on clothes to conceal their flesh. We don’t usually think of clothes as a form of deceit, but of course they are. My outer skin is not really a flexible, shuckable, colorful weave, and neither is yours. Clothing conceals. Third, and worse, the garb our first parents make resemble’s Satan’s. It also symbolically asserts authority, in other words. Authority, needless to say, that they don’t have.
But once you realize that these clothes are a deception, as I did, you have a puzzle. God doesn’t unravle these deceptions. Instead, Jehovah makes more clothes for the outcast pair. This act–those clothes–even the clothing that Adam and Even make for themselves–are part of the temple clothing. God has not undone the deception of clothing by returning us to nudity. Instead, He made clothes part of our sacred identity. He didn’t unravel the lies. He made them truths.
He made them all truths. He gave the authority that the garb symbolically implied. He makes Satan’s actions part of the plan. He makes us wise. He overcame death for us. He will make us Gods.
The only lies Satan tells that hold up are the threats and gloatings that he meant to be true. These alone God makes into lies.
There are a few phrases that are so true that they have the force of incantations and bywords. They come to mind now:
The only way out is through.
You can’t go home again.
No man can step in the same river twice.
The deep meaning of the Atonement is that you can never escape history. You can only embrace it so fully that you master it. That, it turns out, is also the deep meaning of the creation story.
Today our Sunday School lesson was on David and Bathsheba, the adulterers who begat Solomon, and Christ.