When the serpent began his conversation with Eve, he started by asking her how she understood what God had instructed them regarding the foods in the garden. He wanted her to think about what was behind the restraint. He wanted her to “appraise” God’s instructions to get her to evaluate or to question God’s restriction. After raising the question and getting what appears to be a reasonable answer, the serpent moves in with a bold-faced lie that contradicted what God said would be the consequence of disobedience, “You shall not surely die.” Then he moves in for the kill with a half-truth. In Genesis 3:5 the serpent tells Eve, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan’s tactic through the words of the serpent was to get Eve, and Adam with her, to question the good will of God towards them. I think of the restriction God gave Adam, thus to Eve and all mankind, to be one intended for their overall good. He put his arm around them, figuratively speaking, and pointed to the Garden and said, “I love you two very much and want only the best for you. This is all for you! Eat of all the trees in the Garden. But, because I love you and want only the absolute best for you, I must tell you about this one tree. You can eat of it! You are not robots because you are created in my image. But if you choose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the result will be devastating for you and all the generations that will come from you. I set before you life in all it’s fullest. It’s all yours. Choose life my beloved children and live forever. Trust me to only want the absolute best for you.” But Satan’s rebuttal is that God doesn’t really care about you and is keeping something good from you. If you eat of this tree your “eyes will be opened.” The implication is, if you eat this, you will see what I mean. It’s a good thing to know the difference between good and evil.

Satan’s claim is that they will lose their naivety and see the truth that God is hiding from them. He was telling them the truth in some sense. It was true that they would then know evil. Up to this point they have only known good. They would know what it is like to turn against the God that had only intended good for them. They would know the shame, fear, guilt and remorse that sin always brings.

Having your eyes opened to evil will make you something better than you are. The traditional interpretation of that is “God.” You will be like “God” himself. However some more recent scholarship is suggesting that the use of “Elohim” by Satan is not a reference of God himself, but to the “heavenly beings.” He’s telling Adam and Eve that they will be like the “Angels.” When the Psalmist explains in Psalm 8:5 that man was made “a little lower than ‘elohim’” it’s usually translated as “angels.” There are other passages where the word refers to angels also. If Adam and Eve were aware of the “heavenly beings” as the NIV translates this word, they might have desired to be like them. They would gain a knowledge that only the heavenly beings had. The reason this translation is possible is because of the last phrase “knowing good and evil.” It’s grammatical construction should be rendered as “those who know good and evil.” This could easily be understood to be “heavenly beings” (Angels) because they do know the difference, except that they always reject what is evil and choose what is good. Thus the half truth. You will know the difference but you will now become like the other “heavenly beings” who rebelled and fell. You will become like Satan and his horde. The wonder of this translations is that God makes provision through the promised Messiah to redeem the fallen humans. He made no such provision for the fallen angels. So, thus, Satan again was outsmarted by God.