Persuasive strategy is a topic that has always fascinated me.
Persuasion is the art of crafting a message that “provides information that will motivate others to do or believe something you want them to do or believe, or to do or believe something with more vigor than at the present” [C. Gruner, Essentials of Public Speaking, 1993].
Pastor John Bevere poses an important question in chapter two of his book Good or God?.
How did Satan persuade Eve to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
What was his persuasive strategy?
On the face of it, it is amazing that Adam and Eve ate the fruit. They had the perfect life. All the food they could ever want. No work to do to make a living. They lived in the most beautiful setting imaginable. They had peace and tranquility. No sickness. Wow, who would want to alter that type of lifestyle?
Yet they were motivated to make a change, or rather [at first] Eve was motivated to make a change.
First of all, Satan employed a persuasive technique that is still powerful today. Eve may have been operating with unclear thinking about the tree. In a previous post I elaborated on the idea that she felt the “tree” was off limits for fruit and also for touching. God really did not say anything to Adam about touching the tree. His command was all about eating fruit from the tree.
But Satan took that very extreme command about eating and touching and made a big deal out of it. In reality, Eve really had it all. She truly was living a perfect life but amazingly she thought what she had was not enough. Today, we may not live in the Garden of Eden but many of us have a lot going right in our lives [aka “blessings”]. How easy it is for us to ignore the blessings and focus on what we think we lack.
Television advertising uses this strategy all the time. We see products displayed in seductive settings with gorgeous people. We think about our lives and we compare what we have to what we see on the screen. We may have pretty nice lives but we don’t have what is being displayed. What do we need to do about this?
All we have to do is . . . buy the product.
Satan got Eve to ignore all her ample blessings and think that fruit from the forbidden tree would make her life better. He got her to focus on what she lacked.
Then Pastor Bevere explains part two of Satan’s persuasive strategy: he negates the Word of God. In Genesis 3: 4-5, it says “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’”.
What can we make of this statement? Satan is implying that God knows something that He is withholding from Adam and Eve. God does not want the couple to experience life on a higher level. Eve thinks God is holding out on them. He wants them to stay right where they are when their life could even be better.
What is going on? Satan is making Eve question the character of God. This strategy is designed to undermine values. Pastor Bevere “recreates” Eve’s changing thought process: “Wait a minute. There’s something good and beneficial in that tree, and God’s forbidden it. My husband and I could have a better life. We could be wiser and happier, but it’s being withheld. I thought our Creator was loving and gracious, but in reality, He’s deceptive. He’s hiding something good from us.”
There it is: “I thought our Creator was loving and gracious…He’s deceptive. He’s hiding something.”
God’s character is perfect but for one moment Eve thought otherwise.
Eve doubted and Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.
Second Corinthians 4:18 says we must “fix our attention, not on the things that are seen, but on things that are unseen.”
Satan got Eve to take her eyes off of the prize, off of the perfect situation she had. She focused on what she lacked. Then she let Satan suggest that God’s character was less than perfect and for one moment she believed that.
Those strategies were enough.
And sin came into our world.