In Revelation 12:9 we learn of “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” He uses deception and trickery to take good people down the wrong road. The first place we see his sly ways is in Genesis 3:1, with Eve. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” The serpent tries to get the woman to question what God said. The serpent knew perfectly well that God said there was one tree they shouldn’t eat of. It wasn’t that God was never going to let them eat of it; it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and as we see later, they just weren’t prepared for that knowledge yet. But the serpent was doing his best to make it seem that God wasn’t quite as wonderful as Eve thought He was. The devil was trying to bend her thinking.
What did Eve do with Satan’s sly question? That’s what I want to talk about: She responded. First Big mistake! She actually didn’t have to respond at all. She could have just told the serpent she wasn’t going to talk to him. When I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of my jobs was acting secretary for the financial minister of the Witwatersrand University. My duties included answering his phone calls. I was to tell everyone that he would not be taking calls for the next three months, but I could take their number if they’d like to leave one. I was shocked! He was right there in the office, but he wasn’t going to take any phone calls for three months. Before this, I never even thought anyone could dare to do such a thing. I grew to think it was pretty awesome.
When I quit the religious group I was ordained under, they sent me several letters. I read the first one and then threw away all the rest, unopened, after that. I knew my decision to leave was the right one for me, so I didn’t need to see anything they had to say in the letters.
In 2 Kings 18 the evil king Sennacherib wanted to capture Judah. He sent a messenger to badger the people with words to make them respond first, then be afraid and give up. But King Hezekiah of the Israelites had been given revelation and already told the people, “Answer him not” (v. 36). And they didn’t and Sennacherib was unable to take any of the cities. Eve should have been more like the people under Hezekiah’s care.
How many times has someone asked you a stupid question and instead of telling them you aren’t going to talk to them, you get into a ridiculous conversation that goes absolutely nowhere, or worse, you get into a heated argument?
When the Apostle Paul gave instructions to Timothy on how to be a better minister for the Lord, he says, “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive” (2 Tim. 2:23-24). I just love that. Jesus doesn’t want us to get into foolish arguments. And we have the Spirit of the Lord in us. You and I both know when someone is asking a stupid question, or one that is intended to start up an argument, or “debate.” Is it really worth it? The answer is, “Only if the Lord tells you to go for it.”
We don’t have to have a polite conversation with a snake. We have Holy Spirit in us and we are smart enough to know when it’s not wise to respond.