The rebellion of Satan is like the modern-day politician whose strategy is to bring down his election opponent through negative attack-ads, rather than through the presentation of a straightforward policy agenda that can be honestly and openly debated on its merits.
Satan actually has nothing constructive to offer. Satan has no positive agenda of his own. Satan cannot compete against God head-to-head in the arena of righteousness, holiness, and competence.
If Satan is to get the power and position that he covets, to be ruler of the universe in place of God, he will have to resort to devious and underhanded methods. Taking-on God straight-up is a losing proposition for Satan.
The temptation in the Garden of Eden is therefore a cleverly crafted deception and a lie about the character of God, not a commendable, honorable approach having substance that can be debated on common ground with the program of God.
What is so brilliantly deceptive, but so damnably evil, about the temptation in the Garden of Eden, is that the slander of God’s character by Satan carries with it the false presumption that Satan is thereby on an equal footing with God, without first having to establish Satan’s bona fide credentials for criticizing God.
Like the political candidate who skillfully uses negative attack-ads against his opponent, the mere presentation of a criticism, according to the higher moral fabric of the universe, automatically implies that the person making the criticism somehow has the qualifications and right standing to do so.
An elevated, good-natured, respectful to one’s opponent, fair-minded debate between opposing viewpoints belongs within the high moral plane of God’s world. Political candidates who critically scrutinize their opponent’s viewpoints at this elevated level are rightly considered to be engaging in commendable, constructive, and honorable pursuits of truth that will achieve good government and thereby benefit society.
The negative, spurious, and unfounded attack-ad character assassination of one’s political opponent as a successful campaign strategy, is a product of the sinful fallen nature of man, and is not a part of God’s world at all.
But an unscrupulous person can move up or down at will between these two levels of conduct, claiming the legitimacy of the higher-minded zone while actually engaging in the worst form of untruthful character assassination.
This is the subtlety of deception that Satan introduced into the world through his rebellion against God.
By questioning God’s underlying motives regarding Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit, Satan is presuming to place himself in the undeserved and unjustified high position of criticizing God. By questioning God’s character through this deceptive temptation, Satan is unilaterally elevating himself (through incredible pride, arrogance, and what the British would call “cheek”) up to an equal footing with God without even having to present his qualifications beforehand.
By deceptively playing the part of being a constructive critic within the higher zone of good-natured and fair-minded debate, Satan is granting himself the freedom to pass judgment upon the actions of God, which he is in no way qualified to do.
The willingness to ruthlessly attack a political opponent’s personal character with untrue and slanderous lies, while running for office, does not in any way establish a candidate’s own qualifications for becoming a good and effective public servant.
This is what is so damnably dishonest, dishonorable, and deceptive about Satan’s attitude and tactics.
We know from reading the New Testament that Satan hid behind the outwardly acceptable religious appearance of the first-century Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers, who eventually managed to instigate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
We know from history that Satan hid behind the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century, threatening dissenters and potential reformers with excommunication and the terrors of the Inquisition, until Martin Luther successfully began the Protestant Reformation.
We know that Satan is currently hiding behind all forms of liberalism, religious relativism, and worldly compromise within Christendom today. These modern forms of spiritual deception are just as difficult to uproot and overturn as these earlier challenges.