If I asked you ‘Who committed the first murder in the Bible,’ you would likely say, ‘It was Cain when he murdered Able.’ But you would be wrong. Subsequently, you would quickly try to recall any murders before Cain and Able and come up empty. Then you might ask yourself who was alive before Cain and Able and come up with Adam and Eve, but they were alive then, so they couldn’t be murder victims. Or could they?
Let’s consider this matter in light of a statement Jesus made regarding murder and its original perpetrator. According to Jesus, the devil was “a murderer from the beginning,” 1 yet we do not find any mention of the devil or Satan in the account of Cain and Able. Cain did murder Able, but they came after the beginning, bringing us back to Adam, Eve, and a serpent.
Returning to the Genesis account, once God finished the creation, He put man in the Garden of Eden with only one restriction, “but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 2 Soon after, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. But they didn’t die when they ate it. They did come to know good and evil, as Satan had said through the serpent. Perhaps this obtained knowledge of good and evil had allowed Adam and Eve to do something to escape the death warned of by God, which we are not privy to. No, that didn’t happen.
Something is missing between God’s warning, “You will surely die,” and the devil’s assurance, “You will not surely die,” because they didn’t die when they ate the fruit. We must investigate to find out what’s missing between these two statements. Jesus plainly says the devil “was a murderer from the beginning.” So, who did Satan murder? He murdered all of humanity, and Adam and Eve were his first victims. The first murder took place the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
“You shall surely die” means something slightly different in Hebrew than modern English. When we think of you shall surely die and murder, we think of death taking place then and there. Yet neither Adam nor Eve died at the moment they ate the fruit. In Hebrew, “you shall surely die” more is accurately rendered ‘in dying, you shall die, ‘ or ‘you are doomed to die.’ They didn’t physically die right away, but from that moment on, death began. It was fait accompli, an accomplished fact -an irreversible act. Just as with us today. We begin to die the moment we take our first breath. We are born into this world only to mature and eventually die.
Death is not always instantaneous, but it is inevitable. Dead man walking is a cold modern cliché that reminds us of this fact, born out in those sentenced to die or those who have received the news of a terminal illness. Adam and Eve would surely die, and the devil murdered them.
What is so sinister about this particular murder is Adam and Eve would pass death on to every succeeding generation. The devil managed to kill mankind by murdering the parents of all mankind. “Sin entered the world through one man and death by sin.”3Hence, death is passed on from one generation to the next. Since the first man and woman corrupted themselves, their offspring would inherit the same corruption.
Sin is the slow-acting cancer that seals the doom of man and all humanity. But how was this accomplished, and what was the first murder weapon? Satan murdered Adam and Eve via a lie. Just as Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Satan didn’t need to harm them physically; he used a lie to get them to kill themselves! To this point, Adam and Eve did not know about lying. They did not know good and evil. Like children, Adam and Eve only knew obedience and warning without understanding the reasons behind them. Satan took advantage of this innocence and used something previously unknown to Adam and Eve, the lie, to accomplish murder.
Their belief in this lie caused their self-destruction and their death sentence through the act of disobedience. Since disobedience and obedience cannot abide together with God, disobedience creates a wall of separation between man and God. They cannot co-exist amicably in the spirit. The same is true regarding truth and lies. If you mix truth and lies, it becomes a lie, for the lie pollutes the truth and is no longer absolute. And since God is sovereign, any mixture of truth and lies necessitates a separation.
In today’s world, the co-existence of truth and lying, as well as obedience and disobedience, is commonplace. And we spend much of our lives trying to sort between the two. We all possess the knowledge of good and evil from birth but still have difficulty choosing between them, even at a very early age. The knowledge of good and evil is of little worth without a relationship with God, and this tells us the murder the devil committed is possibly two-fold. Both physical and spiritual. Physical death is assured, with the possibility of spiritual death.
It wasn’t the knowledge of good and evil that separated man from God; it was disobedience. The knowledge of good and evil is of little worth without the wisdom and experience to use it. And since wisdom’s origin is belief in God and all that belief entails,4 the knowledge of good and evil is worthless without that belief, resulting in eternal separation from God, and this separation is the second death.
Satan knew this and used a lie to get Adam and Eve to kill themselves, and it worked. The first human couple would pass this disease of sin on to every succeeding generation. Death would forever pursue humanity. Fait accompli.
Sin, which at its core is disobedience, permeates our lives in many ways, both physically and spiritually. It infects and distorts every fiber of man’s being. Cain murdering Able is a summation of, and the end result of, this infection. The result was choosing evil over good, even though Cain knew both. Both brothers had the opportunity to fellowship with God. Still, Cain became jealous of Able and allowed this jealousy to become physical, resulting in murder, with strong indications it was premeditated murder, the willing choice of evil over good, and consequences be damned.
If we go back just a bit and take another look at the Genesis story, we will see that God doesn’t pronounce a curse on Adam. There is much to learn from this chapter of Genesis, but I only want to glean two things from it because they have a bearing on our subject. The first is God didn’t directly curse man. Why? Because God sought to redeem man from the deception of the father of lies.
Secondly, there was no need to curse man; he cursed and condemned himself by disobeying God. Satan had managed to get the highlight and delight of God’s creation to murder himself, thereby creating the separation between man and God that continues to exist today. Satan was jealous of man, just as Cain was jealous of Able. God’s communion with man, expressed in ‘walking in the Garden in the cool of the day,’ was no more. Yet, God chose to redeem man, but redemption required payment because of God’s sovereignty. A payment man could not make on his own behalf because of his corruption. It would take the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God to meet the required debt.
So, how is it that a lie was so effective as a murder weapon? Satan used the lie to appeal to man’s animal instinct. Eve “saw the tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes.” 5 Fishermen use lures; hunters bait fields and traps to appeal to instinct and seal the fate of every species that succumbs to it.
This duality of nature is the battleground between instinct and knowledge. Once the spirit and flesh become intertwined, they can never again be separated except by the death of one of the two. One would need to die to save the other. The world of metaphysics is, in essence, the struggle between the spirit and the flesh and how the actions of one affect the other—a battle in which understanding of good and evil would forever find itself in the midst. Man will forever use the knowledge of good and evil for self-preservation and self-harm.
How many times do we allow our lusts to lead us to disobey? We know what we are about to do is wrong and do it anyway. In this, we are committing the same mistake Adam and Eve committed. They knew not to disobey and did it anyway. We know it’s wrong and do it anyway, illustrating this ongoing war.
Every time we surrender to our lusts, we die a little faster. We accelerate the journey to death. Lust and animal instinct are only concerned with the now. Instinct has no regard or consideration for the future, only satisfaction from fulfilling a current desire, eliminating consequence from the equation. The more we surrender to lust, to animal instinct, the less the knowledge of good and evil has any worth in the governing of our lives. Knowing does not equal doing. Satan knew all of this and used a lie to stir up man’s animal instinct. Thus, the lie became a weapon of self-destruction.
We possess more scientific knowledge than any previous generation, yet we seem unable to choose right from wrong. We seem able to apply logic to scientific matters but discard logic in matters of good and evil or life and death. One need only look at the climbing suicide rate. Suicide does not have any ethnic or age boundaries. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t know or hear of someone who has taken their own life. Some are for reasons we know of, yet we are left with why with many others. Few plan suicide; most suicides are spontaneous, but all are victims of the lie that there is no hope.
Adam and Eve would forever regret the choice they made that day. Still, death was sure to come. There is little information on how Adam and Eve behaved after their expulsion from the Garden, but the Bible hints at their actions to regain their lost relationship with God. They lived long lives. The Bible tells us Adam lived for 930 years. 6 But they nor their offspring could escape death. Satan had accomplished his mission by killing man, but God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, made a way to redeem mankind. The flesh, forever infected by sin, would not be saved. But man’s spiritual being could survive.
And just as Adam and Eve willingly chose to disobey God, they would be required to willingly choose this new life—a new spiritual life, unencumbered by the certainty of physical death. We can all have this by being partakers of the Tree of Life. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is our tree of life.
John 8:44 tells us how closely intertwined lying and murder can be. Why is a lie so damaging? A lie is a spiritual matter. If someone lies to you, you may not know it’s a lie, but by believing it and acting on it, consequences follow. Remember, Adam and Eve were unaware they were being lied to but suffered the consequences anyway. This scenario gives us a glaring revelation of how important truth and the pursuit of truth are.
Our lives suffer when we discover we’ve been lied to. It shakes our faith in everyone and everything. Once lied to, we hesitate to trust anyone or anything ever again. And sadly, this extends to our trust in God. The lie is such an effective murder weapon. So many live lives today which are empty and meaningless because they no longer trust. A lie has robbed them of some or any joy.
The most despairing result of a lie is it can rob us of all hope. We forever feel there is nothing worth living for. There is no one left to believe in. There is nothing worth putting forth an effort for. This self-imposed sentence of doom from losing hope keeps many from living to their potential. They have given up, erasing their future by discarding hope.
So many times, Jesus tells us, in one form or another, ‘believe in me’ and ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ to convince us that hope is not lost. Hope is not just a part of our past but is ever present and provides us with the strength to replace what lies of life have taken from us. Hope carries us into the next life where doubt has no sway, and the lie has no part in our existence. Our gracious God made a way for us to overcome sin and death. Satan has succeeded in murdering man physically. Do not allow a lie to kill you spiritually as well. God has put forth the means of our redemption and pronounced doom to the devil in one verse. “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal.”7
Satan caused significant damage to God’s creation and will ultimately pay for it with his being. God simultaneously restored hope for man and took hope away from our adversary, affording us another lesson about the weapon of the lie. It affects the teller as well as the recipient. A two-edged sword in the hand of its wielder. Every lie you tell damages you just as much as those who hear and believe it.
You cannot dwell in truth and lie at the same time. Only one can exist if we expect to live in God’s will. We must choose to take up the truth and put away the lie. Only then can we understand faith. Hope empowers us, doubt defeats us, and hope in Christ never disappoints. Before Jesus declared who the first murderer was in John 8:44, He begins by pointing out, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.”
Which brings us to the question, who is your father? Is your father the devil, the first murderer? Do you wield the same weapon the devil does? Or is your father the giver of life? Your father is who you follow and whose desires you seek to fulfill. Don’t become a murderer or a victim. Choose this day which father you will be a child of.