A Talking Serpent

The third chapter of Genesis is of profound interest to the student of Christian Science, who gathers from it wonderful lessons by the aid of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." On page 529 of this book we find the story of the temptation as given in Genesis, then follows the question, "Whence comes a talking, lying serpent to tempt the children of divine Love?" It is noteworthy that at the beginning of this interview with the serpent the woman signified at least a desire to be obedient to the divine command to abstain from the knowledge of evil, or from a supposed blending of good and evil. It is made clear that no such blending is to be found in the fruit of the tree of life, and this fact should never be forgotten. In his first epistle Peter says, "He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." In the allegory in Genesis we find that Eve disobeyed the divine command the very moment she listened to the suggestion of the serpent, to the effect that God's word was not final, then she proceeded to repeat the offense of the serpent by tempting another as she had been tempted, by passing on the lie about God and man.

The literal interpretation of this Bible story has led mortals to believe that women are more prone to temptation through the ear and tongue than are men, even so good a man as St. Paul evidently holding against them this impeachment; but the question is so vital that it cannot be confined to one sex, and in Genesis we find that the terrible rebuke of Truth was directed to the talking serpent, not to either man or woman. The curse directed to the serpent, however, becomes a blessing to the whole race as its deep significance is seen: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," and the attached promise that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. The woman was told that because she had listened to the serpent her sorrow would be greatly multiplied, nor was Adam exempt from this penalty; but the remedy is clearly outlined in Science and Health (p. 529), where we read of the revelation which will "reinstate reality, usher in Science and the glorious fact of creation, that both man and woman proceed from God and are His eternal children, belonging to no lesser parent."

The great lesson to be learned from this allegory in Genesis is the importance of direct and intelligent obedience to divine law, and this requires us to turn away promptly from the talking serpent which pretends to "make one wise" by a knowledge of evil. The example of our Master in his dealing with the tempter cannot be too closely followed. He promptly met the suggestions of the devil, the carnal mind, with direct and positive statements of truth, and from the victory then gained he went on to do the healing work which is the very foundation of the world's salvation. The tempter left Jesus because he could not be tempted; then "angels came and ministered unto him,"—an experience which will be ours as often as we turn away from the talking serpent. If we parley with this enemy of God and man, we shall lose our priceless birthright of dominion and have multiplied sorrows and disappointments.

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Refuge in God
June 26, 1915

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