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Taking Up Serpents
Among the signs following those who would believe his gospel, Christ Jesus named this one (Mark 16:18): "They shall take up serpents." The serpent is the Scriptural symbol of evil, and it is thus that it is introduced in the Bible, where it is pictured in the third chapter of Genesis as tempting Eve. In this allegory, which repeats creation on a limited, material level, the falsity of the physical senses and of the evil forces that influence mortals is set forth.
Eve's encounter with the serpent teaches that sin begins as rebellion against authority. The fruit of the tree of knowledge had been forbidden by the Lord God, but Eve succumbed to evil suggestion; she yielded to the serpent's temptation to be disobedient. Later she acknowledged her error in penitence. Explaining the meaning of this incident in the allegory, Mary Baker Eddy writes of Eve (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 533), "She has already learned that corporeal sense is the serpent."
Christian Science distinguishes between corporeal sense, or the five senses, and spiritual sense, both of which appear as elements of human consciousness. This Science makes it clear that corporeal sense is false consciousness and is cognizant only of matter and limitation; whereas spiritual sense is real consciousness and is cognizant only of God and His infinite creation of spiritual ideas. A fundamental objective of scientific Christianity is to separate false consciousness from real and to rule out the former on the basis of its utter spuriousness.
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