“Eve, my dear, we’ve been conned”

I doubt Adam actually said those words, because he wouldn’t have known what a con trick was. But when the creepy serpent lied, Adam wasn’t fooled (1 Timothy 2:14). He knew the serpent was lying. He was the first human to recognize a scam. 

And it’s telling what the scam was, because the serpent told Adam and Eve that eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would not kill them. In other words, the fruit was “perfectly safe.”  

And that was all it took for Eve to eat it, just the word of a serpent saying it was safe. No actual evidence offered that it wouldn’t kill them; no analysis given on the possible side effects of eating the fruit; and certainly no mention of any long term consequences of eating it either. Just eat the fruit, dear, and you’ll be fine. And not just fine, Eve, it’s going to make you feel very wise and god-like eating it as well (Genesis 3:5-6). 

It was quite the claim. Outrageous some might call it, because the serpent was offering no proof that what he was saying was true. So it was a huge risk accepting what he said. But all he had to do was make a claim without any liability on his part for possible adverse effects and injuries – and Eve fell for it. And so did Adam, even when he knew they were being conned. 

And this really concerned Paul, because he recalls this story when talking to a group of Christians. “I’m afraid,” he writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray” as well. You mean, Christians can be just as gullible as Eve was?

In Paul’s experience the answer to that was “Yes,” because he’d seen to his dismay that if an obviously questionable message was preached in Corinth “you put up with it easily enough,” verse 4. And that disturbed Paul, because they did nothing about it. They just sat quietly taking it all in, and like Eve they accepted it. It may even have made them feel proud accepting it too (as in 1 Corinthians 5:2). 

And that was worrying for Paul, because if anyone should be sharp and on their toes and have red flags popping up on hearing disinformation (false information deliberately meant to deceive), it would be Christians. Paul was jolly pleased with the Berean church, therefore, because whenever he spoke there “they searched the Scriptures day after day to see if what Paul said was true,” Acts 17:11.

No lazy learners there. They did their homework, and they weren’t influenced by peer pressure either. They stood their ground – unlike the Thessalonians in verses 5-9.

It wasn’t only Paul who was worried, though, because the author of Hebrews had also noticed a connection between Christians drifting away (Hebrews 2:1) and their lack of interest in learning (Hebrews 5:11-13). He then contrasted that in Hebrews 5:14 to Christians who’d made it their practice to ferret out what was true and what was fake. These were Christians, in other words, who knew their stuff, because like the Bereans they were checking everything out, not just blindly accepting it.     

“Checking things out,” then, sounds like a great antidote to being conned. And especially in a world like ours with its present brood of serpents peddling their utopian fantasies. 

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