Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

Each sin you commit involves compromise. The same is not always true for an unsaved person. His sin may involve compromise if his word, deed, or thought violates his conscience. In the believer’s life, since you are owned by the Lord and you have been freed from the tyranny of sin, you have a real choice whether to sin or not. You do not have to sin. But choosing to sin diminishes the work of God in your life and is active disobedience to your Lord. Choosing to sin is most definitely a compromise!

Though sin is not a person it may be personified because believers still retain the old nature; though it is crucified, it still whispers to us from the cross. Until the rapture we will have to contend with our fallen nature. The sin nature will always have a voice while we are on this side of eternity.

Recognizing the stratagem of your sin nature is crucial for your victory in the battle. In Genesis we are treated to sin’s first entrance into the story of the human race. Sin invaded with the discourse between Satan and Eve, recorded for us in Genesis 3.

The first truth to be seen in our text is that man is not a product of his environment, as social gospel adherents would have you believe. Adam and Eve existed in a state of untested innocence. They had one command to obey: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16f). It was pretty simple living for Adam and Eve. Herein is the truth about holiness: when we complicate God’s simplicity in instruction and in His prescriptions for obedience we are driving onto a road which has few exits. There is an Occam’s razor aspect to godly obedience in just about every situation. William of Ockham is attributed with the idea that “Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity.” Regarding obedience to the Lord, the simpler path to obedience is usually the best choice. As the old preachers used to say, “When in doubt, don’t.”

Eve should have held to that principle. Satan approached her in the form of a serpent. He cast doubt on God’s goodness. When you compare what Satan said to God’s actual words you recognize the subtle perniciousness of evil. His first words were, “Has God said?” He questioned the source, God, the Creator. We know that saving faith is taking God at His Word. His Word is His self-revelation. When He says something, we need to obey. The nature of sin is to question the Source of truth.

The nature of sin is also to maximize the restrictions that God places in His Word: “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” How unfair! Look how much you cannot do because God has arbitrarily kept all this goodness from you! Satan was encouraging Eve to substitute the frailty of reason for definitive revelation. Revelation is final. Sin would have you reason with God, and puts you on the road to compromise with sin.

When Eve began to reason with Satan we discover that she was outmatched. In Genesis 3:4f she said, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” She sounds almost annoyed. She reported incorrectly, perhaps even exaggerated, what God had revealed. Hidden in her own words we discover that her reasoning led to minimizing the consequences (“lest you die” rather than “shall surely die”).

Casting subtlety aside, Satan contradicted God and minimized the consequences of sin, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Observe that your sin nature is emboldened when you open a discourse with it. Sin’s pretenses quickly fade after you allow its foot in the door of your heart. Sin not only questions the Source, but sin questions the truth.

You see, sin exaggerates the restrictions of God’s truth and minimizes the consequences of violating His truth; sin also mislabels itself. Instead of revealing itself as disobedience, it masquerades as virtue in its own murky light. Satan said, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Sin questions the justice of God.

Once you allow the mislabeling, you are only a hair’s breadth from the act of compromise. Sin makes you reason such that you begin to mix good and evil (“She saw… good for food”), mingle sin with beauty (“pleasant to the eyes”) and become enamored by false promises (“desirable to make one wise”). Sounds strangely familiar to our New Testament ears when we consider 1 John 2:15 and James 1:12–15.

Every act of sin is a compromise with evil (2 Corinthians 6:14–16). Familiarize yourself with the strategy of sin in order to better be on your guard against it. Trust and obey.