Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit;
his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon—the Destroyer.
Revelation 9:11, NLT
In Genesis 3:1-8, we get our first glimpse of Satan and how he works. Disguised as a snake, he slithers up to Eve and asks a question that will change everything: “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (v. 1b)
During the conversation that follows, Satan quickly and skillfully leads Eve (and eventually Adam) to destruction.
- He destroys trust by essentially calling God a liar. When Eve speaks of the consequence for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Satan dismisses it as a lie. “You won’t die!” (v. 4) Those three simple words were all it took to shake the foundation of trust in God. If He lied, He can’t be trusted.
- From there it’s a quick step to destroying the idea that God is good. Satan tells Eve that God lied about the death thing because He didn’t want them to be like Him. By keeping them from eating the fruit, God is holding out on them. If that’s true, how could He possibly be good?
- Once the fruit is eaten, we discover that Satan has successfully destroyed Adam and Eve’s innocence. “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.” (v. 7) Before eating the fruit, they had no idea that walking around naked could be shameful; now they can’t work fast enough to cover their nakedness.
- And worst of all, Satan achieves his ultimate goal by destroying the relationship between God and humans. After eating the fruit, the sound of God walking in the garden is no longer a delight to Adam and Eve. Instead, they hide because of their shame. Eventually, they are even kicked out of the garden, no longer privy to constant fellowship with God.
This first story of destruction sets up the rest of history. Disease, war, greed, power, divorce, abortion, death—all of these are part of Satan’s plan to destroy what God created. We look at the world around us and see things like human trafficking and ethnic cleansing and extreme poverty. Satan’s using it to discourage us, to make us wonder how God can be good or how we can trust Him. If that’s all we focus on, we will be left with no hope.
It’s not just the destruction of the world around us, though, that Satan uses for his plan. He works on destroying each of us as individuals, too. He reminds us of our shame to keep us paralyzed and afraid. He keeps us hiding in the dark, hiding away from God and His light. Because the only way to keep us walking with Satan is to destroy our relationship with God. He does it subtly and slowly, like a drip of water eroding a rock. Eventually, though, we’ve shut God out completely, giving up on trusting Him or His goodness.
Fortunately destruction is not the only force at work in this story.