Written by Cullen Allen
Have you ever been in a conversation that you wished you never started? We’ve all been there before. There’s a lady named Eve who found herself in a situation exactly like this. Maybe you have heard her story before? She got into a conversation with the devil about whether or not she should eat from the tree God forbade her and Adam to eat from (Genesis 3). The more she talked with the devil, the more convincing he sounded.
Genesis 3:5-6 NLT “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.”
Once Even entered into a conversation with the devil, she gave him an opportunity or foothold. Ephesians 4:27 says, “for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” The Greek word for “foothold” (topos) refers to an actual, defined place or location. In fact when it’s used in many other places in the NT it’s used in the context of a location.
A “foothold” (place in our lives) isn’t only given to the enemy through anger/bitterness, but it can also be given in other ways as well. When Eve began to engage in conversation with the devil, she opened up a place/opportunity for him in that moment. The word (topos) can also mean “opportunity, power, occasion for acting.” So Eve gave the devil an opportunity, power and an occasion for acting. She actually empowered him by engaging in conversation with him.
This empowerment resulted in her being very interested in the way the fruit looked and the possibility for her to be as wise as God (according to the devil). The more she looked at it and considered its appeal, the more she was convinced she should eat it – which she eventually did, along with Adam.
There is a right way and a wrong way to battle the devil. We are never told to engage in “conversation” with the devil in Scripture. “Conversation” often includes too much consideration of what he is offering or the opportunity for some type of compromise that may be in front of us (dwelling on the inappropriate images, letting our mind consider all the possible outcomes of financial disaster if money doesn’t arrive on time, letting frustration brew by recounting the situation again and again, worrying to the point that we’re depressed, etc, etc..). When we engage in “conversation” like that, it’s a recipe for disaster. We are giving the devil an opportunity and a place to act in our lives. We are empowering him. Then the point of compromise seems so probable or attractive that we end up acting on it in some way. We end up “eating the fruit” just like Eve and her husband. How did that go for them? Not very well. It will always go the same way for us.
Instead of engaging in “conversation” with the enemy, we should use the authority that Jesus has given us to forbid and resist the devil from having any place. James 4:7 says, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
This is what Jesus did when the devil tempted him. He didn’t engage the devil in conversation, but instead he resisted him with Scripture. That’s exactly what we need to do. If we do anything other than that, then we are giving the devil a “place and opportunity.” Then when we give that place, the appeal to worry, act wrongly, harbor anger, cling to the worst case scenario, etc., grows and takes root in our lives.
James 1:14-15 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
The fruit always looks attractive. We can easily convince ourselves it will be satisfying, that we deserve it, that it will bring us comfort, or a thousand other possibilities. But the truth is, it always ends in some kind of destruction.
If you don’t engage in conversation, then you won’t eat the fruit.
Cullen Allen has served on the Allison Park Church staff for more than 20 years. He currently serves as Executive Pastor. He and his wife Shelley have three teenage boys. In his spare time, Cullen enjoys biking and spending time with his family.