And then Genesis 3 happens. Eve is tempted (and lied to) by the serpent, and she partakes of the forbidden fruit, then shares in that sin with her husband. We know the rest of the story: their eyes are opened, they hide from God, and they are banished from the garden as well as cursed and plagued with a death they weren't designed for.
From Eve, the mother of all creation, there are some valuable lessons we can learn.
1: Sin ruins relationships.
Eve's relationship with God and with Adam was perfect. And yet, the first thing that happens after partaking of the fruit: Adam and Eve are hiding from God, and are then deceptive by not offering up why they are hiding and how they know they're naked. Deceit is an ugly characteristic for a relationship, and yet after this initial sin has taken place, that is exactly the characteristic Eve implements into her relationship with God. As for Adam, he immediately blames Eve for his sin. We know that blame and resentment are divisive components of a relationship, and yet this is how this first married couple are now treating each other. All because of this newly introduced sin.
When we let sin into our hearts and relationships, it ruins them. Truly the Deceiver recognizes that strong, godly relationships are a great asset to salvation. That is why he does his best to ruin them! He tempts us with bad attitudes, harsh words, and blame. He tempts us to be deceitful and hurtful. These things ruin relationships: relationships between parents and children, relationships between friends, relationships between husband and wife, and even relationships within the body of Christ.
Why is it that we often hurt those the closest to us? Why is it we have the worst attitudes with them? Perhaps it is because we let our guard down. We stop trying to 'impress' and 'be on our best behavior', and instead we start letting Satan creep in a little at a time. We must guard our relationships from Satan, because he is divisive and aims to tear people apart.
2: Sin has progression.
Why is it that Eve is tempted to partake of the forbidden fruit? Had she been staying as far away from the tree as possible, would she have likely been tempted to partake? Or does it seem to you as it does me that Eve was inching closer and closer to the tree, getting as close as she could without actually involving herself in the sin. Perhaps she only wanted to look upon the fruit, or maybe even smell the fruit. Perhaps she just wanted to see what all this fruit fuss was about! Regardless, Satan gets to her because she has availed herself to such a temptation.
Psalm 1:1 tells us, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful" The progression of sin is a very real and present threat to us! As soon as we start walking past it, we're tempted to stand right in the middle of it (though still not 'partaking'), and yet, before we realize, we're sitting down in the midst of all of the wickedness and are sharers in it.
Satan gets to us inch by inch. He makes us believe that certain things are ok, when really they are evil and wicked, and we are just lessening them in our heads to justify our actions! For example: will Satan ever be able to make us fall into the temptation of drunkenness if we never take the first sip? Will Satan ever be able deceive us into being involved in sexual immorality if we have fled from even the appearance of such? Will Satan be able to lure us into lusting after the flesh if we will stop ourselves from going into those movies (Magic Mike?) or buying those books (50 shades of whatever?) or pinning those pictures of actors (onto an "mmmm!!" board, really?). If we will distance ourselves from the appearance of sin, we will be less likely to fall into such a temptation.
Had Eve stayed as far away from that tree as possible, would it have been as easy for Satan to bait her like he did? The same goes for us. Don't be easy bait for Satan. Stay as far away from 'the line' as possible.
3: Women have a huge influence over the men in their lives.
Was it very difficult for Eve to convince Adam to sin with her? It doesn't appear so. We know from history and even our own experiences that men tend to behave the ways they do in order to impress women. In high school and college, for example, the boys tended to dress a certain way and talk a certain way and participate in certain things to garner the attention of the females. They bathed regularly and wore cologne and dressed to the nines so that the females around them would notice.
With great power, ladies, comes great responsibility.
We have the ability to make or break the men in our lives. And so, if you are in the dating pool, make the boys/men around you behave a certain way. Require the guy you date to pray before the meal you share together. Require that he open doors for you. *As a side note, if the boy doesn't respect you enough to open a door for you, chances are he won't respect you enough to not touch you inappropriately or speak to you in certain ways.* We have the ability to make the men around us better, or worse, depending on what our expectations are.
Now, does that mean we should all have unrealistic expectations for the men in our lives? Absolutely not. But it does mean that we should require a degree of godliness in the men we are around. We should praise the boys in our youth group who lead singing or pray before the congregation. We should not give the time of day to the boys who cut up and text during Bible class or worship. We should praise the boys for seeking out wholesome, modest girlfriends, instead of tearing those girls down and making fun of them for dressing 'weird'. We should praise the boys for acting mature and including the smaller boys in the youth group, instead of acting put out by the immature children hanging around.
We can make a difference in our lives and the lives of the boys/men around us if we will not settle for less than God expects.