Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. (Genesis 3:1)
Throughout history, Satan, or the devil, is usually portrayed as an ugly creature. Red or orange skin, the color of hot coals. Horns on the head. Pointy tail. The kind of creature from which you would avert your eyes. Kind of like the Grinch who stole Christmas. Yuck.
We must think all that hate and meanness and nastiness will make one ugly. It distorts and disfigures, twisting and contorting the body into something almost sub-human. And so certainly we will recognize evil when we see it. Surely we will be repulsed by its ugliness. Surely.
The ancients knew better.
The serpent that tricked Eve into disobedience wasn’t repulsive to her, though it would have been to me. I hate snakes. But that’s my own personal bias. I know people who think snakes are beautiful. Yuck.
No, the storyteller of Genesis knew that evil was crafty. The serpent told Eve exactly what she wanted to hear. It pointed out how that which was forbidden was actually beautiful, and good, and appealing. And Eve fell for it, hook, line and sinker.
This story isn’t about Eve, or gullible women, or any of the myriad ways we have twisted it to prop up our ridiculous patriarchy. It’s a story about evil, and how it can be crafty, and beautiful, and often tells us exactly what we want to hear whether what we want to hear is the truth or not.
Let this story be a caution to us. Be on guard against the craftiness of evil. Don’t let evil twist the Word of God into something self-serving, something that constricts life, something that turns us against one another. Remember the heart of Jesus’ teaching was a message of love, compassion, forgiveness and grace, not fear, anger, jealousy and resentment.
Evil IS ugly, but it is crafty enough to hide that ugliness and draw us in. We must keep near to God and hold fast to God’s Word so we don’t fall for its evil ways.