Whenever my sister and I were playing games when we were kids, she always had to win no matter the cost. I was too young to read the instructions of the game and so my older sister took advantage of this detail and made up her own rules just so it was harder for me to win.
Her ways of winning were as colourful as they were varied. Either the snakes and ladders board got flipped up into the air and the game was ended because the next roll of the dice landed my sister on the big, long snake that sent her counter down the board and back to the start, or she barters with me like a market seller if my top hat (I, of course, lost the argument over who was having the dog) landed on Park Lane or Mayfair in Monopoly.
The rule was, that only older sisters were the ones who could buy Park Lane and Mayfair on the board, and I believed it. You may smile, but when we choose to delve into deceitful, cheating, made up, add-on rules just so we can win, playing games makes us lose something far more important in the long run.
Genesis chapter 3 is the moment Eve played a dangerous game in the garden with a highly-skilled, calculating, shrewd player, whose careful set-up was designed for us all to fail so we lost everything. The player’s name was, Lucifer, and his add-on rule whilst playing games with Eve determined the course of history.
“Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?” “No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the centre of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.” Genesis 2-3 (The Voice)
Notice the same pattern? Like my younger self, Eve didn’t remember the instruction, she didn’t ask questions about this new ‘add-on’ rule. So, she unwittingly helped the serpent along by adding her own rule, by saying they were not to even touch the fruit of the forbidden tree.
As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details” and his opening line of, “Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?” was a premeditated, cold-blooded rule the serpent added on which became the hinge that opened the door to Eve’s vulnerability, so she then added on her spin to God’s instruction too.
This is how Satan works and he hasn’t changed tactics. He spins lies so we end up tangled up in all the add-on rules that God never said. Another saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” What deceived Eve still works on us today.
God said that only one tree was off-limits. Seems reasonable considering there were probably hundreds of fruit trees they were allowed to eat in the garden of Eden. It wasn’t that God was keeping something from them, He was protecting them. But that’s the game Satan plays.
Ironically, the thing about playing games is while we’re playing, we cannot allow ourselves to become vulnerable enough to admit that we didn’t read the instructions properly, that we didn’t take the time to carefully go through how it all works, so we help Satan out by adding on more rules just like Eve.
Religion doesn’t like all those feelings of vulnerability, so it makes things up about God’s nature which causes us to hide from God and cover-up all our mistakes with the inadequate fig leaves of add-on rules, instead of allowing God to cover our sin with His love.
Satan always turns our attention to the restrictions that God puts in place rather than God’s loving nature and protection. Perhaps this is why so many people decide not to become Christ-followers? Playing the game of stuffy religion with its rulebook of regulations can be a little off-putting.
I get it.
But God never wanted you to follow an add-on, rule-keeping religion, He just wanted a relationship with you. One that is built on trust. Playing games and adding on more rules God never spoke is what Satan does best. “Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you.” (Genesis 3:4) Isn’t it amazing how the slippery, lying, cheating, serpent, who has no truth in him, dared to say that God was playing games? The fact of the matter was that he was the one playing games!
But the truth within this story is something we need to see clearly. Playing games with the devil is something we should never do. He is the Father of lies and there is no truth in him (John 8:44) and he’ll add on so many rules to the game you’re playing with him that you’ll be deceived. This is why Jesus said, “It is written” when He had an encounter with Satan in Matthew chapter 4. He quoted straight out of the Bible, and we should too when we encounter that old slippery serpent.
So, take my advice, God never has and never will play games with you because He loves you too much. And if you feel you’re a little hazy on the instructions, get into God’s Word so you can tell that loser, Satan, to go take a hike!
What game did you play as a kid that had a few made up, add-on rules that were not in the instruction book?
I pray today that you will know the truth of God’s Word, and you will use it as a double-edged sword to counteract the devil’s lies. I pray that you will be very aware that playing games aren’t in God’s nature because you can trust that His love will cover every one of your vulnerable moments.