When the Devil Tells the Truth

Like a typical teenager I struggled with FOMO throughout high school: the fear of missing out. But mine was more information focused than experiential: I didn’t want to miss out on knowing anything.

I wanted to know who was dating who, what official and unofficial events were happening, and what crazy things were happening in the dorms. I prided myself on being in the know, finding out wonderful and not-so-much about other people, sometimes even before their closest friends knew. It was like the knowledge made me feel like I was important. 

I didn’t really want to try alcohol or drugs, but I did ask those who tried them to explain the experience to me in detail. When Twilight was a craze —and I hate those kinds of books — I signed up for the waiting list to read it. I distinctly remember talking to people because of the kind of information they could regularly give me rather than enjoying them as a person. I really, really liked knowing everything that I could about the people around me and what they were experiencing. 

This aspect of my high school years came to mind last night during a Bible study with my husband and brother-in-law. We were deep in Genesis 3, talking about the first lie, the first trick, the first sin on earth. As my mind traced these familiar lines, a certain angle hit me.

Photo by Alfonso Castro on Unsplash

Aside from, “You shall not die,” the devil didn’t lie. 

Here’s what he said: “…God knows that in the day you eat of [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (v. 5) 

Where’s the lie?

After eating the fruit, their eyes were opened (v. 7). God knew that would happen.

Furthermore, before they ate the fruit, they had no real knowledge of evil, only of good. But God knew good and evil. So in their eyes being opened, in a way, they did gain that God-like quality: a knowledge of good and evil. 

Thus, the devil told the truth. 

But he also didn’t. 

He told the truth in a way that turned it into a lie. He said it as if God was withholding something wonderful, superior, and pleasurable from them. But that is not how I would describe evil and suffering and thirst and struggle and pain. 

Yeah, their eyes were opened. But do we really want our eyes to be opened to everything?

During those same obsessive-to-know years I described, I sacrificed my mental health to keep up with social media. I sacrificed my mental and spiritual peace to watch movies that I wish I could forget but stay in my mind to this day. During my freshman year, I sacrificed my emotional and social health in order to be an acquaintance of everyone but close to no one. My goal was to know everything about everyone, but it didn’t result in the peace or joy that I wanted. 

As human beings, we are naturally curious. And this is good — even wonderful. But we have to be content with not knowing certain things. Sometimes it’s because there’s no way for us to know it, so we have to accept some things by faith. Other times we can know it, but it isn’t in our best interest. 

Corrie Ten Boom wrote of a relevant conversation with her father. After asking about a mature topic when she was a small child, she wrote:

“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. “It’s too heavy,” I said. “Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

Some things are too heavy for me to know — for now or until heaven. I trust my Father’s intentions, His heart, and His choices towards me. I no longer think my importance and value come from knowing all the things. I know enough, more than enough — and that includes knowing that my value is in Jesus.