The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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However, Genesis 2:9 also reveals a source other than God—the evil one, Satan, the adversary of God. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has its source in Satan. In Genesis 1 the significant words are image and dominion. In Genesis 2 the significant word is life, the tree of life. God’s image and dominion require God’s life. These three—image, dominion, and life—are very positive. In Genesis 3 there is another important but very negative word—the serpent. After two positive chapters, suddenly the serpent comes in.

When the Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes, calling them serpents and the brood of vipers (Matt. 23:33; 12:34), He did not speak in a light way. He was saying that Satan was a serpent and they were all the offspring of the serpent; Satan was the father, and they were all his children. Their father was the serpent; therefore, they belonged to the serpent family. In John 8:44 the Lord Jesus also told the Pharisees that their father was the Devil. The Pharisees claimed that Abraham was their father, but the Lord Jesus said that if Abraham were their father, they would have done the works of Abraham. He told them that their father was not Abraham, but the serpent, the Devil, the father of lies.

The serpent came into man first by tempting him to take his thought. God had told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest they die (Gen. 2:17). But the serpent came in to raise a question: "Did God say?" If you look at a question mark, you will see that it resembles a serpent. When that little serpent rears up his head and questions you, he looks like a question mark. The satanic, serpentine thought first entered the human mind. Second, the man stretched forth his hand and ate of the tree of knowledge. In this way the serpent, the evil one, entered the human race. First, Satan entered man’s mind; second, he came into man’s physical body. Because of this, the human mentality is awful. His mind is evil and terrible because it has been fully occupied by the evil serpent. Also, the human body has been corrupted with all kinds of lusts. The Bible tells us that the lusts are in man’s physical body (Gal. 5:24; James 4:1). Man’s body has become flesh. It was created by God as a body, but after it was poisoned and corrupted by Satan, it became flesh. The created body was good, clean, and pure; the flesh is evil, dirty, corrupt, and full of lusts. Satan came into man. Therefore, man now has a defiled body and a corrupted mind.

When Satan came into man, man not only became sinful, but his inward constitution was also corrupted with the satanic element. Both the outward conduct and the inward nature were defiled. We need many negative words to describe this corrupted man. All that man is and does is corrupt. Whether he loves or hates, man is full of the poisonous element of Satan. Man has been inwardly constituted with Satan and has become a satanic thing. Man has been mixed with Satan. He is still man, but man mixed with Satan. Man was mixed with Satan to such an extent that the Lord Jesus called the Pharisees serpents (Matt. 23:33). Apparently human beings are still men. They appear to be ladies and gentlemen as they walk down the street. Actually, in the eyes of God, they are serpents. This is not a matter of outward conduct; it is absolutely a matter of the inward element, the inward nature.

John 3:14 shows us that the brass serpent in the wilderness was a type of Christ. Moses made a serpent of brass and put it on a pole so that the people who were poisoned by the fiery serpents might be saved (Num. 21:9). The brass serpent on the pole typified the Lord Jesus on the cross. When He was on the cross, He was in the form of a serpent. In like manner, the brass serpent had only the form of a serpent; it did not have the nature or the poison of a serpent. On the cross the Lord Jesus took the form of the serpent because he died for man who had become a serpent in his inward nature. In the eyes of God mankind had become serpents. Apparently man was still man; actually he was a serpent. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus died as the substitute for all the serpentine people, He was in the form of the serpent.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)