Genesis 2:16,17; Genesis 3:4-6
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desire to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): What made Eve miscarry? And what hurried her headlong upon the forbidden fruit, but that wretched thing―herself?
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Self was responsible for the fall. But for it, sin would never have entered into the world. The devil was subtle enough to know its power, so he put it in terms of self. He said, “God is not being fair to you; you have a legitimate grudge and a grievance.” And man agreed, and that was the whole cause of the fall.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): These were the baits with which Satan covered his hook. Your eyes shall be opened―“ye shall have much more of the power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a compass in your intellectual views, and see further into things than now you do.” He speaks as if now they were but dim sighted, in comparison of what they would be then. Ye shall be as gods―or, “ye shall be as God Himself, equal to Him, rivals with Him; you shall be sovereigns and no longer subjects, self-sufficient and no longer dependent.” A most absurd suggestion!
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): The great controversy between God and man hath [always] been, whether He or they shall be God; whether His reason or theirs, His will or theirs, shall be the guiding principle. As grace is the union of the will of God and the will of the creature, so sin is the opposition of the will of self to the will of God; “Leaning to our own understanding,” is opposed as a natural evil to “trusting in the Lord,” a supernatural grace, Proverbs 3:5. Men commonly love what is their own, their own inventions, their own fancies; therefore the ways of a wicked man are called the “ways of his own heart,” and the ways of a superstitious man his own devices, Jeremiah 18:11: “We will walk after our own devices,”―we will be a law to ourselves.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Self always means defiance of God; it always means that I put myself on the throne instead of God, and therefore it is always something that separates me from Him.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: It was not the eating a forbidden apple, or the pleasing of his palate that Adam aimed at, or was the chief object of his desire, but [it was] to live independently of his Creator, and be a God to himself…God had ordered man by this prohibition not to eat of the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” not to attempt the knowledge of good and evil of himself, but to wait upon the dictates of God; not to trust to his own counsels, but depend wholly upon Him for direction and guidance. Certainly he that would not hold off his hand from so small a thing as an apple, when he had his choice of the fruit of the garden, would not have denied himself anything his appetite had desired, when that principle had prevailed upon him; he would not have stuck at a greater matter to pleasure himself with the displeasing of God, when for so small a thing he would incur the anger of His Creator. Thus he would deify his own understanding against the wisdom of God, and his own appetite against the will of God.
WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): I know not any point in the whole circumference of duty on which the human mind makes a more obstinate stand than here, against the authority of God. The determination to be our own master, and do what he liked with himself, seems to have been the very essence of the sin which constituted man’s fall, and still animates the fallen. “Who is lord over us?” is the watch-word of the life-long battle.
THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Self is the most abominable principle that ever was.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): That household god―a man’s own self.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets up itself above all that is called God; self-love is the captain of that black band, 2 Timothy 3:2, For men shall be lovers of themselves―it sits in the temple of God, and would be adored as God.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The master-sin of man is independence of God.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: This self-love and desire of independency of God has been the root of all sin in the world.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: What drew that brother-murderer to kill Abel? That wild himself. What drove the old world on to corrupt their ways? Who but themselves and their own pleasure? What was the cause of Solomon’s falling into idolatry and multiplying of strange wives? What but himself, whom he would rather pleasure than God? What was the hook that took David and snared him first in adultery, but his self-lust; and then in murder, but his self-credit and self-honour? What led Peter on to deny his Lord? Was it not a piece of himself, and self-love to a whole skin? What made Judas sell his Master for thirty pieces of money, but a piece of self-love, the idolizing of avaricious self? What made Demas to go off the way of the Gospel to embrace this present world? Even self-love, and love of gain for himself. Every man blameth the devil for his sins, but the great devil, the house-devil of every man, the house-devil that eateth and lieth in every man’s bosom, is that idol that killeth all, himself.
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Ourselves are the greatest snares to ourselves.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Worst of all my foes, I fear the enemy within.
D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any man I ever met.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: Alas! that idol, that whorish creature, myself, is the master-idol we all bow to. O, if I could be master of that house-idol, myself―my own, mine, my own will, wit, credit, and ease, how blessed were I! O, but we have need to be redeemed from ourselves rather than from the devil and the world; learn to put out yourselves, and to put in Christ for yourselves.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Dear Lord, the idol self dethrone, and from our hearts remove.
THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man―myself.