A story is told of the comedian W. C. Fields and how, shortly before he died, he was flipping through the pages of a Bible. When asked what he was doing, Fields replied, “Looking for loopholes.”
In the same way, I think the Devil has been reading the Bible for a long time, looking for loopholes. In the Garden of Eden, he twisted the Scriptures. He took God’s words to Adam, which invited him to eat from every tree in the Garden (with one exception), and he twisted them into a prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s goodness.
He said to Eve, in effect, “If God really loved you, He would let you eat from any tree you want. But because He is saying that you can’t eat from that tree, He clearly doesn’t love you.”
The Devil’s first words to Eve ended in a question mark, designed to cast doubt on God’s love: Has God indeed said . . . ? He was quoting God, yet he completely twisted what God said.
The same was true of Satan’s temptation of Jesus, where he said, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down [from the temple]. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6). How interesting. The Devil was quoting the Scriptures, though he left out part of the original text.
Notice that with Eve, he questioned God’s Word. He didn’t deny that God had spoken; he simply questioned whether God had really said what Eve thought He had said. That is what the Devil will do with God’s Word. He will misquote it. He will mischaracterize it. And he will distort it.