In the beginning there was a serpent (Genesis 3). While the Bible does not put it in these terms, the serpent appears to have had "church". During church the serpent beguiled Eve with glitter and glamour. He made promises to Eve that if she would partake, she would be wise. Much like many preachers today who preach the glamorous "prosperity gospel".
And like many preachers today who promise that if you sow a seed into their bank account, you will reap a 10-fold or 100-fold return on your spiritual investment. Eve was so overcome by the persuasive and charismatic personality of the serpent-preacher that she was hypnotized by his flatteries. Eve dutifully seduced her husband with her own charms and he could not resist, and he likewise partook of the serpent's deceptions.
From that beginning of recorded human history, nothing has really ever changed. The world has been overrun with serpent-leaders who cast their spells and charms over people. The smooth-talkers, the endless flatteries, the all-knowing licensed religious leaders who never cease to seduce the gullible and naive with glitter and glamour.
Everything the Creator told Adam and Eve, the serpent-preacher twisted, and made it appear that "the Way" was a different path than following God. The Creator ensured Adam and Eve that they could have a personal relationship with Him by hearing His voice. Along came "church service" and the speaker was the serpent. The serpent stood in the pulpit and told Eve, "Follow me, I am the way." Being cunning, the serpent expended great effort to ensure his success in making personal disciples. He ensured Eve that he had credentials. He was in fact the "senior pastor". He left no stone unturned to have beautiful music, flowing robes, banners and comfort and refreshments.
Obviously this is a fictional account of the Garden of Eden scene, but the reality of this account is not beyond belief. Deception is the devil's playground. The irony of deception is that false beliefs and teachings are often believed to be the truth by the very people who perpetuate their false ideas. But this is not always the case, because there are wolves in sheep's clothing, and they know they are wolves.
Spiritual wolves wear suits and ties, look good, sound good, and appear to be "Godly" in public. Some spiritual wolves wear beautiful dresses, expensive jewelry, look good, smell good, and can charm the money right out of your pocket book using the name of Jesus Christ.
Adam and Eve forfeited their personal relationship with their Creator and Maker, and were cast out from His presence. They preferred the serpent-preacher to their Creator as their head and leader.
Jesus came with a message to all church goers, in which He said in Matthew 7:15 "BEWARE of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." The Amplified Bible uses the word "devouring wolves". In Luke 20:46-47 Jesus talks about the scribes (copyists and teachers of the law) who love to wear long robes.
Have you seen any television preachers wearing long robes? Today we don't call them scribes who teach the law or preach the Gospel, but we generally call them "pastors" or "bishops" or "preachers", and many of them also write books.
Jesus also said they love greetings in the market places and to be called master, master (Matthew 23:7-8). Today we don't call them master, but we call them "pastor", "senior pastor", "bishop" or "doctor pastor so and so", and they love to hear this tingle in their ears.
And Jesus said they love the best seats in the synagogues (church houses today). How many of these "high level" master-pastors sit in soft-cushioned seats on the stage of churches?
Jesus also said they devour widows' houses. How many television preachers have become personally wealthy because they willingly devour the social security checks and widows' mites in the name of Jesus Christ?
Somehow it seems that frauds and charlatans never connect what Jesus Christ taught with their own actions. They seem to be blind to many of the teachings of Jesus Christ, or like a serpent they wiggle their way around His very plain and very clear teachings. Some even pronounce curses upon anyone who expose their "ministry", and claim that if you speak against their false teachings, then you are of Satan.
Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 24:4 "...Take heed that no man deceive you. For MANY shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Many seekers and believers in God have been seduced by the serpent, the same as Eve and Adam were. The serpent in the Garden of Eden sought personal followers, rather than pointing Adam and Eve to their Creator.
In the institutional church system of this world, the same is true today, and that is probably why without exception all "professional clergy" seek personal followers. They want your life, your time, and your money for as long as you live. They want you to believe that "the Way" is through them, and through their teachings, and through their church buildings. And yet Jesus Christ never said any such thing in any of His teachings anywhere in the four Gospels. Jesus clearly said "I AM the Way", "I AM the Truth", "I AM the Life", "I AM the Living Waters", "No man comes to the Father, but BY ME". Pointing people to Jesus Christ is vastly different from making personal disciples to follow preachers and church organizations.
The serpent's church in the Garden of Eden looked good, smelled good, tasted good, and felt good. The path Adam and Eve chose to follow was the establishment, the status quo, and the feel-good way. As Christians today, do we really hear the voice of Jesus Christ in the Garden, in the cool of the day, or do we hear the many voices of "another way"?