Paradise Lost - Part One
Scripture: Genesis 3:1–24
Paradise Lost-Part OneGenesis 3:1-24
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
It is really hard to watch the news. One story after another documents how this world is filled with so much evil. In our own personal lives we see around us unjust politicians, unfaithful spouses, unreasonable employers, uncooperative children and unfriendly neighbors. And once we get past all the unrighteousness of people (with the assumption we tend to overlook much of our own), we need to deal with termites in the basement and bouts with the flu and weeds in our garden. Big issues but nothing compared to the threats of Tsunamis, nuclear attacks, earthquakes, tornados and solar flares. Not to mention for most of the world's population, the daily fight for survival to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. With expected and often unexpected disturbances our lives can be quite difficult. Is this what God intended when He spun this world into existence?
Of course not! We already learned in Genesis 1:31 that God declared that everything was "very good" immediately following creation. So how did it go from "very good" to the "not so good" that we experience today? The age-old question: How do we account for the pain and suffering in this world? How do we exist amongst it? And how do we get ourselves out of it?
Our passage this morning from Genesis 3 will provide the definitive answer. Over the next couple weeks we will examine the wonderful, practical application in this passage! Today we will deal with the topic of temptation that caused this mess in the first place.
1. The Seduction (verses 1-5)
Let's begin with "The Seduction."
In verse 1 of chapter 3 we are introduced to a new character in the story. He is immediately identified as the serpent. The serpent or the snake was part of God's creation. Based upon what we'll see later, there was a good chance he stood upright. We can't be dogmatic as to why, but for some reason Satan chose to indwell this particular animal. As a matter of fact from this point, Satan himself will be known as the serpent going forward. In Revelation 12:9 we read, "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
As this verse in Revelation also teaches, sometime after the creation of the angels, Satan chose to rebel. We get a hint from other Bible passages in the Old Testament (e.g. Eze. 28:11-19; Isa. 14:12-15) that Satan's pride drove him to try to exceed the greatness of God. When he and a third of the angels attempted to overthrow the Almighty, all of them were thrown out of heaven. Lucifer, one of the greatest and most beautiful of all the angels would be now known as the devil and the rest of the angels that rebelled would be known as demons. Their ambition, since they can no longer war directly with God, is an all-out attack on God's people through their crafty, calculated and diabolical schemes. The warnings are all over the Bible. "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).
Though powerful and ruthless, we must remember that Satan is under God's sovereign authority and will one day be cast in the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:10). So through it all, the deceiver was even able to deceive himself!
So as we enter chapter 3, sin is already in the world through Satan's fall, but in chapter 3 we will see how it specifically entered the lives of humans. And who is at the heart of the attack on the first humans to entice them to sin? None other than the evil one (Jn. 17:15), the accuser (Rev. 20:10), the deceiver (Rev. 12:9), the serpent himself!
God's command was to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). So I think it is safe to assume that since Adam and Eve were still childless, this account happened relatively soon after creation. It didn't take long for our original parents to blow it, and if it were me it probably would have happened sooner! We are told not to be ignorant of Satan's schemes (2 Cor. 2:12), so let's spend the rest of our time examining how the devil operates and how we can emerge victorious.
The remaining half of verse 1, "And [the serpent] said to the woman, 'Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?''" Did you notice how deceptive that statement was? First of all, it might appear like an innocent question but it was an outright lie! Is that really what God said? God said they were permitted to freely eat from all the trees except one (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan turned that into a prohibition from eating from any of the trees. What was he doing? The exact same thing he does today! He was seeking to get his victim to doubt the goodness of God. In order to get Eve into sin, he has to disconnect her from God. Doubt in God's goodness is his way to sever the relationship. "God is holding something back from you!" Was that true? Was not eating from the one tree a bad rule from a mean God that would rob us of joy? Satan was leading Eve to believe that! I don't think so because what was the result from eating from that tree? That's right, death (Gen. 2:17)!
It's like me telling Shane, you can do whatever you want but, "Don't turn on the stove, play with the steak knives and put Spiderman's metal arm in the electrical socket." Bad rules? Mean father? Trying to limit his freedom?
In the same way, God gives us incredible freedom with only a few restrictions. Those restrictions found in the Bible are from a loving Father for our good! When we begin to doubt the goodness of God and the truthfulness of His Word we become putty in the hands of the evil one. It simply comes down to this, do I believe the Word of God comes from a good God for my ultimate goodness? Satan's first step is to erode that relationship. Look at our world and even our church. I'd say Satan has been very successful!
So what do we do? The same thing Eve should have done. Her first step should have been to disengage herself from this conversation! Let me give you some simple spiritual advice. There is never a dialogue with Satan that will result in helping you grow closer to God. His intentions for you are always evil. Eve is about to interchange with him when she should have been running from him!
Anyway, let's break down the woman's response in verses 2-3 with a little game of true and false. Let's see how well Eve represented God. Starting in verse 2, "The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat.'" True! (although she did omit "all" the trees and "freely" eat). "But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it'" Still true! "Or touch it." Oops, not true! God never said that! "Or you will die.'" True!
Do you see how she is playing into the restrictions? Do you see how she is doubting God's Word? I mean, how unreasonable can God be to insist that you will die if you merely touch a tree? Do you see how she is both adding to and subtracting from God's Word? A few books later in Deuteronomy 4:2 Moses would say, "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." I believe we would be wise to heed that!
I do not think a week goes by that Julie and I remind our daughters of the essential need to marry a man that loves the Lord. We're not just talking about one of those guys who says he's cool with Jesus! We're talking about a man who will lead them through Christlike service and example because he knows the Word of God and seeks to apply it to his life and their lives on a regular basis. Single girls, have nothing to do with a man who is not a spiritual leader!
Adam was a terrible spiritual leader. First of all, where was he when Eve was being tempted? According to the end of verse 6, he was "with her!" The guy simply sat back and did nothing to prevent his wife from running headlong into sin. What a passive, unloving coward! Additionally, did he teach Eve the Word of God? The command was given by God to him. Did he even relay God's Word clearly to his beloved spouse? Did he prepare her for spiritual warfare? How much is Adam himself to blame for Eve's vulnerability? This certainly happens today? Was it the case back then?
Thanks to Eve's response, the devil now sees an opening. He moves in for the kill. Verse 4, "The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'" Do you see how Satan has ramped this up? He has gone from altering God's Word to flatly denying it. Eve knew what God said. She recited it to Satan. And Satan basically calls God a liar. Remember those famous words from Jesus? "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). Eve is forced to choose sides - one serious decision based upon two completely different stories. Who will she believe? Do you really think she'll listen to a talking snake? Do you think she'll really accept Satan's analysis of the situation? Do you really think she'll think Satan is more interested in her welfare?
Satan now with more than his foot in the door pours it on in verse 5. "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
The one tree that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from was "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:17). What this tree represented was knowledge apart from God. It was casting off all dependence on God. Would Adam and Eve trust God and joyfully submit to Him as One who is sufficient to meet their needs, or would they seek to do life apart from God? Would they trust God as to what is wrong, or would they have to experience what is wrong on their own? Would they live their lives fearing God, or would they seek to be autonomous with no concern for God's will? This tree was planted right in the midst of the Garden. It was an ever present temptation. My way or God's way?
And in a sense this tree is still planted in the midst of our lives as an ever present temptation every second of the day. Will we do it God's way in submission to His Word, or doubt Him and take matters into our own hands believing we know what is better for our lives? As I said earlier, Satan fell because of pride. Would Adam and Eve fall for exactly the same reason?
As Satan said then he still says today, "You can be like God!" You can be the lord of your life! You have more insight to make better decisions! You can receive worship! God is holding you back! He's not telling you the whole truth! He's depriving you of blessings! Go out and be free from the tyranny! So once Satan masterfully got Eve to doubt God's goodness and distrust His Word. He says, "Eve! Instant freedom. Take a bite!"
Have you been eating from this tree? Have you been listening to Satan? Let's remember that Satan "disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). He's rarely going to speak directly to you. That would be too obvious! He uses a movie or a teacher or a well-meaning friend. He can even use an apostle! Remember our Lord's words to Peter? "Get behind me Satan!" (Mt. 16:23).
The pornography will bring satisfaction. The alcohol will bring relief. The deception will bring gain. The laziness will bring relaxation. The profanity will bring respect. The culture will bring truth. The apathy will bring gratification. The boasting will bring praise. The greediness will bring happiness. The legalism will bring assurance. The retaliation will bring vindication. Has Satan succeeded in getting you to distrust the Bible by adding or subtracting to God's commandments? Have you believed his lies over the Word of God?
2.The Execution (verse 6)
The second point, "The Execution." Verse 6, "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." So much great stuff in this verse! Let's take a look at it and then we'll break for the Lord's Table.
First of all, we can't miss the clear parallel to 1 John. "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever" (1 Jn. 2:15-17). Look particularly at verse 16 of 1 John 2. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh." Parallel Genesis 3:6, "The woman saw that the tree was good for food." The lust of the flesh craves what is appealing to our carnal desires. "You need that swimming pool so just cut back on you church offerings." "You need that higher paying job so just cut back on your time with the family." "You need that personal worth so don't waste your time with people who can't contribute." To Eve, "You need this personal freedom (lust of the flesh) so don't believe what God' says!"
In 1 John 2:16 we also read about "the lust of the eyes." Parallel Genesis 3:6, "And that is was a delight to the eyes." This is playing off the emotions based on visual stimulation. You are worthless unless you have a body like her in the magazine! You will be fulfilled viewing this Internet porn. To Eve, the more she couldn't have it, the more she wanted it. And the more she wanted it, the more attractive it looked to her eyes! "Be careful little eyes what you see!"
In 1 John 2:16 we also read about "the boastful pride of life." Parallel Genesis 3:6, "The tree was desirable to make one wise." Brag about your accomplishments. Keep quiet as it relates to your faith. Impress others with your externals. You will be esteemed by the world! To Eve, one bite and you will be great!
Sin was already conceived in her heart (Jas. 1:15). We are about to see it come to birth. Verse 6 says, "She took from its fruit and ate." "She gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." Was Adam put in a situation where he had to choose between obeying God or complying with his beloved Eve, choosing the Giver or retaining the gift? Who knows, but in turning away from faith in God and trust in His Word what a mess they created in the created design. Eve who was intended to be Adam's spiritual "helper" helps him into sin and Adam who was intended to be Eve's spiritual leader not only watches her sin but also participates in the sin with her! What deception! Satan always shows the bait, but conceals the hook. Everything backfires! Sin enters the world. Paradise is lost. Next week we'll see its consequences. God will hold Adam primarily responsible.
But before we partake in the Lord's Table, let's talk about what theologians often call the "Second Adam." Who is the "second Adam"? Jesus Christ! The "First Adam" led the entire human race into sin. But God in His infinite mercy would send a "Second Adam" to lead the world out of sin. This "Second Adam" would be God Himself, the second Person of the Holy Trinity. He would be born of human flesh. We would undergo a trial just like Adam's in the Garden (Mt. 4:1-11). There He would be tempted by Satan regarding food that was good to eat and displays of power that were a delight to the eyes and wonderful opportunities for glory (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). Yet unlike the first Adam Jesus passed the test, standing firm on the Word of God, trusting in its accuracy and having faith in God's goodness. And since Satan failed to win whereby he couldn't get Jesus to disobey God's Word to kill Himself spiritually like he did with Adam and Eve, he took the necessary measures to kill Jesus himself. Instead of entering a serpent, this time he entered a fellow disciple of Jesus named, Judas (Lk. 22:3). And while Jesus hung on the cross, the devil must have been celebrating only to later realize that the cross and subsequent resurrection pronounced his defeat and provided rescue of all those born in the "First Adam." As Paul said in 1 Corinthians, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22; cf. Rom. 5:12-19). Jesus is coming back. He will deal the devil his final death blow along with all who listen to his voice and will bring His people safely home to a place without sin that exceeds the Garden of Eden. All who have received Jesus by faith have this wonderful promise.
Jesus said in John 10, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Where are you? Based upon your actions, whose side are you on and which voice are you listening to?