Paradise Lost - Part Three
Scripture: Genesis 3:1–24
Paradise Lost-Part ThreeGenesis 3:1-24
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith
If there is anything we learn from our study in Genesis 3, it is that there is no such thing as one little sin. Yet I think for the most part we are oblivious to the heinous nature of sin.
This is partly due to a culture that has whitewashed what the Bible calls evil. We now can be the judges as to what is right and wrong. There are worse things we can do. After all, everybody is doing it, and everybody is not only getting away with it, but everybody is also enjoying it. But another reason I believe we fail to recognize the gravity of sin is because our God is extremely patient and merciful. He does not immediately punish, but permits those who reject Him to still be blessed with good gifts. And for those who have received Him, He forgives and washes away all their sins in Jesus Christ. Because of God's gracious nature, we can all indeed be detached from reality as to how much our Lord hates sin.
That is why we need to stay balanced and speak about doctrines like hell and God's wrath and the real, yet sometimes veiled, consequences of sin. That is why we need to study the early chapters of Genesis. We need to understand the effects of disobeying one simple command. 2:17, "But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." We need to understand the relentless attacks on humans from the devil to sin, casting doubt on God's goodness and the truth of His Word. Remember 3:4, "The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!'" What a lie! We need to understand the ways we excuse, justify and rationalize sin. Remember 3:6, "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."
This morning we will seek to understand the consequences of breaking of God's commandments. Let's strip away what culture teaches us about sin. Let's set aside for a moment God's incredible mercy. Let's just see what happens when humans violate just one of God's commandments.
In verses 1-5 we looked at the seduction as to how Eve was tempted by the Tempter. In verse 6 we looked at the execution whereby Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Last week we began the third point, verses 7-19, the repercussions. We saw the immediate effects of sin. The couple without shame (2:25) now experienced shame (3:7). The couple in fellowship with God now was found hiding from God (3:8). The couple without concern now was fearful (3:8). And the couple that enjoyed peace and harmony with each other (2:24) realized discord. And instead of taking responsibility for their sin, the couple blamed Satan, blamed each other and blamed even God Himself (3:12-13)! Don't ever think one little sin goes without being noticed by God. And if you are still not convinced, I will allow the Scriptures to remove all doubt as we enter the new material in verses 14-24.
1.The Repercussions (verses 7-19)
Here we go with the "The Repercussions."
Our Lord asks four questions: Verse 9, "Where are you?" My paraphrased response - "We never thought You'd find us behind this tree!" Verse 11, "Who told you that you were naked?" No response recorded. Verse 11, to the man, "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" My paraphrased response - "If You never gave me this woman it never would have happened!" Verse 13, to the woman, "What is this you have done?" My paraphrased response - "The Devil made me do it!"
Parents, have you ever had one of those situations when you get nowhere with your kids? You saw the whole thing happen right before your eyes: The Lego tower has been shattered into a hundred pieces, the scratch marks are becoming more evident on the forearms and anger, guilt, shame are written all over their faces. "What are you guys doing?" And nobody admits to doing anything wrong! No repentance, just finger pointing! What do you do? The time for a referee is over. You now become the jury and the judge. "You sit in this chair." "You sit in this chair." And then out comes the consequences. You'll be glad to know, parents, that you have biblical support for your actions! Adam is in one chair. Eve is in the other chair. And the serpent is in a third chair. The judgment is passed in the order of the sins committed and in the reverse order of responsibility.
God first speaks to the serpent in verses 14 and 15. "Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel."
Up until this point everything has been a blessing (1:22, 28; 2:3). Now for the first time in the Bible something is "cursed." There will be no chance for Satan's redemption. The snake that most likely once stood upright will forever crawl on its belly as a perpetual reminder of Satan's ultimate defeat. And Satan himself we learn in verse 15 will in the future receive a blow to his head signifying a mortal wound. At this point Satan was already expelled from heaven. He will be defeated at the cross and one day in the future realize his ultimate defeat at the final judgment when he will be cast forever into the "lake of fire" (Rev. 20:10). As Paul said in Romans 16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Though Satan is cursed, we will see shortly that the man and the woman still remain in God's redemptive plans. Yet they will experience severe consequences, consequences we still experience today.
So God now turns to the woman. Verse 16, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
I have never given birth to a child nor do I plan on doing it anytime soon, but I did witness the birth of all four of my children. And though I didn't experience the pain directly, I saw enough to know that it wasn't a pleasant occasion. Why did God cause pain in childbirth? And this is easy for a guy to say, but I believe He wanted us to forever remember the original sin of our original parents and the pain it brought into the human race. Children are a wonderful blessing, but I'm sure the painful delivery of them is one most women can do without. But in that awful pain we see a perpetual reminder of the effects of sin. I'll stop right there before I get myself into more trouble!
My daughter and I are seeking to read through the Bible together in a year. And though she is way ahead of me, the advantages of this exercise verses short deeper studies provides the overview, the "forest" if you will, of biblical revelation. And when we study the overall revelation of God, we develop pictures in our minds that we can miss if we only concentrate on the "trees." And one of those pictures that comes to mind at this point in Genesis 3 is the biblical portrait of a woman's heart. What does God say a woman is created to desire?
Taking all of biblical revelation, I believe it looks like this: Marriage with a husband that honors her above himself and displays his love for her by being a spiritual leader in the home demonstrating that loving leadership through service and encouragement and example. Having a man that provides for the family financially so she can primarily devote her heart to caring for her home and raising her children in a safe environment whereby she can pass along her legacy of honoring Jesus Christ. Proverbs 31:30, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."
But often this is not the case. Often many women even in the church have given up on this ideal. Why is this pursuit so seldom seen? Why are the woman's greatest desires that God has placed upon her heart often the source of her greatest griefs?
Here is the answer: The consequences for the woman continue. Verse 16 not only says there will be "pain in childbirth," but "in pain you will bring forth children."
Family disharmony for the mother and wife is also a consequence of original sin. Children will now bring pain to the average mother's heart - rebellion, dishonor, disobedience. I believe the tender heart of a mother breaks quicker and greater than the man's when the children pursue sinful choices and reap consequences in their lives. I believe the mother struggles with the balance between mercy and discipline. And within one chapter, Eve will experience this firsthand with the murder of her second son by the hands of her first son (Gen. 4:8).
There will also be marital discord. Still in verse 16, "Your desire will be for your husband." From this point on, the woman will have a tendency to usurp the man's authority. Remember, it was Adam in 3:9 that was ultimately blamed for the sin, and instead of supporting the husband as his helper (2:18) and complementing his headship as "one flesh" (Gen 2:24) whereby he can take full responsibility before God for the spiritual direction of the family, she will find it easy to resist him and dominate him. And girls as soon as Jr. High start practicing on their fathers!
You might not like this ladies, but let me give you three ways this is often seen. And I can support all of them with the Bible. One is nagging. I don't think I have ever seen two guys nagging each other, but I know men who have been beaten to nothing but a lifeless shell because their wives are never satisfied with their performance and can never take a simple "no" for an answer. The second one is the emotions - a big difference between expressing your emotions and using your emotions to manipulate a man. "You don't love me anymore!" And three, and the most diabolical, is the tool of sin. Once a woman can get a hold of a guy's sin, she has a chip that she can use against him. "Who are you to tell us how to live spiritually?" You see, it is all about control!
And in response, still speaking to Eve in verse 16, God says of the husband "and he will rule over you." Instead of shepherding like Christ, he will seek to dominate by taking the leadership God has given him and abusing it. Also supported throughout history and the Bible are the sinful ways men belittle and abuse and discourage and overpower their wives instead of living with them in a gentle and "understanding way " (1 Pet. 3:7), in a way that "nourishes and cherishes" (Eph. 5:29). What a far cry from Song of Solomon 7:10, "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." How many ladies experience that from their husbands?
God then turns to the man in verses 17-19 and says, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it;' Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'"
Since Adam was primarily responsible for the fall, the full effect of the consequences will fall upon him. One, what was environmental paradise will now be cursed with "thorns and thistles." Two, what was once work with absolute joy is now met at times with the experience of toil and frustration and meaningless. And three, what was life everlasting is now met with death as it was promised if they ever ate. From the dust they came and to the dust they will go. As Paul would say in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death." From this point on, Adam and Eve will begin to die physically. Everything made starts to become "unmade." There is no evolution. From the time in the Garden it's been devolution (Heb. 1:10-11)!
What a mess these guys got themselves into. I don't think this was their intent when they bought the lie from a talking snake! Maybe we can learn about the awful consequences of sin through their example. But I wish I could say the worst is over.
2. The Conclusion (verses 20-24)
Let's look at the final point, "The Conclusion." Let me read verses 22-24, "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever' - therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."
The Triune God lowered the greatest verdict on the man. Though Adam might have felt that the soon physical death he was about to receive would fulfill the consequence of disobedience, there would be a greater death he and Eve and all those who come after him would experience. The physical death would be delayed, but the spiritual death would happen immediately.
Because of their sin, they erected a wall of separation between themselves and their perfect fellowship with the Lord. Because God cannot allow sin in His holy presence, He was forced to drive them from the Garden (we get a sense that they didn't want to go), kept from Him by the cherubim (the angelic beings that separate sinners from God's presence (Ex. 25:22; 26:1, 31; Heb. 9:3-5, 7-9, 24-28)) and prevent them from eating from the tree of life whereby they could live forever in a sinful state. Adam and Eve were now separated from God, by far the worst consequence of them all. From intimacy to alienation. All was "very good" in 1:31. Now all is "very, very bad."
But if we leave on this note, we will do a great disservice to the rest of the Bible. Because from this point all the way to the book of Revelation we read about God's hand moving to redeem the people He created in His image. We even get some hints right here in Genesis 3. Sin is tragic, but we cannot talk about sin without coming back to God's grace. And we will never appreciate God's grace until we are first broken by our sin.
Let me show you three signs of hope. First we see God seeking out the sinners. It is Adam and Eve hiding from God, a natural consequence as sin never drives us into God's presence (and God drives it from His presence - Gen. 3:24!). On our own we would never pursue God in a way He expects to be pursued. As a matter of the fact the Bible teaches it! Romans 3:11, "There is none who seeks for God." But we serve a God who chases after us. "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk. 19:10), said Jesus. So while Adam and Eve were hiding, God was pursuing. And as Adam and Eve were hopeless, God does not give up on the relationship.
A second element of hope also seen in this text, Adam and Eve were left spiritually naked. In shame they sowed fig leaves together to hide from God. Yet in 3:21 we read that our Lord in His mercy "made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Was this the first animal sacrifice whereby the innocent would shed its blood to atone for the sins of the guilty? Is this pointing to the ultimate Lamb of God who would die for His people? Is this the Gospel in its earliest stages to show how God covers our spiritual nakedness through His actions of undeserving grace?
A third element of hope for Adam and Eve is seen in verse 15 (the protoevangelium - the "first Gospel"). In speaking to Satan, God said, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." It is promised here that there will be continual conflict between the two sides that will dominate history. On the one side there will be Satan and those who love him (Jn. 8:44 - the children of the devil), and on the other side there will be Jesus and those who love Him (Mt. 13:37-39 - "sons of the kingdom").
I have to read from 1 John 3 because it is so appropriate at this point: "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous" (1 Jn. 3:8-12).
Revelation 12:17, "So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."
At the head of the conflict will be the conflict between Satan and the perfect seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. The battle will wage throughout history until it culminates at the cross. And though Satan will assume the cross was the ultimate defeat for the Son of God, it will be in reality only a bruise on His heel while Jesus through His work on the cross will usher in Satan's defeat by crushing his head (As Genesis 3:15 teaches). For on that cross, Satan was completely disarmed (Col. 2:15) as Jesus would remove the sins of His people in their entirety and then make provisions for them to triumph over the Devil in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we close this three-part series in Genesis 3, the parallels to the work of Christ are beyond coincidence. Adam was tested in the Garden and he failed. In the same way Jesus (the Second Adam) was tested in the wilderness and He succeeded. Satan would enter a serpent in an effort to bring about Adam's death. Satan would enter an apostle named Judas in an effort to bring about Jesus' death. The three-fold curse toward Adam would all be accepted by Jesus. Remember the "thorns and thistles" in 3:18? Jesus would bear a "crown of thorns" (Mt. 27:29). Remember "[working by] the sweat of your face" in 3:19? Jesus would sweat "drops of blood" (Lk. 22:44). Remember "to dust you shall return" also in 3:19? Jesus would be laid "in the dust of death" (Psm. 22:15). And Adam and Eve would be cursed, separated from God's presence because of their sin. But Jesus goes to the cross and becomes cursed by the Father for us when He accepts our sin and dies in the sinner's place (Gal. 3:13) accepting the full punishment of that sin.
Through the work of Jesus Christ, those who receive Him can be made alive spiritually to again enjoy fellowship with God. The image of God can be recovered. The curse can be reversed. The guilt and suspicion and alienation and blame and shame can be put away and our lives can once again be as they were intended to be in fellowship with God and with each other as well - harmony with our marriages, harmony with our children and harmony in our churches. And though physical death still exists, it is a blessed release from this sinful existence to enter a place called heaven, a place where creation is restored (Rom. 8:20-22), where there will be beauty that surpasses the Garden of Eden, where the sword of the cherubim is put away with the tree of life again in our presence (Rev. 22:2, 14, 19) never to die and never to be tempted by sin. For though there is suffering in this world, "[God] will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
What awful sin, but what a gracious Savior we serve. As Paul said in Romans 2:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."