Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 6: Sin & Judgment
January 10, 2010
· 088 (unbelief as sin), 100,
· Gen. 3-8, Rom. 5:12-21, 8:18-25
· HSB and NAS: “Sons of God”
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1-9
· New group on Facebook: I’ll try putting up tidbits.
Coming to some of the most important and troubling portions of Scripture, help us see your goodness shine through, that you are “righteous in all your ways and loving toward all you’ve made.”
from the fall to the flood
This week, we’ll talk about the most important day in human history, the Fall, when sin entered the world. If you don’t understand this day, then nothing else in the Bible makes sense.
The creation ends with God saying “this is very good,” so how do we go from that to God all but wiping out humanity with a flood in chapter a couple of chapters?
We ask “What went wrong?” “Is this world, filled with pain and cruelty the way it’s supposed to be?”
· We have an innate sense that this is not the way it should be, even atheist Bertrand Russell tried to make things better.
As a pastor, I constantly deal with the results of sin as it continues to destroy.
It was good
We are given this picture of a perfect existence. The Garden of Eden is beautiful, we have a direct relationship with God, and purpose: To create heaven on earth.
· God didn’t need us or our help, but gave us a project so we could be like our Daddy.
Then we have the first love story of history.
NIV Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
· Helper doesn’t mean a servant, but an equal – this term is also used of God as our helper.
So God has Adam name all the animals, so he see that all of them have a mate like them, but he does not.
Genesis 2:22-25 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
It’s like a story of innocence lost – we want the good part to go on forever, but know the twist is coming. It’s like “Revolutionary Road” where they are a perfect couple but then life happens (I didn’t watch it, looked too depressing).
I wonder how long this lasted – I like to think many years, but we don’t know. By the next verse there’s trouble in paradise.
NIV Genesis 3:1-5 ¶ Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
· This serpent is not literally a snake, they and we know snakes can’t talk – it was some sort of manifestation of Satan.
Satan is sowing doubt – doubt is the mother of all sins.
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’“
Eve adds to God’s words, which is strange. I don’t know what is happening here, but something is. Perhaps she has made God’s rules more restrictive for fear of disobeying (rather ironic).
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Q Do you see what Satan is doing? What is his tactic?
He is questioning God’s goodness – he makes God sound miserly, begrudging us the joy of experiencing his good gifts. He says that God does not have our best interest in mind – as if he knows eating the fruit will make us better, but denies it to us.
I believe that the most fundamental lie of the enemy is that God is not good. If we believe that God is truly good, then than no amount of temptation will cause us to disobey him, because we will know that obedience leads to joy and disobedience to pain.
· Sin is a shortcut to happiness that ends in misery.
knowledge of good and evil
Once Adam and Eve doubted God’s goodness, the rest was easy – get them to doubt his commands.
Satan gives them a partial truth – they will “know good from evil” What’s so bad about knowing? If you trust God is good, then you won’t worry about it.
· Some people (from Gnostics to Philip Pullman) think Satan is the good guy, because knowledge is power.
So what is it, and why is it bad? Ancient understanding of “knowing” include doing and being, so what God didn’t want them to have a practical knowledge of evil and suffering.
· Grace likes reading through a first aid book, but I hope she doesn’t have to experience the things in there.
And we all know what happens:
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
· Notice that Adam was there with Eve, he is a bit of weenie through this whole thing.
On that day, sin entered the world and everything was corrupted. What is sin? It is everything that hurt us, hurts others, and our relationship with God. It started with a simple act of disobedience, but immediately poisoned all of creation.
NO tree, no problem?
Q Have you ever wondered why God made that tree?
Part of me thinks, “These must have been your first kids...I’ve learned better than to leave something that temping.” As a child, I decided that if I were Adam, the first thing I’d invent would be an ax, solve the problem nicely.
But for free will to be free, there had to be a genuine choice. While the specific act was eating from the tree, the biggest issue was not trusting or obeying God. If wasn’t eating some fruit, it would have been something else.
· A child in a straightjacket may be better behaved, but that does not mean he is a better child.
This is a risky enterprise for God – let them be free and take the risk or make them happy slaves.
What was good is now bad
We made our choice and we immediately see is hurting us, others, and our relationship with God. Gods tell them the consequences of their sins:
Genesis 3:16 16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
There is debate on exactly what these mean, but the key point is that which was meant to be good will be made bitter by sin:
1. Childbirth and rearing is meant to be a blessing and joy, but now it is filled with pain, both in birth and raising children – their rebellion makes it bitter.
2. What is meant to be a loving, supportive relationship is now filled with competitiveness and domination.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Likewise, work, which is meant to be a blessing and joy to man, becomes frustrating and hard.
Death as mercy
Furthermore, they were kicked out of Eden and prevented from gaining life:
Genesis 3:22-23 22 ¶ And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
Q Was this kindness or cruelty?
I think death was a kindness: I recently did a funeral for a man with dementia – that has to be the scariest thought to me. His death was a type of mercy, no longer living that way.
· We are told that all creation groans, as if all creation is suffering from the effects of sin and in death we find relief.
From the Fall to the flood in chapter 6, we see a downward spiral – Cain kills his brother because of jealousy, a jarring example of the corruption of sin.
· Lamech (Cain’s descendent) marries two women, a horrible break of the intimacy meant for marriage.
And things get worse. Long lives allow humans to get better at sinning and cruelty (imagine Hitler living 900 years).
And in chapter 6 we have strange story of the “sons of God” marrying the “daughters of men.” This either means that the godly line of Seth intermixes with the unholy line of Cain or that the rulers were oppressing the masses.
· In any case, the nations became so wicked, without any restraining influence.
Finally, by the time of Noah, things had gotten just about as bad as they possibly could:
NIV Genesis 6:5 ¶ The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-- men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-- for I am grieved that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
And from here we come to the story of the flood were God wiped out everyone but those on the Ark.
· Interestingly, the Flood is the most remembered event in ancient history, found in most ancient civilizations.
This is one of best know Sunday School stories, which is funny because it is so disturbing.
Q Why did God have to kill every man, woman, child, and creature, except those on the ark?
From our point of view, this seems incredibly cruel. But first look at God’s perspective “heart filled with pain” he was grieved.” This isn’t a blood thirsty deity, but a grieving father. The real question is: “What choice did he have?”
1. Should he have ignored the evil?
It had reached such extremes that to ignore it would have been unjust. Don’t think of this as a bunch of people just partying and having a good time – think of cruelty, murder, rape, and exploitation going unchecked.
· It would be like Nazi Germany, but only surrounded by nations worse than itself.
He stopped it before it corrupted the last good person – Noah.
2. Should he have given them a second chance?
We don’t know how long it took Noah to build the ark, but it wasn’t quick. Scripture tells us that Noah was “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), so he was trying to persuade his neighbors.
· God also gave a one week warning, but still no one turned.
An extreme solution
The only option has was to start over, it was an extreme solution to an extreme situation. And it worked. With the shortened life spans and the segmenting of humanity into language groups, things never got this bad again.
· I have defined God’s wrath and judgment as the full force of goodness against evil – that’s what we see here.
In the same way that Satan questioned God’s goodness, it becomes easy to question God’s goodness in the light the evil in the world which is a result of sin, and in light of God’s extreme response to sin.
· Yet in the light of the overwhelming evidence, I trust in God’s goodness and love.
Psalm 145:17-21 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
Objectives of sermon:
· To impress upon us the badness of sin and our need for grace.
 See my 1/3/10 sermon “In the Beginning”