Welcome to Living Hope! We are working our way through the statement of faith. Today the third point, which says:
That the first man, Adam, was created by God in His image, but fell from his original state by sinning against God, and hence incurred upon himself and all his posterity the guilt of sin, condemnation, and death; therefore, all humans are in need of salvation, but are totally incapable of saving themselves.
Again, how can one possible do a whole message on this or even two or three? So like the other messages, we will just consider aspects of this point as we look at Genesis 3 today and next week.
This past week, you may have heard the latest news about actor Charlie Sheen. In 2010, he was the highest paid actor on TV, making close to 2 million dollars per episode for the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, his acting skills are not why people talk about him. He has a plethora of personal problems. Sheen has a history of being in and out of rehab, being addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex. He’s been arrested several times. He’s been accused of domestic violence as well. Sheen has also been married three times, with five children from these relationships. His recent divorce is to be finalized this May. Currently, he is living with two women, whom he calls “goddesses,” along with two small children from his previous marriage. At one point, he boasted of having slept with over 5,000 women.
Recently, while he was in rehab again, he bad-mouthed his boss. CBS subsequently canceled the show. Then all of a sudden, Sheen started doing interviews on every channel. And all of America started watching and social media began buzzing. In fact, USA Today notes that the unemployed Charlie Sheen started a twitter account on March 1 and reached 1 million followers in a day, setting the record for the fastest to make it to one million followers. Sheen says he hopes to make a lot of money from this “cash cow.” People were diagnosing him as bi-polar, to which he strangely replied, “I’m not bi-popular, I’m bi-winning.” He also said he was special, like a rock star from Mars. Sheen says he’s got magic, poetry in his fingertips and like an F-18 fighter jet, he will destroy you in the air.
So how did America respond to Charlie Sheen’s interviews? Were we loving, tolerant and “if it works for Charlie, it’s ok?” Actually we responded in two ways: mockery and judgment. People had a field day with how eccentric he was. Whether it was social media or late night talk shows, it made for great entertainment. I must admit I joined in with everyone else. I watched one interview this past week and afterward it made me think, “Why am I so fascinated with this?” Why is America so fascinated?
To be honest, I loved the fact that here was a celebrity who has it all and now has lost his mind. And I am thinking to myself, “At least I’m not that bad.” Or am I? Here I am, sitting on my couch, with my remote control in my hand, watching this guy’s life fall apart and I’m tweeting and “facebooking” about it. I’m finding humor in someone’s deep brokenness. Why are we like that?
It makes me wonder, who’s worse in this situation? Is it Sheen or the judging mockers? One believer wrote on his blog, “Resist the urge to think or say ‘I would never do that.’ Really? Do you know what it is like to have been a celebrity from the age of 18? Do you know what it’s like to have multi-millions in the bank and have thousands of women make themselves available to you? Resist the idea that you are somehow better. If any of our lives were on display in front of the entire country, minus the Grace of God, we would all be in trouble. We are all more broken (than we dare admit).”
Amen. We are all more broken than we dare to admit. Minus the grace of God, I am Charlie Sheen, if not worse. Today I want to look at how we got ourselves into this mess in the first place. How did we become so addictive? Like in the video we saw last week, how did we become so insane? You know, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results? What is so twisted about us that we can find humor in other’s brokenness? Let’s look open to Genesis 3 and look into the heart of our fallenness and what God did to save us from ourselves. First,
I. The sequence of sin (Gen. 3:1-7)
As we pick up the story in Genesis 3, we know so far that God has made everything and He says it is good. The only time God says it is not good is when God sees Adam as being alone and creates Eve (Gen. 2:18). Again, God says, “It is not good.” So immediately you are told that God is the only one who knows ultimately what is good and what is not good for us. This is important because that is precisely what Satan will attack in Genesis 3.
Genesis 2 ends with Adam and Eve living without guilt and shame, enjoying God’s creation and ruling together over it. They are experiencing oneness with each other. God had given them maximum freedom and dominion in the earth. They were to enjoy it all because in doing so, they were worshipping God, the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). They were to enjoy everything, but God made sure they realized that they were simply creatures, not the Creator. Out of the entire created order, only mankind had the potential of crossing moral boundaries. Freedom can only be maximized if you know where the boundaries are. A fish is not meant to cross the boundaries of the water, but inside the water, it can maximize its freedom. Outside the water, it is not freedom, but death. So God establishes a boundary for Adam, which was one tree (Gen. 2:17). God gives him the choice of trusting His Word or not. And out of God’s goodness, He also warns him of the consequences: “you will surely die.”
Notice I said ruling over the creation. God had instructed man to name the animals (Gen. 2:19). To give someone a name is to exercise authority over them. Adam even names the woman “Woman” which means “out of man.” By the way, did you know that Eve was first called woman before she was called Eve? I tell you this because God’s created order is about to get all twisted and end up in chaos in a second. Let’s get into the text. Take note that the sequence of sin begins with:
a) Doubting God’s Word
Moses in writing this tells us that a serpent slithered his way into the garden. We know from other Scriptures that this was actually Satan (2 Cor. 11:3, Rev. 12:9). He had already fallen from heaven with a third of the angels (Is. 14; Eze. 28). He was allowed to enter this snake and control it to disrupt God’s order. When it says “more crafty,” it is not a negative term. The word has the idea of being wary and of knowing when dangers lurk. Perhaps this is why Satan chose this animal.
Moses tells us that this animal is not the opposite of God, but created by God. Immediately we see that God is sovereign. Satan is not the opposite of God (like dual forces of good and evil) and still under God’s sovereignty. Notice what happens next.
The first words out of his mouth are “Did God really say?” Now we are not told if he tumbled out of a tree or if was standing upright or had a lisp or anything. We can imagine, but the point of the text is that his modus operandi is to attack God’s Word. By the way, it should have been a red light to Eve when the snake started talking. It does not seem that talking animals were the normal way of things from the text. We know Balaam’s donkey talked in Numbers, but it should have been a signal to Eve that animals, which were given under their authority seem to be taking control here. That’s precisely what Satan wants. He wants to disrupt God’s order. All of sin is a disruption in God’s created order. What we see in the world is not what God intended it to be. The woman follows the animal into sin and the man follows the woman into sin. As a result, sin causes you to worship the wrong thing. Paul says in Romans that when we decide not to worship God, we end up giving ourselves to the creation and not to the Creator (even birds and reptiles Rom. 1:21-25). Good things become god-like things. So no wonder Charlie Sheen worships sex or money or whatever. He’s a slave to it because he worships it. The worship is in the wrong place. We don’t become superhuman when we say no to God, but sub-human, less than human. And instead of created things existing to serve us so we can serve God better, we end up existing to serve them.
But notice the attack on God’s Word; not by argument, but by subtle insinuation. Commentator Derek Kidner observes that this first question is “is both disturbing and flattering: it smuggles in the assumption that God’s word is subject to our judgment.” Satan does not come flat out denying God’s Word, but causing Eve to doubt God’s Word. By the way, we don’t know why Satan went to Eve first. My guess is that he is out to ruin God’s created order, but the text is not crystal clear on it.
But the point is that the sequence of sin always comes with doubting God’s Word and that what God has said is subject to our judgment. Look at each temptation of Christ. “Jesus, I hear you are God’s Son. Really? Did God really say He will take care of you? Look how hungry you are!” Or with us: Did God say He will provide? Did God say He will never leave you? Look how lonely you are! And on and on he goes making us question God’s Word. John Macarthur adds, “All temptation starts with the idea that we have a right to evaluate what God has said or required.” So when are in sin, we need to ask, “What is it about God’s Word that I am now doubting?” That will help us in seeing that we are being deceived very subtly by the Enemy. If the Enemy can bring doubt about God’s Word to you, then you are in a domino effect that will automatically cause you to doubt God’s character and thus end in disobeying God’s voice. Satan essentially says, “Since you cannot trust God to meet your needs, you need to meet your own needs.” So watch for seeds of doubt being sown in your mind in any temptation.
Author and Pastor Kent Hughes notes, “Here we must remember that God’s word was responsible for everything Eve enjoyed—day and night, the sun and the moon, the dappled blue of the sky, the exotica of the garden, the flowers, the singing rainbows of birds, the adoring creatures, her Adam—all came from God’s good word, which Satan now attacked.”
Secondly, after you doubt God’s Word, you start:
b) Doubting God’s Character
Satan quotes God’s Word, but he distorts it. In Gen. 2:16, God affirms in the positive that they can eat of every tree in the garden, except one. Now Satan twists it to highlight the negative. He doesn’t mention God’s boundless, liberal and lavish provision. He simply focuses on the one thing that puts God in a bad light. He puts all the emphasis on God being a restrictive God. So he’s not asking a question here, but deliberately distorting the facts. Pastor Warren Wiersbe translates this question from Satan accurately when he says, ““If God really loved you, He would be much more generous. He’s holding out on you!” So instead of focusing on all that they did have, he highlights the one thing they did not have. Be careful when your perspective becomes all about God’s prohibition and less about God’s provision in your life. You are on a slippery slope of destruction!
What is happening here before our eyes? Remember I told you that your view of God is the most important thing about you. Your view of God affects the way you see yourself and others. Here Satan is creating a god in his image and helping Eve to do the same thing. And this image of God is one where He is a harsh, mean, restrictive, killjoy, and a control freak of a Father. “Eve, don’t you find it quite strange that God is restricting you? Let’s talk about that.” God’s character is doubted. If you can’t believe His Word, then you cannot believe His character either. Perhaps He is not good after all, Eve.
And from there Eve starts to go down that path. Notice how she attempts to correct Satan, but she herself does not know what God has said. First of all, she too does not use the covenant name of God here, following the Enemy’s example. Secondly, while Gen. 2:16 is spoken in a context of God’s generosity (“surely” or “freely” and “every”), she omits these words and thus opens the door wider about God’s stinginess and limitations. She minimizes God’s provision. Thirdly, she magnifies God’s restriction by adding, “neither shall you touch it.” God never said that! Again, be careful when you minimize God’s provision and magnify His prohibitions. Lastly, she focuses on the location (“in the midst of the garden”) instead of its significance.
Isn’t this just like us? A father tells his daughter, “Honey, it’s getting late, I think you need to tell your friend to go home.” The daughter then runs to the mother crying, “Daddy said my friend can never come home, ever again!” Or a boss notices his employee is late on several occasions and says to him, “Hey Bob, make sure you punch in on time. Just take note of when you’re coming in.” And Bob goes to lunch and tells his co-workers, “Man, this boss is so nit-picky. He said if I am late again, I will be fired!” When we don’t like a prohibition, we magnify its strictness. We are sons and daughters of Eve!
Notice also she says, “lest you die.” God had said, “Surely” in Gen. 2:16. She softens God’s Word here. She reasons, “Hmm, maybe the consequences are not that bad.” And isn’t that exactly why we sin? Moses is carefully writing this dialogue, inspired by God, so I don’t think this is merely paraphrase. God wants us to clearly see the differences between what He has said and Satan’s distortion of God’s Word. Here is the third part of the sequence:
c) Denying and Disobeying God
Notice now Satan moves in for the kill. The door is opened wide for him to work. He boldly contradicts God’s Word and tries to remove her fears by saying, “You will not surely die.” Notice here that the first doctrine ever denied is the doctrine of judgment. Here is where universalism had its origin. There are no consequences to our actions. There is no hell. You will not die. Note here that Satan always glorifies the pleasure of sin but never mentions the consequences and pain of sin.
This is an in-your-face to God. The Hebrew places the word lo (“not”) in front of God’s declaration: “not—you shall surely die.” Then he tells her she needs to deny God and in essence, disobey God in order to be happy. In other words, “Eve, God does not want you to reach your potential. God is jealous and afraid of you. God is restricting from full humanity and being like God.” This verse is huge. Kidner says, “the climax is a lie big enough to reinterpret life.” Also, God is dishonest. Macarthur interprets Satan to be saying, “not only is God putting me in bondage, not only is God restrictive and narrow needlessly, not only is God trying to withhold from me some delight, some joy, some satisfaction, but do you know God is actually dishonest? God doesn't tell the truth. He's not good. He's not caring. And He's not even honest."
The idea of “your eyes being opened” is “a metaphor for knowledge, suggesting a newfound awareness not previously possessed.” She is told that, “God is keeping something from you, so only in disobeying Him will you receive it.” Satan comes across as someone who has Eve’s best interest at heart. He paints himself as one who is all about freedom, while God is all about bondage. Isn’t this how people justify their sinful actions? Have sex in the context of marriage? No way! God is so restrictive! Why not have two goddesses at your disposal?
When he says they will be “like God, knowing good and evil,” he’s saying essentially, “You will have a divine ability to master your existence.” You can be God. You can set your own rules. You can be morally autonomous. As Sinatra sang, you can do things your way! Augustine has rightly said that, “Sin is believing the lie that you are self-created, self-dependent, and self-sustained.” He highlights all that will be received and does not mention what they will lose. Satan presents “divine love as envy, service as servility, and a suicidal plunge as a leap into life.” Theologian Cornelius Plantinga agrees when he says, “To do its worst, evil needs to look its best. Evil has to spend a lot on makeup.… Vices have to masquerade as virtues—lust as love, thinly veiled sadism as military discipline, envy as righteous indignation, domestic tyranny as parental concern.” And in an effort to be more than what God intended her to be, little did she know she will become less. Sin is indeed chocolate-covered poison.
Hughes notes, “What an incredible attack in light of the fact that the thousand “goods” of creation, not to mention the gift of each other and their rulership of the earth as well, came from God. Such a blatant slur on God’s character!” When did the sin actually happen? I think it already happened when she was deceived and disbelieved that God was good and has His best interests out for her. The actual act here in Gen. 3:6 is the “fruit” of those seeds, which she cultivated and watered.
Satan tells Eve that he knows what’s good for her and not God. And interestingly notice the phrase in v. 6: “the woman saw…was good for food.” Author John Sailhamer says, “Up until now in the narrative, the expression, “and he saw that it was good “ had been only used of God. Now, instead of God, it is the woman who “saw that it was good…Thus, the temptation is not presented as a general rebellion from God’s authority. Rather, it is portrayed as a quest for wisdom and “the good” apart from God’s provision.” Also until now, God was the one who “takes” and provides as He took Adam’s rib and made Eve and brought her to him (Gen. 2:21-22). Until now, God had made everything that man required, but soon they will be making themselves loincloths (Gen. 3:7). Be careful when you decide that you know what’s good for you apart from what God has provided for you. Such a lie is rooted in the heart of the Fall of Man.
Notice also what happens with the deceitfulness of sin. It focuses on the physical appetites: “She saw the tree was good for food.” Eating the fruit of a tree is not sinful, but doing it apart from God is. Satisfy your physical hunger your way. Secondly, sin appeals to the eyes: “delight to the eyes.” As the songwriter says, “be careful little eyes what you see.” Thirdly, sin has an element of covetousness. The word “desired” here is the same word used in the prohibition against covetousness (Exod 20:17). Hamilton adds, “Here is the essence of covetousness. It is the attitude that says I need something I do not now have in order to be happy.”
By the way, there is no mention here that the fruit was an apple. The only fruit mentioned here is the fig (Gen. 3:7), so most likely it was a fig, but that is irrelevant. Anyway, notice these three approaches are exactly what Satan uses today in the world. 1 John 2:15-16: “Do not love the world or the things in the world….For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father, but from the world.” Notice that the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that's the lust of the flesh. She saw that it was a delight to the eyes, that's the lust of the eyes, the material side. And she saw that the tree was able to make one wise, that's the pride of life. There they were right in the garden. You can see the same three approaches when Jesus was tempted as well.
Anyway, notice how sin then converts others. She saw, she took, she ate and then she gave to Adam. There is debate about whether or not Adam was with Eve and was passive and silent the whole time and why he would eat the fruit at all?! We’ll talk about that briefly next time.
As I close, see the destructive sequence of sin. Next time we will look at the consequences of sin. We get ourselves into such amazing messes don’t we? As Annabelle is crawling now, she is always getting herself stuck in some corner somewhere. I’m always amazed how she got into some of the situations she gets herself in. Unable to get herself out of her mess, she then cries for help.
Her situation is just like ours: quick to make the mess, incapable of getting out of it. Adam and Eve will try hard to get out of the mess they created, but we will see God, in His grace, intervening for them and doing what they cannot do for themselves.
Look carefully at the words in our text, especially Gen. 3:6. The words that plunged us into abyss were to “take and eat.” We got into trouble and lost our fellowship with God and death was the consequence all because we “took and ate.” But isn’t it amazing that right before Jesus died and in order to give them a picture of what He was about to do, He gathered them together for the Last Supper and as they were eating, Jesus took bread and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to the disciples, saying, “TAKE, EAT; THIS IS MY BODY” (emphasis mine, Matt. 26:26). Do you see it?
God, in His own counter-strike to our fallenness, uses the same words. We took and ate for ourselves apart from God and brought death. But God, in His grace, gives us Himself in Christ to take and eat and thus restored our fellowship with Him again and brought us life. Satan’s words “take and eat” brought the grave, but God’s words “take and eat” lifts us from death to life! AMEN! What an awesome God we have!
I am thankful where we like Adam have failed, Jesus, the 2nd Adam has conquered. Our confidence is in Him. He is our righteousness and the answer to our fallenness. He went hungry and was able to obey God and resist the Enemy. He did what we could not do and this is why we worship Him. And when death was brought for our disobedience, He bore it for us, so that in the end, in Revelation, we are back in the garden again with the Tree of Life! (Rev. 22:2).
Thank you Jesus that you came and entered our mess, our addiction, our misdirected worship of the creation, our rebellion, our covetousness, our ingratitude, our idolatry, our forgetfulness of all good things, our desire to be God and our foolishness through and through. Really, you came into our “CharlieSheenness.” And not only entering our messed up, out of order world, but carrying all of this sin on the cross on our behalf and triumphing over it victoriously! Amen!
Which of these areas have we been caught in? Which of these tangled messes do we need the Lord to rescue us from? Have we magnified God’s prohibitions and minimized His provisions? Where have we doubted His Word and His character? Where do we have unbelief that He is not good? Let us confess these sequences of sin patterns we have fallen into and come again to the foot of our Savior, our righteousness and here Him say, “Take and eat” of me now.
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Hughes, R. K. (67).
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Hughes, R. K. (68).
Kidner, D. (73).
Macarthur, J. Ibid.
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Borgman, Paul (2001). Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard (28-29). Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervsarity Press.
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Kidner, D. (73).
Larson, C. B., & Lowery, B. (2009). 1001 quotations that Connect: Timeless Wisdom for Preaching, Teaching, and Writing (227). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
Hughes, R. K. (69).
Sailhamer, John H (1992). The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary (104). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Mathews, K. A. (238).
Hamilton, V. P. (190).
Macarthur, J. Ibid.