In Need of a Savior
Let us journey back together more than six thousand years. If you could travel around this ancient world, you would find an absolutely perfect creation of lush forests, teeming oceans, and pristine landscapes that would put the Grand Canyon to shame. You might notice a snow-white lamb lying down next to a lion. You might notice a Tyrannosaurus Rex coming your way, only to discover that it is a friendly beast, created for the pleasure of God and mankind. But if we explored long enough, we would discover a paradise that surpassed anything else we had ever laid eyes on. A paradise of such beauty that the thought of leaving this place brings tears to our eyes. This paradise is known as the Garden of Eden, and God designed it especially for the enjoyment of His favorite creation: mankind. It is to this perfect setting that we come to in our Bibles this morning, and I invite you to turn to Genesis chapter three, and we will be reading verses one through fifteen.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the Garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou has done? And the woman said, the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou has done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Let us pray together
The title of my sermon this morning is “In Need of a Savior.” We will explore together how through the seduction of Satan, Adam and Eve were forever separated from God because of their sin. But we will also look at how God, in the midst of mankind’s darkest hour, made a promise of coming salvation that would forever shape human history.
The Seduction of Mankind
Most of you have probably read or heard the first sentence of chapter three many times over the course of your lifetime. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” The first question that we must answer is who on earth this serpent was. But the fact is, Moses does not tell us the identity in the Genesis account. But the New Testament is very clear on the identity of this crafty snake. Hopefully you remember Bro. Pete’s scripture reading from a little bit ago. That passage from the last chapters of Revelation tells us that Satan was that same serpent from the garden. I don’t know about you, but when I read these verses, something that immediately pops into my mind is that Eve was not shocked when a snake started talking to her. I know that I for one would have high-tailed it out of there. One commentator made the point that Eve must have quickly figured it out that the serpent was a heavenly messenger. Perhaps this is why she had so much confidence in the message of Satan.
Here’s a fun little side-note about this old serpent. The Bible tells us that before the Fall, the serpent actually walked around, because after the Fall, God cursed the serpent to crawl around on its belly. And did you know that God gave us little bitty indicators of His curse on the serpent? Ladies, next time you see a snake, I want you to really carefully pick it up and look along the underside of its body. Do you know what you will find? You’ll find little bitty legs that are pressed up into its body. Now, evolutionists believe that this is evidence of millions of years of progress on the snake’s part, but we in the Church know that this is but one more sign that God isn’t joking when He punishes sin.
Let’s look together at exactly what Satan told Eve would happen if she ate the forbidden fruit. Let’s read verses four and five again. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” You see, Satan told Eve that two things would happen if she ate the fruit. First, she would not die if she ate the fruit. Most likely, Eve did not understand God’s true meaning that she would die if she ate the fruit. Eve probably assumed that the fruit was poisonous, and that she would drop dead if it crossed her lips. So Satan took advantage of this misunderstanding, and he assured Eve that she would not die from eating the fruit. The second thing that Satan told Eve was that her eyes would be opened, and she would know good and evil. You know, Satan actually told the truth on this one. Before Adam and Eve ate that fruit, they did not know evil. They only knew the good things that God had given them. They only knew what it was like to be in perfect fellowship with their Creator. But as soon as they broke God’s only commandment, they knew both good and evil.
So you can see here that Satan was extremely crafty in the way he tricked Adam and Eve. He perverted the words of God and convinced them that God’s words were not true. I hope you know that he is using the exact same tricks in the year 2011. Every day, Satan convinces people that God’s words are not true, and that we can do as we wish. Satan convinces the atheist that he can ignore God’s laws because God doesn’t exist in the first place. Satan convinces the agnostic that he can ignore God’s laws because no one can be really sure about His laws until after death anyways. Satan convinces the Muslim that he can ignore God’s laws because Muhammad taught a more perfect way to follow than Christ. But you know what, Satan convinces the Christian of some things, too. Satan convinces Christians that they can ignore God’s laws because God will just forgive them in the end anyways. Or maybe he tells them that it’s okay because no one is looking. Or maybe he tells them that God only meant the Ten Commandments for people that lived thousands of years ago. However he does it, Satan is still convincing us every day that what God says does not matter, and that there are no consequences for our actions. But let’s look back at Adam and Eve and discover if it’s true that our sins have no consequences.
The Sin of Mankind
Verse six is quite possibly the most depressing verse in the entire Bible. In these short fifty-one words, husband and wife both ruined their sinless perfection, and set about a series of events that have still not reached their completion. Let’s reread verse six. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
This verse has two little words that should put us men to shame. How many times in your life have you heard a man remind a woman that it was Eve who first ate the fruit, and then convinced her husband to follow along with her. I know that I have heard this many times, and maybe even said it a couple of times, too. But where was Adam when all of this was going on? Look it verse six again: and gave unto her husband with her. So wives, next time your husbands try to convince you that everything wrong with the world is your fault, just gently remind them that Adam was there the whole time acting like a bump on a log.
But beyond whose fault it really was, there is a bigger theological question about this verse. Why did God put the tree in the garden, anyways? If God had not put the tree in the garden, then Adam and Eve could not have sinned, because there were no laws to be broken, and they and their descendants could have lived in paradise forever. To answer this question, we have to know why Adam and Eve (and every human being who has lived since) exists on this earth. Why did God create us in the first place? God created us so that we could worship and obey Him freely. We were created to honor and glorify God. And is God truly obeyed if there is no way to disobey Him? God is not truly glorified by a person who only follows Him because there is no other way. No, God is truly glorified when men and women look at the world, and they look at God. And they choose God. God did not desire for Adam and Eve to be robots. God desired for them to know the possibility of sin, and yet choose not to sin.
But they did sin, and there were dire consequences of that sin. By my count, there are three distinct consequences listed here that resulted from Adam and Eve’s rebellion. For the first consequence, let’s read verse seven again. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Beyond the obvious effect that people started wearing clothes, there is the broader concept that people began experiencing shame. Shame is a tricky concept for our American minds to grasp. We normally do not experience shame like some cultures around the world experience it. I guess the closest we come on a regular basis is being embarrassed, but it is really much more than that. Shame is the opposite of honor. In Japan, if a business starts losing money, and it looks like they will have to go bankrupt, very often the CEO will publicly commit suicide. Many people in Japan believe that committing suicide ends the shame that would be brought onto their families by their failure. This same concept of shame is why many Muslims will kill one of their relatives that becomes a follower of Jesus Christ. They feel that shame will be brought on them by their relative’s conversion. And shame was first experienced in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve realized that they needed to put on some clothes.
The second effect of sin on the human race is that for the very first time, people experienced fear. Let’s look at verse ten once more. “And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” For so many people, fear is such an integral part of their lives that they cannot imagine living a day without being afraid. Many tribal cultures in Africa build their entire societies around the notion of fear. For thousands of years, they have done everything they can do to try to appease the demonic forces that terrorize them. Every social interaction, every dance, every prayer, everything is done out of fear. It is amazing what a transformation happens in some of these villages whenever a missionary comes in and shares the gospel. Sometimes the whole village accepts Christ together, and they have a party that lasts for hours and hours, because they no longer have to fear the evil one. And all of that fear started in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve hid from God.
But the third effect of sin is the one that is most devastating to our eternal souls. Implicit throughout these verses is the idea that for the first time, humans stand guilty before God. Shame and fear may be a huge part of many people’s lives, but it is our guilt that forever separates us from the One that loves us. Every day Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden, and I wonder if it fully dawned on them that they could never just stroll with God through the garden again. Where before there was a beautiful relationship between Creator and creation, now there was a marred relationship between King and rebellious subjects. And while Adam and Eve probably didn’t realize it right then, they did start dying. In fact, they would be in the process of dying for the rest of their lives. Never before the Fall did the horrors of Alzheimer’s, or AIDS, or cancer, or genetic defects affect the human population. Did you know that our bodies were not created to be ruined by cancer? God did not design us to have to go through the agony of losing a loved one. Pain, suffering, and death are all results of what happened there in that garden. But praise God, Satan did not ultimately win that day there in the Eden. As we will see next, God immediately began the process of making everything right again.
The Savior of Mankind
If verse six was one of the most depressing verses of the Bible, then Genesis 3:15 is surely one of the most victorious verses in the Bible. Let’s read this great verse again together. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
When I was growing up, I read this verse and ran and told my mother that I had figured out why she hated snakes so much! She hated snakes because God put enmity between the serpent and the woman. This verse also taught me that if a snake ever bites my heel, all I have to do is crush his head and that’ll be the end of it. Needless to say, I then did not grasp the true meaning of this verse. When the Bible uses the word “seed,” it is referring to the male contribution in making children. But this verse talks about the seed of a woman. Most commentators agree that this is explicitly referring to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. This makes sense, because as much as my mom hates snakes, Jesus Christ is the true enemy of that old serpent. And four thousand years after God made that promise, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ. Unlike Adam and Eve, Jesus Christ never once broke one of God’s laws, even though there are over 600 of them listed in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. He lived a perfect life, and then Satan once again convinced men to sin against God, this time by hanging Jesus Christ on the cross. On that cross, He paid the price for all of our sins. All of the shame, fear, and guilt that was brought about by sin was laid there upon our Savior. Satan truly did bruise His heel that day. But on the third day, Jesus arose from the grave and truly crushed Satan’s head. Just as Adam and Eve began dying as soon as they ate that fruit, Satan began dying as soon as Jesus Christ rose from the grave and conquered sin. Sometimes in this world it is easy to forget that Satan has been defeated, and it is easy to forget that Jesus Christ will one day destroy sin forever. Sometimes it seems as if Satan really has won, and we here are fighting a losing battle against an ever-worsening world. But remember those verses that Bro. Pete read earlier. In the end, when it is all said and done, Satan will be locked away forever. And God will create a new heaven and a new earth, that will be even better than the garden of Eden.
If you are here this morning, and you have experienced the sweet forgiveness of sins that is only possible through faith in Christ, I challenge you in two ways. One, I challenge you to praise God unceasingly, because you no longer have to be enslaved by sin! Second, I challenge you to never give in to the temptations of Satan. He can be so persuasive, but you can rest assured that following His leading will lead to nothing but shame, fear, and guilt.
But if you are here this morning, and you have never accepted Christ as your Savior, then you are in the same position that Adam and Eve were all those years ago. You have sinned against God’s laws, and you have been separated from the One that made you. You were created to be with Him, but you cannot because God is a holy God that refuses to be in the presence of sin. Adam and Eve learned that one day Someone would come who would break the power of sin forever. I am here to tell you this morning that that Man has come, and He has promised forgiveness of sin for all who would place their faith in Him! Jesus said in the gospel of John that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one can go to the Father except through Him. Please bow your heads and close your eyes.
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