Professor: Earl Marshall
January 7, 2000
Douglas M. McGuire
Box # 16
In candidacy for: Bachelor of Religious Education
Subject: Responsibility Preaching Portion: Genesis 3&4
Theme: Taking the blame for sin Sermonic Process: Exposition
It’s Not My Fault
1. Steve was caught in the act. There were credible witnesses. His guilt could not be denied. At the advice of his attorney, he pleaded no contest. As a result, Steve was convicted of stealing a six-pack of beer.
When asked about the incident, Steve said that is was a joke – part of an initiation into his college fraternity. But the shopkeeper was not amused; the police were not amused; and the judge was not amused. Perhaps the senior fraternity members were guiltier than Steve, but Steve was the one who had to spend time in jail instead of in class.
Society is full of similar cases. Think of the teen that hangs around the streets after school and gets into illicit drugs. We can blame the dealer that supplies him, blame his parents for abandoning him to the streets, blame the pressure and greed of society that forces both his parents to work – but it is the teen that suffers with the addiction and it is the teen that winds up in a juvenile detention centre.
2. Human beings have a character flaw that is not new to this century or even this millennium. Starting with the first man and woman we have had a problem accepting responsibility for our actions.
1. The excuses may seem plausible, but they cannot overturn a fundamental principle: an individual is subject to the consequences of their actions. It has been a principle that God enacted at the beginning of time and has much more serious ramifications that a jail sentence for a frat prank. It ultimately becomes an issue of life and death. (pause…) - it started a trend that caught on with the kids!
Prop: As children of God were are responsible to God for our life actions.
T.S.: In Genesis Chapter 3-4 we recognize that the author asserts that as children of God we have an obligation to accept responsibility for our life actions.
In The Garden
1. Temptation (v. 3:1-5)
The world today blames many of societies ailments for the high crime rates - child poverty, physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and other seedy vices. Yet there was a time when there were no drugs, no abuse, no poverty and mankind elected to engage in a sin directly against God – the worst type of crime. The abundance and safety of the garden was no barrier against temptation.
Ø The Tempter (v.1a)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.
In modern terminology we often view crafty as a positive as opposed to negative attribute. It sounds very much like the desired attribute of the rich power brokers of today’s society – crafty is all that – wise, perceptive, inovatitive. But crafty also has its negative connotations – sly, elusive or tricky. The serpent in the garden is not being lauded as an innovator, the author is pointing out that this is a shady trickster, the evil one is in the garden.
Ø The Question (v. 1b)
He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
How subtle. The serpent asks what seems to be a relatively benign question, but the implication of the wording is that the serpent is expressing disbelief at the statement attributed to God. It is a challenge to the very command of God. Challengers to the faith often use this subtle approach – does the Bible really say… or other statements are originating from a state of disbelief. We need to be cognizant of this approach. In this case the serpent is trying to stir up feelings of disbelief within Eve.
Ø The Law (v.2, 3)
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 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.'"
The woman demonstrated that she was fully aware of the command of God and even enhanced verse three to include the command “you must not touch it”. This clearly demonstrates that the woman was fully aware of the consequences that were attached to betraying God. Eve knew that she and Adam were called to leave the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -ALONE!
Ø The Lie (v.4, 5)
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."
Okay now the snake steps out of his subtle approach and confronts the truth of God head on. The serpent blatantly calls God a liar. Traditionally we assume the serpent is Satan or under his influence – we can safely call him the evil one. We know that God does not lie - Titus 1:2b[of] God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, versus Satan who represents evil and is “a liar and the father of lies” John 8:44. It comes down to the choice - in whom will we put our faith. Satan is challenging us to put the faith in ourselves – God calls us to faith in him. The evil one continues his twisted approach by attributing ignoble motives to God’s command. It was the serpent’s claim that God wanted to limit the progress of man and keep him in submission to him. The evil one claimed that the forbidden fruit would make Adam and Eve like God – and God wanted to keep them dow. We hear this argument resonate amongst people today “God doesn’t want you to have any fun. His rules will only limit your freedom. Ignore his rules, and you really begin to live!”
2. Sin (v. 3:5)
Hindsight is 20/20 – looking back at the choice Eve had we clearly see what she should have said. “Buzz off you nasty snake, I clearly heard what God said and I have no intention of messing with the Big Guy!” Instead Eve allowed the serpent to massage his message. She kept listening, pondering and rationalizing his lies. Too many of us simply spend too much time dealing with evil one’s offers. We need to stand firm on the commands of God and save ourselves prolonged temptation.
Ø Unwary Thinking (v. 6a)
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…
The serpent planted the seed of doubt in Eve’s mind and now it is beginning to bloom and grow. She began to rationalize the evil one’s arguments – just looking at the look of the fruit began to sway her faith in the command of God. How could that fruit be so bad when it looked so good? And how about the whole - desirable for gaining wisdom thing. The cogs are whirling in her mind, is it not a good thing to desire wisdom?
The piling of true statements on top of the false one was a way for Eve to make the sin more palatable – even desirable. It looked good, wisdom was desirable and it would probably taste good. The problem – it was still in direct contravention of God’s own Word to not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Ø Unwary Action (v. 6b)
she took some and ate it.
There seemed only one course of action after rationalizing away the command of God. If the fruit was attractive and delicious and promised extraordinary gifts – how could she refuse!
To refuse she would have had to put her trust in God. She would have had to turn her back on the Serpent’s claims. She would have to leave the fruit on the branch. If we trust God and his Word there is no lie powerful enough, no facts persuasive enough and no argument strong enough to persuade us to act against God.
Ø Unwary Sharing (v. 6c)
She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
We don’t have any record of a discussion between Adam and Eve just the fact that she shared the fruits of her sin with her husband. Just as Adam and Eve shared in their innocence- now the share in their guilt.
Eve has compounded her sin by involving Adam. How often do we share the evils of sin – even with those we love?
III Consequences (3:7-13)
During a Game Show we feel bad for those who have made the wrong choice and hear the loud, annoying buzzer signal that they blew it and the consequence is that they have to leave the world of cars, furs, gifts and money and heads hanging low, out to the gritty world outside the studio. The buzzer rang loud and clear for Adam and Eve – they lost the grand prize and were swiftly escorted from the land of great treasures to a land of pain and suffering.
Ø Shame (v. 7)
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Adam and Eve were naked – they were naked before, but they were innocent before. Now that they had offended God and were not innocent they began to feel ashamed- something was abnormal and improper for sin had entered their lives!
Ø Fear (v. 8)
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
The fear of God can be a noble reverence for an awesome transcendent being one that keeps in check our learning, behaviour and submission. Yet fear of God in this context is an unhealthy distance between man and the creator he has wronged. This fear has twisted fellowship with God to terror of retribution – his creatures now hide in amongst the trees. The serpent never pointed out bone-chilling fear as one of the outcomes.
Ø Exposure (v. 9-11)
But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
Adam and Eve longed to be out of the sight of God. Just as we distance ourselves from God when we’ve done wrong so did the first man and woman. God just doesn’t let us go off and hide – he calls out to us hoping we will come forward a fess up. This is the big moment Adam – confess and repent, just confess and repent. Adam responds not with a confession but starts to demonstrate that he knows he has fallen out of favour with God and tells him he is naked and afraid. God knows where we are- it’s better to come out of the woods. God knows when we sin; we cannot hide it or ourselves from God. We need to recognize it is foolish to hide from God and we need to come forward and seek forgiveness.
Ø Excuses (v. 12,13)
The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
Adam boldly pronounces – “It’s her fault and if it isn’t her fault it’s your fault for putting her here with me”. Hummm how many times have we passed the buck when responsibility should have been shouldered by us? How about blaming God – have you ever thought “God why are you doing this to me”, or “why did you allow this to tempt me?” Far too often when sin points the finger at us we actively pursue an alternate candidate for responsibility instead of seeking forgiveness for our actions! Have no doubt GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!! God continues his questioning by asking Eve to explain her role. To loosely quote the Cuban band leader “Eve you got sum splaining to do!” Eve takes this gauntlet of challenge and deftly tries to find a scapegoat for her crime. It..it..it was the snake… yeah the snake that’s it.. yeah it’s his fault… bad old snake. God doesn’t buy it. GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!!
Ø The Punishment (v. 14–19,23,24)
the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." 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." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 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." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
We don’t get off scott-free! There is a price to pay for sin and God exacted this catastrophic punishment against Adam and Eve and their entire race after them. The serpent paid a price for the role he played too. God does not let us shrink away from our responsibility we need to open and forthright with God. God accepts no excuse - GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!!
Like Father Like Son
IV Consequences II The Next Generation (Gen 4:1-12)
“Like Father Like Son”, or maybe “It Runs In The Family” would be a good title for section recording Cain’s trial before God regarding the death of his brother. This seems like a sequel in the tale of failing to take responsibility. Remember - GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!!
Ø Cain and Able (v. 1-5a)
Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.
God ordained the intimate relations between man and woman when, on the sixth day, he decreed that they should be fruitful and multiply. We see recorded here the birth of two sons and Eve aptly gives glory to God for the blessing. The boys take up their agrarian lifestyle, there were no solid union factory jobs yet – Able as a shepherd and Cain working the land. The two lads bring their offerings to God and receive a different response. Able receives a warm pleasant response from God for the offering he presented with the right attitude, Cain on the other hand is slighted for the nature of his offering. It may have been with a wrong heart motive or less than the best of the crop which God demands.
Ø Cain is Choked (v.5b-8)
So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Arrogance! The rebuke recorded here given by the Lord to Cain seems to be calm, fatherly words of advice. Yet Cain goes off the deep end! The sin of autonomy is raising its ugly head as we see Cain’s reaction to the corrective words of God. His attitude sucks and is extremely self-centred! So how does he address the problem? He should knuckle down to the task of farming, work on a right heart attitude and pray to God for help in the transformation. Instead he commits the heinous crime of murder in order to satisfy his own bitter jealousy that is fuelled by PRIDE! – So how does God act?
Ø God is Choked (v. 8-12)
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
Where is your brother? It I an easy question for the guy that left him dead in the field – but Cain like his father before him tells a bold face lie to God Almighty. Why do we insist on denying the truth to God? Why do we lift lame defences to him like- Am I my brother keeper? GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!! There was no hiding the truth from God. We need to face the music and take our punishment for the crime- God wants us to be responsible. I have no doubt that God we can mitigate our punishment by being open, honest and repentant. God punishes sin - especially unconfessed sin. Own up!
Richard W. Baynes aptly commented on this Like Father Like Son situation - Fathers hope their sons will imitate only their good and honorable characteristics and habits. Unfortunately, most sons don’t exercise such discretion. They become just like Dad, “warts and all.” A father’s influence on his offspring exerts itself negatively as well as positively. From his father a son may learn dishonesty as well as integrity, profanity as well as purity, laziness as well as ambition.
Cain apparently developed shortcomings similar to Adam’s. When confronted with his own transgression, Adam tried to shift the blame, refusing to accept responsibility for his own actions: “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12).
When Cain killed Abel and was subsequently confronted with his sin, he tried the same gambit: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He had learned the “art” of dodging responsibility for his personal behavior and choices.
As members of the human race, we are all, in a sense, sons and daughters of Adam. We too have learned to shirk responsibility, to play the “blame game,” and to resist repentance and confession of our sins. Christians, however, are “children of God” (1 John 3:1). When we acknowledge our sin and seek forgiveness, we are promised that Christ will “purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Let us pursue the holiness of our heavenly Father so that others can readily identify us as his children.
Conclusion: C.S. Lewis calls the Great Sin the sin of pride. Earl Marshall calls it the sin of autonomy. When we neglect to listen to the voice of God and act in what we believe is our own self-interest we are doomed to fail. We will come under the judgement of God and reap the consequences of Sin. When we err and hurt the God that loves us we need to repent and come humbly back to him. Mute attempts to flee or find a scapegoat are futile with a transcendent God - GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!!
U We need to be well versed in the word of God so as to be prepared for challenges! – study the word
U We need to trust in god and his word – we need to remember that God’s commands are what are best for us! – pray and be obedient to him
U Fess up and do not pass the buck – look at the way you deal with blame this week –take responsibilty
GOD KNOWS WHERE THE BLAME LIES!!