Summary: A look at suffering as the result of sin, which arises from free will which is necessary for true love, in the light of Genesis 3.


Adam was walking around the Garden of Eden feeling very lonely, so God asked him, "What is wrong with you?" Adam said he didn’t have anyone to talk to. God said he was going to give him a companion and it would be a woman.

He said, "This person will cook for you and wash your clothes; she will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear your children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will not nag you, and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you’ve had a disagreement. She will never have a headache, and will freely give you love and compassion whenever needed."

Adam asked God: "What will a woman like this cost?" God said, "An arm and a leg." Adam said, "What can I get for just a rib?" The rest is history.

The world is not the way it is supposed to be. We live in a world with suffering. We live in a world with sin. We live in a world were people do not always get what they deserve. We live in a world were sometimes the good people suffer and the wicked prosper. Why? Why do we have suffering in the world. If as we read last week that God created the world and it was good, why do we not see it as good now. What went wrong?

Well we get a partial answer by looking at Genesis 3 this morning. We have touched on this issue a few times in past sermons but never really addressed the issue, so I want to do so this morning. I want to use some of the ideas from Genesis 3 and attempt to answer the question, what went wrong.

Free will

Like we suggested last week it all begins with free will. God created a garden into which he placed the man and the woman. He then told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But he gave them the choice. He did not pre-programme them to either eat or not eat. He created the garden, gave them instructions and then gave them a choice. Adam and Eve and the choice about whether to eat the fruit or not. Why? Have you ever wondered why? Why did God create a tree that was not to be eaten and then put it in the middle of the garden. Why did God make the tree in the first place, wouldn’t we be so much better off if he had never made the tree in the first place. Or if he had to make the tree for some reason why did he put it in the middle of the garden. Why not at the top of a high mountain or in a secret valley with no clear passes in, why put it were it was so easy to reach?

Well I can’t give a complete answer but as I have said before in sermons it all comes down to love. God wants us to love him, but for love to be real it must be chosen love. God wants us to choose to love him, not to be forced to love him, or programmed to love him, but rather to know him and to choose to love him. Pretty obviously if we are to choose to love him then we must be able to choose not to love him. Hence the tree. If love is to be real then there must be a real choice, to love or not to love, to follow or not to follow.

Free will produces sin

The trouble is with free will is that there is the chance that people will choose not to love God and to sin. And as we read this morning that is what happened. Was it inevitable? Did free will inevitably lead to sin. Was there no other option? Was humanity doomed when God planted the tree and gave us free will. No, there was a choice and Adam and Eve chose the wrong one. Free will lead to sin, but inevitably, not as a result of predestination but because of a human choice. Adam and Eve had the choice to obey God or to disobey him and they chose to disobey.

Sin produces suffering

And so we have the consequences. God told Adam and Eve the consequences of their actions. Firstly Eve will experience pain in child bearing and the relationship between her and her husband will be corrupted. The ground will be cursed and man will have to work hard to get his food and he will die. Then they were expelled from the garden of Eden and removed from the tree of life. Before we move to consider this in more detail and what it means lets also notice that there was also grace on God’s part as well. They were not immediately killed and there is the promise of children to the Adam and Eve and the beginnings of a promise that one day the serpent will be defeated, and God does not leave them in their naked condition but provides clothing for them. Although there is judgment there is also grace.

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