We read here about the greatest failure of all time. The failure of Adam & Eve to resist the temptation to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil. Think of how they failed!
They enjoyed every advantage. They lived in a perfect environment, were each married to the perfect person (in fact, you could say they were made for each other), enjoyed intimate and unlimited fellowship with the creator, and had their whole life before them! Yet, despite all these advantages, they nevertheless made a mistake that led to the condemnation of the entire human race!
When it comes to failure, this story should encourage and instruct us. This story encourages us because we know that no matter how bad our failure, unlike that of Adam & Eve, it is will not adversely affect the spiritual and eternal welfare of the entire human race. This story instructs us, however, in how Satan leads us to failure and how God lead us from failure to forgiveness and restoration. God never gives up on His children! Even in times of failure, His voice calls out to us!
1. How Satan Sets Us Up For Failure - vs. 1-8
We are told that the temptation of Adam & Eve came through a serpent. Who was working through the serpent? The devil, himself (Revelation 12:9 - “That ancient serpent, called the devil”).
A. Satan Works In Our Lives To Deceive Us - vs. 1-5
Satan sets us up for failure by getting us to think our way is better than God’s way. How? He seeks to deceive us. . .
1) Through Doubt - v. lb
Satan led Eve to doubt God’s Word! He cast doubt on its authority - “Did God really say this?” and its acceptability - “You must not eat from any tree in the garden.” Through leading Adam & Eve to doubt God’s Word, he led them to also doubt God’s love and good intentions.
If he can, Satan will lead us to doubt if the Bible is a book we can rely on to guide our lives. He knows if he can get us doubting the authority of God’s Word, it’s a simple step to doubt God’s love, believing that God’s Word cannot be trusted to be in our best interest. This sets us up to go our way rather than God’s way, which always leads to failure!
2) Through Denial - v. 4
Once doubt was entertained, Satan followed up with outright denial of the truth! He is still in the business of denying the truth of God’s Word!
3) Through Delusion - v. 5
Satan led Adam & Eve to accept a false reality! He actually led them to believe that they could do a better job running their lives than the One who had created them! Now here is where the devil starts in setting us up for failure: He seeks to get us to doubt the truth, so that we might eventually deny the truth, and accept a delusion as truth!
What delusion Satan wants you to accept? That you can be your own God, do your own thing, live your own life, make our own decisions, and do a better job at it than your creator! This lie is at the heart of all of the devil’s dealings with men (John 8:44). “The lie” that one can do better doing things their way, rather than God's way, was the reason Lucifer (Satan) lost his place in heaven and was cast out and eternally condemned (Isaiah 14:12-14), it is what keeps people today from coming to Christ (Ephesians 2:2), and it is what will be used to deceive the entire world so that Satan’s antichrist might rule the world in the last days (2 Thessalonians 2:11). “The lie” is the instrument Satan uses to keep unbelievers under condemnation, and if he can, lead believers to confusion, compromise, and eventual calamity!
How do we counter Satan’s lie? With God’s truth! If we are going to avoid the failures Satan has in mind for us, we must LEARN THE TRUTH! Part of the reason for Satan’s success with Adam & Eve, was their lack of adequate knowledge of the truth (v. 3; 2:16-17)!
B. Satan works In Our Lives To Defeat Us - v. 6
l) By Turning A Look Into Lust.
2) By Turning A Desire Into A Decision.
3) By Turning A Choice Into A Chain.
4) By Turning The Sinner Into A Seducer.
Jesus made it clear that He has two kinds of followers (Matthew 12:30) - we are either gathering people to Christ, or scattering people away from Christ.
Satan’s strategy is to lead as many believers as possible into daily compromise so that he might keep as many unbelievers as possible under eternal condemnation.
How can we defend ourselves against this happening in our lives? We must LOVE THE TRUTH!
“A lack of Scriptural knowledge is the source of all evils in the church.” - John Chrysostom (Hosea 4:6a)
C. Satan Works In Our Lives To Destroy Us - vs. 7-8
Jesus made clear the difference in His intentions for us and the devil’s desire for us (John 10:10)! How does Satan want to destroy us?
1) By Cutting Us Off From The Light Of God - v. 7
Many believe that when God made man in His image, part of what that means is that, like God, man was clothed with light.
“The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment.” - Psalm 104:2 (NIV)
If this was true, verse 7 takes on new meaning. Because of their failure, Adam & Eve had exchanged the light of the Father for the leaves of the fig tree; for them, the physical reality of their existence took on more significance than the spiritual.
They were left to “fend for themselves” in the world - cut off from the light of God! Satan call us to focus more on the physical than the spiritual, and ignore the Word of God in favor of the ways of the world.
2) By Cutting Us Off From the Life Of God - v. 8
Another change that occurred in Adam & Eve was that before, they had sought God’s presence, but now, they fought God’s presence!
The greatest failure of all is to refuse to respond to the call of God in times of failure! God is there in the midst of your failure, and He is speaking to you. What you need to do is LOOK FOR THE TRUTH!
The truth is that God still loves you, still has a plan for you, and calls to you - to teach you, to forgive you and restore you. Adam & Eve responded to the voice of God, saw the truth they needed to understand, and were restored. The same can happen for us in times of failure.
2. How God Sets Us Up For Forgiveness - vs. 9-10; 2l
A. God Works To Make Us Aware Of Our Sin - vs. 9-10
1) He Wants Us To Realize Where We Are - v. 9
Did God know where Adam & Eve were? Of course! But they needed to be confronted with the reality of their failure!
It is a terrible thing, once a person has climbed the ladder of “success” to discover that their ladder was leaning against the wrong building!
God wanted Adam and Eve to acknowledge their failure. Adam and Eve had leaned their ladder against the wrong building. Many today are doing and have done the same. Even though they may have achieved “success” as far as the world is concerned, they discover that their life is a failure (marriage, family, friends, peace, fulfillment).
Likewise, if we are going to be restored from our failures, we must be honest about them!
2) God Wants Us To Realize What We’ve Done - v. 10
God called Adam & Eve to admit their failure. They had made decisions without consulting God.
B. He Works To Make Us Aware Of Our Salvation - v. 21
1) The Atonement Of The Cross - v. 21a
Adam & Eve had never seen death before. In this, they saw the depth of their failure. Their failure was so serious, it cost the life of another. I like to think that the animal God slew was a lamb (John 1:29).
2) The Availability Of His Covering - v. 21b
God provided covering for Adam & Eve in their time of failure, He will do so for you! The same feeling Adam and Eve struggled with - embarrassment, shame, fear - are associated with every failure. But just as God, but His grace provided covering that relieved them of those feelings, God can provide covering that will relieve you of them, too.
Conclusion: There are consequences to failure (Galatians 6:7). Satan’s plan is for them to be a curse. But when we hear & heed His call in times of failure, God can take that which was meant for a curse and turn it into a blessing (Romans 8:28).
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” - 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV