Dr. Bradford Reaves
Crossway Christian Fellowship
Hagerstown, MD, USA
View this and other messages at: https://mycrossway.churchcenter.com/channels/8118
We continue today in our series “Beginnings.” This series has led us through many different beginnings already, including the beginning of the world and universe, time, man, marriage, society, and so much more. But last week we looked at the beginning of evil -or sin- in man. We talked quite philosophically last week about evil and how it was introduced in the garden. Today I want to take us into a more practical application because I realize that the presence of evil is far more complicated in our lives than philosophical discourse.
In essence, pain is the by-product of evil. Some of you know that I’ve had extensive abdominal surgery. On one occasion, at the change from day shift to night shift after my surgery, the night nurse came into my room for her rounds. She did her assessment and in the process, pressed on my belly. I screamed out to which she jumped back, “Oh! You’ve had surgery!”
I’ve counseled many people and walked with even more through dark and evil times. I’ve learned over the years that no matter your position, you must be careful when touching the areas of pain in people's lives. To merely explain away someone’s trauma in philosophical or theological terms can be insensitive and coarse. I’ve determined over the years that life is a series of pain management. How we manage our pain is crucial to our health and relationship with God. How we manage the pain of others is just as important.
The third chapter of Genesis is an important chapter in the Bible because it explains why things are the way they are today. Why there is decay. Why there is disease, racism, tyranny, and violence. Why there is ultimately death and judgment. Those things plague our entire universe, Genesis 3 tells us why. Even more, they point us to Revelation. Understanding Genesis 3 helps us better understand what and why the events in Revelation will unfold.
Up until this point, Adam and Eve are sinless and living in the peace and splendor of the garden. This is a place absent of death, disintegration, dysfunction, decay. It is the perfect Edenic creation of God and they live in it without sin, enjoying all the wonders of God’s creation. Genesis 3 is not a legend or a fairy tale. It is the written and inspired Word of God. And it explains to us exactly why things are the way they are and how sin came into our world and how it began to affect our world.
The first 7 verses start of the solicitor of sin, entering the garden as a serpent. With craftiness and deception, he convinces her to doubt God’s goodness and His love. The Fall took place when she stopped loving the Lord her God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving Him means believing Him and trusting Him. Last week, we saw the entry of sin into the woman’s mind in doubting God’s Word and the man’s inaction against this enemy. Today we will see the completion of that doubt into action that will seal their fate.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:1–7 ESV)
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda)
Satan’s lie is that you do not have to pay for your sins. The lie is that there’s no judgment. That’s the lie that Satan wants the whole world to believe. Nowhere do we see this lie played out more than with those living in the LGBTQ community, living it blatantly. And it is always in hostility to the God of the Bible and believers.
So here is the lie that enters Eve’s mind. The doubt of God’s character. Up to this time, the goal of Eve was to glorify God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength. That’s perfect righteousness. There was never any thought about self-satisfaction or self-fulfillment. There was never any thought about personal pleasure, personal gain.
Now, not only is that her thought, but that has also become her goal. Self-fulfillment has taken over her love for God. For the first time ever what is driving her own satisfaction? Sin moves from the mind to a feeling. Now the sin is going to work on her emotionally. From there it will course through her heart to action and the results of that action will lead her to pain and death. in exactly the pattern of James 1:14-15.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14–15 ESV)
This is the trap of sin. “I’m entitled… I deserve… I need...” It’s self-seduction, where the feelings follow the mind. Look at verse 6. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food” – that’s not intellectual. We don’t know what kind of tree it was. Some think it was an apple tree. The reason people traditionally have called it an apple tree is because in Latin, the word for apple is malum. The word for evil in Latin is malus. And then there’s the legend that Adam choked on his apple and that’s why men have an Adam’s apple.
She saw the tree was good for food, it was a delight to the eyes, and it was desirable to make one wise. What is going on here is that self-satisfaction is driving her self-destruction. It isn’t the glory of God anymore. She is being seduced by her physical appetite. First, she looks and she sees this as good for food- it was physically appealing. Now let me ask you a question. Do you think she was hungry? Of course not. But she had come to believe that there was something more satisfying in this food that she had never enjoyed in any other food. And this is lust. She sees that the fruit is good for food and that it will fulfill her more than what God has already provided. It tells you that stolen waters are sweeter.
Secondly, she not only sees that it’s good for food, but she also sees that it’s a delight to the eyes. There’s a certain emotion going on here. Oh, it’ll taste so good. Oh, it’s such beautiful fruit. It’s exciting her aesthetic appreciation. It’s not as if there wasn’t anything – as if everything else in the garden was brown and ugly. It wasn’t. But here again, is a selfish discontent. And once the mind went, then the emotions begin to take over, and it looks like the only food you really care to eat. Oh, it’s so beautiful. And you can just see that the appetites are taking over and conceiving the behavior.
Third, she also saw that the tree was desirable to make her wise. The wisdom part here, I believe is superiority. This has emotional power. There is something here that will elevate her beyond the wisdom from God or in the deceiver’s word, “That she would become like God.” What is happening here is her imagination is shaping sin into something that is more than it is and it is going to make her into something more.
She saw the tree was good for food, it was a delight to the eyes, and it was desirable to make one wise. These were the same appeals: (physical, emotional, and power) that Satan used to tempt Jesus. These are the same three approaches that Satan still uses against us today.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)
Did you hear that? Everything in the whole evil domain of Satan the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lie of moral autonomy: “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” By taking the fruit she would become wise. Equal with God, she would autonomously decide what was right and wrong. How intoxicating! She would make the rules. She would do it her way. That promise still intoxicates. A funeral director told me that among the unbelieving population Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” is in the first place as a funeral favorite: “But best of all; I did it my way.”
The thought builds to emotional desire to action to fulfill that perceived void in your life, and from the void, it leads to sin, and there sin produces death. In an effort to cover this pain of death they make coverings for their shame, but the coverings are just that. The sin is still there. Right in the garden. What happens is the mind begins to distrust God, question God, question God’s Word, God’s judgment, and God’s authority. From there it enters into our imagination and we begin to by thinking how much it will satisfy us. Every addiction, every affair, everything starts right here. God says it is good. Good says it’s enough. We want more.
6 ...she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:6–7 (ESV)
Moses expresses no shock here. “On the contrary,” says Von Rad, “the unthinkable and terrible is described as simply and unsensationally as possible.” From the human perspective, it is all so natural and undramatic. But it was cosmic and eternal. “Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat; Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe; That all was lost.”
And then almost as undramatically it says, “She gave also to her husband with her and he ate.” All of a sudden Adam is in the picture. Some believe that he was right there. If he was, why didn’t he stop this and protect his wife?
14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:14 ESV)
Others believe he wasn’t there because he wasn’t there to be deceived too. Satan pulled Eve out from under her protector. So, he wasn’t there through this whole process of deception. Or else if he had been there, he would have been in the conversation.
There’s a principle of headship in the Bible that we often miss in Western culture. That headship is found in the church and that headship is found in the family with the man as the spiritual head of the home.
Either way, Adam took the fruit willfully and willingly, knowing it was the forbidden fruit and knowing it was a willful and rebellious act against God. Adam sinned willfully, eyes-wide-open, without hesitation. He watched Eve take the fruit, and nothing happened to her. He sinned willfully, assuming there would be no consequences. Everything was upside-down. Eve followed the snake, Adam followed Eve, and no one followed God.
11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV)
The conclusion of this part of the narrative portrays three events: the opening of their eyes, the awareness, and the covering. What the serpent had announced now takes its effect. The fruit begins its really extraordinary work: they are changed, they see what they had not seen before. But that is only one side. The other side is what they became aware of: “They knew (became aware) that they were naked.” The awareness indicates a lack, something in them that was not right. They can make up for this lack by making themselves aprons. But it becomes clear at once that what they have done is no real help. The sin is still there. And even if we hide it from our family, friends, and even ourselves, we are exposed before God. It’s the same way today, there are too many of Adam’s sons who go about trying to cover up their sins with the fig leaves of good deeds and a religious lifestyle, but it’s all external because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus.
That’s really what happens, isn’t it? Everything seems so appealing, despite the warning in the heart. It’s not until after it’s done that the reality of our sin becomes clear. Rather than running to God, we often try (poorly) to cover ourselves, our sin, and our shame. I’m reminded of the cartoon where Wile E. Coyote would be running so fast chasing the roadrunner that he wouldn’t notice the cliff up ahead and he’d go straight out. He’d hang in the air with his legs pumping as he suddenly comes to the realization that there’s nothing under his feet. In a sense, he’s totally naked. And then he plummets to the ground.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (Romans 5:12 ESV)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12 ESV)
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)
We often talk about the joys and hopes of being alleviated of our physical ailments in life when we get to heaven, but perhaps, more importantly, will be the discovery of the absence of pain in our hearts. The pains and evils of life are real. they expose the nakedness of our hearts and our desires. But thanks be to God that he will not leave us there. As we will see next week, the penalty of sin is death. God could’ve pronounced full wrath at that moment. Instead, he put in place a rescue plan, not only for Adam and Eve but for all of humanity.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 ESV)
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22 ESV)