Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Through the story of the fall into sin and first promise of a Savior, God walks us through the history of our salvation.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…" "A long time ago in a land far, far away…" "Once upon a time there were three bears…" Many of the greatest stories in history have very memorable beginnings. The story of our salvation—or rather I should say the history, because this really happened—the history of our salvation also has a very memorable beginning. Today we celebrate the first Sunday in the season of Lent and in the Lenten season we focus on Christ’s road to the cross, and yet Jesus’ road to the cross started a long time before was born. The history of our salvation started in a garden, with two people, the very first people, Adam and Eve and reaches its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And so, today we are going to remember the history of our salvation, from its very tragic beginning, to its very happy ending.

I. The tragic beginning…

Our text for this morning actually starts a little after the beginning of history. Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" That’s a pretty memorable beginning, wouldn’t you say? We see in Genesis chapter one that God created all things in six normal days by the mere power of his Word, and Moses tells us that God saw that it was good. God had created a perfect world. And that’s where we pick up the story…

We see in our text for this morning that God created man differently, that he formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

Man was distinct from the rest of God’s creatures. God made man and woman in his own image. Humans in the beginning were not sinful, but holy and perfect like God. To man God gave the whole creation for him to take care of. He gave a special gift to Adam and Eve, the very first people…he gave them a garden. They were to live and take care of this very beautiful garden and they could eat from any of its many trees except for one—the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

God said, "You must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil…for you will surely die." Why did God do this? Why did he give them an opportunity to sin? Well, it seems that God didn’t want robots…He gave humans a choice. God wanted people to serve him out of their own free will. Think about it, God had given them everything, they were allowed to eat from any tree, go anywhere, do anything. So God gave them an opportunity to serve and to obey him by putting this tree in the middle of the garden, so that they in their freedom of choice could willfully serve God. As Martin Luther said, "This tree of the knowledge of good and evil was Adam’s church, his altar, his pulpit…" This was Adam and Eve’s opportunity to thank, praise and worship God.

But now in this paradise, tragedy struck… The devil, an angel who had rebelled against God, took the form of a serpent to try to destroy God’s perfect creation and to condemn man to share eternity in hell with him. And we see how subtle the devil is, he asks the woman, "Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree of the garden." And Eve starts off well. She tells the devil that God allowed them to eat of any tree of the garden, except for the one in the middle, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, because if they ate of that tree, they would surely die. Then Satan responds with a lie, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil." Hearing this lie, Eve then doubted God’s loving will for them, thinking that God was holding out on them. That he wasn’t really looking out for their good and so she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to Adam and he ate it…

And then they saw, they saw that the Devil’s lie, his deceit was a half truth. Their eyes were opened and they truly knew good and evil: They knew the good, the perfection and joy that they had lost, and they now personally knew evil, they felt the weight of sin and the pangs of guilt. And with this tragic fall entered death. The apostle Paul tells us, "The wages of sin is death." It was just as God had warned. Because of their doubt, because they ate from the tree of which God had commanded them they died. They died in three ways. First of all they died spiritually—their wills which were at one time in line with God’s were now alienated from him—they could do no good. Secondly they were both going to die physically—their bodies would get sick and wear out, their life here on earth would eventually come to an end. And because of their sin the would then be subject to eternal death in hell. This was truly a tragedy: God’s pride and joy was now condemned to hell eternally for their sin.

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