Summary: Sin is serious and the church is doing a disservice to people if we of all people, do not take it seriously.
Sin is serious and the church is doing a disservice to people if we of all people, do not take it seriously. Some of the stories about sin may be humorous, but the effects of sin are anything but.
Today we are going to see the reality that sin, which often begins as a desire for something fun or pleasant, often ends up with catastrophic consequences that sometimes cannot be undone.
I. The Judgment Upon Sin (vv 14-19)
A. Upon the Snake (vv 14-15)
The curse was on all animals even though they had not sinned. But the snake was just cursed above the rest. Of course the snake did nothing wrong, but it was Satan inhabiting the snake. Nevertheless, the enmity between the snake and humans has persisted and we are not the best of friends.
He will put enmity, which literally means to shut or close up, between Satan and the woman, as well as their offspring. In other words Satan will no longer have authority over the woman or her offspring. He is referring here to Eve’s seed, which includes all humanity, but specifically to Mary here because clearly he did have access to Eve’s offspring. This enmity will be ultimately between Godly and ungodly, between humanity and evil and so on.
Satan’s offspring will be those humans who follow Him, and the woman’s will be those who follow God. If we read John 8:44 Jesus says to the Jews who do not love him “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with truth, because there is no truth in him.” The offspring or seed may also refer to Jesus and the antichrist.
This great promise in Genesis 3:15 is known as the “Protevangelium” or the first gospel, where God says he will close off His children from Satan’s and that the woman’s offspring, referring here to Jesus, will bruise Satan’s head or literally to “gape” or “crush”, or “overwhelm”. In other words Satan will die at Jesus’ hand and Satan will injure Jesus (bruise his heel), but it will not be fatal. Just a little note in Revelation 13:3, talking about the “beast”, “… one of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound”.
There is also an interpretation that Satan will injure Jesus’ heel or his earthly life, but his head which is in heaven will not be touched.
B. Upon the Woman (v. 16)
Every childbirth can now be a glorious reminder of the promise of deliverance through the birth of the woman’s seed. Childbirth can now represent a type of Christ (deliverance). They even call childbirth delivery don’t they.
The first use of the word “pain or sorrow” in verse 16 literally means “worrisomeness”. The second use is a different word literally meaning “in painful toil, or pang” - the pangs of labor. Notice also the pain before birth is called labor. So childbirth now will not just include physical pain, but also worry, and hard work, which it is assumed was not the case before sin entered the picture.
But pain in childbirth was not the only part of the curse, but also a desire to literally rule or overtake her husband, but he will rule over her. The roots of marital discord are part of this curse. The practical part of this curse for us is that women will want their freedom, but will be frustrated by the paternal power that men have had throughout history. Feminism is really a response to this curse of thousands of years ago.
C. Upon the Man (vv 17-19)
The man is going to have to work his butt off for food and to provide for his family. Again the word here is the same as the “worrisomeness” like back in verse 16. Not only that, he is going to do all this work for his whole life then “plop”, right back into the ground, dust to dust. This compared to the relatively effortless and eternal life that he would have enjoyed otherwise. Nevertheless, the blessings of food, dominion, and procreation were maintained by God.
Sin often begins as a delightful or fun activity doesn’t it? We look forward to it and often enjoy it in the moment, but see the results here and how devastated they must have felt when they saw what the results were. A lot of people probably would not have continued after discovering the magnitude of the mistake they made and what was ahead for them.
Reminds me of the pellet gun example when I was younger.
But we have a merciful God and interestingly He says “Cursed is the ground for your sake”. We often read this as “because of you”. But there is also a deeper meaning. Death was now a gift he gave to humanity, which would be better than the proliferation of evil that would have run rampant endlessly. Death became a somewhat welcome relieving end for those who struggled through life in this new evil world. God provided an end to the inevitable suffering in a fallen world through the curse of death.