Summary: An exposition of Genesis 3 and the origin and consequences of sin.
The Beginning of Our Problem
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
When we left Genesis 2, everything was right with the world. God had made a perfect creation. ‘It’s good. It’s very good,” the Creator had said over and over again. Adam and Eve were living in perfect peace in a perfect Garden prepared just for them. No hunger, no thirst, no disease, no fear. Not only that, God himself lived in close personal fellowship with the creatures made in his image. Life was good.
That’s Genesis 2. But if you turn a couple of pages, it’s a different story. The Bible goes from perfect peace to brother murdering brother in two chapters. From chapter four on, Genesis contains bloodshed, hate, and every conceivable self-inflicted human catastrophe. Death stalks every life like a shadow. Revenge follows murder. Kinfolk hunt down kinfolk. Rape, incest, every perversion you can imagine, jealousy, greed, stealing, lying, drunkenness, war, corruption—its’ all there! Anyone who reads Genesis 2 and then jumps to Genesis 4 and beyond can’t help but ask—what happened? Who made this mess? Who’s going to clean it up?
It’s like when you and your spouse have gone out for the evening and left your teenagers home alone. The house was clean and neat when you left. When you return everything’s a mess. Toys, food, paper, soda cans—everywhere? What happened? Who made this mess? Who’s going to clean it up?
Something happened between Genesis 2 and 4. There is no denying that. There is also no denying that our world is more like Genesis 4 than Genesis 2. You don’t have to live in a big city to recognize this. Even small town, rural America has its share of human tragedy, brokenness, and hurt. As G. K. Chesterton, the greater British philosopher, put it, “Whatever else is or is not true, this one thing is certain—man is not what he was meant to be.” What happened? Why is our world such a mess?
Genesis 1 records the origin of the universe. Genesis 2 describes the life God intended. Genesis 4 begins the story of life as it is. Genesis 3 explains what happened. But Genesis 3 is not just a history lesson. It is every man’s biography. It’s our story, too. The names and surroundings have changed. Nonetheless, we walk the same path every day.
It starts with a temptation. Temptation is a fork in the road, a simple choice. God made man in his own image, Genesis 1 and 2 tell us. We humans are an amazing complex of body (physical stuff), soul (emotions), spirit (God-connectedness), and will (the ability to choose). God honored humans by bestowing upon us an amazing freedom. He didn’t make us robots or machines with every move pre-programmed. We are animals, but we are not just animals whose responses are dictated by instincts. Humans have freedom designed into us by God. Without that freedom, love would be empty; worship meaningless.
For that freedom to be real, the first humans had to know they had a choice. They could obey or not. A single tree of forbidden fruit stood in the middle of their paradise. God could have chosen any means. But there had to be one. If not a tree, then something else! What good is loving and knowing God if you have no alternative?
We learn a lot about temptation from Genesis 3. Evil always comes dressed up. It’s always attractive, never repulsive, at first. The tempter is a master of flattery, subtlety, deception, and distortion. He never starts with a frontal attack. He starts with suggestion not argument. He never asks us to deny God, just doubt him. He never questions God’s existence, only his goodness. He doesn’t call for outright disobedience. He just wants us to wonder if God is really as good as his word. He wants us to wonder if maybe God isn’t holding something back. Maybe life without God wouldn’t be quite so bad after all. Maybe we could be our own god and make up our own rules. Once those kinds of doubts take root, disobedience is only a short step away.
The Bible says all moral and spiritual disasters start in this same place. The New Testament says it comes from the lust of the flesh (wanting what we want, refusing to be happy with what we’ve been given), the lust of the eye (grabbing what looks good, judging and evaluating the issues of life superficially, rather than eternally), and the pride of life (dissatisfaction with being a creature, thinking we deserve better, thinking that somehow we could do a better job).