Summary: God requires faith in his Son as the solution to the doubt with which our sin began.
The last time I preached, we learned four steps in resisting temptation by studying Satan’s attack on Eve: 1) believe that sin brings misery; 2) respect the power of the evil one; 3) recognize Satan’s devices; and 4) honor God’s truth. Unfortunately, as I often do, Adam and Eve did not resist; they fell into sin and away from glory.
Today’s topic is the next step. What is this thing called, “sin,” and why do we dwell on it so much? How can our world have such beauty and delights, yet never quite satisfy? Our text is Genesis 2.25-3.7, known as the “fall of mankind.”
[Read Genesis 2.25-3.7. Pray.]
The Ryan small group meets at the church building on Tuesday nights for dinner, fellowship, prayer, and the hope that more of our neighbors will smell the grill and join us. While I have barbecued chicken and bratwursts, some of the more industrious members of our group have weeded the flowerbeds. They worked hard and it shows—the area looks much better! Just last week, however, as we came in for church, Dave paused at a spot that, a few weeks earlier, he had completely cleaned, and said, “Look, the weeds have come back.” The weeds always come back, don’t they?
Maybe you remember dating your sweetheart, or even your wedding day. Some dream of that event as they grow up, a day full of hope and promise. But after the wedding comes the marriage, reality intrudes, and the promised bliss of true love dissolves before the hard reality of living with another person. There are weeds in the best marriages.
Even church reveals the same problems. To get a clergy hospital badge last week I had to find my ordination papers to prove I am really a minister. Searching for those reminded me of the promise of that day back in 1994. I was in God’s army now – working in Jesus’ church. How could it get any better? Quickly, however, competing agendas and conflicting expectations intruded on my fantasy and I found that church ministry grows weeds just as sure as church flowerbeds.
At times life offers such beauty and blessing that we imagine ourselves nearing heaven. But we never arrive, do we? Like the scent from a favorite candle, it seems that you could hold it and enjoy it forever, but it dissipates.
Why does the world show us so many “shadows” of delight, yet never give them full substance? Is it a cosmic trick? Is this nature’s way of getting even with those at the top of the food chain? Does fate allow only a certain amount of joy before slapping you with a measure of suffering?
When I was in my teens, the sitcom All in the Family was popular. It highlighted conflicts between archconservative, Archie Bunker, and his archliberal brother-in-law, Mike Stivic. I rarely watched the show because I did not enjoy the arguing and insults. But the writers often captured the issues of the times. One episode has Archie arguing with Mike (an atheist) about religion. Archie wants his grandson (Mike’s son Joey) baptized, but Mike will have none of it. Their arguments progress to the point where Mike says, “Tell me this, Archie, if there is a God, why is the world in such a mess?”
Archie is dumbfounded. He stands still, staring. Then he tries to bluff his way to an answer. Finally, he turns to his wife and says, “Why do I always have to give the answers, Edith? Tell [him] why, if God has created the world, the world is in such a mess.”
Why indeed? God’s answer is in Genesis 3; he records this event so that we will know 1) why things are not the way they are supposed to be, and 2) to prepare us for his solution.
1. We Must See the Path to Sin to Appreciate Christ’s Victory
Many Christians wrongly assume that sin is merely doing something wrong and the solution is, “Just say no.” Believing that produces at least two problems. Some who hold to a “Just say no theology” succeed, and are hard-hearted and arrogant because of the measure of obedience they manage to work up. Others believe the same, but become hard-hearted and angry because they so often fail to meet the standard. Either way, one step in the solution is to recognize that sin comes at the end of a journey away from God – it is not the first step.
1.1. The Path to Sin Begins with Doubting God (Genesis 3.1b)
Do not miss the subtlety of Satan’s slanderous remarks. He knows exactly what God said, but he twists the words in Eve’s ear to raise doubt in her mind and questions about God’s love and care. Satan’s words are false, but he hides his deceit to create doubt. He works the same today.