Summary: Learning from Adam and Eve's mistake, so we can avoid falling into sin.
We all make mistakes. Some of them are more embarrassing than harmful. I remember at our former church in Wisconsin, I typed up the bulletin with this announcement: "Ladies, please remember to pick up your bowels in the kitchen." It was supposed to be bowls. In fact, every Sunday a couple of the Junior High boys would compete to see who could find the most mistakes in the bulletin. I'm sure glad it is Barb, not me, who types the bulletins here. Some mistakes matter more than others. They are not humorous and can have serious consequences. Today we are going to look at the worst mistake ever made. The big mistake, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. We are in Genesis, Chapter 3. Now, don't be confused when I say Adam and Eve made a mistake. There are Christians who say things like, "Yes, I made a mistake and lost my temper, but it was not a sin, just a mistake." Wrong! Whenever we disobey God, whether we rob a bank or repeat gossip or lose our temper, it is sin, and it is a big mistake. What we are going to do today is try to learn from Adam and Eve's mistake, so we can avoid falling into sin. Let's pray God would help that happen today.
Let's start with some background. Adam and Eve are living in the Garden of Eden, Paradise. In Chapter 2:16,17 God has given them a simple instruction. Whenever I play a new board game, I always get a little frustrated because it seems there are 900 rules. In the Garden of Eden, however, it is very simple. There is only one rule. Do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As we come to Chapter 3, we are introduced to a talking snake. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" This chapter does not tell us exactly who the snake is, but the rest of the Bible makes it clear. The snake is Satan. As Revelation 12:9 says, he is "the great dragon, the ancient serpent, called the devil, or Satan." Apparently some time before God had created the earth, He had made angels, beings who served Him in heaven. One of the most powerful of these angels was Lucifer who led the rebellion against God and was cast out of heaven. Many Bible scholars think Isaiah 14:12-25 describes this event. In Genesis 3, Lucifer, or the devil, indwells and possesses a snake with the purpose of enticing Adam and Eve to make the big mistake of joining him in his rebellion against God. As we read on, we see that that is what happens, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. We will look at the results of this next week. Today, however, I want to explore three mistakes Adam and Eve made that led to their big mistake. They are also three mistakes that will lead us to disobey the Lord.
#1) Not believing God's Word. This was really Eve's mistake. She doubted and distorted what God had said. Eve tells the serpent, "God said eat of the forbidden fruit and you will die." The serpent responds, "You won't die." It is unclear whether he means Eve had somehow misunderstood the Lord, or whether he is saying God didn't mean what He said and was just trying to scare them. Either way, he is contradicting God's Word, and Eve makes the mistake of believing him. Next Sunday, we will see how very wrong Satan was.
Friends, whenever we choose not to believe the Bible, which is God's Word, we make a mistake that leads to many mistakes. There is nothing wrong with asking ques-tions about the Bible and admitting there are parts we don't understand. But if we deny that what God's Word teaches is true, we make a serious mistake. There are many people, for example, who deny that what our text today says is true. They claim talking snakes and a tree of knowledge are parts of a fairy tale. One famous theologian, Karl Barth, was asked, "Dr. Barth, did the snake really speak to Eve?" He replied, "It doesn't matter if the snake spoke, what counts is what he said." Now, on the surface that sounds like one of those profound, opaque answers theologians sometimes like to give. But, when we stop to think about it, it is really just nonsense. If the snake did not speak to Eve, what he did not say is hardly important.
Some of you may be thinking, "So what, Pastor Dan? What difference does it make in my life today, if Genesis 3 is fact or fiction?" It makes a big difference. For one thing, if the Bible cannot be trusted when it tells us about events in the Garden of Eden, why should we believe what it teaches about other matters? If we make the mistake of thinking the Bible is not true, we will make many mistakes. Francis Schaeffer used to talk about folks who want to say the Bible is totally reliable when it comes to spiritual and moral issues, but really cannot be trusted when it speaks about history and science. He notes that this view would only last for one generation. If Mom and Dad don't believe the Bible is correct when it says the snake spoke to Eve, why should Junior believe the Bible is correct when it says sex before marriage is wrong? Since World War II, it has become obvious in our country that when people reject the authority of Scripture, biblical morality crumbles. Today this is evident in some mainline Christian churches. For years, these folks have ridiculed those of us who believe the Bible is totally true. Now, when practicing homosexuals demand to be ordained as pastors in their churches, though they are very uncomfortable with it, these people cannot say, "Homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so." They have allowed the foundation upon which the church is built, the authority of the Bible, to crumble and thus have no basis to make moral judgments upon any behavior. It is easy for people to justify disobedience to God if they believe God never really said that they should not do something they want to do.