Summary: Genesis 3. The fall of man into sin and depravity.
IN THE BEGINNING
GENESIS PART 1 – ANTEDILUVIAN HISTORY
THE DOCTRINE OF DEPRAVITY
- As we continue our look at the book of Genesis we are going to be leaving chapter 2 and moving on into chapter 3. At the end of chapter 2 all is well on the newly created planet earth. The man Adam has his companion, Eve; and now that mankind exists as both male and female God closes the sixth creation day by saying that everything is very good. God has instituted the marriage covenant between the man and the woman and everything is, forgive the cliché, in perfect harmony.
- The text says in Genesis 2:15 that Adam was put in the garden of Eden that God had formed for him to work it and keep it. Perhaps a better translation of that Hebrew phrase is “to worship and obey”; but either reading lets us know that God put Adam in a particular locale and gave him this single command in vv.16-17 of chapter 2: You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Up to this point Adam, and now Eve, had kept that command because the Scripture says in 2:25: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. So shame was not known to them. Certainly there was no sexual shame, but we also get the idea that there was no shame about anything in general.
- But at the beginning of chapter 3 we are introduced to what Moses calls “the serpent”. The context of this chapter (and the rest of Scripture verifies this) indicates that the serpent is representative of Satan. The animal is said to have communicated with Eve; so this physical serpent that Eve sees and talks to is not your ordinary reptile. The devil, who had fallen from heaven some time prior to this, was speaking to the woman through the slithery snake.
- Now most, if not all of you, have read or heard of this story before. But maybe it’s been a while since you considered what happens here or perhaps you’ve never really given it much thought. Either way, I’m going to tell you right off the bat what occurs in this account, then we will read it, and following that we will explore the subject matter in more detail.
- In this passage the man Adam and the woman Eve fall from their perfect condition before each other and before God. They fall from this position because they disobey God’s explicit command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This disobedience was the first act of human sin. And Moses gives us the initial consequences of human sin, while the rest of the Bible presents a fuller picture.
- The theological term we use to describe mankind’s condition as a result of what we are about to read is depravity. Depravity speaks of moral and spiritual corruption. Prior to the event recorded in our text today Adam and Eve enjoyed moral and spiritual purity. They lose this purity as a result of their actions. Let’s look at what Moses tells us in Genesis 3; we’ll start with vv.1-7:
[READ GENESIS 3:1-7]
- Now think about what just happened. There are two trees that are given special attention in this whole narrative. I am of the opinion that neither of them have any innate, special, we might say “magical”, powers to them. They are what they are because God has designated them as such. The tree that appears in this passage is the aforementioned tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was a specific tree that God commanded Adam to abstain from. Adam was not to avoid the tree because it had rotten fruit. It’s not as if the tree was physically poisonous. The simple reason why the man and the woman were not to eat of this particular tree is that God told them not to do so.
- God did this as a perpetual test of obedience. So long as the humans obeyed God they would enjoy everlasting life, symbolized by the other special tree, the tree of life. But as soon as they decided to disobey God and eat what he commanded they not eat, they would die. That is exactly what they do here. Satan, through the serpent, convinces them that God is not telling the truth about dying, that the tree is good for food, and that they will be like God if they eat of it. So they do.
- This familiar story that many of us heard as little children in Sunday school is the single, most tragic event in human history. For in this story, mankind becomes separated from God; because he is no longer perfect, he is depraved. Now here is how we are going to make sense of what is going here. First, we are going to look at what happens as a result of this act of disobedience. Then we are going to see just how far these consequences reach. And we will close with a glimpse of the solution to the depravity problem.