Summary: The tempter’s tricks and how to arm ourselves, man’s mistakes and how to avoid them, God’s grace and how to receive it
Talk- The Fall (Genesis 3)
“We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. ’Thou shalt not’ is soon forgotten, but ’Once upon a time’ lasts forever…The Christian church says that the action of Eve in the story of Genesis…she ate the fruit, and discovered that she new the difference between good and evil and the first thing they did was to be embarrassed, they realised there was sexuality in the world, so they covered themselves up, so the myth goes…I think it would be more sensible to regard Eve as a great heroine and indeed as the first scientist. She said, “What will happen if…?” The first experiment ever was to taste the fruit and see what would happen. She’s a great heroine, she’s a great courageous model of curiosity and interest in the world. She wanted to know more” (Philip Pullman).
My three points are…
1. The tempter’s tricks and how to arm ourselves
2 Corinthians 2:11- “…that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.”
• Distance man from God (YAHWEH-ELOHIM >> ELOHIM)- “Did God…?”(1).
• Doubt God’s words, and encourage us to the do same- “Has God indeed said…?” (1).
• Deliberately exaggerate restrictions God has placed on us- any tree (1). 1 John 5:3- “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Challenge: name one of God’s commandments which is actually harmful; name one that isn’t a distinct blessing.
• Deny God’s word, especially to give false assurances- “You will not surely die” (4).
One thing people don’t believe- that they’re going to die- Michael Jackson’s coffin
• Debase God’s good character- “God knows that…” (5). The serpent presents “divine love as envy, service as servility, and a suicidal plunge as a leap into life” (Kidner).
Most people’s arguments against Christianity start off as a moral complaint against God, which- as He is the source and definition of good and moral- is nonsensical, but our minds have been twisted by the serpent ever since this moment. Pullman’s God is withdrawn and decrepit, a figure of pity and ridicule, rather than an awesome creator. How God who made the universe could be anything but mind-bogglingly powerful and equally lovely is beyond me!
• Delude us with grandeur. The ambition in the creature, Adam, to topple his Creator and take the throne. There is another Adam in the Bible…
Contrast the 2nd Adam: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6).
Even Pullman admits that there is an “urge to totalitarian control which seems to grip the human race”, despite his foolish support of Eve’s very urge for control.
• Deploy half truths- 5 cf. 22. True, we would have our eyes opened, be like God and know good and evil, but it’s like this…
Doctor, sick man, well man (Kidner)
“As usual, the tempter kept the promise to the ear. Eve knew good and evil, but only by feeling evil within herself. It was by moral degradation, and not by intellectual insight, that her ambitious wish was fulfilled” (Payne Smith).
He’s still trying to make out the Fall is a good thing: "Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction. He fell toward the goal...Adam fell, but he fell upward" (Deseret News, p.7, July 31, 1965)- Mormon teaching.
2. Man’s mistakes and how to avoid them
1. Invert created order- animal instructs woman instructs man.
• The snake was shrewd, but it came to the woman as a subordinate
• The woman was comparable to the man, but he should have acted as her head to protect her from temptation, rather than passively follow her into sin. What was he doing standing idly by?! “Her husband, who was with her” (6).
2. Invent Creator’s ordinances- God never said they shouldn’t touch it (3).
Child- “My dad never lets me play on my Playstation.”
3. Inquire after forbidden knowledge, rather than be content- as we’ve said, the knowledge of good and evil was like God in that evil could now be distinguished, but not like him in that the evil had become resident within. The Witch got her heart’s desire, but found despair.
4. Hide from God, rather than come to Him- v8. James says, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
5. Implicate others and avoid question, rather than admit guilt- v12,13. John says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:10).
Kids fighting in playground.
Why should we avoid them? Consequences: we’ve lost our innocence and are alienated from each other (7), snake-bites kill (15), childbirth and working the ground are both painful experiences when they should be the very essence of our humanity, and- ultimately- we die both physically and spiritually.