Summary: A sermon about sin, and God's love and mercy.
"The Fall; The Grace; The Love"
Romans 8:1, 28, 31-32, 35, 37-39
(After Reading the Scripture show clip from The Twilight Zone: The Howling Man 19:22-21:51)
"I didn't believe you."
"I saw him and didn't recognize him."
"That is man's weakness and Satan's strength."
In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul warns us that "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."
And in Genesis Chapter 3, Satan has disguised himself as a "snake" which apparently was originally "the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made."
And it is Satan who raises questions about God and God's intentions to Eve: "Did God really say that you shouldn't eat from any tree in the garden?"
He's trying to put a spin on God's command, raising suspicions about God's motives, and thus, planting a seed of doubt.
And when Eve responded, the snake dismissed her concerns.
Discounting God's warning he said to her: "You won't die! God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
And in a sense, the snake told her the truth.
She and Adam didn't die right away.
They did see clearly.
They did become like God, knowing good and evil as God admitted in verse 22.
But the snake's words were only half-truths.
Adam and Eve did not die right away; but they lost the potential to live forever, and they were denied the Tree of Life.
They did see clearly, but what they saw was a startling picture of their nakedness.
They did become like God, only to be separated from Him."
And the snake did not speak again...
...but Satan speaks all the time...
...the humans, by their own free-will, set him free to go about wreaking havoc from that moment forward.
One theologian has written: "When they eat the fruit, their eyes indeed open, but this does not bring the result the snake promised.
They do gain the experience of deciding between good and bad, but doing so involves doing the opposite to what God said, so they do not gain anything like true wisdom.
They start off as naive, simple people, but when they decline to live by the one constraint God placed on them, they become not mature and wise people but stupid fools."
And we can all relate, can we not?
For we are all children of the Fall.
We are born into the sin which has been set free to rule the earth.
And we wrestle with this disease the rest of our lives.
And "The wages of sin is death..."
The Bishop of Liverpool England wrote this in the 1800's: "We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colors, saying, 'I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in hell.
Oh no! Sin comes to us like Judas, with a kiss; like Joab, with outstretched hand and flattering words.
The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden.
Walking idly on his palace roof seemed harmless enough to David; yet it ended in adultery and murder.
Sin rarely seems [like] sin at first beginnings. Let us then watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation."
What is tempting you this morning?
What has Satan been whispering in your ear this week?
Whatever it is, its aim is your destruction.
For God loves us more than we could possibly image, and Satan in his pride and jealousy, hates us more than we can imagine...
...he wants to do away with that which God loves and treasures most of all.
An author writes, "My 7 year old daughter, Jessica, is a deep thinker when it comes to theological questions.
Recently we discussed why bad things happen sometimes, re-reading the story of Adam and Eve and how sin came into the world.
Later that week, Jessica was ill and had to stay home from school.
Feeling miserable, she told me: "If Adam and Eve hadn't eaten the fruit, I wouldn't be sick.'
Before I could answer, she added: 'Of course, if they didn't eat it, we'd be sitting here naked.'"
In all seriousness, being "naked" in the biblical sense suggests poverty, misfortune, and oppression.
It also implies humiliation and disgrace.
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden in a joyful innocence, naked but not ashamed.
They enjoyed each other without barriers, without self-conscious guilt that separates people from each other and from God.
But after disobeying God, they became vulnerable.
They were no longer children who did not know right from wrong.
Instead, they were now burdened with an insight that was now clouded by self-interest.