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."