2019.02.17 | Genesis | Pt.3, The Fall

Genesis | Pt. III, What’s Our Story? The Fall

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. 

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

    cursed are you above all livestock

    and above all beasts of the field;

on your belly you shall go,

    and dust you shall eat

    all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and her offspring;

he shall bruise your head,

    and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

    in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,

    but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said, 

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife

    and have eaten of the tree

of which I commanded you,

    ‘You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

    and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

    you shall eat bread,

till you return to the ground,

    for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust,

    and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:1-24 

Introduction 

We are continuing our series in Genesis called What’s Our Story? In looking through the Bible, we want to find our place in the grand narrative of God’s story for humanity. What is our story as human beings? Who does God say we are? And how does that explain life for us now?

To understand our story, we have to start at the beginning, in Genesis.

So far, we have talked about who God is through Creation. God is a God who is good, orderly, and diverse. Last week we talked about the Image of God: humanity, us. God made us with an identity and worth defined by God, and He made us relational to reflect God through our relationships.

Now, what about a story makes it interesting? What makes you stop and listen to what someone has to say? When you watch a movie or read a book, why do you care about what happens? Yes, every story has characters, a plot, and a setting that can all be very interesting. But there is one thing that every story must have in order to create interest in an audience: a conflict.

Every story has a main conflict, and the main conflict is what drives the action and the plot forward. A conflict is defined by any struggle between opposing forces. Without conflict, the story would have no purpose, it would have nothing to push the story forward. Every story needs a conflict to push its characters into action.

In the Lord of the Rings, it is the threat of evil overrunning middle earth. In Narnia, it is the corrupted world that they fall into inside the wardrobe.

So far, we have introduced the setting and characters to our story. Now we must introduce the main conflict to our story. This is the conflict that drives our story forward. It is the conflict which explains how we got from the first man and woman to where we are today. It is a conflict that is still going on today, in the world around us and even in our very own heart and minds: it is the conflict of sin.

Today we are talking about the origin of sin: the fall of humanity.

1) For the Mind: The Fallen Mind Rejects Truth

Chapter 2 ends with a beautiful picture of what creation looks like in its fullness: God finishes off creation by creating His masterpiece: an image of Himself! He breathes life into dust and brings forth man. Humanity is created as the image of God. God puts that man in a special garden filled with trees that provide an abundance of food and God lives in the garden with the man. He puts the man into the garden so that he can work it, and He parades all the other creatures before the man and watches what he names them. But there is one thing not good in this garden: the man has no helper, he has no ezer. Every other creature in God’s creation has its partner except man. So God puts the man to sleep and out of the man’s rib, he forms woman. [That is why a man always orders two McRibs at McDonald’s]. Adam sees the woman and he bursts into poetry: bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Woman, the ezer, the helper, saves man from his state of not good. They are both naked and not ashamed. Their nakedness expresses the lack of shame in being completely vulnerable to one another, physically, emotionally, and in every way possible. There was nothing that they were ashamed to share with one another. Together, they equally displayed God through their relationships with Him and with each other.

We learned last week, that the image of God is the culmination of God’s creation, the apex, the pinnacle of all that God creates. We are His image and God displays something about Himself through us! As His image, our identity is defined by God. As His image, our worth comes from God. And through our relationships, we display God.

Everything is pretty amazing in the Garden of Eden at the end of chapter 2. And if we are honest, sometimes we wish the story stopped there. They have all of their needs met, they have an abundance of food, and man and woman live in loving fellowship with God. But the big question looming over us after we finish chapter 2 is how did the world get from looking like Eden to looking like what it is today? What happened?

In chapter 2, we get a foreshadowing of what goes down. God gives everything to the man and woman, except for one thing. He gives the man one command:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.”

Genesis 2:16-17

God gives them every fruit of every tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they eat from that tree, they die. A pretty simple command. Just don’t eat from the tree and we all stay safe.

Now some people read this command as a bad thing. People go, “See! If God was a good God, He would’ve never made that tree in the first place, that way people would have never sinned and we’d still be sinlessly living in the Garden. It seems like God was trying to tempt Adam and Eve!”

But the people who say this are missing the point. They are missing two things. (1) The first thing they are missing is that God gave them all the other trees in the Garden! Every single type of tree. The trees weren’t just tasty snacks. They were the food, the very sustenance that Adam and Eve needed to live. It’s not that God was being greedy in keeping this tree to Himself. It was that God was blessing Adam and Eve by providing them with all they needed to live. God provided them with physical life. And the abundance of trees captures a part of something larger. Not only did God provide them with physical life, God was their very source of life. We learn that God is the source of life, not just physical life, but abundant, flourishing life. God not only brings creation to life, He sustains and maintains life in all living things in the garden. Adam and Eve are completely dependent on God to keep them alive, physically and spiritually.

(2) The second point that people miss when looking at this command is that the tree itself was not bad! The tree was not a poisonous tree or some magical tree that leaves curses. It would be one thing for God to create a poisonous tree and leave it in the middle of the garden to test if Adam and Eve were going to try it. But that would be like leaving a child alone with a bottle of cyanide on the table. Rather, God never calls the tree not good. The only thing not good in all of creation was man without a partner. So then, the tree must be a good thing! 

If the tree itself was not bad, why does God tell Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree? Was God trying to withhold something good from them? What was God trying to protect them from? What went so horribly wrong in what we just read in Genesis 3?

Let’s take a look at Genesis 3 together. 

Genesis 3 starts a new chapter in the narrative. For the first time, we see a creature take the stage.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

The serpent is a crafty beast, and as a crafty beast, he does what crafty beasts do: he tries out his little crafty reasoning on the woman. And the first thing the serpent says to the woman here is “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” 

This seems like an innocent enough question at first. But when you start to examine the question, you start to notice a few things are off. First of all, the command was given to the man, so how did the crafty serpent find out about the command? And secondly, if the serpent really wanted clarification on what God had commanded, why doesn’t he ask the man himself? Something seems fishy about this serpent. 

We should immediately be alarmed by this question! The serpent is doing something malicious here. This is the sort of question that makes you second-guess what you know. This is the type of question that makes you doubt what you believe. The serpent is planting seeds of mistrust, trying to get the woman to doubt what she heard.

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

The woman replies innocently enough. She seems to be unaware of the serpent’s tricks. But notice her response. She repeats what God has commanded, but not exactly.

She adds something to the command that God didn’t say. She says that not only were they not allowed to eat of the tree, they mustn’t touch it either. God never says this! And she weakens the penalty. Originally God said they would die in the day they eat of it.

Now we don’t necessarily know where the woman got this extra command. Maybe the man added it on when he told the woman, like a game of telephone. Maybe the woman came up with it herself. Either way, we can see the woman doesn’t fully quote God’s words. 

Here is the problem. There is only one right response here. Those are the words of God. God’s words protect life. Why? Because the words of God were the only thing protecting the woman from the serpent’s temptations. If she had known God’s command, then there would be no room for the serpent to tempt her. There would be no accusation that would make her doubt God’s words.

Imagine if I were driving some place I had never been and I was using my GPS. Now imagine if I only listened to half of the commands on the GPS. I would never get to where I was going.

God’s words guide and direct us. They lead us to Him where goodness is found.

We see exactly where the fallen mind goes after they sin. Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree, they disobey, and their eyes are opened to know their own sin. And then they hear God walking through the garden.

And what do they do?

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

The man and the woman hide themselves from the Lord God. The fallen mind runs from God. It is absent of all things God. It cannot hold onto God’s words. It cannot trust the truth. It rejects everything about God.

This is what Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 2:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned … But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16

The person without God cannot accept the truth about God.

This explains why the world cannot accept the truth. The world is fallen and their mind is corrupted, rejecting the truth.

The world tries to explain the brokenness of the world in many ways.

But as Christians, we know the brokenness of this world is the result of sin, of our corruption.

The fallen mind rejects truth.

2) For the Heart: The Fallen Heart Rejects Goodness 

Going back to the serpent’s temptations:

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The serpent isn’t done with his craftiness. He’s planted his seed of doubt already. The truth is already being questioned. Now the serpent puts forward his next attack. He knows if he can get the woman to mistrust God’s goodness, he can get the woman to sin, to disobey God.

Up until this point, God had provided them with everything they’ve needed. He has provided for them with food, He has protected them in the shelter of the garden, and He lives in perfect fellowship with them. Everything in Genesis 1 and 2 scream out God’s goodness!

One of the ways God provides for and protect the humans is through His wisdom. God chooses for man and woman what is good for them, because he knows what’s best for them. God is wise and shares his wisdom with Adam and Eve. The only way Adam and Eve know of good and evil is through God’s wisdom. So, Adam and Eve are in a state of complete dependence on God.

The serpent sows doubt into the woman’s mind. What if God wasn’t really sharing all of His goodness with them? What if God was keeping some of it to Himself? And what if they could choose good and evil for themselves? What would it be like to not have to rely on God anymore? What is they could become like God for themselves? They wouldn’t know unless they ate from the tree. 

The serpent tempts the woman by saying that she will be like God if she eats the fruit. The serpent says that eating the fruit will enable them to know good and evil for themselves. The fruit will make them wise! And if they have that knowledge, they will be like God, and they won’t need God anymore. They could be free.

By planting the seed of mistrust, the serpent is tempting man and woman not just to eat from a tree. The temptation is to rebel against God! Instead of trusting God, they are tempted to make themselves like God!

How does Eve respond?

 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Eve eats of the fruit first and passes it on to Adam.

And together they commit the first sin. Rather than trusting God, rather than depending on God, rather than obeying God they try to make themselves God.

That is the essence of what sin is. Sin is rebellion and disobedience against God. You see, Adam and Eve’s sin was never just about them eating a fruit, although eating the fruit has an important consequence. Adam and Eve’s sin was about turning from God to rely on their self. It was about taking their trust away from God and placing it in themselves. It was about trying to make themselves God. The fruit offered the gateway to that desire, but the sin was in the heart.

Genesis 2-3 reads like an analogy between a father and his children.

God protects and shelters the children in His garden. God’s command is meant to protect, but Adam and Eve doubt God’s goodness and the goodness of His command.

Parent-child analogy

The fallen heart rejects God’s goodness.

3) For the World: Sin Separates 

In our first sermon on Creation, we saw that God is a God of order. God creates boundaries for His creation and He fills those boundaries with creatures. A key part of the cosmic order is the creation of humans, which. 

God creates man, so man is below God. God creates woman to be man’s helper, so man equally shares everything with woman. God put man above all other creatures.

In the fall, we see a reversal of the order establishing in Creation. The serpent, a creature, leads woman and man to fall,

God              Creatures

Humans       Humans

Creatures     God

Creation is flipped upside down. Sin inverts our intended relationships. Through the fall, disorder is introduced to the world, and the consequences are separation. We see a breakdown of those key relationships.

Sin separates our relationships 

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

Immediately we see some of the consequences of sin. Adam and Eve become away of their nakedness. The vulnerability, the openness, the union they shared is immediately replaced by shame. Sin brings shame.

Shame causes us to hide ourselves. Close ourselves off from each other.

Man and woman eat of the tree and their eyes are opened. The effects of sin are immediate: they know their nakedness and attempt to make themselves clothing. 

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

The Gospel reverses shame.

Sermons, GenesisDavid LeeComment