In our examination of the creation narrative provided in Genesis 1 & 2 two big realities emerge… First, God created all things; and secondly, God specifically determined how the things He created were to function in the natural world for there to be life and order.
And how did God communicate these things to creation… Through His Word with man being no exception! After planting for man a garden in Eden that contained this perpetual river so that he would never experience thirst… “God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”
As we’ll see this morning your life really does boil down to three logical questions you must answer… Was I created by God? Did He determine how my life was to function? And if so, how (if at all) does He communicate these truths to me?
Consider that if there is no Creator… All bets are off (Nihilism)! If there is a Creator but He takes a hands off approach… You’re left to map your own course (Relativism). However, if there is a Creator who has determined how your life is to function through His Word (Revealed Truth)… It is only the height of human arrogance to conclude you’re right and God wrong when it comes to how you should live your life!
Sadly, I’ve found that Christians by in large tend to be the most arrogant and illogical people group within our society. Let me give you an example to illustrate my point… If there is no God you have no logical reason to wait until you’re married to have sex. If there is a God who takes a hands off approach or doesn’t clearly communicate Himself then it’s also logical you can make your own determination as to sex before marriage (i.e. 88% of unmarried American adults between 18-29 are having sex). However, if you believe that God not only exists but has articulated by His Word that sex should be reserved only for the confines of a marital relationship, then why is it that an astounding 80% of Christian adults still engage in premarital sex? How illogical!
Ask yourself… If God determines how your life should function and He limits certain behaviors, are these determinations motivated by love or something else? You see when it’s all said and done everything boils down to this… Obeying God’s Word is the only logical reciprocation of God's love with disobedience either being evidence of deliberately rejecting His love or worse yet questioning the very essence of His love!
It’s so important you understand that God’s singular command did not intend to restrict man’s enjoyment of the world he’d been given, but was instead focused on preserving man’s enjoyment! God was clear “of every tree you may freely eat!” There was just one tree that God determined was off-limits. Why? “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die!”
God gave this command for one reason… He knew that in eating the fruit and thereby acting in rebellion to his Creator there would be terrible consequences for man…
Instead of a created order… Everything God created would descend into chaos.
Instead of a garden to enjoy… Man would be forced to toil in the world.
Instead of walking with God… Man would find himself isolated from his Creator.
Instead of the earth satisfying… The earth would only serve to frustrate.
Instead of enjoying community with one another… Man would live in constant conflict.
Instead of lasting pleasure… Our lives would be filled with continual pain.
Instead of work flowing from our relationship with God as worship… At best our work would be labor - At worst our work would be warped into a religious mechanism whereby we’d continually fail in our attempts to earn our way back into the favor of God.
Instead of abundant life… God knew our rebellion would only bring with it certain death!
God is not a cosmic kill-joy and His commands are not designed to restrict, but to protect. He’s not wanting to limit your pleasure rather His instructions are designed to maximize it! As we’ll see with Eve it all boils down to whether or not you actually believe that to be true!
Before we dive into Genesis 3 you need to realize how critically important this chapter is to your understanding of the entire Bible. You see Genesis 3 tackles two fundamental topics that every philosophy and religious worldview must address:
First, the chapter provides an explanation for the human condition! Because of man’s rebellion against God (A) People are born broken, (B) Society fails to function as God intended, and (C) The world no longer operates according to God’s created order.
Secondly, the chapter provides a hope for the human condition! Because of man’s rebellion against God (A) God enacts a plan for the redemption of humanity, (B) God establishes gender roles so that marriage could function as He intended, and (C) God uses this chaotic world to serve as a constant reminder of the consequences of our rebellion.
Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
This chapter begins “now the serpent was more cunning…” Doesn’t it seems kind of strange in the way the narrative unfolds that the scene shifts to this serpent? Was this an actual snake or is Moses using a literary technique to describe the nature of someone specific?
Let’s start with what the text tells us… Right from the beginning we’re told the serpent was “cunning.” This adjective in the Hebrew means “subtle, shrewd, crafty, sly, sensible, even prudent.” Additionally, because we’re told “the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” it’s logical the serpent was a created being.
Furthermore, it will become obvious this “serpent” was more than just a reptile for God’s curse in the later part of the chapter will transcend the physical and speak to much larger spiritually significant issues as they pertain to this creature. Note: Even within verse 1 the “serpent” is immediately referred to using the masculine pronoun “he.”
It also stands to reason that Eve possessed a measure of familiarity with this serpent which is why she carries on a conversation with him. And it only seems logical that the serpent must have possessed some intimate level of insight into the things of God in order to be able to speak with any type of credibility concerning these issues.
While it’s true Genesis 3 never provides the identity of this “serpent” in the New Testament the cloak of mystery is removed. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul writes, “I fear as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ... For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” In Revelation 20 John describes “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan…”
It is my opinion that, because Satan is defined by these New Testament authors as being the serpent, Eve was not carrying on a conversation with a literal animal but rather the most majestic of all the angelic host - which would make sense for we’re told in Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer (also called Satan and the Devil) was in the Garden of Eden. Note: The Hebrew word “serpent” can mean “shinning one” potentially an angel of light.
One of the great theological quandaries of Genesis centers around God’s creation of the angelic host and the timing of Satan’s rebellion. All we know for sure is that in Job 38 God indicates the angels were witnesses of His creation and the Ezekiel 28 passage affirms Lucifer was yet fallen during the Garden of Eden period. Angels existing and the fall of Lucifer occurring after the sixth day makes sense for the day ends with God’s evaluation that everything He made was “very good.”
Personally, while I have no idea when the angels were created as the Bible doesn’t say, I am of the opinion that the only logical timing of Satan’s fall coincided with humanities rebellion recorded here in Genesis 3. It seems to me that the tempting of Eve was the ultimate manifestation of Satan’s pride and God’s cursing of the “serpent” his judgment. Note: For additional reading I refer you to Isaiah 14, Revelation 12, and Luke 10.
Regardless, the reason any of this is important centers around the reality that right from the beginning of the Bible God reveals the existence of spiritual forces in this world bent on fostering our rebellion against Him. While the Holy Spirit is working to lead humanity into greater holiness (Genesis 1:2), there are real forces actively seeking to hinder this work.
Not only do we possess the natural struggle of our fallen flesh, but the temptation to sin and the enticement to do evil doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There exists a very real enemy of God who, while presenting himself as an angel of light, is incredibly “cunning.”
This is why Paul exhorted the believers in Ephesians 6:12 saying, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Never forget, as we’ll see with Eve, Satan never makes his true intentions clear. He never flatly tells you, “I want to destroy your life!” And yet, this is his only aim! To this point in 1 Peter 5:8 the Apostle exhorts Christians to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
And yet, what we’ll come to see from our text this morning is that (A) The Devil cannot make you do anything, and (B) You already have all the tools to stand victorious!
Let’s take a look at how Satan begins… “And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Initially, it’s important to point out that Satan immediately targets the substance of God’s Word by intentionally twisting what God said in order to misrepresent the reason God said it to begin with. Note: He seeks to do this through a simple question. One commentator observed, “The serpent enters with a bold question as to divine revelation.” Keep in mind the question was not designed to obtain information, but rather to draw something out of Eve.
God had been clear that they could eat of “every tree” accept one, but Satan’s point was to plant within Eve a measure of doubt… “Had God indeed said?” In this instance he’s seeking to get Eve’s eyes off of the things God had given and onto the one thing He prohibited. Intellectually she begins to question what God said as well as the reason He said it.
Never forget the battle of temptation always begins in the mind and centers upon our most basic human desires. While God had given Eve everything but that one tree to enjoy, Satan wanted to stir within her a desire for the one thing she didn’t have. My Dad always cautioned, “Your feet will never travel to a destination your mind hasn’t already visited.”
Genesis 3:2-3, “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Honestly, I find it very difficult to place to much blame on Eve for her response to the serpent. Consider a subtly in the way the story unfolds in Genesis 2 we’ve yet to discuss… If you look back over Genesis 2 you notice the command not to eat the forbidden fruit was given by God to Adam before He made the woman! The implication is that God gave Adam the job of communicating His Word to his wife Eve. It was his job to explain to his wife the specific instructions God had set forth concerning the terms of their obedience.
There is no doubt that, in responding to Satan’s question, Eve is simply relaying the very words that had been communicated to her by Adam. And yet, there was a glaring problem. Eve was ill-equipped to effectively combat the enemy, not because she didn’t know God’s Word, but because God’s Word had been omitted, amended, and tempered.
Notice what was omitted… She says, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden,” when it’s recorded that God told Adam “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” Why is this significant? God’s command was designed to be freeing. It was designed to emphasis the incredible magnitude of His goodness and grace. It wasn’t just that they could “eat of the fruit of the trees,” but that they could eat of “every tree!” Eve missed that the emphasis of the command centered on all the incredible things God had given them to enjoy with the prohibition of this one tree being a minor footnote.
Also did you see how Eve then added to God’s Word… In addition to minimizing the scope of God’s grace and goodness, she adds the phrase concerning the one forbidden tree, “Nor shall you touch it!” What is tragic about this is the simple fact that God did not say this! While I’m sure it wasn’t wise to be touching fruit from a forbidden tree the problem was that in his fear Eve might sin Adam added to God’s Word! And if you, as many do, consider what the problem with such an approach might be let me explain… While minimizing the goodness of all that God affords through His grace robs the Gospel message of it’s transforming power, legalistically adding to God’s Word in order to insure someone remains obedient is incredibly dangerous. If you add to God’s Word what is not in God’s Word it’s only logical people will begin to question all of God’s Word… “Had God indeed said?” This was always a huge point of contention Jesus had with the religious establishment.
Finally, Eve says, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Once again, the problem with this was that Adam appears to have tempered the consequence of disobedience! It wasn’t that “you’d die” God had been clear “you will surely die!” God’s command had been emphatic. The result of sin had been stated in such a way that it would be a deterrent, but Adam seems to have softened the implications to a degree.
Genesis 3:4-5, “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
After getting Eve to question God’s Word and then after seeing that Adam had failed to accurately communicate God’s grace in favor of legalism, Satan now targets the fundamental truthfulness of God’s Word and therefore the essence of His goodness.
“You will not surely die…” instead “you will be like God.” What Satan is saying to Eve is that God’s instructions were not actually there to protect her from harm, but existed to prohibit her from full enjoyment! In a sense his claim was that God was holding out on her!
The attack focused on the character of God. If God was holding out on her then His command was not loving. It was selfish and restricting. As C.H. Mackintosh remarked concerning this point, “You cannot place confidence in one who manifestly does not love you; for if He loved you, why should He prohibit your enjoying a positive privilege?”
It should also be pointed out that rebellion against God always stems from our desire to be our own God! The idea of supplanting the position of God in my life with myself is appealing for I can then do what I want without the safeguard of divine accountability. Instead of God’s Word determining order my opinion become my ultimate authority.
Genesis 3:6, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
Now that Satan had effectively gotten Eve questioning the truthfulness of God’s Word and the essence of God’s love for her it was easy to get her to focus on what had always been forbidden. Consider… If the basis for “No!” is God’s love we’ll obey. However, if we believe the basis for “No!” is anything but His love, then partaking of what is forbidden is only logical.
Notice… Eve saw that the tree was “good for food” (the lust of the flesh), “pleasant to the eyes” (the lust of the eyes), and “desirable to make one wise” (the pride of life). 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Tragically, we’re told Eve believed the lie. She had come to believe that God was not lovingly protecting her, but through His commands was instead holding out on her. She believed God’s Word was simply not true, so Eve “took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Note: Satan didn’t force Eve to act against her will. Because we’re free moral creatures no man can ever say “the devil made me do it!”
What is sad about this story is the reality that Eve succumb to the lie that God’s Word was not true, because she really didn’t know God’s Word. Right in the beginning we are shown how important it is we know God’s Word if we’re to obey God and therefore maximize the life He created us for! As the psalmist sang in Psalms 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”
I would add Genesis 3 also illustrates the importance of effective and accurate Bible teaching! Should there be any surprise that the increasing culture of Christian compromise within the church today concerning fundamental Biblical truths has directly coincided with the perpetual failure of the church as a whole to teach the entire council of God?
Should there be any surprise that millennial-Christian’s rising skepticism as to the authority of God’s Word has soared to new heights when many of their preachers have intentionally downplayed the incredible freedom found in God’s amazing goodness and grace by adding to the Scriptures legalistic rules God never gave out of the fear Christians will fall into sin?
Is there any surprise that the church’s tempering of the real results of sin (“you will surely die”) out of a desire to be more appealing, culturally sensitive, and tolerant have fostered an unserious attitude concerning the full consequences of rebellion among those who even claim the banner of Christ? That God says what He means and means what He says!
By omitting, amending, and tempering God’s Word Adam robbed Eve of her only defense to resist the temptations of the enemy and the lure of this world… “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Note: In the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4) Jesus combated every attack of the enemy by quoting from God’s Word! The very weapon Jesus wielded you have at your disposal!
As we close, notice verse 6 tells us “she took and ate” before giving the fruit to Adam who also ate. To this point Paul makes an interesting observation in 1 Timothy 2:14. He writes, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” This word “deceived” is “apataō” meaning “cheated.” The implication is that there was a fundamental difference between the motivation behind Eve’s action and that of Adam’s.
Think about it… Eve believed the lie of Satan and had already eaten the fruit when she came to Adam. As she approached him she was in a sinful state. She had been promised by the devil that in eating the fruit she would be like God, which clearly didn’t happen. This is why we’re told by Paul that Eve was “deceived” - she had been cheated.
But not so with Adam! In addition to not having the same interaction with the serpent, Adam could clearly see that Eve had been cheated in eating the fruit. He recognized the lie. There was no disillusionment; and yet, Adam took the fruit and ate of it anyway. Why?
Adam killed himself for Eve for one reason… He love her more than he loved his own life! He could have refused the fruit and allowed Eve to stand in judgment alone, but he didn’t. The perfect man took upon himself a fallen state so that he could save his wife! His actions communicated to Eve that she would not be alone. He stepped out of perfection in order to stand with her in imperfect. Adam loved Eve and would die to prove it!
Consider… That in Adam’s actions and his love for his wife we see a beautiful picture of Jesus and His love for us! In a sense we’re all Eve! We’ve all been deceived. We’ve all believed the lie and eaten the forbidden fruit. We’ve all rebelled against God and His Word.
As a result of sin and the curse, judgment and death are now an inescapable part of our destiny and it’s all our fault! We have no one to blame but ourselves. And yet, the second man (Jesus Christ) as with the first refused to stand idly by! Jesus willingly chose to step out of His glory and join us in our fallen, earthly condition for one reason… He loves us more than He loved His own life!
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus became sin so that we might be saved from sin. While Adam joined Eve so that she was not alone in her judgment and death, how glorious a truth that our husband Jesus, in His incredible love and by His grace, choose not to leave us to face judgment alone, but instead died for us so that we might be spared death and given life!
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