Worship God on His terms

Do you remember the TV show The Incredible Hulk? The main character was a scientist named Dr. David Banner. Banner was basically a very friendly man. But whenever he got angry, his eyes would turn green and he would be transformed into this big, green, hulking monster (played by former professional bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno). If you were a person in need, he would save you. But God help you if you were the one he was mad at because he would pick you up and throw you to the other side of the room like you were a rag doll. Dr. Banner didn’t like what anger did to him. In fact, the whole show is built around Dr. Banner’s desire to find a cure so this won’t happen to him anymore.

 

The lesson that I learn from The Incredible Hulk is: If you don’t learn to deal with your temper, it will turn you into a monster of a person. It can change you into someone you don’t want to be. This is what happened to Cain in Genesis 4. He had a bad temper to start with, but he didn’t deal with it. Eventually, it turned him into this other person…an evil person. However, Cain’s problem was not an anger problem; his problem was a worship problem! The expression of inappropriate anger was a sin that was symptomatic of a greater problem. In Genesis 4:1-26, we will learn from the account of Cain how to worship God on His terms.

 

  1. The birth of the two sons(4:1-2). Our account begins with these words: “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain” (4:1a). After the fall, Adam and Eve began a family. Eve gave birth to “Cain” whose name means, “acquire, get, or possess.” His Hebrew name is Cain; his English name would be “Got.” Eve responded to Cain’s birth by saying, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD” (4:1b). The literal rendering of Eve’s reply is, “I have gotten a son, the Lord.” Some Bible students interpret this to mean that Eve believes she has begotten the Savior (cf. 3:15). This is possible, of course. Perhaps more likely, Eve understood from the prophecy of 3:15 that one of her offspring would bring about her redemption.

 

Regardless, in this statement there is an implicit declaration of faith and gratitude (cf. 3:20). Eve acknowledges that God has enabled her to bear a child, a child through whom her deliverance may soon come. In 4:2a, Moses records, “Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel” (4:2a). Unlike Cain’s name, Abel’s name is not explained by Eve. However, the Hebrew word “Abel” is the word “vanity” or “breath,” appearing throughout Ecclesiastes. Traditionally understood, his name reflects on the temporary nature of his existence. It is important to notice the terms “brother” and “Abel” each appear seven times, stressing the relationship between the two men. In these opening verses, Moses is trying to prepare us for what is to come.

[After giving a brief account of the birth of the two sons, the narrative focuses on the worship of these two brothers. The primary purpose of this account is to reveal what kind of worship is pleasing to God.]

 

  1. The worship of the two brothers(4:2b-5). In 4:2b, Moses writes“And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Abel is a shepherd and Cain is a farmer. Both of these vocations are noble; one is not better than the other. This leads into an exercise in worship in 4:3-5a: “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit9 of the ground. Abel, on his part also10 brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” Both brothers bring offerings to the Lord suitable to their vocations (4:3). Yet, God regarded Abel and his offering and not Cain and his offering (4:4b). Some insist that the reason for this is Abel offered a blood sacrifice while Cain did not. However, there does not appear to be anything wrong with Cain offering fruit as opposed to animal sacrifice.

 

Later in Israel’s history, grain offerings and harvest offerings are legitimate expressions of worship that God accepts and even commands. So if it is not a failure to bring a blood sacrifice, why does God reject Cain and his offering?

The New Testament authors inform us that God regarded Abel because he had faith (Heb 11:4) while Cain did not (Jude 11-13 and 1 John 3:11-12). Therefore, it seems clear that Abel was in relationship with God and Cain was separated from God. A very important principle is this: “God always inspects the giver and the worshipper before He inspects the gift, service, or worship.” This means it is critical that you are in relationship with God before you seek to worship or serve Him. Otherwise, your worship is unacceptable.

 

There is also an interesting clue in the Genesis account that tells us about Cain and Abel and their offerings. In 4:4, Moses records that Abel offers “the firstlings of his flock” (cf. Exod 34:19; Deut 12:6; 14:23) and the “fat portions” (cf. Num 18:17) for his offering. The word that is translated “fat portions” means “choicest, best part, or abundance.” Abel gave what cost him most—the firstborn! On the other hand, Cain merely offers “the fruit,” not the first fruit, of the ground (4:3). Abel brought the best parts of his flocks and Cain was not so particular. Abel went out of his way to worship God by giving his best. Cain merely discharged a duty. One of the key themes throughout Scripture is God seeks worship that is perfect and costly (Lev 22:20-222 Sam 24:24). He will not be satisfied with second best (Mal 1:6-14Rom 12:1).

 

The Butterball Company set up a Thanksgiving hotline to answer questions about cooking turkeys. One woman asked if she could use a turkey that had been in the bottom of her freezer for 23 years. The Butterball expert—how’s that for a job title—told her it would probably be safe if the freezer had been below zero the entire time. But the expert warned her that even if the turkey was safe to eat, the flavor would likely have deteriorated and wouldn’t be worth eating. The woman said, “That’s what I thought. We’ll give the turkey to our church.” While this is an amusing story, it does hit a bit close to home for some Christians. Sin first shows itself in what you give God.

 

Motives matter to God. God is not impressed with those who do the right thing for the wrong reason. This truth is taught throughout the Bible. In Matthew 15:8, Jesus looks at the Pharisees and quotes Isaiah, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (see also Micah 6:7-8). Sometimes people can have very bad motives for doing good things. There is a story about a man who was riding in a New York City taxi. He noticed the cab driver slowed down to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Trying to compliment the driver’s action, he said, “I noticed you slowed down for that fellow.” The driver responded, “Yeah, if you hit them, you have got to fill out a report.” I would stay out of the way of that cab if I were walking in New York.

 

What are our motives for serving the Lord? Every so often we need to do a motive checkup and ask ourselves: Why am I nice to other people? Why do I put money in the offering plate? Why do I serve in Kids’ Church?

[Whatever the cause of God’s rejection of Cain’s offering; the narrative itself focuses our attention on Cain’s response. It is there that the narrative seeks to make its point.]

 

  1. The response of the oldest brother(4:5b-8). When Cain learned that God had “no regard” for his offering, “[he] became very angry and his countenance fell” (4:5b). Cain became angry with God! Rather than being concerned about remedying the situation and pleasing God, he became very angry. We must stop here and ask these questions of ourselves: How do we respond when God says no?

When God convicts us and deals with the sin in our lives, how do we respond? Do we seek to make things right? Do we come before the Lord in worship and confession with a humble and contrite heart?

Or do we pout and get ticked off? The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, said it best, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isa 66:2b).

 

Do you have a problem with your temper? One lady said, “I occasionally lose my temper, but it’s over quickly.” Her pastor replied, “So is an atom bomb explosion, but think of the damage it causes. So is a cyclone, but think of the destruction it leaves. So is a bullet fired, but think of the death it can cause.” We must not assume that unrighteous anger is ever justified or appropriate.

In customary fashion, in 4:6, the Lord pursues Cain with three consecutive questions: “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?” God was not pleased with Cain or his offering. These first two questions demonstrate that He was even more displeased by Cain’s response. Yet, many of us have been told by other well-meaning Christians that it is perfectly acceptable to get mad at God. We like to justify our anger by saying, “He’s a big God. He has broad shoulders. He can handle my cussing and complaining.” Well, sure He can, but is this the appropriate response to the almighty Creator of heaven and earth? I don’t think so. He is a sovereign God that is to be feared. He wants us to trust Him, even when things don’t make sense. Unfortunately, many Christians have a small view of God that allows them to have temper tantrums with Him.

In 4:7, the Lord says, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” This clearly implies that Cain knew what was right. He knew the quality of offering to bring and chose not to bring it. He knew his heart was not right, but he chose not to address it. Yet, this verse also shows God’s grace, for Cain was still invited to bring the correct offering. God warned Cain and He wanted Cain to “do well,” but Cain hardened his heart. Sin is like a wild animal ready to pounce and devour its victim. What a graphic picture the Lord paints! What a reminder that we do indeed have a choice whether or not to sin. Flip Wilson was wrong when he said, “The Devil made me do it.” On the contrary, when we sin, we sin because of our refusal to rely on God’s power to “master it.

 

Unfortunately, instead of heeding God’s warning, Cain ignored God’s words and allowed himself to be mastered by sin. This resulted in the very first murder. Moses writes of the tragic event in 4:8: “Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” In his anger, Cain took the life of another human being…and his victim was his very own brother. The use of “rise up” is most appropriate, since the “rising up” of Cain to kill his brother is a direct consequence of the “falling” of his countenance, when Abel’s offering was accepted but his was not. Under the Mosaic Law, the fact that a killing took place in a field, out of the range of help, was proof of premeditation (cf. Deut 22:25-27). We cringe at such a horrible act and think, “I could never do something like that.” But if we were honest, many of us would have to confess our own lists of people we’ve assassinated with our words or attitudes.

 

A lesson we learn from the murder of Abel is that anger and jealousy can be very destructive. It is certainly not Abel’s fault that Cain’s sacrifice is not pleasing to God. But when God accepts Abel’s offering and rejects Cain’s, Cain directs his anger, jealousy, and hatred toward his brother. The history of crime shows that when given the opportunity, hatred often leads to murder. That is what Jesus was pointing to in Matthew 5 where He says hating your brother is really the same as murder.

 

You may be angry today. It might have been something, which happened this morning. Or maybe something happened years ago. Perhaps a neighbor or someone in the church cheated you out of some money or took advantage of you in some way, and you still have a bitter attitude. Whatever type the anger is, you need to get control of it and get rid of it. Ephesians 4:27 says if you don’t control your anger, you give the Devil a foothold (lit. “a place”) in your life. That is what Cain did. Uncontrolled anger and jealousy resulted in Abel’s death and destroyed Cain’s life too. Don’t let it happen in your life. Acknowledge that the attitude is wrong, confess it to the Lord, and ask His help in overcoming this destructive attitude.

 

  1. The pursuit of a gracious God(4:9-16). In 4:9, Cain foolishly thought he could hide his sin from God. He’s following in his father’s footsteps (3:8). Yet, God seeks Cain just like He sought Adam and Eve. God is a seeker. After Cain’s treacherous sin, the Lord does the unthinkable—he dialogues with Cain. He speaks with grace, not wrath. The Lord says to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain responds by saying, “I do not know.” Cain begins on a sinful note by lying to God. Puny old Cain tells an omniscient God that he doesn’t know where his brother Abel is. Come on! The fact that Cain can dispassionately deny what he has done and show a total lack of care and concern for his brother closely parallels man’s total lack of regard for woman in 3:12, where man icily refers to his companion as “the woman” and places all the blame on her, thereby revealing a complete absence of the intimacy and companionship that earlier had characterized their relationship.

 

To make matters worse, Cain goes on to utter the infamous old adage, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was a tragic mistake on Cain’s part. Now, if I was God, I would have smoked Cain right where he stood! But not the Lord! Instead, He asks Cain a follow-up question that is the same question He asked Eve (3:13): “What have you done?” Wouldn’t you just hate to be Cain right now? The Lord then stops asking questions and says, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground” (4:10). This is a key sentence. The words “to me” demonstrate how seriously God takes first-degree murder. When another person kills a baby, a child, or an adult made in the image of God (1:26; 9:6), the blood of the victim cries out to God! Sin cannot be covered up from God. It can be hidden from people, but not from God. Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven!

 

As a consequence of Cain’s act of deliberate sin, God curses him (4:11-12), just like He cursed the serpent (3:14) and the ground (3:17-19). Woe! Moses records these tragic words: “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” This is the first instance in Scripture where a human is “cursed.” The ultimate penalty for a Hebrew is not death, but exile, a loss of roots.

 

In 4:13-14, “Cain said to the LORD, ‘My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’” Cain’s complaint is peppered with the use of seven personal pronouns. All Cain cared about was himself. There was no fear or reverence for God, no regret for the loss of innocent life, no sorrow for sin, and no thought for his parents who had lost one son tragically through murder and would be losing another through rebellion. There was only a preoccupation with himself. The killer fears being killed. He who turned on one of his relatives now must watch out for any of his relatives.

 

In 4:15, the Lord speaks again to Cain, “‘Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.” God continues to demonstrate His grace and compassion—even to Cain! The Lord gave Cain a sign before judgment was carried out. Isn’t this just like the Lord?

 

The Lord’s program always seems to be mercy before judgment. How fortunate we are that this is the case. If it weren’t, we would have been snuffed out a long time ago! No matter what you’ve done, God wants a relationship with you. There is no sin that you have ever committed that is too big for God. He will accept you IF you accept His Son’s sacrifice for your sin. We do not know what the “sign” was. Some have supposed it was a mark of some kind on Cain himself (e.g., a tattoo), others a special hairstyle. One of the ancient rabbis argued that the sign was a dog that accompanied Cain on his wanderings. The dog assured Cain of God’s protection and frightened attackers. Others think it is some sign in the external world, such as an intensified fear of killing another human being. To that end, God places a mark on Cain before he expels him. This will protect Cain from recrimination. Here again is mercy before judgment.

In 4:16, we read these sad words: “Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” One question that is asked is: Did Cain repent? Probably not. The New Testament Scriptures uniformly speak of Cain in the negative with phrases like “the way of Cain” (Jude 11) and one “who was of the evil one and slew his brother” (1 John 3:12). His life is contrasted with “righteous Abel” (Matt 23:35). Nevertheless, we do not know what ultimately happened to him. He may have responded to God. Cain was not beyond God’s grace and neither are you.

[It is important to note that Adam’s sin (3:6-7) progresses to murder between brother and brother (4:1-16), and then to the decay of society (4:17-26).]

  1. The tale of two men(4:17-26). In 4:17, we have a well-known proof text used by skeptics. The verse reads: “Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son.” Of course, the obvious question is: Where did Cain get his wife? The answer is quite simple: Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece). The Bible says Adam “had other sons and daughters” (5:4). In fact, since Adam lived 930 years (5:5), he had plenty of time for plenty of children! Cain could have married one of his many sisters, or even a niece, if he married after his brothers or sisters had grown daughters. Regardless, one of his brothers would have married a sister. Marriages between close relatives were at first unavoidable if the whole human race came from a single pair. Marriage between siblings and close relatives was not prohibited until the Mosaic Law, instituted thousands of years later (Lev 18:6-18). There were no genetic imperfections at the beginning of the human race. God created genetically perfect Adam (1:27). Genetic defects resulted from the fall and only occurred gradually, over long periods of time.

 

In 4:18-19, we read about a man by the name of “Lamech” who becomes the first bigamist. Bigamy was common in the ancient Near East, but it was never God’s desire (cf. 2:24; Matt 19:4-5). God permitted it, however, as He did many other customs of which He disapproved (e.g., divorce, marrying concubines, polygamy, etc.); but He was not pleased with this violation of the marriage covenant.

 

In 4:20-24, we see that Cain prospered even though he rebelled against God. Cain’s prosperity led the way in producing cities, music, weapons, and agricultural implements—in short, civilization. Even among ungodly people God allows development and progress. It is part of His kindness to the entire human race. This is another indication of God’s grace. Cain’s descendants took the lead in building cities, developing music, advancing agriculture, creating weapons, and spreading civilization.

 

In 4:23-24, Lamech said to his wives, ‘“Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech, for I have killed a man for wounding me; and a boy for striking me; if Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.’” Lamech, who is Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, writes a piece of poetry, but what an ugly piece of poetry it is! It is a song.

 

One can easily see that its lines are parallel and poetical. Lamech is singing a song. But what is he singing about? He is singing about polygamy, murder, and revenge. This is a “sword song” in which Lamech wears violence as a badge of honor. God allows the makers of musical instruments to arise, but they misuse their very culture to promote violence. This is how men and women use their culture. God allows family life, music, and technology but how does man use His blessings? He perverts them! Music is wonderful. Yet, music can be used for wicked purposes also.

 

Do you realize the influence of the media on you and your children? Think about many of the songs that are popular today. They are full of violence, sex, and self. What about the impact of television? Did you know that the average American family watches 6.5 hours of TV daily? One way of making sense of this astronomical figure is to consider this: The average child spends 900 hours a year in school but 1,500 hours a year watching TV.

[Just when things seem to be beyond hope, the Lord shows forth His hand of sovereignty and promise.]

In 4:25-26, Moses writes, “Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” Obviously, 4:25-26 should not be understood as a sequel to 4:17-24. Cain’s genealogy does not extend six generations before Adam fathers a child again. Cain’s sons prospered and founded the new world after the fall. Yet, they were not to be included in the lineage of the Messianic “seed” (cf. 3:15). The author turns another page with the birth of “another offspring in place of Abel” (4:25). This strategic birth reveals that the “seed” would continue through the line of Seth. Seth’s name, from the Hebrew verb translated “granted” and meaning “to set or place,” expresses Eve’s faith that God would continue to provide seed despite death.

 

After the birth of Enosh (Seth’s son), it is noted that “then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.” The phrase “call upon the name of the Lord” usually refers to proclamation rather than prayer in the Pentateuch. Here it probably refers to the beginning of public worship of Yahweh. This is the inauguration of true worship (cf. 12:8; 13:4; 16:13; 21:33; 26:25). “Enosh” means “weakness” and in his weakness he turns to God with petition and praises (Ps 149:6). Man will not pray until he recognizes his human weakness and inability and is utterly dependent upon God. So Cain’s firstborn and successors pioneer civilization, while Seth’s firstborn and successors pioneer worship.

 

Will you humble yourself, acknowledge your own weakness, and turn to the Lord for His strength? As Paul writes in the New Testament, “…the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25).

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Don’t play hide and seek with God!

In 2004, a 22-year-old man robbed a Chevron station and then led Poulsbo, Washington police on a high-speed chase. After cleaning out the cash register, the robber and a passenger took off in a red Honda and soon cops from four towns were in pursuit. The caravan zoomed at speeds up to 100 mph through the winding roads of western Puget Sound, where twists and turns can leave even locals disoriented. After a while the fugitives managed to lose their pursuers in the darkness but they had no idea where they were. That’s when the robber pulled his Honda into a Chevron station to ask for directions to Seattle—unaware that it was the very same establishment he’d just robbed. Police caught up to the Honda soon afterward.

 

Sometimes, playing hide-and-seek doesn’t work out so well. Have you ever played hide-and-seek with God? Have you ever sinned and then tried to run away from Him in shame? If so, you’ve probably realized that no matter how good you are at hiding, you can’t hide from God. Fortunately, God doesn’t play hide-and-seek, He plays “seek and hide.” He is the great pursuer that always tracks down His man or woman. Today, if you’re feeling far away from God, I have a word of hope for you. It is found in Genesis 3:8-24.

[In 3:1-7, we learned how to win over sin by overcoming temptation. Now in 3:8-24, we will learn how to recover from sin by confessing our sins and learning from discipline. How can I recover from sin? In this narrative, we will be able to see two clear prescriptions.]

 

  1. Confess your sin without blaming God or others(3:8-13). In 3:8, Moses records: “They [Adam and Eve] 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 sound of the Lord God” represents the grace of God reaching out to man in a crisis situation. The “cool” of the day can be translated, literally, the “wind” or “spirit” of the day. In the Bible, the wind/spirit is the symbol of God’s presence (see 1:2). God came to Adam and Eve in this wind. He began to seek them; yet our text records that they “hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” A more complete transformation could not be imagined. The trust of innocence is replaced by the fear of guilt. The trees that God created for man to look at and enjoy (2:9) are now his hiding place to prevent God seeing him.

 

In the midst of this game of hide and seek, God calls out to the man because he is the one in authority, the one first created (1 Cor 11:3). He is responsible for where they are and why. The Lord says, “Where are you?” (3:9). The Lord’s question carries the force of “why” are you there. God asked, “What’s the problem? What’s going on?” Of course, the Lord knows, but is demanding that man give an account of his actions. He wants Adam to take personal responsibility for his actions. This is all grace. Even in Adam’s sin, God lovingly woos Adam back to Himself. He is seeking a confession.

 

In 3:10, Adam answers the “why” question with these words: “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” As soon as Adam heard God’s presence, he remembered about spiritual life and relationship with God. He now realized that the attempt to cover up his disorientation to Eve had been in vain. He realized that it was the loss of spiritual life that was the cause of his disorientation to Eve and that there was nothing he could do about either. That’s why he still viewed himself as naked, even after covering up. And that’s why he was afraid. It was “spiritual” nakedness that was the real issue. The only solution he could devise was denial and avoidance. He hid himself, but of course it didn’t work. Because the human race is naked, there is no end to their attempts to avoid the truth of God’s grace. Denial and substitution has been the evidence of man’s nakedness all throughout history.

 

In 3:11, God answers Adam in the form of another question. He says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” God is being specific to make certain they understand exactly what happened. Eating from the tree of which God commanded Adam not to eat was the only way he could become alienated from God and Eve. God is making it perfectly clear that the failure was in not obeying the Word of God. Yet, bear in mind, God took the initiative in seeking out the sinners to re-establish a relationship with them. Evidence of God’s love is His unwillingness to abandon those He loves, even when they failed to do His will. He is a compassionate and gracious God.

Adam responded to God’s question by saying, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (3:12). Remember Adam’s ecstasy when he first laid eyes on Eve? “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (2:23a). Now he turns on her like a wild banshee! What infamous treachery! Here, Adam implies that a good God would not have given him Eve. He makes excuses for himself and plays the blame game.

 

A woman was walking along the beach when she stumbled upon a Genie’s lamp. She picked it up, rubbed it, and a Genie appeared. The amazed woman asked if she got three wishes. The Genie said, “No. Due to inflation, constant downsizing, and fierce global competition, I can only grant you one wish. So, what’ll it be?” The woman didn’t hesitate. She said, “I want peace in the Middle East. See this map? I want these countries to stop fighting with each other.” The Genie looked at the map and exclaimed, “Lady, these countries have been at war for thousands of years. I’m good but not THAT good! Make another wish.” The woman thought for a minute and said, “Well, I’ve never been able to find the right man. You know, one that’s considerate and fun, likes to cook and helps with the housecleaning, is romantic, gets along with my family, doesn’t watch sports all the time, and is faithful. That’s what I wish for—a perfect husband.” The Genie let out a long sigh and said, “Let me see that map again.”

 

After hearing Adam’s response, the Lord God moves on to the woman and asks, “What is this you have done?” (3:13a). “And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’”(3:13b). The Lord’s question has the sense, “What in the world have you done?” or “Do you realize what you’ve done?” Instead of taking responsibility for her actions, the woman blamed the serpent. Can you see the progression? Adam blamed the woman, and then blamed God for having given her to him. Eve blamed the serpent. This is typical of human nature. The sinner blames everyone but himself. It’s been said, “To error is human; to blame it on others and upon God is more human.”

 

Adam and Eve are guilty of “passing the buck” and blaming others. Mankind has been guilty of this behavior ever since. We sometimes blame God for placing us in circumstances that we regard as too much for us. Some students cheat, rationalizing that God is to blame for giving them a difficult professor and a busy schedule. Some thieves steal, blaming God and life for their stealing. “God, you know my weaknesses, but there it was. Why did you allow it?” Consider the adulterous man who blames God for the ingredients that led to his sin—his depression, his poor self-image, that woman, his loneliness. Mankind loves to find someone or something to blame for their behavior (e.g., spouse, parents, siblings, children, co-workers, the boss, the weather, the neighbor’s dog).

 

Yet, if you’re going to “pass the blame,” why not pass it on to Jesus? The Bible tells us that the Second Adam took all the sins of the world upon Himself and died to cover the penalty for sin (Rom 5:17). Have you stopped passing the buck? Have you humbled yourself before God and others and said the guilt for your sin is yours alone? And then, have you passed it on to Jesus? When you come to the realization that you have sinned and there is a penalty for your sin, if God is drawing you to Himself, you will also recognize your need of a Savior. The moment you trust in Christ, you enter into a relationship with God that can never be lost. What hope! What blessing!

[Whether you are a pre-Christian or a Christian, you can recover from sin by confessing your sin to your loving Father. The second prescription for recovering from sin is to…]

  1. Trust in God’s care as you face the consequences(3:14-24). The consequences of sin are detailed in 3:14-19. First, God deals with the serpent. Then He deals with the woman, and finally, the man. God’s judgment on each trespasser (the snake, the woman, and the man) involved both a life function and a relationship. In each case the punishment corresponded to the nature of the crime.

 

In 3:14, Moses writes, “The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.’” The snake had been “crafty” (‘arum), but now it was “cursed” (‘arur). In the Bible, to “curse” means to invoke God’s judgment on someone, usually for some particular offense. It is the opposite of “bless.” The text says the snake had to move on its belly. Some commentators take this literally and conclude that the snake had legs before God cursed it. Others take it figuratively, as a reference to the resultant despised condition of the snake. I opt for the latter. I believe snakes did not originally walk upright on their feet. This was just a way of saying that the serpent’s downfall would be certain. This is confirmed by the phrase “and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” In the Bible, this describes humiliation and total defeat. To boil this down, recognize that even Indiana Jones feared snakes. Since the fall of man, snakes continue to keep the revolting image of Satan before our eyes. While God cursed all animals and the whole creation because of the fall (Rom 8:20), He made the snake the most despicable of all the animals for its part in the fall.

 

In 3:15, we have one of the most important verses in the entire Bible: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” The word “enmity” means “hostility and antagonism.” There would be antagonism between the Serpent and human beings (3:15a). This obviously exists between snakes and people, but God’s intention in this verse seems to include the person behind the snake (Satan) even more than the snake itself.

 

The “seed” of the Serpent refers to natural humanity whom he has led into rebellion against God. The “seed” of the woman refers to her descendants. Eve’s descendants were the Jewish people. However, the “seed” of the woman in 3:15 also refers to one particular individual, not a whole group of people. It is referring to the Messiah, who would come forth from the Jewish people. The moment the Serpent delivers a blow to the heel of the Messiah is the same moment in which his head is crushed (cf. Gal 3:16, 19; Heb 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; Rev 19:1-5). The Bible connects the death of Jesus Christ with the defeat of the Devil (John 12:21-33). Satan would strike His heel, but the wound would mean that the Son would strike a deathblow to Satan. Jesus suffered a terrible but temporary injury (John 12:31; Col 2:15). Satan only crippled Christ. Christ would deal Satan the fatal blow. The forces of Satan did not realize that the plan of God would actually be promoted and fulfilled by the death of Christ. God’s curse upon Satan meant that His own Son would one day become a curse for us. Grace is rooted in Christ’s victory. This first judgment on sin is tinged with hope, something that recurs throughout Scripture (cf. 6:5-8), as God’s mercy outweighs His wrath (cf. Exod 20:5-6).

 

Now in 3:16, God turns His attention toward the woman. He says to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” God speaks to Eve about her role as mother (3:16a) and as wife (3:16b). Biblically speaking, these are the two points where a woman experiences her highest fulfillment. And at these two points there will be pain and servitude The “pain in childbirth” refers to the whole process from conception to birth. This includes anxiety about whether she will be able to conceive a child, anxiety that comes with all the physical discomfort of the pregnancy, anxiety concerning the health of the child in the womb, and anxiety about whether she and the baby will survive the birth process.

 

God also speaks of the woman’s “desire” for her husband. Desire is a source of conflict between husbands and wives, just as sin desires to dominate and control (4:7). This is the first battle of the sexes. Each strives for control and neither lives in the best interest of the other (Phil 2:3-4). The woman’s role and the man’s role both become perverted. The woman tends to want to subtly control the man. The man tends to dominate and tyrannize. Partners become competitors. It has been this way ever since the fall.

 

Wives, in what ways do you attempt to usurp your husband’s authority? Do you nag? Are you critical? Are you cynical? Do you use your emotions to dominate him and get your way? While this behavior is one of the consequences of the fall, you are not to use this verse as an excuse to justify your behavior. Rather, you are called to recognize that your husband is your spiritual head, therefore, you must exhibit a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet 3:4).

 

In 3:17-19, God directs His final words to Adam. The judgment on Adam is given last because, as the one who sinned without being deceived, having all the facts, he bears the greater responsibility. The Lord says, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” God’s punishment or discipline fits the crime. A form of the word “eating” is used no less than five times in response to Adam’s sin of eating.33 It is also worth noting that, in each of these three verses, God says to Adam, “You will eat.” The food produced by the man would sustain the lives produced by the woman, and it would sustain their lives as well. Even in His discipline, God manifests grace.

God speaks to Adam about his role as a worker. Here is where the male experiences his highest fulfillment. And for him, too, there will be pain. Romans 8:20 explains that creation is subject to vanity. This is the law of entropy. The second law of thermodynamics demonstrates that there is an innate tendency towards decay and disorder in the universe. We are currently experiencing this consequence of the curse.

 

In these three verses, man’s natural or original relationship to the ground—to rule over it—is reversed; instead of submitting to him, it resists and eventually swallows him (2:7; Rom 8:20-22). In the Old Testament, in particular, the ecology of the earth is partly dependent on human morality. Sin always puts a wedge between things or people in Genesis 3. It puts a wedge between God and humans, between man and woman, between man and himself, and now between man and the soil. These are the consequences we must face.

 

In 3:20-21, “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Adam expressed confidence in God’s promise about the “seed of the woman,” as he calls his wife “Eve,” which means “the mother of all living” or “she who gives life.” I do not think this name means merely that the whole human race will descend from her. That may be true, but that is not the point of the name. Surely, it is an expression of faith in the promise of Genesis 3:15. Adam believes that somehow, through Eve’s seed, life will come to the human race. Here is hope in the midst of judgment.

 

Previously, Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings” (3:7). That was their attempt to solve the immediate consequences of their sin. God provided special clothing for them instead of their fig leaves. He used “garments of skin” and clothed them. So with the sentence given, God does for the couple what they cannot do for themselves. They cannot deal with their shame. But God can, will, and does God’s provision of clothes is a way of expressing the fact that, when we believe, He clothes us with garments of salvation (2 Cor 5:21).

 

In 3:22-24, the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” The author uses irony to demonstrate that when the human race, who had been created like God (1:26), sought to “be like God” (3:5-7), they found themselves, after the fall, no longer with God. Their happiness does not consist of being like God so much as it does their being with God. The goal must always be, to be “with God.” There is nothing better than enjoying the presence of God (cf. Ps 16:11).

 

The phrase “like one of us” probably means like heavenly beings (God and the angels; cf. 1:26). Cherubim, in the Old Testament, surround and symbolize God’s presence. They are similar to God’s bodyguards. Moses pictured them here defending the Tree of Life with a flaming sword. The cherubim at Eden kept man from eating the fruit from the Tree of Life. This was critical because the Tree of Life perpetuated physical life in the perfect environment of the garden. When man acquired a sin nature in the physical body, he started the process of physical deterioration, which would lead ultimately to physical death. If he were to eat of the Tree of Life at this time, it would perpetuate his physical life forever with the presence of the sin nature. And even though man is now back in relationship with God, through faith in the promise of a coming savior, perpetuation of physical life with the sin nature, would perpetuate soul distortion and deny access to the fullness of fellowship with God. Therefore, God forbade man to eat from the Tree of Life and removed him from its presence.

 

The cherubim also guarded man from the Tree of Life to remind him that his legacy was death, caused by sin. And if he considered the cherubim his enemies, it was only because he had forgotten that his own worst enemy was himself. As the late cartoonist Walt Kelly used to express it through one of his characters in the comic strip Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

So how can we go on? This passage provides several applications:

  1. Humble yourself and take responsibility for your sin (3:8-13).
  2. Prepare for the pain of discipline (3:14-19).
  3. Live by faith in spite of your failure (3:20).
  4. Trust in God’s ability to remove the shame (3:21).

Trust in God’s loving protection against unseen consequences from sin (3:22-24).

 

Parallels in Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 20-22

 

Genesis Revelation
In the beginning (1:1) I am. . .the Beginning and the End (21:6)
God created the heavens and the earth (1:1) I saw a new heaven and a new earth (21:1)
Let there be light (1:3) God gives it light (21:23)
The darkness He called “night” (1:5) There will be no night there (21:25)
The gathered waters He called “seas” (1:10) There was no longer any sea (21:1)
God made the two great lights (1:16) Does not need the sun/moon (21:23)
He also made the stars (1:16) The Morning Star (22:16)
Subdue [the earth]. Rule over (1:28) And they will reign forever (22:5)
God blessed the 7th day (2:2-3) 7 angels, 7 bowls, 7 last plagues (21:9)
[God] made it holy (2:3) The Holy City (21:2, 10; 22:19)
Tree of Life (2:9)

He must not take from the Tree of Life (3:22-23)

Tree of Life (22:2)

God will take away His share in the Tree of Life (22:19)

A river watering the garden (2:10) River of the Water of Life (22:1)

The free gift of the Water of Life (22:17)

There is gold (the gold of that land is good) (2:11-12) A measuring rod of gold (21:15)

The city was. . .pure gold (21:18)

The street. . .was pure gold (21:21)

The bdellium stone (pearls) (2:12) Pearls, each gate made of a single pearl (21:21)
Onyx (2:12) Sardonyx (21:20)
You will surely die (2:17)

Or you will die (3:3)

No more death (21:4)
A man will. . .be united to his wife (2:23-25) The bride of the wife of the Lamb (21:9-10)
The serpent. . .was crafty (3:1) The Devil, who deceived them (20:10)
Shown a garden into which sin entered (3:6-7) Shown a city into which sin will never enter (21:27)
The Lord God. . .was walking in the garden (3:8) Nations will walk by His light (21:24)
Walk of God with man interrupted (3:8-10) Walk of God with man resumed (21:3)
I was ashamed [naked] (3:10) Anyone who does what is shameful (21:27)
Initial triumph of the Serpent (3:13) Ultimate triumph of the Lamb (20:10; 22:3)
Cursed. . .cursed (3:14, 17) No longer. . .any curse (22:3)
Eve’s offspring (3:15) The Offspring of David (22:16)
I will greatly multiply your pain (3:16-17) No more. . .pain (21:4)
The Lord God made garments of skins and clothed them (3:21) Blessed are those who wash their robes (22:14)
God banished him (3:23) They will see His face (22:4)
He drove the man out of the garden (3:24) I saw the Holy City (21:2)
Cherubim. . .to guard the way (3:24) With 12 angels at the gates (21:12)
A flaming sword (3:24) Fiery lake of burning sulfur (21:8)

 

The Significance of the Parallels in Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 20-22

  1. Immutability:While we are prone to change, God does not change (Mal 3:6a). Even when we are faithless, He remains forever faithful (2 Tim 2:12). In His first dealings with mankind, He provided the sacrifice to meet the needs of the fallen Adam and Eve (i.e., animal skins, see Gen 3:21). In later events, He provided the sacrifice for the needs of His people (i.e., the Lamb, see 1 Pet 1:18-19).
  2. Restoration:The world as we now know it is not what God intended. Rather, our world is a result of man’s fall (Gen 3:1-24; Rom 5:12-21). Yet, Revelation 20-22promises us that God’s original plan for mankind will one day be fulfilled.
  3. Progress:The new heavens and the new earth are actually an improvement over the garden of Eden in that there is no sea, no night, no sun, or moon, etc. (Rev 21:1, 23-27).
  4. Triumph:God’s purposes are never thwarted by anyone or anything (Rom 9:6-29). Although things may have looked bleak in Genesis 3, Revelation 20-22proves that God ultimately and forcefully triumphs over the Serpent. Eventually, the big three (sin, suffering, and death) will be forever dealt with. This is one of the reasons the book of Revelation is so crucial. Without it, we would be left hanging. But fortunately, God relieves our apprehension and shares with us His glorious future.
  5. Beginning and End:In Revelation 21:6, God says, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” Any comparison of these two passages corroborates that He is the controller of all things from eternity to eternity. As Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last” (Rev 1:17). We can relax in our great God’s sovereignty.
  6. Unity of God’s Plan:Genesis 3:15points out the plan that God has to defeat Satan through the offspring of the woman. Revelation points to the consummation of that plan in the finished work of the Lamb (5:6-14). Thus, if God has a plan from the beginning and is able to actually carry it out at the end of history, then He must be in control of human history. And He must be who He claims to be!
  7. Unity of Scripture:By these extensive parallels (both similar and contrasting), we see that there is very close literary connection between two biblical books, written centuries apart, by different human authors, who were recording the words of a greater, overseeing author, God. Only God Himself could have orchestrated this unity of the Scriptures.

 

When temptation comes…

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Now I would venture to say that in your mind there is the image of an egg…right? Why? There is nothing in the nursery rhyme that mentions an egg. The one who wrote it probably did not have an egg in mind. Someone probably picked it up from the old New England Primer. Many of those in colonial days learned their grammar from that very familiar book. I also want to suggest that the child picked up his idea from the couplets used in that primer for the letters A and X. In the primer it reads, “In Adam’s fall we sinned all; Xerxes the Great did fall and so must you and I.” In a subtle fashion, that little couplet teaches not only the letters A and X, but also a very significant spiritual truth. That is, in the fall we sinned all.

 

You see the one who wrote that little nursery rhyme was not talking about an egg that fell, but a man. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (the soldiers of all the kings throughout history) could not repair what had been lost when this man fell. Of course, it was Adam who fell. He sat on a great wall of love and fellowship from which he had a great fall. And no one, from king to servant, could possibly put him together again. His name was not Humpty Dumpty, of course. It was Adam.

 

Genesis 3:1-7 records the account of Adam’s sin. By studying this passage, we will learn how sin entered the world and how we can overcome our sin. Let’s first set the scene: At the end of Genesis 2, life is perfect. Adam and Eve are naked in a lush and plush garden enjoying fellowship with the Lord and each other (2:25). Then something happens that forever changed the world.

 

  1. The Serpent’s Scheme(3:1): Our story begins with the following description: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (3:1a). Mankind’s first temptation comes through the mouth of “the serpent.” The creature here is a literal serpent that Satan embodied to carry out this temptation. The Hebrew word for “serpent” carries the idea of bright and shiny. This describes its general appearance as beautiful and pleasant to be around. The serpent made a good pet and was probably constantly around Adam and Eve. In fact, it is also probable, that for this reason, Satan chose to use the serpent as his disguise to deceive Eve.

 

The serpent is called “more crafty than any beast of the field.” The Hebrew word for “crafty” (arum) sounds like the word for “naked” (arumim, 2:25). While Adam and Eve were naked in innocence, the Serpent was crafty in deception. The word “crafty” is not primarily a negative term in the Bible. Rather, it often suggests wisdom. The description of the Serpent as “crafty” is in direct contrast to the foolishness exhibited by the first man and woman. In man’s quest to be wise like God (3:6), man made a most foolish decision. Instead of enjoying all that was “very good” (1:31) man went after that which was clearly forbidden (2:16-17).

 

In 3:1b, the Serpent speaks to the woman and asks the first question recorded in Scripture: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” This is not an innocent conversation starter. The Serpent reduces God’s command to a question. Satan is so subtle. He does not directly deny God’s Word, but introduces the assumption that God’s Word is subject to our judgment. Notice how Satan spins the question. He does not say, “Why would God keep you from eating the fruit of one tree?” It was couched in more deceptive words as he implies that God, who has forbidden one tree, has forbidden them all. However, the issue was one tree, not “any [every] tree of the garden.” The Devil’s words were misleading, and that is the way temptation always comes.

 

Satan focused Eve’s attention on God’s one prohibition. He suggested that God did not really want what was best for Adam and Eve but rather was withholding something from them that was essentially good. He hinted that God’s line of protection was actually a line that He drew because He was selfish. The Serpent wants God’s Word to appear harsh and restrictive. Satan is cleverly attempting to plant a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s Word and God’s goodness.

I have a few rules in my family. Don’t play with our knives. The blades are razor sharp and you can easily cut yourself. Don’t run around in the kitchen. Our kitchen island has sharp corners and you can crack your head open. I have these rules because I am a killjoy that wants to rob my kids of good clean fun, right? No, I have certain rules because I want to preserve my kid’s lives. God has the same intentions for us when He makes rules that prohibit us from doing certain things.

Do you believe God is holding something back from you? Is He preventing you from attaining something that is rightfully yours? Satan does not wish us to ponder the grace of God, but to grudgingly meditate upon His denials. We are to understand that denials (doing without, prohibitions) come from the hand of a good and loving God: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11). When temptation comes, stop to think before you take and eat.

Instead of rebuking the Serpent for its craftiness and calling Adam in for spiritual assistance, Eve listens. Eve’s first mistake was to listen to teaching that did not come from either God or Adam. Her second mistake was to listen to teaching that was contrary to God’s previous instructions. Eve placed herself in a vulnerable position by accepting dialog with the Serpent.

 

One of the questions you may have is: why did the Serpent talk to the woman? Why didn’t he talk to Adam or both of them as a couple? I believe Satan attempted to put a wedge between husband and wife to conquer by dividing, thus to capture their minds and cause them to act in disobedience to God’s Word. That’s why God puts such a high premium on the oneness of husband and wife and why, as husbands and wives, we need to encourage one another and build up one another. The minute Satan’s wedge is in, we are candidates to be chewed up by Satan and spit out in little pieces.

 

  1. The Woman’s Response(3:2-3). Instead of shunning the Serpent, Eve obliged him by carrying on a conversation. Rather than running from this one who dared to mock God’s character, she stays to debate. This is never wise. The Devil is not reasonable so there is no point in trying to reason with him. Not to mention, it is always dangerous to flirt with temptation. The moment Eve detected the Serpent insinuating something suspicious about God’s goodness, she should have kicked dirt in his face and made tracks. But instead, she stayed to argue. There are many Christians today that think they can counter the Devil. So they talk trash to him, stomp him under their feet, and make light of his power. How very stupid! Satan laughs at us and could eat us for breakfast if he wanted. We must always remember to have a healthy degree of respect for Satan. He is powerful. We are no match for him apart from Christ’s power working in and through us. (you are not the violinist in the Devil Went Down to Georgia).

 

Let’s take a close look at Eve’s reply in 3:2-3: “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” In her reply to the Serpent, Eve attempts to defend God’s honor but in the process distorts His Word. First, while God said, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely” (2:16), Eve said, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat” (3:2). Eve omitted “any” and “freely,” the two words that emphasized the generosity of God (cf. Rom 8:32). Eve subtracts from God’s Word.

 

Likewise, Eve had a distorted impression of the severity of God in prohibiting the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She expressed God’s instruction in these words: “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die” (3:3). But God had said, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (2:17). Eve magnified God’s strictness—“Just touch the tree, and zap you’re dead!” Her comment suggested that God is so harsh that an inadvertent slip would bring death. Here, Eve adds to God’s Word (see Prov 30:5-6).

 

While exaggerating the prohibition to the point where even touching the tree was evil, Eve had unconsciously downplayed the judgment of God by omitting the word “surely,” and by failing to report that death would come on the day of the offense. In other words, Eve emphasized God’s severity, but underestimated the fact that judgment would be executed surely and soon. Satan’s first attack on the woman was that of a religious seeker, in an effort to create doubts about the goodness of God and to fix her attention on what was forbidden as opposed to all that was freely given. In this final example, Eve softens God’s Word.

 

Original Command (Genesis 2:16-17) Eve’s Reply (Genesis 3:2-3)
“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely.” “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat.”
“But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” “But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

 

Satan’s scheme was quite diabolical. Had he begun to challenge the rule of God or Eve’s faith in Him, her choice would have been an easy one. But Satan erroneously stated God’s command with a question so as to appear that he was misinformed and needed to be corrected. Few of us can avoid the temptation of telling another that they are wrong. And so, wonder of wonders, Eve has begun to walk the path of disobedience while supposing that she was defending God to the Serpent.

 

  1. The Serpent’s Kill(3:4-5). In 3:1b, Satan operated as a sly ole dog, but now in 3:4-5 Satan unleashes his beastly self. Moses records, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (3:4-5). In the first question (3:1b), Satan tiptoed up to Eve on her blindside, but now he steamrolls over her on the broadside with a bald-faced lie. The Hebrew places the word lo (“not”) in front of God’s declaration: “Not—you shall surely die!” Take that God! It’s the Serpent’s word versus God’s Word—an absurd juxtaposition.

It’s crucial to understand the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44) is so saturated with lies that he even attempts to make God out to be a liar!

 

Satan’s strategy began rather innocently by introducing and encouraging doubt. His strategy quickly culminates in a blatant denial of God’s Word (cf. 2:17). In denying it he imputed motives to God that were not consistent with God’s character. God’s true motive was the welfare of man, but the Serpent implied it was God’s welfare at man’s expense. This added suggestion seemed consistent with what the Serpent had already implied about God’s motives in 3:1. Having entertained a doubt concerning God’s Word, Eve was ready to accept a denial of His Word.

As 3:4 reveals, the first thing Satan wants to deny is the doctrine of God’s judgment. He denies the penalty for sin. He says in effect, “You won’t reap what you sow.” Here is the lie that has allured the human race from the beginning: There is no punishment for disobedience. But the Bible again and again makes it clear that no one can get away with sin (Gal 6:7-8). Disobedience brings death (Rom 6:23). It is imperative that we recognize there are consequences for sinful actions. To imply or suggest otherwise is to undermine God’s holiness, justice, and wrath (Hab 1:13).

 

To make this direct contradiction of God’s Word seems reasonable; Satan invents a false motive for God. God, he says, has really invented a nonexistent penalty to keep you in your place. He is afraid you will rise to His level. If you knew as much as God knows, you would become a threat to Him. Eve’s response is fatal. She divorces her God-given reason from God’s Word and relies on her own limited experience.

 

This constitutes the great sin of man: to live independently of God. That is the root of sin. As Burger King says, “Have it your way.” I read that among the unbelieving population, Frank Sinatra’s song, My Way is in first place as a funeral favorite. The chorus is frightening: “But best of all I did it my way.” But the truth is, My Way is the dirge of death, marking the imploding of autonomous self. But what a deadly magnetism it carries.

 

It is interesting to note that what the Serpent said about Eve’s being as God was a half-truth. Adam and Eve did not die immediately, and their eyes were opened. Ironically, she was already as God, having been made in His image (1:26). She did become like God in that she obtained a greater knowledge of good and evil by eating of the tree. However, she became less like God because she was no longer innocent of sin. Her relationship with God suffered. Though she remained like God she could no longer be with Him. The consequent separation from God is the essence of death (2:17). The first doctrine Satan denied in Scripture was that sin results in death (separation from God), or we could say, the doctrine that God will not punish sin. This is still the truth he tries hardest to get people to disbelieve.

Also interesting to note is that the Serpent only speaks twice (3:1b, 4-5). That’s all the talk that was needed to plunge man downward into the spiral of sin. The success of the Serpent can be attributed to his cunning ability to question the goodness of God. The central theme of Genesis 1-2: God will provide the “good” for human beings if they will only trust Him and obey Him, is challenged by the Serpent. He cleverly suggests that God is indeed keeping “good” from His creation. The Serpent’s claim directly contradicted the main point of Genesis 1 and 2, namely, that God would provide what is good for man.

[Again, Eve should have run buck-naked, streaking through the garden, but she stays to tease temptation.]

  1. The Man and Woman’s Sin(3:6-7). In 3:6a: “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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate.” In 3:1-5, the Serpent initiated the first two steps. But in 3:6, he let Eve’s natural desires carry her into his trap. This is why we can’t follow Flip Wilson and claim, “The Devil made me do it!” James countered this argument 2,000 years ago when he wrote, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (Jas 1:14).

Eve’s basic needs and desires fell into three categories that share parallels with 1 John 2:15-17. First, physical: “good for food.” This parallels “the lust of the flesh”: the desire to do something contrary to God’s will (i.e., “eat the tasty fruit”). “It will feel good.” The desire for food was a part of what drew Eve into sin. The body exercises a pull on us and sin can use various physical appetites. There are various desires of the body, the desire for ease, laziness, appetite, greed for physical pleasure, sexuality. All of these are channels down which we may be drawn into sin.

 

Second, emotional: “delight to the eyes.” This parallels “the lust of the eyes”: the desire to have something apart from God’s will (i.e., possess the beautiful fruit). “It looks good.” The power of eyesight has an amazing ability to stimulate the desire for sin. It is stronger in this than any other of the body’s senses. Seeing it will heighten our appetite for something. There is an added desire that comes by looking—enticements that come through the imagination, stirred by something seen. If sinless Eve could be pulled down, how much more those who are born sinful.

Lastly, intellectual: “desirable to make one wise.” This parallels “the boastful pride of life”: the desire to be something apart from God’s will (i.e., as wise as God). “It will make me better.” “I need something I don’t have to be happy.” Here is the essence of covetousness.

 

Human Need Genesis 3:6 Temptations 1 John 2:15-17 Parallel
Physical “Good for food” The lust of the flesh
Emotional “Delight to the eyes” The lust of the eyes
Intellectual “Desirable to make one wise” The boastful pride of life

 

The next phrase is absolutely devastating: “and she [Eve] gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (3:6b). Not only did Eve sin, but in her distorted thinking and her false sense of accomplishment, she also gave the fruit to her husband. When Eve brought the fruit to Adam, she was acting contrary to the “helper” principle (cf. 2:18). Instead of benefiting and aiding Adam, she is contributing to his downfall. She is actually inviting him and pressuring him to accept that which is contrary to divine viewpoint.

 

What sin have you invited a loved one to talk you into committing? Disobedience of God’s Word almost always affects someone else. Most tragically, it affects those we love the most. Eve’s disobedience affected her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and every descendant since. The problem of sin doesn’t stop with the choice. Choosing to sin leads to consequences.

 

The word “with” is what is so devastating about this verse. Adam was with Eve while this tempting dialogue with the Serpent was going on. Sadly, Adam did not say a word and then he sinned willfully by eating of the fruit. Make no doubt about it; although the woman was deceived, the man was not (see 1 Tim 2:13-14). Adam passively watched everything. He sinned willfully, eyes wide-open, without hesitation. His sin was freighted with sinful, self-interest. He had watched Eve take the fruit, and nothing happened to her. He sinned willfully, assuming there would be no consequences. Everything was upside-down. Eve followed the snake, Adam followed Eve, and no one followed God.

 

It is analogous to Karen (my wife) and I sitting in our family room watching the Super Bowl. All of a sudden the doorbell rings. Karen gets up to answer it while I keep on watching the Super Bowl. I can overhear her letting in a vacuum cleaner salesman and listening with increasing interest to his sales pitch. I do not want to stop watching the game, so I let the conversation continue, even to Karen signing a contract. If she were then to come into the room and say to me, “Here, you have to sign this, too,” it will come as no shock if I sign it without protest. By default, I have allowed my wife to make a decision and I have chosen to go along with it.

 

In this biblical account, the man chooses to obey his wife rather than God (cf. 3:17). Adam sees and hears her in a fallen condition, spiritually dead and different, and having all the facts, he must decide to embrace her or to embrace God. With all the facts, Adam rejected his relationship with God and embraced Eve. He said no to the Creator of all his blessings, and said, “Yes,” to a created one. He turned down the divine design of Gen 1:28 and turned it over to Satan.

 

Husbands and fathers, if you don’t lead your family, Satan will. Ladies, please don’t take this personal; this is not intended to cause offense. It is a statement of biblical truth. God has set up the home so that the man leads. If the man doesn’t lead, pray that He will but don’t assume his role.

Our passage closes in 3:7 with these tragic words: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” For the first time in Scripture, the word “then” is portrayed in a negative sense. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, they received the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they “knew that they were naked.” Up until this point, their sexual organs were like their hands, feet, and mouth. Their nakedness was beautiful. But when sin entered the world, nakedness became shameful outside of the marriage relationship (cf. 2:25).

Having committed the sin themselves, and now living with its immediate consequences, they attempt to alleviate the problem themselves. Rather than driving them back to God, their guilt leads them into a self-atoning, self-protecting procedure: they must cover themselves. This is the tendency of mankind when it comes to a relationship with God. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that man can only have a relationship with God through simple faith. God has orchestrated this plan so that no man can boast before Him (Eph 2:8-9). Today, will you stop trusting in yourself and believe in Jesus Christ as your substitute for sin?