The Malfunctioning Human Being
“The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units’ code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, “Subsequential Internal Nonmorality”—or more commonly known as SIN, as it is primarily expressed. Some other symptoms are the loss of direction, foul vocal emissions, amnesia of origin, lack of peace and joy, selfish or violent behavior, depression or confusion in the mental component, fearfulness, idolatry, and rebellion.
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service free of charge to correct this SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R.
Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Please see the operating manual, HOLY BIBLE, for further details on the use of these fixes. As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from a resident Maintenance Technician, the Holy Spirit. Repaired units need only make him welcome and he will take up permanent residence on the premises.”
[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 39].
I remember growing up with family and friends and learning about the game mercy
I would interlock my fingers with another person and try to bend their wrists backwards until they would say, “mercy!”
Of course there were times when I would be the one saying, “mercy!”
What I learned pretty quickly is to only challenge someone that I knew I could beat, because I didn’t want to have to say, “mercy!”
I wanted to be the one who was dominant and the winner!
Experiencing and extending mercy
Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” (not getting what we deserve)
While in college, Judy and I were traveling back from spending the weekend at her parents’ home in Ohio
We were almost back to Huntington when I got pulled over by a police officer
He was concerned that I had crossed the centerline a couple of time, which I had, because I was tired
He could have written me ticket, but instead he gave me a warning
I deserved the ticket, but the police officer showed me mercy
Raising children can be difficult
There have been times when our boys have disobeyed something we have asked them to do
They deserved to be punished, but Judy and I sat down with them and talked through the situation and explained that we were not going to punish them
Instead, we were going to extend mercy to them
Every one of us can probably recall a time when we experienced mercy
We also have times when we have extended mercy to others
Genesis 3:1-24 is a very familiar passage of Scripture for most of us. The heading in most modern translations is, “The Fall of Man.” The first man and woman disobeyed God and deserved to be punished. There were consequences for their disobedience, but we also see the mercy of God extended to them. What we’ll learn from this passage today is that . . .
BIG IDEA – Even in our failures, God provides mercy.
GOD (Genesis 3:1-24)
The main point headings are from Warren Wiersbe’s commentary [The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 30-34]
The Strategy (vv. 1-5)
The serpent (v. 1a)
It was a real serpent, not some mythical creature
It was one of the undomesticated, wild animals created by God on the sixth day
Its natural tendency is to be shrewd, cunning, crafty (think about a snake lying in wait for its prey)
It obviously had the ability to speak
We’re not told how it had this ability
Some believe it was a tool of Satan, so Satan is speaking through the serpent
We know that God allowed Balaam’s donkey to speak to him (Numbers 22:28-30)
“An ancient Jewish interpretation explains the reference to the serpent in a literal manner, attributing the capacity to speak to all the animals in the orchard. This text (Jub. 3:28) states, ‘On that day [the day the man and woman were expelled from the orchard] the mouth of all the beasts and cattle and birds and whatever walked or moved was stopped from speaking because all of them used to speak to one another with one speech and one language [presumed to be Hebrew, see 12:26].’” [W. Hall Harris, eds. The NET Bible Notes. 1st, Accordance electronic ed. (Richardson: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), paragraph 385]
It’s certainly within God’s ability to allow all animals to speak, but we’ve never experienced anything like that
Dr. Doolittle has the ability to talk to the animals
With this ability to speak, the serpent asks the woman a question
Creating doubt (v. 1b)
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Focusing on the prohibition instead of the blessing
Notice that the serpent tries to get the woman to focus on the prohibition – the negative
The serpent wants the woman to question the character of God
“Satan smoothly maneuvers Eve into what may appear as a sincere theological discussion, but he subverts obedience and distorts perspective by emphasizing God’s prohibition, not his provision, reducing God’s command to a question, doubting his sincerity, defaming his motives, and denying the truthfulness of his threat.” [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 91]
The serpent wants the woman to believe that God is holding something back – that He is not being fair or equitable with her
That is so far from the truth
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17)
God gave every tree in the garden to the man and woman for food
That was an incredible blessing
They were not lacking variety or quantity in their food source
It’s not like they needed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
“Rather than God’s putting the tree there simply to test Adam and Eve, it is more in keeping with his character to understand that the tree would have use in the future. When the time was right, the first couple would be able to eat from it.” [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 205]
PRINCIPLE #1 – A distorted view of the character of God can cause a person to sin against a holy God.
This is evident in our culture today
Live my life and enjoy life
So often I hear young people say that they will follow the Lord and be a Christian when they get older, because they want to be able to “live” their lives
They want to be able to “enjoy” life
This is a distorted view of the character of God and the Christian life
There are others who champion the idea that God will allow everyone into heaven, because He is a loving God
This is a distorted view of the character of God
Love is definitely one of His many attributes, but that attribute doesn’t exist by itself – in a vacuum
God is also holy and righteous and, therefore, He must punish sin
He tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)
Out of His attribute of love, He provided redemption for our sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
That’s how God’s attributes of holiness, righteousness, and love work together for our benefit
Do you have a distorted view of the character of God?
Perhaps the best way to know if you do, is to determine whether or not you are questioning the validity of one of His many attributes
His attributes are true and trustworthy – all the time!
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Determine if I have a distorted view of God’s character and confess that to Him.
We can know who God is and His character by studying His Word, the Bible
We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom as we study, so that we can truly know God’s character
That way we can ensure that we will not have a distorted view of His character
The serpent was trying to create reasonable doubt in the woman’s mind
Woman’s response (vv. 2-3)
Downplays the blessing
The woman omits two key words in God’s command – “free” and “any”
Through this, she downplays the blessing that God has provided for them in the garden
She falls into the same tendency as the serpent to focus on the prohibition instead of the provision
Adds to the restriction
The woman puts words in God’s mouth when she says that they are not even allowed to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge
I’d have to say that not touching the fruit would definitely help them not to eat it, since it wouldn’t be in their hands
But, God did not say that they couldn’t touch it
As human beings we need boundaries – some need more boundaries than others
I’ve heard of new Christians attending a church that has more rules, because they feel like they need those rules in order to maintain their walk with the Lord
Those who struggle with substance abuse, many times, have to change their friend base and even where they live in order to avoid the temptation to return to their substance of choice
Others have to have safeguards loaded on their electronic devices in order to protect them from the temptation to look at images that they shouldn’t be looking at
These are just a couple of examples, but we all know where we are tempted
If we don’t struggle with a certain temptation, we have a hard time understanding why, those who do, have to have those strict boundaries set up
Notice that she doesn’t mention the name of the tree, but rather its location in the garden (this could simply be a way of downplaying the significance of the tree)
She not only adds to God’s command, but she underrated the punishment for disobeying
Underrated the punishment
Again, the woman omits a keyword, “surely”
“She failed to capture the urgency of certain death, ‘You shall [surely] die’ (v. 3).” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, 237]
The serpent realizes that his strategy is working, so he goes from creating doubt to openly contradicting God
Contradicting God (vv. 4-5)
The serpent tells the woman that she will not surely die
While the woman underrated the punishment by omitting the word “surely,” the serpent doesn’t underrate his contradiction – it uses the word “surely”
When we think about the word “surely” it gives the idea that something will definitely happen or definitely not happen
We see that played out here
God says that if the man and woman disobey, they will definitely experience death
The serpent then says that the man and woman will definitely not experience death
Perhaps the serpent meant that they would not immediately die if they eat the fruit
God meant that if they eat the fruit, they will definitely experience death, even if it’s not instantaneous
We see the serpent attacking the character of God, once again
God isn’t being truthful with you
He is holding something back from you
He isn’t giving you something you deserve
He’s keeping you blinded to the knowledge of good and evil
He created you in His image, but you’re not really like Him
These were all lies
Side note – the verbs in verse 5 are in the plural, so we should see the word “you” as being plural instead of singular (this is perhaps the case, because the serpent is speaking to both the man and the woman, although it has only addressed the woman directly) [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, 188]
“Whenever one makes his own will crucial and God’s revealed will irrelevant, whenever autonomy displaces submission and obedience in a person, that finite individual attempts to rise above the limitations imposed on him by his creator.” [Hamilton, 190]
The trap is set – doubt has been established in the heart of the man and woman
The Tragedy (vv. 6-7)
Good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom
“Here is the essence of covetousness. It is the attitude that says I need something I do not now have in order to be happy.” [Hamilton, 190]
None of us are exempt from the same attitude that the woman had
1 John 2:15-17, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Cravings of sinful man (good for food)
Lust of the eyes (pleasing to the eye)
Boasting of what we have and do (desirable for gaining wisdom)
“Doubt, unbelief, and pride were the roots of the sin of our first parents . . .” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 60]
Those roots haven’t changed – they are the same for us today
PRINCIPLE #2 – True wisdom only comes from the Lord.
So often we try to find wisdom and truth in all the wrong places
In fact, we’ll search until we find wisdom and truth that matches our preconceived ideas or desires
But, that’s not true wisdom
Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
This is not being afraid of the Lord, but rather reverencing Him – acknowledging who He is
Where do we turn for wisdom and knowledge?
Some people turn to the New York Times Bestseller list (they want to read the books that are trending, whether secular or religious)
Others turn to the “popular/successful” preachers, evangelists, or speakers
Still, others turn to government officials, celebrities, or professionals
There are certain vitamins and supplements that boast a boosting of our brain power – perhaps we’ve turned to this for wisdom and knowledge
“Ignorance, disregard, or deception about God’s word makes a person vulnerable to temptation.” [Gangel & Bramer, 42]
Where should we turn for true wisdom and knowledge?
Psalm 119:9-11, How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
This takes us back to the importance of studying God’s Word and seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in understanding it
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Seek true wisdom from the Lord by studying His Word and hiding it in my heart.
“Failure to appreciate God’s goodness leads to distrust of his goodness. Distrust leads to dissatisfaction and finally to disobedience.” [Gangel & Bramer, 42]
“One of the easiest paths from temptation to sin is the path of instant gratification.” [Atkinson, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 1-11, 86]
The woman disobeyed God’s command by taking some of the fruit and eating it
Many times we’re more comfortable disobeying when there are others there to join us
Romans 1:32, Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Paul has a list of things that those with a depraved mind do (Rom. 1:29-31)
Now the narrator tells us, directly, that the man was with her
The woman offered the fruit to the man and he ate it too
He wasn’t deceived, but rather just followed the lead of the woman
1 Timothy 2:14, And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
The man ate with full knowledge about what he was doing
He should have been the leader of his household and chosen not to eat, even though the woman had already eaten
Their eyes were definitely opened, but not in the way they thought
Obviously the man and woman thought that the benefits of eating were going to be incredible
They were going to have something that the Lord had not given them to this point – knowledge of good and evil
Unfortunately, the serpent oversold the benefits
What they actually experienced was not some sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that brought them incredible joy and happiness
They experienced guilt and shame
Up to this point they were naked and unashamed
They were fully confident in who they were
They did not have any body image issues or fears
They did not look at each other’s naked bodies with lustful thoughts and improper desires
“They had lost ‘that blessed blindness, the ignorance of innocence, which knows nothing of nakedness’ (Ziegler).” [Kiel & Delitzsch, 60]
They tried to deal with their sin on their own
They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves
[Show picture of fig leaf]
The fig tree has the largest leaves of any of the trees that grow in Palestine
These fig leaves weren’t going to last very long – it was a short-term fix to a long-term problem
How many times have we tried to deal with our sin on our own?
We can’t hide our sin from God, because He is all-knowing
That’s what the man and the woman were about to find out
The Discovery (vv. 8-13)
Hiding from the Lord God
Most scholars believe that the Lord God came down every day and walked and talked with the man and the woman
They had an incredible relationship and friendship
But this particular day was different
The man and woman were afraid, so they hid themselves from the Lord God
Questions from the Lord God
“Where are you?”
Perhaps the man and woman eagerly greeted the Lord each evening, but they didn’t this evening
So, the Lord calls to the man and asks where he is?
The Lord didn’t ask him why he was hiding
“The question, Where are you? Was a rhetorical question asked for their benefit. God, in his mercy, was giving them a chance to acknowledge their wrong.” [Gangel & Bramer, 43]
The Lord was giving him an opportunity to come clean on his own
Even in our failures, God provides mercy.
The man’s response doesn’t answer the Lord’s, “where question,” but it does answer the unspoken, “why question,” that when he heard the Lord in the garden, he was afraid because he was naked, so he hid
“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Something has changed!
The man and woman were never concerned about being naked in His presence before
They must have gained some new knowledge – the knowledge of good and evil
The man’s response to the Lord’s two questions starts the blame game
First, he blames God – “The woman you put here with me . . .” (This is really Your fault, God!)
He blames the woman – “. . . she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (I thought she was a godly woman, but I guess not!)
Notice that he doesn’t say he was innocent
The Lord then turns to the woman and asks her what she’s done?
The woman doesn’t blame God, but she does blame the serpent
She admits to the fact that she was deceived by the serpent
Again, she doesn’t say she is innocent
The man and woman reacted in the same way that you and I react when confronted with our disobedience and sin
We become defensive and try to shift the blame
We try to blame other people (i.e. – God, friends, parents, siblings, etc.)
We try to blame our environment, culture, and how we were raised
We’ll blame everything and everyone else, but ourselves
PRINCIPLE #3 – We are responsible for our own choices.
Healing only begins when we are willing to admit that we have done something wrong and accept responsibility for it
This is a difficult step for us, as human beings, to take
We are ultimately concerned with our own self-preservation
Take a moment to reflect on your life right now
Is there something you’ve done wrong?
Have you taken responsibility for it, or are you still shifting blame?
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Take responsibility for the wrong things I’ve done and seek forgiveness from God and those I’ve wronged.
There are always consequences for our disobedience
The Penalty (vv. 14-19)
The serpent (vv. 14-15)
Cursed above all the livestock and wild animals
I’ve heard it said before that snakes used to have legs and walk upright, but there is nothing in this passage that would confirm that
Also, we know that snakes don’t just eat dust as their only food source – they’re great at keeping the mouse and rat population under control
These two images are symbolic of humiliation and subjugation
This lifelong struggle will not only be between the woman and the snake, but between their offspring for generations
It will end with the woman’s offspring gaining the upper hand
If you’ve ever heard Vinnie Spangler talk about his mother and wife as it concerns snakes, you’ll realize that the enmity between the woman’s offspring and the snakes offspring still exists in our day and age
Both his mother and wife were scared to death of snakes, but they would go and get a shovel and chase that snake down and cut its head off
The same Hebrew word is used for “crush” and “strike”
So, the second half of verse 15 should be translated, he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel
Some believe this is a foreshadowing of Christ, but others believe it’s not
Whether it was meant to be or not is not important to this passage
Next, the Lord God turns to the woman
The woman (v. 16)
Increased pain in childbearing
There are two different Hebrew words that are translated “pain”
The first one is only found two other places in the Old Testament (Gen. 3:17; 5:29) which talk about the pain associated with working the ground that God has cursed
“Nouns from the same root refer to pain, agony, hardship, worry, nuisance, and anxiety.” [Walton, 227]
The second one is used in other places to indicate strenuous or hard work
Childbearing will be both emotionally and physically demanding
Women who have gone through childbirth and childrearing, understand both kinds of pain
With the increase in pain of childbearing, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for most families to only have one child, but the Lord put an incredible desire within women
Desire for her husband
The woman’s maternal instinct will drive her to desire her husband
It’s all a part of God’s plan and blessing on the man and woman to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28)
“The basic idea here is that woman’s desire, which renders her dependent, is traceable to her need to fulfill her maternal instinct. . . . For now let us recall what sociologists have called the principle of lesser or least interest: In a relationship involving two partners, the one with the greater need of the other is the more vulnerable, while the one with the lesser interest in the relationship is in a position of dominance.” [Brichto cited by Walton, 228]
The man will have the position of dominance over the woman as it pertains to her maternal desires
We know from Paul’s writings “that husbands and wives who love each other and are filled with the Spirit will be mutually submissive (Eph. 5:18ff; 1 Cor. 7:1-6).” [Wiersbe, 33-34]
God’s mercy shown
We see God’s mercy shown here in the fact that the woman will live long enough to bear children
Also, we see God’s mercy in the fact that the woman will not be barren
Even in our failures, God provides mercy.
Finally, we see the penalty for the man
The man (vv. 17-19)
Because he listened to his wife and disobeyed the Lord we see the cursing of the ground
What once was considered enjoyable – tending the garden and guarding it – will now be painful toil
The man will have to work hard in order to provide food for his family
This will be an ongoing, life-long toil
God’s mercy shown
Notice that the man will be able to provide food for his family
The Lord was not going to allow them to starve to death
Even in our failures, God provides mercy.
PRINCIPLE #4 – Sin is not an isolated action; it always has social consequences.
Satan wants us to believe that our sin, especially our secret sin, isn’t going to hurt anyone
That’s simply not true
Pornography does affect our spouse and how we view other men and women
Adultery and affairs affect our spouse and children
Substance abuse does affect our family and friends
Gossip, spiritual pride, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. affect all of our relationships
Our sin is not isolated
#4 – My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my sin to the Lord and to those who are affected by it.
Finally, we see how God recovers what was lost
The Recovery (vv. 20-24)
Naming of the woman
Adam names his wife Eve
He names her this because she was the mother of all the living
Although she had not had any children yet, Adam is trusting the Lord and believing that, even through her penalty of having increased pain in childbearing, the Lord was going to provide children for them
Adam believed the blessing of Genesis 1:28 and accepted the mercy of God, even in their failures
Making of garments
We see the mercy of God through the making of garments for them
God realized that the fig leaves were a short-term solution to a long-term problem
God knew that animal skins were going to be more durable over the long haul
Some believe this is a foreshadowing of the sacrificial system that God institutes for the Israelites later on
It certainly could be, but that’s not stated here
Protecting the man and woman
What seems like a punishment is also protection for Adam and Eve
While they won’t have the benefit of a beautiful garden with an unlimited variety of food, God is protecting them from eating from the tree of life and living forever in their sinful state – separated from Him
Even in our failures, God provides mercy.
Notice that God provided His mercy for them before He banished them from the garden
Safeguards in place
The Lord placed cherubim on the east side of the garden, which leads us to believe that Adam and Eve settled somewhere east of the garden
He also placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life
Do you have a distorted view of God’s character?
Where are you seeking wisdom and knowledge from?
Are you ready to take responsibility for the wrong things you’ve done?
Are you ready to confess your sin to the Lord and those affected by it?
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix’d His languid eyes on me,
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath
Can I forget that look:
It seem’d to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair;
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help’d to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
-- A second look He gave, which said,
‘I freely all forgive;
This Blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die, that thou may’st live.’
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now is fill’d,
That I should such a life destroy, --
Yet live by Him I kill’d!
[John Newton (1725-1807)].