The Fall of Man
Key Verse: 3:15
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.”
When God created Adam and Eve, He created a perfect garden for them to live in and enjoy fellowship with Him for all time. God provided them with everything they needed to live in perfect happiness. God had given them the very important work of being stewards of His creation. He provided everything they would need for food. Finally, He took care of their spiritual needs by placing two trees in the center of the garden and giving them a command in order to maintain the perfect order He had created. So God created man to live happy and productive lives in His paradise forever. But something went terribly wrong. Genesis 3 tells us what went wrong. May God bless our study and help us to know that 1) His words of command are absolute and 2) the terrible consequences of sin.
First, God’s word must be held absolutely (1-5). Look verse 1. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden.’’” So who was this serpent? The author of Genesis does not give this serpent a name but judging from his words and actions the serpent appears to be the devil. John tells us about an “ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelations 12:9) Jesus also tells us that Satan was a murder from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). These descriptions describe this serpent perfectly.
Let’s look closely at the conversation that took place between this serpent and Eve. The first thing the serpent said to the woman was “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden.’” This is almost completely opposite of what God did say. God said, “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.” God gave them the freedom to eat from any tree in the garden, but He also made it clear that if they choose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. However, the devil’s question makes it sound like God had forbidden every tree. The devil used God’s words, but he used them in such way as to completely change the meaning. In a very crafty way, the devil made the woman think about the one thing God warned them about, rather than all the blessings and freedom that were included in God’s command. God had given them the entire garden and every tree in it, yet the devil’s question made the woman think about only one tiny part of the garden.
Look at verse 2. “The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it, or you will die.’’” The woman almost got God’s words right. However, almost getting the word of God right isn’t good enough in a spiritual battle with the devil. Her response shows the weaknesses that the serpent preyed on. First, she said “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” There were two trees that God placed in the middle of the garden, but she was only focused on one. The tree of life was also in the middle of the garden and God didn’t say anything about that fruit except that they were free to eat it. The serpent got her to forget about all of God’s blessings and just focus on the one thing He had warned them about. Second, she added the words “and you must not touch it.” God didn’t say anything about touching the fruit. He just said don’t eat it. This shows how much her thinking was focused on the second part of God’s command. The serpent had tricked her into thinking about God’s command in such a negative way that she began to add her own restriction - “you must not touch it.” She lost her thankful heart for everything God had given to her and was now only thinking about what God was keeping from her. Finally, she said, “or you will die.” She left out one very important word, “surely.” This shows that she did not have an absolute attitude about God’s word of command. Apparently, she thought she could add or subtract whatever she wanted as long as she was “close enough” to God’s words.
The serpent was very quick to pick up on the woman’s weaknesses. Look at verses 4 and 5. “’You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” The serpent’s first question to Eve was carefully chosen to get her focus on what he wanted her to focus on. When the serpent saw that his question had worked, he knew that he had got the woman to the point where she might begin to question God’s words. The serpent boldly said that God had lied, “You will not surely die.” Then he said that God didn’t want them eating the fruit because, if they did eat the fruit, then they would become like God. The serpent made it seem like God was keeping Adam and Eve down.
When we first read this it might seem like the serpent’s words were quite harmless. In fact, he used a lot of God’s own words. But when we look on the effect of them we see that they are devastating. The devil is very crafty. In fact, no one can reason with him - he is just too smart. On our own, we simply can’t defeat him. But Jesus did defeat him and He left us the perfect example of how to fight Satan. Last week we thought a little about Jesus’ forty days of fasting before beginning His earthly ministry. When Satan came to Jesus and challenged Him, Satan used many of God’s own words; he just twisted them around. So how did Jesus answer? Jesus used God’s exact words and He was able to overcome Satan’s temptations. The word of God is absolute. If we hold to it firmly we can fight the spiritual battle with Satan. But if we aren’t absolute about God’s word Satan will just twist it around and defeat us.
Second, The consequences of sin (8-24). After a very short conversation with the serpent, Eve had totally forgotten God’s word of command. Instead she was completely focused on the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom.” She believed the serpent’s lie more than God’s absolute word. The fruit look good and according to serpent it wouldn’t kill them, it would make them like God. Then she let her desire completely control her actions. It is interesting to note that the Bible doesn’t say that she consulted Adam or God about eating the fruit. She could have talked the matter over with Adam and if they were both unsure about what to do they could have consulted God - after all He took walks in the garden. Eve desired the fruit so she ate it. Desire can be a very dangerous emotion. James describes how it can lead to death in James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” We must be very careful about what we desire and keep a close guard on our heart.
After she ate the fruit the Bible tells us that “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about Adam’s thought process before eating the fruit, but some things are clear. First, the Bible tells us that Adam was with Eve, so he must have heard the conversation. He could have tried to help Eve stand up to the serpent, but the Bible doesn’t say that he did anything. Second, he must have had the same weaknesses as Eve; that is, he must have been deceived by the serpent just like Eve was. He didn’t object to Eve eating the fruit and the Bible doesn’t say he put up a fight when Eve offered the fruit to him. So he must have been thinking pretty much like Eve.
So what happened when they ate the fruit? Their eyes were opened, but not in the way that they had hoped. The first thing they noticed was that they were naked and they were full of shame. The fact that they were naked could not have been the source of their shame. After all, just a moment before they were just as naked but they didn’t feel any shame. So where did this feeling of shame come from? Shame is a direct consequence of sin. We feel shame when we know we did something wrong. Sin is not obeying God, which is clearly wrong. When they ate the fruit their eyes were open and they could distinguish good from evil, but this meant that they could now see that their action was evil (that is wrong). So they felt shame.
They felt shame and they wanted to cover it up somehow, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. But did this cover their shame? No. Look at what happened next (8-10). “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ’I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” This is interesting. The man and the woman had made fig leaf clothes as coverings for themselves, but Adam still thought he was naked. Before God he was naked. We are all naked before God. No matter how hard we try to cover up the shame of our sins, we cannot cover it before God. God, however, did not leave Adam and Eve feeling naked before He banished them from the garden. He made better clothes for them out of skins. This showed God’s deep love for them. But He has shown us even greater love. He has given us the blood of Jesus to wash away the shame of our sins. Only by Jesus’ blood can we be cleansed of the shame of our sins.
Shame was the first consequence, but it didn’t stop there. The next thing to become evident was that relationships were severed and personal responsibility was lost. Look at verses 11-13. And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Adam blamed God and Eve for making him eat the fruit and the woman blamed the serpent. Because sin is so terrible, we cannot accept responsibility for it. So we look to blame someone else. But when we blame others for our sins we break our relationship with them. Worst of all, sin cuts our relationship with God. When this relationship is cut we lose everything. This is the most tragic consequence of sin. It is the worst thing that can happen to man. However, this does not me we should despair. No we should thank God for giving us a way to repair this relationship. Jesus is the way we can repair our relationship with God and our relationships with one another.
Once God had questioned Adam and Eve and learned the facts, He had to punish them for their disobedience. He began with the serpent and cursed him above all other livestock making him crawl on his belly all the days of his life. In the curse of the serpent we have the first glimmer of the true hope of the gospel. God put enmity between the between the offspring of the woman and the serpent and then prophesied about the result of this enmity. The head of the serpent would be crushed, but not without cost to the offspring of the woman. The serpent would strike His heel. Here we are promised for the first time “that [the] ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” would be defeated by Jesus. Amen.
For the Adam and Eve, their curses were related to their original mission and blessing. Men and women were blessed by God to be fruitful, increase in number and fill the earth. The woman’s role as child bearer was now to come with much pain. And her desire was shifted from a desire for God and all of the rich blessings of the Garden of Eden to her husband who would rule over her. Not gently as God rules, but harshly like a fallen man. The man’s curse was related to his original mission. God created him to work the ground and take care of the Garden of Eden and God freely provided all the food he would need. But now, the ground would be cursed and man would have to work it with painful toil to get it to provide food. Instead of working joyfully for God in paradise and eating freely, we have to feed ourselves with the sweat of our brow. Then after working hard for the number of years God gives us, we must return to the dust from which He formed us.
The final consequence of sin mentioned here is that we were banished from the Garden of Eden. We lost paradise because of sin. Eve had forgotten about the other tree in the middle of the garden - the tree of life. But God didn’t forget about it. Because of the curse of sin God knew that man should not also be allowed to reach out and eat of the tree of life and live forever. Living forever in a cursed world would be like hell. So God banished man from the Garden of Eden and has protected the tree of life ever since. The Bible tells us that tree of life is now in the new Jerusalem being watered by the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God (Rev. 22:1-2). It is waiting there for everyone who washes himself in the blood of Jesus.
In today’s passage we thought about how we must hold onto the word of God absolutely. If we don’t, Satan will twist the words of God and make us believe his lies over the absolute truth of God. This will lead us into sin and sin has terrible consequences; consequences that cut our relationship with God and will surely lead to our death. With the curse of sin came pain and suffering of all kinds, but also the hope of the gospel. There is always hope in Jesus. Let us go to Jesus, be washed in His blood and hold on to His words absolutely in our hearts.