3 Now the snake 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”?’
2 The woman said to the snake, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.”’
4 ‘You will not certainly die,’ the snake said to the woman. 5 ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
You can imagine the scene, can’t you. God says in 2:17 “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except for one,”. And immediately Adam and Eve’s radar goes up, “Which tree? Where? Why?”
Then along comes the serpent, Satan. He puts it in the mind of Eve to mistrust God.
Disobedience always flows from a lack of trust . God says, “don’t eat that fruit or you will surely die.” The Devil says, “did God really say that?” You won’t die if you eat it.” [v1]
And they are tempted to disbelieve what God has said.
That’s the essence of all lack of faith. It’s a failure to take God at his word, because faith must always be faith in God’s promises.
When I put my faith in Jesus to save me, it’s because he promised in the Bible that all who turn to him in faith will be saved. If I put my faith in God to look after me, it’s because he promised in the Bible to do that. If I put my faith in God to make me instantly good looking, I’m wasting my time because he never promises to do that.
God has said that if they eat the fruit they will die. They don’t believe it, and when they do disobey God, and they do, it’s because they don’t trust that God has their best interests at heart.
And that pattern, set up in genesis 3, is the pattern today. Why do we disobey God? It’s because we think obedience will lead to death, not life. We disobey because we think that obeying God is not the best thing for us at that moment. Eve saw the fruit, and it says in 3:6 “she saw that it was good for food, and pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom”, so she disobeyed God. God had said no, but she wanted it.
That is our world. That is human nature. The Bible says that sin entered the world at that moment. The world was perfect; very good, as God describes it. And then it gets polluted.
God made mankind perfect, but with the potential to live his way or ignore him. That is the glory of mankind. The animal world can’t do that. Man is the only living part of creation that has the potential for good and evil.
How can eating a piece of fruit be evil? Adam and Eve didn’t murder, they didn’t cheat, they didn’t hurt anyone. How was it evil? It was pretty insignificant really wasn’t it? Eating a piece of fruit. But it was evil because it was it was a failure to believe that God had their best interests at heart. It was rebellion.
Here is a truth we need to know to understand our world. People are basically rebellious against God, that is what we mean when we say people are totally sinful. We are selfish and se will not trust God. That is why we will always have corruption in our authorities. That is why we will always have problems in our relationships. That is why we will always have crime. We serve ourselves rather than God.
Have you noticed that tendency to not trust that God has your best interests at heart? Can you see how temptation is produced from thinking that sin brings life?
Abba Father, keep convincing me by your Spirit that your ways lead to life. Amen
6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
John warns us, 15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.” [1 John 2:15 & 16].
That is exactly what we see working out in our passage from Genesis 3.
Notice the sequence of temptation here. Firstly, Eve saw that the fruit was good for food – “the lust of the flesh”. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the tree or its fruit, in fact, it was good [Gen 1:31]. God was denying them something that seemed good for them. It was good for food. Eating it would relieve their hunger. Surely there was nothing wrong with doing what is good for you! A God of love wouldn’t want them to go hungry. Isn’t that often the way we start to justify sin? There is nothing wrong with it. It won’t hurt anyone. It will make me feel good. I need it! Surely a God of love would approve of me meeting the need he created me with.
Secondly, it was pleasing to the eye. It looked so attractive! Just looking at it drew them to it – “the lust of the eyes.” There is something about us that means that it is not just enough to enjoy beauty, we need to possess it. It shows itself in things like retail therapy, theft, covetousness, affairs, greed, overspending, collecting, and lust. we don’t just see, we desire.
Thirdly the fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom”. It sparked the desire to be their own god [v 5]. This is akin to John’s “pride of life.” This is where we decide what is best for us. Haven’t we seen that at work during the covid lockdowns where some people do what they want irrespective of the danger or inconvenience it may cause others? What’s more it’s often from normally law-abiding citizens.
When we find ourselves starting to justify temptation we are in danger. The “Yes, but …..” that we use to excuse ourselves is loaded with rebellion.
John’s summing up is that if we love the world [i.e., the culture in rebellion against God] we do not love God. Adam and Eve show what that looks like. Their selfishness overrules their love for God. It sounds harsh but there is no other explanation.
What does this tell us about the cultural dictum that we must look after number one first; that we should pursue our dreams; that we must decide what is good and bad for us; that we all have our own truth? Have you noticed yourself thinking like this?
It’s not just the evil one who is devious in this incident. The Bible reminds us “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” [Jer. 17:9]
We mustn’t turn off our brains and blindly accept things but we should always bear in mind that we have a bias towards self-deception.
God of truth, please keep me clear minded and faithful to you. Amen
8 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. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
10 He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’
11 And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’
12 The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’
Many years ago, now I did a psych test as part of a church planter assessment. In the feedback session the psychologist said, among other things, “you may have a tendency to blame other people when things go wrong”. My response [in my mind] was to immediately blame him for getting it wrong. Go figure!
Blame switching. You can see it clearly here in this part of Genesis 3. Look how Adam blames God and then Eve. “The woman YOU put here with me; SHE gave me some ….” [My emphasis]. It’s not my fault God. It’s your fault. It’s her fault. (It’s of note that Eve does the same thing – she blames the serpent v 13)
God had told Adam not to eat from the tree. He was responsible for his own actions. It would seem that God did not tell Eve about the prohibition as she hadn’t been created yet. It was Adam’s responsibility to pass on the law to his wife. Larry Crabb, the psychologist and author wrote a book called “the Silence of Adam” in which he points out that Adam’s first failure was his silence when the serpent tempted his wife. He was made responsible for the garden [v 15]. At that point he should have spoken up and rebuked the serpent and he should have warned his wife but he didn’t. Instead, he and Eve hid from God. John tells us that those who do evil hide from the light [John 3:20].
At least Adam and Eve felt some shame. One of the features of our present day is that so many feel no shame as they call good what God calls evil, and call evil what God calls good. [Is 5:20]. Recently a body of the Western Australian government refused the Australian Christian Lobby the use of one of its buildings for a rally on the grounds “that it will not accept individuals or organisations ‘where the content of the event does not represent the views of the West Australian government or the vast majority of Western Australians’.” [“God Botherers Shouldn’t Bother Mark McGowan” Terry Barnesin the Spectator: Australia]
When we confess our sins, it is good to remember not to make any excuses. Making excuses is an attempt to justify ourselves. It’s also good advice for whenever we apologise to anyone.
Father, thank you for the promise that whenever we confess our sins you are faithful and just and will forgive us and cleanse us. Amen
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’
The woman said, ‘The snake deceived me, and I ate.’
14 So the Lord God said to the snake, ‘Because you have done this,
‘Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring[a] and hers;
he will crush[b] your head,
and you will strike his heel.’
16 To the woman he said,
‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labour you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.’
17 To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat from it,”
‘Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.’
Rebellion has consequences. Here we have a reversal in the order of God’s good creation. Instead of God being ruler, the evil one calls the shots. The animals were to be under mankind’s dominion but the serpent takes the lead over Adam and Eve. Instead of taking responsibility for the well-being of his family, Adam abdicates his role to his wife who leads them into disobedience. Paul speaks of the results of the fall in Chapter 5 of Romans. “12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned – 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come…………. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man ………. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man,……… 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people……. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners………”
Though we may not like this teaching the Bible rams home the point inescapably that all people are sinners as the result of the fall.
The curse of God remains. There will be enmity between the evil one and mankind.
Women will have two consequences, pain in childbirth and the unrequited desire to rule over her husband. The words in verse 16 are the same words used in the incident with Cain and Abel where God tells Cain that sin is crouching at his door and its desire is for him, i.e., its desire is to control him. Her desire will not be fulfilled because her husband will rule over her. We see the outworking of this in the sinful way that many men over the ages have ruled women with a lack of love or compassion, and sometimes brutality.
For Adam the land will no longer yield its treasures without extreme effort and frustration on his part. The “goodness” of the creation will now be shadowed by calamity and disorder.
For the Evil one there will be ultimate destruction by one of the woman’s descendants, who will be damaged in the outcome.
The ultimate result of the fall is separation. Adam and Eve are separated from God, estranged from each, and estranged from the natural world. The work of Christ is to bring about the great reversal. Paul says “his (Christ’s) purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility.” [Ephesians 2:15-16].
It’s no accident that John’s gospel echoes the very first words of the Bible – “In the beginning….”. With the coming of Jesus there is a new creation. We are made new – if anyone is on Christ they are a new creation [2 Cor 5:17].
Father of all grace, we cannot thank you enough for your wonderful grace expressed in your kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Amen
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live for ever.’ 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
The pattern in the early chapters of Genesis is that of man’s rebellion against God, God’s punishment for that rebellion and then his grace. We see that pattern here in Genesis 3. We’ve seen our rebellion in our ancestors and God’s punishment and now we see God’s grace at work. Firstly, God clothes them. Whether he actually made the skins or he showed Adam and Eve how to do it we don’t know. It does seem to imply, however, that our dominion over the animal kingdom means that animals can be used for our benefit.
Secondly we see grace at work in God banishing Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life. How is that a blessing? God does not want us to live forever in our sinful state in this damaged world. In 1 Cor 15 Paul says that physical death is necessary for eternal life [v36]. “The body is sown perishable; it is raised imperishable…… It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” And again, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” [1 Cor 15:50]
The existence of The Tree of Life indicates that humans were not created immortal, we had to eat of the Tree of Life (maybe even keep on eating of it). Heaven is not a return to Eden; it far exceeds it. Even for Adam and Eve it would seem that the Garden of Eden was not intended to be the final destination, because “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” No, the Tree of Life is there in Heaven [Rev 22:2].
V 23 says that banishment from the garden will lead to working the ground. Where before the garden produced of its own abundance, now that fruit of the ground will have to we laboured for. It is interesting that the Promised Land is described as “a land flowing with milk and honey” [Ex 3:8]. It is a picture of a return to Eden, but in a lesser version, and again God’s people are disobedient.
As we will see in coming weeks God is gracious to his creation as he continues to be involved with mankind, despite their sin. Ultimately, God’s grace is seen in the birth, death and resurrection of his Son. Jesus’ words from the cross “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” show God’s unending grace.
Our God is longsuffering, not wishing any to be lost but for all people to be saved [2 Peter 3:9], but his patience will not last forever [2 Peter 3:10].
What a gracious and forgiving God we have, but we must not presume on that grace. It is a gift to all who put their trust in Jesus, but for those who will not it comes to a sharp end.
Lord God, because of the wonderful grace of our lord Jesus I am able to call you Father. Help me to live up to that great gift and never to take it for granted. Amen