“The Fall into Sin and God’s Solution”

(Genesis 3:1-15 – Lent 1 – March 1, 2020)

Genesis 3:1-15 – Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 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 coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Dear fellow Redeemed in Christ Jesus,

Why are there so many evils in the world? Why are there wars and rumors of wars? Why are there famines and earthquakes? Why are there diseases like the coronavirus? Why is there suffering and death? Why is there so much falsehood and temptation to threaten our faith? Why are the end times of this world described as tribulation? (Matthew 24) It all began with mankind’s fall into sin. And behind it is Satan, the Tempter and the father of lies.

Every day, we deal with the troubling effects of sin and evil in many ways. Yet we live with hope by faith in our Savior, who came into this world to destroy the works of the devil, to take away our sin, and restore us to eternal life with God. Today we see “The Fall into Sin and God’s Solution.” We see the history and consequence of the first sin; but we also see God’s loving solution in our redemption in Jesus.

1) The History of the first sin

The account in Genesis 1-2 reveals that God created Adam and Eve in His image. They were perfect and holy like their Creator, enjoying blessed fellowship with Him each day. God gave them the gift of a perfect marriage. In the Garden of Eden, they lacked nothing. The fruit of the trees gave them food for refreshment. Taking care of the garden gave them enjoyable work and exercise. They had plenty opportunity to develop their knowledge, as they marveled at God’s creation and wisdom. They ate freely of the tree of life in the middle of the garden. They were going to live forever in Paradise.

But then, there appeared on the scene a tempter, embodied in the form of a serpent – Satan, who had been cast out of heaven for rebelling against God’s authority; Satan, who hated God with a vengeance. And along with God, Satan hated all of His good creation, especially humans.

Where did Satan find a point of attack against God’s beloved humans? It was at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God also had put in the middle of the garden. God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat of it. This tree reminded them that they were dependent creatures and not God. They were stewards of God’s gifts, living in obedience to Him. By forbidding them to eat of this tree, God enabled them to pass from cold mechanical obedience, to a warm human relationship with God, as they consciously chose to obey Him in love.

Satan realized that if he could just persuade our first parents that God’s restriction was not really an act of love and good will, but one of harsh tyranny, Satan might succeed in bringing destruction on this perfect relationship between God and man, and destruction on all of God’s creation.

Satan craftily chooses the weaker, more dependent of the humans. He approaches Eve, not her spiritual head Adam. Satan asks a seemingly innocent question: “Has God indeed said… Is it possible, Eve, that God made such a restriction? Think about it. Would a loving God keep from you some part of His good creation, some pleasure, some hidden blessing?” So Satan began by casting doubt on God’s Word, and doubt on God’s motives. Me tempted Eve to trust her own reason and feelings to find her own truth.

Eve should have said: “Get behind me!” It is wrong to question God’s Word and His love!” But she entertains the Tempter. She starts to think independently. Some point out that Eve adds to God’s Word. God had forbidden eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but Eve adds: “nor shall you touch it.” Others point out that Eve takes away from God’s Word. God had said: “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17); but Eve says merely: “lest you die,” weakening the certainty.

In any case, the Tempter sees progress. The battle is all about faithfulness to God’s Word versus adding to or taking from it. Satan sees Eve starting to doubt God’s Word and lean on her own reason and strength against temptation. Now he follows with a bold denial of God’s Word: “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, “Eve, look! God’s words are empty threats. His motives are impure. He is afraid of you becoming enlightened, thinking for yourself, being your own person, becoming like Him. Eve, what could be wrong with being wise like God?”

Eve knew her duty to God and His warning for disobedience. She was not trapped into distrusting God from a state of ignorance. But now, curiosity and pride are aroused. In her heart, she covets the forbidden fruit and what it appears to offer. What is left but to carry out the act? “She took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

Here we see how the power and subtlety of temptation finally comes from one’s own heart. The fall into temptation often comes on second thought, after we have won a victory against the first wave of temptation. Eve had sought for a moment to resist temptation by trusting God and His Word. But by the next wave of temptation, she rationalized away her misgivings and acted.

Adam did the same. As the spiritual head of his wife, he should have led her back to God’s Word. Instead, when Eve looked for partnership with him on her own terms, Adam submitted. He ate and chose unity with his wife, rather than with his loving Creator who is Head over all.

2) The consequence of the first sin

Now we see the devastating consequence of that first sin. Where was the pleasure expected, the wisdom promised? True, their eyes were opened, as the Tempter said; but it was to the knowledge of evil.

We hear about the first consequence of sin – shame. “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 coverings.” They realized their purity before God was gone. They had lost control over the flesh and become slaves to sin. They discovered that when the perfect vertical relationship with God is lacking, horizontal relationships between humans suffer.

Now we hear about the second consequence of sin – fear. “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.'” In the beginning, the Lord would walk and talk with them as friends. Those were joyful times, hearing His voice. But now, how does His voice sound after they despised His Word? They are deathly afraid and try to hide from the all-seeing eye, the voice that calls offenders of His will to justice.

Then we see the third consequence of sin – passing the blame. They each make excuses, to add to their sin. Adam cowardly puts the blame on his weaker partner, flesh of his own flesh; and he even blames God Himself: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Eve, in turn, blames the serpent. They want to put the guilt on someone else, even God!

As we read on in Genesis 3, we hear the final result of sin – punishment. God increased Eve’s pain in childbearing. God cursed the ground so Adam had to work its thorn-infested soil for food. Due to the corruption of sin, life would be painful. Work would no longer be a constant joy but would be marked by frustration and hardship. And it would all end in death, as God had warned. God then shut our first parents out of the Paradise in which He had created them to live forever (Genesis 3:16-24).

What a horrible fall that first sin caused! The effects were not limited to the original sinners. Their descendants share the same guilt and consequences. Original sin, inherited from our first parents, became our problem. Out of our hearts comes sin (Matthew 15:19). James 1:14-15 says: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Romans 5:12 spells out the devastating consequences for all the children of Adam: “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” With sin came spiritual death, physical death, and ultimately eternal death to sinners!

3) God’s solution: redemption from sin

Yet, we can thank and praise God; that is not the end of the story! For in the very account of our first parents’ fall into sin, we also hear God’s loving solution: His promise of redemption from sin.

God tells Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The woman’s offspring, One whom God refers to as “He,” would bruise Satan’s head; though Satan would bruise “His” heel. Here is the first promise of our Savior. God’s Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He entered our fallen world to reverse the harm done by the Tempter. Jesus came to crush Satan’s head so that the old evil foe is powerless over all who trust Jesus for salvation.

But that victory did not come without injury to God’s Son. In crushing the head of the serpent, Jesus’ heel received a wound from the head it crushed. The bruising of His heel was the suffering Satan caused, as when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness; when Jesus suffered agony and temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane; and when He was unjustly arrested, tortured, condemned, and crucified. Yet on the cross, Jesus suffered far more than Satan could inflict. He suffered the wrath and rejection of God against all our sin. He suffered the full punishment and death we deserved. Jesus sacrificed His own life to save us.

Yet, death and the grave could not hold Him who is God in our flesh. Having crushed the head of Satan, having delivered us from sin and death, Jesus rose from the grave to declare His victory for us. Romans 4:25 says He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Now, we may confess our sins to God knowing all our sins are paid for and forgiven in Christ. We need not pass the blame. When we are driven to despair of our own righteousness, saying with Paul: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” yet we can exclaim: “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25). For God has redeemed us from sin, Satan, and death through the sacrifice of His own Son for us.

Now Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us. For every way we have fallen into temptation from the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh, Jesus pleads in our behalf. He reminds His Father how He fulfilled that promise of redemption to Adam and Eve and all sinners. Jesus says: “See Father, I resisted Satan’s temptations perfectly for them. I never partook of anything forbidden by Your Law, but I kept all Your commands for their sake. See Father, I was bruised for their iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), I gave my life to take away their sins; therefore, no punishment remains for them. See Father, I have cleansed them from all sin by My blood. I have covered them in My own righteousness.”

And now, by God’s gift of faith, He has made us His new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). He has restored us in the perfect image of His Son, as His holy children in Christ (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). God is restoring all things to us in “a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (1 Peter 3:13). In Revelation 2:7 Jesus promises: I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” He is bringing us to that paradise He won for us, to live in everlasting peace and joy with Him! He has given us His life. He has given us His Word. Let us trust Him.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.