As usual, today’s passage offers us much to consider, but since we have limited time together I must choose one concept God laid on my heart to share with you. Have you noticed that when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, and when Cain murdered his brother, God asked them what they had done? Do you think this was because He wasn’t sure about what they had done? How could God not know what they had done when He has proven through many prophecies that He knows the future? Did God not know that Adam and Eve would disobey Him? Did God not know Cain would murder Abel? Can anyone seriously believe that omniscient God didn’t know what these folks had done?
If God knew what they had done, however, then why did He ask them what they had done? Friends, I don’t think God was asking rhetorical questions. God was confronting them with their sin. Sin separates you from God. God doesn’t want you to be separated from Him, but your sin has to be dealt with. The first step in being made right with God is to confess your sin. He knows what you’ve done – do you? Now listen, we know that we cannot be made right with a holy God without the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I don’t mean to suggest that if Adam, Eve, and Cain had simply confessed their sins all would be made right. I’m simply saying that God is showing us that attempting to avoid responsibility for our sin is a non-starter.
When confronted about their sin, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed Satan, and Cain acted as if nothing happened. Blame and denial are stumbling blocks to salvation. In each case sin, and the failure to acknowledge sin, led to separation from God. It also led to harder, more miserable lives. I mentioned two days ago when we began with Genesis 1 & 2 that the Bible was a story about God’s love for His creation. I shared with you thoughts about the hero and the villain of this story and discussed what it meant to ask “whose play is it”. I commented on how the Bible was a complete story, and today I’d like to point out another part of the story structure.
In most stories we start out by painting the picture of what is normal – that is to say that we start out in a place of equilibrium. Some might refer to this starting point of the story as the “setup”. Once we know how things are supposed to be, something dramatic happens to destroy the peace; to upset the equilibrium. Some authors refer to this as the “inciting incident”. Genesis 1 & 2 are the setup to the story. There we discovered what was meant to be. We discovered how things were supposed to be. We discovered that we were meant for a close personal relationship with God. We discovered a life absent war, fear, disease, disaster, sexual perversion, want, hurt, hunger and death. All one had to do to eat was to reach out and pluck sustenance from the nearest plant or tree. To speak with God all you had to do was speak up. Life as God intended and created it was perfect. Today, in chapter 3, we find our inciting incident. Adam and Eve, seduced by the idea of being their own gods, disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Here is how it happened.
Genesis 3:3-6 ESV
“but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when 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, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Satan lied. Adam and Eve died in two ways. No they did not immediately keel over and die, but they did die after some 900 years. That may seem a long time to us today who won’t live to 100 years, but when you were created to live forever in right relationship with God, 900 years falls far short. They also experienced immediate spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God. Immediately upon eating the forbidden fruit, they hid from God. They were afraid of God – and with good cause. Still, when asked, they denied their sin, blaming others for what they had chosen to do. This only made matters worse.
The fact of the matter is that Adam, Eve and Cain, were unable to face their sin. They were overcome by their desire to be their own god. They did not want to live in obedience to God Himself. This is what separated them from God. Yes you can point to God sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and claim that it was God that separated Himself from Man, but that is getting the cart before the horse. Sin cannot be in the presence of a holy God. They chose to sin. God sent them where they had chosen to go for their own sake. If they remained in God’s presence they would have been consumed – destroyed. God didn’t send Man away; Man chose to go his own way. God doesn’t send people to Hell; they chose Hell.
Fortunately God had a plan to return us to His presence. That is what this story is about. In fact God foreshadows His plan of salvation in today’s reading just as the separation takes place. Speaking to the serpent – Satan – God says this after the fall of man:
Genesis 3:15 ESV
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
This is a reference to Christ who, in the New Testament account of his crucifixion, died for the sin of all Mankind which started here, but through His resurrection will destroy the power of sin – the power of Satan. On the cross Jesus said “It is finished” and so it is. You can be made right with a holy God. You can return to right relationship with Him through the acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for your sin. You can be saved from eternal damnation. When you submit your life to the authority of Christ, His Holy Spirit comes into your heart and begins the remodeling process of changing you back into the man God intended you to be. Before you can do this, however, you must come to terms with your sin. You must admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior. You must turn your back on sin. All of this is called repentance and it is a crucial first step.
The story of the Bible is the story of God’s plan to return His creation to right relationship with Him; to return mankind to the way it was in the beginning in the Garden of Eden. It is also the story of God doing the same with you. It is the story of how He loved you so much He sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sin so that if you would confess your sin, and submit your life to the authority of Christ, you too will be returned to right relationship with Him; returned to Eden, to Heaven. Brothers, deal with your sin.