************ Sermon on Genesis 3 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on July 16, 2000
"The Family is Fallen"
Topic: SinThis story, and a thousand others just like it, illustrates the truth of what the Spirit of God says to us in Genesis 3.
Title: Beating Son to Death
FRESNO -- A paroled child abused was convicted Thursday (July13, 2000) of murdering his 4-year-old son.
Douglas A. Haaland Jr. was found guilty of beating his son, Dustin, to death Nov 23, 1998, after the boy refused to pick up his toys. He rammed Dustin's head into a bedroom wall because he was disobedient. When efforts to revive Dustin failed, Dustin was put in a closet and later taken to a remote Fresno vineyard where he was buried. Haaland, 27, was on parole at the time after serving time for beating his oldest son. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
Haaland showed no emotion and took a sip of water as the second-degree murder verdict was read.
His father, Douglas Haaland Sr., cried in the gallery as the words "guilty" and "murder" were read in the same sentence.
"I have two people to cry for," he said after his son was shackled at the wrists and ankles and led away by sheriff's deputies. He was thinking of both his son and his grandson.
It is considered ironic that the senior Haaland led the effort to pass "Dustin's Law," designed to protect children from convicted abusers.
Last week, if you remember, we learned that Jesus and the body of Jesus – the church – is more important than family. We were told not to make an idol out of family. I started off with this warning because there are so many today who put family above and beyond anything else. Many of these people take the teachings of good organizations like "Focus on the Family" and "Promise Keepers" and twist or misconstrue or distort those teachings.
What is wrong with making an idol out of the family. First, there is God's command that we are to have no gods beside Him and no idols. Second, as we learned last week, Jesus is to come first. And third, as we will learn this week, the family is fallen and not worthy of being idolized.
I The Family's Fall into Sin
A I think you all realize that the family did not start off this way. It is God Himself Who declared, in the midst of the perfection of the Garden of Eden, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18). Thus out of Adam God fashioned someone to be his suitable helpmate, companion, and counterpart; someone, as Adam expressed it, who is "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23).
God's design, from the beginning, is that husband and wife be interwoven, interdependent, and interlaced. From the very beginning there was no fierce rivalry, no hierarchy of authority, no independent autonomy. God's design is that man and woman, husband and wife "become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). God's design is that there be intimacy and unity and a one-fleshness between husband and wife. God's design is that there be companionship and fellowship between the husband and wife.
B If, from the beginning this was God's obvious intention for marriage, why is this kind of intimacy and unity so foreign to so many? Listen to the following statistics and weep:
-50% of all first marriages end up in divorce
-60% of all marriages of those who have been divorced end up in divorce
-the fastest growing marital status category for the past 25 years is that of divorced persons; the number quadrupled from 1970 to 1994
-single parent homes have grown by 127% since 1970
-over 50% of first-born children are now born out of wedlock
An article, "Saving the Family," in Newsweek magazine describes the American home as the most dangerous place to be outside of war and riots. Why does the article say this? Listen to these alarming statistics:
-30% of all American couples experience some form of domestic violence
-two million couples use lethal weapons on each other each year
-20% of all police officers who are killed in the line of duty are killed in answering calls regarding family fights
-it is estimated that 6 to 15 million women are battered in the U.S. each year – probably the highest unreported crime in the country.
If the home is not safe from the evils of human life, what is?
C What has gone wrong? Things seemed to be so right in the Garden. Was there something defective in God's handiwork, in His original design? To the contrary, when God finished all of His work of creating he pronounced that all of it was "good" – that is, without defect, without sin, without fault. God was satisfied with all that He had made. Furthermore, it was God Himself Who performed the first marriage ceremony; He brought the first woman to the first man and joined them together; He gave them His blessing. If any couple had good odds of making marriage and family work, it was Adam and Eve.
Yet, our Bible reading tells us that Adam and Eve had their problems.
D What happened? They exercised their human will, their free human will. A will yet untainted by sin. They were the only two humans, except for Jesus Christ, who truly experienced free will. With that free will they chose to defy the command of God and they took from the forbidden fruit. They lost their created innocence, their unity, their one-fleshness.
The problem, however, was far more severe than that. You see, their created innocence was not theirs alone to lose. As the representative heads of humanity their plunged the entire human race into fallenness. Consequently, as we read in the Bible, the result since then has been the shattering of relationships.
We see this already with Adam and Eve. What is the first thing Adam and Eve do when they fall into sin? They hide or run from God. They separate from each other – remember how Adam blames Eve. And, they pass this brokenness on to their children – remember how Cain murders Abel. Here we see the passing on of original sin from one generation to the next. As you read the rest of Genesis you see the devastation brought by sin on the human race, particularly on the family. Look at what Genesis all tells us about broken family relationships.
Genesis 9 - Noah is mocked by his own son as a result of drunkenness which leads to some kind of sexual indiscretion.
Genesis 12 - Abraham, out of fear for his life, deceitfully says Sarah is his sister rather than his wife – thus jeopardizing her purity as a woman.
Genesis 13 - An uncle and a nephew, Abraham and Lot, are in conflict over grass and water; this requires a separation, a parting of the ways from one another.
Genesis 16 - Sarah cannot bear children so she gives her maid-servant to Abraham for procreation purposes.
Genesis 19 - Lot offers his own daughters to the homosexuals of Sodom for their sexual gratification. The chapter ends with a sad story of incest – Lot being tricked into getting his own daughters pregnant.
Genesis 20 - Abraham, again out of fear for his life, deceitfully says Sarah is his sister rather than his wife – thus again jeopardizing her purity as a woman.
Genesis 21 - There is a rift in Abraham's family between Sarah and Hagar, the two mothers of Abraham's children; Sarah wins and Hagar is kicked out of the house, so to speak.
Genesis 26 - Isaac, out of fear for his life, pretends that Rebekah is his sister rather than his wife – thus jeopardizing her purity. In doing the same thing as Abraham, we see that the sins of the fathers truly are passed on to the children.
Genesis 27 - In concert with the manipulations of his mother, Jacob schemes to deceive his father and steal the first-born blessing from his brother Esau. In retaliation, Esau plots the murder of Jacob.
Genesis 29 - Jacob's uncle Laban deceives his nephew into marrying Leah; but in the very next chapter Jacob succeeds in cheating his uncle out of the best sheep and goats.
Genesis 34 - Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is raped. Her brothers, in retaliation, slaughter every male in a town and pillage its wealth.
Genesis 35 - Jacob's oldest son, Reuben, commits incest with one of his father's wives.
Genesis 37 - Father Jacob plays favorites with his children and gives Joseph a robe of many colors. This creates such sibling rivalry with the other sons of Jacob, that the older brothers plot to kill their younger brother Joseph. Instead of killing Joseph, however, they sell him into slavery. Then they return home and tell their father that Joseph has died.
Genesis 38 - Jacob's son Judah commits adultery with his own daughter-in-law Tamar, the widowed wife of one of his sons.
Genesis 50 - With Jacob fresh in his grave his sons worry that Joseph will take revenge on them. So they lie to Joseph about a message given them by their father before his death.
It is unbelievable, isn't it, the kind of stuff that we can read in the Bible. We all know about the movie rating system:
G: "General Audiences-All Ages Admitted."
PG: "Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children."
PG-13: "Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13."
R: "Restricted, Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian."
NC-17: "No One 17 And Under Admitted."
If Genesis was made into a movie I doubt if it would be rated PG or even PG-13. Probably R or NC-17. Even the raciest soap opera is tame compared to all of this. Yet, this stuff is in the Bible. The Bible, we see, doesn't try to hide our sin, our fallenness.
So what happened to the beauty of Eden? What happened to the glory of how God made man? What happened to the perfection of God's design for the first husband and first wife and their family? It was sin that made the difference. Sin did violence to the beauty, glory, and perfection of the relationships in the first family of the human race.
E You all realize that it continues to be sin that assaults marriage and family relationships today. And we, dear brothers and sisters, as the redeemed people of God are not immune from that assault, are we? The struggles we all experience in our own marriages and families so readily prove this. We are sinners. And our families, like the first family, are fallen. And it is this that makes our living together a near impossibility. We fight, we argue, we lie, we cheat, we deceive, we distrust, we insist on our own way, we are thoughtless, we are indifferent, we are insensitive, we are impatient, we are domineering, we are self-serving, we are passive-aggressive, we are self-asserting, we are self-promoting, we are self-centered, we are self-absorbed, we are self-consumed.
The Biblical text, the record of human history, and our own personal experience all tells us that we have inherited a disposition from our original parents, Adam and Eve, that militates against harmonious family relationships. In this fallen world everything is working against healthy marriage and family relationships.
I'm not opposed to marriage therapy, counseling, or seminars. These have proven to be invaluable to many struggling couples and families. However, any marital and family therapy, counseling, or seminars that fails to identify and address our sinful, fallen condition is of no value whatsoever; they are doomed to fail from the start. Unless you start with the premise of sin no marital advice will be of any help.
We need to remember and we can never forget that the family is fallen, that the family is sinful, that the family is broken, that the family is dysfunctional. Therefore, the family is not worthy of being idolized.
II Hope for Fallen Families
A I cannot finish on such a negative note. When we look at the story of the Fall in Genesis 3 we see that it contains a note of triumph and hope. I am talking about the mother promise, the first promise of the Messiah, in Genesis 3:15. You know the promise:
(Gen 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."These words proclaim the final victory of Christ over Satan and sin and all that is evil. These words give hope to fallen families.
B Sin breaks up families. Sin destroys relationships. Sin brings disharmony and disunity. But the blood and Spirit of Christ makes it possible for us to experience on this earth a little of what Adam and Eve experienced before the fall into sin. Listen to what Scripture says:
(Gal 5:22-24) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.What does this mean for us and our families? It means that in Christ we, who are sinful from birth, are able to live together as husbands and wives, as parents and children, as brothers and sisters. It means we can live together in harmony and unity and love and peace.
C Now, this requires work – much work, hard work – on our part. In a sin-filled, fallen world harmony and unity doesn't just simply happen because we belong to Christ. So the passage from Galatians I just quoted tells us to "keep in step with the Spirit." In other words, we need to strive and fight and struggle against sin; and, we need to subject ourselves to the Word and Spirit of God.
In another place Paul tells us exactly what is expected of people who have been washed in the blood and filled with the Spirit. He says
(Col 3:12-14) Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.When we, as Christians, live up to these words then our family relationships are a source of joy, an example of unity, and a haven of peace.
The family – with the rest of Creation – is fallen. It is under the power of sin. That is the teaching of the Bible, of history, and of our own personal experience. The family's only hope is Christ – His blood and His Spirit. In Christ – and only in Christ – can the fallen family make a beginning in having the relationship enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the perfection of the Garden of Eden.
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