************ Sermon on Genesis 3:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 24, 2010
"The First Sin"
Review, with me, the perfection of the Garden. It was well-watered (Gen 2:10). It was well-provisioned with food (Gen 2:16). It was a place of beauty (Gen 2:9). It was a place where man enjoyed fellowship with God (Gen 3:8), with each other (Gen 2:22-24), and with creation (Gen 2:19). It was a place of peace and harmony and rest. It was a place where man knew no need.
Review, with me, the perfection of man. He was made in God's image (Gen 1:26-27). He received God's breath (Gen 2:7). He received meaningful work (Gen 2:15). He was given authority over the fish, the birds, and every living creature that moves on the ground (Gen 1:28). Man knew His Creator. His heart and will were righteous. His emotions were pure. The whole man was holy.
Now, why would a perfect man in a perfect Garden fall into sin by eating the forbidden fruit? Why would a man who had everything he needed reach for something he was told he could not have? It was not a case of hunger like we see with David and his companions when they entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread – which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests (1 Sam 21:1-6; cf Mt 12:3-4).
So, why did the first man and first woman eat the forbidden fruit?
We started to answer this last time by looking at the smooth-talking serpent – who we discover from Genesis 3:15 was a tool of the devil. It is always the devil's intent to harm the covenant community, lead people astray, and do what he can to take away from God's glory.
I The Stages of Sin
A We have no idea how long Adam & Eve were able to resist the forbidden fruit; it could have been hours or even years. Nor, do we have any idea how long they were tempted by Satan before they fell; in "Perelandra," C.S. Lewis depicts a temptation that last days and months.
B However long it takes, we know that sin is a process with definable stages or steps. Let's identify the steps taken by Adam & Eve.
Stage 1: knowledge. Adam & Eve know there is a Tree whose fruit is forbidden. We are not sure, of course, when Adam told Eve the fruit was forbidden. But her response to the serpent tells us she did know.
Stage 2: curiosity. The serpent made Adam & Eve curious about the Tree and its fruit. They noticed the Tree, they wondered about its fruit and its taste and the result of eating it.
Stage 3: desire. The serpent told the first couple the benefits of eating from the tree: no death, open eyes, being like God. So, after thinking about the Tree and its fruit, Adam & Eve began to desire the Tree and its fruit.
Stage 4: strong desire. The serpent's next step in the temptation into sin involves lust-like passion. "I got to eat it. I got to taste it. I got to try it. I need it."
Stage 5: decision. Adam & Eve have not eaten from the Tree yet but they make a conscious decision to eat its fruit.
Stage 6: action. Adam & Eve eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Listen to how Scripture sums up the entire process:
(Gen 3:6) 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.In the Hebrew, the actual fall is summed up in only eight words.
C "She took and ate ... gave ... and he ate." So simple the act, so hard its undoing. Mankind fell into sin and misery by eating. "She took and ate ... gave ... and he ate." Many years later, similar words becomes the language of salvation in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. "Take ... eat."
Something to think about: Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). Which makes Him a sympathetic high priest (Heb 4:15). Which also means that Jesus was able to stop the process before it got to Stage 3 & 4.
D Any parent or grandparent can trace these same steps in the lives of their little ones. If you are honest with yourself, you can see these stages with most sins in your life.
Stage 1: knowledge. Little Jimmy knows another student has left her test paper out. You realize you have an attractive neighbor, co-worker, client. A $100 bill has been left on the table. There is alcohol in the cupboard.
Stage 2: curiosity. Jimmy wonders how the other student answered a couple of questions. You wonder if you can get to know your neighbor better. What would it be like to have an extra $100? I wonder what kind of beer/wine/whiskey is in the cupboard?
Stage 3: desire. Jimmy begins to think he should look at the test. You begin to look for ways to run across your neighbor. Imagine what I could that with that $100? I bet the alcohol will taste good.
Stage 4: strong desire. Jimmy wants and needs to look at the test. You start to fantasize about your neighbor. I need the $100 to pay off some bills. I need to have a drink.
Stage 5: decision. Jimmy decides to take a peek. You decide to have an illicit relationship. No one is watching so I can take the $100. I am going to have a drink.
Stage 6: action. Jimmy takes a peek. You have an affair. I steal the $100. I get drunk.
To be like Jesus I need to stop the process before it gets to Stage 3 & 4. By the power of Jesus and with prayer in the Spirit I can stop the process before it gets to Stage 3 & 4.
II Good for Food
A Why did the woman eat from the forbidden tree? We are told three reasons. First, "the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food" (Gen 2:6). Maybe it smelled good – good like steak on the grill or like cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven.
But what about everything else God provided as food? Do you remember God's bounty? God said to Adam, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden" (Gen 2:16). Adam & Eve should have been happy with that. Do you also remember God's command? God said, "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" (Gen 2:17).
Did you notice what the smooth-talking serpent does? He avoids any reference to God's generous provision. Instead, he magnifies God's prohibition. And, he deliberately reverses what God actually said when he asks, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Gen 3:1).
B Now, why should Adam & Eve obey God? Why should they not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? We are wrong if we say Adam & Eve should obey God so they will not die. We never obey God because of the consequences of not obeying God. God has always wanted His creatures to love and obey Him of their own free will and not out of compulsion or because of reward. We obey God because we want to obey God. We obey God because we love Him.
C Later, in one of his writings, Moses lays down a principle that applies to this situation. Listen to this principle:
(Deut 8:3; cf Mt 4:4) ... man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.Do you think Adam & Eve were living up to this principle when they took the forbidden fruit? No! Absolutely not. They decided they did not need the Word and command of God in order to live.
Satan's temptation into sin is that real living requires the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Real living requires eyes that are opened so you are like God, knowing good and evil. God's message, by way of contrast, is that real living does not depend on full bellies but on obedience to God. Real living does not depend on the things of this earth but on keeping the Covenant of Works. Real living does not depend on fruit that looks "good for food" but on the Word of God.
Adam & Eve were faced with a choice: real living as defined by God or real living as defined by Satan. When Adam & Eve fell into sin, they made a deliberate decision to choose bread/fruit over the Word of the Lord. They chose their stomach and their appetite over obedience. So, at the urging of Satan, Eve took from the Tree because she saw it was "good for food."
It is fair to say that Adam & Eve were the world's first secularists. They chose the things of this world over God and His Kingdom. Their attitude was one of covetousness. It is the attitude that says I need something to be happy that I do not have or cannot have.
D Satan tempts us, just like he tempted Adam & Eve. He tempts us to think we need stuff to experience real living. He tempts us to think we don't really live until we have our vacations and recreation and toys. He temps us to think real life is forbidden fruit. He tempts us to pick bread over the commands of God.
Congregation, we don't have life when we have bread; we don't have life when we have food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs and a roof over our heads. Rather, we have life when we listen to what comes out of the mouth of God. We have life when we obey God and glorify God. That is real living. That is what life is all about.
III Pleasing to the Eye
A Why did the woman eat from the forbidden tree? Listen to the second reason: "the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was ... pleasing to the eye" (Gen 3:6). It looked appetizing and appealing. Obviously, it did not look like something the cat dragged in.
Remember what God announced seven times in Genesis 1? Seven times God pronounced the works of His hands to be "good" or "very good." It was God Who made the pronouncements. It was God Who was pleased with what He had made. Did God make this pronouncement only after Adam & Eve agreed with Him? Did God make this pronouncement only after the angels cheered and clapped and expressed their approval? Did God make this pronouncement only after Satan expressed a measure of jealousy for what God had accomplished? Of course not! God's pronouncements are NOT dependent on what others say or think. In other words, it is God Who sets the standards.
Do you see what the woman does when she takes the forbidden fruit? She sets the standards. She judged the fruit of the Tree to be "pleasing to the eye." It didn't matter what God said or thought. It was her judgment the fruit was pleasing to the eye so she took some and ate it.
B Isn't this the big problem today? In His Word, God sets the standards for human living. But sinful man does not like those standards. God says marriage is between one man and one woman but sinful man tries to redefine marriage to include gay and lesbian couples. God says you shall not murder but sinful man permits abortion and euthanasia. God says you shall not commit adultery but sinful man legalizes prostitution and pornography.
Sinful man attempts to set up his own standards all across the board. Even in the church. God makes it clear that He sets the standards for worship but most worship today is focused on pleasing man rather than pleasing God. God says it is men who are to lead the church but in our day of women's liberation many churches allow women to serve in church office.
IV Desirable for Gaining Wisdom
A Why did the woman eat from the forbidden tree? Listen to the third reason: "the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was ... desirable for gaining wisdom" (Gen 3:6).
So, looking ahead in Genesis 3, what wisdom did the man and woman gain? What wisdom was theirs when they ate from the forbidden fruit? Before the Fall, their experience was only good. After the Fall, their experience was good and evil. Like God, they now knew good and evil first-hand. Both were now part of their experience.
B "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was ... desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it" (Gen 3:6). Do you know what is the Biblical approach to wisdom? Listen to this familiar text:
(Prov 9:10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Cf Prov 1:7; Ps 111:10)The woman was looking in the wrong place for wisdom!
C Many churches and Christians today do not want to seem foolish in the eyes of the world. So, they deny what the world calls the foolishness of the cross (1 Cor 1:18). They take away the offense of the cross by saying there are other paths to God. They deny the existence of hell. They believe in evolution rather than creation. They take away the miracles of the Bible. And the list goes on and on. We see that human wisdom takes precedence over divine wisdom. That's the sin of the first woman in the Garden. That's why she took the forbidden fruit.
I've attended Christian college board meetings and been to Synod a couple of times. Let me tell you a phrase I've heard more than once that makes my blood run cold. It is the phrase "Academic Freedom." Using the cover of this phrase, professors at Christian colleges teach all sorts of things contrary to God's Word. Human wisdom takes precedence over divine wisdom.
V Where is the Man?
A I reminded you the last two weeks that the husband is the head of the wife. Because he comes first. Because he names the woman. Because the woman comes from man, not man from the woman.
I also asked last week, "Where is the man?" If Adam is head, how come he isn't there to protect Eve from the lies of the serpent? How come Adam doesn't stop the serpent? How come Adam doesn't correct Eve's double negative? How come he doesn't say, "Honey, you are wrong in what you said"? Where is the man? Where is Adam in all of this?
Do you see what verse 6 tells us about the man? He "was with her." He was with her not just at the end but the whole time. Why can I say this? Because the serpent speaks to Eve using the plural "you." And Eve replies to the serpent using the plural "we." So Adam was with her. And he said nothing! And he did nothing!
As I said last week, the first man let the first woman down! Even as many husbands today continue to let their wives down. I cannot tell you the number of homes in which the man fails to correct his wife, or fails to protect his wife, or fails to stop his wife. That's his job as spiritual head. But he does nothing.
B Let me tell you something that is very disturbing – even more disturbing than what I already said. It comes from Paul's letter to Timothy. Let me remind you that this is inspired by the Spirit so it is not something made up by Paul. It comes straight from the mind and mouth of God.
(1 Tim 2:14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Let's think about this. The serpent deceived the woman. We see that in our text. He convinced the woman that she would not die as a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit. He convinced her that her eyes would be opened. He convinced her that she would be like God. Lies, lies, and more lies. Because none of this is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The woman was deceived and fell into sin. As for the man, he was not deceived and allowed both the woman and himself to fall into sin. The woman sinned with her eyes blinded. The man sinned with his eyes wide open. What a condemnation of the man! He knew it was wrong and still allowed the woman to eat. He knew it was wrong and still did it.
As we will find as we finish Genesis 3, this marked the start of mankind's misery and ruin. All because the first man and woman decided they could live on bread alone, set the standards for right and wrong, and seek wisdom apart from God.
Thank God that this also marked the start of the working out of God's plan for our salvation in Christ.
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