Chambersburg, PA
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Fall & Redemption Sermon Text

The Situation;

The Temptation;

The Result;

The Promise

2:8-9 Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, but the garden was not the most central aspect of their reality. The garden was only their environment – their surroundings – but the most central aspect to their reality was that they were in covenant relationship with God.

They were created for relationship with God – and the way that this relationship is expressed in the bible is through the word “covenant”. And the most general way that that relationship of covenant is defined in the bible is that God will be our God, and we will be his people.

If you remember from a few weeks ago, the garden was a temple – the place where God dwelt with his people in relationship.

They were in covenant with God – and that is what the first words of God to humanity define.

Now, it’s common to talk about “relationship” with God – “God wants relationship”, “Christianity is relationship, not religion”; of course those things have some truth in them but the reason the term covenant is used as a technical term is because the term relationship – when applied to God and humanity – can be misleading.

Humanity’s relationship with God was not a relationship between equals – as though God is just your best-bud; nor is it voluntarily entered into, as though it’s an optional aspect of life and you can take it or leave it; nor is it one initiated by the creature as though it was our idea to reach out to God.

God, is the LORD God – he is your maker, your God, your King, your Judge; and so, you are in relationship with God.

The most fundamental, inescapable, significant aspect of who you are is that you are in relationship to God.

The question isn’t if you’re in relationship to God; but whether you are in a right relationship with God or not – whether you are under his blessing or curse; whether you are a child of God, or a child or wrath; whether when at the end of this life when you meet your maker you are accepted as righteous or condemned as guilty – whether you find his grace or his wrath.

And, as we see in chapter 3, you can’t evade him, you can’t hide from him, you will be found by him and you will answer to him, maker of heaven and earth, your maker, the judge before whom every human life must give account. God is the one with whom every person ultimately has to do.

The most fundamental, inescapable, significant aspect of who you are is that you are in relationship to God.

And, this idea of covenant explains all of reality – the reason that there is something wrong with the world and the reason there is something wrong with us – so much so that you look around and despair of the possibility that there is anything that will put this world back together or put us back together – besides a divine miraculous universal renewal of the world;

the reason for all that, is that the most central aspect of our existence – our relationship with God – has been fractured, disrupted by sin and characterized by our rebellion for which we are under his wrath.

The first words of God to humanity define what it means to be in covenant with God: And that is, that he is LORD, we are servants; and our relationship is primarily characterized by loving, trusting obedience to God’s Word – that is central to understanding this covenant and the temptation we see that draws mankind away from living under God’s blessing.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Because God is the creator, he is the Lord, and so he is in authority and has the right to command his creatures. This is central to what it means to know God – you can’t know God rightly without understanding this.

Many people want a God who is more like a life-coach than a God; who is an accessory to them attaining their life-goals; a cheerleader who rah’s them on as they go and live their life the way they want; but it’s very unnatural to our now fallen human nature to want a God who is God and LORD and King, to whom we are servants.

And, this first covenant – commonly called the covenant of works, contains a command – not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – and a punishment – and a warning of punishment for disobeying that command – death.

And, by implication – it’s not explicit but understood by the context that just as death was warned as a punishment for disobedience, so life was promised to Adam and to all humanity upon the condition of obedience – perfect and personal obedience to his God.

See, it’s important to remember, that there were many trees in the garden, but there were two specific trees mentioned, not just the one we normally think of – not just the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, but there was another tree – the tree of life. Back in 2:9, we read that “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

And, we see that Adam and Eve weren’t barred from the tree of life until after they sinned, since now they needed redemption before they could enter the glory of eternal life with God – 3:24 – “After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

And, so God always intended to clothe humanity in glory – presumably, Adam and Eve could have eaten from the Tree of Life at any time – and that once they did they would have been confirmed in life and the danger and temptation of disobedience would have been a thing of the past.

But, there nevertheless was a time of testing; a time of temptation. Theologians call this the “probationary period” the time when Adam and Eve had a choice before them between obedience and disobedience. And, if they passed this time of testing, they would enter into the glory and eternal life which God created them for – to enjoy him forever – the most over flowingly abundant life unfading for all eternity.

the situation;

The Temptation

Enter, the tempter. He appears without origin or explanation in the Genesis text; but it is clear from the rest of scripture that this snake is a representation of the devil – the personal spiritual evil in this world which rages against God.

But what we do see here is that the tempter is utterly opposed to God, and not only himself opposed to God but on a mission to recruiting humanity ally with him & join him in his opposition to God, by deceiving them through his craftiness.

His words are obviously not the truth; but neither are they a blatant bold-faced lie.

They are half-truths; twisting of the truths; and the reason someone tells a half-truth is to deceive – a half truth contains just enough of the truth to seem plausible and appealing – in order to deceive – just enough truth in order to suck someone in to believing it; but just enough lie to be deadly.

If he had come and said: “God is evil!” surely Eve would have spotted the lie. But, he didn’t say outright God is evil, but the subtext of what he said, and what Eve believed, was that God was withholding from her something good and necessary – and the heart of that is a denial of the goodness of God and his love towards humanity; in other words, a half-truth meant to disguise the blatant bold-faced lie that “God is evil”.

See this deception in 2 ways: tempting humanity to doubt the trustworthiness of God’s word, and tempting humanity to doubt the goodness of God’s character.

God’s Word:

“With a word, the serpent attacks The Word.”

v1 – “Did God really say?” Just an innocent question, right? But certainly, coming from the mouth of the one whose driving desire is to oppose God and draw away those who love and trust him, that it is anything but neutral. It is designed to cast doubt.

“Maybe God didn’t say that. Maybe I imagined it. Maybe that’s just what Adam said and God didn’t say it. Or maybe there’s some sophisticated way to interpret it that basically removes the obvious sense of the words and force of the command.”

v4 – “Surely you will not die” – God warned you would die but you can’t trust him!

This is a half-truth; because on first glance it seems to be correct. Certainly they didn’t die on the day they ate of it, in the most obvious immediate sense of the idea; but this is a deadly lie because sin would lead them to death – not in the most obvious immediate sense but certainly in the most significant sense of death – the most deadly sense of death – spiritual death – separation from the loving fellowship and blessing of God – that would then lead to physical and eternal death.

And so it is a half-truth that is intended to cast doubt on the trustworthiness of God’s word – “Certainly you won’t die” – Yeah God said you would but his words can’t be trusted.

And, you know what, Church? Satan says the same words to us today: Did God really say…? Maybe the plain meaning of the Bible doesn’t mean what it seems to mean. Maybe the Bible isn’t really God’s word spoken to us? Maybe it’s just the words of fallible men and so we can’t trust it. Or, yeah maybe God said that but he can’t be trusted! Surely what he said won’t happen. You don’t need to believe his truths and heed his warnings and obey his commands and seek his promised rewards – you can make your own truths!

One way Satan works is by seeking to cast doubt in the minds of Gods’ people about the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the Word of God.

God’s word, not human wisdom or perceptions or experience or intuition, but God’s word, determines and defines reality – and the tempter’s words are an attack on the Word of God.

“With a word, the serpent attacks The Word.”

Trustworthiness of God’s word; Goodness of God’s character. Just as the serpent casts doubt upon the truthfulness and trustworthiness of God’s Word, so he casts doubt upon the goodness of God’s character:

v1 – “any tree?”

See, Satan shows his hand here. Cause, either he didn’t hear the command and how would he know about it at all? Or, he did hear the command and why has he distorted it so?

See, he knew that’s not what God had said – this is no innocent mistake. No, he is trying to cast doubt on the goodness of God, and the generosity of God – which had given Adam and Eve a paradise of plenty to live in, but now, his words are shaped to inject into Eve’s mind that God is unwarrantedly stingy. He’s not generous – his “rules” are excessive and intrusive and overly restrictive.

And, in fact, instead of being designed for your good and for your freedom and flourishing and satisfaction and ultimate good; instead, they are designed to withhold good things from you.

And, Eve shows that she is already moving down this path of buying into Satan’s deception, because her words in return reflects this attitude which fails to see God’s generosity and goodness: v3 “and you must not touch it”, which of course wasn’t part of God’s original command.

v4 – “you will become like God”. “See, God knows that the result of you eating that tree will be good; and he is insecure; he is jealous and greedy and wants to hog all the glory – he wants to keep this good thing from you, and that’s what his commands do.

How often, when we sin, are we believing this lie of Satan?

Church: Satan still speaks this lie: That God’s commands are not for your good, but for your ruin; that freedom and life lie outside of the path that God has prescribed; that death and deprivation lie in obeying his commands. Those same lies that Eve believed when she sinned, are the very same lies we believe when we sin; they are lies from the lips of Satan; from the depths of hell.

And the truth, is that God’s word was meant to preserve them from death; to guide them towards their good; if only they would trust him and obey him.

And, so, perhaps it’s already clear, then, what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is all about. What was God keeping from them?

A couple observations:

they already knew what good and evil was. They were created righteous – not neutral; in the image of God and so they knew God’s moral law because it was written in their hearts; and not only that but he told them what was right and wrong: it was right to trust God and enjoy the freedom he gave them in eating the fruit of any other tree; but it was wrong to doubt God and eat of the 1 tree that was forbidden.

And, so, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents not knowledge which was good and necessary for humanity to have from which he is keeping them in the dark; no, it represents the type of knowledge which belongs only to God – the knowledge which enables one not to know what is right and wrong; but the knowledge which gives one the ability to determine what is right and wrong.

That type of knowledge only belongs to God, because he alone is God – he alone is in the position to determine moral reality.

And see, that’s where Adam and Eve go wrong – instead of letting God be God, they try to be their own gods, by putting themselves in the position of God – by trying to be the ones who determine what is right and wrong, rather than receive that knowledge from God’s revelation. 

v6 – “Eve saw that it was good”. These words should sound familiar. These words were God’s words – God was the one who interpreted reality and had the right to evaluate what was good and what was not good; now Eve is taking that that divine prerogative upon herself – she now is evaluating things based on her own wisdom and perceptions, not based on God’s truth. She is being her own authority, rather than submitting to God’s authority.

She is trying to rule her own life, rather than submitting her life to God’s rule.

And so, when they take of the fruit; they are grasping for more than just fruit; they are grasping for the throne. They are grasping to be gods. And, so, ultimately, sin is cosmic betrayal; attempting to usurp the divine throne of our lives and worlds.

And, so, they become sinners – and their eyes are opened, but not in the way they had hoped. Their eyes are opened to their own guilt.

the situation; the temptation;

The Result

shame

2:25 – naked and unashamed;

3:7 – Now, they are naked, and ashamed – and so they try to cover themselves up; and then they hide from God.

The reason for their shame, where previously they were unashamed, is that previously they were innocent; now they are guilty because they have sinned, and so they feel shame – they feel the need to cover themselves up.

Modern psychology tells us that guilt is just a state of mind, and if you think the right way you can liberate yourself from guilt – and if God doesn’t exist then that is right – there’s no reason to feel guilty because there is no standards of rightness or righteousness or holiness by which we measure ourselves against and come up short – and so no reason for shame or guilt.

But, there’s a reason that the attempt to eliminate guilt has been a failed pursuit – because God does exist, and we are made in his image, and we know that we have fallen short of his righteousness. And the solution to guilt isn’t to find a way to ignore or explain it away; but to find divine forgiveness for it – available freely in the gospel of Jesus.

See, they try to deal with their guilt on their own – they feel shame,

first: they try to cover up their guilt and shame. And the description of these coverings – or another way to translate – loincloths – coupled with the fact that after they “cover” themselves they still feel the need to hide from God – all this emphasizes the inadequacy of these coverings.

They try to atone for their own sin, but they can’t. And all throughout human history, we have tried to find ways to atone for our sense of guilt – but it will not work – it will be as inadequate of a covering as fig-leaves; only God can atone – and as we see at the end of the chapter, he himself covers them.

So, their covering doesn’t work, next they hide. But hiding from the all-knowing all-seeing God is not a good strategy. You can’t hide your guilt from God – he sees you and will find you. And when God asks where they are and what they’ve done, it isn’t because he’s ignorant, it’s more like a parent whose got it figured out and is giving them a chance to come clean;

but they don’t come clean. As God gently and graciously asks them what’s going on, they try to play games with him.

He addresses the man first, who was with the woman presumably silent while she was being tempted by Satan; and in his answer he doesn’t exactly lie, but neither does he come clean – in fact, this is a dodge – a change of subject – a frequently-tried strategy of the guilty – he turns the conversation to the last thing that happened after his sin; in order to take the spotlight off the real issue – his sin – he changes the subject to his nakedness, even though his nakedness is the evidence for his sin.

After dodge / change-of-subject doesn’t work, he then tries another long-loved tactic of the guilty: shifting the blame.

First, he apparently is so desperate to cover his guilt that he is willing to incur the wrath of his wife by blaming her; but he doesn’t stop there, he is so desperate to shift the blame of his guilt to someone else, that he then blames God.

And then the woman blames the serpent.

When we are confronted with our sin – we want to minimize it, blameshift, deny, make excuses – do anything to obscure our guilt – anything to not own up to our sin; but God won’t have it.

shame;

separation – eventually – banishment – state of utter separation from God’s loving presence, his blessing, loving fellowship with him; being under his wrath and curse.

Misery: Sin doesn’t just make us guilty; it makes life miserable. As you see in the description of the curse (which we looked ahead at when we looked at work and marriage and other creation ordinances) It injected pain into the most precious aspects of human life. Childbirth is now characterized by pain and suffering; work is not characterized by frustration and painful toil. Life, is no longer paradise, it’s misery.

shame; separation; misery;

hostility:

-horizontal – v16 – difficult verse; but I think the best way to understand it is simply as a description of hostility existing between husband and wife – hostility where there was once harmony.

And that instead of love and respect, their relationship would be characterized by oppression and domination; but despite that, husband and wife continue to be bound towards one another in desire and necessity.

extends to all human relationships – without sin there would have been only peace and love; but now there is hatred, conflict, and division.

vertical –

3:15 – Humanity has joined as allies with Satan – and so has turned against God and become his enemy.
Enmity is misplaced -Humanity has made an unholy union with Satan –  humanity has trusted the deceiver instead of the author of truth; but God wants to disrupt that unholy union; God wants to remove enmity from its improper place, and restore it to its proper place.

SC: Man fell into a condition of sin and misery.

Sin: guilt – now stand condemned before God, and corruption of nature- from which all other sins proceed.

Misery: the loss of fellowship with God; bringing his anger and curse upon themselves; and therefore, subject to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Q 20 – Did God leave all humanity to die in sin and misery?

No; but that he frees us fro sin and misery by a covenant of grace and brings to us salvation, by a Redeemer.

See, humanity was now incapable of attaining life by the covenant of works; now life could only come to them by God himself coming to rescue them from their sin and misery – by his redeemer.

The Promise

Genesis 3:15 – “protoevangelion” – first announcement of the gospel.

promise of victory through the cross – though he would be wounded, he would nevertheless be the victor.

This is the where God’s plan of gracious redemption begins – when God’s grace first came on the scene immediately after humanity’s fall into sin and rebellion; where instead of striking them dead immediately, he delayed ultimate judgment, and promised mercy.

The gospel of God’s grace begins immediately after the fall – this promise is what the whole rest of the bible is about – God’s redemption of sinful humanity by conquering the evil which entered into the world.

This is the beginning of a new covenant – not a covenant of works where man attains life through obedience, but a covenant of grace where man is given life through faith in the redemption that God gives as a free gift to the undeserving.

And, we see grace, and faith, right here in Genesis 3:

Grace: God clothes them with the first animal sacrifice – v21 – just as he would provide animals for the people’s provisional forgiveness and cleansing throughout the old covenant, which didn’t forgive sins, but pointed to the ultimate sacrifice which would truly cloth us in righteousness before God – the sacrifice of the Son – the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.

The grace of God, to forgive and accept unworthy sinners;

and Faith:

God promised that the messiah would come from the woman’s offspring. And, Adam only then, after this promise, names his wife: and he names her “eve” – because she would become the mother of the living.

Faith. Without faith, he could only name her the mother of the dead; but he believes the promises of God to send a redeemer to bring redemption to his people.

And, all the rest of this bible is about God’s covenant of Grace – first in the old covenant which promises & prepares God’s people for the arriving of the Messiah; then in the new covenant, in which that messiah appears and brings the fullness of God’s salvation.

Salvation which brings life, forgiveness for our guilt and shame, righteousness, reconciliation to God

See, Jesus had a time of testing; and Satan came to him not in a paradise of plenty but in the wilderness of want; and Satan twisted God’s words and made empty promises to Jesus; but Jesus trusted his Father’s word; and he never wavered in believing in his Father’s goodness; he passed the test, and was obedient even to death on a cross, and so God exalted him in honor and glory with a name above all names – such that all who believe in him would be saved.

All humanity, after the fall, is in Adam; his guilt- his guilt is our guilt such that we are spiritually dead, soon to physically die and enter eternal death; But by faith, we are in Christ, his righteousness becomes our righteousness such that we can be spiritually alive – reunited to God, still to physically die but even then to enter eternal life – to return to the garden; an even greater garden – an eternal glory, to never agin know the misery of sin and the bitterness of sorrow.

Restored to God; Saved by his covenant of Grace; living in perfect joyful fellowship with him unending.