Genesis 3 Paradise Lost

1. The Taste of Paradise Genesis 2:15-17
In the beginning Adam and Eve were created sinless but with the capacity for choosing to obey or not. This included the possibility of temptation.

They were created to know and love the Lord. Adam & Eve's relationship with God was founded on trust and obedience. Its important to note that the test Adam faced did not involve a choice between an evil tree and a good tree. God didn't make anything evil. He simply confronted him with a choice, a test of his trust. God could just as easily have said, "Don't cross that stream, don't climb that mountain." It needed only one prohibition to test the basis of their relationship. What God was saying is "Believe me and stand in your place as a creature, not autonomous, but dependent. Believe me and love me and all will be well."

The instruction given to Adam was a rational command and a loving warning. The last phrase of Genesis 2:17 is extremely strong in the Hebrew. It could be translated "Dying, you shall certainly die." The taste of Paradise was conditional on a relationship of obedience and trust.

2. The Temptation of the Serpent Genesis 3:1-5
As we explore what happened in the Garden, I want you to notice, the historicity of the Fall, the ambiguity of the Fall, and the process of the Fall.

2.1 The Historicity of the Fall
As we considered last week when we explored the significance of creation, the New Testament assumes the historicity of the space-time Fall.

Indeed the New Testament argues for it, making the first Adam as literal as the last, Jesus. In fact in Luke 3 they are linked by genealogy. Paul writing to the Roman and Corinthian Church assumes the sin of Adam to be as factual as the cross and resurrection.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12) "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:21-22,47)

I want you to understand the logic of Paul's argument. If we deny the historicity of the account of the Fall in Genesis, by treating it as myth or some kind of theological parable, we are undermining, indeed destroying the basis of the Gospel. Jesus died because of the historic Fall, not because of some mythical Fall. The historicity of the Fall. Next notice....

2.2 The Ambiguity of the Fall
Immediately when we read passages like this, we want to know more than is actually given. We have to remind ourselves that the Bible is a book for fallen people. When ever it touches upon anything it does so with true truth, but not exhaustive truth. We don't know how Satan came to have an influence over the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Hints as to the cause of the Cosmic rebellion are given in Isaiah 14. Perhaps for our safety and protection we are not told more. We are told just enough, however, to know that a cosmic revolt had already occurred before this conversation with Eve, and that from this point on Earth would become the primary battleground. Only in the New Testament is it clearly revealed that the spirit speaking through the serpent was Satan. Mark Twain once said, somewhat irreverently,

"Adam was but human - this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent, then Adam would have eaten the serpent...." The historicity of the Fall, the ambiguity of the Fall. Lets now explore how it happened.

2.3 The Process of the Fall
On this particular day Adam, a free man, had a choice, a choice we, in some sense, will never have, yet a choice we have all suffered the consequence of. In another sense every moment of our lives involves this choice, to obey God or not, to trust God or not, to follow Jesus or not, to be filled with the Spirit or not. In spite of the Fall, because of Christ's death, we are free again to choose. Notice how the Fall led to a down hill spiral. What began as the thin end of the wedge ends with devastating consequences. It began with doubt.

2.3.1 Doubt - Questioning God's Character 3:1
"Has God REALLY said..." Satan sowed the seed of doubt. "Does God really care? Is He keeping something back?" Could they really trust Him? Adam didn't have the benefit of Ephesians 1. "God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing". Satan has continued down the ages to tempt people to doubt God's Word. Doubt led to distortion. From questioning God's Word to exaggerating God's Word.

2.3.2 Distortion - Exaggerating God's Word 3:3
Have you noticed how Eve added to God's Word. Incidentally that was the first sin, not the eating of the apple. By adding to God's Word she was unwittingly taking away from it. That is why its so important that we know God's Word, that we personally study it and become familiar with its meaning and context. Is this important to you? Are you daily reading God's Word? Its the surest way to avoid doubt and distortion. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the Devil quoted the Bible just like a Jehovah's Witness, but he took it out of context and twisted its meaning. So when you see people today twisting God's Word, realise that it may be Satan at work. The spiral of the Fall? It began with. Doubt - questioning God's character. It led to Distortion - exaggerating God's Word,

2.3.3 Denial - Contradicting God's Warning 3:4
Having sowed the seed of doubt, and encouraged a little exaggeration, a little distortion of the truth, Satan played His trump card and flatly contradicted God. "You will not die". The Father of lies had spoken his most damnable lie. Satan called God a liar. But to make it more palatable he offered....

2.3.4 Distraction - Contorting God's Promise 3:5
Satan made the taking of the apple sound an attractive proposition. He questioned the Lord God's motive. "You can eat of any tree in the Garden, except..." God had presumably allowed Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of life, they had eternal life, everything they could possibly want. Satan's lie was that to sin would surely be to their advantage because they would gain a knowledge they would otherwise remain ignorant of.

Its like the drug dealer raving on about the benefits of his crack, his marijuana, or ecstasy. How can you make an informed decision if you've never tried it. "Come on, have a go". What he doesn't tell you is that if you do, you'll be hooked, as sure as drinking salt water will cure your thirst.

We must never forget that Satan and his schemes look very beautiful, logical, advantageous, but they encourage an independence from the Lord that spells death. Satan offered a half truth. It was true that if Eve ate of the forbidden tree, she would learn experientially the difference between good and evil.

But what a useless, horrible knowledge. Its like a mother telling her child "Don't go near the fire, you'll get burnt". If the child disobeys he will experience through physical pain the truth of what his mother had said. But what an unnecessary way, indeed a foolish way to know and experience the truth. So Satan uttered a half truth, Eve would know the taste of evil. But it was a lie of course that she would become like God.

There is more to divinity than knowing the difference between good and evil. The Eternal, Omnipotent, Infinite, Creator God is incomparable to any created being. That is why the making of images or pictures of Him is forbidden in the Scriptures. Satan was laying the foundation for idolatry, the very cause of his own downfall. So his "half" truth was actually a deadly, poisonous lie.

It should have been enough for Eve to know it was true because God said it was so. Lets recap. Adam and Eve, the first two humans, were created in a perfect paradise, and in relation with God, but with the free will to choose. Satan tempted them to rebel by questioning God's character, distorting God's Word, contradicting God's warning, and contorting God's promise. Man rebelled and so fell. Now lets explore the consequences of the Fall.

3. The Fall of Adam and Eve Genesis 3:6-13
The Genesis account is short and to the point. The sin began in the hidden thought world. The sin was therefore committed in that moment Eve believed Satan instead of God. I wonder if you can identify with this downward spiral. First of all it began with,

3.1 Desire - They Felt a Craving 3:6

Mark Twain said, "Adam didn't want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden." It began with forbidden desire. It led to

3.2 Deception - They Felt Guilty 3:7

They were tricked, deceived, and lost the most precious thing they had, their innocence. The sweet flavour of sin is always short lived. The desire, the deceit,

3.3 Disgust - They Felt Ashamed 3:7
They hid their nakedness, with pitiful fig leaves. The desire, the deceit, the disgust

3.4 Dread - They Felt Afraid 3:8
They hid themselves long before they were thrown out of the Garden. When we sin we cannot bear the presence of a holy God.

3.5 Disowned - They Made Excuses 3:12
Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent, the serpent...., well we're not told what he said...... They tried to pass the guilt from themselves.

Children learn to do this so quickly. The desire, the deceit, the dread, the disowning... The pattern here is something we can all identify with.

The effects of the Fall are no where more clearly explained than in Romans 5:12-19. The repetition of the phrase one man, and the contrast between Adam and Jesus makes the point obvious. By the action of one man, Adam, in an historic space time situation, sin entered into the world, man became a sinner, alienated from God, needing forgiveness and reconciliation. So by the action of one man - the Lord Jesus Christ in space-time history sin was atoned for to reconcile us to God. You cannot have one without the other.

The denial of the historical Fall leaves the existence of evil inexplicable, the Gospel answer to evil undermined, and the resistance to evil woefully inadequate. This month we are remembering the 60th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. Costly example of Neville Chamberlain... The Taste of Paradise, the Temptation of the Serpent, The Fall of Adam and Eve, Finally,

4. The Provision of the Father Genesis 3:14-24
What did God do for Adam and Eve? Much, in every way.

4.1 He Took the Initiative 3:8-10
God did not call out for His own sake but for theirs. God knew where Adam and Eve were hiding, but He wanted them to face the fact that they were hiding out of guilt and shame. He came looking for them. He knew what had happened, but He came because He cared. "For God so loved the world that he came..." God knows where you are. He may be calling your name right now. Are you hiding, feeling naked, dreading His presence, or are you comfortable in His sight, clothed with Christ? God took the initiative,

4.2 He Invited a Confession 3:11-13
The questions the Lord asks are very significant. He doesn't ask, "why did you do it?" That would have just encouraged an excuse. He asks "What have you done?", to encourage them to face their sin. He took the initiative, he invited a confession.

4.3 He Explained the Consequences 3:14-19
That one act of disobedience changed everything. In one word "Abnormality". Abnormality in every dimension.

Enmity between man and creation 3:15
Pain for the woman in childbirth 3:16
Tension between them in marriage 3:16
Pain for the man in his labours 3:17
Eventual physical death for all 3:18.

The Fall affected humanity spiritually, socially and physically, but it also contaminated the world in which they lived. Pollution goes back a long way. The creation itself was cursed. Romans 8:19-23 says the whole of creation is groaning, longing for the full redemption which will be accomplished when Christ returns. The world we now live in is not how God intended. It is a cursed creation but mercifully not a God forsaken creation. God so loved the world that He acted. His rescue mission began in the Garden.

4.4 He Provided a Covering 3:20-21
They could not stand before God in their own covering - they needed a covering from God, one that required sacrifice and a death, a covering made by God. Do you realise what the first death in the Garden was? And who performed the killing? The first death in the garden was an animal, in Adam's place. The first blood shed in the garden was by God. Their sin had led to the death of an animal to provide an adequate covering for their sin and shame. God not only took the initiative, invited a confession, explained the consequences and provided a covering for their sin. One more thing God did. He also

4.5 He Promised Victory 3:15
There was one thing Adam and Eve did not lose in the Garden. They may have been twisted, broken and marred but they were still the image bearers of God. Fallen but not worthless. They retained the image of God with significance and meaning, and most important of all - hope.

4.5.1 The Promise
Tucked away in this verse is a promise of eventual victory over the evil one. In Hebrews 11 we read of the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham. Their faith must have been based on this promise, for it says they died in faith not receiving the fulfilled promise.

4.5.2 The Person
It is most significant that God should say "your seed and her seed". Its important to observe that the seed is considered personal. The one who is promised is a person, a male.

A person would one day bruise Satan's head, and in doing so be wounded. Eve would bear this seed. What is interesting, is that in Hebrew, as in other Semitic languages, this is an unusual expression since the male is considered the one with the seed. Descent is normally through the male line.

So we have here the first promise of the coming Messiah, born of a woman, conceived without a father, who would destroy the work of the devil, but only through suffering in our place. Remarkably the first glimmer of the gospel makes its debut as a sentence passed on the enemy, not a direct promise to man. That's because redemption is primarily about God's rule as much as it is about human need. The first glorious hint that would grow stronger and clearer through successive generations that God had a rescue plan, he would send a second Adam, the one who would reverse the effects of the Fall.

One of these days I'd like to put a poster up outside Church, "Jesus is God's Bounty - A Taste of Paradise...." For that is what the rest of the Bible explains. We have seen that Genesis 3 is all about the taste of Paradise, the evil temptation of the Serpent, the tragic Fall of Adam and Eve, and the wonderful provision of the Father. At some time in our lives we can identify with Adam or Eve, desiring independence, of going our own way, but discovering shame, guilt and fear. Hide and seek. We all remember playing the game as children, only now its not a game, its for real. Despite our sin, God comes searching for us, not to punish but to provide, not to rebuke but to restore. Oh the joy of being found. Lets pray.