3 Paradise Lost
1. The Taste of Paradise
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
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.
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
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
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
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
They hid their nakedness,
with pitiful fig leaves. The
desire, the deceit, the disgust
3.4 Dread - They Felt Afraid
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
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 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,
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
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
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
Pain for the woman in childbirth
Tension between them in marriage
Pain for the man in his labours
Eventual physical death for
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
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
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
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
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.