Choosing our own mission

Last week we concluded our time with the understanding that:

We are created for representation & relationship

We were made in the image of God for relationships with God and others. IF that is true, and it is, what happens if we choose to reject it? It does not make it false. It just changes the outcome, the consequences, of those who would reject it.

Adam and Eve did it. Genesis 3. They decided that instead of representing God, rather than declaring the supremacy of God, they would represent themselves. They would declare themselves supreme.

1 Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” 4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. // Genesis 3:1–6 CSB

The first thing we should notice is the way that the serpent works.

How we can be deceived

A distortion of God’s Character

The serpent begins by wrongly quoting God.

“Did God really say you cannot from any tree in the garden?” Of course He did not say that! What DID God say? Don’t eat from 1 tree. ALL THE REST were good for food.

I can almost hear the tone in the serpent’s voice. What kind of God puts all of these beautiful fruit trees here and then doesn’t let you have any? Certainly, a compassionate or caring God would not do that. That is just cruel. God is cruel. – That is the seed that the serpent is trying to plant in Eve’s mind.

Eve actually does correct the serpent but even then, she altars the command of God.

  • What was the command of God? “do not eat it or you will certainly die”.
  • What does Eve add to this? “or touch it”. That is not what God said at all.

One of the ways that Satan tempts us is to distort the character of God by distorting the Words of God.

A disregard of God’s Commands

Notice what the serpent does when Eve responds:

  • He DOES NOT deny that God commanded them not to eat it, even though he questioned that before.
  • He DOES lie about the future outcome, “you will not die”. He challenged the consequences of the rebellious act. This is something that cannot be proven until action is taken. So this is purely a matter of faith.

Satan still tempts us this way today. In our modern society we might say something like this: “God’s commands were for people back then, our society is different, relationships are different, we have evolved, and those rules don’t apply to us.”

The net result is the same: we disregard God’s commands.

A denial of God’s truth

The final temptation that he hits them with is the potential gain from eating the fruit. As always, when Satan tempts it is half-truths and the picture painted is not the real result.

  • Half Truth #1 – you will not die. Physically, immediately, true. Spiritually and eventually, false. Remember, God had planted the tree of life as well, and man’s choice will eventually revoke his access to that tree.
  • Half Truth #2 – you will be like God. They already WERE like God, made in his image and in relationship with Him. They would actually become less like God because God is holy, and they would no longer be holy.
  • Half Truth #3 – you will know good and evil. True, they would gain knowledge of good and evil. However, they will no longer be able to experience the ultimate good. It’s like knowing that ice cream exists and not being able to have any. They will know evil and will feel the consequences of evil.

Temptation often comes by sounding like truth when it is only partially true or not true at all but sounds like it could be. That is because our tempter is a master of lies:

14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. // 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV

How we are tempted [vs 6]

The dialog between the serpent and Eve makes me think that Eve was not right in front of the tree at the time. She did not say, “that tree over there”, she said, “the tree in the middle of the garden”. That is a geographic location that you would not give if you were IN the middle of the garden. THEN, in verse six, the woman is examining the tree.  

Also notice that when the serpent is talking with Eve there is no mention of Adam. But when Even takes of the fruit of the tree, Adam is in the picture.

I believe the decision to take the fruit took place a little bit later than the conversation. Can’t prove it. 😉  However, we should note that often the actions of doubt, distortion and distortion of God’s supremacy rarely happen in a single instant. Most often it is the work of a seed that has been planted that grows in us until we believe the lie instead of the truth.

14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. // James 1:14–15 NLT

Notice the 3 THINGS Eve observes:

  1. Good for food? Was it? According to whom? According to God it causes death. According to the serpent she would not die, so it was not poisonous. At this point she has chosen her source for truth – and it is NOT God.
  2. Delightful to look at? I am sure it was. Most things that tempt us only do so because it seems pleasing to us at the time. This is called lust. Lust is when you desire something that you should not have and when you make something forbidden your pleasure.
  3. Desirable for obtaining wisdom? Wisdom that was not from God. Wisdom would have been to listen God and obey him. Lack of wisdom is to decide that you want to be god. God DID call it the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, it would give wisdom. But that real temptation here is to become like God, or gods. (same Hebrew word). This is certainly pride.

This picture of the first temptation, the beginning of the downfall of mankind, was so well understood by the Jews that John refers to it in the New Testament:

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. // 1 John 2:15–17 ESV

Desires of the flesh (good for food), desires of the eyes (pleasant to look at), pride life (make me like God) – these are the things of the world that are at constant tension with the will of God.

So, Eve took the bait. She was deceived, and she messed up. At the point where Eve eats the fruit, Adam was there. He should have stopped her and did not!The next thing she does is offer the fruit to Adam. What are his options?

  1. Obey God, and IF God’s words are true he would be separated from Eve
  2. Obey Eve and be separated from God

Then, he chooses to take the fruit and it is himself. This shows you the amazing power of a woman over man! 😊

SIDE LESSON: when we sin we often drag others into it with us! Perhaps we feel more justified for our actions if others are willing to cross the line with us.

The results of the Original Sin

What was the result? Their eyes were open, but not to the goodness and purity of their original condition.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” // Genesis 3:7–10 CSB

Shame

They felt naked. They WERE naked! They were naked before this! But all of the sudden there was a wall that was broken between their relationship with each other. They now felt it necessary to cover themselves up, to not be a open and free with each other.

  • Broken relationship with each other

Hiding

Then they hid from God.

Little kids do this today, right? When they know they have done something wrong and are about to get caught what do they do? They hide.

Now there was a wall between them and God. They no longer ran to Him, they hid from Him.

  • Broken relationship with God

Fear

I heard you and was afraid. Afraid of what? They had not feared God before but now they KNEW they had done wrong and that there would be consequences.

We do this as adults, too. When we are afraid we are going to get caught we hide or we cover it up.

They now had a reason to fear God because they know God is just and they know they have done wrong. The relationship with God has been tested and God cannot change and will not go back on his word.

The dialog continues:

11 Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man replied, “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. 16 He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. 17 And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.” // Genesis 3:11–19 CSB

The tree promised to give knowledge of good and evil, not make one good or evil. However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they were not capable of doing good, but only evil. God could only do good and man could only do evil. A great chasm was created.

We get further insight into this as the story continues in Genesis:

5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. // Genesis 6:5 NLT

How does it play out with Adam & Eve?

Fail to own up to our actions/sins.

Adam blames who? Eve blames who? Right. Adam blames Eve AND God. The woman. Then woman YOU GAVE ME. This is the typical human response: pass the buck and blame someone else.

Eve says she was tricked by the serpent, which is probably true, but she still knew what was right and wrong because she TOLD the serpent.

So, Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent, and the serpent doesn’t have a leg to stand on. ;)

  • The punishments are severe:
  • The serpent is cursed to crawl on the ground
  • The woman will have pain in child bearing.
  • The man will work hard and have pain and toil in making a living
  • Even the earth is cursed in that it now will produce thorns and weeds to choke out what it good.

Notice that God did not curse humans. He cursed the serpent and he cursed the ground.  Man and woman are cursed by their own actions. The way these are presented is like the reading of a judgement in the court room. You are guilty, and here is your sentence.

But this is just part of the consequences.

20 The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them. 22 The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life. // Genesis 3:20–24 CSB

God sent them away from the garden and sealed the entry.

God created us for relationship and representation and we exchanged that for selfishness and self-glorification. Man’s relationship with God was now broken. Man’s relationship with other people was broken. Man’s idol became himself and not creator God. This is called sin.

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. // Romans 3:23 NLT

We should not be surprised when we see these things in our society. Mankind has inherited this from Adam. #thanksadam

Our society is good at passing the buck, covering things up and placing blame on others. Just as Adam blamed Eve we blame others. Just as Adam blamed Eve’s creator we blame the creator/manufacturer of things for results. Just as Eve tried to say she could not help it even though she knew better, we do the same thing.

Any time we place ourselves and the object of our worship, when we choose our supremacy over that of our Creator we do the same thing Adam and Eve did. We call that sin.

We see the moral decline and sinfulness of mankind from this point onward. Adam and Eve have 2 boys, Cain and Abel. Cain kills Abel out of jealousy and envy and then tried to hide/cover it up.  [Genesis 4]

By chapter 6 of Genesis the entire world is so corrupt that God wipes out everyone except Noah and his family.  God created man to have relationships with others and Him. He created man in his image to represent him on this earth. Man messed all of this up.

When people make statements like, “How can a loving God allow such horrible things to happen? Violence, murder, pain, suffering, etc” we must recognize that those things are the consequences of man’s disobedience and sin.

To understand the mission of God, we need to understand the creation of man and the condition of man. Man was created to represent God and to have relationships with God and others.  Man chose to rebel against God by representing himself and as a result has broken his relationship with God and with others.

A just and holy God has a right, the Creator has a right, to punish his creation for their rebellion. There is no questioning the right of God to do this. We, being created in the image of God, understand justice and demand it. It is part of our design.

That *could* be the end of the story. But it is not. Next week we are going to look at the mercy and compassion of God.

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NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.

35206 Sayre Road
Carthage NY 13619
PO Box 823
Carthage, NY 13619
315-493-3958