Christian Library Australia

...because God cares about you

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home School of Biblical Theology Doing Biblical Theology: Rejecting God's Rule and Removed from God's Place - Genesis 3 - Talk 4

Doing Biblical Theology: Rejecting God's Rule and Removed from God's Place - Genesis 3 - Talk 4

E-mail Print PDF

Doing Biblical Theology: Rejecting God's Rule and Removed from God's Place - Genesis 3

Talk 4

Nature’s beauty is stunning. We enjoy relationships with family and friends. We get satisfaction from working and making things that make our world better.

But there is also a lot of brokenness: cruelty, destruction, disease and death, conflict, sickness, and sadness in our world and in our own lives too.

Everybody recognises that there is something seriously wrong with our world, and long for things to be different. Most people know they are not the person they know they should be. Why is our experience of life so far removed from that described in Genesis 2 ?

According to Christianity the problem is sin, and the Bible takes us back to Genesis 3 to show us how God’s good plan for the world was torn up by Adam and Eve, and how the consequences of that original sin changed everything.

Of course the concept of ‘sin’ is offensive or ridiculous to most in our world, but in spite of much effort by countless generations to find a better explanation for the state of our world and for our own brokenness, nothing ‘fits’ like the explanation given in the Bible.

So, let’s look at Genesis 3 and the account of how Adam and Eve believe a lie and take up open rebellion against God (1-6).

But before we continue, I need to comment on the difficult issues of a snake that talks and the idea of God walking in the garden as if he had a body.

Bible writers often use familiar images to help explain difficult concepts. Genesis was written by Moses for God’s people in the wilderness where snakes were the most feared and evil creatures. It makes sense that Moses might use such an image to help God’s people understand his point here.

But whatever you think of that idea, what we do know for sure is that all the writers of the Old Testament insist that Genesis 1-3 is real history, and should be believed.

Likewise Paul and other New Testament writers assume it is a real, historical account and argue from it. They assume the first Adam is as real as Jesus, whom they see as the last Adam. Jesus, himself is equally clear that Genesis is real history.

So, let’s look at the story and see how Adam and Eve moved from innocence and simple enjoyment of God’s Kingdom to guilt and rebellion and exclusion from God’s kingdom.

The snake, one of God’s created animals, takes centre stage. It is presented as crafty, but not evil. Later in the Bible it becomes clear that behind the snake is the devil himself, but here the picture is one of being ordinary, not evil. The snake in a very unassuming way simply puts two suggestions, each based in a lie, into Eve’s mind.

First, verse 1, the snake plants in Eve’s mind the possibility that she needs to question God’s word and clarify it.

Verse 2, Eve’s response does more than correct the lie.

Verse 3, she also says that God said they were not to touch the fruit - something that God didn’t say. This makes God look really harsh.

Second, verses 4-5, the snake openly challenges God’s character by contradicting his word, and thereby plants in Eve’s mind the possibility that God is actually the one telling lies because he is selfish, and doesn’t want Adam and Eve to be like him and enjoy the best things in life. He encourages Eve to view God with suspicion and resentment.

That resulted, verse 6, in Eve deciding she had to act in her own best interests and that of her husband – convinced that acting independently from God would bring more freedom and a better life than they had under God’s rule. She was now acting as if SHE was God.

The tree gave Eve the opportunity to be like God; to determine for herself what is good and evil. That was the irresistible appeal of it. It would mean she was the equal of God and so could dismiss his word and rule and authority.

And so she ate the fruit and convinced Adam that the opportunity was too good to miss. So he ate too. Adam and Eve decided that they had to stick together and act against God if they were to get what was rightfully theirs in life.

Friends this episode in history was the coming of sin into the world, and so it tells us the essence of sin. Most people think of sin as just disobedience - breaking God’s rules. At a practical level this is true, but sin is far more than that. Sin is an act of revolution.

It is a reversal of God’s created order. Adam and Eve were made in God’s image, but they arrogantly made God fit their image of him. They assumed the place of God, rejected his word, rejected his authority over them, and decided for themselves what right and wrong would be.

They were made to live obediently under his word, in his place – the garden of true freedom and the good life. But sin makes people despise that identity and seek new identity apart from God, believing rebellion will deliver a better life.

But sin is even more than that. It is not just doing bad things; it is also making good things so important that they actually replace God. Sin is taking our God-given creative ability and using it to build our world free from God’s influence.

Sin is Adam and Eve making their relationship more important than relationship with God. Sin is having more regard for God’s creatures than for God who made those creatures. Sin is enjoying the things of God, but not God himself.

And God did not leave their rebellion unpunished. Sin changed everything. From that point forward in history they lived with the life-destroying consequences of the lie (7-24.)

Verse 7 doesn’t seem to fit with what we know. At first glance it seems the snake was right and God was wrong because they didn’t drop dead immediately and their eyes were opened – to a new level of knowledge and understanding. In fact, Adam lived for 930 years.

So, why didn’t Adam and Eve die? The answer is they did die! Verses 7-13 speak of disappointment, shame and broken relationship at every level of life. This change was so catastrophic that it is properly called death, spiritual death because they ceased to be what they were created to be.

We think of death a simply the end of our existence in this world when our physical body decays to the point of no longer being able to continue. But the death that results from rebellion was much more.

It was a complete change of relationship with God. Adam didn’t stop breathing, but he was cut off from God and unable to be what he was created to be. He no longer enjoyed the relationships of the garden: blessing, freedom, happy life, and fellowship with God.

Adam and Eve now had new identity apart from God, but rather than joy it brought them disappointment, shame and separation. They were uncomfortable with their sexuality and feeling shame and fear before each other, they felt the need to cover up.

They had achieved independence from God at one level, but they knew they were still answerable to him, so their sense of shame caused them to hide from the goodness of God in fear. But they soon realise then can be no hiding from the Lord.

It all went wrong. Adam tried to deny responsibility for his actions – blaming first the Lord and then his wife. She in turn passed the blame to the snake. Their new world of freedom was a world of individualism, lies, verbal hiding and betrayal. It was entirely self-centred.

Independence from God had promised a better life, but actually destroyed the good life they had – with God, between themselves and even with their fellow creatures.

Here is the awfulness of death – spiritual death being cut off from fellowship with God, being cut off from the very essence of who we are and what we are created to be.

But there is even more to say. God now holds them totally accountable for their actions, for their 2choice of the lie and announces punishment that includes life-long reminders of paradise lost (14-24).

To this point in time God’s word in his world was only used to create and bless. Now God himself is forced to show himself in a different way.

It’s not that God has been caught out and has to struggle to regain control of his world. Rather that God now has to show his powerful control in a different way, through words of cursing or punishment.

Verse 14, the snake would from then onwards be symbolic of the spoiled relationship between people and the animal world.

Verse 16, the marriage relationship is also spoiled. No longer do they care for each other and work together happily in the role God gave them. Now it would be marked by conflict and selfishness and will have painful reminders that things aren’t right in our world.

Close relationship, harmony, perfect understanding, and security in the marriage relationship are now replaced with the constant desire to invert God’s order: the woman wants to be in charge rather than be the companion God made her to be.

The man will dominate and domineer over his wife rather than being the companion and protector he was meant to be.

Verses 17-19, relationship with our environment remind us of our mortality. Instead of being like God surveying his creation and being king of it, mankind will engage with his world in sorrow, sweat and frustration until finally it claims his life and body once again.

So physical death is a constant reminder that the image bearer tried to be God, but failed and pathetically returns to the dirt from where he was first taken by the Lord.

But amazingly, punishment also has bound into it promises of grace and future hope. In verse 15, the punishment of the snake also includes the hope of the crusher or the bruiser, God’s provision at some future point to undo what the snake has done.

And in verse 20, Adam takes hold of that promise in a lasting way by naming his wife, Eve, meaning life and living. In God’s grace death would not be the end for Adam and Eve. In the future one would be born who would be the crusher of Satan and the un-doer of sin or rebellion and the restorer of life to those who were dead because of their sin.

And in verse 21, God provides for his rebellious people both by supplying their immediate life needs. In spite of their rejection of him, God stills remains committed to them.

And in verse 22 God shows grace and mercy by putting them out of the garden so that their condition of sin and punishment would not last forever.

But with the reality of their new situation so obvious to them, they are excluded from God’s garden, from God’s kingdom. No longer are they God’s people. No longer are they under God’s rule as they should be. No longer are they in God’s place.

And friends as we think about Genesis 3 we have to admit that Adam’s sin or rebellion is our sin and rebellion. We instinctively choose to dismiss God and be masters of our own identity and destiny. And because of that we also experience death both physical and the worse death – spiritual death - being cut off from relationship with God.

But as we think about that, we can also say that, as Christians, we have now experienced the great reversal that Adam only knew as a promise. The lie is finally undone; the bruiser has come in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to Hebrews 2:14-15 . His bruising in his death is the means by which Satan is bruised or crushed. ,

In Romans 5:12-21 , Jesus is described as the second man or the last Adam as Paul spells out the result of the gospel in terms of the sin of Adam and its consequences.

Just as the first Adam acted in disobedience to God with the result of death and decay and broken relationship with God. So the second Adam, Jesus, acted in total obedience, with the result that new life and relationship and freedom has been re-established.

Each acted as the representative head of their race. Because of my connection to Adam, his sin is my sin and his punishment my punishment. Likewise if I am connected to Jesus by faith and loyalty, then his life and relationship with god is mine.

And so Jesus re-establishes God’s kingdom as he promised he would. Once again, in Jesus, I am God’s person in God’s place and under God’s rule.

Jesus is God’s Garden of Eden, God’s place where I am free once again to be who I was created to be – one who lives gladly under God’s authority and word, and one who is to show God’s glory and goodness in his world.

So, one way of expressing the gospel is simply to say that Jesus does for us what we could never do for ourselves – restores the relationship God always intended to have with his people by dealing with sin, the root cause of the problem, with the result that we can now enjoy and be enjoyed by the Lord forever.

But as I said earlier, most people reject the bible’s idea of sin, and even when they might recognise they are seriously flawed people, most respond by trying to be better people because they think that acceptance with God can be earned by self effort.

But it won’t work because such people are still trying to secure the good life on their own terms. They are still swallowing the devil’s lie that the good life is to be had apart from living under the rule of God’s word.

People are made for God and made to live under the rule of God’s word. It was like that when Adam and Eve first rejected the rule of God’s word and created the mess we call sin.

Now God has provided the solution in Jesus, and his challenge is exactly the same as it was back in the Garden – live under the rule of God’s word because here is the good life of meaning, purpose and satisfaction, enjoying God and be enjoyed by him forever.

Go to Talk 5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:00  

Follow us on Twitter