Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Beginning of Sin

Part 6 of The Beginning, a series on Genesis 1-3

Text: Genesis 3:1-7

You can listen to this sermon here.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (v. 6). 

Good Rules from a Good God

In Genesis 3:1-7, we read about the beginning of sin in the human race. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to God’s commands. (We are commanded to do what is good, and we are commanded to not do what is evil.) God gave to Adam and Eve only one command. He said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (2:16-17). But Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and sinned.

Back when I attended Bible college, I was in the school choir. At the end of each year we went on a choir tour. One year our choir tour was in Ontario, and we visited Niagara Falls—the most powerful waterfall in North America. While we were at Niagara Falls a few of the choir members and I went to an attraction called the Journey Behind the Falls.

The Journey Behind the Falls is a series of tunnels that go behind the falls. There are a few places in the tunnels where there are openings that allow you to see the water crashing down. At one of these spots, a male choir member—for reasons unknown—jumped over the fence. He took a couple of steps and then slipped on the wet floor. Fortunately, he’s still alive today. But if he would have slipped a little farther, he would have fallen off the edge of the opening and down the waterfall.

This week I watched a YouTube video of the Journey Behind the Falls to refresh my memory. I noticed in the video that two warning signs are posted at the entrance to the tunnels: (1) “Do not climb over railing. Stay within designated area.” (2) “CAUTION: Floor slippery when wet!” If that choir member were here today, I’m sure he’d say that it would be wise to do what the sign said: “Do not climb over the railing.”

God’s commands are always for our good, so we should always obey him. 

A child’s obedience to his parents would improve if he believed that his parents’ rules were for his well-being. Instead, children often say to their parents, “You don’t want me to have any fun!”

Foolish Disobedience

Have you ever wondered why God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Maybe the fruit itself was harmful to Adam and Eve. This is unlikely since Eve “saw that the tree was good for food” (v. 6). Maybe God’s command was a test of Adam and Eve’s obedience. That’s possible, but would it be right for God to make up an arbitrary rule if there was no good reason behind it? Maybe the fruit was good but was not intended to be eaten by Adam and Eve until later. Perhaps eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was like driving a car. Driving a car is not wrong, but it is wrong for a child to drive a car. A child has to wait until he is 16 before he can drive.

The serpent (identified as Satan in Rev. 12:9; 20:2) tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by telling her that God was withholding something good from her. He said to her, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5; cf. 3:22). Temptation makes disobedience to God’s commands seem reasonable, but sin is always foolish.

1. When we sin, we are acting as though we know better than God what is good for us. 

Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” (v. 6). Think about the last six of the Ten Commandments (honor your father and mother; do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not covet). By sinning, we are saying that living according to God’s commands will make us less happy. But disobeying these commands will not make us (or those around us) more happy (at least in a lasting way).

2. When we sin, we are acting in ways that will be bad for us. 

When Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes “were opened, and they knew they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (v. 7). So if we know that sin is bad for us, why do we continue to sin? We sin because, in that moment, we think it will make us happy.

God Didn't Give Up on Us 

God is like a parent who never gives up on a wayward child. Even though Adam and Eve sinned against God, he still was committed to their well-being (though there were consequences to their sin). An example of God’s continued goodness to Adam and Eve was his provision of clothing for them (3:21). (In order for God to give Adam and Eve “garments of skins,” an animal had to be killed. This might be a foreshadowing of the death of Christ.)

The cross is the proof that God is committed to our well-being. 

The apostle Paul writes, “The law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21). Our sin is great, but God’s grace is greater.

A child’s obedience will be best when he not only understands that his parents’ rules are for his good but also loves his parents and desires to obey them. This is how we should view God’s commands.

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