The Fall

October 3, 2021 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: Genesis: ORIGINS

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Genesis 3:1–21

If I were to ask you, thus far in our series, what is the difference in what we see in scripture of the garden along with all of it’s blessings and benefits and the world today, what are some of the key differences you can think of? It seems to me that it would be easy to come up with a number of differences fairly easily… why is that? What caused the change?

This morning, as we’re wrestling with these questions and looking at Genesis 2:24-3:24, I thought it might be helpful to hear that passage in a unique way. Thankfully, these 5 individuals: Jennifer Wojsiat, Benson Baby, Jeremy Price, Jay Lewis and Jennifer Lewis jumped at the chance to help bring the scripture to us in a fresh way. So, as you turn in your bibles -or apps- to Genesis 3, let’s listen along together as they read: Reader’s Treatment of Genesis 3

Back to my opening question: what caused the change between the garden and what we experience in the world today?

Genesis 3 chart

Our world is a mess. Countries can’t get along. Families hold lifetime grudges. We live with regrets that plague our consciences day after day. Even the earth around us and beneath us seems to suffer from a sickness played out in brutal weather and natural disasters.

What happened? How did the world God called “good” get so bad? Genesis 3 tells us. In the garden of Eden, a place too beautiful for such ugly events, a choice was made that caused peace and perfection to shatter like glass into a million pieces. We still suffer the consequences of that choice today in our world, in our relationships, and in our own hearts.

I intentionally had our readers begin the passage today in Chapter 2 verse 24 because it paints a picture of the ‘very good’ that God created - a picture of wholeness, cooperation and an embraced vulnerability because they were “...naked and not ashamed”

I’ve appreciated the work by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones in preparing for today in his book “The Gospel in Genesis: From Fig Leaves to Faith” in helping us understand that Genesis 3 isn’t just something included in scripture to help us understand how the world came into this fallen state but continues to speak to our hearts today:

Nothing in the world is as practical as the teaching of the Bible. Indeed, the whole purpose of that book is to come to us with its instruction and its enlightenment concerning the very situation in which we find ourselves. [...] it speaks to us in the very position that we are in at this moment. Indeed, it always insists upon doing that. It says, “I am interested in you, and I want to talk to you about yourself.” - Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. The Gospel in Genesis

Genesis 3 provides a dire picture of our reality, in this life and eternally without Christ. But we remember that Genesis is about the ORIGINS of the grace of God and even in the midst of this dire reality of sin we’re given a glimpse of hope through the comfort of the Gospel.

Defining the Terms: Sin, Transgression & Trespass (v.1-6)

Throughout scripture and in the church we’ll use a few different terms to talk about our wrongs against a Holy God.

V.1-3: The conversation between the woman and the serpent was a master class in temptation. God made the garden for the man and woman to enjoy. The woman did not deny that. In fact, in her response to the serpent, she spoke truth: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden” (Gen. 3:2). But then she went beyond God’s word and added a phrase to it: “but God said ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’ ” (3:3). God only said not to eat it, not to avoid touching it (see 2:16-17). The woman added a strictness to God’s word, making His command overly burdensome and all too tempting to rebel against.

V.4-6: The danger of temptation and sin is that it twists God’s word, changing His commands into something more palatable to our ears. Sin entices, promising a joy it does not contain and cannot deliver. Sin works through deception, drawing us away from the right path without disclosing the full ramifications of its dead end. “The deceitfulness of sin” leads us to follow its destructive path (Heb. 3:13).

  • Transgression: The word transgression means “to cross over” or “to pass by.” In the Bible, it is most often used in reference to transgressing God’s explicit commands. When God gives a specific command and that command is disobeyed, transgression has taken place. God’s Law has been broken, which is probably the way we most often think about sin.
  • Sin: it is interesting that one of the words for sin in the New Testament is the Greek word hamartia, which originally meant "to miss the mark." It was first used to describe archers whose arrows missed the target. Although "missing the mark" does not exhaust the meaning of sin in Scripture, it offers an important perspective on transgression. Sin is not only crossing the line and breaking God's law (such as in stealing when theft is forbidden), but it is also the failure to do all that the Lord requires. No matter how obedient we have been to God, we always lack something. Nothing we do is ever good enough to fully meet His requirements.
  • Trespass: simply this - To go where we should not go

Scripture also uses terms like trespass and debts to describe both our sin and the harm that comes from them, not only for us but for those around us as well. There’s a spiritual cost, a wage of death that is paid for our sin

They ate the fruit, and death came into the world as a result. They transgressed, or broke, God’s commands. And every time we sin in a way that runs contrary to what God has said—lying, stealing, hating, disobedience, you name it—a transgression has been made.

The Results: Shame & Harm (v.7-13)

Broken, skewed, fallen - none of these are terms of wholeness or fullness but what Gen 3 does help us understand their source in our experience through the world or in our relationships. Primarily with our heavenly relationship with God

V.7-8: The fig leaves provide a good illustration of the effect sin has upon us. When we realize what we have done, we feel a need to cover ourselves. We desperately fear being seen in our sinfulness, stripped of our outer facade that we clean and manage so well. We go to great lengths to patch ourselves up, to downplay our desperation, to hide the things that would destroy our sense of pride if displayed in the light. Such irony that the pride that causes us to sin is the very pride wounded after the sinful act is committed.

As God came walking in the garden in the evening breeze, the man and woman fled from Him as if He were a hurricane. This illustrates the greater tragedy of sin. Not only is sin transgressing God’s commands, but it also causes us to run from God in our shame, doing further harm to our already wounded hearts. In running from our Creator because of our sin, we are running from the only One who can provide the forgiveness we so desperately need.

V. 9-13: Right now, people are running and hiding. But neither covering -or hiding- is a match for God’s revealing and finding.

ILLUS: Perhaps you have seen this around town or in your own home: stair-step fractures in the brick, cracks in the walls, stuck doors and windows—these may be signs of foundation problems. If the house’s foundation is compromised, the entire house is sick. Of course, this isn’t usually the homeowner’s fault. It’s likely inherited such a problem when purchasing the house. That doesn’t absolve the homeowner, however, from dealing with the fallout. And ignoring the issue won’t make it better. - Unfortunately, no matter the circumstances, it’s a costly problem.

When Adam and Eve sinned so long ago in the garden of Eden, they cracked the foundation of the household they were building. Every generation thereafter was left to deal with the results. From birth, we are sick; indeed, we are dead in our sin.

David proclaimed as much in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Theologians call this “original sin.” We are born with it. It’s part of who we are as a result of Adam’s transgression (Rom. 5:12-14). We are still made in the image of God. There is still a glory in humanity. But the foundation is compromised.

It doesn’t take long for us to begin to see the effects. The cracks in our own lives show up soon enough, and just like a home with foundation issues, our cracks are signs of something wrong deep inside. Is there a solution to this problem? There is!

We must go to God through Jesus Christ, repenting of our sin and asking for His forgiveness. We cannot, as our original parents did, blame others. We must take responsibility for our own sin and go to the Great Physician for healing.

The Great Cost (v.14-21)

The narrative now breaks into three parts characterized by Hebrew poetry. Here God dispenses His judgment to the three principal characters in the Fall. First, God addressed the serpent, also known as Satan. Second, God addressed the woman. Third, and finally, God addressed the man.

V.14-15: Unlike the man and the woman, the serpent received no opportunity to explain itself. It received only its sentence in two parts. First was the humiliation of going about on its belly and eating the dust. The serpent would forever be in the position of submission before all creation.

In the second part, God foretold the serpent’s ultimate judgment—destruction underfoot by an offspring of the woman. Our original parents sinned, and their sin was their own, but God has made sure the tempter will not go unpunished for his role in the Fall of humanity.

V.16-19: God turned His attention to the woman first. Made to be man’s helper, she was a perfect complement to him in every way, and he to her. But now sin had come between them. Not only did Eve harm her relationship with God, she also harmed her relationship with her husband. The freedom she once felt in their marriage was now gone.

Eve’s sin not only resulted in emotional and relational harm but also physical harm.

Adam also received a punishment. Man too would find his work and world cursed. The land that once flowered and budded and gave forth produce so easily is now set against him. One bite of forbidden fruit caused all other bites to be gained through toil. He would still eat. He would still have dominion over the land. He would still co-rule with the woman as God’s greatest creation and image-bearers. But he would struggle.

What once came easy would now come by the sweat of his brow. The nature he once tamed so effortlessly now would encroach upon him with its thorns and thistles. And after his final meal, in death, he would return to the dust from which he was made.

V.20-21: restoration was coming. Perhaps Adam recognized that when, in verse 20, he named his wife Eve. Thus far called only “the woman,” she now has a name fit for her—she is the mother of all the living. After the pronouncement of death, there is still life to be had, life to be lived!

Adam heard the promise of restoration and resolution in verse 15. Who would expect a promise of hope for humankind in the midst of a judgment oracle? Yet here it is. In the judgment of the serpent, God provided a glimmer of hope for all humanity in the comfort of the gospel.

The consequences of sin remain for now. The couple was expelled from the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). But that’s just the beginning of the story.

A return to Eden is possible, but only at a great cost—not to Adam and Eve but to the promised offspring, to God Himself in Jesus Christ.

Man has been trying to get back into Eden ever since he went out of it. That is the whole history of civilization. That is the whole meaning of philosophy and all political thought and all the blueprints of utopias at all times and in all places—man trying to get back into paradise. - Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. The Gospel in Genesis

Understanding the cost of sin is an important aspect of our spiritual life. God is gracious in revealing to us the weight of our sin in the harm and separation it brings. But He is also gracious to reveal to us the way out of our sin through the offspring to come, Jesus, who will crush the serpent’s head, defeat sin and death, and restore us to a right relationship with God

Genesis 3 provides a dire picture of our reality, in this life and eternally without Christ. But we remember that Genesis is about the ORIGINS of the grace of God and even in the midst of this dire reality of sin we’re given a glimpse of hope through the comfort of the Gospel.

Genesis 3:15 uniquely stands out as it introduces to us -or, is the ORIGINS of- what is often called, the Covenant of Grace.

  • Seeing how comprehensive our sin is helps us understand how great our salvation is through Christ.
  • Seeing the results, through shame and harm, of our sin helps us understand how unimaginable the mercy of God is toward us who deserve punishment yet receive favor when we cast ourselves on the mercy of God.
  • Seeing the great cost of our sin helps us understand how unmerited the favor is that we receive in the grace of God poured out on us by faith.

It would be Eve’s offspring who would eventually set things right. And indeed, it was. Jesus Christ was born of a woman, a virgin, so many years later. After becoming a curse for us in His sacrificial death on the cross, He stepped out of a garden tomb, showing that He had crushed the head of the serpent who bruised His heel in death. God kept His promise. He always does.

Closing Thought

I think that a repentant lifestyle can and perhaps has, at times, get a bad wrap in the life of a believer. Those who are in Christ are new creations, no doubt. Sin no longer reigns in our lives because we’ve submitted ourselves to a Savior who is also the Lord over our life. We do recognize that while sin doesn’t reign over our identity, our life, our mission and mindset toward the world around us - sin does remain. Where sin remains, we should remain vigilant in repentance.

Repentance is a response to the goodness, kindness, grace and mercy of God in our lives. It is turning from something to someone greater as a way to be transformed in our life.

In light of that I thought it might be helpful to consider the 5 questions asked in this passage in light of the Gospel and how that informs our response to them

5 questions and how the Gospel answers them for believers...

  1. Did God actually say? (v.1)
    1. His word stands true, even when the world is asking questions of itself, about God, about one another, God’s Word stands true from one generation to another
  2. Where are you? (v.9)
    1. He seeks us out, Matthew and Luke give us Jesus’ own words telling us how he goes out to find the one lost sheep, leaving the other ninety-nine and coming back rejoicing when the one is found.
  3. Who told you that you were naked? (v.11)
    1. He clothes us in Righteousness in the same way he provided fig leaves for Adam & Eve. Not simply seeing our vulnerability and shame but bringing a resolution and restoration for it.
  4. Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? (v.11)
    1. God’s commands are still for our good because they are from his good creation
  5. What is this you have done? (v.13)
    1. I appreciate how 1 John 1:9 answers this for us:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. - 1 John 1:9–10

For all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the [garden] entrance is no longer blocked. In Christ we can face God; we can have boldness to enter into the holiest of all by the blood of Jesus. Not by myself. No, for I am a vile sinner. But I am in him. I enter by his obedience. He kept the law perfectly, not only for himself, but for all who believe in him.

Do you want life, life that is life indeed, life abundant, life that will take you through death to eternity and glory? Do you want peace, joy, and happiness? My dear friend, give up trying to obtain them in your own strength or in the strength of any human knowledge. They have all failed. There is only one way. It is Jesus Christ and him crucified. You must pass through him and in him into the presence of God who is ever ready to receive all who come to him by Jesus Christ. - Lloyd-Jones, Martyn. The Gospel in Genesis

More in Genesis: ORIGINS

November 21, 2021

The Life of Joseph - Part 2

November 14, 2021

The Life of Joseph - Part 1

November 7, 2021

God’s Plan Moves Forward