Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE FALL”

Genesis 3

 

Do you grow weary, as I do, of those who always want it both ways? They demand the freedom to live their lives as if there is no God. They are frequently guilty of nothing less than outright apostasy on one hand while blaming the God whose existence they deny for the condition the world is in on the other hand. All the while, of course, insisting that human beings are essentially good and only damaged and coerced into engaging in nasty conduct by modern civilization, or Western-style capitalism, or the Christian religion. While denying God, or denying God’s wisdom and goodness, such people rarely hold themselves to high personal standards of moral behavior. Show me some fellow who used to go to church, used to claim to be a Christian, used to espouse moral values, and I will show you someone who has come to live his life just like those who were never raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but are just as likely as any other pagan to cheat on his wife, to indulge himself with liquor or drugs, with some who like to show themselves as suddenly the tough guy whose display of manliness and what passes to him for moral courage is epitomized by his occasional use of profanity. What a bad boy he is. Next thing you know, he will get a tattoo.

Look. You cannot blame society’s ills on society. You cannot blame the world’s problems on capitalism. You cannot shift responsibility for people’s wrong actions to true religion, or civilized culture, or even other people. Neither can you shift blame for who you are and what you do to anyone but yourself. The question at this point is why? Why are you the way you are? Why am I the way I am? And please do not give me the childish and typical ten-year-old response when queried by mom or dad, who seems always to say, “What?” as a prelude to a lame protest of innocence. When God created the universe and all that herein is in six literal 24-hour days, He concluded when He surveyed His marvelous creation by pronouncing it “very good.”[1] It certainly isn’t “very good” any more, is it? You can’t call Islamic jihad terrorism and the beheading of children very good, can you? You can’t call the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies very good, can you? You cannot call illicit sexual activity, whether it is the molestation of children or sex between consenting adults who are not married to each other very good, can you? You cannot call lying, extortion, tax evasion, dictatorial oppression of the populace, mistreatment of the helpless be they young or old, or environmental destruction and the extinction of species by massive corporations very good, can you?

All of these things I have mentioned are observations you can make yourself, from bullying in schools to dishonoring one’s parents, leading you to conclude if you are a thinking person that the world we presently live in is not the “very good” place God created. We no longer live in the Garden of Eden, where lions and tigers purred like house cats and rose thorns were soft and caressing rather than hard, pointed, and pricking. This is still the world that God created, but it is now somehow tragically different. What happened? Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter three and we will read what happened. Once you are there I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word:

 

1      Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2      And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3      But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4      And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5      For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6      And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

7      And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8      And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

9      And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10    And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11    And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12    And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13    And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

14    And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

15    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

16    Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

17    And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18    Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19    In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

20    And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

21    Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

22    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23    Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

24    So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

 

This is what happened. Some people read Genesis chapter three and decide, “I don’t believe that.” Okay, your refusal to believe God’s account of what happened that explains why people are the way they are is between you and Him. You will have a chance to deal with Him about the matter at the Last Judgment. This message from God’s Word is what happened as God tells it. And, remember, He was there.

The events of Genesis chapter three describe what theologians have labeled the Fall of Man. The doctrine of the Fall of Man is not peculiar to Christianity; all religions contain an account of it and recognize the great and awful fact of it. Had there been no such account as that found in Genesis chapter three, there would still have remained the problem of the Fall and sin.[2] The doctrine of the Fall has a relation to Christianity that it does not have to other religions or religious systems. The moral character of God as seen in Biblical Christianity far surpasses what is set forth about God in any other religion, and thus heightens and intensifies its idea of sin. It is when men consider the high character of God as outlined in Christianity and then look at the doctrine of sin, that they find it hard to reconcile. The fact that God, existing as the moral Being He is, should ever allow sin to come into the world is puzzling to many. To some minds, these two things seem incompatible. They usually ask questions that begin with, “If God is good how could He . . . ?

Nevertheless, such is precisely the case. Three considerations related to God’s account of what happened, but not the why, resulting in God’s creation being “very good” and then becoming what it is that we observe today:

 

First, The Scriptural Fact of Man’s Fall

 

Genesis chapter three clearly and distinctly records that Adam and Eve fell from their first estate in sinning against God by disobeying His positive and personal command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[3]

A careful reading of the narrative leads to the following observations: The sin of our first parents was purely volitional; it was an act of their own determination. Their sin was, like all other sin, a voluntary act of the will. It came from an outside source, that is to say, it was not instigated by an inward impulse. There was no sin in the nature of the first human pair. Consequently, there must have been an ungodly principle already in the world. Undoubtedly the fall of Satan and the evil angels had taken place already. The essence of Adam’s first sin lay in the denial of God’s will and the elevation of his will over the will of God. It was a deliberate transgressing of a divinely marked boundary; an over­stepping of the Divine limits. In its last analysis, the first sin was, what each and every sin committed since has been, a positive disbelief in the Word of the living God, a belief of Satan rather than a belief in God. It is helpful to note that the same lines of temptation that were presented to our first parents were presented to Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4.1-11), and to men ever since then (1 John 2.16-17). Satan’s program is predictable and generally successful, after all. The purpose of Genesis chapter three is not to give an account of the manner by which sin came into the world, but how it found its entrance into the human race. Sin was already in the world, as the existence of Satan strikingly shows. The reasonableness of the narrative of the Fall is seen in comparing the condition of man at the end of Genesis chapter three with his condition at the beginning of Genesis chapter three. If the fall of Adam were not narrated in Genesis, we should have to guess at the cause for the present condition in which we find the human race. In no part of Scripture, except in the Creation account as found in the first two chapters of Genesis, does man appear perfect and upright. His attitude is that of rebellion against God, of deepening and awful corruption, everywhere else.

A thoughtful consideration of opinions offered by unbelievers about Genesis chapter three leads to the following remarks: Some say Genesis chapter three is written in an allegorical style and should be interpreted accordingly. According to them, Adam is the rational part of mankind, Eve being the sensual part of mankind, and the serpent symbolic of external excitements to do evil. But the simplicity and directness of the narrative style in which Genesis chapter three is written militates against such a view. Others say Genesis chapter three is written in a mythological style and should be so interpreted. They would have us regard Genesis chapter three as a passage invested with poetic form; something made up from the folklore of those ancient times. But why should these few verses be snatched out of the context in which they are found and be called mythical while the subsequent passages are without doubt literal? The truth is that Genesis chapter three, as with Genesis chapters one and two, is written in a straightforward narrative style and should therefore be understood by means of a literal interpretation, which takes the account as it reads, in its perfectly natural sense, just as in the case of the other parts of Genesis, not regarding it as mythical or allegorical, but historical. Bible believers adopt this view for the following reasons:

 

Next, The Immediate Effects of Man’s First Sin.

 

The immediate effects of sin, as found in Genesis 3.7-13, are six in number:

First, there was produced in Adam and Eve a sense of shame. Imagine that. Doing wrong and feeling bad about it. This was due to the awakening of their consciences once they had sinned against God.

Second, there was the act of covering themselves with fig leaves. This was a bloodless covering, which is to say that it was an altogether vain attempt to deal with sin apart from the shedding of blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission,” Hebrews 9.22. Take note that when God covered their nakedness in Genesis 3.21, it was with the coats of animal skins, meaning innocent animals were slain to provide for their covering; an intimation of things to come.

Third, there was an admitted feeling of fear at the sound of God’s voice. Expressed by Adam in Genesis 3.10, this arose from their guilty conscience.

Fourth, there was an attempt at concealment. Foolishly Adam and Eve supposed that they could hide from the presence of the everywhere present and all-knowing God. As well, they hid from the only One who could possibly help them. Smart.

Fifth, there was an effort at self-vindication. Though obviously guilty, both Adam and Eve tried to justify themselves:

 

“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat,”

 

Genesis 3.12.

 

“And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat,”

 

Genesis 3.13.

Finally, there is the now popular shifting of blame. While attempting to vindicate themselves, both Adam and Eve also laid the blame for their sins on another: Adam laid the blame for his sin upon Eve, and Eve laid the blame for her sin upon the serpent, i. e., Satan. Of course, the ultimate design of all such blame shifting is to place responsibility for wrongdoing on God. After all, it was God who provided Eve for Adam, and it was God who created the serpent used to tempt Eve. Even Satan, who used the serpent, was created by God.

 

Finally, The Judicial Consequences of the First Sin.

 

There are three judicial consequences of the first sin:

First, there is Divine judgment. After the painful scene of the actual Fall, the Lord God pronounced a fourfold judgment in Genesis 3.14-19: First, there is God’s judgment upon the serpent. We have already read Genesis 3.14, so consider what is found in Micah 7.17: “They shall lick the dust like a serpent.” During the Millennium, the curse upon the serpent will not be removed since the serpent is the type of Satan. Isaiah 65.25, speaking of the Millennium, reads in part, “dust shall be the serpent’s meat.” Next, there is God’s judgment upon the woman. This was the judgment of sorrow and subjection mentioned in Genesis 3.16, speaking of sorrow related to issues of childbirth and the feminine physiology that is conducive to pregnancy and childbirth. Third, there is God’s judgment upon the man. This was the judgment of sorrow and toil. Job 5.7 tells us “Yet man is born unto trouble.” Ecclesiastes 2.22-23 speaks of man’s labor, vexation of the heart, sorrows, and travail that produces in him grief. Fourth, there is God’s judgment upon the ground. This was the curse of thorns and thistles. Like the serpent, the thorn is the natural enemy of man, Matthew 7.16. It is used in Scripture as a symbol of evil.[4] Remember that our Lord’s mock crown was composed of thorns, John 19.2 and 6. During the Millennium the curse upon the ground, of course, will be removed, Isaiah 55.13.

Second, in addition to Divine judgment there is separation. The fourfold Divine judgment has resulted in a threefold separation, Genesis 3.22-24. Thus, Adam and Eve were separated: First, they were separated from the tree of life. Imagine living forever in sinful separation from God, with guilt and a guilty conscience and ongoing misery living in a cursed world. Therefore, separation from the tree of life made it possible for Adam’s miserable mortal life to come to an eventual end, all the while providing for him opportunities to prepare for eternity. Next, they were separated from the Garden of Eden. The only way to make the exclusion of Adam and Eve from the tree of life effective was to drive them from the Garden of Eden. And this the LORD God did, sending man forth “to till the ground from whence he was taken.” Third, they were separated from the personal and visible presence of God. Sin separates man from God, and it is the only thing that can separate man from God. When Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God, it was because their sin with its resulting guilt and shame had morally disqualified them for personal and face-to-face communion and fellowship with their Maker. Separation from the Garden of Eden, therefore, simply sealed the spiritual separation of man from God, which sin had already brought about.

Finally, in addition to Divine judgment and separation, there is death. In connection with the prohibition to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil the LORD God said,

 

“In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”

 

(lit. dying thou shalt die), Genesis 2.17. This death, which was the result of sin, was threefold: physical, spiritual, and eternal. Concerning physical death. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.[5] Concerning spiritual death. Spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God. It includes “all that pain of conscience, loss of peace, and sorrow of spirit which result from the disturbance of the normal relation between the soul and God.”[6] Concerning eternal death. Eternal death is the result of spiritual death. It involves the positive retribution visited by a personal God upon both body and soul of the evildoer. Eternal death is the same as the second death, Matthew 10.28 and Revelation 20.14.

 

This morning’s message from God’s Word addressed the matter of how this physical universe in which we live and move and have our being came to be, and how we came to be. This message has addressed the matter of what happened that explains the transformation of our universe and our race from that which was said by God to be “very good,” to being a habitation and race that exists under the curse of God, with our issue being specifically labeled as sin that produced mankind’s fall from favor. We now live in a world of thorns, a world of carnage, a world in which no animal in the wild dies a natural death but is rather preyed upon and usually torn apart while still alive by other animals that feed on them. Even our own species preys upon our own kind, stooping actually to murder our own unborn for the sake of convenience and brutally raping and beheading in the name of religion.

I hope you are not one of those poor deluded fools who thinks mankind is essentially good-natured while also believing in the philosophy of evolution. The only alternative to such a worldview, such a perspective, is Biblical creationism; that God created the heavens and the earth and all that herein is, that He created our first parents in a state of sinless innocence. All was well until they sinned against God, thereby leaving both the world in which we live and every member of our race in a terrible fix. This, then, is the beginning and the Fall as told by the Bible. Next Sunday morning, by God’s grace, The Remedy.

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[1] Genesis 1.31

[2] Thanks to Emery H. Bancroft, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, revised edition 1961), pages 188-192 for most of the substance of this sermon.

[3] See also Romans 5.12, 19 and 1 Timothy 2.14

[4] Numbers 33.55 and II Corinthians 12.7

[5] Numbers 16.29; 27.3; Psalm 90.7-9, 11; Isaiah 38.17, 18; Romans 4.24, 25; 6.9, 10; 8.3; 10, 11; I Corinthians 15.21, 22; Galatians 3.13; I Peter 4.6

[6] Matthew 8.22; Luke 15.32; John 5.24; 8.51; Romans 6.23; Ephesians 2.1; 5.14; 1 Timothy 5.6; James 5.20; 1 John 3.14

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org