Monday, September 21, 2015

Humanity's Fall

My Sunday School lesson for Sept. 20, 2015 …

Lifeway's "Explore the Bible" adult commentary session 3:

FIRST THOUGHTS

When did you lose your innocence?

(I don’t mean virginity, I mean that childhood idea that the world is good, that humanity works together, that bad things don’t happen to good people, etc.)

Of course, nowadays, we're not even allowed to be shamed by our sin. "If it feels good, do it," is our mantra. Our country's Christian moral foundation is seen as stuffy and old-fashioned.

It's easy to say that Eve should have told the serpent to go away, and Adam could have told Eve to drop that fruit and step away.

But think of how difficult it is to resist temptation, and how often we are deceived.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Genesis 3:1–4:26

*** The past two weeks we discussed how God created everything to His glory and made man with a purpose.

*** God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden that had all of their needs. Their social needs were met, their spiritual needs were met.

*** God had one command, not to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

--- You may have heard the military adage that “No plan never survives first contact with the enemy.” And so it was that the first contact mankind had with Satan’s temptations they failed miserably.

THE SHAM (Gen. 3:1-5)

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.”

*** Mankind naturally rebels against order.

*** Fool me once.

---Satan's a tricky one.

(The first two chapters of the Bible are without Satan, and the last two chapters of the Bible are without Satan. In between, we have to deal with him.)

---Though the name “Satan” doesn’t appear here, John identifies the serpent as Satan in Rev. 12:9 and 20:2, and Paul referenced Gen. 3:15 when he wrote “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20).

--- Of course, the fact that a talking reptile didn't phase Eve is also a tad confusing.

--- Did Eve stand a chance? After all, before this Satan had already convinced one-third of the angels to join him in rebellion against God. Angels. How is that possible?

*** Satan’s greatest trick is getting us to question God’s Word.

--- God meant what He said, but Satan twisted it and distorted it so much that the woman didn't even realize she was being convinced to doubt God.

--- The serpent asked, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” But that's not what God said. He said they couldn't eat from one certain tree, not any tree.

--- Eve gets it right, mostly, because she also says not to touch any fruit from the tree, which God didn't say. But she knew the consequences, that eating the fruit meant paradise was lost.

*** Satan will flat out lie.

--- Jesus called the Devil “a liar and the father of liars” (John 8:44).

--- The serpent tells Eve that eating the fruit won't lead to death. Instead, it convinces her that God is a petty and insecure tyrant.

--- The serpent convinced Adam and Eve that God was withholding the really good stuff.

--- The irony of the serpent’s claim is that Adam and Eve already were in the “image” and “likeness” of God (Gen 1:26). Rebellion against God’s will would make them less like God, not more like Him.

--- The lie that has seduced humans in every age is that sin has no consequences.

*** Question - Knowing how Satan operates, what are some things people can do to recognize and resist temptation?

THE SHAME (Gen. 3:6-7)

6 Then 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. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

*** Naked and afraid.

--- Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought shame to God’s once perfect creation. They defiled, dirtied and desecrated God’s paradise.

*** The tree was "delightful to look at."

--- Sinful choices often appear very attractive to our eyes.

*** Careful what you wish for.

--- You know those stories where someone wishes for something, and it doesn’t turn out the way they hoped? The Devil is full of these half-truths.

--- The serpent told Eve that they would not die, and they didn't die immediately. But death entered the human condition and they did eventually.

--- He said that their "eyes will be opened," and indeed they were. But they only saw their own guilt. They hadn't acquired Godly wisdom, but worldly wisdom.

Paul, for example, referred to the world’s wisdom as foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:20-31). James wrote that wisdom is available to everyone who asks God for it (Jas. 1:5). Similar to Paul, James also distinguished between the wisdom that is from above (God’s wisdom) and the wisdom that is “earthly, unspiritual, demonic” (3:15). We should seek “the wisdom from above” that is “pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy” (3:17).

These allurements to sin—food, beauty, and worldly wisdom—are always with us, and the Bible repeatedly warns us of them. John wrote of “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle” (1 John 2:16). Satan also tempted Jesus with food, with a visually sensational miracle, and with god-like authority (Matt. 4:1-11).

*** That escalated quickly.

--- She took, she ate, she gave, he ate.

--- "Resist the Devil, and he will flee" (James 4:7), but give in and it’s a bullet train to Sinville. They went from perfection to shambles in seconds.

--- After they sinned, instead of seeking God and confessing, Adam and Eve immediately tried to (literally) cover it up. They were shamed by being naked, they hid from God, and Adam blamed God for giving him this woman who would “make” him sin. The woman blames the serpent.

*** Question – Why is so hard to fess up when you sin? Why do people try to hide it?

--- God allows that we are sinners. Arrangements have been made. 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

THE SHAMBLES (Gen. 3:14-19)

14 Then 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 seed and her seed. 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 in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. 17 And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice 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.”

*** The world feels the sting.

--- The Bible affirms that all of creation has felt the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, including all animals.

Rom. 8:20-22 - For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

*** God tells the serpent to literally “eat dust.”

--- In verse 15 God provides the first evidence of Jesus and of Satan’s defeat. Verse 15 is called the Protoevangelium, or the first indication in the Bible of God’s plan to send a redeemer.

--- Satan would strike Christ on the heel at the cross. However, because of His death and resurrection, Christ would crush Satan’s head and win the victory over him.

*** Eve's punishment.

--- In addition to physical pain through childbirth, God’s words could refer to the emotional pain associated with challenges like infant mortality, infertility, and child-rearing.

--- God also told Eve that she would desire her husband, and he would rule over her. Desire may relate to the former statement, in which case the meaning would be, “Childbirth will be painful, but you will desire the physical relationship with your husband that results in childbirth.” If, however, desire relates to the statement about dominating, the statement means, “You will desire to dominate your husband, but he will dominate you instead.”

Men have typically filled the role of leadership in the home and in society, and that has been true fairly consistently across cultures and generations. So God’s statement was, in one sense, a statement of fact that has come to pass. It also finds further explication in the New Testament command for wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; and 1 Pet. 3:1).

*** Adam's punishment.

--- God cursed the ground, so Adam would have to endure painful labor and hard work to have the basics of food and shelter for his family.

--- Though God judged their sin, He also continued to love and provide for them. He made clothes for them from animal skins, and animals as a sacrifice for sin allowed sinners to be forgiven (before Jesus, of course.)

*** Question - How do we see the consequences of humanity's fall in today's world? In what ways is God's mercy evident?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

All that is wrong with the world came from this one event. It is the reason for all imperfection and death, all problems personal and environmental.

But there is hope! We can be a new creation, and Jesus is the answer.

The way to overcome Satan is described in Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

God is not cruel. The truth is that God desires for us to have pleasure and fulfillment.

Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

*** Rebelling against God's authority and His Word leads to disappointment and destruction.

*** Every person not named "Jesus Christ" has followed in the footsteps of Adam and Eve.

*** Sin always leads to judgment, with God holding us accountable.

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