The Origin of Evil
Our world is certainly preoccupied with the issue of origins. We hear about it, read about it all the time. Almost every edition of the newspaper, every edition of the major magazines of our nation discusses origins, how things came to be the way they are, either in terms of the physical universe, or in terms of the spiritual universe, terms of human sociology or human anatomy. To know the truth about origins, we have to go back to the Bible. God has given us the story of origins in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 1 and 2 is the origin of the physical universe, as we know it. In Genesis 3 is the origin of evil.
Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter 3. I want to read this passage just so it’s set in your mind. After the six days of God’s creation, He rested. Everything He had made, according to chapter 1 verse 31, was very good and God rested. He had created a perfect universe. But we live in anything but the perfect universe. And there’s a reason. When you come to chapter 3, a dramatic scene takes place and this is the reason why the world is the way it is. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made and he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said you shall not eat from it or touch it lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die for God knows in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ And 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate. She gave also to her husband with her and he ate. Then, the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
The true diagnosis of the human condition stems from that event. God, the creator of the universe, is all good and only good. And His original creation was all good and only good. The goodness of His creation was a reflection of the goodness of His nature. Now, let me get a little philosophical with you here. God is not the author of evil. If God created evil, then God would be both good and evil. And if God were both good and evil, there would be no hope for the ultimate triumph of good which the Bible promises. If God were Himself evil, He could not therefore triumph over evil, so good could not triumph. If God were the source of evil, He would have to be evil Himself. And if He were evil Himself, then there could be no basis for salvation, for God could not save us from evil if evil was in His nature.
So, the biblical revelation of the original goodness of creation protects the goodness of God. And it makes the source of evil outside of God. Only if the source of evil is outside of God can God conquer evil and can God save sinners from evil. And just as a footnote to that, if God used any kind of evolution to create, evolution is dependent on decay and death, all effects or reflections of evil. So, if God used any kind of evolution to create, then God authored evil. He created decay and He created death. And if God used any form of evolution, then His creation was not all good, it was not perfect when He created it, and it is what it is now because of decay and death, which He must have used in His creation which are evidences of evil, then God must Himself be evil. Our God is not evil. God is all good and only good.
The question then is: where did evil come from? And the answer to that is that we only know what we know from the Bible. It is really useless to speculate about that. Nobody would argue that there is evil in the world. Everybody admits that. Not everybody admits that we are totally depraved and that we have original sin in us. Not everybody admits that we are evil and wretched to the core. But everyone admits there is evil in the world to some degree.
And, in fact, the problem of evil in the world has really occupied the best minds of history. Certainly, we would agree in our own country, in the history of our own country, there has never been a greater brain, a greater mental capacity than that enjoyed by Albert Einstein. Not just the greatest scientist of this century, but maybe the greatest intellect we’ve known in modern times. And for Albert Einstein, just for an illustration, the great scientist that he was, the great mind that he was, the toughest intellectual barrier to the Christian faith was not the question of God creating the world. Simple reason, the reason of cause and effect, was not hard for Einstein to grasp. He saw that the universe was an effect and it had to have a source. He saw that the universe was designed and it had to have a designer. He saw that it was ordered and it had to come out of an orderly mind. And so, Einstein concluded that there must be a mind behind the universe. He rejected the idea of matter simply bumping around endlessly in space until by random it formed itself into the universe that now exists. As he put it, quote: “The universe reveals an intelligence of such superiority that it overshadows all human intelligence.”
No, Einstein was not stumped by God as a creator. What really stymied Einstein was something far tougher than the doctrine of creation. It was the problem of evil and suffering. He knew there had to be a designer; he agonized over the character of that designer. How could God be good and yet allow terrible things to happen to people? Einstein couldn’t resolve the problem of evil and suffering with a good God and so he turned completely away from the God of the Bible, the God he had been raised in Judaism to believe in.
What really tripped up Einstein was that he was a determinist. That is, he viewed human beings as complicated machines. He saw them doing simply what they were programmed to do by natural, irresistible forces. In fact, Einstein concluded that human beings were like wind-up toys, you wind them up and they do what they’re manufactured to do. If that is so, he concluded, there can be no such thing as morality. There can be no such thing as right or wrong. There can be no such thing as sin. There can be no such thing as guilt. If a person’s actions are determined, if he’s just a wind-up toy, wound up by a cosmic mind to do what it was designed for him to do, then he cannot be responsible for what he does before God. He, said Einstein, is no more responsible for what he does than a stone is responsible for where it goes when someone throws it.
Who is responsible? Well, God has to be responsible, Einstein concluded. But if God is responsible, then He cannot be a good God or He’s responsible for evil. And if God is responsible, the God of Judaism, or the God of Christianity, then He makes us do bad things as well as good. If, Einstein said, God was like this, He would be constantly passing judgment on Himself as evil. Well, he couldn’t accept that. Could not accept that God could be both good and evil. And so, he determined that there was no personal God at all. And he rejected the God of Judaism, and he rejected the God of Christianity, rejected the God of the Bible, and he concluded that God exists as an impersonal cosmic mind. Simply a rational force that gave the world its rational structure. Those of you who studied philosophy would conclude that he believed in Spinoza’s god. And Einstein’s premise that human beings were just robots was based upon the fact that an impersonal, rational mind created those robots. But he could not be a personal God with any personal nature.
Einstein was wrong. And as I told you a few weeks ago when I was talking about Einstein in another context, he never got it. He didn’t even come to the place where he fully understood God as the force in creation, that’s why he was never satisfied and died never having really identified the true power in the universe. But Einstein was wrong about God; God is a personal God. And God is not responsible for evil. And the problem with Einstein is he would not believe his own Scriptures, the Scriptures of Judaism.
Now, when it comes to the origin of evil, you have several options. And these are the common options. You can take Einstein’s option, first of all, that there is a cosmic power: unknowable, impersonal, some kind of rational power out there with no personality, no relationship, no ability to connect to us, but some cosmic eternal power, rational power that launched everything in our universe. You can take that view. He is not personal; he cannot know or be known. Or you can take a second view. You can take the view that God does not even exist. That is the view of the intellectual atheist who says, no, there is no force, there is no power, there is no rational mind, there’s absolutely nothing there. And reality made itself. And since there is no God, there is no evil and there is no good in reality. Those are only subjected determinations that human beings invent, but there is no true good or evil.
Or you could take another view. You can take the view that suffering, and evil, and death don’t really exist. God is good, and therefore everything is good, you just think it’s not good. That is to say that evil is an illusion, suffering is an illusion, and death is an illusion. You say, “Who in the world believes that?” Christian Science believes that. Christian Science, folks, is not Christian or scientific. It’s like Grape Nuts, ever eat that? It’s not grapes or nuts. Christian Science is neither Christian nor scientific. It is misnamed. By the way, Hindus also say the entire universe is an illusion. So, you can take some kind of esoteric mystical approach to the reality of evil and agree with those people.
Fourthly, you could say God is beyond good and evil. God is transcendent and He cannot be defined by any human concept. That gets very close to Einstein’s perspective, that God doesn’t even dabble in this stuff down here. He’s way beyond that. Maybe the God of the Deists, he is the God who winds it all up but is unmoved, untouched by any of it.
Or, you can take the view that is rising in popularity today that God has limited power. This is a new theology that is emerging very rapidly, and it’s hard to believe this, but in the framework of evangelical Christianity. And this is called “process theology.” This is the idea that God is in process. That God is trying to get where He wants to get, just like we’re trying to get where we want to get. That bad things happen because God can’t stop them. This is the struggling God of Rabbi Kushner who wrote “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Remember that famous book? Well, Rabbi Kushner’s God was a God who hadn’t arrived at being what He really wanted to be, like to be a fully good God and a fully sovereign God and have absolute control over everything, but he wasn’t quite there yet. He was in process. That has now invaded evangelicalism. And we now have quote-unquote evangelical scholars advocating this about God, that God doesn’t know. I just read through some material put out from an evangelical seminary from a man who is saying that God doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future. The reason he doesn’t know what’s going to happen is because nothing has happened and you can’t know nothing. He gets all caught up in the imaginations of that kind of reasoning.
So, you either believe that God isn’t God, there’s just a cosmic power out there; you believe that God doesn’t exist at all and it’s all just nobody times nothing equals everything; or you believe that suffering sin and death don’t really exist, they’re just an illusion; or you believe that God so transcends all of that stuff that he’s unaffected by it and therefore you protect him responsibility for evil; or you believe that God is in process and that’s the new and popular view, that God really has good desires, but he really is not sovereign enough to get where he wants to get as soon as he would like to get there.
One other view you can throw in the mix is that just plain old: God made evil. And there are people who teach that. I was reading some of it this week that God made evil, he created evil for good purposes. He wanted to affect some good purposes and he needed to do evil to do it, so he created evil for good purposes.
None of those is true. None of them. In spite of what Einstein thought, God is personal, and God is relational, and God is good. God does exist. So does sin, and so does suffering, and so does death, and only a fool sees that as an illusion. God is not beyond good and evil. He is not so transcendent that He is not fully cognizant of good and evil and deals with both. God does not have limited power so that He can’t do what He wants and He’s like the rest of us struggling to get somewhere, but He’s not there yet. And finally, God did not create evil.
Let me put it to you simply. God is not responsible for evil; His creatures are. God is not responsible for evil; His creatures are. Everything, listen to this carefully, that God created was very what? Good. Everything. This is affirmed throughout the Scripture. In Habakkuk chapter 1, “God is of purer eyes than to approve evil or behold evil. He cannot look on wickedness.” Habakkuk chapter 1 verse 13. First Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not the author of confusion.” Confusion is a product of sin. First John 1:5 says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” James 1:13 says, “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts He any man.” First John 2:16 says, “All that is in the world,” all evil categorically, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is not of the Father.” Psalm 5:4, “You are not of God who has pleasure in wickedness, neither will evil dwell with you,” Psalm 5:4. In fact, on a positive note, Isaiah 6, the antiphonal cry of the angels was that God was holy, holy, holy.
You see a glimpse of that, of course, when Jesus came into the world, God in human flesh. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. God is not evil. God does not do evil. He cannot be tempted to do evil. He never tempts anybody else to do evil. God is not responsible for evil. The source of evil, the source of sin is outside God. When God created angels and God created humans, He gave them intelligence, He gave them reason, and He gave them choice. And there is a sequence. I put those words in that order for a purpose.
Intelligence gave them the ability to understand things. Reason gave them the ability to process that understanding toward behavior. And choice gave them the freedom to determine that behavior. Intelligence, reason, and choice. Bottom line: with what they knew, and with the ability they had to process that information, they would be brought to a choice. And whether angels or men, they would have the choice either to obey God or not to obey God.
Listen to this, to disobey God was to initiate evil. Evil is not the presence of something, evil is the absence of righteousness. You can’t create evil because evil doesn’t exist as a created entity. It doesn’t exist as a created reality. Evil is a negative. Evil is the absence of perfection. It’s the absence of holiness. It’s the absence of goodness. It’s the absence of righteousness. Evil became a reality only when creatures chose to do disobey. Evil came into existence initially then in the fall of angels and then next, in the fall of Adam and Eve.
Just put it this way in your mind. Evil is not a created thing. Evil is not a substance. Evil is not an entity. Evil is not a being. Evil is not a force. Evil is not some floating spirit. Evil is a lack of moral perfection. God created absolute perfection. Wherever a lack of that exists, sin exists. And that cannot exist in the nature of God or in anything that God makes. Evil comes into existence when God’s creatures fall short of the standard of moral perfection.
Now, let me take it a step further. God did not create evil, He did not author evil, He did not make evil. But listen carefully, very important, God did decree to use evil as a part of His eternal plan, okay? He will not be culpable for it. He did not bring it into existence. That would be impossible because God is good, all good, and only good. Therefore, whatever comes out of Him is all good and only good. God can therefore produce only good. And what is evil but the absence of that good, which is a choice made by the reasonings, based upon the information revealed through His creatures. But, God was not caught off guard. In fact, God decreed that evil would be part of His plan. He is not the creator of evil and He is not the cause of evil. He did not bring evil into existence in a cosmic sense, and He did not and does not bring evil into existence in a personal sense. He is not the cause of sin, nor is He the cause of sins in the lives of people. But He does use it for His purposes.
And that’s why in Isaiah 45:7, write this down, you may run across it, it says, “God creates calamity.” Some older translations say He creates evil. That is a really poor translation and not true. God does create calamity. If you read the context of Isaiah 45:7 it is clear that judgment is the issue. God does not create evil, but God does bring judgment on evil, creating therefore the calamity by which evil is judged.
Now, listen carefully. Scripture written by God always assigns the guilt and responsibility for all sin to creatures, never to God, never to God. Folks, that’s all we know. Okay? I’ve taken you as deep as I can go. There’s nowhere else to go. That’s all we know. Beyond that, we operate in faith.
We do know some things. We know God is holy, right? We know He’s too pure to look on iniquity, can’t tolerate evil. We know He tempts no man, neither is tempted by any man. We know He’s holy, holy, holy. All the things we went through. No evil dwells in Him. He is all light and no darkness. We know that, we believe that. God is not the author of confusion. He is not the source of sin. We know that, we believe that. Sin comes into existence when the standard of moral perfection is not met and that is an act based upon intellect, reason and choice made by His creatures.
Now, the question then comes up: why would God allow sin? Come on now. I can only speculate. There’s no specific statement, but I think you can make a fairly reasonable speculation beyond which I cannot go and don’t find any value in tempting to go. And it is this, what did sin coming into the world bring about? Well, it brought about, I would say, three things. And these are the three reasons why I believe God allowed evil.
Number one, it brought about the salvation of sinners, right? God had to allow sin; God had to decree sin in the plan though never the author of it, in order that He might save sinners. Well, why did God want to save sinners? To put on display attributes that otherwise never would have been manifest, right? How is God going to show grace if there aren’t any sinners? How is God going to show mercy if there aren’t any sinners? That was a part of God’s nature that God wanted to display for His own glory throughout all eternity. So, God provided a means by which He could demonstrate grace, demonstrate mercy. He also wanted to show love, love that is so far reaching that it can reach even His own enemies who hate Him. How is He going to show that if He doesn’t have any enemies?
So, God allows evil in order that He might demonstrate grace and mercy and forgiveness and salvation. Secondly, He allows evil in order that He might display His wrath, in order that He might put His wrath on display, His anger on display, His judgment on display. How would God ever reveal that part of His true and eternal nature if there were not an opportunity to judge sinners? And so, all you can do is look at redemptive history and you see the salvation of sinners and the damnation of sinners and that is what goes on and you see ultimately a place prepared for those who are damned and a place prepared for those who are saved and you must conclude then that the eternal purpose of God was to save some and judge some in order that He might demonstrate both His grace and His wrath.
And then, I like to throw a third thought in there. I believe that God allowed sin in order that He might forever destroy it. As long as His creatures have any measure of freedom, as long as His creatures have intelligence, that is they can know and reason, that is they can process that knowledge toward behavior, and choice, that is they can choose what to do, as long as they have that capacity there is a potential for them to fall short of the standard. Right? To make the wrong choice. Well, it didn’t take long for them to do it. We don’t know how long it was before Lucifer made the wrong choice before God. We don’t know how long it was even in the Garden before Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, but it was certainly before they had any children. They had their children probably around the age of 100 or a little more.
So, there is choice and the potential of a wrong choice is there. A measure of freedom is given to the creatures by which they can choose to honor God, by which they can choose to dishonor. As long as that is there, then the reality, the potential reality of evil exists when the wrong choice is made. And I believe that once the wrong choice is made, then God goes into action and one, He can demonstrate His grace and salvation; two, He can demonstrate His wrath in judgment; and three, He can then finally destroy evil.
It’s almost as if God wanted evil to come to the surface so that He could excise it. That’s what’s going to happen when the whole of redemptive history is complete, when all the saved are saved and all the lost are cast into the lake of fire, then death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire. What does that mean? No more death and no more hell and no more judgment. Why? Because there won’t be any more sin. And when you go to heaven, there’s nothing there that smacks of a sinful world, right? There’s no more sorrow, no more sadness, no more sin, no more dying, no more death. So, I think God decreed evil within His plan without creating it for those three reasons: to save sinners, to judge sinners and to once and for all and forever destroy evil. It was always potentiated. As long as it was possible, it would need to come to the surface so God could excise it.
Now, listen, based upon that explanation, and I know that sounds simple to you, but it’s taken me a long time to clarify in my own mind through the years. I mean, in recent years I’ve certainly understood it. But as a young man, you grapple with a lot of that. Summing it up: there is no external cause of sin. Okay? Outside the creature. There’s no force floating out there that God created. It is the absence of perfection. There is no deterministic cause and effect. That is to say some fatalism. It’s just choice. Within God’s decree, He allowed for that choice, knew those choices would be made the way they were made, planned that in to the decree in order to display both His grace and His wrath, and to put a final and eternal end to sin. But always, now mark this, the one who chose evil was the source of it.
In the case of Lucifer, he was the source of evil initially in the angelic realm and as we will see, he got a third of the other angels to get along with him and join. Now, since angels don’t procreate, Lucifer didn’t sin and pass on sin because angels don’t marry are not given in marriage, as Jesus said. They don’t procreate. They were all created at one time. But when Satan made a bad choice, he managed to seduce a third of the rest of the angels. There are ten-thousand times ten-thousand thousands of thousands, so you can multiply all of that and you’re probably not there yet. So, there are twice as many holy angels as demons since one third fell, two thirds didn’t. But they fell, by choice. We’ll see that choice when we get into the prophets.
The same happened with Adam and Eve, only it had a different effect. With angels they all sinned their own sin and nobody sin passed to anybody else ‘cause they don’t procreate. In the case of Adam and Eve, when Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, all humanity went with them because we all come out of the loins of Adam and Eve. So, the source of evil is outside of God. The source of evil is the creature.
Now, let’s go back to Genesis chapter 3. At least we can cover the first three words, maybe in part. This is big subjects. Serpent, big subject. “Now, the serpent,” we’ll stop at that point. It reminds me when I was teaching Romans and I went to start the Book of Romans in my first message I said, “Let’s read our text.” The first word in Romans, “Paul.” And I said, “Okay, let’s stop there.” And we spent I don’t know how long talking about Paul. Well, this is kind of like that. You can’t just read “serpent” and go on. What is this serpent? What is this?
You’re in the Garden, everything is good. All kinds of creatures are there that had been made by God. There are animals of various kinds. There are birds and cattle. And there are creeping kind of animals, that is, animals that walk low to the ground. It doesn’t mean they slither. It just means they were are low to the ground. It could mean animals with short legs, as I pointed out. It could be insects, and so forth. There are those that are taller, and there are those that are up in the sky, namely birds. And there are those that are in the water. And God made all these creatures.
Well, here we meet a serpent, nachash in Hebrew. And it’s a name for reptile. We don’t know what this reptile was like. I think most people assume that this animal was a slithering snake. You see little pictures of a snake wound around a tree or hanging off a branch, whatever, slithering up and kind of propped up like a cobra. But we don’t really know that that’s the case. You would notice later in chapter 3 verse 14 that part of the curse on this serpent was that he was going to go on his belly and eat dust. So, if that was the curse, we can assume that at this particular time when the serpent first appeared in the Garden, he’s not slithering around on his belly eating dirt yet. That was part of the curse. So, in some measure this appears as an upright animal. The word nachash in Hebrew relates to the verb “to hiss,” which is associated with sounds that reptiles make.
There’s another Old Testament word used to speak of reptiles, tannin and they are used interchangeably. There’s a section of Exodus chapter 7 verses 9 to 15 where Moses is interacting with the magicians in Pharaoh’s court, remember that? And they throw down their sticks and they become tannin. But Moses’ stick becomes a serpent called nachash. So, from that text we can conclude that they’re used interchangeably, although tannin is the word that appears for dragon, or sea monster. Nachash then, is some kind of reptile, some kind of reptile like tannin. It could be a snake. Of course, after the curse, after that, and even after the Flood, we don’t know what form reptiles took, we don’t know what reptiles got on the ark and therefore got off and what other ones were destroyed. But some kind of reptile, some kind of dragon, some kind of serpent.
When you come in to the New Testament, very interestingly, Satan is called in Revelation 12, we’ll look at it later, Revelation 12, Revelation 20, he is called the serpent and the dragon both. So, in the Hebrew he would be called the nachash and the tannin. So, sometimes it’s a dragon; sometimes it’s a serpent. So, we have to conclude we don’t know what it was. This is some kind of reptile dragon, something that maybe we would, maybe you feel comfortable calling it a raptor, if you know what that means, some kind of dinosaur type creature. That’s really all we know about the creature.
But the serpent is compared to other animals. Look at verse 1, “It was more crafty than any beast of the field,” which indicates that this animal belongs in the animal kingdom. This isn’t some singular kind of creation. This isn’t just some unique animal. This is part of what God made back in chapter 1 verse 24 to 28, referred to again in chapter 2 verses 19 and 20, all the various beasts of the field that God made. This is one of them. This is an actual physical animal. This is a real animal. But it wouldn’t be an animal that we would know, it’s a pre-cursed reptile. Whatever this animal was, it wound up on its belly eating dirt after the curse. So, some kind of a talking reptile, higher and different than we might suppose a snake to be.
Now, this is not just any other reptile because this one talks. This one talks. Now, I read a commentator who said, you know, there may have been a lot of talking animals in the Garden. And I thought, what? That isn’t in the Bible. He went on for about three paragraphs. There’s nothing in the Bible about that. He’s got a Dr. Doolittle complex or something, nothing in the Bible about talking animals. He brought up, well, what about Balaam’s ass? Well, Balaam’s ass never said a word until God spoke through him on one occasion. No, there aren’t talking animals in the Garden. But there are wonders in the Garden, and then I think Adam and Eve are still discovering the wonders and so Eve doesn’t appear, we don’t have any real information about it. She doesn’t appear to be overly shocked when this reptile walks up and starts a conversation.
But there’s something different about this particular serpent because he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the Garden?” This particular animal knows about God. This particular animal has a personality. This particular animal speaks with intelligence. This particular animal has a devious, malevolent, evil mind. Let me tell you, people, this is not a fable. Nothing in here says, Let me tell you, let me make up a story to illustrate how sin came. It doesn’t say that. It’s not a fable. This is not a legend with a moral. There is no moral. And if this is a fable, then how do you curse a fable in verse 14? God cursed the serpent. This is not a fable. This is not a legend. This is not a parable. People say, “It’s a parable with a moral.” What’s the moral? There’s no moral. Jewish rabbis said, and I read several of these, they said the serpent wasn’t really talking to Eve but the writer, Moses, uses a serpent as a symbol of evil impulses rising in Eve’s heart. Really? So this is just a sort of symbolic way to refer to stuff that was going on in Eve’s mind? Really? Then, why did God curse the reptile? And where does it say that? Why can’t people just take the Bible for what it says? She was in the garden one day, a reptile walked up to her and said, “Hi. Do you really think God said you shall not eat from the trees of the Garden?” And he was so compelling, she didn’t even seem to step back, she just entered right into the conversation and said, “Well, from the fruit of the trees in the Garden we may eat,” and they were off in a conversation.
You know what I think? I think that’s exactly the way it happened. And if it didn’t happen that way, then we can’t trust God’s Word. But don’t come and tell me you believe God’s Word if you don’t believe that.
Now, this creature wasn’t just like any creature. Notice back in verse 1, “The serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Now, you’ve got a reptile. We’re not talking about, this isn’t like snakes are sneakier than other animals. No, no, no. Snakes aren’t any sneakier than any other animals. Crafty means subtle, cunning, intelligent, wise. I don’t think snakes are that smart. Ever meet a smart snake? Smart reptile? Subtle, cunning? They’re no more subtle or cunning than any other predator, any other animal that hunts.
The crafty, cunning is not a reference to the characteristic of snakes. He’s not comparing snakes to cows, for example, or snakes to lions, or snakes to anything else. He is comparing this reptile to all other animals and saying this one is more wise than any other animal.
Snakes, in fact, are wonderful creatures. I mean, they’re really amazing creatures. You read Proverbs chapter 30 verses 18 and 19, and you have the wonder of a snake on a rock. But this is a crafty, subtle, malevolent, evil, wicked individual animal because it is being used by a superhuman intelligence to lead Eve and Adam into a choice for evil, a choice that this personality already made. And listen carefully, this personality inside that animal knew the effect of the choice Adam and Eve were going to make. Adam and Eve had no clue. They had no idea what would happen when they made this choice.
You see, when Lucifer first made that choice, he made it because he said, “I want to be like God.” And he found out that immediately he became as much unlike God as it is possible to be. God is holy; he became wretched. And he says to Eve, see, the reason God doesn’t want you to eat is because if you eat you’ll become like God. He’s just taking them through the same exact scenario, only he knows exactly what the effect of it is going to be. He doesn’t understand the procreative aspect, but he does understand if they sin, they’re going to experience exactly what he experienced, the desire to be like God becomes the reality of being as much unlike God as is conceivable, and what Eve found out is she thought she could be like God, and ended up in the same situation as much unlike God as possible to be.
This is a subtle snake. This is a snake who hates God. This is a snake who is angry about the circumstance in which he has found himself, this Satan, this dragon, this serpent. He wants to pull this wondrous new creation, he must have, Satan must have looked at the creation of Adam and Eve: this isn’t anything like I’ve known. Angels don’t procreate, thus multiply and fill the earth, replenish the earth and the sovereignty over these wondrous creatures. You know, it’s amazing for you and I to go to a zoo, but just imagine angelic beings wandering around in the first few days of Eden. What wondrous things God has made. And the malevolent and wicked Satan and his other dominions wanting to pull it all down into iniquity, and this is what leads to this scenario.
This personality had more natural knowledge. He knew about the prohibition. He knew that God had said, don’t eat of that tree. He claimed not only to know what God said. He claimed, listen, to know more than Eve. He claims to know more than Eve does. In verse 4 the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die.” I know more than you, you think you’re going to die? No, I know more than you. He claims to know more than Eve knows. His thoughts are morally wretched. Snakes don’t have moral thoughts, reptiles don’t have moral thoughts, they can’t make moral judgments. This is a creature who is evil in purpose, evil opposed of God, evil opposed to man. And he offers to Eve the promise of unequalled blessing. I mean, what could be better than being like God? But he knows that when you seek to be like God, the end result is shame, degradation, misery and damnation. He knows already because that’s what he’s experienced. The fact that he was cursed indicates that he was a responsible, moral being.
Now, who was this creature? Who was this? Go all the way to the end of the Bible. This is why you have to take the whole counsel of God because you really don’t get the clear identification of Him. Nothing is said, by the way, in Genesis 3 about Satan. Satan’s never mentioned in Genesis 3. So, we go to the end of the Bible to find out who he is. The book of Revelation, verse 9 chapter 12. Revelation chapter 12 verse 9, there’s a lot here but we’ll just jump to verse 9 for time’s sake. And here you find again these two terms sort of borrowing from the Hebrew where in the Old Testament he’s called nachash and tannin which is both serpent or reptile and dragon. And verse 9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.” Now, there is a very clear designation. Who is that serpent? Who is that dragon? Who is that original one of old who deceives the whole world? It is none other than the devil and Satan. There he is clearly identified.
Now, turn to the 20th chapter of Revelation and verse 2, verse 1 actually can start it. “An angel,” this is the time of the Millennial kingdom, after Christ’s Second Coming and judgment described in chapter 19, “and angel coming down from heaven having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand and he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan.”
So really, there’s no problem identifying who this is, because he is identified at the very end when it’s time for God to take over and put an end to his enterprises. He is a serpent or the dragon. And I think the combination of those two words being used in the New Testament, along with the two Hebrew words being used somewhat interchangeably indicate that you don’t just have a snake here; you have some kind of reptile who could be called a serpent on the one hand and a dragon on the other. The difference being as we think of a serpent, we think of a legless creature; as we think of a dragon, we think of a creature with legs, some kind of amazing and wondrous creature that perhaps we have no indication of in the created world today.
Now, you have a New Testament commentary. I’m going to close with this. We have a New Testament commentary on Genesis 3 in two places. Second Corinthians 11, this continues to help us to understand who this serpent is. And also to demonstrate the veracity of this account. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul says, “I’m afraid lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness.” There’s that same idea of craftiness, there is that serpent and there is Eve again. The bottom line, this is a New Testament affirmation to the reality of the Old Testament account. This is not, again, a legend, this is not a fable, this is not a parable, this is a real account. The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness. And that simply affirms and gives commentary to what we see in Genesis chapter 3.
It is also true in 1 Timothy 2. I want you to look at verses 13 and 14, that the pattern of what happened in the Garden is sustained by the New Testament. Verse 13 of 1 Timothy 2. First Timothy 2:13, “It was not Adam who was deceived,” okay, you want to remember that, it was not Adam who was deceived. Adam wasn’t deceived, who was deceived? Eve. She was there, she was deceived, and Adam just says, hey, yeah, if you’re going to do that I’m going to do that too, and jumped in. There was no deception. That affirms the story exactly the way it lays out in Genesis. Is this important? Of course it’s important, because the very fact that that is accurate historic representation supports the fact that the man is the head of the woman, because a woman out from under the authority of her husband, acting independently, is more susceptible to deception. And so, it was Adam first created, then Eve. It was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. So, there we have in the New Testament the clear identity as to who the serpent was, and the affirmation of this temptation by the devil.
Now, what can we say in summarizing all of this? The personality, let’s say, in the reptile, is not identified in Genesis 3. But we can know this: there is a real personality there. There is a personality there opposed to God, calling God’s Word into question, calling God’s character into question, impugning God, and saying God just doesn’t want you to know everything He knows because He’s selfish, in effect. So, here is a personality, a malevolent, wicked, evil, vicious personality opposed to God, opposed to man, because he wants to plunge humanity into the same misery that he has. He’s not going to Eve and saying, “Whatever you do, Eve, don’t disobey God. Whatever you do, Eve, don’t seek to be like God, I’m living testimony it is a bad choice.” There is no element of that in Satan. He is wretched and malevolent from the top to the bottom inside out, if you can use those terms of a spiritual being. He seeks only evil.
And so, he rushes to destroy man. He is deceptive. He is lying. He is hostile. He is wicked. He is a killer. He wants to bring about the death not only of all those angels who went with him, but the death of the whole human race. As powerful as he is, as wicked as he is, as evil as he is, listen to this, he is subject to God’s sovereign control. Now listen, his temptation of Eve does not involve any compulsion on his part. He can’t make her sin. He doesn’t have that power.
Now, let me tell you something, folks. The devil still can’t make you sin. You hear that? He cannot make you sin. When you sin, you bear the responsibility. He does not have the power to make you sin. He didn’t have the power to make Eve sin. She sinned by her own choice. And Adam and Eve are fully guilty for their sin. He is a malevolent power, but he is subject to God’s sovereign control. We’ll see that when we look at the story of Job next week. And his power has its limits. God says you have so much room beyond which you cannot go. And one of the things that he’s limited in is his power.
Think of it this way, he thought he could be like God. But guess what? He’s not omniscient, he’s not omnipotent, and he’s not omnipresent. And he’s not immutable. And he’s not sovereign. He’s not like God at all. He’s utterly as much unlike God as a creature could be. He didn’t get what he wanted. And as Martin Luther said, “The devil is the Lord’s devil.” He functions within the sovereign purposes of God to achieve the things that are in the eternal decree of God for the salvation of sinners, the damnation of sinners and the ultimate triumph and destruction over evil.
Now, the primary word for him, the primary name is Satan. Satan. He is called that, as I just read you in Revelation 12:9 and Revelation 20 verse 2, but he’s also called that in the Old Testament. That’s right. Three times in three passages, he is identified by the name Satan. Satan, to give you a little preview of next week, Satan is a word that means adversary, or opponent. He is the adversary of God, and he’s the adversary of man. He could be called “the adversary” with a definite article, the adversary. And he is the first couple of times. The third time he’s mentioned, 1 Chronicles 21, he’s called adversary and the adversary simply meaning a term to identifying him becomes a proper name and he’s no longer the adversary, he is adversary, with a capital “S”, Satan. From then on, he is Satan. He is the adversary of God and the adversary of men.
Second Corinthians 11:2 says, “We don’t want to be ignorant of his devices.” So, what we’re going to do next time is I’m going to take you through the Old Testament and show you how Satan is presented in the Old Testament. I’m going to show you also how he fell, why he fell. And once we understand the serpent, then we’ll launch into his approach to Eve with greater understanding and it will help us in our own struggle as well. All right, enough. Let’s pray.
Father, Your Word again gives light as the truth is open to us. We thank You for the power that is in us in Christ that allows us to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think. We thank You that Satan has been placed under our feet, as the Book of Romans tells us. We thank You that he is a defeated enemy. Thank You that we can resist him and he will literally flee from us in fear. What a great confidence. Thank You for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. We thank You for the sword of the Spirit, the wielding of the truth which causes us to triumph. We thank You that You’ve shown us that You are a good God, and only good, and always good, and all good, and that evil You have not made. Though You have within Your decree a place for evil, that You might put Your glory on display. And that in the end You might bring the potential of evil to reality that it can be destroyed forever. We long for that day when we live in the perfect world where there is no sin, is no sorrow, there is no suffering, and there is no dying because sin is no more. Until that day, may we continue to be triumphant in overcoming the wicked one by the power of Your Word. We’ll thank You in the Savior’s name. Amen.
The Breadth and Depth of Sin
As you know, we are in a study of origins from the book of Genesis and looking currently at Genesis chapter 3. Admittedly, we are launching off of that chapter some, but it at least is home base for us and you can turn there in your Bible as I’ll make a couple of references to this first seven verses of Genesis 7. In the opening of the third chapter of Genesis, you have the record of the serpent in the Garden tempting Eve, and her subsequent disobedience to God, and then Adam following in her disobedience. And immediately upon that disobedience, they were both filled with shame, as indicated by the awareness of their nakedness in verse 7, and the sewing together of fig leaves to cover themselves.
This incident has monumental impact. Up to this point, according to chapter 1 verse 31, God saw all that He had made, that would be everything that He had created in the six days, and behold, it was very good. Everything was very good. Chapter 2, of course, is an expansion of the creation of man on day six. And so at the end of chapter 2 everything is still very good. But when you come to chapter 3, a dramatic change takes place and from then on everything is very bad.
The simple narrative of the opening seven verses of Genesis chapter 3 describes for us the first act of human disobedience which brought about the curse on all mankind: the Fall. The impact of that Fall has touched every part of the universe. It is accurate to say that absolutely everything wrong in our world is because of sin. If there were no sin there would be nothing wrong. If there were no sin, everything would be very good. Everything created in the heavens, everything created on the earth would be very good as it was on day six. But because of sin, everything is very bad. From World Wars, terrorism, mass murders, serial killings, plane crashes, auto accidents, fires, crippling and maiming of people through accidents, nuclear reactor disasters like Chernobyl, radiation poisoning, pollution, cancer, heart disease, all illnesses to all broken relationships, all divorce, all orphaned children, all drugs, all crime, all dereliction in all forms, all confusion, all conflict, all struggle, all disappointment, all anxiety, all fear, all guilt, all depression, all sorrow, all failure, all remorse, as well as all lust, and selfishness, and pride, and hatred, and covetousness, and rebellion, and murder, and stealing, and sexual acts outside of marriage, and irresponsibility, and disobedience to parents. In a summary: all evil, all sadness, all failure, all death is because of sin.
And people who don’t believe in sin and don’t understand the Fall cannot diagnose properly the human dilemma. It is impossible to understand the world. It is impossible to understand the cosmos, the ordered world of creation. It is impossible to understand man. It is impossible to understand the disintegration of matter. It is impossible to understand the collapsing world and universe. It is impossible to understand man’s behavior if you do not understand that it is all a product of sin. And all sin in the world is a result of what happened in Genesis 3.
So, Genesis 3 as a point of origin is absolutely critical. In fact, it is arguably the most important chapter in the Bible because it explains why the rest of the Bible tells the story of redemption. Everything wrong is because of sin. And ultimately, everything dies. Everything in the physical world dies, and sin is the killer.
And we really do need to pull off the painted masks that sin wears and reveal the death’s head that is behind the mask. One old writer said, “Who is the hoary sexton that digs man a grave? Who is the painted temptress who steals his virtue? Who is the murderess that destroys his life? Who is the sorceress that first deceives and then damns his soul? Sin. Who, with icy breath, blights the fair blossoms of youth? Who breaks the hearts of parents? Who brings old men’s gray hairs with sorrow to the grave? Sin. Who, by a more hideous metamorphose than Ovid ever fancied, changes gentle children into vipers, tender mothers into monsters, and their fathers into worse than Herods? The murderers of their own innocence? Sin. Who casts the apple of discord on household hearts? Who lights the torch of war and bears it blazing over trembling lands? Who, by divisions in the church, rends Christ’s seamless robe? Sin. Who is this Delilah that sings the Nazarite asleep and delivers up the strength of God into the hands of the uncircumcised? Who winning smiles on her face, honey flattery on her tongue stands in the door to offer the sacred rites of hospitality and when suspicion sleeps, treacherously pierces our temples with a nail? What fair siren is this who, seated on a rock by the deadly pool, smiles to deceive, sings to allure, kisses to betray, and flings her arm around our neck to leap with us into perdition? Sin. Who turns the soft and gentlest heart to stone? Who hurls reason from her lofty throne and impels sinners mad as Gadarene swine down a precipice into a lake of fire? Sin.”
That’s prosaic and it’s true. And this is the foundation of any true worldview. Any accurate understanding of the way things are in the world demands an understanding of sin. Without an understanding of this. there is not a true understanding of anything because sin has affected everything. Listen to Romans 8 verse 20, “For the creation was subjected to futility, or to emptiness, not of its own will but because of him who subjected it.” In other words, it wasn’t that the whole of creation wanted this futility, this fallen condition; it was the punishment of God for the sin of man. The creation itself, verse 21 says, “Also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.” There is a defining statement. Currently the entire creation, everything that was made on the six days of creation, is in slavery to corruption. That is a defining statement in Romans 8:21. And that’s why verse 22 says, “The whole creation groans and suffers like the pain of childbirth together until now.”
And again, the whole creation, in every aspect of it, is collectively suffering through the pains of the curse that God placed on it, the futility, the inability to be what it was designed to be, and that’s all as a result of sin. Because of sin, no part of creation now exists as God intended it to be. You’re not the way God intended you to be. I’m not the way God intended me to be. Birds aren’t the way God intended them to be, and animals aren’t the way God intended them to be, and plants aren’t the way God intended them to be, and the seeds of the earth are not the way God intended them to be, and water isn’t the way He intended, and land, and mountains, and all the wondrous phenomena of the stellar realm. All of the planets, and all of the stars, and all that goes into infinity is not what God originally made it to be. It is all reduced to some level of, look at verse 20, futility. It was subjected which means it was torn down; subjected, it was brought under. Futility. Futility is mataiotēs in the Greek, and it basically means “be without success.” That would be a good meaning for the word. Or another way to say it, “unable to achieve a goal.” To be a failure, basically.
So, that the point here is that the whole created universe fails to be what God designed it to be. It is all short of God’s intention. It is unable to achieve its goal. It is unable to achieve its purpose. It was literally, by the Fall, subjected to an unsuccessful existence.
And then, in verse 21, as I mentioned, there is a slavery to corruption. Slavery indicates an inability to free oneself, a bondage that can’t be broken. Here is this universe unsuccessfully trying to achieve its intended purpose. It is unable to do that. Nothing in the universe can be what God designed it to be. And therefore it is enslaved to principles of corruption. That simply can be defined by two words: decay and eventual death. Decay and death. Everything is in decay and headed for extinction. Everything in the universe is going in that direction. The whole thing is enslaved to corruption.
And then, in verse 23, or 22, I’m sorry, it says, “The whole creation groans,” stenazō, and that verb usually is used to refer to the cry of someone who is in a dreadful situation with no hope of escape. It’s someone in an impossible situation. So, here is the whole creation unable to achieve its God-designed purpose, enslaved to the process of decay and death, crying out with groans that represent the frustration of being unable to extract yourself from a dreadful situation. And, along with it, suffering the pains of childbirth. That’s metaphoric; the severest and lasting pains, the increasingly hard pains of bringing forth a child are like the pains that creation feels. The groaning under a constant, severe pain as in childbirth.
Now, that is a description of the current universe. And verse 23 adds, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan.” And he’s talking here about believers. Everybody groans, everybody groans under this decay and death, and even believers feel the weight of that eagerly, he says, waiting for our adoption as sons and waiting for the redemption of our body. We’re waiting to finally be released from this enslavement to corruption and to be what we have not only been created to be, but recreated in Christ to be.
So, you have an entire universe that can best be explained by Romans 8:20 to 22. No education, no socialization, no civilization, no psychology, no technology, no physiology. No advances in any of those realms can ever alter this inevitable dilemma. This is how it is in the universe. Everything tends toward death. Everything is in a process of decay. The entire universe feels the effect of having been, by God, subjected to futility.
Now, the question comes: what caused all of this? You go from a universe in chapter 1 verse 31, stated that God said He saw all and it was very good, to a universe where nothing is very good. Everything is blighted. Everything is affected by decay and ultimately headed for death. This is massive change. This is a wholesale alteration. This is a complete reversal. How does this all happen? And for that, I want you to turn back in Romans to chapter 5 and remind you of a verse I read you last week. Romans 5 verse 12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Now, what this tells us is very simple. Sin entered the world through one man. And by that sin came death; and, of course, implied the decay that leads inevitably to death. First Corinthians 15:22 says it in even more brief and specific words, “In Adam all die.”
Now listen, all death that exists in the universe can be traced back to one man. It can be traced back to one man, Adam. What Adam did in the Garden, as a recorded in Genesis chapter 3, what he did as his wife led him to do it, literally brought sin into this universe, and with it brought death on the entire universe as God subjected it all to futility, brought it into slavery to corruption, and left it to groan and suffer until the day when He renews the earth, when He mitigates the curse, and finally at the end of the Millennial kingdom, when He uncreates the fallen creation, and creates a new heaven and new earth.
The story of our world is the story of sin. That’s really all you need to know. Now, go back with me to Genesis chapter 3. And I want to do a little exercise with you, and I just do this really for emphasis. You could probably do it yourself, but I want you to watch how this happens. The word “sin” doesn’t appear in Genesis 3; the word “fall” doesn’t appear in Genesis 3, and yet we call it the chapter which sin entered the world, and rightly so. We call it the Fall, and it is rightly so, the Fall. So, the question comes up, how do we know that this was really as monumental as we say it is? I mean, to put it simply, I told you this last week: the Jews look at the story of Genesis 3 and they say, well, that was Adam and that was Eve, that was their problem. Nothing passed from them to us. Jewish theology does not believe in total depravity; they do not believe in original sin. They think we all come into the world with a clean slate and we have the privilege of making a decision that relates only to us.
That’s not how it is. As I read you in Romans 5:12, when Adam went, we all went. Through the sin of one man, sin entered the world, and with that sin came death. We all died, everything died, when Adam sinned. And so, throughout all of human history, everything is bad. And if you question that, all you have to do is come out of chapter 3, just come out of chapter 3. First in chapter 3, according to verse 7, they felt shame for the first time. Chapter 2 ends, verse 25, the man and his wife were naked and were not ashamed. You know why they could be naked and not ashamed? Because they didn’t have an evil thought about anything. There was not an evil thought in existence. Their thoughts were only pure, and God-honoring, and God-exalting. And their perspective was God’s perspective. There was no ego. There was no “I”. They didn’t view the world in any selfish manner. There was no perversion of any kind of thought. There was no such thing as an evil thought. And so, there was no reason to be ashamed of nakedness. Full exposure on the part of man and woman without any shame because there was no such thing as evil in their mind or in their actions.
But all of a sudden in verse 7 of chapter 3, their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. All of a sudden they were having thoughts they had never had before. All of a sudden, they were thinking things they never thought before, and the paralyzing reality of wickedness caused them to be embarrassed, and so they covered themselves. And there is the first indication of evil thoughts, evil thoughts. Then, the next thing that comes, they wanted to hide from God. Verse 8, they tried to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God. Something is really different here. All of a sudden they have evil thoughts, and they get embarrassed, and they have to cover themselves, and then they want to run from God. And they used to walk and talk with God in the cool of the day, and there was no reason to run from God because there was nothing to hide. There weren’t any thoughts you wouldn’t want God to know, there weren’t any words you wouldn’t want God to hear, there weren’t any actions you wouldn’t want God to see. And now, all of a sudden they want to run from God and get away and God has to come and find them.
And then, you follow along further in the chapter, and God confronts them about what they did and Adam says, “The woman You gave me, she did it.” And you hear blame shifting. He didn’t, by the way, really blame Eve. He blamed God. He didn’t say “this woman,” he said, “the woman You gave me.” His point was: I went to sleep single; I woke up married. And frankly, God, You could have picked any woman You wanted. You picked her; that’s not my call. He’s really blaming God.
So, now what you have, you have a guilty conscience, you have feelings of shame, you have hiding from God. And then, you have the unwillingness to accept responsibility for one’s sin which shifts the blame not on another person but on God Himself and says, well, God, if You hadn’t made the world the way You made it, and You hadn’t given me the woman You gave me, it would be like this. It’s really Your fault. And then, God pronounces a curse on them. Cursed, verse 14, cursed verse 17. God cursed them and the whole universe felt the curse. It was obvious the curse touched more than them. That’s the cattle, they were cursed more than the cattle, they were cursed more than every beast of the field, but that was talking to Satan. Satan would be cursed more than any other animal, but the animals would be cursed. And the woman would be cursed with pain in childbirth and with marital conflict. And the man would be cursed because the ground would be cursed, and so the ground would start bringing forth thorns and thistles, and it wouldn’t be like it was in the paradise of Eden, and so you can see the curse begins to be felt everywhere. And we’ll go into that in more detail in the future. And then, you come to the end of chapter 3, and both of them are driven out of the Garden because God had to protect them from eating the tree of life, lest they live forever in a cursed condition. That would really be an ultimate curse.
Well, we don’t know at what point between the sixth day and the seventh day of God’s rest and the birth of their first child came. We don’t know where the Fall came; we don’t know how long they lived in the bliss of Eden. But in chapter 4, when they conceived a child, they had already fallen. That’s very clear because they brought forth sinful children who needed to make a sacrifice to God. You wouldn’t need to make a sacrifice to God if you weren’t a sinner and fallen.
And then, what you find in chapter 4 is murder, right? The first crime recorded in the Bible, murder. Cain kills his brother Abel. Further down in chapter 4, verse 19, “Lamech took to himself two wives.” Now, you’ve got polygamy. You go down to verse 23, “Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zilah, ‘Listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech for I have killed a man for wounding me.’“ Here’s murder out of vengeance. Here’s a second murder and we’re still in the fourth chapter. After genealogy, go over to chapter 6. The genealogy indicates that years pass, and the years are listed in that genealogy, the book of generations of Adam. You can read them yourselves; it tells them how long they lived. And it says in chapter 6 verse 5 that the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. And the Lord said, I’ll blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land from man to animals to creeping things to birds of the sky, for I’m sorry I had made them.
They were all feeling the curse. The whole of created life was feeling the curse. And God says, I’m just going to wipe it all out. Verse 11, “Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God. The earth was filled with violence. And God looked on the earth and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” I don’t know how many times He needs to say “corrupt,” but He says it three times. Verse 13, “God says to Noah, and Noah was a righteous man,” verse 9 says. He was apparently along with his sons and their wives and his wife, the only righteous. God says, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them, and behold, I’m about to destroy them along with the earth.” And He did in the Flood, destroyed them, and He literally destroyed the earth in the sense that He reshaped it. And when we get to the Flood in chapter 6 we’ll talk about that.
This, frankly, tells us, and I think the Bible’s most penetrating descriptions of the extent of man’s sin is found here in chapter 6. If you want to know how bad it was, and how bad it was very fast, all you need to do is read that the Lord saw, verse 5, “That the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every, every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That’s a very comprehensive statement, to the degree that God was sorry He had made man on the earth, grieved in His heart. He said, “I’m going to block them out,” and down in verse 11 and 12, as I read, corrupt, corrupt, corrupt.
This again is the Bible’s most penetrating description of the extent of man’s sin. And it’s in the primeval period. And it frankly shows us no progress. It isn’t that God created man and he’s been getting better. God created man and he instantly got worse and he keeps getting worse.
There are seven elements to this description. Let me just hit them for you. Seven, in seven major ways sin is indicated. In its extent, first of all, on the earth. It was really worldwide. Verse 6, “The Lord was sorry He made man on the earth.” In verse 7, He’s going to blot them all out over the whole earth. Verse 12, “God looked on the earth and it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” So, first of all, the extent of this sin was in the whole earth. Secondly, the inwardness of this sin. It was systemic, it was endemic, it was inside man as indicated by verse 5, “Every intent, all the imaginations,” that is the thoughts, all the intent or imagination of the thoughts of his heart. The extent of sin, the whole earth. The inwardness of sin, down to the very thoughts. And it even goes deeper into the very nature of man, in the forming of those thoughts. Not just the thoughts, but the intent of those thoughts. You’re getting behind it. We could say even the motivation of man is corrupt. The whole earth is corrupt. The thinking of man is corrupt. His mind is corrupt, and his deep motivations are corrupt.
And then, He talks about the absolutely exclusive character of this sin. In verse 5 He says, “It was only evil continually.” Man’s behavior was exclusively evil. And it was exclusively evil, number five, continually. So, you see the sin in its extent. You see the sin in its inwardness in the thought patterns, and you see it in its motivation down at the very intent level. And you see it on its exclusiveness; it’s only sin. And you see it in its continuousness; it’s continually sin. And then, in its inclusiveness. He says down in verse 12, “All flesh had corrupted their way.” All flesh, all flesh. If you were to look over to chapter 8 verse 21, you have a repeat of a statement with a little bit of a difference. The middle of verse 21, “The intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” This indicates the earliness of sin, from the very start of life.
So, you really see, this is a very elaborate description of depravity. This is a very elaborate, careful description of the sweeping condemnation of man. And we’re in chapter 6 of Genesis, and it’s this bad. So bad that God drowns the entire planet, except for eight people in the worldwide flood. Look at chapter 7 verse 23. This will show you how bad it was. “Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals, to creeping things, and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.” God literally obliterated the planet, with the exception of the animals that were on the ark and the eight in the family of Noah.
If you follow the story in to chapter 9, Noah and his family finally saw the water subside. So, Noah is given a new commission, the same commission Adam and Eve were given. Chapter 9 verse 1, “All right, Noah, you and your family go out, be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth again.” Let’s try this a second time, guys. “And you can rule the animals,” He tells them in verse 2, “The fear of you, the terror you shall be on every beast of the earth and every bird of the sky, with everything that creeps on the ground, all the fish of the sea, into your hands they are given.” And what He’s saying there is you can kill anything you want. That’s right, you can kill anything you want. Every moving thing, verse 3, that is alive, shall be food for you.
So, He says, go out and do what I originally gave Adam and Eve the right to do, and that is to rule over the creation, though initially before the Fall they weren’t to kill the animals. There was no such thing as death because there was no such thing as sin. Now, they can actually kill the animals that have been provided for them. Be fruitful, multiply, let’s do this again. By the time you get to the end of the chapter, you have a terrible situation, absolutely terrible situation. Noah is drunk and he’s exposed in some prurient sexual way. And a curse is pronounced on his son ’cause they saw his father’s nakedness in his drunkenness. He was drunk and he was naked in some lewd manner, and here you have the first sexual sin.
You have some more genealogy in chapter 10 and then you come to chapter 11. And you go to verse 7 and you have strife. Strife is initiated here in the confusion of languages. You come to chapter 12 and verses 10 to 20, and you have lying. Abram lies about his wife, Sarah, says she’s not his wife. Tells a lie ‘cause he doesn’t trust God. Tells Pharaoh that Sarah is his sister. Chapter 13, you have strife in verse 7 between Abram’s flocks, Abram’s flocks and Lot’s. In the 13th verse of the 13th chapter it says of Sodom, “The men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.” So, Sodom we know what the sin was. What was it? It was the sin of homosexuality. And I’m sure all kinds of other attendant sins. In chapter 14 you have the first war. In chapter 16 verse 4, you have adultery, Abram with Hagar, producing a son. In chapter 18 and verse 20 the Lord says again, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great and their sin is exceedingly grave.”
Things are getting worse. Chapter 19, the whole ugly, sorted, bizarre homosexual activity. The end of chapter 19, by the way, the homosexuals try to even rape the angels who came down in the 19th chapter of Genesis. You come to the end of that chapter, and you have Lot committing incest with his two daughters. You come in to chapter 20 and you have lying again. You come in to chapter 21 and you have cruelty toward Hagar and Ishmael. You come in to chapter 22 verse 24 and you have the first concubine. That’s a sex slave in today’s vernacular. You come in to chapter 26 and you have famine. You have lying also in chapter 26, I won’t go in to the detail, but Isaac followed the pattern of his father Abraham and lied about his wife, as his father had lied. You come to chapter 26 and you have the terrible quarreling that goes on, indicated in chapter 26 verse 18 to 22. Quarreling about wells. You come to chapter 27, you have deception. It just goes on like that. I could do this for another hour.
But let me just run it by you fast: 29, treachery, deception. Chapter 30, anger. Chapter 30, adultery. Chapter 30, polygamy. Chapter 31, deception. Chapter 31, theft. Chapter 31, idolatry. Chapter 31, anger. Chapter 31, implacability, or unwilling to bend. Chapter 32, hatred. Chapter 34, rape. Chapter 34, mass murder. Chapter 34, looting. Chapter 35, idolatry. Chapter 37, selling someone into slavery, betrayal. Chapter 37, harlotry and incest, and so it goes.
Now, wouldn’t you say something dramatically has changed from the statement, “And God saw everything He made and it was all very good?” Yeah. Something changed, is right. And what changed is recorded in Genesis chapter 3. What changed is that sin came into the picture and polluted everything, and with it came death. By one man, sin entered the world, and death passed to all men because all have sinned.
Now, how are we to understand sin? And we’ll go back to Genesis 1 and look at details, but I want you to understand the world that we live in. How are we to define and understand sin? Well, we have five questions we’re looking at. Number one question, I remind you: what is sin? What is sin? Well, if you look at the Hebrew Old Testament words, you’ll find a number of words used to describe sin, more than a dozen. They mean to err, to go astray, to wander, to overstep, to depart from the way, or to depart from the truth, to rebel, to transgress, to be stubborn, to act unfaithfully or treacherously, to be deceitful, to treat violently, to wrong, and words like badness and wickedness. There’s also a Hebrew word to be guilty, another one to offend, another one to be unrighteous, another one to twist, another one to distort, and another one to be perverse. Those are all ways to describe or define sin.
And in the New Testament there are a number of words also to define sin. It means to miss the mark, to go astray, to transgress. It means to do evil, to fall, to disobey, to be obstinate, unrighteous, impious, culpable, ignorant, to have a debt, to be evil, to be opposed to God, et cetera. All of those things.
But how have we summed it up? We summed it up by 1 John 3:4, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Sin is disobeying God. That’s it. And so, I’ve given you this definition: sin is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character and law of God. Sin is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character and law of God. Anything less than the holiness of God is sin. If you are anything other than as holy as God is, that’s sin. And if you do anything to violate His law, that’s sin. So, sin, then, is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character and law of God. And I confess, that’s a MacArthur definition. That’s one that I worked out in my own mind because I think it sums it up. Any thought, any word, any act, or any omission that is inconsistent with the perfect, holy character of God, or in any way violates His law, is sin. It is lawlessness. And the construction of 1 John 3:4 makes lawlessness and sin synonyms.
And as I said a week ago, you can’t define sin as a violation of the law of God if you don’t believe the Bible is the law of God, right? So, because our society rejects the Bible, there is no definition of sin, and we take polls all the time. You say, “Well, what about people who don’t have God’s law? What about people who are ignorant of God’s law?” Well, according to Romans 1, they are without excuse because that which is to be known of God is manifest around them in the created world and in reason. And chapter 2 of Romans says that the law of God is written where? In their hearts. It’s part of being human to have the law of God in your heart, a law that is consistent with Scripture.
Sin, then, is an offense against God. That’s why David in Psalm 51:4 says, “Against Thee only have I sinned.” All sin ultimately and primarily is against God. You might sin against another person. In some ways, that’s incidental to the real direction of that sin, which was an offense to God, who is the lawgiver and who is morally perfect.
So, we define sin. The second question we asked: what is sin like? And I told you sin is defiling. That is to say it is a disposition of the heart that corrupts everything we think, everything we say, everything we do so we have to say the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked. We have to say that there is in us no good thing. Even the best about us is filthy rags. It is a deep defiling in our very nature that corrupts everything we do.
Secondly, sin is not only defiling, it is rebellious. It is by nature the despising of God. It is by nature the dethroning of God and the enthroning of self. Thirdly, sin is not only rebellion, it is ingratitude. It like the nine lepers who were healed by Jesus and never came back to say thanks. Sin is to take everything that God has given us in His created world and never return thanks to Him. It is utter ingratitude.
So, we said to you last time, sin is defiling, rebellion, and ingratitude. And then, I think we stopped at this point: sin is hard work. Did we mention that? Sin is hard work. You know, most people go to hell sweating because there’s a furious effort to really consummate as much sin as they possibly can. It produces pain and death, and yet people work very hard at sinning successfully. They, in their lusts, conceive of sin, as James says, and then they work out the fulfillment of the conception. Jeremiah 9, Jeremiah says, “O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.” He’s weeping about the sinful people who are being punished by God. He said, “O that I had in the desert a wayfarer’s lodging place that I might leave my people and go from them, for all of them are adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men, they bend their tongue like their bow, lies and not truth prevail in the land for they proceed from evil to evil and they do not know Me, declares the Lord.” They just go from one sin to the next, to the next, to the next. “And everyone be on guard against his neighbor and do not trust any brother because every brother deals craftily, every neighbor goes about as a slanderer, and everyone deceives his neighbor, and doesn’t speak the truth. They have taught their tongues to speak lies.” Listen to this, verse 5, “They wear themselves out committing iniquity.” They weary themselves committing iniquity. They go to hell sweating.
Psalm 7:14, “Behold he travails with wickedness.” They literally are in a relentless, passionate drive to do sin that wearies them. That is illustrated in such dramatic fashion back in Genesis 19. You remember what was happening. Two angels came to Sodom in the evening. As angels can do, they take on a human form. And two angels came in a male form, and Lot saw them, and went to meet them, and bowed down his face to the ground. And he said, “Now, behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house.” He sees these beautiful angels in appearance as men and he says, get in the house quick, please spend the night, wash your feet, indicating that they did appear in a very human way. “That you may rise early and get out of here.” They said no, “But we shall spend the night in the square.” We’ll just stay out here in the square. He urged them strongly. “So, they turned aside to him and entered his house, and he prepared a feast for them, baked unleaven bread and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom surrounded the house both young and old, all the people from every quarter.”
A mob of men collects around his house. “And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’“ I mean, that’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? We want to have sexual relationships with those two beautiful men. Lot went out to them to the doorway and shut the door behind him. He said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters.” This was a stupid thing to do but he was on the spur of the moment making a poor judgment, “I have two daughters who have not had relations with men, two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you. Do to them whatever you like, only do nothing to these men in as much as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” Foolish, foolish thing for him to do. They said, “Stand aside, get out of the way, we are not interested in women.” Furthermore, they said, “this one came in as an alien and already is acting like a judge. Now, we,” and they’re talking about Lot, “now we will treat you worse than them.
So, they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door, but the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. That would be the angels. “And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness,” look at this, “both small and great. They made them all blind so they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.” You know what? They didn’t give up. They just got blind. They just went blind and they’re still trying to get the door open. Talk about a consuming passion, literally, indicative of the fact that sin is hard work. It consumes people’s lives and energies.
Proverbs 4:16 says, “They can’t sleep unless they do evil.” They’re robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. They stay awake just to perpetrate wickedness. This is sin. It’s hard work to sin. In fact, in Isaiah 5:18 he says, “People are like animals who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood and sin. They drag sin as if with cart ropes.” They’re like an ox, a dumb ox, hooked up to a cart load of sin, they drag it around like a beast of burden. That’s what sinners do. Sin is wearying. Sin is hard work. It is defiling. It defiles all the way down to the essential components of our nature. It is rebellion against God. It wants to dethrone God. It is ingratitude to God. And it is a life-consuming enterprise of hard work, and sinners weary themselves in an effort to fulfill their lusts.
Fifthly, sin is incurably fatal. Sin is incurably fatal. The soul that sins it shall die, Ezekiel 18 says. And Romans 3, “The wages of sin is death.” And man can’t do anything about it ‘cause his heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17. The whole head is sick, as Isaiah 1:4 to 6. He’s sick from the tip of his head to the tip of his feet and everything in between. And he has been blighted with an incurable disease that ultimately will kill him with an eternal death. That’s why Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Of course not, then you also can do good who are accustom to doing evil.” You can’t do good any more than a leopard can change his spots by wishing them away, or an Ethiopian the dark color of his skin.
The problem is, even man at his deepest point, his conscience is defiled. It says in Titus 1:15, “Even their conscience is defiled.” Even the divinely granted mechanism to cause them to do right is defiled. The warning system is broken. The warning system is defiled. Sin is incurable. John Flavel, the Puritan, wrote this, “All the tears of a penitent sinner, should he shed as many as there have been fallen drops of rain since the creation, cannot wash away one sin. The everlasting burnings in hell cannot purify the flaming conscience from the least sin.” End quote.
There’s no human cure. There’s no way that the sinner can expiate his sin even in hell. That’s why hell lasts forever, it doesn’t expiate his sin. There is no human cure, there is no resolution, there’s no reformation, there’s no religion, there’s no reeducation. Nothing man does can cure the deadly malady. It will kill him physically as it has killed him spiritually, and it will ultimately kill him eternally.
Note this, please. God is not a respecter of persons. God is not a racist. God does not resist a person or reject a person because of race, or because of color, or because he’s poor, or because he’s ignorant, or because he’s unschooled, or because he’s disabled, or because he’s weak, or because he’s ill, or because he’s unpopular, or because he’s despised, or because he’s an outcast. God does not resist or reject a person for any of those reasons. God does reject people, but He rejects them because they are sinners. The wages of sin is death. The soul that sins will die. It’s appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. That’s why God says through the words of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 44:4, “O do not this abominable thing that I hate.” Don’t do it. So, that’s the character of sin.
That leads to a third question that we probably don’t have time to answer tonight, but I think we’ll at least kind of introduce it to you. How many people does sin affect? What is sin? What is sin like? How many people does it affect? Turn to Romans 3. I remind you, 1 Corinthians 15:22, “As in Adam all died.” Romans 5:12, “By one man sin entered the world and death by sin because all have sinned.” Wherever there is death there’s sin. And everybody dies so everybody’s a sinner. We understand that. But look at the most direct statement to that effect, Romans 3 verse 10, “As it is written,” and this is taken predominantly from Psalm 14, the first three verses, “there is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless, there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Now, that’s it. That’s it.
Go down to verse 19, “We know that whatever the law says, the law of God, it speaks to those who are under the law that every mouth may be closed,” and that is to say there isn’t anybody on the planet who can make a successful argument in his own defense. Every mouth is stopped before the law of God, which we’ve all violated, and all the world is accountable to God. There is none righteous, not even one. Universal evil. There is none who understands, universal ignorance. “The natural man understands not the things of God, they’re foolishness to him,” 1 Corinthians 2:14. No one is righteous, not even one, and that’s added because somebody would say, comma, except me. So, the Holy Spirit said: no, not you. Nobody. There’s no one who seeks for God. There’s no one who does good. There is not even one, says verse 12, not even one.
And that’s verse 23 then summing it up, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, that answers the question, it’s a pretty simple question: how many people does sin affect? Answer: everybody. How many people die? Everybody. Do you know anybody who’s not aging? Well, there’s a lot of people trying to fight it in a lot of ways. That’s all right, but do you know anybody who’s not aging? Do you know anybody who is perpetually 21? Do you know anybody who doesn’t grow older? Everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying, everybody. And everybody dies because everybody is in sin.
Sin is the defiling, degenerative power in the human stream. That’s why David in Psalm 51 looks back and says, “In sin did my mother conceive me.” He doesn’t mean he was an illegitimate baby, he means, at the point of conception, I was a sinner. The time of my conception, I was a sinner; the time of my birth, I was a sinner. I came into the world a sinner. And if you’re looking to find my sin in the DNA, it’s not there. You can’t see it in a test tube any more than you can see my sin in an x-ray of my brain. And aren’t you glad when you have an MRI that that thing can’t read your thoughts? There isn’t any way to x-ray a thought. There isn’t any way to find your sin in your DNA. You can only find that in the mystical reality of who you are. We’re all dying, so we’re all sinning.
Now, not everybody is as bad as they could be. Not everybody is as bad as everybody else. Not everybody is as bad as possible. But everybody is bad enough to be damned to hell. And everybody is incapable of meeting God’s standard. What is God’s standard? To be as morally perfect as God is and perfectly obedience to His law. If you are not as perfect as God and you’ve ever broken His law, you’re subject to eternal death.
Universal death indicates universal sin nature. Universal sin nature implies sinning. You understand that? Death implies a sinful nature; sinful nature implies sinning. Somewhere down the road in the past, somebody brought this in to the human stream. And we now know who it was. It was that Adam and his wife, Eve. You say, “Ah, I wish they hadn’t done that.” You want to know something? If they hadn’t, you would have. So would I.
Well, we’ve looked at what is sin, what is it like, and who is affected by it. I want to answer a couple more questions next Sunday night. The fourth question: what does sin do to us? This is really interesting. What does sin do to us? And then, lastly: how did sin come to affect us? That will take us in to the sin of Adam, and we’ll get back to Genesis 3. And when we get in to it, you’re going to be fascinated by what is there.
Can I close by saying this? Don’t shut down your mental faculties at this moment. I almost feel like I should have preached these sermons today in reverse. I preached on repentance this morning and sin tonight. It really goes the other way, right? This morning we were asking you to repent. Well, tonight we told you what to repent of. Isn’t it wonderful to know that with all of that reality about who we are, God forgives sinners? That’s the glory of the gospel. As you heard in the testimonies so clearly tonight, the glory of the gospel is: all of this is true about us, and this is exactly who we are, and this is exactly what we deserve, eternal punishment. But the fact of the matter is, God has placed our iniquity on Christ. A great reality. He bore our sins in His own body. He was made sin for us. So, God punished Him in our place. That is the glory of the gospel, isn’t it? If you come to God and ask Him with a truly penitent heart, believing in Jesus as your substitute, ask God to forgive your sin, He’ll hear that prayer and answer it. Amen.
Father, thank You for a great evening, great day. And such great truth from Your profound Word. We are eager to acknowledge our sin, as David said, his sin is ever before him. Lord, we never can escape the reality of it, and we continually confess it, we continually repent of it, and we continually thank You for forgiving us. And we continually bless Your name and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for bearing our punishment on the cross and dying in our place that we might know life eternal. We praise You and we bless You, in our Savior’s name. Amen.
What Is Sin?
We are involved in a study of origins and looking at the book of Genesis. I would encourage you to open to the third chapter of Genesis. We have gone through Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and we have studied the text of those two chapters, and we have launched from those texts to study other matters of Scripture to try to fill in our understanding, and that will be the case of Genesis chapter 3. Genesis chapter 3 is familiar to us. It is a chapter that deals with a serpent in the Garden, and temptation, and forbidden fruit, and a woman who was deceived, and a man who followed her in violating God’s Word and God’s command. Then, talks about a curse and the price that was paid for that disobedience. Familiar to most everybody, to one degree or another, is the record of Genesis chapter 3. And at the very outset I want to just lay down a simple statement that we’re going to build on all the way through, and that is this: Genesis 3 is an accurate historical record of what actually happened in the Garden. You may wonder why I’m saying that. The reason I’m saying that is because most people who comment on Genesis 3 turn it into something other than a historical account of a real event. It is as the Word of God says it is.
Now, this chapter, before we get into the chapter, is going to take us some time just to prepare ourselves for it. This chapter may well be the most important chapter in the Bible. Certainly it is true that if you don’t understand this chapter you don’t understand the rest of the Bible. You cannot understand the solution to the problem unless you understand the problem. You can’t understand the cure unless you understand the diagnosis. You will never be able to understand God’s remedy for this world if you don’t understand the malady under which this world lives and functions. And I say, it may well be the most important chapter in the Bible because it explains absolutely everything about our universe and about life in that universe and all of us who live in it. It explains everything about why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are, and what God is doing in history, and why He’s doing it in terms of salvation. Genesis 3 explains the human dilemma. All the problems of the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account. I’ll say that again: all the problems in the universe. Physical problems, spiritual problems, moral problems, social problems, economic problems, political problems, all the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.
This chapter then is the foundation of any true and accurate world view. And without this foundation, every and any world view is utterly wrong. If you do not understand the origin of sin and its impact based on Genesis chapter 3, then your understanding of the world is wrong. Everything then is misunderstood. Everything is misevaluated. Everything is misread. Everything is misdiagnosed and hopelessly incurable.
You see, if you go back to the end of chapter 1 it says, “And God saw all that He had made and He had made all that has ever been made so He saw the whole created universe and behold, it was very good.” When God completed the original creation, everything was very good. But frankly, folks, everything in our world now is very bad. It is anything but good, and it has been anything but good through all of human history. When God completed His perfect creation it was very good because there was no disorder, there was no chaos, there was no conflict, there was no struggle, there was no pain, there was no discord, there was no disease, there was no decline, there was no death. Now, we all live our whole lives with all of that. Life is defined by disorder, chaos, conflict, struggle, pain, discord, disease, decline, and death.
We look at the physical world around us and we see it decaying and tending toward disorder and chaos, disintegration and death. That’s the law of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, that matter continually tends to break down toward disorder. The physical world is breaking down. This is frightening to people when they take a look at, for example, the interplanetary world or the celestial world, the world of heavenly bodies, and they begin to fear that as big chunks keep hurdling through space they have a likelihood that they will at some point collide with this planet in a collision that will literally blast us in to non-existence. And we watch in the national world, just the history of civilization, and we see the cycle of rise and fall, and rise and fall, and rise and fall. We look in the animal world and there is this incessant process of struggle and death. We look in the human world and every human relationship is a struggle.
Human life is a struggle. As soon as life is conceived in the womb, it begins to live and die at the same time. It begins to grow and decay at the same time. And in the spiritual and moral world, everyone finds it easier to do wrong. Have you noticed? It’s much easier to do wrong. In fact, it’s really impossible to do righteous things. Even when you do right humanly, you generally do it to feel better about yourself which is an ill-conceived motive. It’s much easier to do evil than good. It’s much easier to float down on the moral sewage than it is to buck the tide, stay above it. Hatred and crime and war, perversion, wickedness, those things just come with life.
So, we have to ask a question. If we come to the end of Genesis 1 and everything is very good, and we take a look at things, we have to ask the question: what’s wrong with this picture? What is wrong here? This is not the way it was at the beginning. Even going through chapter 2, you really have only an expansion of the created work of God on day six. Chapter 2 just expands on the creation of man and woman that’s mentioned from verse 24 down through the end of chapter 1. So, you could put verse 31 at the end of chapter 2. It was really at the same point in terms of God’s creation. God saw that everything that He had made, including man, including woman, including the Garden where He placed them all that’s described in chapter 2, and it was all very good.
But we look at the world today and it’s not very good. Evolutionists really amuse me. They are clueless about this, because they’re living under the self-deception that man is getting better, that he’s improving. The idea of evolution is that man starts from simplicity and mutates upward into complexity. That he starts from a very low and minimalistic level of intelligence and mutates upward to a greater intelligence. That he starts at a base level morally and he moves up to a higher and higher level morally. But the fact of just life itself, the truth about man is a refutation of evolution. Because the fact of the matter is: man isn’t getting better; he’s getting worse. He’s accumulating iniquities at a rapid rate, and with technological advances he is accumulating wretchedness faster than ever.
Man did not begin at the bottom of the moral ladder and slowly, by psychological evolution, rise higher. That’s just not true. In fact, if you study human history basically there hasn’t been really any change. Men are morally no better than they were in the past, and I suppose in some ways no worse than they were in the past. You can trace the patterns of wretchedness through all of human history. But the advancements that have come technologically, and by science through the centuries, have only enabled man to escalate and exacerbate his corruption.
What has gone wrong? If man began at the top, as Genesis 1 and 2 would tell us, and everything was very good, and man was created in the image of God, he started at the top, and he’s been plunging down through the abyss of darkness headed for a deep bottom ever since. What went wrong? What happened here? This isn’t the way it was in the original creation. The downward plunge doesn’t seem to be able to be stopped. It’s like man has fallen from heaven without a parachute, and he’s plunging at break neck speed toward hell with nothing to stop him. And his life is basically defined by wickedness and evil in every aspect, every relationship.
What happened is recorded for us in Genesis 3. Let me read you the first seven verses. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field in which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden God has said you shall not eat from it, or touch it lest you die.’ Now the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die.’” You know, what’s death? No such thing existed. “‘For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate. And she gave also to her husband with her and he ate. Then, the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked, and they sowed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
That’s how the third chapter opens. By the way, you might be interested to know the word “sin” doesn’t appear in the third chapter. But this is where it entered into our world. This was it. When Adam and Eve, tempted by the serpent in the garden, disobeyed God, everything went from being very good to being very bad. In Romans chapter 5 is a statement that we’ll go back to in weeks to come as we study this issue. In Romans chapter 5 and verse 12, listen to what the Bible says, “Therefore just as through one man,” that’s Adam, “sin entered into the world and death through sin and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” There is the New Testament commentary on the event that I just read you. Through one man, Adam, sin entered into the world and death through sin, the ultimate measure of decay. And so, death spread to all men because all sinned. When Adam sinned, we were all there. We were in his loins. We were his progeny. We have all come from Adam and Eve, and so we inherit what theologians call original sin. When Adam sinned, we all went down because we’ve all come from Adam.
At the end of chapter 2, you’ll notice that the man and his wife were naked and not ashamed. There wasn’t anything to be ashamed about because there was no sin. There were no evil thoughts. Nothing to be ashamed about. But you come to the end of the record I just read to you, in verse 7, the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
All of a sudden, there was shame. Why? For the first time in their existence, they had wicked thoughts. Never had a wicked thought before. Apparently, it had something to do with their sexuality. All of a sudden there was shame where there was no shame. This is the great indicator from their viewpoint that they had sinned. And the indicator from God’s viewpoint comes when He says in verse 16 to the woman, “I’ll multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain, you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, you’ve eaten from the tree which I have commanded you saying you shall not eat from it, cursed is the ground because of you. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall grow for you. You shall eat the plants of the field by the sweat of your face. You shall eat bread till you return to the ground because from it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Now, when God curses them, it’s quite interesting. Those curses really are physical. There is a curse on the woman’s pain in childbearing and on her conflict in her marriage. There is a curse on Adam in the fact that he no longer is going to be able to just pluck the wonders of Eden. He’s going to have to cultivate the ground, he’s going to have to fight the thorns and thistles, he’s going to have to sweat to bring forth his bread, and he’s going to ultimately die. But those things really don’t say anything about the moral change that took place. You know, really didn’t say too much. It becomes very apparent real quick. First of all, Adam and Eve felt shame and shame is a function of guilt, and guilt is a function of sin, and somehow they had thoughts of wickedness and were so embarrassed by those that they sewed together some leaves to cover themselves. They brought forth two sons in chapter 4; one of them murdered the other one. And the rest, of course, is history.
The Fall occurred at some point between the sixth day of creation when everything was very good, and when Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain because Cain was born a sinner. The Fall had to occur before that; we don’t know when. We don’t know how long they enjoyed Eden in its glory. But once they fell, they were changed, they were altered, and they passed on fallenness and sin to every human being that ever lived because they’ve all come from Adam and Eve. When Adam sinned, he brought death on himself and everybody else. And we’re all born to die. We all inherit what I like to call the death force, the death force. And as I said, the moment a baby is conceived it starts to grow and die at the same time. And we battle all through life to keep the death force from being triumphant for as long as we can.
We not only inherit death; we inherit sin because we were all there in Adam. That’s the first thing I want you to understand. That’s original sin. There’s another aspect to it, imputed sin. We’ll talk about that later. See, in our time if you don’t understand that, you cannot explain the human dilemma. You can’t explain that not only did this affect man’s moral life and therefore every area of relationship, but it affected the ground, it affected the material universe, the physical universe. And Romans 8 says the whole creation groans under this curse. The reason there is disintegration, death, and all of that in the entire universe goes right back to Genesis chapter 3. So, we’re going to be looking at Genesis 3 to see all the things that we can see to help us understand this amazing event.
The evolutionist, the psychological evolutionist, sociological evolutionist has a big problem because if man is getting more and more capable, if he’s getting more and more noble, if he’s mutating upward, and he has now reached a place where basically good, and actually getting better, why is it that society is not changing? Why is he morally worse? Well, evolutionary psychologists say there must be something wrong with his environment. And it all boils down to: I’m not bad, but you’re bad, and you make me bad. So, in this evolutionary process, some of us are going up and others, I guess, are going down. Fairly selective approach.
Psychologists reject sin because they want to exalt man, and they want to eliminate God. So, because they reject sin, they have no explanation for why man is the way he is. They misdiagnose him totally, so they offer really no help. And what do we do? We try to come up with harsher penalties, the, what is it, the three-strike law: three felonies in a row and you go to jail and they throw the key away. We bring back the death penalty. But nothing can end the reign of terror; nothing can end the reign of corruption. You can’t do it with counseling. You can’t do it with psychotherapy. You can’t do it with Prozac. You can’t do it, because the issue is sin. The issue is: we’ve all inherited a corrupted nature.
Of Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic wrote this, “In all of the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of sin, a word which used to be a veritable watchword of prophets. It was a word once in everybody’s mind, now rarely if ever heard. Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty, perhaps, of a sin that could be repented, and repaired, and atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid, or sick, or criminal, or recovering, or asleep? Wrong things are being done,” he writes, “we know. Tares are being sowed in the wheat field at night. Is no one responsible? Is no one answerable for these acts? Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge and even vague guilt feelings, but has no one committed any sins? Where indeed did sin go, what became of it?” End quote. By the way, that’s in the book he wrote called “Whatever Became of Sin?”
And, of course, there’s just no interest in the public forum in talking about sin today. I mean, that is absolutely archaic. Sinful nature? To say that people are corrupt at birth? To say that they inherited a wicked nature from their parents because they were all genetically, as it were, in Adam? They were all there and sinned in Adam in his loins, and everything that came out of that cursed man and that cursed woman bears that curse? Unacceptable. To say that people are all born with an evil bent, that they are all born with a desire to violate the law of God and to dethrone God and replace them with themselves, to say they are incapable of doing anything good, to say they are rotten to the very core, that everything about them, everything they think, everything they say and everything they do is only evil continually, to say their heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; frankly, folks, that is just not acceptable in the public forum.
Our culture has really declared war not only on sin, because they don’t want anything defined as sin. Everything is just a lifestyle choice; nothing is a sin. So, our culture has declared war on sin and consequently declared war on guilt. The very idea of guilt is considered medieval, obsolete, and certainly unhealthful. There was a mega-bestseller 20 years ago by Wayne Dyer, Dr. Wayne Dyer; it was called “Your Erroneous Zones.” And he said the most useless of all erroneous zones is guilt. He said, “Guilt,” quote, “must be exterminated, spray-cleaned and sterilized forever.” We have to get rid of guilt. And he says here’s how you do it. Quote, “Do something which you know is bound to result in feelings of guilt. Take a week to be alone. If you’ve always wanted to do something, despite the guilt engendering protestations from other members of your family, these kinds of behavior will help you tackle that omnipresent guilt.” In other words, if you feel guilty about certain things, do them and just keep doing them till you don’t feel guilty anymore. He says, “Defy your guilt, spurn your husband, spurn your children, attack that sense of self-disapproval head on. Do something that is sure to make you feel guilty and just keep doing it till you don’t feel guilty anymore. Refuse to hear the cries of conscience, the duties of family responsibility, the appeals of your loved ones. You owe it to yourself. Sear your conscience.” Nobody treats guilt seriously anymore.
You know, when people feel guilty nowadays, it’s because they ate too many French fries. Those are the guilty pleasures. There was a headline in an advice column that caught my eye. It summed up the universal counsel of our generation, the headline said: “It’s not your fault.” Stop blaming yourself. The article said, “Your compulsive behavior is not your fault. Refuse to accept the blame. And above all, do not blame yourself for what you can’t control. Heaping guilt on yourself only adds to your stress, low self-esteem, worry, depression, feelings of inadequacy and dependence on others. Let go of your guilt feelings.” And that ubiquitous Ann Landers has said, “One of the most painful, self-mutilating time and energy consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt. It can ruin your day, or week, or your life. It turns up like a bad penny when you do something dishonest, hurtful, tacky, selfish or rotten. Never mind that it was a result of ignorance, stupidity, laziness, thoughtlessness, weak flesh or clay feet, you did wrong and the guilt is killing you. Too bad, but be assured, the guilt you feel is normal. Remember, guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world.”
You don’t want to feel bad about anything. Boy, what a serious issue this is because you cut off people from the possibility of repentance. I love that story of the guy in New York City who, you’ve probably heard it; you read about it or heard it on the news. He robbed a store, and the store owner grabbed a gun and shot him and paralyzed him, so that the lower part of his body he was paralyzed and he was then confined to a wheelchair. When the case came to trial, the attorney for the robber who had been shot by the man took the case on the basis that this man who shot him did not understand that the man who committed the crime was a victim of society, that he was driven to crime by his economic disadvantages. The lawyer said he now is a shooting victim of the insensitivity of the man who shot him. And he said because of that man’s callous disregard of the thief’s plight as a victim, the poor thief is going to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He deserves some compensation. And the jury agreed. And the store owner paid a huge settlement. What always fascinates me when I think about the story is within two months, the man was arrested, committing another armed robbery in his wheelchair.
A woman who abused and brutally killed her own infant was acquitted of all charges because she had PMS. And you all remember the San Francisco city supervisor who was murdered. And when the person went on trial, it was the famous Twinkie Defense, the fact that he was not responsible for what he did. He was acting irrationally because he ate too many Hostess Twinkies. And the famous Twinkie Defense was born.
We have so much of that in our society. Similar tactics, passing blame away from us. And when children are disobedient, they say they’re hyperactive or they have attention deficit syndrome, or whatever other syndrome they could invent so they could sell people the drugs they want to sell them. And when somebody commits moral sin, they say they’re addicted to sex, and then they’re recovering sex addicts. And we have to remember, like AA, you’ll never really recover, so you’re whole life you’re recovering, so don’t feel bad if they slip up here and there. It’s just an addiction. Everything wrong with mankind is described as some kind of an illness. And you know that; that’s just the way the world chooses to avoid the issue.
So, we alone, I think, as Christians who understand the Bible and believe the Bible, we get it. We’ve got all these people trying: all the politicians, and all the moralists, and all the educators, and all the university people, and all the sociologists and everybody trying to fix society, and it can’t ever be done by these people because they don’t ever deal with the reality of what is in the heart. All humanity, all humanity, nobody escapes, has a vile, rebellious, corrupt nature. The thought-life is corrupt, the emotions are corrupt, the will is corrupt, and the behavior is corrupt. And Genesis 3 is crucial to understanding that.
By the way, you’d be interested, there are some things that are not in Genesis 3. The word “sin” is not there. And the word “Satan” is not there. We’ll say more about that as we get in to the text itself. But the rest of the Scripture makes it very clear. There’s not even any statement there as to the fact that the sins of Adam were passed down. It’s very apparent because immediately in the next chapter you have conflict and murder among the two sons of Adam and Eve. But we have to understand the rest of Scripture to interpret Genesis 3. So, when we go through Genesis 3, we’re going to be looking at some other passages to help us to interpret them. It’s really important for us to have a good biblical doctrine of sin.
As I often like to do in studying the Old Testament, I’ve got some Jewish sources ‘cause I wanted to read about what the Jewish scholars, rabbis and commentators of Judaism think about Genesis 3. Interestingly enough, Judaism, as such, has always rejected the existence of sinful depravity in man inherited from Adam. They reject that. Basically, they believe that what Adam did, Adam did, and he did it because he chose to do it. And Cain and Abel, they did what they did because they chose to do it. And that’s how it is, there’s no depravity that passes down. There’s no imputation of guilt to us because of the sin of Adam by God. That was just an isolated situation in his case, and we have the choice to do right or to do wrong. And that’s how they maintain salvation by righteousness because they don’t have a doctrine of depravity. They don’t have a doctrine of original sin. They understand Adam’s sin as affecting Adam, and the rest of us all have the same choices, either to obey God or disobey God, that Adam and Eve had, and we don’t inherit anything from them. That is not what the Scripture teaches.
For example, according to Isidore Epstein in the publication called “Judaism,” from Pelican Press back in 1959, Isidore Epstein says, “Judaism denies the existence of original sin. True, the idea that the sin of Adam had brought death on all mankind is not unknown in Jewish teaching, but the reference is invariably to physical death and is not to be confused with the spiritual death from which in Christian doctrine none can be saved except through faith in the risen Savior.” Isn’t that interesting? They understand the message of Christianity, and they want to cut it off at the front end. They want to deny original sin so that they can deny that men are in a condition which requires Jesus Christ to be their Savior. And the quote closes, “Man can therefore achieve his own redemption by his own penitence.” He doesn’t need a Savior. You get rid of the Savior and you get rid of original sin. Everybody makes his own choice, and if you have to make a bad choice, just tell God you’re sorry, and make more good choices than bad choices and your good choices will outweigh your bad choices and you’ll get in to heaven.
Cassuto, the Jewish commentator that I read so frequently says, “The central theme of Genesis 3 does not aim to give a philosophical explanation of the origin of evil in the world.” End quote. So, what he’s saying is typical of the Jewish commentators: this has nothing to do with the origin of evil in the world. This is one man and one woman, they made a choice and everybody else is in the same situation.
But they’re wrong. Scripture clearly indicates this is where evil began. And it is the New Testament that is most definitive. And again, you have to know that verse, Romans 5:12, that’s the key verse. When Adam sinned, everybody sinned in Adam. And when Adam received the penalty of death, we were all then sentenced to die.
Christian Scientists tell us that sin is an illusion. It’s not. The liberals tell us that sin is merely finiteness; to be human is to err. And the dualistic philosophers tell us that sin is the flesh as opposed to the spirit, which is pure. Now, those are all wrong. We will get a biblical understanding of sin in our study.
Let me give you a definition of sin at this point. Sin is any personal lack of conformity to the moral character of God, or the law of God. Then, sin is a disposition of the heart, it is a bent. It thinks evil, it speaks evil, it acts evil, and it omits good. Let me give you those four because those are the four ways in which you sin: you sin by thinking evil, speaking evil, acting evil, or omitting good. You sin when you do, when you say, when you think, or when you don’t do, say, think what God commands you to. So, it is commission, as you’ve often heard, or omission.
Now, before we look at the seven verses, I want to give you a broad look at the subject of sin as it is outlined in the Bible. And then, we’re going to come back and see how it originated. Before we look at the story of Genesis, how it all originated, I want you to have an understanding of the theology of sin, because this is essential for our understanding. Then, when we go back into Genesis, we’ll be able to see clearly where the root of all of this began. And I guess the best way to do this is to suggest to you that I want to answer just five questions, okay? Five questions. I don’t think I’ll get through them all tonight, but I’ll do a couple of them. And this is pretty familiar stuff, but we’ll just lay a foundation. I never know who’s listening to this, or who might hear the tapes, or who might hear the radio program, and I want to be sure we cover these issues.
The first question is: what is sin? And I’ve just given you a definition. What is sin? Now, we know what sin is. It is any violation, any violation of the character or law of God, the moral character or the law of God. Summing it up, 1 John 3:4, 1 John 3:4 says, “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Sin is the transgression of the law. That is one definition of sin. Another way to translate that, everyone doing sin is doing lawlessness, anomia, lawlessness.
In other words, it’s ignoring God’s law, it’s violating God’s law. That is sin. Any violation of God’s law is sin. Sin and lawlessness, in that Greek construction of 1 John 3:4, are identical. It’s living as if there was no law of God, calling your own shots. It’s further defined in Romans 14:23: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Anything that you do that isn’t done as a direct act of faith in God is sin. In Romans 14:23, to know to do right and not do it is sin. In 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.”
So, the Bible gets around that issue in many ways. When you do something that goes against real trust and faith in God; that’s sin. When you know to do right and don’t do it, that’s sin. When you know something pleases God, something that God has commanded, you don’t do it; that is sin. All unrighteousness is sin. All sin is lawlessness. And all of those things are just coming at the same issue that sin is any violation of God’s moral character or His law. To put it another way: sin is going beyond the bounds that God has established. That gives us a substantial understanding of sin. As you go through the Bible you’ll find all kinds of words. I’m not going to go through all these Hebrew words and all the Greek words of sin. There are just many, many of them. It’s enough to know that sin is defined as any breach of God’s law.
Now, where is God’s law revealed? Scripture, right? Scripture. So, we have a problem in our society today, folks. We don’t believe that man is innately a sinner; we think he’s basically good and something happens to him environmentally. But if we do acknowledge that he does evil, how do we define that evil? What is our standard for what is evil? What is it? Well, once, our standard for evil in America, our standard for morality in America was established by the Bible, right? By the Bible, I mean, that’s what the nation was founded on. That’s what basically our laws were written on. Our view of morality, our view of crime, our view of justice all came out of the Bible. And once, there were certain behaviors that were considered to be against the law. And that’s changing. That’s changing rapidly. It’s changing in the sexual realm. It’s changing in the homosexual world. It’s changed, of course, in the world of abortion, euthanasia. Boy, watch what happens with the genetic engineering that’s going to come in the very near future as they now can determine the ability to handle the genes and decide who gets born and who doesn’t, and et cetera, et cetera.
As we continue to move down deeper and deeper into the morass of sin and dislodge ourselves from any set standard, being the Word of God, we have no way to define morality anymore except to take a survey, right? To take a survey. That’s what you do. The politicians do it. They give back what they think the constituencies would vote for. They want to get elected so they basically say, “I believe this,” because they polled the constituents and that’s what they say. And that’s how we develop our morality. And you watch, as our society sinks deeper and deeper into sin, and distances itself consistently and completely from the Word of God, it’s going to be harder and harder to define morality. There won’t be anybody who can walk into a court and hold up a standard. You can’t walk into a court today and hold up the standard of the Bible as the standard of morality. All we have left is tradition, and tradition will be overthrown by surveys, it will be overthrown by vote, it will be overthrown by referendums, it will be overthrown when the people want to overthrow it. So, it’s not going to get any better, it’s going to get worse. The reclassification of behavior. We don’t have a standard.
How do you go to a generation like that and tell them they’re sinners? Based on what? Based on what standard am I a sinner? And you say, well on the standard of the law of God, on the standard of the Bible. The Bible is not our standard. I think we have no other choice but that to hold the Bible up as a standard and to say to the sinner: it is the standard. And because it is the Word of God, and it’s up to you to determine by reading it carefully and thoughtfully that it is not the Word of God. That’s the challenge I put out. Oh, you don’t think the Bible is the Word of God. Have you read it? Have you studied it? Are you really sure about that? I never had anybody say to me: yes, I’ve studied it thoroughly from cover to cover and it’s not the Word of God.
But I don’t think we have anywhere else to go, because this is the standard. We’re just not going to have a society anymore propped up by biblical standards. And you watch the continual escalation that goes on as we redefine morality in terms of popular referendum, popular vote, and survey. That redefining of morality without a standard leaves our society in a death dive, because sin is breaking God’s law. Sin is violating God’s moral character. And there’s nowhere to know that except on the pages of Scripture. And if you don’t believe the Scripture establishes morality, righteousness, and unrighteousness, then you have no standard, and you have no definition of sin. That’s the real issue in our society today. How do we tell our society about a Savior who will save them from sin when their definition of sin is basically non-existent?
What is sin to them? You tell them it’s a violation of the law of God. “Well, where is that?” Well, it’s in the Bible. “I don’t believe that.” But, you know, it’s still the Word of God that the Holy Spirit uses, right? So, I don’t equivocate. I just keep preaching the Bible and let the Spirit of God take it and use it to convict the hearts.
So, what is sin? Sin is a violation of the law of God. It’s a violation of the moral character of God and His laws as revealed on the pages of Scripture. That is sin. That’s all we need to say about it. That’s all we need to say about it. So, you study the Bible and you’re going to find out what God commands us to do and not to do. You’re going to find out the essential elements of God’s nature. And whenever we violate those, we sin.
Now, let’s go past the definition for just a moment and look at the nature of sin just briefly. The nature of sin. First of all, sin is defiling. I’ll just give you a few things to think about. Sin is defiling. These are things that characterize sin, not defining it, but characterizing it. This is kind of how it manifests itself. It is a violation, yes. That’s what it is. But how it shows up, it first of all is defiling. It is a pollutant. It is to the soul what scars are to a beautiful face, what stain is to white silk cloth. It is ugliness across the face of beauty. It is a kind of ugliness that is defined in Scripture in very graphic terms. In 1 Kings 8:38, sin in man’s heart is compared to ugly, oozing sores from a deadly plague. In Zechariah 3:3, Joshua, the high priest’s sin is like a filthy garment that’s being worn by a person. When you go down in the inner city somewhere and you pass by the street people who have lived in the same clothes and slept in the same clothes on the street for years, and that’s the filthy garments that are a picture of sin. Sin scars the image of God and man. Sin stains the soul. It degrades man’s nobility.
Interesting statement is made in Zechariah, the prophet Zechariah, talking about sin. There’s so much about it, of course, all through the Bible, but in Zechariah chapter 11 and verse 8, there’s a very interesting statement where God actually says there is a loathing. He says, “Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month for My soul loathed them,” is what it actually says. “My soul detested them and they also detested Me.” Sin causes you to hate God, and to loathe God. And God says, My soul loathed them. My soul loathed them, and they loathed Me. And when a sinner sees his sin, he sees it as defiling. He sees it for what it is. Ezekiel 20 verse 43 says, “And there you will remember your ways and all your deeds which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evil things you’ve done.”
When you really look at yourself, you see the defiling of sin and you loathe yourself. Sin pollutes, sin defiles, sin corrupts. Paul calls it in 2 Corinthians 7:1, the filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan, wrote, “Sin is called poison, sinners serpents. Sin is called vomit, sinners dogs. Sin is called the stench of grave, sinners rotten sepulchers. Sin is called mire, sinners pigs.” It is defiling, degrading, it stamps the devil’s image on the human soul.
Sin is, secondly, rebellion. It is not only defiling; it is rebellion. It establishes not only a defilement, and a filth, and a pollution, and a corruption, but it establishes a life of rebellion. It is, by its own nature, as Leviticus 26:27 says, “Walking contrary to God.” It is just walking in constant opposition, in constant rebellion. A sinner tramples on God’s law, tramples on God’s character, willfully crosses God’s will, affronts God, spites God, mocks God. And the Hebrew word for “sin,” one of the Hebrew words, pasha, signifies rebellion. Is it, at its core, rebellion. That’s what it was for Lucifer. That’s what it was for Eve. That’s what it was for Adam. That’s what it is for all of us. Perhaps a good definition, Jeremiah 44:17, “But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth.” That’s it. God, we will do exactly what we want to do.
Sin is God’s would-be murderer. Sin would not only unthrone God but ungod God, and replace Him with us. If the sinner had his way, God would cease to be God, and the sinner is the only god in his world. So, sin is defiling, and sin is open, incessant rebellion.
Let me give you a third one. We’ll pick up here next time. Sin is ingratitude. I mean, everything we have, everything we are is from God. We live and move and have our being in God. Acts 17:28 says, “He makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, sends rain on the just and the unjust.” He’s given us everything. And Romans 1, Paul says, “That the wrath of God is revealed from heaven because when they knew God, they didn’t glorify Him as God. Neither were thankful,” verse 21. Sin is just ungrateful.
All the food the sinner ever eats, God gave him. All the air the sinner ever breathes, God gave him. All the joys the sinner ever experiences, God provided. All the love he ever experienced in the human world, everything. All of his senses are from God. All of the pleasures of life, to meet those senses, are from God. Every beauty of life is from God. It is God who has given wisdom to us. He’s given wisdom to the mind of every human being to think, and feel, and work, and play, and rest, that life might be full and useful. And it’s God who made us love, and made us laugh, and made us cry. It’s God who gave us special skills and abilities to excel in some areas, and to know some measure of self-respect and value. It’s God who gave us the capacity to care for each other and have relationships. It’s God who providentially preserves us from getting every disease and dying every death. God literally surrounds the sinners with mercy. They abuse them.
It’s like Absalom, you know. As soon as David, his father, had kissed him and embraced him, he went out and plotted treason against His father. So, the sinner eagerly takes the kiss of God that God provides in the created world, and embraces God’s graces and God’s mercy, and then betrays Him by being the friend of God’s enemy, Satan. Sin is serious ingratitude. It’s damning ingratitude. And the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against that ingratitude. Sin is defiling. It is rebellion. It is ingratitude. Well, a few more and a few more questions next time, then we’ll start to look at the text.
Father, tonight we’ve just really begun our study in what is such an unhappy subject to be considering, and yet so necessary. We have to understand the heart of man. We have to understand our own hearts, have to understand our sin, its severity, its incurable power from the human perspective. We have to understand its pervasiveness, its deadliness. We have to understand sin because it’s the defining element in our universe. It’s why things are the way they are. It’s why the creation is no longer very good but very bad. It’s why everything dies. Father, we have to understand sin because, most of all, it’s why we need a Savior. And You’ve sent Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that sin is humanly incurable, but You have sent Jesus to save His people from their sins. And You save sinners who repent and ask You for forgiveness. What an amazing reality, that as bad as sin is, as defiling, corrupting as it is, as openly rebellious as it is, as ungrateful as it is, You still forgive it when the sinner comes and asks, even as we heard give testimony to in baptism tonight. We want to understand the world and we want to understand it the way it needs to be understood and that’s the way You see it, and we are able to if we follow Your Word. And we know what’s wrong in our world. We know what’s wrong in the lives of people. We know what it is: it’s sin, and there isn’t any human solution. But there is a divine one. May You bring many, many sinners to repentance and salvation. Use us to that end, we pray in the name of Your Son and our dear Savior. Amen.
MAN IN THE GARDEN OF GOD
Now as we have learned, the peak of creation came on day six. The entire universe as we know it today was created in six, 24 hours day, six solar days with an evening and a morning for each day. There was no evolutionary process whatsoever. There is no evolution from species to species. In fact the God created the universe with all of its diversity and variety as we now know it in six, 24 hours days.
But on day six, the final act of His creation was the creation of man and woman in his own image. And of course the rest of the created world was merely a stage on which man and woman would play the primary role in history. God created man the supreme point of creation in his own image which means with self-consciousness, with personality, with rationality, with intelligence, with creativity and the capability for relationship.
And then he gave man sovereignty over all the created world and its vast and rich resources. That was the culmination. With the creation of man then the real story begins. Because history is not about matter, it's not about stars and planets, it's not about the earth and its topography or geography. It's not about animals. The real story is the story of man. Everything else was scenery for the story of man and his redemption.
Now the original history of man begins in Chapter 2, Verse 4 and goes on from there to the end of the book of Genesis and frankly to the end of time. You could simply say that all of time is divided into two categories. Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 the creation of the universe. Genesis 2:4 to the rest of history the story of man. And certainly that is true to the end of the book of Genesis, Chapter 50 and Verse 26. So Chapter 2, Verse 4 points forward. The scene has been set, the stage has been made ready and here is the saga of man.
Verse 4 begins this is the account or this is the tolodothe, these are the generations is what it really says. The generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made earth and Heaven. These are the generations of man when God created the universe. This is the beginning of man's story. Now some people have tried to find conflict between the creation account in Genesis 1 and the account in Genesis 2. There is no conflict whatsoever. In Genesis 1, you have the simple fact of man's creation. In Genesis 2, you have the details of that creation.
So in this chapter, starting in Verse 4, man takes the center stage. Becomes the subject of all the rest of Genesis and all the rest of human history. Here in Genesis 2 then, we're going to go back to day six because after all this is the saga of man. And though man was mentioned in Chapter 1 as one of the details in the creation of the universe, here he takes center stage so Chapter 2, Verse 4 takes us back to day six and a more detailed look at the creation of man which begins his wonderful story.
Now as we look at the details of day six and the original creation of man, we're going to note five things. The creation of man, the location of man, the vocation of man, the probation of man and the relation of man. And I really didn't have to contrive anything, it just fell out that way almost as if the Holy Spirit knew that this would come up somewhere down the future through an English speaking preacher.
The creation, the location, the vocation, the probation, the relation. Now last time we looked at the creation of man in Verses 5 to 7 and I will just briefly remind you of what we learned. Remember now everything here is on day six. We just look at day six for more detail. And on day six, according to Verse 5, "no shrub of the field was yet in the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprouted. For the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to cultivate the ground."
Now that verse has posed a lot of interesting dilemmas and problems. And in fact I didn't really fully understand that verse up until the last couple of weeks or so and so I'm going to alter the note that I wrote in the McArthur study Bible a little bit in the next edition. But this takes us back to day six. Now on day six it says "there was no shrub of the field and no plant of the field." Now we know that trees and plants were created on day three.
So whatever these are, that didn't exist on day six, they aren't the same as trees and plants that were created on day three. This is not a reference to the plants and the trees that were created by God on day three. Whatever these are, they are different and we looked at them last time, fascinating. The shrub of the field as it's translated in the NAS as the seeya in Hebrew, seeya and it refers to as thorns and weeds. When man was created, there were no thorns and there were no weeds. Chapter 3 in Verse 18 tells us the part of the curse was thorns and thistles or weeds would grow.
There would be because of the curse some mutation of the plants into weeds. Such plants did not exist on day six because there was no sin. There was no curse. Secondly there was no plant of the field and the word here is esev. And it refers to crops. It refers to the kind of crops that man had to plant by tilling the soil. And that's why it says at the end of Verse 5, "these things didn't exist because there wasn't any rain on the earth and there wasn't any man to cultivate the ground."
These were the things that took place after the fall. So all that they words of the inspired writer Moses are intended to tell us here is that at the time man was created, there was no curse on the earth. No weeds existed and no necessity to till the ground. Grain existed certainly wheat, and oats and barley and corn and some form of those existed in the original creation. And they grew out naturally and they grew in the wonder of God's creation in a perfect and very good way as Verse 31 of Chapter 1 tells us. "Everything was very good."
There wasn't any need to cultivate the ground with these things. There wasn't any need to bring forth these crops by the sweat of your brow and hard work. There wasn't any need to fight the weeds and the thorns and the thistles that grew up and impeded the progress of the crops and those things that challenge so greatly the farmer even today. Those crops came later on only by the hard labor of man to produce them. And those weeds came because of the curse. And they made his task hard. And they were destructed and bothersome.
And in fact you'll notice at the end of Verse 5, he says that there were no weeds on the earth because God had not sent rain on the earth yet. Now when the fall came, rain didn't come 'til the flood. When the fall came in the garden and God cursed the earth, at that point in time according to 3:18, "weeds came." There was some mutation in the plant and they began to grow in an unruly way a counterproductive way and choke out the life of the naturally growing food. So that man had to protect that and plant it and guard it and till it and keep it from the intrusion of the weeds. So there were weeds before the rain came. But let me tell you why it says that.
I don't normally get interested in scientific information unless it has some biblical benefit. And one of the things that fascinates me is the science of seed dispersal. And I'm sure you know this to one degree or another that what causes seed to be dispersed across the face of the globe is the movement of the weather.
What moves the seed is the wind. You can plant in your yard, you can till the ground and have very clean soil and bring in soil that's been filtered and you can prepare your garden or your lawn. And in a matter of months or years all of a sudden weeds start to pop up and pop up and pop up. And there are a couple of contributors to that. One being birds who eat the seed in one place, fly over and deposit it in your yard. And already fertilized when it lands, it begins to develop. And so there is a movement into your property of something from somewhere else.
But much more powerful in the movement of seed across the face of the earth is the movement of air, the wind carries that. And so when rain came, then you had the hydrological cycle and water being moved by mass air movement which carries this dangerous kind of seed that makes it hard to plant and succeed with crops. But this is a time before rain moved of the seeds the unwanted seeds around the globe. And this is a time before there was any necessity to cultivate the soil. This was the time when there were no weeds and this was the time when man didn't have to till anything because everything grew and flourished in its proper place and nothing impeded the progress and the development of what was good for food.
So you have a pre-cursed environment from the standpoint of plants. Then in Verse 6, you have a pre-cursed environment in relation to water. Literally Verse 6 says but a flow translation of a mist I think is not a good translation. "A flow used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." Now in the original creation, there was no wind. There were no air movements to move clouds to deposit water on the land and then to sweep back over the ocean for condensation to pick up water and again drop it on the land.
That's not how it was. There was no rain; there was no air movement. And so what you had then was water flowing, gushing up from underground. And covering the necessary rains that would supply a water table both underground and surface water to water the whole earth. And it wasn't irregular. As I said last time, rain comes and goes. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't. And there can be terrible drought and God reserves the right to deliver the rain or hold the rain back as we saw as a part of God's judgment on the earth.
The very fact of rain was a judgment of God by which he broke the normal continual flow of water that once existed when water just gushed up from underground subterranean sources. The whole earth originally was being constantly, not intermittently, but constantly irrigated from below. A marvelous environment, free from anything but what was good. And in that marvelous earth, God had provided everything for man's enjoyment. Everything watered to the max, everything producing in its fullness.
It was in that kind of environment Verse 7 says "the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground that is he was made out of the same basic elements that everything else is made out of." The same atomic elements, the same chemical elements as we saw. He then breathed into his nostrils that breath of life, that life which is the principal of existence, not measurable in any scientific fashion. And man became a living being.
What we remind you of there is there is no preadamic man, there are no preadamic homonoids, God made man not of a monkey or an ape or a baboon, God made man out of dust. The same elements that make up the ground. Now that brings us to the location of man. That was a review.
The location of man. Now the whole earth really was his domain, the whole earth was under his sovereignty, but he needed a home. And so God was the first environmentalist, the first gardener. And he planted a garden toward the east in Eden. And there he placed the man whom he had formed. The whole earth was good, the whole earth was very good, Chapter 1, Verse 31 says, "but God made man a special home. God planted a garden toward the east and there he placed the man that he had formed." Again a reminder that there is no testimony anywhere on the pages of Scripture that man evolved, it is always God who formed him, created him, made him.
And so man's home was the garden. The special garden that God made for his joy and his delight. It is called Eden. Eden actually means a place that is well watered throughout. The defining character of the garden was that it was so well watered. Everything was lush, everything flourished. In fact the Babylonians call lush green land from which is well watered, Edenu, Edenu.
God planted a well-watered garden. Where is it? It's east toward the east, well you say that's a pretty nebulous identification. Well not really. Not if you realize that God views everything from the vantage point of his promised land. That's why we would say that Eden is toward the east of Israel. And so God planted a garden. Now we learn a little bit about this garden from some other passages of Scripture. Let me kind of show you.
Look at Ezekiel the Prophet and Chapter 28. Because here are some references to this. I want you to understand this location that God gave man. And that has a lot of implications by the way even for us today. But Ezekiel 28, we have a description here against the King of Tire, starting in Verse 12, which most Bible scholars would associate with Satan that he's really talking through the King of Tire to the one who's behind him, namely Lucifer the fallen angel who is Satan.
And he is saying about him in Verse 12 "you have the seal of perfection full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, you were in Eden the garden of God." And notice this, every precious stone was your covering. The ruby, the topaz, the diamond, the barrel, the onyx and the jasper, the lapas lazuli, that's a strange name referring to a familiar ancient stone. The turquoise and the emerald, the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you on the day that you were created. It goes on to say "it was the anointed cherub, I placed you there, you were on the holy mountain of God. You walked in the midst of the stones of fire."
He says, Verse 16, "I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God, I destroyed you oh covering cherub." Now we learn a few things there. We learned that this garden was not only a garden with plants, but it was a garden with minerals. Every precious stone was there in the original creation and is associated with the beauty of this fallen angel. Ruby and topaz and diamond and barrel and onyx and jasper and lapus lazuli and turquoise and emerald and gold was there.
There's even an indication and we can't be particularly specific about this, but he does mention in Verse 14 and 16 "the mountain of God," it could be well that there was some kind of hill, some kind of elevation of Eden so that it was up from the surrounding terrain, maybe not the full sense of mountains that we know in a post flood environment when literally the place of the surface of the earth were shattered in the continence divided as we'll see when we get to Chapter six. But that there was an elevated place just loaded with wonder and beauty and riches.
I want you to notice also Chapter 31 because in a very interesting way, Ezekiel 31 also gives us an insight into Eden. This is really a judgment; this section in Chapter 31 is a judgment on Pharaoh. Pharaoh was a very proud and self-exalting and Verse 2 comments about "son of man who is Ezekiel say to the Pharaoh King of Egypt and to his multitude whom are you like in your greatness?" And this is all sarcasm. This is all mockery; this is all irony. God is pronouncing judgment on Assyria, he starts with talking to Pharaoh, but he says, "Look at Assyria," Verse 3, it was a cedar in Lebanon with beautiful branches and forest shade and very high and its top was among the clouds and he's talking about how Assyria was and of course God pronounced a great judgment on them.
And he goes on to talk about all of that greatness. And then in Verse 8, the sarcasm starts to come, the cedars in Assyria, that even the cedars in God's garden couldn't match them. And here's the sarcasm. And the cypresses why they couldn't compare with its bows and the plain trees couldn't match its branches. No tree in God's garden could compare with it in its beauty. This is all sarcasm. Boy you were so great, weren't you. You were so beautiful; you are more beautiful than Eden. Well what it does tell us is that Eden had cedars and cypresses and something called a plain tree.
He says in Verse 9, "I made a beautiful with a multitude of its branches." And all the trees of Eden which were in the garden of God were jealous of it. This is all mockery. All sarcasm. And in Verse 16, "I made the nation's quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down the Sheel with those to go down to the pit and all the well watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon were comforted in the earth beneath."
They also went down with it to Sheel, to those who were slain by the sword and those who were at strength live under the shade among the nations. To which among the trees of Eden are you thus equal in glory and greatness. You will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth. So will happen to Pharaoh and his multitudes. Sarcastically the Lord gives us a glimpse of Eden. That it was full of these various kinds of trees that were absolutely magnificent.
Now with that go back to Genesis Chapter 2. And we find Verse 9 that having placed man in his garden; man found that out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food. Every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food. Now I'll tell you something. There are some trees that are not pleasing to the sight, or not at least as pleasing as other trees. It may be sort of a bad thing to say in Southern California. But one of the ugliest trees I have ever seen is a palm tree.
I mean it's just a stick with a big bunch of thorns at the top. It's not good for shade; I don't know what it's good for. Maybe there weren't any in the garden, but maybe there are, I don't know. But God picked the trees pleasing to the site. Now the whole earth is covered with plants and trees. Species existing everywhere created on day three. But God took the best looking ones the most beautiful ones and the divine gardener made some choices that you could make a choice. I mean lets face it; a horse is better looking than a warthog.
And an antelope is better looking than an alligator. And so there can be trees that are better looking than other trees. And God picked all the beautiful trees. Pleasing to the sight and then he picked that which was good for food. Oh, the amazing variety of trees, it's just amazing. I was a few days ago in Germany and it was the turning of the leaves. Right at the height of the turning of the leaves in the fall across Germany. And Germany is covered with forests. And I saw trees that I had never seen in my life that have names that I never heard in my life. And the beauty and the wonder of these trees was staggering.
First I was flying all over Europe all the time in an air bus seeing them from the air, then I was driving from place to place. And then on a couple of occasions I was walking through the woods while all the leaves were tumbling down around me. The variety is staggering, the variety and the mind of God to create all these kinds of trees is so amazing. And certainly some more beautiful than others. God chose to plant in his special garden. And then he selected what was the best to eat. Now I don't know if there was cauliflower, broccoli and lima beans in the garden. But if I were making a choice, there wouldn't have been.
There would have been a lot of strawberries and raspberries and apple trees and orange trees, who knows. But this was whatever God chose to be the best, to look at and to eat. These were the natural trees that he created. But there was also a supernatural tree there. End of Verse 9, "the tree of life also in the middle of the garden." And then another tree is mentioned, "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Now all of a sudden in the midst of this amazing variety of trees which God has selected for the special home of man are introduced two trees that have properties that indicate they might not be natural trees.
Or they might be natural to look at and they might have a fruit that is natural in the sense that it is a real fruit. But there is a supernatural property at least to the first tree for certain. It is the tree of life in the midst of the garden. Now what that tells us is that it apparently had special properties to sustain life eternally in the one who ate from it. As long as one ate from that tree, they would live forever. This tree was placed right in the middle of the garden. Maybe right at the crown of that mountain of God. If indeed that was there in the garden. It was always readily available from any place because it was in the very middle.
And it was so powerful, listen to this, "this tree was so powerful in sustaining life eternally that even after Adam fell and Eve fell, even after they became sinful, mortal dying people, if they had eaten of that tree, they would have continued to live eternally." And so according to Chapter 3 in Verse 22, "they had to be thrown out of the garden, less man stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever, therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden."
That would be a worse fate than death. To live forever as a sinner. But that tree of life had the power to sustain the life even of a fallen sinful, mortal, dying human. The tree of life sustained life. Among the Jews, the tree of life became a phrase used a number of times. It's used at least four times in the book of Proverbs. And it's used to express life's best joys. Life's greatest delights. When the Jews said that is a tree of life, they were loading it with their highest regard.
There was that tree that they could enjoy. That could sustain their already sustained eternal life. But it had such power. Once they sinned, they had to be removed from it. Less they would live forever in a sinful condition, better to die and be transformed, right? Into an eternally holy condition.
Now there's another tree in the garden, Verse 9, it's called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is an actual tree and it had actual fruit on it. We don't know what kind of tree it was. A lot of times in pictures you see Eve or Adam eating an apple, we don't have any idea what kind of fruit this was or what kind of tree it was. But it was a real tree. And also the indication here is that it was in the middle of the garden. In the middle of the garden was the tree of life and in the middle of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It would have been a good tree. It would have been because everything else was good, right? It had good fruit. It was not a poisonous tree. It wasn't a tree with toxic fruit. There was no toxic anything in the perfect creation of God. There was no poison; there was nothing in the fruit of that tree that somehow altered genetics. There was nothing in that tree that somehow killed some principle of life in an individual. Dealing some deadly blow to his soul. That was a good tree and the fruit was perfectly good because everything God made was good, everything.
There was nothing harmful in the tree itself. There was nothing harmful in the fruit of the tree. Like everything else, it was very good. But eating from it was very bad. Because eating from it produced the knowledge of evil. Man already knew good; that's all he knew was good. He didn't know anything but good.
But he would know if he ate of that good and evil. And as soon as he ate of that tree, he would die. Verse 16. "The Lord God commanded the man safe from any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die." So it would do two things to him. It would show an evil and it would kill him. Now eating could only occur under one premise. The only way man could possibly eat of that tree was if he directly disobeyed God.
And if he didn't disobey God, he would never know evil. But as soon as he disobeyed God, he would experientially have come to the knowledge of evil. Because evil is disobedience. The tree was a test, it wasn't that there was anything in the tree that was toxic, the tree was just a test. And if man ate the act of disobedience, would be the evil that he experienced. And God would then curse him for that disobedience. And he would die. So in the whole created earth, in the magnificent Eden, the garden of God, there was just one test.
One test. And we know the sad story. They had everything else, wasn't enough. The story will unfold for us in Chapter 3, "How that Satan who was that angel in the garden of God. Who was there in all his beauty had tempted Eve and she fell and Adam followed and they knew evil, experientially because they did it by disobeying God and death came into existence." See before they ate of that tree, they were like little children. They were like just little babies. They didn't know anything about evil. Remember in Deuteronomy, I think it's Chapter 1, Verse 39, where the Bible says, "Your children who this day had no knowledge of good or evil." That was just a term to say they were innocent. They didn't know anything about what they were doing.
But the day they ate, they would lose that innocence. And they would have the object of awareness of evil because they had just done it. When man was created, he was really he was like a baby. Like a day old baby who receives his food without any toil, doesn't work for his food, the baby doesn't work for his food. And he is man was happy in the garden that God made for him. And God gave him the most wonderful environment and fed him with the most credible array and loaded that garden up with the jewels and the wonders and the beauties of that place were staggering.
You see in the original creation, Adam knew God as generous. Generous. And that's why we taught through the years, God doesn't want you poor, God didn't make an earth full of riches so that everybody could be poor. But there's no particular virtue in that. God has created all things for us to be joyed. God loaded this little planet with so much wealth and so much wonder and so much beauty and gave man, made it his image the creativity to do the incredible things that man has done all the way from some of the magnificent architecture that you see all around the world to the most sophisticated ability to travel in to the space above us and land on the moon.
All of the wonders of science and medicine and art and music and all the creativity of God that put into the creation of man in his own image to make beautiful paintings and beautiful jewelry and beautiful garments and beautiful buildings and on and on and on it goes. All of this God gave us to enjoy, it was all there for Adam to enjoy with just one warning.
God had furnished him a garden and in it was everything he ever needed, everything. And he had no trouble and he had no anxiety for the future. And God gave him so many things to eat and so many things to enjoy and he just gave him one prohibition. Don't eat of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That tree was the test. But man transgressed the prohibition and like a child that disobeys his father, the father had warned him what was good for him but the child disobeyed and as children do, did harm to himself. Wasn't content with what the Father had given him, he desired something more. He didn't want to stay a child under the supervision of a loving and gracious Father. He didn't want to be just dependent on God. He wanted to know the world around him himself and make his own choices.
He wasn't content with the blissful life. So he was banished from it as we shall see the whole human race was catapulted into tragedy as a result. But in Verse 9, we haven't gotten that far, all we know here is that there was every tree pleasing to the sight, good for food and the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of the good and evil. Now in Verse 10, we find more about the location. "A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. And from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon, it flows around the whole land of Havala, where there is gold and the gold of that land is good, the bedelion and the onyx stone are there. And the name of the second river is Gihon. It flows around the whole end of Kush. And the name of the third river is Tigris or Hidicel in Hebrew. It flows east of Assyria and the fourth river is the Euphrates."
Now that is quite a detailed account of the water supply in this garden. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden. Again this goes back to Verse 6, the flow coming up from the subterranean water source is because there's no rain at this time. The hydrological cycle as we know it was not in existence until the flood. And so water springs up gushing up out of the ground. And it produces this great river.
The, it flows up, the term here is flowed and that is the way it should be translated over in Verse 6 rather than mist. This by the way, just if you want to do some interesting study, study Joel 4, Ezekiel 47, Zechariah 14 and you'll find that in the millennial kingdom the restored millennial earth is going to have an increased water supply when God creates rivers. Most likely flowing up out of the ground to water the earth and turn the desert into a blossoming garden.
Now this river flows up, it must have been an immense river. The garden is immense. I mean when you think of the garden, you're only thinking of your yard folks. This is a huge garden. It's immense. The flow comes up and goes through the garden and it then it says it waters the garden providing a high water table as well as surface water and from there it divides and becomes four rivers. This is such a huge flow that it becomes four rivers. And each of the four rivers is a large river and a long river. These aren't just little tiny streams; these are huge rivers.
And if that great Eden River comes out of the mount of God and flows down and then begins to fall into four rivers going in four directions, we understand the tremendous water supply that was provided to make this garden flourish with beauty. And productivity. And these rivers would flow and then at some point flow into the sea and then back down through subterranean channels and then resurface again at the head waters of the fountain of the main river in Eden and continue that flow out through those four rivers.
Now the four rivers are in two groups. The first two are Pishon and Gihon; the second two are the Tigris or Hidicel in Hebrew. And the Euphrates. And we don't want to get too caught up in this. Because you can't be real too dogmatic about these things. Pishon is a Hebrew root word that means to jump and run to and fro which certainly could describe a river, couldn't it? Just bounding and running to and fro.
And it says of Pishon that it flows around the whole land of Havilah where there is gold and the gold of that land is good. The bedelium and the onyx stone are there. Now I'm trying to discover exactly where this is, it's very challenging. I'll tell you why. Because this is before the flood, okay? And at the time of the flood, the surface of the earth was dramatically altered. So trying to find today some geography over there that can be precisely identified with the location of these rivers is really not possible. But there are some indications here and they're general. And he says that the Pishon sort of flows around the land of Havilah. And Havilah is a land that is mentioned among the sons of Jaktan. It's mentioned Genesis 10, 1 Chronicles, Chapter 1.
The name Pishon is mentioned again in Genesis 10, Verse 7 and also in 1 Chronicles 1 and Pishon is named as one of the sons of Kush. Now I don't want to get too technical, but the land of Kush and the land of Jaktan which is also associated with a place called Opher where there is gold, have usually been identified as lands to the south of Israel and the south of the Mesopotamian valley. The valley today that we know of as Iraq and Iran and that part of the world, even down to Saudi Arabia. Although the configuration of land has changed I believe since the flood.
And these would be great river, the river Pishon would be a great river that moves that direction through the south. Further identified because of Verse 12 "the land where there is gold." As I said Jaktan is related to Opher and Opher is a place mentioned many times in the Bible. I won't go through all of it but you look up Opher in accordance or an index and look it up yourself. 1 James 22, 1 Chronicles 29, Job mentions it a couple of times, mention in Psalms and Isaiah. And Opher was associated with gold. We're not certain about the location of Opher, but there are some who again would put it near the kingdom of Sheba and 1 Kings, 10, 11 and 12 that's identified. Again in the southwestern part, so down by Saudi Arabia, moving toward Egypt. So that would be coming out of the garden. Just east of Israel or on the eastern border of Israel. This great river flowing down, it would form a river that flows to the south, a great river flowing clear down from Israel, clear down until it comes, somebody has even suggested that it could have connected at some point with the Nile River although we don't know that.
Now further identifying this land, there is gold there and the gold of the land is good. And it's not just any kind of gold. And by the way, the gold of Opher was synonymous with the best gold. So this is consistent with the land of Opher, known for having the high quality gold. I think it's 1 Kings 9, 28, "they went to Opher and took 420 pallets of gold from there and brought it to King Solomon." You know how much gold that is? 16 tons of gold.
They took out of the land of Opher. So this is, this again tells us the kind of world God made. This is the kind of richness God made. It's wonderful. There also was there in this area where the Pishon River went, bdellium, bedelium is a word that refers to a color actually. It's kind of it originally is gum rasin. A gum rasin was used as a fragrance. And people have always been concerned to smell good, hopefully. And in ancient times, people wanted to smell good; it's part of their culture. And so they would find things that God had put in his creation that are fragrant.
Isn't it wonderful that everything doesn't smell like sulfur? You know? I mean God has given us sweet smells everywhere. And bedelium was a gum rasin, very aromatic and it was used for its fragrance. So it may be a reference to the fact that by Moses time when he's writing here and he's trying to identify where these places are, well this river, the Lord reveals to him, went down toward the south, toward what is now Saudi Arabia, what is now Egypt, went down that way and this river went down by the land of Havilah, which is associated with Jaktan who is associated with Opher and it is good gold there and there was this bedelium and there was this aromatic substance, gum rasin it was used for fragrance and didn't they also because it was yellow in color, it could also refer to some yellow precious stone, some writers think that it has reference to bedelium not as a gum rasin, but borrowing its color as a precious stone.
But for sure we know the onyx stone is mentioned as being there. And the onyx stone is more familiar to us; gem used in the garment of the high priest was the onyx. And so here is just one of the four rivers proceeds down into these various lands where God has deposited such immense, immense wealth and beauty in his creation.
And I remind you of what we read earlier in Ezekiel 28, "that you are in Eden, the garden of God and every precious stone was there. Ruby, topaz, diamond, barrel, onyx, jasper, lapus lazuli, turquoise, emerald and gold." So that where those rivers went, the garden sort of went as well. There's a massive garden. And then in Verse 13, the name of the second river is Gihon. And it flows around the whole land of Kush. Some would suggest that Kush is modern Ethiopia so that this river would go further to the west. One goes to the south and one goes toward the west.
And it flows west of the Mesopotamian Valley toward modern Ethiopia which is directly west of Egypt. And then in Verse 14, the name of the third river is Tigris, Hidicel in Hebrew and Hidicel by the way is a name in some Assyrian monuments given to the Tigris River. And he tells us about it. It flows east of Assyria. It goes from the garden northwest and southeast. Northwest to southeast. The two other rivers are going south and southwest; this is going northwest to southeast, moving the other direction.
Of course the Mediterranean Sea is to the west. And so the rivers go east and the south. The Euphrates also mentioned nothing is said about it, but it runs parallel to the Tigris and empties into the Persian Gulf. Now you cannot compare any current rivers with the pre flood rivers. These were great rivers flowing onto some pre flood sea and back in the subterranean ground. All of that simply to say this was an incredible garden. This was a massive garden that swept through that part of the earth and perhaps rose to a crown where the water gushed out of the ground to water this entire garden.
The point is a vast garden of water and trees and plants and gold and precious stones. All for man's joy. All for man's delight. That's what God has planned for man in his original creation. And he could enjoy it all and delight in it all as he lived in sinless communion with his God. So that's his location. Can I say a word about his vocation? There's just a word about it, Verse 15. "Then the Lord God took the man, put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it."
Now after the little interlude describing the location, the story picks up from Verse 8 and we go back to man. In Verse 8 he placed the man whom he had formed in the garden. In Verse 15 picks it up, "He took the man, put him in the garden for the purpose of cultivating and keeping it." That was his vocation. A vocation is a noble thing. Even then God didn't just say he put man in there to hang around. He put man in there to kick back. It doesn't say that God put in the middle of a garden a big hammock.
Work has always been dignified. Even before the fall. To say well what did he do? Well it says what he did. He cultivated it is probably not the best translation. Because cultivating speaks of tilling the ground and he hadn't done that and he wouldn't do that until after the fall. It literally means serving. Serving and keeping. What did he do? He just did what a gardener would do, taking care of a magnificent garden. He would care for it. Whatever we can imagine that being, I'm not sure what it would be. But then again when we get to heaven, you know what we're going to do forever? We're going to serve the Lord, aren't we?
What will that be? What will we do? There won't be anything broken, so there won't be anything to fix. There won't be anything wrong, so there won't be anything to make right. There won't be anybody out of line, so there won't be anybody to talk too. Preachers will be out of business, teachers will be out of business, and so will Biblical counselors. But the same as in the garden, I don't know how to define it and I really don't want to make any attempt but I know that work is a wonderful thing because God does it. God created the universe.
Demonstrated the magnificent work of his hands. He is still working in the wonders of redemption. He upholds the whole of the creation by the word of his power. We will someday in heaven have a vocation somewhat like Adam had. A vocation which expends no energy. A vocation which never makes us weary. A vocation which always brings us delight and blessing.
Now he ate of the things in the garden so there would be some selective picking and perhaps some pruning of plants in a protecting kind of way as they all flourished and grew. So that those that produced the food could have the necessary extra space to grow I don't know what he did. But I could tell you this, even before the fall, work was a noble part of man's life vocation.
Well let's look lastly just very briefly at probation because we already commented on it. I'll just say it briefly. Verse 16, "The Lord God commanded." Op, there's the first time we ever seen that word in the Bible. Never before in Scripture. First command. "God commanded the man saying from any tree in the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you should not eat for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die." There in the middle of the garden was a test.
A test to determine man's love. To determine man's loyalty to determine man's satisfaction. Man could enjoy the fruit of all the trees in the garden including the fruit of the tree of life there was just one forbidden tree. And when he ate of it, he would have the knowledge of evil and he would die.
One restriction. It was a test for man. No reason not to be loyal to God. You had everything. No reason to disobey him, no reason to doubt his word. No reason to resent his sovereignty. Man when he sinned was truly inexcusable. And he already knew good; that's all he knew because everything was very good. But if he disobeyed he would know evil. Because that is what evil is, disobedience. And it didn't matter really what the fruit was, as I said it wasn't toxic, it was the act of obedience that experientially showed you what evil was. And catapulted man into death.
Soon as he disobeyed he would die, he would die spiritually at that moment he would be sentenced to eternal death at that moment and he would begin to decay toward death physically at that moment. And we know the sad story. You want to look at in detail. But at first it was all good and only good. Except for one thing, something was missing. Was that a relation for man? Creation, location, vocation, probation. Sorry, next week. Relation. Come next week and find out how he got his wife incredible story.
Well Father, what a joy to look into the word and to see the truth so many people who will not accept what you've revealed in Genesis 1 and 2. Believe all kinds of lies that steal your glory as the creator. Thank you for your true word. We thank you that you put us in such a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful environment. Even fallen this earth shows your love of beauty and your desire to create a world of enjoyment for your highest creation.
And you because you've given us Christ you've given us the privilege of enjoying all the best that this world yields and the hope of what it will yield and the glories of the millennial kingdom which we shall enjoy and then even beyond that the new heavens, the new earth. You are a God of goodness. You are a God of abundance, you are a God of bounty, you are a God who wants to please us with all good things. And may we as we enjoy them, always give you thanks and not be like this world. Takes all that you have made in the creation and gives the credit to the evolution of the creature, not the creator. And never gives you thanks.
And thus experiences your wrath. Lord, we thank you for even the abundance of what we enjoy in a fallen world. We can only imagine what it must have been like when in that garden you made it the way you really wanted it to be for man. And Lord we long for the day when Jesus comes and recreates this earth into its millennial glory and we can enjoy what will be paradise regained. And then we long for what is ours in eternity, the joys of that eternal glory. We thank you father again for all that you've done in our lives through this your day for which we praise you, Amen.
THE CREATION OF WOMAN
Let's open our Bible's to Genesis Chapter 2. Genesis Chapter 2. And we're looking at Verses 4 to 25 in this wonderfully informative chapter on the original history of man. Chapter 1, the origin of creation and here is the origin of man. The detailed original history of man begins in Genesis 2:4 with the words, "this is the account or this is the generations, the tolodoth. The generations really of man that are in the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day the Lord God made earth and heaven."
So that is a launch point for the discussion of the details of the creation of man and his original history in the garden. Now remember man and woman were created on day six. If you go back into Chapter 1 and Verse 26, God said, "Let us make man in our image according to our likeness, let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." And God created man in his own image and in the image of God he created him male and female, he created them.
And God blessed them and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And of course God said, "I have given you every plant, yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, every tree which has fruit yielding seed, it shall be food for you. And to every beast of the earth, every bird of the sky and everything that moves on the earth which has life, I've given every green plant for food and it were so."
But everybody was vegetarian in the original creation, even the animals. And God saw all that he had made and behold it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day. So the creation of man came on the sixth day along with the creation of the animals mentioned in Verses 24 and 25. So on day six, it says God made man. He created man, Verse 27, male and female; he created them.
Now Chapter 2 goes back into day six. And gives us the details. All we know about the other five days of creation is given in Chapter 1. But when you come to day six and then particular the creation of man, God knows we need more details. So Chapter 2 gives us more detail on the creation of man which was from day six in Chapter 1. So what you have in Chapter 2 is an expansion of the creation of man indicated on day six in Chapter 1.
Now the thing that sets man apart is he is created in God's image. And I've been telling you that means he's been given self-consciousness, animals have consciousness, but not self-consciousness. He is conscious of his own existence. He is given personality, he is given rationality, he is given creativity and most importantly he is the only one in all the creation of the heavens and the earth that can enjoy relationship.
Relationship and that is indicated when God says, "Let us make man." And God never says that in the creation of anything else except man. And God introduces himself as a parality in the creation of man which indicates to us that man is going to be made to enjoy relationship which God himself enjoys and that's part of being made in God's image. Now we have gone into Chapter 2 and we've looked at some of the features of the creation of man. We have seen his creation starting in Verse 5 and going down to Verse 7. We learned something of the condition at that time. There weren't any weeds in the world because the fall hadn't happened yet. There weren't any crops because man didn't need to till the soil.
The water that really watered the earth didn't come from above through rain, it came from underground subterranean sources and it gushed up in springs and literally covered the whole surface of the ground Verse 6 says. So in that wonderful world of creation which knew no rain and therefore had a constant water supply, didn't alter like the rain does which comes and goes and sometimes you have drought and sometimes you have flood. You had a perfect system watering the perfect environment of the world and you had no weeds to interrupt the free growing of all the beautiful things that God had planted. And you had no necessity to plant crops because everything man needed good for food was already there and flourishing. It didn't take any work on his part.
In that perfect environment, God created man. And we found out about the creation of man. Then when we came to the second point, we came to Verse 8 and that was not the creation of man, but the location of man. And God made a garden, God was the original gardener, planted the garden. If you remember it was east probably east of the nation of Israel. And it was in the place called Eden which as we noted for you is an ancient word that has reference to a well-watered place. The very place man and in that place was every tree pleasing to the sight, good for food. A tree of life in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And then it goes on to describe how a river gushed up from beneath the ground and came out of Eden and spread itself over this garden and eventually ran out into four other rivers and the gardens stretched out into areas where there was gold and where there was bdellium which was a certain rasin used for fragrance and incense. And there was onyx stone there. And then this other river ___ Pishon went there, the Gihon flowed around the land of Kush and then the Tigris or the Hidical and then the Euphrates.
And so this is the wonderful garden, well watered with all kinds of resources, all kinds of wealth and all kinds of wondrous things and man is placed in that garden. In Verse 15 we'll learn about his vocation. And that was he was given responsibility to actually cultivate and keep it says the idea would be to oversee the garden and to provide a stewardship or a guardianship of its wonders and its resources. Then we saw the probation of man that was one forbidden tree. "You can eat of any tree," Verse 16 says, "You can eat freely but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day you eat from it you shall surely die."
And so we've gone through all of that, the creation, location, vocation, probation of man. And finally we come on; we're still on day one to the relation of man. There's a lot that can be said and should be said about this. But we'll condense that. We come to the relation of man which occupies the rest of the chapter. It occupies the largest amount of space and as we said, one of the characteristics, one of the dominant characteristics of man being created in God's image was that he was created with the capacity to have a relationship.
That is not true of any other preacher in the created physical world. No other creature is capable of a relationship. And that is a sharing of ideas, a sharing of emotions, a sharing of soul as it were in the heart and the depth of one person's good and personality. But man is capable of relationship and that is introduced to us in Verse 18. Now remember we're always on day six in Chapter 2, so it's still day six. And Verse 18; let's start there. "Then the Lord God said," this again on day six, "after having created man, placed him in Eden, this wonderful garden and warned him about not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him." It is still day six, Adam is in the garden; everything in the garden is very good. Everything God has made is very good. But it is not good for the man to be alone. That means it's still on day six, because look at Chapter 1, Verse 31. God saw all that he had made and the ___ was very good and there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.
So when you come to the end of the sixth day, everything is very good. But this isn't the end of the sixth day yet. This is still in the sixth day and everything is not very good. There is one thing that is not good at all and that is it's not good for the man to be alone. And so God says, "I will make him a helper suitable for him." It is not good; it is not very good because man does not yet have a helper. That doesn't mean that there was something that was bad or something that was evil for in fact there wasn't. It isn't that anything in itself was less than good or less than perfect because everything was perfect and everything that had been created was good.
But man's position or man's circumstance in the creation was not yet complete and it couldn't be good until it was complete. It wouldn't be very good until it was not only perfect, but complete. And that completion required woman and Verse 27 says, "On day six, God created man" Chapter 1, Verse 27, "God created man in his own image and the image of God he created a male and female he created them." That simply states that he did create the man and the woman on the sixth day and here in this chapter we have more detail about that.
So God says, "It is not good that man should be alone." Though man as created was good and he was perfect, created perfectly by God and his location in the Garden of Eden was perfect. And everything around him was good. There was still one component missing. He could not do what it said for him to do in Verse 28 of Chapter 1, he couldn't be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He certainly couldn't subdue the whole earth by himself. He couldn't rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
Back in Verse 26, "He was given dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle over all the earth, over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, but no one person could do all of that and certainly could not be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth unless he had a companion." At this point in the sixth day creation he is still incomplete. He needs a partner; he needs an equal, a helper to compliment him in fulfilling the task of filling and taking dominion over the earth. And that simply means woman needed to be made in order to meet man's insufficiency.
Now at this particular point in the creation, all reproducing creation was both male and female. All of it. And man alone did not yet have that compliment. Later on in the 6 Chapter of Genesis "of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every kind into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female." God made everything male and female initially except for man. And so God said, "in order to complete man, I will make him a helper suitable for him."
Now this is a very important concept. And I want you to understand it. The Hebrew is Ezerconegdo. And it means a helper like him or corresponding to him. Or worthy of him is also contained in that idea. Somebody who is a perfect fit for man. To make him capable of reproduction and ruling. And so we then are given some details about the creation of woman. But before we look at those details, I want to call your attention to a passage in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 11. This is a passage that is of importance today because there seems to be some debate about what is the role of woman and what is the role of man. And I'm not going to go into all the details of 1 Corinthians 11, it's a fascinating passage and I have preached on it, there's a tape or more than one tape that covers the section. There's material in the commentary I written on 1 Corinthians and also notes in the study Bible.
But I do want to call your attention to 1 Corinthians 11:7. Where it says, "That the man is the image and glory of God. Man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man." Verse 8, "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. For indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake." Now those are some very definitive statements being made there and actually we could spend a lot of time talking about them.
But let's just take three, one from each verse, verse seven. It says, "The man is the image and glory of God. The woman is the glory of man. Man is the reflection of the glory of God. Man is uniquely created to bear the image of God as a ruler who is given a spear of sovereignty. In that sense he is created to be the glory of God. God is the sovereign ruler and man is created and given dominion to be sovereign ruler over all the created world, to care for the creation according to God's divine plan." Man was given rulership of the world. It is true, "both men and women are created in God's image," Genesis 127 says that. But it is man who is created from the dust of the ground and it is woman who is created from the side of man.
Creation from the dust of the ground was of Adam only. Eve was created as we'll see later from part of Adam himself. So that the male was given the dominion and authority over God's created world and by that fact is the reflected glory of God. In otherwords, he bears the role of ruler in this world. The fall didn't change any of that. The man still bears authority even after the fall. Your desire shall be for your husband says God to the woman after the fall and he shall rule over you.
So man there's the glory of God because he's given headship, he's given the responsibility to rule. And that takes you back into Verse 3, "Christ is the head of every man. The man is the head of a woman and God is the head of Christ." There is even a responsibility of headhsip and of rulership within the trinity as well as within human creation. Woman is described here than in Verse 7 as "the glory of man." Man was made to manifest God's authority; woman was made to manifest man's authority. The woman is a vice regent if you will who rules in the place of man as it were or carries out man's will as man rules in the place of God and carries out God's will.
Man in a sense shines with the direct light of God. While woman shines with the derived light from man. She comes along to help man. Man is the image and glory of God. Woman is also the image of God, but she is the glory of man. And the point is God can make a magnificent creature out of the dust and reflect his glory. And he can also make a magnificent creature out of the side of man to be a helper to man. And to radiate his glory.
As far as saving grace goes, as far as sanctifying grace goes, a woman comes as deeply in the communion with God as a man. She is made equally in the image of God and that image is equally restored through faith in Jesus Christ. She is as much capable of being like Jesus as any man is capable of it. She is capable of an eternal reward like any man would be in the spiritual realm, there is no difference, but in the human realm, she bears a position under the authority of man, therefore she reflects the glory of man who reflects the glory of God in looking at the sovereign responsibility of man.
And then to further defend that truth in Verse 8, the apostle Paul goes back to creation, "a man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. Man has the priority." And by the way that deals a really deadly blow to any form of evolution. Because it tells us that man was made out of the dust of the ground and man was not born from some female. Some preademic hominoid. That strikes a blow at all of the point that Paul is making here. That man bears a glory because he was made out of the dust of the ground by God. He did not come from any female. He didn't come from some female hominoid that was a part of a preademic society.
I'm amazed at how popular that particular view is among Christians. But woman really initially came out of man and that's the only time. From then on folks, all men and woman come out of woman. But at this particular point, man does not originate from woman, but woman from man. Adam was first created, was given dominion over the earth. Before the woman was created and she was created from him taken out of man, she was created for man. Not from man.
Again I want you to understand, she is intellectually, morally, spiritually equal of man. She is unique, her role is to come however under the leadership protection in care of man and she is to be a helper suitable for him. That's what he's saying. "She" Verse 9 "was created for man's sake." And that is clearly a perspective that is drawn from the book of Genesis. Now let's see how God did this. Back to Genesis Chapter 2. Let's see how he did this. In Verse 19, and this is very interesting. "And out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky. And brought them to the man" obviously he didn't bring the fish. They couldn't have survived the trip. But he brought the beasts and the birds to the man to see what he would call them.
And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. That was God who created all the animals. Not evolution, he made them all out of the original atomic and chemical material that was in the same chemical material and atomic material that the dust is made of. So it says in Verse 19, "out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field." I can't imagine how anybody who wants to be faithful to Scripture could find evolution in that statement. God made everything out of the ground, out of the same material that dirt is made of.
He made it. Whatever it is that lives out of that same material. And all these animals who were in the sky and on the earth, he brought to the man to see what he would name them or call them. By his power, God could do this, obviously we see him doing it in Genesis 6 even after the fall when he collects all the animals for the ark. The God who created all the animals could collect them all. Intelligence was capable of doing that obviously.
So God collected all the animals and he brought them before Adam and Adam who is more intelligent than you can ever imagine because his mind had never been corrupted by sin. In his unfallen condition, 6000 or so years ago, Adam was far more intelligent than anything we could imagine 6000 years later the victims of constant degeneration. And Adam had the capacity in his mind to look at all these preachers and to determine some characteristic about them and give them a name. Now at this particular point we don't know what language he spoke.
But whatever language he spoke, he gave them a name. There was at that time and prior to the tower of Babylon, only one language, so whatever the language was, he used the language to give them a name. Now if Adam and he certainly could have done this, it's not unreasonable. If he could name ten of them a minute as they passed by, he could do 3,000 of them in five hours. And that just gives you a little idea. That would be covering some significant ground in naming the animals and the birds that God brought before him.
And it isn't so much the idea that God wanted them all to have names. But he wanted to set up the scenario a little bit for the creation of woman. Now after all as Adam looked at life, everything was perfect, the garden was perfect, the food provided was perfect, the scenery provided was perfect and he was perfect. And he was conscious of the presence of God and communing with God and he really had no concept of a woman because none existed and life seemed to him to be absolutely perfect at that point certainly.
But God was giving him an object lesson as all these animals went by and he was recognizing some characteristics about them. One of the things he would note about these animals is that they all existed in pairs. It's pretty clear that he could do all of this in that sixth day. Somebody said he had to do it before Eve was created or the process would have taken much longer.
There might be some truth to that because if a discussion ensued at every point they would never get it done in one day. But nonetheless he had the intelligence and all the animals came by and he named the animals and as they passed by quickly and he named them, again we don't have any idea what he named them. I don't think the point was to make some long standing name and don't think for a minute it was the Latin name for animals that you find in the encyclopedia, it wasn't.
But he was recognizing that the design indicated to him that they all came in pairs. And Verse 20 says, "the man gave names to all the cattle which would be those animals that could be domesticated and to the birds of the sky and every beast of the field probably referring to those which could not be domesticated, they're more non-domestic animals. But for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. It became very apparent to him, now remember, he's only a few hours old. But he's a full-grown man. And he's been created in the midst of a perfect world.
And he's human so he's located in this incredible garden and he only knows what's there to see. And at first it's the garden itself that overwhelms him with his magnificence and then he finds out that God has filled this creation with all kinds of creatures. And he's not able to recognize a male and female reality in the world of plants although that exists. So God starts parading in front of him, all of these animals and he begins to recognize that there is a male and a female here.
And as he goes through that process, the end of Verse 20, it says, "For Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him." Nothing in the animal kingdom was suitable for him. Now there is no kinship, now I want you to mark this, there is no kinship in any manner between man and animals. That is a very important thing to note. If he was some small step from some preademic hominoid, he wouldn't make that conclusion. There was nothing in that entire creation that went by him which he noted with enough attention to give a name, that designated some feature about it. There was nothing that he saw that went by that was suitable for him.
There was nothing compatible for him; there was no partner, no counterpart. None was like him. There was no animal that could provide fellowship; there was no animal that could provide companionship. And that's abundantly clear that he wouldn't have said that, he wouldn't have recognized that if he had just evolved from some of them.
If Adam was as some are telling us today, if he was essentially an apes body with a sort of emerging human mind, it would be ridiculous to say about him that he couldn't find anything in common with anything that he saw. The notion of human evolution finds no place here. There wasn't anything he saw, there wasn't any way compatible with him. So Adam comes to the conclusion that in all the creation, he alone is alone. He has no connecto, no counterpart, no partner, no companion, no one suitable to come along side and be with him and help him to multiply being fruitful and fill the earth.
And since there was in the animal kingdom, no creature capable of a relationship to man, God made one. Verse 21, "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man." God is the original anesthesiologist. And God is the original surgeon. And he caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam. Because God was going to do an operation. And it says, "He slept." He slept while God operated. And here was the operation. The NAS says, "He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place."
So God puts Adam out, and then he takes his divine scalpel as it were and he cuts open Adam. And then he closes up the flesh at the place where he did the surgery. It's a fairly common look at surgery, only a very uncommon surgeon. And by the way, the word the term ribs, the word ribs, really doesn't say it well enough. Because when you think of a rib you think of a bone, right? And rightly so, that's what a rib is. But the word tsela transliterated, tsela is used about 35 times in the Old Testament.
35 times. This is the only time they ever translated rib. 34 times it's not translated rib, now maybe that's just a tradition. 20 of those 35 times its translated side. And that's essentially what we would translate it. God literally put him to sleep and then slit open his side. In case you're wondering, men don't have one less rib than women. And God it doesn't say God took out a rib in fact look at Verse 23, "the man said, this is now bone of my bones and what? Flesh of my flesh." So when God did the surgery, he didn't just take bone, he took what? The flesh.
So it's not limited to just a rib. God took out of man some bone and some flesh. Part of man's side. Verse 22, "And the Lord God fashioned him to a woman, the side which he had taken from the man." So the woman was created, listen to this with material from the man. Now again according to Chapter 1, Verse 27, "she was made in the image of God." That is she has all the same characteristics of self-consciousness, cognition, spirituality, personality, relationship, motion, all those things. Creativity, all that the image of God gives to a man also he gives to a woman.
The only difference is that God made Adam out of dirt and God made Eve out of Adam. Now the word made I think is very interesting. It's translated here in Verse 22 "fashioned." Fashioned, it literally is the Hebrew word for built. To build banew, 300 times I think so, around 300 times in the Old Testament is translated build. God took the material out of man some bone, some tissue and out of that he built woman. It's the same term used of the builder who takes stone and wood and builds an edifice of grace and beauty.
So God took bone and flesh with blood in it and he fashioned the most beautiful of all his creatures. And no one would argue that. Fashioned a woman. All the loveliness and all the beauty and all the grace that a man could never imagine until he saw one. And then Verse 22 says, "he brought her to the man." After God had sewed up his side by some divine miracle, he brought the woman to the man in all her perfection.
She would have been a mature woman of course; Adam was a mature man with the capability and faculty to function as a man and certainly the full intelligence of created man without sin who could name all the thousands of animals brought before him in a very short space of time. And God brought to man this wonderful woman. By now you see he's ready because he's seen this sort of all day parade of creatures who all have partners and he's come to this clear conclusion that none of them are suitable for him and how is he going to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. And God sets him up as it were for the deep sleep and the provision.
And then comes the first love song. You didn't know that. Verse 23, "and the man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man." This is a, most translators would set this apart you see in the text in a poetic form, recognizing it as poem. The man is frankly overwhelmed and he launches into poetry. This is not something that hasn't happened since, right? How many poems have been written for a woman? How many love songs have been penned for a woman?
But here is the first one from Adam himself. And he says, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." Because Adam said that, that became a common expression to speak of family relations. In fact in the Jewish society, they use it very often. In fact still do to refer to someone who is in the family. Laben says to Jacob, "surely you are my bone and my flesh." You're in my family, that's Genesis 29:14.
In the book of Judges, Chapter 9, Verse 2, speak now in the hearing of all the leaders of Shekem which is better for you that 70 men all the sons of Jerubah, rule over you or that one man rule over you also remember that I am your bone and your flesh. This is a bimilec talking. So flesh and bone became just a way of expressing family relationships. You see the same thing in 2 Samuel 5:1, also I think it's 2 Samuel 19 around Verse 11, 12, 13. So that's where that originates. We even say that today. She's bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.
Meaning we share the same family life. Blood relationship. And so he identifies who she is, she's his family. And then he gives her a name and this is good. "She shall be called woman." In the Hebrew, man is ish, and woman is isha. Isha. Now it's probably good to note that the name isha though it sounds like ish and I think it was intended to show compatibility and to show linkage and to show relationship, the name isha is not from the same Hebrew root as ish.
In fact the root and I think this was the genius of Adam it sounds the same, it sounds the same, it may have sounded the same in whatever language he was speaking at the time. And maybe that's, maybe the Hebrew somehow preserves that. But the word isha is the word soft. Comes from a root meaning soft. That was his first impression about a woman. She was soft. And that was by God's design. I mean if you want to know what the perfect woman is like, I hate to tell you this; she was soft.
And that when he came down to one word to define her, it was soft. She shall be called soft and a little play on words. Because she was taken out of man. Man is ish; she is isha. She came from man. She is soft. Now man has the perfect compliment, the perfect partner. And then Adam's poem to women ends. It's a short one, one verse. And the Chapter closes with a word from the creator. This was given to the inspired writer Moses who wrote of course the book of Genesis. Verse 24. "Now God's going to make a comment on this relationship. For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh."
That is a comment from the creator. And this beloved establishes the foundation for marriage. And it also establishes the foundation for sexual behavior. There's only one kind of sexual behavior that God recognizes in the human realm. And that is the sexual behavior between a man and a woman who have left father and mother and cleaving to each other have become one flesh. That is the only context in which God has ordained and recognized sexual conduct.
So you have not only the creation of man on day six, but you have in the creation of man, the creation of marriage. And you have in the creation of marriage, the definition of sexual conduct. One man, one woman, leaving and cleaving becoming one flesh for life. And what God established in the garden has never changed. Never changed. So that you have marriage defined right there in the classic statement of Genesis 2:24. And you will find that that statement is a point of contact with the Apostle Paul and it's a point of contact with Jesus himself.
This establishes God's design for man made in his image to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and rule over it. He does it through marriage. And marriage is defined as one man and one woman leaving and cleaving, becoming one flesh for life. That is the only biblical definition for marriage. Two women do not make a marriage. Even though there's a lobby group in the state of California trying to pass laws to recognize that as marriage, that is not marriage. Two men coming together, that is not a marriage. God does not recognize that as a marriage.
Both of those are sins; they are iniquities of significant proportions, not to be recognized as marriage, but to be recognized as perversion. Any sexual conduct outside of marriage is also a violation of God's design. What you have here is the exclusion of homosexuality. The exclusion of fornication and the exclusion of adultery. All sexual behavior is excluded except that which is conducted within a marriage between a man and a woman who have left their parents, covenant together, make a lifelong bond and become one flesh.
That's what God established in the very beginning. Now the Jewish leaders in the Gospel of Matthew come to Jesus and they say, well look, Moses allowed for divorce. And Jesus responded by saying to them, yes, because of the hardness of your hearts, remember that in Matthew 19, but from the beginning it was not so. It was not so. God says Habaca___ divorce. The original design, one man, one woman leaving parents, cleaving together in a lifelong bond initiated by a covenant, making them one flesh for life with no divorce. That's God's design so that homosexuality, fornication which is sexual conduct among unmarried people. Adultery which is sexual conduct among married people with other than their spouse and divorce are all violations of God's primal creative purpose in this union.
We cannot support anything other than one man, one woman becoming one flesh for life. That is God's original design. And then there's an interesting final comment in Verse 25, "and the man and his wife were both naked. And were not ashamed." That fascinate you? They were both naked and they were not ashamed. You know why they weren't ashamed? Well, they weren't ashamed because they didn't know any evil. They didn't know any evil. They didn't know that sexual desire could be used for wicked purposes. They didn't know that sexual desire could be perverted and twisted.
They didn't have any wicked thoughts running around in their imaginations. They had no capacity to feel shame because they didn't know evil existed. I'm going to give you a simple definition. Shame is produced by the consciousness of the evil that may exist in a thing. Shame is produced by the consciousness of the evil that may exist in a thing. We feel shame in our lives as sinners because we have evil thoughts.
Because we have evil desires. They didn't exist and there was a beauty in the shameless wonder of that original marriage. And they enjoyed to the fullest Hebrews 13:4, which is a great statement "marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. But fornicators and adulterers God will judge. God brought them together, and they enjoyed the full joy of that relationship and certainly their marriage bed as it were was absolutely and utterly undefiled.
They had no capacity to feel shame because they had no knowledge of anything evil. How sad when you think about that. And then you think about the fall and how that the fall produced sin and took the pristine pure shameless joy of that union and corrupted it by bringing into their thoughts evil ideas that cause them even in their own relationship to bear a measure of shame.
In the beginning it wasn't that way. In the beginning in the perfect environment there was perfect love, there was perfect rapture with each other. And the perfection of wondrous creation by God. It was a shameless love that God gave these two. They had that kind of union that God has designed to be the pinnacle. Peter even calls it the grace of life. One man, one woman leaving their parents; cleaving together in a strong bond for life becoming one flesh.
And of course becoming one flesh means coming together as one and that is certainly manifested when children are born, children being the very symbol, the very reality of the one flesh because they bear the life of both the father and the mother. So woman was made for man and there is where relationship begins. And folks I want to tell you this is the purest and greatest and most blessed and wondrous relationship that God has ever given. That's why Peter calls it the grace of life.
It is the best that life has to offer. It is the best gift that God could ever give. Now I know there are some people who have the gift of singleness, but they are the exception. And I know there are people who have corrupted this ideal and they've gone through marriage and after marriage and they've committed fornication and adultery and there have been people in homosexual sins and all of that brings all kinds of guilt and all kinds of consequences into life and really produces havoc in the lives of people and we have to reach out for the grace of God and we find his grace sufficient.
God is a God of grace and a God of forgiveness. But I'll tell you that doesn't change the ideal. The ideal is one man, one woman in a strong bond for life becoming one flesh. No relationship outside of that can even come close to the joys and the fulfillment of that relationship. Woman was made specifically for Adam. To meet his needs. Physical, emotional and relational needs. Marriage is the very, very, very best and you can figure out the implications of that if you're not married get married.
Some of you people are so picky. You're just pushing off the best of life until who knows, some nebulous tomorrow when no-one's left. It isn't a hasty decision you make but it certainly ought to be the objective and the goal. So God's created design renders fornication, adultery, homosexuality and divorce outside the plan. Outside the plan. Proverbs, I don't have time to develop but Proverbs talks about being satisfied with your wife and Scripture just puts so much honor into marriage. It is the primary and essential relationship for man. If you want to be fulfilled as a man or a woman, this is where you find your great fulfillment.
And having said that, obviously your heart aches because there has been so many unfaithful wives and so many unfaithful husbands who have made havoc out of marriage. And that's part of the curse, that's part of the fall. That's part of the and we'll see that when we get into Chapter 3, that's part of the chaos that comes. But this is God's ideal. This is the wondrous way in which it all began.
Soon as the fall came, Chapter 4 of Genesis you have polygamy. Chapter 9 you have evil thoughts and evil words. Chapter 16 you have adultery. Chapter 19 you have homosexuality. Chapter 34 of Genesis you have fornication; you have rape. Chapter 38 you have incest. Chapter 38 you have prostitution; Chapter 39 you have seduction. The enemy of the souls of men as soon as the fall came went after that relationship of marriage with a vengeance. Because that is the defining relationship of man's life.
It doesn't say God created man, then he created woman and then he had man join a union. Or join the royal order of the goats. Or a club or get a membership at the country club or get a membership at the gym. Or any other kind of relationship. The relationship for man in which he finds his greatest fulfillment and in which righteousness is passed from one generation to the next is marriage. And that is the defining relationship for man and immediately after the fall it just gets assaulted, conflict comes into it and then you have polygamy, wickedness, adultery, homosexuality, fornication, rape, incest, prostitution, seduction and that's the story of the rest of history.
And then you can add divorce. But as Jesus said in Matthew 19, "from the beginning, it was not so." It was not so. In the beginning it was perfect then it was wonderful and there was no shame about anything in that relationship because there was no evil. Therefore there was no consciousness of any potential evil. This was the wonder of the original creation. Well you can see where we are in the text. The next words, Chapter 3, Verse 1, now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field. And here we go into the tragic fall of man. And we'll look at that next time.
Let's pray. Father we thank you again for your word. So many thoughts flood our minds and hearts as we think about the wonder of your creation. What is was like, we thank you Lord for this that in Christ we have a measure of paradise regained. We thank you that in Christ we can know again the wonderful delight and joy and bliss and wonder, love of marriage. That in Christ marriage becomes the grace of life. That in Christ, we can leave and cleave in a strong bond becoming one for life. We thank you that in Christ we can enjoy communion with you as well as with each other.
In Christ we can go as it were into the paradise again and walk and talk with you in the cool of the day. The man and the woman once could do. We thank you that in Christ there is a great measure of paradise given back. We thank you for the joys of marriage for the blessedness of that relationship with all its richness. We thank you Father for showing us again the wonder of your creation and we give you all the glory. It didn't happen by chance, it didn't happen by random mutation. Every single thing that came into existence, including man and woman are made by you.
By your creative hand, for your purpose. And Father we pray that you would cause us always to believe your word no matter what it says because it is in fact your very word. Spoken to us through inspired writers like Moses who wrote the Pentateuch. And we thank you Father for the light that it sheds on life. You want the best for us. You've again shown us the best is marriage, a faithful husband, faithful wife, lovingly devoted to each other for life.
That's your best gift in the human realm. We thank you for it. And Lord make our marriages what you would have them be, fill them with grace and fill us with the spirit that we may live lives that cause us to enjoy the best. Keep marriages together; keep married people from sin. Keep your church free from the sins that destroy marriages. Keep your people who are married free from the seductions of sinful people who would seduce away a husband or seduce away a wife or cause a divorce. Restore to your people the ideal as much as we can possibly enjoy that ideal in this life and we know we can. We can be married for life and enjoy the sweetness and delight that most wonderful of all relationships. And we pray to that end for your glory in Christ's name, Amen.
MY UNDEFILED ONE [RELATIONSHIPHS]
TOPIC : MY SISTER, MY LOVE, MY DOVE , MY PERFECT ONE.
Scriptures: song of solomon 5:2
Basically relationship is the connection between two things. So relationship is the connection that exists between a man and a woman. Its progressive based on the type, nature and what is expected from it.
The success of every relationship is based on the foundation which is friendship.
Friendship: is your ability to connect with each other on mutual grounds where as
Siblinghood is when you are able to relate to each other as siblings though there is no blood relation. You cares for the person and its not by choice.
Now, tagging yourself as
LOVERS you have explored the deeper aspect of your relationship and this is a serious business.
PRINCIPLES OF FRIENDSHIP
1. Selective: Be ready to let go of those you have no mutual connection with. prov. 22:24
2. Proximity: Distance is very important in relationships. Its advisable to keep friends very close, since friendship is interdependence on each other. prov. 12:28
3. Boundaries: Know your limit in friendship and do not go beyond it. Reason for friendship determines its boundary.
4. Mutuality: There must be things to agree on as friends. You must be able to share interests, ideas, challenges etc.
5. Respect: Be grateful for the friendship. Don't feel the other party is previleged to have you as a friend it should rather be vice versa. prov. 11:12
6. Honesty: Never lie to keep a friendship but rather praise where necessary and rebuke likewise.
7. Forgiveness: Letting go of any bitterness.
MY DARLING MY LOVE
This is the period when one is certain of whom among his/her friends he/she wants to go the next level with. The first is to end all casual relationships to prevent any confusion among other friends by letting them know that you have already made a decision.
HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR LOVE
1. Through acquaintance
2. Through spiritual appointment
3. Through general perceptions
4. Through instinctive recognition using our internal faculty of discernment.
This is the most practical and surest means of identification. This is when one feels in his heart that a particular person is the one for him. At this stage love is very biased and won't compromise.
MY PERFECT BRIDE
Keep yourselves HOLY from sexual sin while dating for ye are the temple of God. Emotions are like fire and if nit kept under check will cause great bush fires. After the mutual transition is made from friendship to lovers stage, there is the establishment of the exixtance of physical attraction between the two parties and it will take a lot of control and effort to remain undefiled.
If you truely love your partner you would want to keep him/her undefiled and perfect till marriage.
GOD BLESS HIS WORD AND BLESS YOU FOR OBEYING HIS WORD...AMEN
There is no video clip yet