What's wrong with the world? Part 1 (Genesis 3:1-9)

Series: Foundations

Why is there evil in the world? This is an age old question that mankind has pondered. If you consider a secular, evolutionary worldview, there is no objective standard so evil is a point of view. The explanation then for the suffering we see in the world is that it is a result of social, political, philosophical, or economic circumstances.

The challenge is that despite the model you put forward economically or politically, there is still injustice and oppression. Eventually, the hope is that we would evolve out of human oppression. However, without God, human oppression can be because we’re evolved. And further, if we do these things because this is how we evolved, what is the hope that we can really change and break out of it after millions of years? It’s basically hopeless.

In contrast to this dilemma, we have the book of Genesis. This is a book that explains who God is, who we are, and the world around us. Genesis is the only hopeful answer to why evil is here.  That answer is that evil is not part of the original good creation. We do these things by nature now, but deep at our core we realize there is something wrong. Genesis tells us why and shows us that there is something that can be done about it.

This story is about what happened to Adam and Eve, and how they lost their oneness with God, their true selves, and their relationship with each other. The way they did it is the way we do it now, over and over again. This is how we will live until God’s grace intervenes.

The Mockery (Genesis 3:1-3)

After the wonderful vision of God and his creation, we are introduced an animal that was the most intelligent of God’s animals. It is at odds with the human beings that were made to rule it and it is set on evil against God and the human beings. Now, he will use that intelligence against them both to try and undo God’s good plan.

To begin, notice that the serpent came to the woman, not the man. Then, his question is a mockery of God. In one motion, he is attacking the word of God “Did God actually say” and he is putting God in a bad light - he is attack his character. In essence, he is saying something like: “Can you really not eat of any of these trees?” “God made this and you can’t have any of it?”

The woman gives a defense and clarifies, but notice, she adds this little line “you shall not touch it, lest you die.” First, God did not say they could not touch it. God said in 2:17 “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Second, by saying “lest you die” is opening the possibility she may die, where God had said specifically “You will surely die”.

Why is this happening? This instruction may have come from Adam and not from God himself, or it could be that she was already succumbing to the serpent’s temptation.

Now, something very important is happening here, see, this is basically how you lose God. It doesn’t start with an argument, it starts with mocking and attacking God’s character. The serpent isn’t providing information, he is setting an atmosphere. He is putting God in the position of being overly restrictive and controlling, instead being abundantly generous. Genesis 2:16 was basically God say “it’s all yours, enjoy it”, and the serpent is attacking that.

This is critical to understand, it happens in society, in school, on social media, they don’t present arguments, they mock what God has said and put him in a bad light. It sounds sophisticated, but mocking is not an argument! People are not saying “let me give you a good, reasonable explanation of why the resurrection isn’t true.” They say “anyone with more than a 3rd grade education knows a resurrection can’t be true!” That’s not an argument!

See, cynicism has pride at its core. There can be a desire to criticize and deconstruct everything, and that spirit comes from the Devil. The problem is that if you try to explain everything away, or deconstruct everything, there is nothing left! That’s what happens with skepticism, eventually you’re skeptical of everything and there is no such thing as truth.

We have to be extremely careful. If we allow the skeptic to set the terms of engagement, and we allow them to put God in a bad light, then we are on the road to walking away from God.

The Lie (Genesis 3:4-5)

This directly leads into the next attack the serpent makes: he specifically lies to her. Perhaps he says this in part because of the door that had been cracked open by Eve’s statement. See, this is another attack is against the goodness of God. Notice, he’s not going against God’s existence or God’s power, he is going against his character.

Here’s the basic argument. “You won’t SURELY die, it’s not a set thing. God is holding out on you. Your eyes will be opened, you will be like God, you will know good and evil.” He’s saying that God doesn’t want what’s best for you. God has this narrow little life for you and you’re not going to live up to your potential. If you take of that fruit, if you go your own way, you’ll be better. That’s what he is trying to convince the woman of. That’s why he states something that God knows, that she does not know. He is casting doubt on God and his word.

This is at the core of everything! What we think about God impacts on every part of our lives. If we think he is overly restrictive and doesn’t have our best interest at heart, we will break faith.

See, we must understand what sin is. Sin is thoughts and behaviors that are destructive to us and to others. They are actions that break God’s heart and ruin his good design. The challenge is that we want to tell God what is destructive, but we don’t have the knowledge or ability to do that. Adam and Eve couldn’t see the consequences of their decision.

Further, pride is part of the problem. The desire to be like God is part of the draw. The lie is that she could be more by taking of the fruit. The tragedy of this is that they are already like God! Unlike everything else in creation, they were made in His image! Through this action they are seeking autonomy from God. They want to be in the drivers seat. But, this is something only God has the character and ability to do.

See, this is the nature that all of us struggle with now. We believe that the serpent says instead of what God says. We don’t trust God, we trust ourselves and people around us. We don’t believe what God says and we want to determine truth by ourselves. When these things happen our lives are destined for destruction. When we don’t believe God is good, truly loves us, and wants our best interest, we will end up throwing our lives away.

The Tree (Genesis 3:6-7)

What is this tree? Genesis doesn’t tell us, but the description here is important. On the surface it looks like a good thing “it was good for food”, and it was “desirable to make one wise”. This is part of the struggle, from her perspective there was nothing wrong with it. See, that’s how temptation often comes to us. The temptation is not something ugly and undesirable, it is something that looks attractive and will give us something that we currently don’t have

Then, notice how quickly the texts moves “she took, she ate, she gave, he ate” The bait had been effective and the serpent had his way. Tragically, Adam was there and he did nothing. Perhaps, they could have called God, Adam could have stepped in and sent the serpent away, or contradicted it with what God said, but none of that happens, they both fall. Hosea tells us why this happened, in (Hosea 6:7) - Adam broke faith with God.

This is exactly where we go off the rails, we pursue things that look good and make them the source of our ultimate significance instead of God. Most of the disappointments we have today are times where we pursued something we thought was good for us more than God and we crumbled as a part of it. Maybe it was working ourselves into the ground. Maybe it was putting our family above everything else. Maybe it was pursuing that person at the expense of knowing what was good for us. This is the very core of what idolatry is and why it is so destructive. They wanted the tree and what it provided more than what God offered them.

Then, their eyes were opened, there were some unknown consequences. Now, everything breaks apart, their relationship with God is broken, they lose a part of themselves, and they lose a part of their relationship with each other - they sew fig leaves to cover the essentials.

This is what the devil always does, he doesn’t tell us all the unintended consequences and the half truths are destructive to us. Sin brought shame and created a barrier with God. You think you will enjoy it, but it will not satisfy or give what you thought it would.

How can we stop the cycle?

The first step is to not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes as Paul says in (2 Corinthians 2:11). Paul later digs into some of the specific ways that Satan does in chapter 11.

Satan does the same thing today that he has always done. Paul says specifically that as the serpent deceived Eve, their minds would be corrupted from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ - 2 Corinthians 11:3-4. Satan attacks the word of God and his character.

He does this through giving false copycats - false teachers, who preach another Jesus, or a different spirit, or a different gospel. All of these are subtle attacks to lure us away from God. It could be the word of God on how we came into existence, what marriage is defined as, what the truth is how to be saved, it could be the nature of God, and much more.

Further, he will transform his own appearance to be something desirable, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. Just like with the fruit, he will appear in a way that looks and sounds good on the surface, but deep down it is a lie meant to destroy us.

The answer then is like Jesus in Matthew 4, it is a full knowledge of God’s word and an unwavering confidence in his goodness. Jesus is constantly trusting in God’s character and using his words to counteract the temptations and twisting of God’s word that the Devil threw at him. Jesus gave us a model for how to be successful. God helps us know the difference.

Let’s remember the remember the guilt, shame, hurt, emptiness, and broken promises that the devil has lead us away with. Consider James 1:12-18. We need to remember the blessing for preserving under trial and God’s approval. God is not tempting us. We have free will and it is our desires that the Devil is trying to use against us. Instead, we have to appreciate God’s goodness. He is set on redeeming and transforming us to be faithful.

Conclusion (Genesis 3:8-9)

This is a cycle that continues throughout all of human history. Jews and Gentiles have fallen to it and all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. This sin Adam allowed spread into the world - the world changed from that moment. That’s why evil is in the world. And it has spread to everyone, everyone has participated in sin and we will die as a result of it - (Romans 5:12).

Yet, notice where this text ends. God makes his appearance and is walking in the cool of the day. Mankind is afraid of God - fear makes its first arrival in the world. Yet, God came to man and the first thing that he says is “Where are you?” God is seeking them. God is set on saving them. God is coming for mankind. Yahweh God is faithful to his people and wants to save.

In Jesus has done something about all three of these attacks of Satan.

First, about the tree. Jesus also went to a garden, the garden of gethsemane. God said the same thing to Jesus as he did to Adam “Obey me about the tree.” But instead, Jesus would die so others could live.

O all ye who passe by, behold and see; Man stole the fruit, but I must climbe the tree;

The tree of life to all, but onely me: Was ever grief like mine? - George Herbert.

Second, he dealt with the lie. How can we handle the lies of our culture “work more”, “Have that woman” “endure suffering”, Etc? You must know that God is good and that you can trust him. The cross is the antidote. The cross is a place where God paid the cost of sin for your and me. If God will do that for me, he will give me everything else - (Romans 8:31)

Third, the mockery of God is squelched. Instead of seeing God as the cosmic kill joy, now I see him as he is. Psalm 16:1, 11 - Our desire for other gods is destroyed, we trust in God, we rejoice in Him, and pleasure and joy are at his right hand forevermore.