Series on Genesis, I God's Creation, H. The Compromise of Creation, Text:Genesis 3:2-5. Title: The Nature of Sin.


Up to Chapter 3 in Genesis this world is good. In our last message we saw the existence of evil entered the created realm through Satan’s rebellion, but here we see that it entered this planet through man believing Satan’s lie. We noted that in oriental and new age philosophy evil and good are equal, but in the Bible God is in control and good must prevail. So the origin of sin is in the creatures that God has made, but in Isaiah 45:7 God says, I am the lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. Evil is not a force outside of God but something he has created to serve his purpose. We must affirm this or we are saying that He is not truly Lord, and there is another. Isaiah 45:7 says there is no other. The New Testament is clear in affirming that God is not the author of sin, and yet it is part of his plan. James tells us in 1:14 and 15, that God cannot be tempted nor does he tempt anyone. Sin and corruption exist not because God is evil or because he is pleased with evil in his creatures. This attitude is found only in the creatures themselves. Do not ask me how this is possible. The essence of faith is that it accepts as real that which it cannot explain. God has decreed this way of manifesting His holiness and justice, His  mercy and his grace. With this in mind let us look at the anatomy of sin and temptation.

I Solicitation

Our text begins with the solicitation to sin which is conceived in the most subtle way. Paul tells us in Timothy that Adam was not deceived in the temptation although Eve was. This means that Adam understood that God had already told him all that he needed to know about good and evil, because God had said that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not good for him and unnecessary for his life. He was not to eat of it, but the tempter approached through Eve who in the providence of God was not likely to think in the same categories. Adam is more culpable, but Eve is susceptible. Satan comes with a statement. The New International Version makes it a question, but actually the Hebrew words mean, “God more or less said that you cannot eat of any tree,”  or we might say, “Did God really say that?” Satan is proposing doubt. His suggestion that God is being stingy and unfair is a patent lie. Thus we begin with a subversion of the Word of God.

II Subversion

Temptation is not a sin, it is a call to battle. Billy Sunday said, “Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole; yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.” Satan's suggestion catches on. He has imputed evil intentions to God. It’s not hard for us to see this work. It happens every time we murmur or question his providence or the wisdom of the Bible. We are told in the beginning of the Bible in Moses writings that we may not add to or subtract from God's word. Deuteronomy 4:2 says, Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. The same warning is in the middle of the Bible in Proverbs 30: 5 and 6, Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar, and finally at the end of the Bible in Revelation 22:18 and 19, I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  As Eve begins it looks like she is defending God, but we soon see that she has already decided that God is unfair because she adds to what God said in 3:3, neither shall you touch it. There are some things that God says we should not touch. The tree was not one of them, as in II Corinthians 6:17 Touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you. More apropos is what the Bible calls “will worship” in Colossians 2:21 where Paul speaks of those who add to the word of God saying touch not, taste not, handle not, when God has not said so. It is always a matter of the heart. In the Greek language there is only one word for both temptation and trial and it is translated one or the other depending on the context. Alexander Maclaren distinguished between being tempted and being tested or tried.  "Temptation is appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong.  Testing means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand.  Temptation says, 'do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.'  Trial or proving says, 'do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.' The one is a sweet, beguiling melody, breathing soft indulgence and relaxation over the soul; the other is a peeling trumpet-call to high achievements." Martin Luther wrote, “God delights in our temptations and yet hates them. He delights in them when they drive us to prayer; He hates them when they drive us to despair.” In her heart Eve is on the verge of deciding that God’s trial or proving shall be a temptation, and she is ripe for the next step which is a substitution of a lie for the Word of God.

III Substitution

Satan says God is depriving them of a legitimate experience. This is always the way. We don't believe the Bible. We think are missing something. The grass is always greener. Hilde Houlding, of the Calgary Family Service Counseling Division, describes an affair in this way: “An affair is often an attempt to find a little bit of  paradise on the side, pursuing the belief that if one just finds the right sexual partner there will be instant happiness and everything will fall into place.  An affair is often able to fulfill this myth until it itself becomes a relationship that has to be worked at and looked at in a long-term light. Seen in this way "paradise" soon becomes a  prison.” The word evil in the Bible can mean either sin or the punishment for sin. It can mean either the opposite of good, or the opposite of peace. Unfortunately you can't have one without the other. That is, if you sin you also get punished. Satan never mentions this. He presents it as if they were missing something wonderful. Again I hope we can see the vital importance of believing God in all things. There is not one little corner of life that can be exempted from the wisdom of God's Word. Sin is ultimately unbelief. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin says Paul in Romans 14:23. The real issue here is that not eating of the tree is a test of whether Adam and Eve will believe God. They know God is saying you don't need that tree, but they can't figure out why. Therefore the only reason to obey is because God said it. It is, thus, a perfect test of the only thing that really matters, namely, will you believe God? The lie of Satan is not related to the tree, but to whether God is trustworthy. Can his Word be believed? Ever notice that the whisper of temptation can be heard farther than the loudest call to duty?

IV Sin

Briefly we are taught here that the actual sin of eating is not the problem. The problem is in the heart, the mind, at some point the disposition has changed from believing God to not believing. It is this change of heart that is constitutional, that is, it changes Adam and Eve, and as a consequence changes the destiny of the whole human race. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 15: 19 and 20, For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’” As John Milton wrote of Eve in Paradise Lost, “Her rash hand in evil hour forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat: earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat,  sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe that all was lost.”  It means that all of the children of Adam and Eve will be born not with holy natures, but with sinful dispositions. Gene therapy is a big scientific breakthrough because some people are genetically predisposed to certain diseases. Sin, however, irretrievably alters our genetic make-up so that death is inevitable, and reproduction is impossible without passing on our sinful natures.

V Savior

We will be talking much more about the cure as we move on. However, we need to see, in studying this passage, that God has not left us in this state. Jesus is the last Adam. He took our nature, was not infected with sin because of His miraculous virgin birth. He was tempted as we are and resisted. He believed the Word. His temptations in the wilderness by Satan are answered by the Bible. “it is written,” says Jesus. Joseph Parker wrote, “The answers of our Lord to Satan's suggestions were not the result of a keen intellectuality on the part of Christ to which we mortals may not lay claim; were not the outcome of ready wit nor of an unexpected flash of fire from friction that had not been counted on; did not bear the marks of inventive genius; were not answers that came on the spur of the moment as a result of his infinite wisdom; were not metaphysical arguments elaborately stated and eloquently discussed.    But they were simple enough for the average child to understand. They were quotations from the Word of God on which he meditated day and night.” Thus He becomes the Savior, the one who by his holy life and atoning death saves us. But, He also sends His Spirit into our hearts so that we can resist sin, and the way we do it is the same way he did it; by believing God's Word.