Series on Genesis, I God’s Creation, i The Corruption of Creation. Text: 3:6-8. Title: Death Comes Calling.

Introduction

Death comes calling. Into God's beautiful creation entered the last enemy. No life would ever be the same. There is a cult of avoidance in our society as there has been in every culture. We all want to live longer, but inevitably death comes calling. There is a story of a man who wore his boots when it rained, brushed his teeth twice a day with a nationally advertised toothpaste, was examined by the doctors twice a year, slept with the windows opened, his diet was fresh vegetables, he relinquished his tonsils and several worn out glands, he golfed but never more than 18 holes at a time, he got eight hours sleep every night and never smoked, drank or lost his temper. He did his daily dozen daily and was all set to live to a hundred. The funeral will be Thursday. He's survived by eight specialists,  three health institutions, two gymnasiums, and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics. He forgot God. Alas, all of our attention is focused on physical death, but the promised death which came to our first parents was much more than physical death. The corruption and decay of our bodies is only a visible sign of a more terrible fact. We are spiritually dead, separated from God. We see this death here in four areas: ignorance, inability, identity, and intimacy. 

I Death and Ignorance

According to our text in verse 6 Eve saw that the fruit was pleasing, or good for food, that is, “delightful” and desirable. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. Concerning what delights sinful man the Psalmist says in 10:3, The wicked man boasts of the cravings of his heart, he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. In other words what delights a sinner causes him to suppress the knowledge of God and to avoid God in all his thoughts. While on a visit to America, a wealthy Chinese businessman was fascinated by a powerful microscope. He was amazed at the beauty and detail he could see.  He purchased one and took it home.  He thoroughly enjoyed using it until one day he examined some rice he was planning to eat. To his dismay, he discovered that tiny living creatures were crawling in it.  He wondered what to do. He concluded that there was only one solution. He smashed the instrument that caused him such distaste. What a fool we think, but mankind does exactly the same thing with the knowledge of God.  They hate it and suppress it. This is ignorance. It is what theologians call the noetic effect of sin, or in other words its effect on the mind. The Bible calls the sinner a fool-we are all born fools. This is why Paul says in I Corinthians 1:21, For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. The other word used here is “desirable.” Proverbs 12:12 says, The wicked desire the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous flourishes. Isaiah says in 1:29 to sinful Israel, laden with iniquity in God's description of them, You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted,you will be disgraced because of the gardens you have chosen. Just look for a moment at man's knowledge. It is prodigious and early on they mastered many disciplines and trades, as described in the very next chapter of Genesis in verses 20-22, Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. The ancients were masters in astronomy, engineering, chemistry, surgery and the arts. but corrupt. And in Genesis 4:23 and 24, Lamech uses the gift of poetry to boast about evil. Death brings ignorance of God and his truth.

II Death and Inability v.6

We next read in verse 6 that Eve took what was forbidden. Adam and Eve both ate and died spiritually. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Henceforth, all their actions and those of their descendants would be totally sinful. They were so corrupted that none would be capable of doing a righteous act. We call this total inability. Paul says in Romans 3, there is none righteous, not even one. There would of course be apparent correspondence between the law of God and men’s actions, but no real correspondence. For, deep in their nature, in their hearts, God would not be first, and His glory would not be the aim. When the Bible speaks of good works that Christians do, it means works which correspond to God's law inwardly as well as outwardly, and yet they are still vile in God’s sight because nobody acts out of 100% love for God or for his neighbor. Only the sacrifice and mediation of Christ makes those works acceptable to God because they are imperfect. This is why beginning with Abraham and culminating in Paul there is but one message concerning human works; they are useless to secure God's approval. He has to perfect them in Christ. In themselves they are all sinful in some degree. Nothing we can do will save us, only God's grace. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress Christian says, “Sin and corruption would bubble up out of my heart as naturally as water bubbles up out of a fountain.  I thought now that everyone had a better heart than I had.  I could have changed hearts with anybody.  I thought none but the devil himself could equal me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind. I fell, therefore, at the sight of my own vileness, deeply into despair, for I concluded that this condition which I was in could not stand with a life of grace.  Sure, thought I, I am forsaken of God; sure I am given up to the devil, and to a reprobate mind.” But the gospel says His grace is greater than all our sin.

III Death and Identity

Death means a loss of identity and here we are in the 21st century talking about an identity crisis. We read in verse 7, Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. The famous German liberal theologian Schliermacher undermined the message of the Bible and the result was that one day as an old man he was sitting alone on a bench in a city park. A policeman thinking that he was a vagrant came over and shook him and asked, “Who are you?” Schleiermacher replied sadly, “I wish I knew.” Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. This was not an accessory. Their purpose for existing was to glorify God. The world today treats religion as one among many functions of human personality. Worship has to wait in line. But, actually there is only one reason for life; to glorify God. When you stop doing that you lose your identity. You may search for it in a career, in a job, in a marriage, in children, in an avocation or hobby, in relationships, in achievements, in fame, in wealth but you will never find it here below. God is looking for Adam and Eve and they, realizing they are naked for the first time, try to disguise the fact. We'll talk more about this later, but please understand that this nakedness is really a loss of identity. Nakedness didn't matter in a perfect world, but in a world of sin it exposes you to all kinds of misery and cruelty, and always robs you of your sense of identity. We may wear clothes, we should wear clothes to protect ourselves, but the clothes cannot give us back what we lost, which is a sense of destiny and purpose which is inextricably tied to who we are. The nakedness is guilt.

IV Death and Intimacy

So many married couples complain of a lack of intimacy. It is a spiritual problem. J.I. Packer writes, “Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common relationship to God”. This is revealed in verse 8 of our text, Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. And so God searches for Adam and Eve. Once they walked together in the garden: now they hide from God. Once they were intimates. Once they had fellowship. Once they were friends. Once they had nothing to hide. The voice of God is described in Psalm 29 as breaking the cedars of Lebanon. I wonder what Adam and Eve actually heard, “where art thou?” It is impossible to escape from God. Psalm 139 says if we make our bed in hell, He is there. Amos 9:1 and 2 remind us of the same thing, Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape. Though they dig down to the depths of the grave, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens, from there I will bring them down. Thanks be to God He met them with words of grace, He exposed their sin, and pronounced the penalties as we shall see, but He also clothed them with the skins of animals and thereby met them with a promise of a redeemer to come. They would never again in this life know God as they had known Him, but there was a promise that one day that fellowship would be restored. Listen to the apostle John. In his first epistle he speaks again and again of knowing God, but hear the words of I John 3:1 and 2, How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. One day the intimacy will come again and we shall know even as we are known.

Conclusion

Death came calling and in its wake it brought ignorance and moral inability and a loss of identity and intimacy. Surely the fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” In the final service of an evangelistic campaign, an usher handed Dwight Moody a note as he entered the auditorium. The evangelist supposed that it was an announcement, so he quieted the large audience and prepared to read it.  Opening the folded piece of paper he found scrawled in large print an atheist’s one word message: "fool!"  The colorful preacher was equal to the occasion.  Said Moody, "I have just been handed a memo which contains the single word -- 'fool'.  This is most unusual.  I've often heard of those who have written letters and forgotten to sign their names, but this is the first time I've ever heard of anyone who signed his name and then forgot to write the letter!" Moody promptly changed his sermon text to Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God!