Sin and God’s Good News


Begin class by having a conversation entitled: Things wrong with the world…

The London Times once asked this question after an editorial piece, “What’s wrong with the world today?”

G.K. Chesterton famously replied…

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,”― G.K. Chesterton

QUES: What does he mean by that? – We often assume the problem is only “out there” somewhere, but the reality is the problem is within us too.

The problem is that all people have sinned against God and are now separated from Him. The good news is that he has also provided a solution to this problem in the person of Jesus Christ. So today we’re going to look at what sin is, and begin to discuss how God provided a remedy for sin.

Sin Is Defiance Against God ( (Gen. 3:1-7)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LordGod had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Various explanations for the serpent compete for our understanding. 1) a mythological character related to magical powers 2) a symbol of human curiosity, 3) a symbol for the fertility cult, 4) a symbol of of chaos/evil. 5) the inner person. 6) And the traditional opinion among Jewish and Christian interpreters is that the serpent is Satan’s instrument. Luther explained: “The devil was permitted to enter beasts, as he here entered the serpent. For there is no doubt that it was a real serpent in which Satan was and in which he conversed with Eve.” The serpent’s deceit is ultimately the voice of Satan.

We may interpret the role of the serpent in the same vein as Peter’s resistance to Jesus’ death, where the Lord responded to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt 16:23). Jesus does not mean Peter is possessed with Satan as Judas was when “Satan entered” him (Luke 22:3), nor was he threatened with possession (Luke 22:31). But Peter unwittingly was an advocate for Satan’s cause. Similarly, the snake is a creature speaking against the “things of God” and whose cause is that of Satan.*

Note his “craftiness”, He doesn’t overtly contradict God’s command, he uses a sneakier methods. The word he chooses for God is not YHWH, which would stress God’s covenant love, but Elohim, which emphasizes God’s control over everything. he also omits God’s invitation to “surley”, or freely eat in 2:16. In other words, Satan portrays God as controlling and as one who limits personal freedom. Through misrepresentaiton and doubt, Satan tempts Eve to sin. Through his, “Did God actually say…” he, 1) calls into question God’s motives in such a command2) calls into question Eve’s understanding of God’s command to man (as stated earlier, there is no abiguity to God’s command in 2:16.)

APP: We take the commands from God and turn them into questions about God.

The woman’s first mistake was her willingness to talk with the serpent and to respond to the creature’s cynicism by rehearsing God’s prohibition (2:17). However, she compounded her mistake by misrepresenting God’s command as the serpent had done, although definitely without the malicious intent of the snake. The serpent had succeeded in drawing the woman’s attention to another possible interpretation of God’s command. It would seem that the serpent had heard it all differently! Now the woman changes the tenor of the original command. First, she omits those elements in the command, “any” and “freely,” which placed the prohibition in a context of liberality. At this point she still is thinking collectively with her husband, from whom, as the narrator implies, she received the command: “we may eat” (v. 2). Second, Eve identifies the tree according to its location rather than its significance; and third, she refers to “God” as the serpent had done, rather than “the Lord” (v. 3). Fourth, she also adds the phrase “you must not touch it” (v. 3), which may make the prohibition more stringent. Yet to her credit the fear of touching the fruit may have been out of deference for God’s command. For Israel “touch” was associated with prohibition and death or with consecration to God. Finally, she failed to capture the urgency of certain death, “You will [surely] die” (v. 3).**

Satan increases his stance against the command of God and outright contradicts Him on the penalty. His goal is to highlight God as having purely selfish motives for the command.

Thus God is not good and gracious, but rather selfish and deceptive because he ultimately desire to keep Adam and Eve from achieving the same position He holds.

APP: Many today still fall for this same temptation, seeing Christians and God as the ones who are “holding back” civilization from evolving into it’s fullest potential.  See: Psalm 2.

QUES: Compare what call calls good in chapter 1 and 2 with what Eve calls good here in this verse. What do we learn? Often what we see with our natural eyes as “good” or delightful and desirable is sin. In this verse, Eve usurps God’s role in determining what is good. 

QUES: How does our society do this today?

QUES: Who determines what is desireable?

Adam and Eve rejected the judgments of God and sat in judgment of God.

The transgression in this temptation is the acquisition of wisdom independently of God.

Sin is when we presume to know how to live our lives apart from God in a way that we deem best.

Eve’s sin can be seen as stemming from the serpent’s temptation, at least she has that, Adam doesn’t even get that benefit. Paul states that Eve was deceived by the serpent (2 Cor. 11:3) and that Adam “was not deceived” (1 Tim. 2:14).

APP: A man does whatever a naked woman asks…(just teasing, partially)

He simply followed the example of the woman without hesitation. There is no sense that Adam is lured by logic or sexual provocation. “For he would have never dared oppose God’s authority unless he had disbelieved in God’s Word.”189 Was Adam privy to the conversation between Eve and the snake? Although “with her” does not in itself demand that he is present since the serpent speaks “to the woman,” nevertheless, the action of the verse implies that Adam is a witness to the dialogue. “You” at each place in 3:1–5 is plural and thus suggests his presence. However, there is no indication that he too is deceived by the serpent.***

APP: Concerning sin, what seems so pleasing always results in long term displeasure.

What a disappointing result in what was thought to be such a great decision. Man really doesn’t know what is best for him.  We must trust God daily to find that fulfillment.

Sin is a personal and willful disobedience, the raising of a clinched fist toward the One who made us.

Adam and Eve make the first attempt at making camouflage. Their clothes were an attempt to hide the shame of sin. Their covering for sin is completely inadequate.

We often seek to cover up the condition of our hearts with an excuse. That’s what happens in Genesis 3:12 when God inquires to Adam about why he’s recently discovered his nakedness. “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” The woman follows the same thought when she says, “The serpent deceived me…” What did Adam and Eve do? They tried to cover their sin by clothing themselves and hiding from God’s presence. What was David’s initial reaction upon learning that Bathsheba had become pregnant? He sought to cover up his rebellion. Too often, our first inclination is to respond to sin by 1) covering it up, and 2) making excuses.

Sin Brought Death And Ruptured Our Created Purpose, But Hope Remains (Gen. 3:14-21)

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Two important points rise from these verses:

  1. Sin Has Consequences
  2. God Provides An Adequate Covering, Not Man

APP: There is a clear tie between the serpent’s actions and the punishment that follows. God does not render judgment arbitrarily or capriciously.

A reference to the snake “eating dust” is probably a reference for personal humiliation. it is used that way elsewhere in scripture.

Take another look at 3:15. What is this a reference to? Christian tradition has referred to 3:15 as the protevangelium since it has been taken as the prototype for the Christian gospel.

Concerning verse 16, where Eve’s desire was to be for her husband, means she will disregard or despise Adam’s headship and her dependance upon him.

Concerning verse 21, Sin is not to be hidden by frail attempts of man, but confessed and adequately covered by God himself. This points us to the covering Jesus supplies for sin on the cross.

Sin And Death Have Spread To All Humanity (Gen. 4:1-8)

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

It did not take long for Adam and Eve’s actions to cause personal damage to their lives.

Although Adam and Eve’s actions are discussed in the previous chapter, we clearly see the principle of Romans 3:23 and 6:23 Namely that we are all guilty of sin and that it ultimately results in death.

QUES: What’s the difference between Cain and Abel’s offering?

Cain did not bring the firstfruits (bikkûrîm; cp. Lev 2:14); he brought only “some” of his crop (v. 3). This is contrasted with the offering of Abel (“but Abel”), who brought not only “some” of his “firstborn” (bikkōrôt) but the best of the animal, the fatty portions (v. 4)…It has been suggested that the parallel language “some of the fruits of the soil” and “some of the firstborn of his flock” insinuates that Cain also brought the best of his offerings. Yet the passage is intent on showing the contrast between the two men. Also interpreting Cain as stingy conforms with the narrative’s depiction of his self-absorbed attitude (4:7) and his absence of conscience (4:13). We think the absence of “firstfruits” for Cain in juxtaposition with Seth’s “firstborn” would not have been lost on the Mosaic audience..God’s response toward Cain and Abel, therefore, was not due to the nature of the gift per se, whether it was grain or animal, but the integrity of the giver. The narrative ties together the worshiper and his offering as God considers the merit of their individual worship: “The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” (vv. 4–5). Both giver and gift were under the scrutiny of God. Cain’s offering did not measure up because he retained the best of his produce for himself. For the writer to the Hebrews (11:4), Abel’s offering was accepted because it was offered in faith. As Luther noted, “The faith of the individual was the weight which added value to Abel’s offering.” Unlike a human observer, God sees the condition of the human heart and weighs the motive of the worshiper (e.g., 1 Sam 16:7). Elsewhere Scripture shows that the Lord requires of the giver an obedient and upright heart (e.g., 1 Sam 15:14; Hos 6:6; Matt 5:24).****

When we sin, we are acting our of a selfish attitude and mind-set that assumes our action will lead us to more happiness than if we were to obey God.

…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. May we all kill it. Kill it dead.

* All quotes taken from K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, vol. 1A, The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996.