We mentioned in the last article about a basic premise when we examined the virgin birth, that of the basic sinful nature of mankind. The basic problem dates back thousands of years and we can find it clearly treated in Genesis chapter 3. Back to a simpler time. A time of absolute innocence and a life of great simplicity. That's right. The garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, 17 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."...
Later in verse 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept, then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the Lord God fashioned her to the man. Now all this is by way of setting the stage. Here is Adam and Eve, in a beautiful place, totally provisioned by God. And not wanting for good food to eat. And living in a beautiful setting. We can assume they are in constant touch with God, loving God, and following His council, and loving Him absolutely above all else.
Enter the serpent. 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. I believe we can picture a somewhat alluring and attractive creature. Of course, we don't know exactly what it looked like. But it was apparently not the menacing type of creature we would normally think of because in the next passage Eve apparently without fear is conversing with the creature: And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'"2 And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat 3 but from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it, or touch it, lest you die'"
We should pause for a moment to explain that the word die in most Biblical contexts means a spiritual separation from God. That is to say, there will be a separation between God and man that did not formerly exist. Man was in a condition of knowing, loving, and obeying God in a perfect relationship. Unfortunately, a relationship that was about to change:
4 And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil"... (The serpent is trying to sucker her into thinking that God doesn't want anyone else around who knows as much as He does, and that's why He told them not to eat from that tree) 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and 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. (Now Adam was suckered into the situation. He was not even part of the dialogue with the serpent. Now watch the transformation of the two) 7 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.(It was at that moment that their relationship with each other, and their whole perspective of right and wrong became an issue in their minds. Why... it had not occurred to them before now.) 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.(Can't you just picture the situation! Just like a couple of kids with their hands in the cookie jar. Oh gosh, what do we do now? We're in for it! Where can we hide?) 9 Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" (I interpret this statement as designed to prod Adam and Eve to think about what they had done, for an all knowing, all seeing God certainly would know where he is! Adam responds:) 10 And he said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" (Adam then, of course, passes the blame. Another evidence of his new sinful nature.) 12 And the man said, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate." (What a lame excuse! It was my wife's fault! And he even places part of the blame on God who gave him his wife! What a dummy!)
Now the punishment:
14 And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field. On your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life, 15 and I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise him on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." 16 To the woman He said,"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said,"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I 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. 18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow 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, because from it you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
It is important to note how man's relationship to God has now been permanently altered. Their hiding in the garden is an indication that they no longer really knew God. He had been their friend, their... Father. Think about how you feel when you let your parents down. They were now seeing themselves and their own behavior from a "self-conscious" standpoint, instead of the way God originally saw them.
You may be thinking at this point that it simply affected just the two of them. But, let us have a look at their next generation:
Genesis 4:3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 'If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up: And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
(In short, God is saying to Cain to bring an acceptable offering, and don't just try to do it your way. Do it my way and all will be well. In short, if it's right with God, everything else will fall into place. It's not like the Sinatra song I Did It My Way! Cain is saying to God, sheep are Abel's talents, farming is mine. Why can't you accept what I offer when I want to offer it?)
8 And Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (Cain is saying, "You want sacrifice, here's my sacrifice!" But a brother... and after the Lord accuses him...) 11 "And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 "When you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you: you shall be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth." There it is. Adam and Eve's next generation committing murder! That is only one example of the sinfulness of mankind being passed on.
When you look at mankind's behavior today... now where does that tendency come from if not from the original sin described in Genesis 3?
What is the remedy?
Romans 5:17 For if by the transgression of one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
What Paul is saying is that God sees sinful man as righteous when He sees man through Jesus Christ. Why? Because Jesus was the spotless lamb who was the sacrifice for our sins. Romans 5:19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.