November 8, 2015
Fruit for the fruit bowl! When the fruit bowl is filled with fruit it is so inviting. There’s nothing like a good apple or banana, or even a tomato, which is a fruit. But there are times when the fruit looks great to eat, but underneath it is rotting. A bad spot has begun to decay and because it is underneath you don’t catch it right away and the fruit has to be thrown out.
We are talking about living life to the full. Life to the full begins with acknowledging God and enjoying his good gifts within the sphere of his good rule. Many appear to be living life to the full. But in reality underneath or deep in their hearts there is decay. It is the decay of sin. Sin destroys life to the full.
I. ALL HAVE SINNED. Gen.3:1-7
Genesis 1-2 are very positive in nature. All God created was good. Genesis 2 ends with a statement that Adam and Eve were naked and felt no shame. There was true innocence between them.
Because everything was good, we are not quite prepared for Genesis 3. All of sudden we are reading about a shrewd or crafty serpent. I mean, what happened here? Many suggest that at some point evil entered into the world. We believe it was through the rebellion of Satan. As Christians we do not believe that evil always existed. The universe is not a dualism like in Star Wars. Evil came into existence through the rebellion of Satan against God. And it would seem that Satan used the serpent to corrupt mankind.
The serpent initiates a conversation with Eve. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden.” He twists the words of God and raises a question concerning the wisdom and goodness of God. What kind of God would make all the fruit bearing trees off limits to Adam and Eve? Of course this is not what God said. It was a very misleading conversation starter. Eve’s response is right for the most part, but even Eve says more than what God had said. Eve says, “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.” That is not exactly what God said.
The serpent presented himself as an authority, knowing at least as much as God knows. “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. God is holding something back from you. Your life can be much fuller. There is more for you to know. After all, knowledge is power.”
Now all things were created for God’s glory and for the well-being of mankind. God knows exactly what mankind needs to live life to the full and he provided it. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. As bearers of the image of God Adam and Eve were given dominion to rule over the earth and they were given the gift of community and marriage. In many ways they were already like God.
The quest for knowledge and wisdom is not a bad thing, but the serpent was urging them to seek it apart from God and his good rules. The serpent was suggesting that being created in the image of God was not good enough. They could become more like God than they already were.
So in v.6 Eve and Adam both eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thinking they will become wise like God. Now God clearly knows all about good and evil, but there is more than one way to learn about good and evil. When I was young my dad took us into New York City to see the Bowery, which at that time was pretty decadent. We saw mostly men, disheveled, lying on the sidewalks, sleeping off their drunkenness. We learned about the pitfalls of alcoholism. While in elementary school I saw pictures of lungs that were ruined by smoking. I learned about the evils of cigarettes. I could tell other stories about the foolishness of lying and cheating. This kind of learning is powerful and does not involve doing the sinful acts.
Of course one can also learn about good and evil by committing the sinful action. That is not the best way. The price is usually high and self-destructive. And that is exactly what happened with Adam and Eve. The knowledge they gained did not bring fullness of life. It brought guilt, personal shame, and vulnerability. Their joyful innocence was taken away and they experienced shame in their nakedness, to the point that they felt the need to cover themselves, to hide themselves from each other. In disobeying God they embraced personal autonomy. They took themselves out from under the good rule of God. They became their own god.
Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought sin and rebellion against God into the realm of mankind. In Rm.5 Paul points out that there is a sense in which all the descendants of Adam and Eve, share in their sin. In Rm.3:23 Paul clearly states that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us are born with a propensity to disobey God whenever it seems best for us.
You see, our sin is really no different from that of Adam and Eve. The serpent presented himself as reasonable and thoughtful. Sin almost always makes some kind of sense to us. If offers various kinds of excitement, pleasure, security, or wealth. It gives us a feeling of empowerment and control. It seems to make good sense at the time. It seems to fill a real need in our lives. And the thought comes to our mind, “Why would God withhold this good thing from me.” Or, “Really, what is so bad about this?”
In a blog by Scott McKnight about how the cultural mindset of the west squares with the cultural mindset of the church, he writes, “Western culture believes its laws are created by the people, they are for the people, and when the people shift, the laws will need to shift with them.” But in the church we believe in laws that are revealed to us from God. They are not relative. Well sin always relativizes the good laws of God.
Every one of us has disobeyed the good rules of God. We have desired to be autonomous from God in order to live the way we see fit. It is a rebellion against the goodness and kindness of God. As sinners we do not worship, obey, or depend upon God. Nor do most sinners ever acknowledge their sin and seek God for his forgiveness and restoration of life to the full.
II. ALL HAVE DIED. Gen.3:11-24
In v.3 Eve affirms that the penalty for eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is death. In Rm.6:23, Paul points out that the wages of sin is death. So what happened after Adam and Eve ate from the tree?
We already mentioned that they lost their innocence. They became aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. One scholar proposes that before they sinned they glowed with the glory of God. You remember how on the mount of transfiguration the clothes of Moses and Elijah became an intense, radiant white. Well perhaps it was similar with Adam and Eve. Once they sinned they were no longer clothed in the glory of God. It’s just an idea.
In v.8-10 we see that not only were they ashamed in their nakedness before each other, they were afraid to be in the presence of God. They had never been afraid before. But now they were.
In v.11 God asks if they ate from the tree. Immediately both Adam and Eve cast blame away from themselves. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. In v.14-19 God pronounces a sentence upon them. First the serpent is cursed above all other animals and sentenced to craw on its belly.
In v.16 a sentence is pronounced upon Eve and all women to follow. There will be much pain in childbirth. And not only that there will be strife and enmity between husbands and wives. From the text it would appear that husband and wife will continually be jockeying for power and control. Husbands would use their brute strength to rule over their wives. So much for fullness of life in marriage!
In v.17 Adam is sentenced to work by the sweat of his brow. God curses the earth so that it brings forth thorns and thistles. Making a living, providing for the family, would become a hardship. So much for the joy of work! And in v.19 God makes it very clear that death would be their lot.
But there is something else. In v.22-24 we see that in order to keep them from eating from the tree of life, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The sinners were excluded from the life of God. They were excluded from having fellowship in the presence of God. This is spiritual death. They left fellowship and life with God when they chose to no longer trust or obey God. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Just as Satan blinded the hearts of Adam and Eve, so Paul writes, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
And not only were they expelled. God made it impossible for them to get back into the garden on their own terms. This is why Isaiah writes in Is.59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” One further expression of this is seen in the fact that in the Temple a thick curtain separated the worshiper from the presence of God.
Well what would you expect? We might say that God does not go where he is not wanted. And the truth is that men and women are not naturally inclined towards God. Some say that we are totally depraved because of sin. Well that may be. Certainly we are sufficiently depraved to keep us from desiring God and his good rule over and in our lives. All have died. You and I have died in our sins.
III. ALL ARE OFFERED LIFE TO THE FULL. Gen.3:15
Genesis 3:15 is referred to as the protoeuangelium. It is the first announcement of good news in the Bible. Here God says to the serpent, “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." What is this all about? Well it is God’s promise to bring about the defeat of Satan and all the destruction and devastation that Satan wreaks on the earth through his demons and sinful people. It is the first promise that God is going to set things right. Thus begins the story of salvation.
As the population increases eventually God brings about a people of his own making through the descendants of Abraham. Of course I’m referring to Israel, the Jewish nation. Just as Adam and Eve once enjoyed living under God’s good rule, so Israel was to be a light to the whole world of just how good it is to live under the rule of God in The Promised Land. But the people of Israel chose to follow the rest of the world and not to worship and trust in God. Israel became like the pagan nations around them, practicing idolatry.
After a long time God raised up a Savior, born of a woman, of the tribe of Judah. His name is Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh. He came to seek and to save people who are dead in their trespasses and sins. He called people to repent of their sins and follow him. In his life we see the goodness of God. In his dying on the cross he bore the guilt of all our sins and defeated the power of Satan. In rising from the dead he made it possible for us to be justified in the sight of God, by forgiving our sins and giving us his eternal life to live.
Jesus opened the way back to God. Do you remember earlier I mentioned that in the temple a thick curtain separated the worshiper from the presence of God? Interestingly enough, in Lk.23:44-45 while Jesus was dying on the cross, we read, “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” And then Jesus died. What happened there? Well Jesus was opening the way back to God, the way back to life. All of us are sinners. All of us are dead in our sins. All of us are offered life to the full through Jesus Christ, if we want it.
So what does life to the full in Jesus Christ look like? Well we can go right to Gen.1:1. Because God is, we worship him. Because God created all things, we belong to him and obey him. Because God sustains all things, we are dependent upon him. Because God saves all things we call to him in faith to deliver us from sin and death. In other words, through faith in Christ we are given new eternal life. Just as the Son of God took on flesh in the person of Jesus, so Jesus comes to live in us. Jesus is embodied in our lives when we call upon him to save us. We become new creations in Christ. The goal of our salvation is transformed living, life to the full.
Now, one more thought and we are done. Some think of salvation much like they think of life insurance. When we get life insurance as long as we pay the premiums we are insured. It doesn’t really make any difference how we live as long as we pay our premiums. Likewise, some think that praying a prayer of faith in Christ for salvation is sufficient to assure them of a place in heaven. It is certainly a first step. When Jesus comes to live in a person he comes to transform that person’s life to be like his own. And so a Christian is one who calls upon the name of the Lord to be saved and then begins to walk in the steps of Jesus. They pursue integrity, purity, selflessness, humility, love, joy, peace, patience, meekness. To claim to know Christ and not pursue these Christ-like virtues is to delude oneself. You cannot enjoy life to the full unless you are living in the fullness of Christ and his ways.
Angie and I like to watch The Voice. There are some really good singers in that contest. Each coach assembles a team of 12 singers. During the battle rounds the 12 singers are paired up and must sing together. After hearing the duets the coach must choose which of the two voices will stay on his or her team & which will leave. Eventually each team consists of 6 singers.
Men and women, as we live our lives in this world we hear two voices. One is the voice of the world which calls us to find fullness of life in the world by satisfying ourselves with the things of this world. It’s actually the voice of the serpent. The other voice is the voice of God, our Creator. He is calling us to find fullness of life by repenting of our sin and embracing Jesus by faith as our Savior, Lord and King. Which voice will you choose to live by? It’s your choice, and only you can choose. If you choose Christ, you choose life. If you choose the world, you choose death. What is your choice? Amen