Whenever we see brokenness in the world, we often want answers. We will frequently look to our preferred blogger, pastor, or Bible teacher in order to get those answers. We will hear them and others say “it’s just sin” or “its a sin issue” or they might point us back to Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve first sinned. Though not necessarily wrong to send us back to the beginning, what is often missing is a deeper look at how Adam and Eve’s first sin effected and affected the ancient and modern world.
Effect and affect looks something like this:
The goal of this study is to show that sin originating from Adam and Eve not only affects, meaning the totality of how sin influences the whole earth, but also effects humanity individually and personally, which shows the results or impact that sin has on people as they live out their every day lives.
Can Genesis 3 give us answers to contemporary issues that show us how sin affects and effects the hostility that occurs between men and women, broken families and lives, and even racism and oppression. The answer to that question is a resounding YES.
This series will look at Genesis 3 a little more closely, verse by verse actually.
For those that stick with this study to the end, will prayerfully, be better equipped to understand the origin of sin, its affects and effects, and the hope that we have as believers and followers of Christ to confidently share with others.
It might be a good idea to re-read Genesis 3 to refresh your mind and to use as a compass as we dig deeper. As we progress verse by verse, our approach to this study is three fold: read, observe, and discern what is written.
The word discern, discerning or discernment is used many times in the Old Testament in reference to “giving thought” to something for the purpose of understanding and knowing. It is used only 4 times in the New Testament to denote understanding through sifting out, distinguishing, or dividing out for selection in order to decide on a path of thinking.
Say that a couple of times out loud to prepare your mind –> read –> observe –> discern
Now stop and read all of Genesis 3 before continuing. Don’t forget to pray and ask God for help in the mental act of discernment.
Welcome back. Let’s get started.
After reading Genesis 3, we can observe three things that happen in the first part (verses 1 – 7) of this chapter.
The temptation of the serpent
The twisting of God’s word by Satan to Eve.
The consequence of disobedience
The overwhelming appeal of the tree to Adam and Eve’s physical and mental senses
Can you see that?
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Who is the serpent?
See Revelation 12:9.
We learn through the passage in Revelation that Satan is who?
Though he is powerful, we learn that he is not equal to God. The serpent is a created being.
The Bible clearly tells us who the serpent is but it does not tell us
1) why he exists
2) why God allowed him near Adam and Eve
Due to these unanswered questions, we must be careful that we do not create a false idea of dualism.
Dualism is a theory that assumes that in reality there are two opposing forces at work. This theory would assume that God created both good and evil and that both of these forces have been in eternal conflict with each other.
The Bible does not allow this as an explanation for evil and neither should we.
Some scholars and commentators question if this account of the “talking serpent” actually happened.
However, most commentators agree that Satan took the shape and likeness of a serpent, in actuality he was a deadly spirit and a creation of God who became God’s enemy by rebelling against God’s reign and authority.
Serpent is a common Hebrew word used to describe a snake. Ancient Near East culture has a perception of snakes as something to be feared (power and danger) but interestingly, they were also honored as protectors.
There is no reason for us to not believe that Satan did not come in the form of an actual serpent, but that is the not main issue.
The question people often ask is …..if Satan came in the form of an actual serpent or any form…..and if Satan represents evil……why did God allow him to come at all?
This question of why evil exists is an age-old question. Many spend much time, energy and mourning over the fact that evil exists and churches and organization spend countless missionary and humanitarian dollars trying to combat the effects of evil.
We know that evil on earth and IN creation originated in Genesis 3, but God does not give us any information on why He allows (present tense) evil to occur or why He allowed evil to happen in the first place.
The paradox of God being sovereign over all, but at the same time NOT being the originator of evil is an important fact to rest in and trust.
No commentator, scholar or Bible teacher has answers to this dilemma. I once asked a pastor this question and he responded appropriately
“That’s above my pay grade”
Do you struggle with this paradox?
In spite of not having definitive answers in Genesis 3 as to why God allowed evil in the form of a serpent to enter into creation, we can glean from the Bible what God wants us to know about Satan.
See 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.
What did the angels do in 2 Peter 2:4?
What did God do to these sinning angels?
It is assumed that at some point in creation, specifically after the sixth day when everything was declared “very good” in Genesis 1:31, Satan rebelled and was cast out of heaven. How do we know this?
See Luke 10:18 – Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”
See Revelation 9:1 – Satan is seen as “a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth”
Even though the Bible does not tell us specifically that Satan was cast down right after creation, we can infer or speculate that Satan might have been thrown down close to the moment when he tempted Eve on earth.
Though we may not have definitive answers as to when Satan arrived on God’s new earth, there are some things we can know for certain.
We DO know this about Satan, the serpent:
He was a traitor and a tempter
He was enraged against God and his glory.
He was envious of man and man’s happiness in glorifying God.
3:1 says he is crafty, which is a descriptive adjective that describes someone who is cunning and deceptive
He first approaches the woman. Why?
Let’s think about that for a minute.
1) She was not yet created when God gave his direct command to Adam regarding the trees of the garden. (Genesis 2:15-17).
2) She was created through Adam so she was not in a position of authority within God’s first little family.
3) Satan’s crafty shrewdness is seen in that he goes to the woman first, possibly inferring that he knew or may have been aware that Adam was given God’s directive and command and knew that the weight of obeying God fell on Adam’s shoulders ultimately and primarily.
4) Satan has Eve questioning her personal knowledge of her Creator when he used a bit of psychological manipulation by asking her “Did God really say?”
Different Bible interpretations use “actually say” or “indeed say” in the place of “really say?”
Satan uses a tactic that makes Eve second guess what she knew about God. He does this by twisting God’s words in the form of a negative unconditional prohibition–
meaning “something that is prohibited without any conditions”
“Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?”
In a modern context, an example would go something like this:
A mom tells her child to “stay out of the kitchen” after she pulls out a cake, sets it on the counter and then walks out of the kitchen.
An example of prohibition without conditions would sound like:
“did your mom really say you can’t eat anything in the kitchen?”
God did not prohibit unconditionally, but rather prohibited specifically and ultimately. God gave an ultimatum by his prohibition.
However, the way Satan questioned Eve, she inevitably stumbled.
Currid, J. D. (n.d.). A Study Commentary on Genesis: Genesis 1:1–25:18 (Vol. 1, p. 121). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.
Goldsworthy, Graeme. According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Dennison, J. T., Jr. (1979–1988). Discern; Discerning; Discernment. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 1, p. 947). Wm. B. Eerdmans.