We come to Chapter 3 of Genesis with a heightened sense of anticipation. Big changes occur and this is vital information for us all. Here is the ultimate explanation for the problems we see and experience in the world. Here we have the answer to the eternal “Why” that arises in our hearts in times of tragedy or sorrow. Here is the explanation for over a hundred centuries of human heartache, misery, torture, blood, sweat, and tears. Here is the reason for the powerful fascination for all things forbidden. Here is the only reasonable answer for the existence of these things in the world today.
Remove the teaching of this chapter in history and the story of humanity becomes impossible to understand or to explain. The most striking thing about this chapter is that we find ourselves here. You can’t read through this story without feeling that you have lived it yourself, because, of course, you have. This account of the temptation and the fall is reproduced in our lives many times a day. We have all heard the voice of the Tempter. We have all felt the drawing of sin. We know the pangs of guilt that follow. In that sense there is no chapter in the Bible that is more up to date and more pertinent to our own situation than this third chapter of Genesis.
The first person we meet in this account is not Adam or Eve, but the Tempter. Up till now in the story of Genesis we have had only two people brought before us, but suddenly now we are introduced to the Tempter. The account of the temptation follows, revealing to us the strategy which the Tempter uses — that which he used in the Garden and which he still employs with everyone today.
3:1 Disguised as a shrewd serpent, Satan came to tempt Eve. At one time, Satan had been a glorious angel. But in pride, he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. As a created being, Satan has definite limitations. Although he is trying to tempt everyone away from God, he will not be the final victor. In 3:14, 15, God promises that Satan will be crushed by one of the woman’s offspring, the Messiah.
3:1-6 Why does Satan tempt us? Temptation is Satan’s invitation to give in to his kind of life and give up on God’s kind of life. Satan tempted Eve and succeeded in getting her to sin. Ever since then, he’s been busy getting people to sin. He even tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). But Jesus did not sin!
How could Eve have resisted temptation? By following the same guidelines we can follow. First, we must realize that being tempted is not a sin. We have not sinned until we give in to the temptation. Then, to resist temptation, we must(1) pray for strength to resist, (2) run, sometimes literally, and (3) say no when confronted with what we know is wrong. James 1:12 tells of the blessings and rewards for those who don’t give in when tempted.
3:1-6 The serpent, Satan, tempted Eve by getting her to doubt God’s goodness. He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil. Satan made Eve forget all that God had given her and, instead, focus on what God had forbidden. We fall into trouble, too, when we dwell on what God forbids rather than on the countless blessings and promises God has given us. The next time you are feeling sorry for yourself and what you don’t have, consider all you do have and thank God. Then your doubts won’t lead you into sin.
3:5 Adam and Eve got what they wanted: an intimate knowledge of both good and evil. But they got it by doing evil, and the results were disastrous. Sometimes we have the illusion that freedom is doing anything we want. But God says that true freedom comes from obedience and knowing what not to do. The restrictions he gives us are for our good, helping us avoid evil. We have the freedom to walk in front of a speeding car, but we don’t need to be hit to realize it would be foolish to do so. Don’t listen to Satan’s temptations. You don’t have to do evil to gain more experience and learn more about life.
3:5 Satan used a sincere motive to tempt Eve: “You will be like God.” It wasn’t wrong of Eve to want to be like God. To become more like God is humanity’s highest goal. It is what we are supposed to do. But Satan misled Eve concerning the right way to accomplish this goal. He told her that she could become more like God by defying God’s authority, by taking God’s place and deciding for herself what was best for her life. In effect, he told her to become her own god.
But to become like God is not the same as trying to become God. Rather, it is to reflect his characteristics and to recognize his authority over your life. Like Eve, we often have a worthy goal but try to achieve it in the wrong way. We act like a political candidate who pays off an election judge to be “voted” into office. When he does this, serving the people is no longer his highest goal.
Self-exaltation leads to rebellion against God. As soon as we begin to leave God out of our plans, we are placing ourselves above him. This is exactly what Satan wants us to do.
3:6 Satan tried to make Eve think that sin is good, pleasant, and desirable. A knowledge of both good and evil seemed harmless to her. People usually choose wrong things because they have become convinced that those things are good, at least for themselves. Our sins do not always appear ugly to us, and the pleasant sins are the hardest to avoid. So prepare yourself for the attractive temptations that may come your way. We cannot always prevent temptation, but there is always a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Use God’s Word and God’s people to help you stand against it.
3:6, 7 Notice what Eve did: She looked, she took, she ate, and she gave. The battle is often lost at the first look. Temptation often begins by simply seeing something you want. Are you struggling with temptation because you have not learned that looking is the first step toward sin? You would win over temptation more often if you followed Paul’s advice to run from those things that produce evil thoughts (2 Timothy 2:22).
3:6, 7 One of the realities of sin is that its effects spread. After Eve sinned, she involved Adam in her wrongdoing. When we do something wrong, often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else. Like toxic waste spilled in a river, sin swiftly spreads. Recognize and confess your sin to God before you are tempted to pollute those around you.
3:7, 8 After sinning, Adam and Eve felt guilt and embarrassment over their nakedness. Their guilty feelings made them try to hide from God. A guilty conscience is a warning signal God placed inside you that goes off when you’ve done wrong. The worst step you can take is to eliminate the guilty feelings without eliminating the cause. That would be like using a painkiller but not treating the disease. Be glad those guilty feelings are there. They make you aware of your sin so you can ask God’s forgiveness and then correct your wrongdoing.
3:8 The thought of two humans covered with fig leaves trying to hide from the all-seeing, all-knowing God is humorous. How could they be so silly as to think they could actually hide? Yet we do the same, acting as though God doesn’t know what we’re doing. Have the courage to share all you do and think with him. And don’t try to hide—it can’t be done. Honesty will strengthen your relationship with God.
|Satan’s Plan Against Us|
|Doubt||Makes you question God’s Word and his goodness|
|Discouragement||Makes you look at your problems rather than at God|
|Diversion||Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that you will want them more than the right things|
|Defeat||Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try|
|Delay||Makes you put off doing something so that it never gets done|
3:8, 9 These verses show God’s desire to have fellowship with us. They also show why we are afraid to have fellowship with him. Adam and Eve hid from God when they heard him approaching. God wanted to be with them, but because of their sin, they were afraid to show themselves. Sin had broken their close relationship with God, just as it has broken ours. But Jesus Christ, God’s Son, opens the way for us to renew our fellowship with him. God longs to be with us. He actively offers us his unconditional love. Our natural response is fear because we feel we can’t live up to his standards. But understanding that he loves us, regardless of our faults, can help remove that dread.
3:11-13 Adam and Eve failed to heed God’s warning recorded in 2:16,17. They did not understand the reasons for his command, so they chose to act in another way that looked better to them. All of God’s commands are for our own good, but we may not always understand the reasons behind them. People who trust God will obey because God asks them to, whether or not they understand why God commands it.
3:11-13 When God asked Adam about his sin, Adam blamed Eve. Then Eve blamed the serpent. How easy it is to excuse our sins by blaming someone else or circumstances. But God knows the truth, and he holds each of us responsible for what we do (see 3:14-19). Admit your wrong attitudes and actions and apologize to God. Don’t try to get away with sin by blaming someone else.
3:14ff Adam and Eve chose their course of action (disobedience), and then God chose his. As a holy God, he could respond only in a way consistent with his perfect moral nature. He could not allow sin to go unchecked; he had to punish it. If the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin seem extreme, remember that their sin set in motion the world’s tendency toward disobeying God. That is why we sin today: Every human being ever born, with the exception of Jesus, has inherited the sinful nature of Adam and Eve (Romans 5:12-21). Adam and Eve’s punishment reflects how seriously God views sin of any kind.
3:14-19 Adam and Eve learned by painful experience that because God is holy and hates sin, he must punish sinners. The rest of the book of Genesis recounts painful stories of lives ruined as a result of the Fall. Disobedience is sin, and it breaks our fellowship with God. But, fortunately, when we disobey, God is willing to forgive us and to restore our relationship with him.
3:15 Satan is our enemy. He will do anything he can to get us to follow his evil, deadly path. The phrase “you will strike his heel” refers to Satan’s repeated attempts to defeat Christ during his life on earth. “He will strike your head” foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a blow to the head is. Already God was revealing his plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through his Son, Jesus Christ.
3:17-19 Adam and Eve’s disobedience and fall from God’s gracious presence affected all creation, including the environment. Years ago people thought nothing of polluting streams with chemical wastes and garbage. This seemed so insignificant, so small. Now we know that just two or three parts per million of certain chemicals can damage human health. Sin in our lives is similar to pollution in streams. Even small amounts are deadly.
3:22-24 Life in the Garden of Eden was like living in heaven. Everything was perfect, and if Adam and Eve had obeyed God, they could have lived there forever. But after disobeying, Adam and Eve no longer deserved paradise, and God told them to leave. If they had continued to live in the garden and eat from the tree of life, they would have lived forever. But eternal life in a state of sin would mean forever trying to hide from God. Like Adam and Eve, all of us have sinned and are separated from fellowship with God. We do not have to stay separated, however. God is preparing a new earth as an eternal paradise for his people (see Revelation 21-22).
3:24 This is how Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God: (1) They became convinced their way was better than God’s; (2) they became self-conscious and hid; (3) they tried to excuse and defend themselves. To build a relationship with God we must reverse those steps: (1) We must drop our excuses and self-defenses; (2) we must stop trying to hide from God; (3) we must become convinced that God’s way is better than our way.
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