Genesis 3:8 to 3:14

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at

· Creation out of chaos – Gods purpose in our lives

· Man as an extension to Gods community, and

· Freewill, the independence God gave us

Today I wish us to go on a journey through the consequences of Sin , the space that man puts between him and God, Man’s propensity to blame – ‘It’s the devils fault’ ‘It’s the woman’s fault’’ it’s your fault’ and ultimately Mankind’s loss which leaves God walking in the Garden crying out to all of us. ‘Where are you?’

For many, the punishment of the sin seemed overly harsh. Not the image of God we like to visualise. But don’t you think he cried over the decision?

The Hasidic Jews have a story that tells of the great celebrations taking place in heaven after the Israelites are delivered from the Egyptians at their crossing of the Red Sea, where all of Pharaohs’ armies were drowned. The angels are all dancing and cheering and all of heaven is full of joy. One of the angels turns to the archangel Michael and asks ‘Where is God?’ ‘Why isn’t God here celebrating?’ Michael replies ‘God is not here because he is off by himself weeping. You see, many thousands of his children were drowned today.’

God cared, He cared about Adam, He cared about the Egyptians and He cares about us.

The Consequence of Sin

Read Genesis 3:7 and 8

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

The nakedness which Adam and Eve shared without guilt was now a source of shame. Sweet innocence was lost forever. Remember, there was no one in the garden but the two of them. But they were ashamed to face each other without clothing. Not only could they not face each other as they had before, but they dreaded facing God. When He came to have sweet fellowship with them, they hid themselves in fear.

God had said that they would die in the day that they ate the forbidden fruit. Some have puzzled over this promise of judgment. While the process of physical death began on that fateful day, they did not die physically. Let us recall that spiritual death is separation from God:

2 Thessalonians 1:9

9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.

the space that man puts between him and God

Isn’t it amazing that the spiritual death of Adam and Eve occurred immediately with the separation from God. Note that this separation was not one imposed by God; it was initiated by man.

This spiritual death is the same as seen in our culture today. It is the alienation of man from God. And it is one man himself chooses. It is his preference.

The separation which Adam and Eve brought about is that which God seeks to bridge. It is God seeking Adam in the garden not the other way round.

While in the serpent, Satan’s question was designed to bring about the fall of man, God’s question seeks his reconciliation and restoration

I’m sure most here have seen the picture by Michelangelo called the creation of Adam. It’s on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. If you look at it you will see God reaching over, straining to reach Adam. He’s reaching that far that all the angels and cherubim are trying to counterbalance Him. Every effort is being made to reach Adam. But Adam sits there, raises a bent arm weak wristed and curls a finger towards God. No effort at all.

God seeks,

Man seems to expect.

Read Genesis 3:9

9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Adam is first sought by God with the question, “where are you?” Adam reluctantly admitted his shame and fear, probably hoping that God would not press him on this issue. But God probed more deeply, seeking an admission of wrongdoing: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The thought of Adam trying to hide from God would be funny if it was not so sad. Almost like two people playing hide and seek in a telephone booth. Yet we find the omniscient maker of man asking for the location of one human being who hasn’t even left the garden. Why doesn’t God use his abilities to locate him? Is it that, like modern man, Adams in built homing device wasn’t turned on?

The reason is, the question isn’t about Adams geographical location in the garden, or a request for information. It is an invitation. God allows Adam to hide. God offers him the ability to reveal himself.

Notice the importance of this question, “Where are you?” When people are lost, this is the most important question they can ask: “Where am I?” Suppose the telephone rang and you answered it to hear a voice say, “I’d like to come to your church this morning. I thought I knew the way, but I find myself very confused. Can you help me?” What is the first question you would ask? “Where are you?” That is always first. “Where are you?”

Today we try to come to terms with all that is happening in our world, but it is very confusing. We will never do it until we start with this question, “Where are you? Where am I?” Perhaps the reason many are unable to be helped today is either because they cannot or will not answer that question. Ask it of yourself now. Where are you? In the course of your life, from birth to death, moving as you hope you are moving, to develop stability of character, trustworthiness, integrity of being, all these qualities that we admire in others and want in ourselves–where are you? How far have you come? Until you can answer that, in some sense at least, there is no possibility of helping you.

Perhaps many of you will have to say, “I don’t know where I am. I only know that I am not where I ought to be or where I want to be. That’s all I can say.” If that is all you can say, that is at least an honest answer, and therefore, it is the most helpful answer you can give. In that sense, it is the only right answer. At least you know how much further you have to go.

Man’s propensity to blame

read Genesis 3:11 – 13

“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?”

Thrusting at least a part of the responsibility back upon the Creator, Adam blurts out, “The woman YOU put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Adam reflects on taking personal responsibility for his actions. He summons up his courage and says ‘The woman’. Worse than that he says ‘The woman YOU put here with me’

What happened to the ‘bone of my bones’ speech he spoke in chapter 2?

Blame had entered history. Do you think they will be the last married couple to blame each other? Blame, denial and evasion are forms of hiding in the garden that have marked human history since that day.

It is significant that in their answers, both Adam and Eve come out at the same place. Each blames someone else. We call this human nature, as it is such a widespread, universal response, but when they come to their final statement, they both use exactly the same words: “and I ate.”

That is where God wants to bring them. That is what the Bible calls repentance. It is a candid statement of the facts with no attempt now to evade them, colour them, or clothe them in any other form. It is a simple, factual statement to which they are both reduced: “and I ate.”

Proverbs 16:2. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives

Mankind’s loss

I’d like to return to an earlier observation. Despite Adams fall, Gods love is evident. Despite Our fall, Gods love is evident.

God’s love does not hinge on ours. The abundance of our love does not increase his. The lack of our love does not diminish his. Our goodness does not enhance his love, But neither does our weakness dilute it.

What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 :

“The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the LORD loves you.”

God loves us simply because he has chosen to do so.

He loves us when we don’t feel lovely.

He loves us when no one else loves us. Others may abandon us, divorce us, and ignore us, but God will love us. Always. Despite the space we create between Him and us. No matter what.

This is his sentiment: (Rom. 9:25 MSG).

“I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.”

This is his promise. (Jer. 31:3).

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

Does he love us because of our goodness? Because of our kindness? Because of our great faith?

No, he loves us because of his goodness, kindness, and great faith.

John says it like this: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (I John 4:10).

Remember you are a branch on the vine of God. “I am the vine, and you are the branches” (John 15:5).

The branch has one job-to receive nourishment from the vine. And you have one job-to receive nourishment from Jesus. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing” (John 15:5 MSG).

Our Lord gets no argument from us on that last line, does he? We have learned the hard way -apart from him we can’t produce a thing. Don’t you think it’s time we learn what happens if we stay attached?

His job is to bear fruit. Our job is to stay put. The more tightly we are attached to Jesus, the more purely his love can pass through us. And oh, what a love it is! Patient. Kind. Does not envy. Does not boast. Is not proud.

Will we ever love like that? Will we ever love perfectly? No. This side of heaven only God will. But we will love better than we have. By being loved, we will love.

To recap we see by going against God’s will, through Adam, blame has entered our culture. We are separated from an intimate relationship with God and our flesh is mortal. Overall we see man becoming more important in his own eyes than God, and mans propensity to love being replaced by this.

We see through Gods love salvation is available.

One of my favourite verses of the bible is 2 Chronicles 7:14 and deals with all aspects of Mans self importance.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I like to take verses like this apart so let’s look at these words.

Called by my name – we should turn from self promotion to God promotion

Humble themselves and pray – we should turn from self reliance to God dependence

Seek my face – turn from self direction to God direction

Turn from their wicked ways – turn from self service to repentance

When will God heal this land?

When people turn back to him.

Are we as gullible as Adam appears?

Many will feel that what I have been talking about is theology on why mankind suffers today. We would never do what Adam and Eve did. But we all find ourselves mimicking God, crying out ‘Where are you?’ what happens to Adam happens to us.

It happens in an instant. One minute you are walking and whistling, the next you are wide-eyed and falling. Satan pulls back the manhole cover and an innocent afternoon stroll becomes a horror story. Helplessly you tumble, aware of the fall but unable to gain control. You crash at the bottom and stare blankly into the darkness. You inhale the evil stench and sit in Satan’s sewage until he spits you out and you land, dumbfounded and in shock, on the pavement.

Such is the pattern of sudden sin. Can you relate to it? Very few sins are premeditated and planned. We spend our time avoiding sin, not planning it. But don’t think for one minute that just because you don’t want to fall that you won’t. Satan has a special trick for you, and he only pulls it out when you aren’t looking.

This cowardly father of lies doesn’t dare meet you face-to-face. Don’t expect this demon of demons to challenge you to a duel. Not this snake. He hasn’t the integrity to tell you to turn around and put up your fists. He fights dirty. He waits until your back is turned. He waits until your defence is down. He waits until the bell has rung and you are walking back to your corner. Then he strikes.

You lose your temper. You lust. You fall. You take a drag. You buy a drink. You kiss the woman. You follow the crowd. You rationalize. You say yes. You sign your name. You forget who you are. You break your promise. You buy the magazine. You lie. You covet. You stamp your feet and demand your way.

You deny your Master.

It’s David disrobing Bathsheba. It’s Adam accepting the fruit from Eve. It’s Abraham lying about Sarah. It’s Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus. It’s Noah, drunk and naked in his tent. It’s Lot, in bed with his own daughter. It’s your worst nightmare.

It’s sudden. It’s sin.

Satan numbs our awareness and short-circuits our self-control. We know what we are doing and yet can’t believe that we are doing it. In the fog of weakness, we want to stop but haven’t the will to do so. We want to turn around, but our feet won’t move. We want to run and, pitifully, we want to stay.

It’s the alcoholic buying “just one”. It’s the boss touching his secretary’s hand. The husband walking into the porn shop. The mother losing her temper. The father beating his child. The gambler losing his money. The Christian losing control. And it’s Satan gaining a foothold.

Confusion. Guilt. Rationalization. Despair. It all hits. It hits hard. We numbly pick ourselves up and stagger back into our world. “Oh God, what have I done?” “Should I tell someone?” “I’ll never do it again.” “My God, can you forgive me?” No one listening to me is free from the treachery of sudden sin, as we have seen befall Adam.

Some of you know exactly what I mean. You could say this better than I, couldn’t you? Some of you, like me, have tumbled down the manhole so often that the stench of Satan’s sewage seems to be always with you. You’ve asked for God’s forgiveness so often that you worry that the well of mercy might run dry.

By knowing what befell Adam we can sharpen our defences and reinforce our weaponry.

Have you tumbled down the manhole one too many times? Then consider the following:

First, recognize Satan. Our war is not with the flesh and blood but with Satan himself. Do like Jesus did when Satan met him in the wilderness. Call him by name. Rip off his mask. Denounce his disguise. He appears in the most innocent of clothing: a night out with your mates, a good book, a popular movie, a pretty neighbour. But don’t let him fool you! When the urge to sin rears its ugly head, look him squarely in the eye and call his bluff.

“Get behind me, Satan!” Whatever you do, don’t flirt with this fallen angel. He’ll thrash you like wheat. He’ll use words to confuse. As we saw from David last week, Did God really say?…..

Second, accept God’s forgiveness. Romans, chapter 7 is the Emancipation Proclamation for those of us who have a tendency to tumble. Look at verse 15:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Sound familiar? Read on in Romans. Verses 18, 19:

“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

I think Paul has been reading my diary!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” v.24

Is there no oasis in this barrenness of guilt? There is. Thank God and drink deeply as you read verse 25 and verse 1 of chapter 8 of Romans:

“Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!… Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

There it is. You read it right. Underline it if you wish. For those in Christ there is no condemnation. Absolutely none. Claim the promise. Memorize the words. Accept the cleansing. Throw out the guilt. And…watch out for open manholes.

The Garden

I hate to think I have anything in common with the devil, but I guess I do. Satan learned the same lesson as I hope we here have learnt today: Don’t mess around with a garden—especially a garden that belongs to our Father.

Thankfully the Bible is the story of two gardens. Eden and Gethsemane.

In the first, Adam took a fall.

In the second, Jesus took a stand.

In the first, God sought Adam. In the second, Jesus sought God.

In Eden, Adam hid from God. In Gethsemane, Jesus emerged from the tomb into the open for all to see.

In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to his death. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to our life.

Satan was never invited to the Garden of Eden. He did not belong there. He was not wanted there. He slithered as a snake into God’s garden and infected God’s children. That’s all he’s done since.

What Satan did in Eden, he does today. For that reason we need to know that what Jesus did in Gethsemane, he does today. He reclaims the holy. He will not long sit silent while Satan defiles the sacred. At the right moment Jesus stands and speaks. And when he stands and speaks, Satan stumbles and is silent.

Some of you may be asking what exactly happened in Gethsemane.

John tells us that “Judas came there with a group of soldiers and some guards from the leading priests and Pharisees” (John 18:3).

A bit of study reveals that Satan has masterminded a mighty coup. He has enlisted the muscle of each significant force of the unfolding drama—the Romans, the Jews, and even the apostles.

First he has a “group of soldiers.” The Greek word is speira. It has three possible meanings. It can signify a Roman cohort of three hundred men. It can refer to a cavalry and infantry totalling nineteen hundred soldiers. Or it can describe a detachment known as a maniple, which contained two hundred men.

I always had the impression that a handful of soldiers arrested Jesus. I was wrong. At minimum two hundred soldiers were dispatched to deal with a single carpenter and his eleven friends!

Also present were “some guards.” This was the temple police. They were assigned to guard the holiest place during the busiest time of the year. They must have been among Israel’s finest.

And then there was Judas. One of the inner circle. Not only had Satan recruited the Romans and the Jews, he had infiltrated the cabinet. Hell must have been rejoicing. There was no way Jesus could escape. Satan sealed every exit. His minions anticipated every move, except one.

Jesus had no desire to run. He had no intent of escape. He hadn’t come to the garden to retreat. What they found among the trees was no coward; what they found was a conqueror.

Note the dialogue that ensued and compare it with God in his garden:

John 18:4-8

Knowing everything that would happen to him, Jesus went out and asked, “Who is it you are looking for?”

They answered, “Jesus from Nazareth.”

“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, the one who turned against Jesus, was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they moved back and fell to the ground.

Jesus asked them again, “Who is it you are looking for?”

They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “So if you are looking for me, let the others go”.

Remarkable. They stand only a few feet from his face and don’t recognize him. Not even Judas realizes who stands before them. What a truth. Seeing Jesus is more than a matter of the eyes; it is a matter of the heart. The enemy is next to Jesus and doesn’t realize it.

He reveals himself. “I am he.” His voice flicks the first domino, and down they tumble.

One word from Jesus, and they fall down! Two hundred fighting men collapse into a noisy pile of shields, swords, and lamps. Don’t miss the symbolism here:

When Jesus speaks, Satan falls. Doesn’t matter who the evil one has recruited. Doesn’t matter if he has infiltrated the government. Doesn’t matter if he has seduced the temple. Doesn’t matter if he has enlisted one of the original, handpicked apostles.

The best of Satan melts as wax before the presence of Christ.

Jesus has to ask them again whom they seek. “Who are you after?”

When they answer that they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, he instructs them, “So if

you are looking for me, let the others go.”

What is this? Jesus commanding them! A Jew instructing a Roman? A renegade directing the temple guard? We turn to the commander, expecting a reply. We look at Judas, awaiting his retort. We listen, expecting someone to announce, “You’re not the one in charge here, Nazarene! We’ll take whoever we want.” But not only are they silent, they are obedient. The apostles are set free.

Many players appear on the stage of Gethsemane. Judas and his betrayal. Peter and his sword. The disciples and their fears. The soldiers and their weapons. And though these are crucial, they aren’t instrumental. The encounter is not between Jesus and the soldiers; it is between God and Satan. Satan dares to enter yet another garden, but God stands and Satan hasn’t a prayer.

Don’t miss the message:

Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world (Eph. 6:12).

The Son of God came for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).

Don’t miss the promises:

Satan falls in the presence of Christ. One word from his lips, and the finest army in the world collapsed.

Satan is silent in the proclamation of Christ. Not once did the enemy speak without Jesus’ invitation. Before Christ, Satan has nothing to say.

Satan is powerless against the protection of Christ. “I have not lost any of the ones you gave me” (John 18:9).

When Jesus says he will keep you safe, he means it. Hell will have to get through him to get to you. Jesus is able to protect you. When he says he will get you home, he will get you home.

Let me conclude my talk with an important question. Has Satan invaded a garden of your life? Has he profaned a holy part of your world? Your marriage? Your purity? Your honesty? If so, let Jesus claim it back.

Today.

 

 

 

 

 

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