Teaching Notes: Genesis 3

by Kari on June 17, 2010

Yes, I’m a nerd who manuscripts out all her notes when teaching.  So not sure if these interest anyone, but here they are–from last night’s HighSchool group at WCC.

[The HighSchoolers are currently in a series called The Story of God, Creation, Fall, Rebellion, Redemption, Glory.  This is week 2.]

Thinking about last week, if I had to sum up the creation account, and all that you studied, it would be in this one word: GOOD.  All that God created was good, because GOD IS GOOD.  God is good.  I believe that’s the most important thing for you to know in your life.  And why is it so important to understand that? Because that is what was called into question in the garden of Eden, and that is what is called into question each and every day of your life.

LET’s PRAY

Alright, we’re going to dive into Genesis 3, so open your Bibles and follow along.   Basic rule of Bible study, always look at the context of the passage.  Our context?  Creation.  Perfection.  And so we can see the sharp fall in the story line here, let’s look back at the end of chapter 2. 

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. 25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

So the good news here is that you were created to leave your mom and dad.  Good news, right?  Good news is that you were created, originally, to be united as one person, in marriage, with someone of the opposite sex. And here’s the really crazy part, you were created to be naked together, without a trace of insecurity.

You were created to be without shame.  A Good God, created a good creation, and all creation stood in confidence before God and before each other, without shame.

Now, chapter 3:  let’s see what happened.   v. 1: 1Now 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’?”

Now the serpent itself is not evil, right? God created the serpent to be good.  But we know from (Rev. 12:9, 20:2) that the serpent was simply a vehicle for Satan to manifest himself.  Satan is a fallen angel, and scripture doesn’t specify when satan sinned and fell, but he appears here on the scene in the form of a snake.  And, surprisingly, a talking snake.  Now, you know it’s easy for us to look back and go, “Umm…red flag! Talking animal!  Didn’t you think something was up?”  But consider this. None of the animals had negative connotations—a snake at that point was like a bunny rabbit or a lady bug.  Second, the world is really new here. Consider the fact that Eve probably hadn’t even met all the animals. She wasn’t there when Adam named them all. How was she supposed to know that some of them could or couldn’t talk?  Adam kind of looked like an animal and he talked!  Anyway, apparently the world was new enough that anything seemed possible.

So Satan questions God’s command.  A few things here:

1) Interestingly, Satan uses God’s impersonal title, elohim, rather than His personal name YHWH.  It’s way easier to sin against some distant, uncaring, unknowing God, than it is against a personal, loving Lord and Savior who is intimately involved in the details of one’s life.  We must remember we serve and love a personal God.

2) Satan misquotes God, He twists God’s words.  Let’s look at God’s original command in ch. 2:16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, You may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God’s command highlights their abundant freedom. They can eat of every single tree in this paradise!  There were probably thousands of them!  Just one, you cannot.  Just one thing that is off-limits. And why is it off limits?  For their own good. God is protecting them. By giving them a choice he is allowing them to exercise free will. By giving them a command, He is protecting them from harm.

So what is Satan’s scheme here?  #1, he appeals to Eve instead of Adam.  Remember that this command was given by God to Adam, before Eve was created, right? The Lord God commanded the man.  So she heard the command second-hand, from Adam. Adam was the one who was responsible for communicating to his wife the directives that He heard from the very mouth of God. Adam was also ultimately held responsible, we’ll see this play out more later.   So from the start, Eve is more vulnerable.  So Satan appeals to Eve.

And #2:  he twists God’s word in such a way that the focus is on the restriction rather than the freedom, in order to sow seeds of DISCONTENT. That’s the first step we see here. This, my brothers and sisters, is the exact same way he is tempting you today.  Since we’re reading a chapter about two naked people, let’s consider sex: God says to you, young single people today, You have all the freedom in the world to talk to each other, you can enjoy getting to know each other, you can date each other, you can serve together, play together, goof off together, worship together, watch movies together.  But just one small thing I ask you to save for marriage—sexual intercourse.  Now, what does the enemy do? He puts all the attention on the one thing God asks you to abstain from. That is a trap. The enemy’s scheme is create discontentment in our hearts with what God has given us.  When we focus on what we cannot have, instead of enjoying what we can have, our hearts become snared in discontent and we begin a slippery slope. Let’s watch and see what happens.

v.2-3 The woman tries to combat this temptation:  She comes back with what she knows to be true, although she misquotes God a bit too. It’s impossible for us to know if that is her fault, misquoting God, or whether her husband mis-communicated it to her, but at some point, the command got fuzzied a bit.  In fact, in the process, they actually added to God’s command, making it stricter than He even intended in the beginning.  And this is completely my opinion, so you can take it or leave it, but I believe we do a disservice to God’s commands when we add onto them and make them stricter than He does.  God says, save yourself sexually for marriage.  Some groups like to take that to extremes—you can’t date, you can’t talk to members of the opposite sex. And I know those people have the best intentions, but adding to God’s commands is generally out of fear and can actually hinder rather than help because it adds to the feeling that God is so restrictive and negative and out to keep us from all fun.  So let’s stick to what God’s word tells us.  So Eve’s first step, Discontentment. I’m not happy with what God’s allowed me to have.

v. 4 Now satan brings his outright attack against what God has said. He has already sown the seed of discontent, by focusing her on what she cannot have rather than what she can have.  Now, he begins to sow the seed of DOUBTYou will not surely die. That is the outright lie.  And this is the lie, in essence—you will not suffer consequences. Satan wants us to believe that we can disobey God’s commands and not suffer consequences.  That was his lie then, that is his lie today.  You won’t get caught. You won’t get pregnant. You won’t get any STD’s.  You won’t get addicted.  No one will know.  He tricks us into sinning in the dark, because that is when we cannot see clearly the wretched and deadly consequences we will face in the morning.  That is Satan’s plan.

V. 5 “For God knows…” now Satan is not only twisting God’s commands, he is trying to tell Eve God’s thoughts!  And the essence of this verse: “God is keeping a huge secret from you.  The TRUTH is that God doesn’t want what is best for you. The truth is that there is something better, tastier, and powerful out there and God is just afraid that if you experience it, you’ll be like Him.  God isn’t looking out for your good.” And here’s the crux of it all: God is not good. The essence of Satan’s lie is that God is not good.  And ALL sin, all disobedience is a personal affront on the goodness of God.  All disobedience says, “I do not trust that what you say is best for me, because I do not trust YOU. I do not trust that you are good.”  That is the root of all doubt, the essence of all disobedience.

So, so far we have discontent, which led to doubt.  Now, we see the most powerful force in the human world come into place.  Desire.

v. 6 “So when the women…” the woman looked at the tree.  It was beautiful.  It was good for food, it was a delight to the eyes, beautiful, and it was desirable to make her wise.  Desire is incited in her heart.  She looks at the tree… she lingers there… instead of running away from the temptation, she just stands there a second.

  • It’s so beautiful. How could it be bad if it’s so beautiful?  I mean, God created it, right? How could it be wrong if God created it?
  • It’s good for food.  We need food, right? I mean God created us to need food, He created us to hunger. He created this drive in me to need food. How can it be wrong if God created in me a hunger for this thing?
  • It was desirable to make her wise.  Wisdom is a good thing, right?  I’ll know more. I’ll be more powerful.  My life will be better.  I’ll be able to decide whether or not this is a good thing or not because I’ll know. If I don’t try I’ll never know, I’ll never be able to tell good and bad unless I go ahead and try it, experiment with it. Then I’ll know for myself…

Friends, this is the same dangerous slope we all can fall into.  Desire is a good thing. Desire is from God.  But desire, unchecked and not submitted to God’s commands, desire that’s not wrapped up in the glory of God and wanting His best, is dangerous.  The book of James says, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and when it is fully grown brings forth death.”  (1:14-15)

Unchecked desire leads to sin, which leads to death.  Always.  Consider again three ways that Eve justifies her decision.  It looks good, it tastes good, and it will give me power.  1 John 2:16-17 sums this up this way: “All that is in the world—the desires of the flesh (it tastes good), the desires of the eyes (it looks good), and the pride of what he has and does (give me wisdom and power)—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Again in the context of nakedness, let’s consider sex as one form of this same temptation.  Man it looks good, man it sure would taste good to experience, and man it would give me power and status, I’d feel loved and valued, I’d know what it was like instead of being so naïve.  I’d have it all.  Besides, (going back to Eve’s line of thinking), it’s so beautiful, how can it be wrong if we love each other with such a beautiful love? God created love, how can it be wrong? And it’s food for my hunger—God created me with a hunger for this, God created me with a desire for sex, how can it be wrong?  If he gave me the hunger for it, how can it be wrong?  And power and wisdom—how can I ever know if he’s the one if we never experiment together? How can I commit to being with this person without this knowledge? Satan’s methods of temptation are as old as the world, friends.

And you know what happens next?  The fourth and final step—after the seeds of discontentment, after the seeds of doubt, after desire has been fanned into full flame, then comes that tragedy of deception. When we allow those three things into our hearts, we then fall into deception.  We believe the lies about who God is. We believe He doesn’t really want what is best for us.  We are wholeheartedly deceived.  Eve has bought the lie, hook line and sinker.  She is deceived.  And so is the vast majority of the world in which we live.

So what does Eve do? End of verse 6, “She took of its fruit…” she ate.  Then she gave some to her husband, and he ate.

I just want to shake Adam at this point.  What are you doing you passive spineless man? You were the one who heard God’s command, you are the one who is called to lead his wife! What are you doing, standing there in silence like a buffoon while your wife talks to a snake!  Grab her by the hair if need be and drag her away!  He’s not deceived, he’s just passive, refusing to stand firm in what he knows is right.  He silently, passively enters into the sin. And there, in that moment, the earth began to decay.  Like a silent, oozing, poisonous venom coming up from the depths of the earth, all of creation was tainted.  All suffering, disease, death, sin, cruelty, abuse, pain, sadness, tears, loss, emptiness—all human suffering comes from this moment in time.  From paper cuts to the most heinous brutality, genocide, cancer, rape, torture, war. It all comes from here. It all comes from the slippery little steps of letting desire, discontent, and doubt carry away a couple from trusting in the goodness of God.

v. 7-9 “the eyes of both…” their eyes are open, they knew they were naked. They sew clothes, they hide themselves.  They are filled with SHAME.  This is like the morning after, if you will.  We sin in the dark, we’re ashamed in the light.  Their eyes are opened, and the result is not wisdom and life and power—it is sin and shame and insecurity.  They hide from each other and they hide from God.  We’ve all been hiding every since.  And this next interaction brings me to tears because it is so far from the ideal beautiful harmonious and intimate relationship and God desired with His children.  He looks for them.  He gives them the opportunity to come to Him. And their response? They are AFRAID. Goodness of God forever called into question in the hearts of man. Shame and fear fill their hearts.  They’ve bought the lie that God is not good, and the result is that they are afraid of Him.

V. 9 “But the Lord God called…” So God questions them:  Did you eat? God questions the man, the one held ultimately responsible for the command that God had given him directly, the one held ultimately responsible for this family’s following of God’s ways.

v. 12 “The man said, …” And once again I want to shake this man.  Does he buck up and accept the responsibility, does he humbly and bravely say, “Yes God, I was an idiot. Forgive me.”  No.  There is no confession here, only excuse.  It was the women YOU gave me! He manages to blame both God and his wife all at once.  Way to go, Adam! That’s skill.  Sweet ability there to blame everyone but yourself.  So passive and spineless I want to punch him in the nose.

V. 13 “Then the Lord…” So God questions Eve and what does she do?  No confession either!  What does she say? “He deceived me.”  She rightly understands that it was deception.  After we sin, after the fact, it becomes painfully obvious that we were deceived.  Afterwards you feel like an idiot.  She doesn’t acknowledge the other 3 steps that got her into the position of being deceived, but she rightly understands she was deceived.  But no confession is taking place here, no accepting responsibility.  Lame excuses are as old as the world as well.

v. 14 So now we have the consequences.  There are always consequences to sin. God will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9), but there are always consequences to sin. Galatians 6:7 says, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED. God is not mocked.  You reap what you sow.” Remember Satan’s lie in verse 4:  He said there would be no consequences.  That’s a lie.  There are always consequences. So here are theirs, and here are ours.

V. 14 “The LORD God said…” The physical literal serpent has to crawl around on his belly.  The figurative serpent, satan, will have enmity forever between her offspring and him.  The good news is that this is also the first declaration of the gospel of Christ—he shall bruise… Satan will be allowed to hurt mankind and Jesus Christ, but ultimately Christ will bruise his head, He will rise victorious over the serpent, over satan, and stand in victory over him.  This curse, the fall, will affect all mankind, but in the end, Christ will win. God’s goodness still pervades even these darkest verses of the Bible.

But specifically for us, how are we affected by the fall?  Let’s look.  It’s fascinating to see how gender plays out in this very critical part of human history.  Adam and Eve sinned as male and female—they played very different roles and sinned in different ways. And interestingly, their punishment and consequences are given in distinct ways as well. I’ll go over it all and then focus in on one area that relates specifically to how we interact with each other today.

The Fall brought two main areas of suffering to humankind:  Pain and Exploitation.

First pain, v. 16 “To the woman…” Pain in childbearing. Just in case you’re wondering how REAL these consequences are?  Yeah, they’re real.  I can personally attest to this one. God wasn’t joking when he said he would greatly increase pain in childbearing.  Holy Cow.

Your desire…there’s that word desire again.  This is huge.  So we’re going to come back to this in a second…

V. 17: “And to Adam…” For the man, Pain.  For the man pain is in his work, his toil.  Work is not the result of the fall, Adam had good work to do even before the fall. The result is the pain. The ground is cursed, you shall sweat to work the ground, it will have thorns and thistles, and eventually, it will master you and you will be buried by it.  Though nowadays not many people literally work with the ground, men still struggle with the pain of work.  In general, women experience sorrow and trials through finding their significance in the home, with children.  In general, men experience sorrow and trials through finding their significance in their career.  And eventually, a man’s career ends, he is celebrated and applauded no longer, and death wins, and he is literally buried.  A man’s pride is short-lived. The ground wins.

So there is pain for both man and woman. But consider the last part of v. 16.  “Your desire shall be… rule over you.”

At first glance this is tricky. What does that word desire mean?  In English it’s just the plain old word desire, but in Hebrew, it is the same word that is used over in chapter 4, verse 7: When it says (of Cain) that “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” So in this context, this desire is a desire to dominate, rule over, master, control, subdue, exploit.

To exploit simply means to “make use of selfishly.”  The essence of sinful corruptness on male and female is that we exploit one another’s weaknesses for our own selfish gain.

So, in light of this, a man’s sinful nature is to make use of women selfishly, by means of brute strength, because she is weaker physically. This is why we have rape, pornography, sexual abuse, molestation, and sex-trafficking.  On the flip-side, a woman’s sinful natural is to make use of man selfishly, exploiting the weakness of his tendency for lust, by using the power of her female body to gain control over him, in order to get what she wants.

And here’s the thing, ladies:  In our culture we know that it is wrong for men to exploit women in this way—we’re the first to stand up against rape and violence and sex-trafficking.  But did you know that when we dress or flirt or act provocatively, we are guilty of the exact same sin?  We are exploiting the sexual weakness of the guys around us, in order to control them for our own selfish desires—to feel good about ourselves.  Because, we are so sad and desperate and fallen, that we do whatever it takes to get looks from guys—a form of control and manipulation and exploitation.  The fall of man tragically produced men and women who make use of each other selfishly.  Guys use girls to get sex, girls use sex to get guys. We are all fallen.  We all control each other by exploiting each other’s weaknesses.

I wish I could say that the story ends with a happy ending. At this point, it doesn’t.  Chapter 3 says God literally drove Adam and Eve out of the garden, out of paradise.  He lovingly made clothes for them (another whole message there, hopefully you’ll return to that in a later message), but sent them out to till the ground, to work, to raise children, and then to die. They would never return.

They were now fallen creation.  We are now fallen creation.  Though we still bear the unmistakable image of God, it is marred.  We now spend much of life in pain.  We now by our fallen nature tend to exploit one another for our own selfish gain.

I know this is a downer, but I wholeheartedly believe that we will not be ready for the good news until we’ve understood the bad news.  We gloss over our fallenness because it makes us uncomfortable.  Tonight I pray we would allow God to convince us of our own fallenness.  We would have done the same, and sadly, do do the same today.  Let’s pray for God to touch our hearts with the truth of this reality tonight, and by His grace, grant us repentance.  Let’s pray.

More on this idea of Exploitation here.

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