Think of the Garden of Eden as a private luxury yacht, one the size of a cruise liner. Life is good. All you can eat buffets. Beauty is all around you. You have an amazing captain that walks the deck with you. There are no fears, no threats, no worries, no sweat. There is only one rule, stay on the boat (i.e., obey). But one day you are together talking with a serpent and he asks, about the rule and in the process of the conversation you change your perspective from seeing the rule as one meant to protect you to one meant to keep something from you. You want to be the captain. So, without much thought, you jump ship. When you reach the water you find that it isn’t a clear calm body of pure water, it is dirty, yucky, murky, oil and grease and pollution. The more you splash in it, the more covered you get. Fortunately, God releases a lifeboat, tied to his ship (through the sacrifice of a living creature), but no more lido deck and no way to get back on the yacht. Until… (we’ll come back to that thought).
Let’s first go into our scripture story this week. In our first section we read about a conversation that Adam and Eve have with a serpent and the decision they each make that results from that conversation. We learn that the serpent is a crafty creature and in his craftiness he asks a question; a question with an innuendo. Did God really say…? He asks it of Eve, but we are told Adam is with her. When Eve responds, the serpent’s tone gets even more sarcastic and pointed, basically calling God a liar and someone who is trying to keep things from Adam and Eve. He says, “you won’t die.. you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Keep in mind, up to this juncture, they were like God, made in his image and they knew good, because everything around them was good. So, really what Satan is suggesting is that they should want to know evil. And, like so often we do ourselves, they let their eyes and their perspective stray. They turned from being focused on the word of God and the character and attributes of God and they turned their focus to the temptation. Vs 6 says, “…saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom,” Then, they make one of the most pivotal decisions in the history of mankind, they took it and ate it.
There was a TV show years ago with a line, “The devil made me do it.” But that is wrong. It is wrong now and it was wrong at the time of Adam and Eve. The devil prompted them to question God’s word and His character. The devil lied to them about God’s intentions for them and misled them, but the devil did not force them to eat it. He didn’t pick the fruit and lie to them that it was some other fruit, so they weren’t deceived. He didn’t even force a situation of panic or urgency to cause immediate action. He just tempted them to place their eyes and their focus away from God and onto a lie. The same way we are tempted today.
Who are you blaming for your sins? Society, TV, your friends, your parents? What are you doing to focus your vision every day on God and not on temptation?
So, now their eyes are opened and they see evil. What panic must have filled them! I don’t know if you have ever felt a panic attack, but I cannot even imagine the emotion of the situation, the fear, the shame, the uncertainty. They start sewing together fig leaves, like that is some rational thing to do, and then they hear God walking through the garden. Panic! Hide!
God calls out to them and the reality that they can’t hide from God must have sunk in and Adam answers back. God then patiently lets them tell their story. Adam blames everyone else. It was Eve, and, by the way, you are the one who put her here. Eve blames the serpent. But, both acknowledge and confess. “I ate.” Don’t miss that part. Their confession worked then like our confession does not. It puts us in a proper position to receive God’s grace. Adam and Eve should have died immediately. The consequence of sin is death. But through their confession, God gave grace, not without cost, but neither what they earned.
When we sin, there are consequences. The negative consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was pain, fear, longing, domineering, toil, thorns, thistles, sweat, fight to survive, death. The serpent was cursed, the ground was cursed.
Think of it like ripples or waves. When we jumped ship and splashed into the dirty water, we made waves, things were moved and affected. That is still true today. One of the tricks the tempter plays is to hide the impacting waves of our sin from us. It being hidden does not mean it is not there, just that we don’t see it. Those types of ripples and waves are often the most dangerous. They create an under tow that can drown not only us, but those around us as well.
Do you recognize that there are no victimless sins? When you disobey God it has affects, even if you don’t see them, they are there. What sin are you trying to keep hidden?
But, with all the negative consequences, we also see something amazing if we look hard at the verses. Here we see the first glimpse of God’s grace. We see the first mention of our savior, Jesus Christ, and the work that He will do to crush the serpent’s head. We see the first sacrifice that God made on our behalf, one that transferred our earned death onto another creature.
We see something interesting in that first sacrifice. It was only a covering. Think of it as the life preserver or lifeboat that God released for us. We aren’t out of the water, but we also weren’t immediately pulled under to drown.
But compare that to the work of Christ. Jesus became man. He tied a rope around His waist (tying Himself to His Father in heaven – we see him tighten those knots every time He prayed). He jumped down from the deck and stretched out His arms (on the cross) to grab ahold of us. Then, using his own strength, He lifted us back into the boat. It’s like those rescue missions at sea, all we can do is reach for Him, submit and hold on.
Where the first sacrifice was a covering, Jesus’ sacrifice brought us back into a state of righteousness with God, back into unity and communion with Him, back onto the boat. He didn’t just save us from the deep, but he brought us back into His family.
So, if we are once again “back in the family” and we have been made righteous, why do we still feel the consequences of sin and see it all around us? Think about those images of birds being rescued from an oil spill in the ocean. That is us. God’s work of transforming us starts on the inside. He places the Holy Spirit in us and begins cleaning the gunk of swimming in sin from our heart, then he works outward. On the outside, we are still dripping the pollution of sin. Because we still live on this earth, we are still all wet. But like the ship is on the water not of the water, we are on this earth, and no longer of this earth. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth and we are subjects of His kingdom. See, one day, either when we pass from this earth or when Jesus returns, we will be completely transformed. This filthy flesh will be replaced and made completely clean, inside and out. We will live in a new heaven and new earth free of sin where there is no serpent (he’ll be spending eternity in a firey pit), no pain, no sorrow, none of the things that sin brought into this world. We will once again be fully transformed back into walking in the garden with God and it will be good.