The Fall of Man
Genesis 3:1-24



Up to this point in Genesis we have seen that after God created everything, He saw that it was very good, not just good, but VERY good. That's interesting because whenever we look out upon creation we don't necessarily consider it very good. We see famines, HIV, global warming (or cooling), devastating natural disasters, violence between individuals and between groups, etc. If this is not the way God intended creation to be and if God created creation in such a way that it was very good, then something had to have gone wrong after God created the universe. That something is the gist of Genesis 3.

Although some claim that the story in Genesis 3 is a myth, it is not. Most who claim that it is a myth say that the truth behind the story is still true. YET it is interesting that at least after Gen. 11 the authors of the Bible get their truths from what God did in history, not in myth. Moreover, it is interesting that Judaism and Christianity are not the only ancient cultures which claimed that the woman and not the man was the reason people fell into sin. For example, in Greek mythology Pandora--a woman--opened the box which led to evil coming into the world. In none of the myths is man ever blamed for the fall. If any blame is cast, it is placed upon the woman. With so many different religions having a story of evil coming into the world and the woman being the one who brought evil into the world, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that behind all these religious stories and/or myth lies the true story of a woman bringing evil into the world. We believe that the OT simply gives us the true version of the story. (We shall see this same principle operating with the story of Noah and the flood.)

The other question posed by this passage is the question of the existence of a personal evil force, here called the serpent but elsewhere called the "devil" or "Satan" (Rev. 12:9). Most modern thought tries to psychologize away all evil or else blame it upon genetics: "he had a bad childhood," "his genetic make-up made him that way," etc. Whereas many ills and evils do require a psychological approach, some do not. You cannot psychologize away the holocaust or evil men like Stalin. Every now and then God will allow something to happen which once more shows us that an evil force is at work in the world hostile to the purposes of God. That malevolent force according to the Bible is Satan.

The Temptation (Gen. 3:1-8)

How does Moses describe the serpent in Gen. 3:1?

Before giving in detail the story of the Fall, Moses first introduces us to the character who is ultimately responsible for the Fall--the serpent. He characterizes the serpent as being the craftiest of all the beasts of the field. We will understand how crafty the serpent actually is by the way he entices Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Many times when we think of evil, we think of brute force; evil, however, can take many shapes. In fact it normally takes the shape which is most effective for the person who is being tempted. For example, evil came in the form of an apostle to the Corinthians because the Corinthians had such a high regard for apostles (see 2 Cor. 11:13). In this instance in order for evil to be successful, it comes as a snake who is "crafty" because craftiness is what is needed to lead the woman into sin.

According to Gen. 2:16-17 what was the ONE thing God told Adam and Eve they were not to do?

What does the serpent ask Eve in Gen. 3:1?

See how crafty the snake is. He does not come right out and declare God to be a liar; rather he first twists what God has said: "Indeed has God said, 'You shall not eat from ANY tree of the garden?'" Actually the serpent literally said, "Indeed has God said, 'You shall not eat from EVERY tree of the garden?'" The serpent knew that God had only restricted their eating from the one tree of the knowledge of good and evil; however, by putting it this way, the serpent is casting God in a cruel light. Basically he was accusing God of trying to starve Adam and Eve.

What is Eve's response to the serpent (Gen. 3:2-3)? How has she changed God's command in Gen. 2:17?

Eve makes her first mistake by responding to the serpent. Instead of responding to the serpent, she should have immediately fled from his presence. Paul seems to be saying just this very thing when he writes: "Flee immorality!" (1 Cor. 6:18) and "abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). Why flee? You can't argue with evil. If you sit there and argue with evil, evil will eventually find an argument that will appeal to your better judgment. All of a sudden we start supporting the right to choice while all along we are consenting to the slaughter of innocent babies. All of a sudden we start promoting the right to privacy, while all along we are lending support to the gay lifestyle which God says is abominable to Him. We are so arrogant if we think we're a match for Satan. Satan has been at this contest since the beginning of creation and knows exactly what buttons he needs to press in order to lead us into sin.

Eve makes her second mistake by not accurately quoting God's commandment. God had told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; Eve changes God's statement to "You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die." Not once had God commanded them not to touch the fruit. It probably was better for them not to touch it or even to go near it; however, these words are Eve's addition to God's command. As cruel as the serpent had made God to be, Eve has made Him even crueler.

Was Eve intentionally trying to cast God in this light? She like most of us probably liked to play the part of the victim. Who knows. The truth though is that she was not precise about God's Word. Our present attitude many times towards the Bible is dangerously close to Eve's. Ultimately many of us do not care what the Bible teaches; we're more concerned that we have the right to an opinion and the right to express them than we are that our opinions and beliefs be accurate. Just like Eve we're not precise in our faith. Just like she reaped disastrous results, many times we reap the same.

What is the serpent's response to Eve (Gen. 3:4-5)?

Finally, the serpent comes right out and accuses God of being a liar. God had claimed that the man and woman would die on the day they ate the fruit from this tree; well, the serpent claims that they will not die. Instead, according to the serpent God does not them to eat from the tree because He is jealous of the man and woman. The serpent claims that God knows that once the 2 eat from the eat, they will be like God! That's enough for Eve. She takes the fruit from the tree, eats it, and then presents it to Adam who likewise eats of the tree.

The serpent had promised them knowledge if they ate of the fruit, and knowledge they received--but not the knowledge they were hoping for. They now had the knowledge that they were guilty; they now had the knowledge of shame. They turned and then knew that they were naked. They become ashamed of their bodies and pathetically sew together some large fig tree leaves to hide their genitals. After this they find places in the garden in order to hide themselves from God.

Why did they cover their nakedness? We've all heard of psychosomatic illnesses in which people who have a mental or emotional illness will express that illness in their bodies. The pain they feel in the joints really is resulting from the mental or emotional pain in their hearts. Well, something similar is occurring here. We are not just soul; we're body also. Whenever something affects the soul, it affects the body also. Well, the man and woman naturally felt guilt and shame when they disobeyed God and wanted to hide themselves; in order to help cover up their guilty souls, they covered up their bodies. In all truth though, the nakedness of the body was not the real problem; the real problem was the nakedness of their guilty and shameful soul. Covering the body was only a way to show the guilt and shame in the soul.

It is interesting to note that only after Adam and Eve sinned did they fear God. It is ironic that if Adam and Eve had feared God BEFORE they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would not have feared God in a cringing way later.

God Confronts the Man and Woman (Gen. 3:8-13)

As evening approached, God made His "daily" rounds in the garden to converse with Adam and his wife. When God enters the garden, He "notices" that something is strange--the man and woman are not there to meet them. (We all know that God knew everything that had happened; yet this chapter is showing us the way God deals with us whenever we sin.)

When God enters the Garden, whom does He address first (Gen. 3:9)?

God first probably rather "nonchalantly" calls out to Adam to ask him where he is. [Note that God does not address the woman first. God had created Adam before the woman because He wanted Adam to be the spiritual leader of the family (1 Tim. 2:12, 13). God honors the position He gave Adam by holding him first of all accountable for his family. Whenever something goes radically wrong in the family, men need to look to themselves first. Have they conducted themselves as the kind of dads and husbands their family needs? Deal with this question before you deal with the other problem in the family. The man may be totally guiltless; however, he needs to check on himself first. ]

How does Adam respond to God's call and what is God's response to Adam (Gen. 3:10-11)?

When God asks Adam to give an account for his deed, whom does Adam blame (Gen. 3:12)?

When God asks Eve about her sin, whom does she blame (Gen. 3:13)?

Adam responds that he and his wife are there but that they are hiding themselves because they are naked. At this God asks Adam how he knows that they are naked. God and Adam both know that God knows the answer to this, so God proceeds to ask Adam if he had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam immediately shifts the blame to his wife: "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." He does not deny that he ate from the tree, but he does nevertheless refuse to accept any responsibility for his action. The truth though is that he is fully responsible for his action; the woman did not force him to eat it but enticed him to eat it. She is responsible for enticing him to eat, not for him actually eating. What's even worse is that Adam does not ultimately blame the woman or the serpent for his sin; he ultimately blames God Himself: "the woman whom THOU gavest to be with me." Adam remains unrepentant even though God has given him every opportunity to address his sin.

Next God addresses the woman and asks her what she has done. Now God knows what the woman has done and is not asking for information. It's like the mother who walks into her child's room after the child has taken crayons and has written all over the wall. The mother puts her hands to her head and shouts, "My gosh! What have you done?" She's not asking for information; she's upset. Well, God is upset and is asking the question the same way. The woman immediately shifts the blame away from herself and tries to attach it to the serpent: "The serpent deceived me and I ate." In other words, just like her husband, the woman remains unrepentant even though God has given her the opportunity to repent.

Note that God does not address the serpent. God is not extending to the serpent the opportunity to repent. The serpent symbolizes malicious evil, Satan himself. Unlike Eve who was deceived and Adam who pathetically followed his wife's leading, the serpent knew exactly what he was doing. Satan's sin is all the worse not simply because of his own rebellion but because he has led others into rebellion (see Rom. 1:32).

The Judgment (Gen. 3: 14-24)

God has given both the man and the woman every opportunity to repent, and they have failed to take advantage of the opportunity. God now renders judgment upon the three guilty parties. Note that God addresses the 3 parties in the opposite order He addressed them at the beginning. Earlier He first addressed the man and then the woman; now He addresses the serpent first, next the woman, and then finally Adam. He probably addresses them in this order in keeping with the degree of guilt each one was responsible for. The serpent has the greatest and ultimate guilt, followed by the woman and finally the man (see 1 Tim. 2:14).

What judgment does God bring upon the serpent (Gen. 3:14)?

Because the serpent deceived the woman, what kind of relationship will the serpent have with the woman from now on (Gen. 3:15)? "I will put _______________ between you and the woman."

What will the serpent do to one of Eve's sons [seed], and what will Eve's son [seed] do to the serpent (Gen. 3:15)?

What judgment does God bring upon the woman because of her sin (Gen. 3:16)?

Finally, what judgment does God bring upon the man (Gen. 3:17-18)?

Circle the one word which recurs throughout Gen. 3:14-18:    blessed   joy   curse   peace

Although the curse in Genesis 3 basically affects 3 people (the serpent, the woman, and the man), we see that the curse actually involves more than just "pain in childbirth," "physical death," etc. Rom. 1:24-32 lists the different ways that the curse has affected mankind: impurity, homosexuality, depraved reason, impurity, malice, disobedient to parents, murder, strife, etc. Moreover, notice that the curse affects not just the man but also the physical universe. Although the man has to work by the sweat of his brow, he will do so because the ground has been cursed.

One of the myths of the 1960's was that what I did did not matter if it did not affect anybody else. In a sense that is true. The only problem is that everything I do affects somebody else. John Donne was right when he claimed that NO MAN is an island. We all affect each other. In Adam's case he affected not only every human being who has lived since him, he affected the entire physical universe as well.

Finally, notice that environment and excellent parenting don't guarantee good children. God the perfect parent placed Adam and Eve in the perfect environment, and yet they still sinned. Don't be misled by these 2 guarantees. The only guarantee of successful living is a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.


Corporate Sin

According to Romans 5:12 through the one man Adam sin entered into the ___________________.

Romans 5:12-21 deals with the corporate nature of sin. There are many theories as to how Adam's sin has affected the rest of the human race. Some claim that when Adam sinned, we were all living inside of Adam in a seminal sense. Others claim we inherit his actual sin which infant baptism removes. Others claim we inherit his sinful nature. Whatever explanation you adopt, Romans is primarily saying that in one way or other Adam's sin has affected us all. We have all been tainted by what happened in the Garden of Eden. According to Rom. 3:23 who all has sinned?

This verse alone shows you how much Adam's sin has affected the entire human race. [For a fuller description of the corporate nature of sin see Rom. 5:12-19).]

Why though was it necessary for GOD to become MAN in order to get us out of this mess? Man had to get us out of this mess because man got us into this mess (1 Cor. 15:21-22). Second, because every man is going to sin, man CANNOT get us out of this mess. Only God can. Yet God is not a man and cannot get us out of this mess. What is God's solution to this? God solves our dilemma by becoming the perfect man Himself, the God-man Jesus. Since Jesus is God, He is sinless; because He is man, He is able to pull us out of the pit we've fallen into.

The Promise to the Woman

In Gen. 3:15 who is God speaking to?

According to Gen. 3:15 whose seed (son) will crush the head of the serpent? The woman's son, the man's son, or the son of both the man and the woman?

The promise was made to the woman, not to Adam. In a way the woman bears the brunt of the Fall. Although man may have to work by the sweat of his brow, that work is nothing compared to the labor of childbirth and to the inferior status men have relegated her to. I've been in the labor and delivery room, and trust me, the toils of work are nothing compared to the pains of labor and delivery. Nancy was going to go through the entire labor/delivery process totally natural when Nathan was born. Finally, at one point Nancy's pain was so intense that somebody was going to get an epidural, either her or me, but somebody was going to get the sedative. Moreover, just look at the way women are treated today. Milton Cunningham has stated that at least 50% of the people in the Middle East want freedom, that 50% being women. It is primarily only in societies which have been impacted positively by Christianity that womene are treated with dignity and respect.

In a sense God more than makes up for what the woman suffers. Man has no role when God comes into the world in the person of Jesus. Only woman has that role. It is called " the virgin birth" because only the woman was used by God to bring Jesus into the world. Man had no role. As a result, although the woman received the greater judgment because of the Fall and her role in it, she ultimately receives the greater glory. (See Rev. 12:1-5 for this glorious description of the woman.) God reinforces the woman's glory by allowing her to be the first preacher of the resurrection (Luke 24:1-11).

It is important to realize that this is the FIRST MAJOR DIRECT REFERENCE TO JESUS IN THE BIBLE. Although John informs us that Jesus is the Word God spoke to create all things (John 1:1-3), Gen. 3:15 explicitly claims that one of Eve's sons, Jesus, is going to come and destroy the serpent and get us out of the mess created by the Fall.

Some have wondered why God went through with the creation of people when He "knew" that we were really going to mess it up. Unless you understand that God has the heart of a father, the heart of a perfect Father, you are not going to understand how this all works. God took a major risk in creating you and me because we just might reject Him. Well, even though Nancy and I took a risk in having our 2 children because they might reject us, we went ahead and took that risk. Rejection is terrible; however, whenever the child accepts and loves you, and you have a wonderful relationship with that child, then the risk was definitely worth it.

That's not all though God risked. He risked losing His Son by creating you and me. When we got ourselves into our mess, God sent His Son Jesus to get us out of the mess. That was a gamble on God's part. When Jesus faced the temptations He faced, He could have rejected His Father and yielded to sin. The Father would have eternally lost not just you and me but Jesus as well. Two thousand years ago much hung in the balance.

It would be easy to get angry at God when we see all the suffering He has "punished" us with. Several things to note though. First, God warned Adam that death would follow disobedience. It was Adam's fault that he did not believe God. Second, we can't really blame Adam because we probably would have beaten Adam and Eve to the tree if we had been there. Even though we know better by experience (which they did not have), we still choose to disobey God. Third, even though we got ourselves into the mess, God is the One who got us out of it--at a great cost to Himself, the death of His Son. Not only did God have His Son die, God poured out all the wrath you and I deserve upon His Son. The God many of us are angry at suffered tremendously to save us.

Parents can understand the nature of what has happened. How many of us have children who have gotten themselves into a mess and needed their parents to rescue them? After the parent has rescued the child, does the child always show gratitude and appreciation? Not necessarily. Some children despise their parents, feeling that their parents "owed" them. That really hurts the parent who lovingly rescued his child. In the same way many of us get angry at God when (1) we've made the mess and (2) He's rescued us. We are like ungrateful children. We would be unwise to reject Him who is the only One who provides for our way of escape.

We undoubtedly belly ache mainly over the way we experience death. We prefer just to die physically, not emotionally and psychologically and spiritually. God doesn't tell us which specific form of death we are going to suffer; He just tells us that we are going to suffer death. I remember in the early 90's whenever Jeffrey Dahmer was luring teenage boys up to his apartment for some sex and drugs. After they got there, he ate their livers for supper. People were horrified by this cruel monster. These teenage boys did not deserve this. That's where our thinking gets all messed up. We agree that maybe we should suffer but not suffer like that. Well, that's not the way the system is set up. God only guarantees us that death follows sin, not that the death will be easy to take. We need to quit reacting against the system because it is not going to change; instead we need to realize this is the way the system works and allow God to have His way in our lives in a positive manner.

The Physical Universe Will Likewise Experience the Salvation brought by Eve's Son (Rom. 8:18-25)

Earlier we saw that the earth was affected by man's sin. According to Rom. 8:20 what was affected by man's sin? Just the earth, the sky, or all creation?

When Jesus returns, will just people experience God's salvation or will creation experience salvation too (Rom. 8:21)?

Jesus did not just become a Man. He became a part of creation when He became a man. As a result whenever Jesus comes back to save mankind, He will save the rest of creation also. It too will be transformed just like we will be transformed.