Good evening all! It's great to be here, it's been good to spend a month with you - the proverbial 'month of Sundays'! Wasn't that bad! It was good to be here all of January, and it has flown in as usual. I do trust that you have been blessed through the word, and through the message of God, and tonight will be no exception. We're turning to Genesis chapter 3, and we will read the whole of the chapter together. Let's just pray together before we get the portion of Scripture, and just settle yourself - there was a good sense of the Lord's presence as we were praising, and let's just centre ourselves in the Lord, in the Lord Jesus. Do you know what that means? We were talking this morning about our foundation on Christ alone, and we want to centre ourselves in Him. That means we're not looking at ourselves from outside, we're not looking introspectively within, we're not even concentrating on our sins and our failures - of which we have many, myself included - but we are centring ourselves in Him. Looking out to Him and, yet, as we look out to Him and connect with Him by faith, He comes to dwell within us - that's centring ourselves in the Lord: Christ in you, the hope of glory. So let's get into that place, as we come to the Living Word, that we might connect even now in spirit, as we would connect with the Lord Himself, the Word of God.
Jesus, be the centre of this moment together. We thank You for the privilege of taking the sacred name upon our lips: Lord Jesus Christ. We invoke, with the confession of that name, everything that Your Son is, Father, and everything that He has done - all that He has accomplished for us. Lord, we ask that all of heaven's riches that are encapsulated in that name might flow now to us by grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit. So we ask You to come, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, come and manifest Your presence to us and in us. Glorify Your thrice holy name through the preaching of the word, and may our lives be transformed having encountered the Living Word. We wait upon You now, and we pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ: victory over the powers of darkness, any that would simultaneously seek to manifest to quench the word and the power of God. We bind you in Jesus' name, we take authority over you and strip you of your job functions. We pray, Father, now that You will release the mighty power of the Spirit through the word in the Gospel. We thank You for the power there is in the Gospel. So come, Lord, as we wait upon You now, and do wonders in our midst, we pray. For Christ's sake, Amen.
Verse 1 then of Genesis 3: "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?'. And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die''. Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'. So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself'. And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?'. Then the man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate'. And the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'. The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate'. So the LORD God said to the serpent: 'Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel'. To the woman He said: 'I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you'. Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return'. And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'; therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life".
You will hopefully recall, if you were with us last week, that we have been looking at chapter 1, chapter 2, and now chapter 3. In chapter 1 we have, essentially, a revelation of God as the Creator. We saw that God was central to chapter 1, and then we saw last week that man, generally, was central to chapter 2. I made the statement that the two greatest gifts that God can give any of us is to see Himself as He really is, and then after that to see ourselves as we really are. Essentially those are probably the two greatest debates that will ever be had in the history of humanity: what is God like, and who are we, and how are we to relate either to God or to ourselves? Now I'm not going to repeat myself on those particular issues, you can get the recordings - but perhaps coming after knowing God as He is revealed within Scripture, and then understanding who we are - and we spent a bit of time, of course, on spirit, soul, and body, and how they relate - then it's vital that we understand our enemy. I think that's what we have generally in chapter 3.
Right away we are confronted with this serpent - I'm not going to enter into conjecture over what the serpent was, or what it means - but we are confronted, very early on in the biblical revelation from God, with the enemy of our souls: the accuser, Satan. Now the title for the first week was 'The Origin of the Universe', the second title I was given was 'The Origin of Mankind', and this week the title I was attributed was 'The Origin of Evil'. I'm going to change that slightly to 'The Origin of Sin', because I believe that evil preceded man's sin - and that's really the subject in chapter 3. I'll explain what I mean in a moment, but I will use the term 'evil' interchangeably - but whenever I'm referring to it, I'll be mostly referring to evil in man. The reason why I say that is, verse 1, 'The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field' - this is before the fall of man into evil, this is before man sins and transgresses, we have the serpent.
So my first point is: the source of all evil. The source of all evil, of course, is Lucifer. If we were to take time tonight we could look at two very important passages of Scripture - we will maybe look at one of them - the first is Ezekiel 28. The message is spoken to the King of Tyre, but we believe that there is a prophetic edge to it, in that God was speaking to Lucifer, to Satan as he was, this covering cherub. There is a very telling phrase in God's address to him, where God says: 'You were in Eden, the Garden of God'.
Maybe we should turn to Isaiah 14, which is the other Old Testament passage I have in mind - keep your place in Genesis 3. Isaiah 14, and again this is addressed to an actual human ruler, but behind it there is a spiritual meaning that most Bible scholars would agree God intended for us to understand. He's even more explicit in verse 12 of Isaiah 14: ''How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol', or hell, 'To the lowest depths of the Pit'.
The source of all evil is Lucifer, Satan, the serpent. But having said that, I want you to go even deeper - you say: 'Well, how can I do that?'. As we read this passage, and Ezekiel 28, we see that essentially the source of all evil is pride. It was Lucifer who determined to ascend the heights as high as God, and that was his downfall! I want you to consider tonight that we are not - as we look at all Scripture, of course, all of it is profitable, particularly tonight as we look here at the origin of evil - we're not just looking at the origin of evil in a general manner, but we can be so specific and personal to understand the origin of evil within ourselves. This will help you immensely in getting a grasp as to the schemes of the wicked one, the plans, the methods of the enemy to trip us up - whether we are converted or not. The origin of all evil, whether it's in Lucifer himself, in his demonic hordes, or in fallen humanity, or personally in your own heart - the origin of all evil is pride. That might be a revelation in itself. C.S. Lewis said that pride is the sin that made the devil the devil.
A great book I can recommend on the subject of humility is by Andrew Murray, it's just entitled 'Humility'. He makes several profound statements, one of which is: 'Pride can degrade the highest angels into devils. Evil can have no beginning but from pride'. Pride is, you see, the mother sin. If you like, pride is the devil in all of us that wants to exalt itself, as Lucifer did originally, to the status of God. It's the attitude of the spirit of the age around us: 'Better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven'.
Now the only answer to the Satanic poison of pride is the humility of Jesus Christ. I mean, I know we're jumping a lot of Scripture here, but you compare the attitude of Lucifer in Heaven - Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14 - to the approach of the Son of God when He was in Heaven. What is the incarnation of Christ other than humility when He was in heaven - have you ever considered that? He did empty Himself and became a man, but when did that journey begin? It began in Heaven, He exhibited humility before His humiliation. What a contrast! Taking the form of a servant. What was His sacrifice? Obedient unto death, even the death of the cross - what was that only humility? Even His Ascension, when He was buried and He rose again from the dead and ascended on high, His glorification was because of His humility: 'Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and given Him a place above every name' - why? Because of His humility. Our Lord Jesus Christ was the embodiment of the humility of God. He is the One who is the express image of God's Person - and so, He reveals to us (and this is profound beyond imagination) that humility is at the heart of God!
One thing is sure: on a personal level, we need the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ perhaps more than anything else, because of the pride that is deep rooted within all of us. It's a grace, humility is a grace, it's not found by hammering yourself, or depriving yourself. Of course, denying self is involved in this Christian experience, but it comes by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ - it comes with the experience of having your own pride revealed, and coming to the cross and submitting yourself, and confessing it and repenting it, and the Lord cleanses you of it and delivers you: then He fills you with the gift of humility! It's not some pretentious thing, it's a grace, and it comes from Jesus - but it must happen. If you want evil to die in you, the origin and the source of it always has been pride - and so pride must die in you. As William Law said: 'Pride must die in you, or nothing of Heaven can live in you'. As Andrew Murray puts it in that little book I mentioned: 'As much as you have of pride within you, so you have the fallen angel in you. As much as you have of true humility, so you have the Lamb of God within you'.
So the origin of evil, completely, is Lucifer; but the source of it, essentially, is pride - and it's in all of us. I want you to see something else, and learn more of the approach of the enemy toward our hearts. The source of all evil, and then I want you to see the conception of sin - or, if you want - evil in man. It's found in verses 2 through to 4: 'The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die''. Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die''. This is the conception of sin, sin is conceived, or evil in man is conceived through questioning the veracity of God's word.
These are foundational, fundamental truths that I really hope you get a hold of tonight. This is how sin, or evil, is conceived in every heart: when we question the veracity of what God has said. That is the purpose behind all diabolical activity, it is to cast doubt on the benevolent character of God - that's what it's all about, not just to rubbish the Bible! Satan wants us to question God's heart toward us. So often the questioning of the veracity of God's word sounds like this in our ear: 'God doesn't know what's best for me, He obviously doesn't if He's telling me not to do this, or to do that'. Then we construe that 'God does not desire my good. God obviously does not want my happiness'. The author of evil is still using this strategy today to undermine the teaching of holy Scripture and truth: 'God is a killjoy! Spoilsport! Party popper! He is a megalomaniac! He is a control freak!'. Of course these are all lies because, as we saw last week when we considered why God put a tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden to give man a choice, He gives us the choice. He doesn't force us! He tells us the boundaries that are safe, and what will happen if we go beyond them. He actually - as we see, because every tree of the garden they could freely eat, only one tree they were forbidden and prohibited to eat of - so He actually sets us up not for a fall, but He set us up to succeed, and to be safe; but He never forces us. Never.
But you must understand, to know why sin is conceived and evil within us, that Satan's objective is to get you to resent the protective boundaries of God's word that are there to safeguard us from disaster. God gives us boundaries and principles because He is good, because He is loving, because He desires our welfare. It is Satan who wants your destruction. Sometimes I find myself saying this from the pulpit, and people are quite shocked. Satan hates you, I mean, he detests you! He wants to destroy you. He is a roaring lion seeking to devour you! It's amazing how we flirt and fraternise with him. This is a danger particularly for those who have grown up in Christian environments, Christian homes, with Christian parents, or gone to church from an early age. I'm one of them, and often we are more susceptible to this approach of the enemy. We feel we have missed out somehow.
The source of all evil is pride, the conception of evil within man is questioning the veracity of God's word, which is effectively questioning the character and benevolence of God. But a third thing I want you to see is: the product of evil. The product of evil is the blatant denial of truth. Look at verse 4: 'The serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die''. Now I want you to see this progression: wilful doubt will quickly lead to this, when you start to question the veracity of what God has revealed in His truth. You remember we saw in chapter 1 that that's what the Bible is all about: 'In the beginning God'. He doesn't outline an apologetic for His own existence, He just tells us: 'In the beginning, I made heaven and earth'. The evidence of things not seen is faith, it's by faith that we please God, it's by faith that we seek and are encountering God as a reward - by faith. But when we begin to wilfully doubt that, it will not be long until there will be blatant denial of truth in our hearts.
We witness this in society in too many ways to recount this evening - but the process is simple: we begin to question truths as God revealed them in His word, then that causes doubt in God's character, in His goodness, His benevolence, as the Bible portrays God. Consequently we reject the truth of God. This doesn't always lead to atheism, but if it doesn't lead to atheism it will lead to making a god in your own image. If you question the truths of the Bible, then you say: 'God couldn't be like that!', so you reject those truths and you accept a foreign god, an idol, a counterfeit. You make God conform to your image! By the way, this is not a mind issue, it's often spun as 'Oh, it's an intellectual problem that people have with the Bible' - now I'm not saying that some don't have questions and issues of the mind, but I do believe that essentially this is a moral problem. The rejection of the truth is for immoral and selfish ends. It's not as much, 'I can't believe what the Bible says' - intellectual objection - but it's, 'I won't believe, because I will to do what I want to do without any restraints from God. I don't like this God, because He doesn't fulfil my greatest pleasures and lusts'.
So understand the process: the source of evil is Satan and pride in all of us; the product of this evil is the blatant denial of truth, having questioned the veracity of God's word. This is the wily-ness, the subtlety of this serpent, our adversary. In fact the Samaritan copy of the text here in Genesis chapter 3, instead of 'nachash' for 'a serpent', reads 'kachash' which means 'a liar, a deceiver'. In John 8, our Lord Jesus told us that that is exactly what Satan was from the beginning: a liar and a murderer, and he did not abide in - what? - the truth! He questioned the truth, that there should only be one, sole, high, supreme ruler in the universe. He would ascend on high in his pride, he challenged the revealed truth of all the eternal ages.
I don't believe there is such a thing as absolute freethinking. There cannot be, because we are all being influenced from outside. Christian, you have got to understand that you are as well - and I believe many Christians are being deceived by the god of this world, that's the same Lucifer, the same serpent, through the spirit of the age - that is, by the way, the spirit of Antichrist that is already working. The objective of Lucifer and the spirit of Antichrist is to get us to reject God's truth. It might even be subconscious, but that's what the enemy wants us to do. If you look at 2 Corinthians quickly, 2 Corinthians chapter 11 - this is a remarkable couple of verses on many levels - verses 3 and 4. Paul is writing now, you remember, to Christians, and he says: 'I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds' - note that, it is through the mind that he deceived Eve, and it is through our minds that he will deceive us - 'so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit' - incidentally, that means a Christian can receive (this is controversial, I know, but this is what the Bible is saying here) you can receive another spirit. Is that not what it says? You can receive another gospel, you can receive another spirit, 'Which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted; you may well put up with it!'. You see, Paul's concern is that the believers in Corinth should be deceived. A lot of what was deceiving these believers was the philosophy, the Greek philosophy that was infiltrating the church.
Come with me further: there is the attraction of evil also in this passage, verse 5, Satan said to the woman: 'God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, you see, that's the way temptation comes. But maybe we don't appreciate that this original temptation was tantalising with enlightenment, 'Your eyes will be opened' - the attraction of evil. Now please don't misunderstand me, I'm not anti-intellectual, but one thing is sure from the biblical revelation: the mind was never designed to operate independent of the spirit. We saw last week that God's intent was that, through our human spirit that He breathed into us in chapter 2, His 'ruach', His breath, and man became a living being - it was His intent that through that connection that the human spirit has with His Spirit, that He would influence the soul of man (the mind, the emotions, and the will), and that He would activate the very body of man for His glory. But, you see, with the fall the spirit was cut off, it died before God, it was separated - it didn't cease to exist, but it was dormant as far as the Living God was concerned. So the man became selfish and soulish, and his mind, his emotions, and his will were dominated by self, and even the passions and the senses of the body. That was never God's intention, that the mind should operate independent of the spirit. That's why - even in evangelicalism, might I say it - there is so much soulishness, there is so much activity of the mind devoid of spirit! That which is of the flesh is flesh, and that which is of the spirit is spirit; and flesh breeds flesh, and spirit breeds spirit. That which is only of the mind - this is cyclical - it comes from pride, and it leads to pride. First Corinthians 8 verse 1: 'Knowledge puffs up'.
It's interesting to note here in Genesis 3 that Satan's first approach to Eve was through the mind. It was temptation through the mind - and, by the way, it was temptation to the mind. What was the tantalisation that was dangled in front of her: it was 'Your eyes shall be opened'. What was it a tree of? Knowledge of good and evil. Satan always offers secret knowledge, and when he is the source of that knowledge it is always a kind of knowledge that debunks the True and the Living God. History is replete with this: it's the essence of Gnosticism that many of the New Testament writers were writing against in embryo, and would become a huge problem and disease within the church. The Gnostics were just teaching that you have to have this special, extra knowledge that God only gives to certain chosen special prophets. It robbed the ordinary believer of their anointing, and the Holy Spirit's influence upon their lives to instruct them and lead them into all truth. But this is the same lie and temptation that comes to those who dabble in the occult. You know what 'occult' means, don't you? It means 'hidden, dark knowledge'. The idea here again is to question not only the veracity of God's word, but the character of God: 'God is hiding something from us, there is something He is depriving us of, some knowledge - so we need to look into it! We need to experiment, we need to explore the unknown!'.
As we go deeper, we find that this is not just an enticement to knowledge, but look at verse 5, Satan says to Eve: 'Not only will your eyes be opened, but you will be like God'! That was Satan's downfall, wasn't it? He wanted to be like the most high. It's called 'autoatheism', worshipping yourself, being your own god. In fact, you might think Satanism is bowing down to some figure with horns, a tail, and a pitchfork - but it's far from it. It might involve some weird and wonderful things, and even sacrifices and what have you. It certainly does involve occult, and all sorts of dark magic - but the essence, here's how one Satanist has defined Satanism: 'Self-esteem, individuality, self-respect, I think, are most important assets as Satanists'. Self-esteem, individuality, and self-respect - now don't misunderstand me, I believe in true, godly, self-esteem and self-respect, but you only get that in Christ when you're correctly related to God - but this is independent. Anton LaVey in his 'Satanic Bible' wrote in 1969, I quote him: 'I am my own god' - that's Satanism.
The origin of it is the origin of evil, Lucifer and pride; the conception of it comes from questioning the veracity of God's truth; and the product of evil is a blatant denial of the truth - and this is how Satan gets us: the attraction of tempting us with tantalising enlightenment, that we will have our eyes opened and we will be like God. Becoming a god is at the centre of many other religions - it's at the centre of Mormonism, you'll be a god one day and you and your wife will populate a planet forever. It's also at the centre of the New-Age Movement: you will have your eyes opened and you will be like a god. Tragically we see that, as often is the case when Satan comes to us, he mixes a measure of truth with a lie. Very rarely does he tell us an absolute blatant lie - and their eyes were opened, but not as God. Their eyes were opened to see things they should have never seen. They saw their own sin. They saw rebellion, verse 7, look at it: 'The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings'. They saw pain, misery, and the curse.
You know an experience I had not so long ago - I wasn't going to relay this - I was praying with a young lad who had historic occult abuse in his parents and even his grandparents. He could tell me - I have to be careful what I say here - but he could tell me that he was able to weigh people up, he had a knowledge, like a sixth sense or sight to look in, almost, to people and know who was genuine and who wasn't. He said - there was a series of meetings I was doing - and he said that every night when he shook my hand at the door, he looked into me. At least that's what he thought he was doing, he was looking into me to see if he could see anything. He said to me that there were Christians he could look into and he knew the shams, he could tell those that were hiding something. I don't know, I'm just telling you what he said - and I'm very thankful that he said that for some reason he couldn't see into me the way he wanted to at the door. I'm glad of that! But a very interesting thing happened when we prayed together for that young man's salvation and deliverance in Jesus' name: that gift left him. I described to him how his experience was the opposite of the blind man who said: 'Once I was blind, but now I see', once he could see but now he was blind! You see, there is no value in seeing into the things that God has forbidden us to see into. We need to be careful, even in Christian circles, there are some who are even adopting those gifts after conversion and saying God sanctifies them and uses them. There are gifts, by the way, I believe that there are gifts - but not those gifts. God gives His own gifts.
Their eyes were opened, but not as God's eyes are opened. The lie was discovered. It's as if, as someone said, a deaf person was promised to be able to hear again, but all they could hear was screaming and crying. Their eyes were opened, but what did they see? Can I remind you again of Deuteronomy 29:29? 'The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever', and we should be satisfied with that!
The process of temptation is seen here for our warning - to be forewarned is to be forearmed. In verse 6 we see the lust of the eye, 'The woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes'. The lust of the eye and then the lust of the flesh - it was good for food, it would satisfy. Then we see the pride of life, it was 'desirable to make one wise' - there is mental knowledge that puffs up. By the way, these are the same temptations that our Lord Jesus had in Matthew chapter 4, if you want to turn to it. Turn with me there please, Matthew chapter 4 verse 3. Satan, the same serpent, comes to Jesus and said, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread' - that's the lust of the flesh. Jesus was fasting 40 days and 40 nights - you don't think He was hungry? You don't think His tummy was rumbling at the thought of bread? Did he not salivate at the thought of bread? You see, Satan was communicating to the mind of the Saviour temptation. There was nothing corrupt or defiled in Him, I know all that - but He was having real temptation communicated to His mind. This was the lust of the flesh. Verse 6, Satan said: 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down'. He set Him up on the pinnacle of the Temple, he said: 'Throw Yourself down. For it is written', in the Bible, ''He shall give His angels charge over you', and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone'' - that's the pride of life. Wouldn't it be wonderful just to throw yourself off the pinnacle of the Temple, and all these angels would come to your rescue? That would do wonders for your self-esteem, wouldn't it? Then we see in verse 9 the lust of the eye: 'And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You'', he showed Him the kingdoms, He saw them with His eye, 'I will give you these', Satan said - because he had them, Adam gave them to him - 'If You will bow down and worship me' - the lust of the eye.
Have you ever contrasted the temptation of Adam with the temptation of Jesus Christ? Adam was in Paradise, the Garden of God in Eden; Jesus was in a wilderness, a desert. Adam was surrounded by tame creatures that he had named; Jesus was surrounded by wild beasts. Adam had food, every tree in creation he could eat from, but this one tree of the knowledge of good and evil; Jesus was fasting 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Adam had company, he had a helpmeet; Jesus was alone. Adam had the advantage of having dominion over creation that God had given him; but Jesus was facing a foe in Satan who was dominant over humankind. Yet Adam was defeated, and Jesus was victorious! Adam was overcome by evil, but Jesus overcame evil with good! Satan for all time, almost, would torment Adam and his seed; but at the end of the temptation of our Lord we read, 'And the devil leaveth Him' - isn't that wonderful? For Adam, he sinned and fell and was cast out of the Garden, and angels were put as guardians to guard the entrance into Paradise again; yet when the devil left Jesus, it says angels came and ministered and strengthened Him.
Isn't it wonderful to know that Jesus, our Great High Priest, was tempted in all points as we are without sin - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life - and, best of all, He understands what it is to go through temptation. He understands what it is to have wrong thoughts planted in your mind. Now I know that pushes some of you further than you can go here tonight, but these thoughts to do what Satan tempted Him to do - where did they come to? They came to His mind. They didn't come out of His heart, they came from outside into His mind. Temptation is not sin, our Lord was tempted and - praise God - He overcame! But He understands what it's like for us, and temptation is still the same - 1 John 2:15-17: 'Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever' - Amen!
Satan is not interested in getting you to sin - is that a surprise? Satan is interested in destroying your relationship with God. He wants to mar your usefulness for Him. That's why relationship was attacked with Adam, that's why it was attacked in Jesus' temptation - in two of the temptations, Satan said: 'If You are the Son of God' - 'If', relationship was attacked. He doesn't just want to get you to sin, he wants to put something between you and God.
Quickly, I have so much else to say. In verse 6 we see the contagion of evil - it spread: 'So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate'. Now that lays bare another lie: 'Oh, sin is my personal choice, I'm not harming anybody. I might harm myself, but I'm not affecting anyone else' - it's a lie! Sin is contagious.
We see something else: the perversion of evil. Not only is evil contagious, it contaminates. Verse 7: 'Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings'. Their fallen minds - remember, that's where the entrance of temptation came - their fallen minds found shame in their nakedness. God had created their nakedness. God, the great Artist, had designed the human form, male and female. There is nothing inherently sinful in it, naked or not - but what happened was: their fallen imaginations found shame in their nakedness. Now it may well have been, and I tend to lean toward this, that they had been covered in a garment of glory - because light is given as a covering, the Bible says on several occasions. Satan was a light-bearer before he fell. It seems unthinkable that God would have given feathers to the birds, and fur to the animals, and man and woman are running around stark naked. It appears, I feel, that there may have been a covering of glory that went when they sinned - but the point I want to make is that something that was pure, the human form, and blessed of God: it became tainted because of their evil imaginations. This is the perversion of evil, and my mind went to Romans 1: 'Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies' - do you see it? It hasn't changed from the beginning!
The Libertarian lie is that we will know free, guiltless pleasure if we just indulge - cast off all moral restraints! The truth is that we are robbed of the free, innocent, and guiltless enjoyment of God's good gifts by sin. In fact, the mind itself becomes perverse - that's what Romans 1 says again: 'Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness'. Evil taints the beautiful, pure gifts of God.
See something else, seventhly, Adam and Eve's cosmetic solutions for the evil in verse 7: 'they sewed fig leaves together' to cover over their nakedness. Fig leaves are everywhere today, did you know that? Practically every area of society is trying to deal with sin and its consequences, all societal institutions, the government, education, business, the judiciary, the penal system, the health service, even religious institutions - and all of them have good, and do good, many of them are even God-ordained functions; but in and of themselves they can only slightly diminish the effects of the fall, they can't remedy it. These fig leaves, remember they came from God, they were actually gifts from God - and whilst they could temporarily cover over their nakedness, they weren't intended to erase their guilt and shame.
I want you to see, eighthly, the ultimate tragedy of evil, verse 8: 'They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden'. Evil separates us from the holy God of heaven. There is a beautiful allusion here in this tragic verse to what fellowship was like before the fall. It says that Adam heard God walking in the garden - this is before Jesus was born in human form, so this must be some pre-incarnate form of the Word of God, Jesus - and He was walking with Adam! There was this close, intimate relationship. It says they were walking, and obviously talking, communing, in the cool of the day - or, better translated, 'the breeze of the day'. From Hebrew geography and culture, we guess that that's probably late afternoon. The idea was that Adam would be working - and remember it was work without a curse - he was farming and tilling that garden in all of its wonder and beauty all day, without depleting energies that we now know, with great satisfaction and investment as a creator himself - and at the end of the day he would walk with God and talk with Him, and enjoy fellowship, maybe even a meal with Him.
That was the intimate relationship that was broken through evil, and it bred shame and guilt that caused Adam to hide, hide from God. Do you know what one of the fruits of evil is? An ungodly fear of God, an ungodly fear of God. There is a godly fear of God, we ought to reference God, but a godly fear is in the full knowledge of God's true character of grace - and that is found in verse 9: 'God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'. God, in the midst of man's depravity, is seeking to find him, searching and calling for the sinner - that's the heart of God! But an ungodly fear is to allow your sin to build walls of shame and guilt behind which you hide from the God who wants to forgive you and restore you. It was actually their pride that caused them to erect those barriers. We'll not go into that tonight.
God, we see, then questions Adam: 'Who told you that you were naked?', etc. it's not because God didn't know the answer, He needed Adam to face the knowledge that he was ignorant of. I wonder is that true for anybody here in the gathering tonight: God needs you to face knowledge that you are either wilfully or unwilfully ignorant of. Even in Isaiah 1 we have that - God saying: 'I want to cleanse your sins, I want to forgive you. Come now, let us reason together'. Yet face-to-face with God, if ever we see the depravity of man's heart and the evil of sin within him, he still equivocates and he blames others! Verse 12: 'The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate''. He effectively wasn't blaming Eve, he was blaming God! 'The woman You gave me' - it's Your fault! When we come face-to-face with truths through God's revelation, often our initial reaction is to blame others, to blame God, or even blame the devil. That's what Eve did, isn't it, in verse 13: 'The LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'. The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate'' - the devil made me do it! It's that devil! If he wasn't around, I'd be all right!
But that won't cut it, because when you come to chapter 4 and verse 7, and the issue of Cain and his offering, God said: 'If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'. Your version might say: 'Sin is crouching at the door'. God is personifying sin here, as if it's an entity, a being, a personality. Its desire - it has desire - is for you! I believe there are demonic empowerments of sin, a demonic element to temptation, like we see here - but the point I want you to see is: God says, 'You should rule over it'. You can't point the finger at the devil and say, 'He made me do it!', or demons and say 'They forced me to do it!'. They will make it very difficult, Satan will bring all the influence of hell upon you and make it hard, but the final choice lies with us! What will we do? Will we seek God, or will we comply and roll over for the devil?
This is the way the enemy works. In verses 14 to 19, we're not going to take time to look at it, we see the curse of evil - that's a whole subject in itself - how the serpent was cursed, the woman was cursed, the man was cursed, even the very ground was cursed. Finally I want you to see, just as I close, the rescue from evil. The promises given in the midst of this cursed to the serpent, in verse 15, God says: 'I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head', or 'crush your head', 'and you shall bruise His heel'. The promise that a Man, the one who Satan wanted to divest of the authority and the privilege that God had given to him, there would be a Man who would come who would crush Satan's head - our Lord Jesus Christ. Even in the interim, the rescue from evil was set in place in verse 21, Adam and his wife Eve: 'the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them'. There was a temporary covering, and we got the whole sacrificial system in the Old Testament coming in. There were even preservative measures out of the loving heart of God, verses 22 to the end, He barred the way to the tree of life, lest Adam should eat and live eternally in curse. These are all boundaries of this living, loving God; these are preventative measures, and they are for our restoration so that Paradise might be restored.
We gain more than Adam ever lost in our Lord Jesus Christ - isn't that wonderful? I'd love to have time, and I don't tonight, to talk about Galatians 3:13: 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')'. What a subject this is! Maybe the Lord will allow me to preach on it sometime here: how Adam, given dominion over all creation, gave it to Satan; and our Lord Jesus, in the temptation, the first Man ever to stand before the enemy and win as a man - not like a steamroller because He was God's Son, but as a man before the Living God he defeated the enemy! Then went to the cross and bore the curse, and rose again, and one day He's coming - and He tells us, let the Spirit say to the churches: 'To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God'.
What will that be like? Listen, could you do something for me - and I'm finishing - close your eyes, close your eyes and imagine this: 'In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city'.
Father, I pray tonight, as we have been humbled, and as we in our hearts fall in worship before who You are, and how You have made us, and the enemy that we face but our Lord Jesus Christ has crushed - hallelujah! We pray that everyone in this gathering tonight will know victory over sin and over Satan and every demonic foe. For those who are struggling tonight, I would, in the Spirit, pronounce over them: 'The Lord will bruise Satan under your feet soon. This will come to pass, and your Lord Jesus will crush Satan under His feet and your feet soon. 'I give you power to tread on serpents, scorpions, and every manner of evil''. Now you must receive that, dear one tonight, it must be received by faith - the victory in Jesus, in whose name we pray, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered in Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his 'Origins' series, entitled "The Origin Of Sin" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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