Gen.3:1-7 Crucial Question- Sin&Evil, Why Are Things So Messed Up?

Posted on June 8, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School

Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions

Semester One: Genesis 1-3 “Beginnings”

June 8, 2008

Gen. 3:1-7 “Crucial Question- Sin & Evil”

-OR- “Why Are Things So Messed Up?”


Read Romans 3:9-23


Introduction and Review: After your hard work of attempting to listen to me all semester, and your perseverance in this class, today you will finally get to hear me talk about a subject of which I am an expert. Today we will attempt to discuss Sin and Evil. I am an expert sinner. I have much experience with sin.


My teaching is somewhat geared around what I call the Crucial Questions of life that I believe have answers here in the Bible, especially Genesis. Today we will try to face what many call the single biggest philosophical challenge to Christianity: If God is truly all Good and all Powerful, why is there evil and suffering? If God is all Good and all powerful he should not allow evil in his universe; but since there is evil in the universe, either he is incapable of thwarting evil or he doesn’t want to thwart evil.


Last week we introduced this question by looking at Gen. 3:1 and examining the serpent. We saw that the serpent had been created by God in Gen.1 and was therefore good and that man had named the serpent in ch.2 thus exercising dominion over it. But, though the text in Gen. does not tell us explicitly, the rest of Scripture gives us teaching after teaching that this serpent was either Satan in the form of a snake, or it was Satan taking possession of the snake. We looked at various passages about Satan and serpents such as Numbers 21 and the fiery serpents and the bronze pole lifted up, thus their judgment and salvation lay in one symbol even as Christ bore our judgment and grants us salvation in the cross. We looked at passages in Isa.14 and Ezek 28 and Job 1-2 that let us know a little bit about Satan’s creation and downfall and we looked at several NT verses as well, like 2Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6 as well as Rev. 20.


In our discussion of Satan, I stated that he was not omnipresent nor omniscient and that the chances are that we will never be directly encountered with the devil. Demons, perhaps so, but really my biggest problem is being tempted by my own sinful desires.


Now we come to this week and the problem of evil and sin. We will look at our text and see that God had a covenant with man and man broke that covenant. We will examine sin from the scriptures and from our personal perspective. But underlying all of this is the problem of evil so we must address it briefly.



I. God’s Covenant with Man

In Genesis 2-3 we do not see the word “covenant” but we do see very clear elements of a covenant between God and man. One of the first textual clues that a covenant is involved is the use of the term LORD or YHWH, which is the covenant name for God. Notice that it is combined with Elohim, the plural form of the more generic term for God, used in the sense of the God of Creation. The term LORD God is used in 2:4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22. But in ch.3 we do not see LORD God used until vs.8 when the covenant is broken and he is looking for the transgressors. In the whole conversation between the serpent and Eve, neither one used the covenant name YHWH.


Dr. Grudem writes (Systematic Theology, p.516) “Some have questioned whether it is appropriate to speak of a covenant of works that God had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The actual word covenant is not used in the Genesis narratives. However, the essential parts of the covenant are all there- a clear definition of the parties involved, a legally binding set of provisions that stipulates the conditions of their relationship, the promise of blessings for obedience, and the condition for obtaining those blessings….In the Garden of Eden, it seems quite clear that there was a legally binding set of provisions that defined the conditions of the relationship between God and man….there is a promise of punishment for disobedience- death….”


Look at Hosea 6:7 and Romans 5:12-21.


Clearly by the end of ch.3, after the covenant is broken, punishment is meted out and the curse is in effect.


II. Temptation and Sin

Imagine that you are sitting out in the wilderness around a campfire with the Israelites on the way to the Promised Land, and a teenager asks, “Why are things so messed up? Why are things not the way they are supposed to be?” And the father of the teen, who is guilty of refusing to go into the promised land after the report of the spies and knows that he will die in this wilderness, replies by quoting the story from Gen.3. This story provides the answer to the question about sin. Let’s look at the text closely now and see what transpired.


Vs.1 The serpent seems to feign surprise when he asks Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the Garden?’ Perhaps he expressed some false sense of concern for the couple, maybe shock as he secretly impugned the motives of God. He clearly distorts what God did say.


Last week we briefly discussed the fact that Eve was not surprised that the serpent spoke. It could be that CS Lewis and Tolkien are right in pointing to animals that can talk, but we don’t know if this was usual or not. But what is more important is this: why did the serpent direct the question to Eve instead of Adam? We think that Adam was right there with her, as evidenced by the use of the plural form for you (y’all) in vss. 4-5 and by Adam’s ready cooperation with Eve in the sin in vs.6. but why address the woman rather than the man. Perhaps Satan had observed the couple and seen the behavioral differences and thought that the woman was the better target? But notice how the serpent focuses on claiming that God was withholding food from the couple but in 2:16f the abundance of his provision is clearly stated.


Vs.2-3 In Eve’s response we see that she too misquotes or misrepresents God. First, she leaves out the “surely” and the “every” and then she adds to God’s Word “neither shall you touch it”. Also notice that she identified the tree by location rather than by name thus de-emphasizing its significance. Notice also that she defines God the same way the serpent did, Elohim instead of YHWH Elohim, stepping outside the covenant mentally. Finally, notice that in quoting the penalty she leaves out the “surely”. None of this is accidental in Moses’ part. Each of these missing words is a clue to what Eve was now thinking and serves as a clue to how sin entered the human.


I see here some pointers for our battle with temptation and sin. 1) Do not accept your opponent’s definitions uncritically. 2) Remember and quote God’s Word accurately and in context. 3) Do not add to the Word of God. 4) Why waste your time arguing with talking reptiles; recognize reptiles for what they are and leave them alone!


Sailhamer writes, “The centerpiece of the story is the question of the knowledge of the good and evil. The snake implied by his questions that God was keeping this knowledge from the man and the woman, while the sense of the narratives in the first two chapters has been that God was keeping this knowledge for the man and the woman. In other words, the snake’s statements are a direct challenge to the central theme of the narrative of chapters 1 and 2: God will provide the good for man if he will only trust him and obey him.”


“Having thus shown the temptation to be a quest for wisdom apart from God, the story comes to an abrupt conclusion in the act of the transgression. Like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, they sought wisdom but found only vanity and toil.”


Vs.4-5 Here the serpent clearly contradicts the word of the LORD by saying, “You will not surely die”. Folks when people start directly contradicting that which is clearly spoken by God, flee! Or confront them with the truth when they contradict the Word of God. Too often we sit complacently while evil people speak blasphemy and lies. We need to speak up and stand for God’s Word.


Vs.6-7 “good for food” Now she is determining what is good while previously it was God who defined good. Food appeals to the flesh, but a “delight to the eyes” appeals to the aesthetic sense and “desired to make one wise” appeals to her desire to be like God, to covet what is not rightfully hers.



But Adam just jumps right in, no deception on his part. Why did Adam follow Eve’s sin?




III. What Is Sin?


“Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought or of inner disposition or state. Sin is failure to live up to what God expects of us in act, thought and being. The essence of sin is simply failure to let God be God. It is placing something else, anything else, in the supreme place which is His.” Erikson, p.578,580.


Sin is not just doing the wrong thing, it is NOT doing the right thing or doing the right thing from the wrong motives. NOT doing the right thing can be due to a willful choice, apathy, being too tired to do what is right, being ignorant- that is not omniscient.


Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners? We are all natural born sinners! Look at Psalm 51:1-5. Sin is doing anything that does not proceed from faith in Romans 14:23. Sin is not being perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect in Matt.5:48.


From where does our sin come?

1) We each choose to sin. It is a deliberate choice time and again. People like to talk about having free will. When God chose to create man in His own image he gave man free will. Why? God could have created us to automatically love him and never choose to rebel, but He didn’t. This touches on the problem of evil. We believe that God created the best possible universe with God himself as the standard of what is best. In his pure and holy mind, the best means that he created man with the free will to choose evil or not. Adam chose to disobey.


2) Do we really have a totally free choice? Here is where a lot of folks stumble. THERE ARE LIMITS TO OUR FREEDOM!. By definition God alone is the only TOTALLY FREE Being in the universe and all CREATURES have inherent limits on their freedom. Our free moral choices are bound by our nature. Adam had a sinless and perfect nature and was therefore more free than we are. After he sinned, sin entered into the human system and we each are now born with a sin nature. We are not a blank slate. We are not totally free. We are born with a sinful nature and cannot not sin. Is this sin nature only spiritual or is it physical too? I think it is both. Perhaps our genetic structure was altered by whatever the fruit was that Adam and Eve ate. Science is looking for the “gay gene” to prove that homosexuality is an inherited thing and is therefore not WRONG. Finding a Gay Gene will confirm in my mind that we are all natural born sinners. They will probably find a thief gene, a lust gene, an anger gene. It all will confirm the fall. The doctrine of sin is one biblical doctrine that is proved everyday in the news! Those of you who are parents, did you have to teach your children to sin or did they figure it out OK on their own? Have you ever seen sinful tendencies passed down from one generation to another in a family?


3) Imputation-Then why does God hold us guilty? The doctrine of IMPUTATION in Romans 5:12-21. And we do actually sin, even if it is according to our fallen nature. God is the judge and he set up a system of imputation. Adam was the Federal Head of the Race and basically voted for sin and we all have been suffering since. Not Fair! Some would say. But we live that way every day in America. Our lawmakers and elected officials vote on things all the time that we have to abide with.


The doctrine of imputation is a double edged sword. The righteousness of Christ is also imputed to us when we believe!


4) We live in a fallen world and everyone around is a sinner so we are influenced to sin by our environment. Being a sinner is like being chained to a wall in a cell with countless other prisoners in a dungeon in the bottom of a fortress on an island surrounded by shark infested waters. The chains with which we are bound are long, and we can party hearty in the dungeon with our other convict friends, but prisoners we remain. Some prisoners are nicer than others, some are quite corrupt and violent killing and eating the other prisoners. But all are born in that dungeon, live there and will die there. There is no way to escape on our own, it is all we know. We know it is messed up but we cannot ever escape though we ingeniously invent many ways to try. All of our efforts are tainted with our mutual incompetence and selfishness.


Some would complain that their sins are small when compared with others and therefore do not deserve the same punishment. One of my favorite foods is pizza. Suppose I had a nice 16” supreme pizza from Pizza Hut here for lunch and everybody was hungry. But I reach down into the gutter beside the street in a town like what we see on the news from Iraq where sanitation services and sewers are none existent, and I scoop up a small handful of gutter filth and lightly sprinkle it all over the pizza. Will you take a piece of pizza now? But the good outweighs the bad! There isn’t much filth on the pizza. You see, when God says in Lev. 19:2 “You shall be holy , for I the LORD your God am holy” he means HOLY, not just a little bit tainted with sin, but completely separated from sin. As long as we measure our sin against someone else we will come out OK. But try measuring your sin against Jesus, and you will see your sinfulness.


IV. The Problem of Evil

Though we cannot totally solve the problem of evil here, we can say these things:

1) God is all good and never sins nor does he directly cause anyone to sin.

2) God, in his wisdom, has allowed free creatures to sin, thus bringing in evil to his good universe, but only for a time. God will ultimately deal out justice and judgment upon all evil.

3) All the suffering that is the result of evil will be proved to be just when he judges the unrighteous or, for those he saves, the reward and blessing will far outweigh the temporary suffering experienced in this life and the suffering will be shown to have led us to fulfill His plans and give Him more glory.

4) The atheists and other world religions do not have any answer for the problem of evil that can even come close to ours and furthermore they cannot explain the presence of good and pleasure and beauty in the universe.

5) In the cross we see man’s greatest evil became God’s greatest good.



And here is a sermon I preached years ago from this text in Genesis:

Genesis 3:1-8         “The Awfulness of Sin”         April 25, 1999am




I.Our Sinful Culture

II.The Nature of Sin

III.The Results of Sin




Introduction: We have been studying in the book of Genesis, looking for Answers for Basic Life Questions. This week I had planned on preaching what you see in your worship bulletin, “Adam, Where Are You?” discussing the God Who Seeks Sinners. However, the events of this past week in Colorado are so horrifying, so terrible, that I really feel led of the Lord to focus again on the doctrine of sin, asking the question,”How Could Something This Bad Happen?”

          I could focus on the doctrine of the Providence of God, the Goodness of God in the midst of great evil. But today we will try to explain just what sin is and what its results are. “Sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought or of inner disposition or state. Sin is failure to live up to what God expects of us in act, thought and being. The essence of sin is simply failure to let God be God. It is placing something else, anything else, in the supreme place which is His.” Erikson, p.578,580.

          What we have seen this past week is pure sin; but I want each of us to understand that we all have sin deeply imbedded in each of our hearts.


I.Our Sinful Culture.

          Dear friends, church family, when we look at the world around us and realize that our nation is presently at war, and that there were more casualties in one American High School due to student terrorism than our armed forces have suffered in 1 month of combat; when we understand that we have refined war to such an art that we can escape from high casualties while inflicting devastating casualties on the enemy, yet we are seemingly helpless to stop the killing in our own schools by our own children, then maybe we will realize that we live in a world that is lost in sin and cannot save itself. We are not a Christian nation today and it is doubtful if we ever were. What we see in the news today is a reflection of the soul of our nation.

          For 25 years we have lived in a land where it is lawful to kill children in the womb through abortion. Over 30million children have been murdered for the convenience of people who did not want to be bothered by the consequences of sex. What lessons have our children learned from this cheapening of human life?

          The overwhelming message of the entertainment industry in the past 25 years has been irresponsibility, violence, illicit sex, and the pointlessnesss of life. We live in a culture that has shifting sand for its moral foundation. Recording companies market music with lyrics that teach violence and mayhem. If a child listens to violence in music, watches violence that is evil and pointless in movies, and is taught that he/she can make up their own minds about morals, that there are no moral absolutes, then a certain small percentage are going to go over the boundaries, across the line of sanity.

          Does this mean that all of our teenagers are bad? Of course not! There are only a small percentage of kids who cause these kinds of problems today. But that tiny percentage is , I believe, larger than it could be because our culture is so full of evil. The overwhelming influence of so much evil in our culture both reflects our culture’s heart and influences it for evil.

          Many children are living such hopeless lives, devoid of virtue, spiritually warped that they see nothing but darkness and despair. We have schools that are prohibited by law from including spiritual truth and prayer in the daily routine. Are we surprised at what we get? Last Tuesday until now i can guarantee that there were lots of prayers being said in that school and all across America in schools. Where was the ACLU? Where were the Atheists? Where was Barry Lynn and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? Where were all the critics against Christianity? Who showed up at the disaster scene? Preachers, chaplains, counselors. Students were praying and witnessing and singing to Jesus on that campus, and not one Federal Judge was going to stop it.

          Our culture is the product of millions of individuals. When lost sinners who do not have biblical values impact the culture more than us saved sinners you end up with a warped culture. When the Church has little impact on society you get a society like ours.The reason the church has such little impact on society is because the church has lost its first love, we have compromised the standards of our Lord. We the church, have sinned. It is not so much the sinners out there that bother me. It is my sin. Our sin. The church’s sin that is our biggest problem.

          Yes I believe that the specific individuals who carried out the terrible crime are the ones who should be held responsible. You cannot blame the movies, the music , the video games or the gun industry for the demented acts of specific people. They are responsible for their actions, just like you and I are responsible for our choices and actions. However, they are the fruit of our society, they are the products of our culture. They are a window to the soul of America. They are an example of the nature of sin.


II.The Nature of Sin.

          To understand this evil in or midst we must go to the Word of God and understand sin. We will now do a word study of sin to reach this understanding.

          1.The first word for sin we need to understand is the Hebrew word chata and the Greek word that translates it, hamartia. These words mean “missing the mark”, or in modern terms, “missing the goal, missing the target”.Do not get the idea here that it means we try as hard as we can, we practice as much as we can and yet fall short by a couple of inches. It is not like we hit the target yet miss the bullseye. This is a voluntary and culpable mistake; it is aiming intentionally at the wrong target. We miss the straight and narrow path of Jesus because we deliberately follow a wrong path. God has set the target, the mark, and we are as incapable of hitting the mark as we are incapable of hitting the moon with a bow and arrow. We aim for a lesser target of our own choosing, this is sin. God demands holiness and perfection, we aim for something else, anything else, in order to please ourselves.Romans 5:12 is a good example of this word, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”

          2.A second word for sin is the Hebrew “hasebeo” and Greek “adikia”. This means irreverance, impiety, unrighteousness, neglecting one’s duty to God. It is  a failure to measure up to the standard of righteousness established by God.We see so much godlessness and wickedness today, we live in a profane and irreverant culture that thinks not of the things of God. Even in the Church we have many people who come on Sunday morning but don’t concern themselves with Christ during the week.

          3. “Anomia” means lawlessness, lawbreakers.This is translated evildoers in Matthew 7:23but lawbreakers in 1Tim. 1:9. This word describes so much of our modern society, we are a society that rejects rules, and laws.If there is a way to twist around a law our lawyers and politicians will find a way. Then we wonder where our children get the idea they can get away with murder. When the highest office in the land can debate the meaning of the word “is” why should we be amazed at lawlessness in school?

          In the Church we are in an age of heresy, the heresy of “antinomianism” that is anti-law. We have forgotten the law of God in our churches by not studying the 10 Commandments because we are proud of being “New Testament Christians”. We want to avoid legalism but we blindly follow traditions of men rather than the law of God. Our society is lawless, but the church does consider the Law of God important, so why are we surprised at the result? Our Supreme Court has said we cannot post the 10 Commandments in schools, but do we , the church, have them in our hearts?

          4.Transgression translates the Hebrew “havar” and the Greek “parabaino” meaning to cross over, to cross a boundary.Matthew 15:3″Jesus replied,’And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Numbers 14:41″Moses said’Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command?”

          Americans are proud of crashing through boundaries, going across the lines of moral behaviour. People love to flaunt lifestyles that are outrageous just for the shock value. The kids in Colorado were in the Trench Coat Mafia, the music of marilyn manson is alledged to have played a role,and Manson’s music and videos and performances are certainly excellent examples of stepping across the line! We live in a society that loves to disobey God’s commands.

          5.Iniquity, hebrew “awal” deviation from a right course, injustice, lack of integrity. Leviticus 19:15 “Do not pervert justice”. The Americn justice system has been corrupted and perverted. Iniquity can and does thrive in a land where money buys justice-not with bribes but through buying the best lawyers who are skilled enough to persuade any jury that wrong is right and right is wrong.

          6.Rebellion translates 3 Hebrew words “pasha-to transgress; marah-to rebel; and sarar-stubborn rebellion”. Isaiah 1:2 “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me” Rebellion is in the soul of America. The church is rebellious to the extent that we refuse to heed the word of God. We are more comfortable with getting along with the world and quietly rebelling against God than we are with obeying Christ radically.We prefer peace with the world to obedience to Christ and that is rebellion. Why be surprised at rebellion in teen agers lives when the church rejects proper spiritual authority? Adam’s sin was basic rebellion against God.

          7.”Apeitheia” is disobedience. What did Adam do? He blatantly disobeyed God. All sin is disobedience against God.

          8. Another word for sin is Treachery or Unfaithfulness translating the Hebrew word ma’al. Joshua 7:1″But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things” This is a breach of trust, treason. For God’s people to go back on their word, to break God’s trust is truly a crime. This is betrayal of the worst kind.

          9.Perversion translates the Hebrew word “awah” which means to bend or to twist. Prov.12:8 “men with warped minds are despised”. This is what Satan does, he takes what God has created or done and twists it, warps it. Sin also twists and warps the sinner, distorts reality so that we can no longer think straight. The kids in that school in Colorado were cruelly twisted by sin so that they did that which was horrible and laughed as they murdered their classmates. Here we see both a cause of sin (our souls are warped because we are born sinners) and an effect of sin (the more we sin the more twisted we become).

          10.Abomination is another word for sin that refers to God’s attitude toward sin and its effect on Him, in that God views sin as an abomination, or that which nauseates Him.Sin is sickening to a Holy , pure and perfect God.Lev.18:22″Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Deuteronomy 12:31 “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way , because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates.” Sin is detestable to God, it is an abomination.


III.The Result of Sin.

          1.”Resha” is translated as wickedness, restlessness, agitation. The sense of this word is that sin causes discomfort for the sinner as wellas for the victims of the sinner. The term “bursting radius” refers to the distance from an explosive such as a grenade that you would receive the blast and fragments. Sin is seldom a solitary affair, it usually affects others, sin has a bursting radius. Sin disturbs the sinner but it also disturbs and harms others. The sins of those boys in Colorado caused harm to thousands of people.

          But what is the bursting radius of our sin, of my sin, and yours? The sins of the Church of God do not get reported on the 6 o’clock news. But what of our sins of pride, apathy, prayerlessness, lack of witnessing? How restless are we from our own private sins? Is our effectiveness diminished by our sin?

          2.”ra'” means evil or badness, harmful or malignant evil, not merely moral evil. Sin is like a cancer that grows out of control, it spreads and affects other parts of the body. If you watched the news you saw in the next 2 days a lot of copycat crimes and threats in schools around the country. Here in the metroplex alone I think there were 4such incidents. You can blame the media, and they are not innocent, but the idea is that sin is contagious, malignant.It is dangerous like a food that has gone bad, all who partake will be infected and diseased. This word also has the connotation of distress, adversity, calmity- thus linking sin and its consequences.

          3. Guilt translates the Hebrew “asham” and Greek “enoxos”, meaning to do a wrong or commit an offense, inflict injury.We are all guilty before God. We are offenders, we have wronged God. James 2:10″For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it”

          4.Trouble translates “aven” in Hebrew, meaning that sin brings trouble on the sinner. Why is the world so messed up? Why is life so hard? Sin brings us trouble. So often we make sinful choices that bring trouble to our lives. Then we make other sinful decisions to try to counteract the consequences of the first sin only to find that our hole we are digging is getting deeper. So we then dig faster with our own sinful solutions, until life caves in around us and  we are buried alive in sin, in trouble.

          We live in a very troubled age, a day where we see the trouble caused by sin. God’s Judgment is upon this nation and a very real aspect of the judgment is that he is allowing sin to bear its own fruit-trouble.


Conclusion: What is the solution to school shootings? Tougher laws? Banning guns? Placing cops in schools? Giving psychological exams to borderline students?

          The only real solution is for the church to faithfully pray and to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to our world. The only solution is for individuals to be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit so that they repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The only solution to the sin problem is to humbly pray to the Lord to save our soul, to change us from the inside out. Romans 10:13″Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved”




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