Paradise … lost
These two chapters are filled with sadness. In the midst of all the beauty that God has created, all the good things He has spoken into being, a dark cloud forms. It is the shadow of the fall. Man, created in the likeness of God, rebels against the very one who created him. Formed by the very hand of God and given life by the very breath of God, man turns and chooses to listen to the lies of the enemy. The first man and woman found themselves living in a perfect environment enjoying unbroken fellowship with God Himself. Their surroundings were beautiful. Their joy was complete. They had no taxes to pay, no neighbors to argue with, no stress, no media, no time constraints, no schedules to keep, or kids to worry about. They had it all. Including a capacity to sin. Because even in the midst of all this perfection, they managed to find a way to become dissatisfied with their lot in life. They found something they DIDN’T have in spite of all they DID have. And it seems to be associated with the one law or command that God gave them. He told them, “You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 NLT). This was a command. It was non-negotiable. It was the one law they had to obey in order to live in the garden and to continue to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God. But there seems to be something about laws that cause all men to rebel. We are law-breakers by nature. We seem incapable of keeping any laws – even one.
The enemy knows our weakness when it comes to law keeping. And he knew Adam and Eve struggled with the same thing. I believe that as soon as God commanded them not to eat from that one tree, they both began to question in their heart what it would be like to eat from that tree. They began to think about it and consider it. The temptation began in their hearts long before Satan showed up on the scene. James makes this quite clear: “The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer” (James 1:14-15 MSG). Their problem was not the tree, the enemy, or the fruit. It was their hearts. All Satan did was fan the flame of desire that was smoldering there. He did it by questioning the trustworthiness of God. He sowed seeds of doubt into their hearts and minds regarding the word of God. And they bit – literally.
Eve saw that the tree was good for food. But this wasn’t about food. She had every other tree in the garden to eat from. She saw something she knew she couldn’t have, and she desired it. She began to lust after it. It was a delight to the eyes. It appealed to her senses. And on top of that, it could make her wise, like God. It appealed to her vanity and pride. But isn’t that what all temptation does? It appeals to our basic instincts and senses. It promises to improve our life or enhance our well-being. It even whispers that we will be a little bit wiser if we give in. But the result is always the same: Disappointment. Because all temptation is a bait and switch. It promises something it can never deliver. But we consistently seem to give in – even thought we’ve bought the lie a thousand times before.
And when we give in to the temptation, the result is always shame and guilt. Innocence is lost. And that is what happened in the garden that fateful day. Their eyes were opened. But not in a good way. They saw their shame and guilt. Their eyes were open and, for the first time, they saw that they were naked. “t that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness” (Genesis 3:7 NLT). Instead of enjoying the presence of God, they hid from Him. Adam had new feelings he had never had before. He told God, “I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked” (Genesis 3:10 NLT). Shame, fear, and guilt always lead to an attempt to cover up and hide ourselves from God. We grow distant. We attempt to run from the very one who made us and can help us. We try to cover our sin by our own efforts – the way Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin with leaves. But it didn’t work. It never works.
Sin entered the world that day. With it came shame and guilt. And they’re alive and well today. The scenarios and the scenes are different, but the results are always the same. We see something we know we are not to have. We begin to lust after it. We begin to question God’s wisdom in denying the pleasure of it. We rationalize that this one thing can give us what God never intended for it to provide. Then we give in to our internal desires and disobey the word of God. We buy the lie and suffer the consequences. And the consequences of sin are always the same: shame, guilt, a loss of innocence and broken fellowship with God. But thankfully for us, we can restore our relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. We can confess our sins and He will faithfully forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We can have our fellowship restored. We can have our shame and guilt removed. All because of what Jesus Christ, the second Adam, did on the cross.
Father, I don’t know why we hate Your commands so much, but we do. We can’t seem to obey You to save our lives – literally. But You came up with a better plan that trying to rely on us, and that was Your Son giving His life as a payment for our sins. He DID obey, perfectly. He didn’t give in to temptation, but instead obeyed Your commands – all of them. He did what Adam, or any other human being, couldn’t do. He obeyed, and as a result, we can enjoy restored fellowship with You. Our sins are forgiven. Our shame and guilt are done away with. Thank You! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men