Do you feel it – that gnawing desire for more that often diverts you onto a quest for contentment in all the wrong places? Maybe you feel that insatiable lust for attention or approval that enslaves you to vanity and fear of man? Maybe you feel that sideways glance mixed of envy and greed as you deem someone’s life as better than your own? Fall
Whatever the form, this is sin, and we all know it. Why do we seek contentment in things that will never satisfy, long to make much of ourselves, and compare our lives with others? It’s because we are broken and infected with sin. In fact, sin is a common problem for all of humanity. Ever since the fall of humanity, as described in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, mankind has wrestled with this selfish, wretched nature lurking inside our hearts. Mankind has an even bigger problem, though. In our vile brokenness, we cannot fix ourselves. All of humanity was broken by the fall, and only God can redeem us.
Take a walk with me down the corridors of human history to the very beginning—to the creation and fall of man. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and it was good. With light and dark, day and night, land and sea, man and beast, all was well in the Garden of Eden. Man was without sin and enjoyed unhindered fellowship with the Lord. In Genesis 2:15-17, the Lord instructed man on how to live in the garden and in covenant relationship with the Lord: “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” The Hebrew phrase “you are free to eat” could also be expressed “you may eat freely.” Man could freely enjoy bountiful provision from the Lord!
The only condition was to obey God or man would surely die. Martin Luther described this condition as a way for Adam to “express his worship and reverence towards God.” Adam’s outward obedience would demonstrate his heart’s worship of the Lord, while disobedience would result in death. Any transgression would separate mankind from fellowship with God, and in such isolation, spiritual and physical death would consequently follow. After providing these instructions, God created woman from man, therefore man was responsible to guide and to protect woman under the Lord’s direction.
In Genesis 3:1, a serpent, the most cunning of all the animals, questioned God’s words to her: “Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree in the garden?” In reality, God allowed man to eat from every tree except one. The serpent, whom the Bible later identifies as Satan in Revelation12:9, deceptively rephrased God’s words to cause man and woman to doubt God’s goodness and to cave to their own pride and idolatry. Satan belittled man’s freedom, insinuating God must be a cold taskmaster who gives irrational commands without man’s best interest in mind. On the contrary, God is a loving, wise father who rightly deserves worship. He gives us ample freedom and sets boundaries for our good.
In Genesis 3:3, the woman also misrepresented God’s instructions, omitting nuances of freedom and the certainty of death. She described the tree by its location rather than its significance, and she added a further prohibition against touching the tree. Satan, attempting to fabricate another interpretation of God’s command, explained they wouldn’t die. Rather, they would become like God, knowing good and evil. Satan’s words were like the enchanting music of dangerous sirens, luring Adam and Eve to their disobedience and death. Andreas Kostenberger describes the illusion: “the devil minimizes the negative consequences of sin. He lies to us and assures us that the consequences God stipulated won’t come to pass. Nothing will happen if we sin; to the contrary, life will be so much better.”
In Genesis 3:6, seeing the forbidden tree was good for food, delightful to look at, and desirable for obtaining wisdom, Eve ate of the fruit, and Adam followed her lead. This observation echoes God’s voice in creation and illustrates how Adam and Eve usurp God’s role. God determines what is good, beautiful, and morally right; and during creation, God declared it so. Instead of trusting God, they vainly sought to be like God, to gain “wisdom” for themselves independent of the Lord. The underlying sin is in part pride: they wanted to be autonomously wise, making much of self rather than the Lord. In Genesis 3:7, their eyes were opened, and realizing their nakedness, they hid from God, attempting to cover their nakedness with fig leaves.
Having defied God’s instructions, Adam and Eve felt guilt and shame. In their new-found “wisdom,” they gained isolation, fear, and death. When confronted by the Lord, they shift responsibility for their actions, but only Eve was truly a victim of deception. In the New American Commentary, Kenneth Matthews explains that Adam was instructed directly from the Lord, therefore, God’s authority was undermined through Eve’s deception but also through Adam’s willful rebellion. As consequence of the fall, the Lord cursed the serpent, increased the pains of man and woman’s labors, and expelled them from the garden. They were cut off from the tree of life and from the immediate presence of the Lord.
The following chapters of Genesis evidence how subsequent generations faced promised death with the recurring phrase, “and he died.” This is the fall–that is, a fall into sin inclined brokenness and out of fellowship with the Lord. As a result, sin entered the world, and death spread to all.
Captivated by sin’s lust today, mankind still wrestles with this broken nature. Whether it’s seeking contentment in things that will never satisfy, longing to make much of ourselves, or feeding on how other’s lives are better, we still hear the whisper of the sirens.
Though we have fallen from unhindered communion with the Lord, all hope is not lost. God sent his only son, Jesus, to redeem and restore us. Though in our brokenness we have defied God, while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. This hope is the Gospel, that anyone who trusts in Jesus shall be saved from death and this sin-inclined brokenness. When we trust Him, we can escape the enchantment of the lies. When we abide in His Word, we can discern what is truth. The more we abide, the more seasoned our discernment and the more impenetrable our shield against the world’s deathly whispers.
Editor's Note: This originally published at Thinking & Theology.