When you watch a movie or read a book, one of the first things you do is identify the villain of the story. Who is it that you don’t like? Who is it that you want your favorite character to stay away from? Which character are you sure will cause problems later? As the story goes on, you begin to hate the villain more and more. You discover just how deep their evil goes.
Genesis Chapter 3 introduces the villain of the Bible. He’s crafty (verse 1) and hateful. Disguised as a serpent, he slips into the paradise that God spent so much love and effort creating, and instantly we want our favorite characters, the man and woman who God created, to stay as far away as possible. Yet no amount of yelling at the Book we’re reading keeps the woman from talking to the serpent. Despite the warnings God gave the man and the woman about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the villain convinces the woman to eat from the tree – after all, he promises, she won’t certainly die.
The woman tells her husband all about what the serpent told her and he eats from the tree as well. The couple realizes that they are naked just as God comes through the garden looking for them. God quickly ascertains what has happened – the villain has destroyed the perfect happiness created for God’s people. Instead of exploding with anger and murdering the serpent, He simply speaks a few words, explaining Satan’s ultimate destruction. Then He curses the man and the woman and drives them out of the garden, giving them the very first punishment for the very first sin.
As Adam and Eve walk away from their paradise, an angel with a flaming sword takes their place, and no human footsteps are heard in the Garden of Eden ever again.
The Treasures Within
Who knew eating a piece of fruit could cause so much trouble? But it wasn’t the fruit that was the issue here. The problem was the idea that Satan maliciously planted within Eve, the idea that she gratefully embraced – ignore what that old Man says. You know what’s best for you. It’s a simple thought, and even looks innocent on the surface. Yet it is this sort of thinking that is at the root of sin and all rebellion against God. From the very first sin until today, humans have been eagerly accepting the poisonous lie that God, well, He’s not to be completely trusted. The events in this chapter didn’t catch God off guard, however. He knew this was coming. He knew that every human being He would ever create would believe these lies and fall into sin. Yet He had a plan. And these pages of the Bible not only reveal God’s plan, but are a very big part of His plan.
One of the things I love about God is that He doesn’t leave us in the dark. He teaches us things and He warns us of things. He’s like a friend calling you to let you know that there’s traffic on your drive to work and there’s a better route to take. He wants to teach us everything there is to know about sin so that we can be on our guard against it. He begins with verse 3. The woman repeats God’s own words to the serpent when she explains that she and her husband are not supposed to eat from the tree or even touch it, or else they will die. Here God gives us a simple analogy between sin and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He warns us to stay far away from sin – don’t even come near it with a ten-foot pole. He knows how deadly this poison is.
Next, God explains to us just how deceptive sin and Satan’s temptations can be. In verse 6, the woman warms up to sin when she realizes that the fruit is “good for food”, “pleasing to the eye”, and “desirable for gaining wisdom”. These same qualities fool us into sinning today! We don’t sin because we like hurting ourselves, we sin because the things we are tempted to do are pleasing. They look like they’ll feel good or taste good. And there are plenty of sins that people swear on their lives are actually good for you. Sometimes people will even place sin right into your hands and pressure you to join in – much like what Adam went through. Our own experience testifies to the trustworthiness of God’s guidebook – He’s telling us ahead of time what sin looks like and what tricks Satan will play.
But God’s not done yet. In this chapter, God reveals to us the biggest lie that Satan tells us about sin. In verse 4, Satan tried to alleviate Eve’s worries about eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan lies smoothly, “You will not certainly die”.
This is the most insidious lie Satan has ever told. In fact, it is the only lie he ever needed to tell – this poison has been passed down, person to person, from that day to this. Humanity has believed, told and retold this lie. It has been told to us by our family, our friends, our teachers and even our pastors. They tell us, “You will not be able to stop sinning”. “You will struggle with sin until Jesus comes back”, they say. After all, we cannot be perfect, right? God sees our hearts, so we have a little wiggle room when it comes to sin. Some sins we’ll never stop committing because it’s just not possible for us to have the strength to stop. But it’s okay, because when it comes to those sins, you will not certainly die.
God has heard this lie told every day since that one in the garden. He despises this lie and those words. He will do anything to keep us from believing it. He works on our hearts every day, trying to keep us from sickening from the poison Satan keeps feeding us. But this isn’t all God has done to counteract this villain.
Hinting at a Master Plan
This chapter, dreary as it is, has glimmers of hope shining out between its words. After the dust settles and God is forced to punish the woman and the man for the sin that they committed, God gives all of us a sneak peek into the brilliant plan He has to rid our world forever of this poison that Satan introduced. In verse 15, God promises that the woman’s Offspring will crush the serpent’s head as the serpent strikes His heel. These words are mysterious and seem like an empty threat on their surface. Yet even without an explanation of who the offspring is and what it means to crush the serpent’s head, God assures Adam and Eve and everyone who will read Genesis 3 that He is not going to let this go. Satan will not get away with his lies. God is setting His plans in place and in the end, the villain will get exactly what He deserves.
God’s Message To Us
“Don’t believe Satan’s lies. He will say this to you and he will promise you that – don’t believe him! Do not give in to sin.” Can you hear God’s insistence? God wrote this chapter to warn us. He knows that there is nothing harder than resisting the temptation to sin. But He also knows that there is nothing worse than dying in sin. So He has done everything in His power to warn us, to save us. He has a plan. Whispers of hope echo from verse 15. “Read ahead!” He says. “I want to save you.” Will we listen?
There Are Always Questions
There is a lot of great information in this chapter about sin, but there’s also a lot of other interesting things to puzzle over.
- I love how, in verse 20, the Bible says that Adam actually named his wife. Is this maybe the origin of the tradition where the wife takes the last name of her husband when they get married? Maybe not, but it is extremely sweet in my opinion.
- What does it mean to “know good and evil”? In verse 5, Satan says that God knows good and evil. In verse 22, God says the same thing and then says that mankind also knows good and evil. I suppose that means just what it says, but what is the difference between God’s knowledge of good and evil and our knowledge of good and evil? Is it just that God consistently chooses good and not evil? Was God’s original plan for us to never know evil and to only know good?
- The whole thing in verses 7 and 8 where Adam and Eve realized that they were naked after they sinned seems to have something more to it. Were Adam and Eve naked the whole time? Was it just that nudity meant something different before the knowledge of evil? Or were Adam and Eve actually covered by something before they sinned? What changed when they sinned – their outward appearance or their hearts? Or both?
- The curse that God gave to Eve is especially interesting. God says that her husband will rule over her and her desire will be for him (verse 16). What does that second part mean? Does God mean that women will love harder or something? The first part is something that seems to apply only to the marriage relationship – the husband “rules over” his wife. What does this mean exactly? Is there any good reason to extrapolate this to the place of women in general? Is this first part a prediction of the future or did God make a fundamental change to the place of women in this world?
What answers would you give to these questions? What other lessons do you see in this chapter of the Bible? What message do you think God is trying to send to you with this chapter?