The Tragedy of Sin and the Greatness of Grace

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”[i]  (Genesis 3:1, NLT)

The man and woman, our parents Adam and Eve, were living in the Garden God made for them. Genesis 2 verses 9 and 10 give these details about the Garden:
The LORD God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches. (NLT)

. . . “Trees that were beautiful and produced delicious fruit.” I picture trees of varying shades of green with peaches, pears, apples, mangoes and oranges hanging low so Adam and Eve could reach out and take whatever they wanted. It was an ideal setting.

God told Adam and Eve, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, NLT)

The serpent comes into this ideal setting. 

We know him already

Genesis 3 is the first mention of him in Scripture, but at the mention of his role here in the story of Eden we know him.  He has whispered to us in our doubts, accused us in our guilt and tormented us in our fears.  We are not on friendly terms with him. We see his work in the wars, diseases and brokenness of our world.

Dread comes over me as I anticipate the rest of the story.  Why, oh why, did Adam and Eve make the choice they did?

The serpent lies to the woman. 

Directly contradicting God he says, “You won’t die!” (Genesis 3:4, NLT)

What did the woman know of death?  She had never seen it.  Why did she believe the serpent over God?

Verse 6 tells us: “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” (Genesis 3:6, NLT)

Let’s consider some of the things that were lost at that moment.

First, they immediately knew they were naked.  They felt shame.  Innocence was lost and with it the pure unclouded enjoyment of life’s greatest pleasures.

Second, their relationship with God was broken.  They hid from God.

Third, their relationship with each other was broken. 

Fourth, they suffered the curse: 1) pain in childbirth, 2) discord in marriage, and 3) hardship in living.

“You won’t die,” said the serpent.

Almost, every person born of woman since that day has died, including Adam and Eve. 

The serpent lied.

He lied to gain control of the world.  He lied to destroy God’s creation. He lied in order to kill Adam and Eve.

He is still doing the same today.  He lies to control the world.  He lies to destroy God’s creation.  He lies to kill you and me.

This is the tragedy of sin. 

The woman was deceived so her guilt was not as great. She still suffered the consequences.  The man made a deliberate choice. His guilt was greater, so he bore the weight of guilt.

Whether we are deceived or make a deliberate choice, the consequences of sin in our lives are horrible.

What is God’s role in all of this? Where was God?  Let’s take a look at these questions.

First, God was there. He warned them.  He told them the truth.

Second, God came looking for them.  They hid from God so God called out to them.  God reached out to them.  It was not Adam and Eve who sought out God.

Third, God promised a Savior. 

In verse 15 God says, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15, NLT) The offspring spoken of here is Jesus.  Colossians 2:15 says of Jesus, “he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” (NLT)

Fifth, God provided clothing for them. 

Verse 21 says, “And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” Adam and Eve had tried to cover themselves in their shame, and apparently had made a poor job of it.  God, in His kindness, made them their first set of clothes.

Sixth, God kept them from the tree of life.

In verse 22 this is recorded: Then the LORD God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”

What would be so tragic about living forever?  Let me tell you what I believe.  Have you ever wondered why the angels who sinned cannot be saved?  They cannot die.  Romans 6 verse 7 gives this interesting information, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.”[ii] (ESV)

If Adam and Eve had been allowed to eat from the tree of life, they would have lived in their sinful state forever just like the devil and his angels.  It was the kindness of God that banished Adam and Eve from the garden and protected them by not letting them eat from the tree of life.

Jesus paid for our sins by dying, and was raised to newness of life, never to die again.  Romans 6:3-7 explains:
. . . when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (NLT)

This is the incredible greatness of God’s grace. 

Where sin brought tragedy and death, grace brought life, victory and hope.  This is the hope we enjoy as believers.

God  warns us.  He tells us the truth.
God seeks us out.
God provided a Savior, who clothes us with His righteousness and has opened the way to the tree of life.

[i] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.  All rights reserved.
[ii] Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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