The Fa11 of Man
INTRODUCTION Evolutionary theories vainly imagine a tedious rise of man from primodial muck of unknown origin through an endless series of uncertain species of accidential life; historical facts of divine revelation tell of the catastrophic fall of man from his state of innocence in the image of God to a state of sinful depravity under the righteous judgment of the Creator Who in His wrath still remembers mercy.
Recorded history in Genesis fits all the known facts; unhistorical and rather hysterical accounts of evolution rest only on wild conjecture.
Our lesson reviews the record of the fall of man in the experience of our first parents. Jesus Christ came and died and rose again to rescue from the effects of this disastrous fall all who put their trust in Him. Note a few pertinent points:1. The Serpent, Genesis 3:1-5.
a. Deceitful doubt, 1. b. Doubtful debate, 2-3. c. Deliberate deception, 4-5.
2. The Sin, Genesis 3:6.
3. The Shame, Genesis 3:7-13.
a. Natural religion, 7. b. Natural retreat, 8-10. c. Natural rationalization, 11-13.
4. The Sentence, Genesis 3:14-15.
a. Divine retribution, 14. b. Divine redemption, 15.
NOTES ON THE TEXT:
THE SERPENT, Genesis 3:1-5.
From other Scripture it appears that the serpent was practically an incarnation of the devil, or allowed himself to be used as an instrument of the devil. Here he is introduced simply as the most cunning of all beasts, but behind the serpent's hiss was the sly strategy of Satan.
Deceitful Doubt, 1.
Casting doubt upon the goodness and truthfulness of God is the beginning of unbelief. As surely as God is God, He is all good and all truth. The serpent's "Yea" seems to have been a snort of unbelief calculated to plant doubt in Eve's innocent mind that God was either good or truthful. The explicit denial of truth would come later; first the seeds of doubt must find room to sprout and grow.
Doubtful Debate, 2-3.
It is always a mistake for an innocent and unskilled believer to get into an argument or debate with a clever enemy of truth. We could wish that Eve had been wise enough to break off this conversation before it got started. Instead, she undertook to defend the goodness of God. Really, He does not need any defense from His creatures; and all we need is simply to trust and obey Him without argument. Moreover, it is possible that Eve may have made a mistake of overstating her case. If God had forbidden Adam to touch the fruit forbidden as food, there is no other record of the fact.
Deliberate Deception, 4-5.
Satan knows that the most effective lies are those which contain some elements of truth. God had said [Genesis 2:17], "Thou shalt surely die"; in the double talk of deliberate deception the serpent said what sounds like a flat contradiction, "Ye shall not surely die." Now there are still ignorant people who assert in effect that God lied and the serpent told the truth in this matter: that Adam and Eve did not die "in the day" when they ate the forbidden fruit. But on the record they did die; in the primary and most important meaning of death they died not only in the same day but at the very moment of their sin. Further, the serpent's statement that "ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" was only a partial truth involving deliberate deception, especially when joined to the denial of death. The little likeness gained in knowledge was accompanied by a terrible loss of likeness in moral character.
THE SIN, Genesis 3:6. Vain attempts have been made to make the act of eating forbidden fruit mean something else. Such attempts prove nothing except that the devil is still busy. We have no need to search for hidden meanings; we need especially to beware of supposed meanings which contradict the plain teachings of Scripture. The essence of sin is transgression or disregard of the law of God [I John 3:4]. The exact nature or description of the forbidden fruit beyond what the Scripture tells us does not matter; the important fact is that the creatures disobeyed their Creator and so died, or became separated from Him.
THE SHAME, Genesis 3:7-13. Material bodies were nothing to be ashamed of as originally created. All things that God created were good in their original state, including the physical bodies of the first human male and female [Genesis 1:26-31]. But it was in the flesh that the first pair sinned, in response to fleshly desires and appetites; and so human flesh became something sinful and shameful in its fallen nature. Natural Religion, 7. Knowledge of good and evil in minds originally created upright, knowledge acquired by flagrant disobedience, had the immediate effect of imparting a guilty conscience. The first and natural impulse of a guilty sinner is to try to cover up his sins. This is natural religion: a realization of guilt combined with vain attempts to cover up; a racial recollection of responsibility to God combined with vain attempts to avoid judgment. Natural Retreat, 8-10. Just as Adam and Eve "hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God," sinners still try to escape and hide themselves from His presence; but all such attempts are as vain now as they were then. It is natural to retreat from superior power, but there is and can be no escape from divine judgment except by taking refuge in divine mercy. Natural Rationa1izing,11-13. Again, it is natural to make excuses, to try to rationalize our errors in such a way as to blame someone else rather than ourselves. So in this case the man blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent, but there was plenty blame to go around, and God dealt with each one involved. All our rationalizing, natural as it may be, cannot void our personal responsibility to God.
THE SENTENCE, Genesis 3:14-15. Divine sentence of judgment was pronounced upon the serpent, the woman, and the man. (Finish the chapter for details not included in the printed lesson). Our text includes only the sentence addressed to the serpent, but God's final disposition of the case is implied even in these few words. Divine Retribution, 14. We may infer, though it is not expressly stated, that the serpent may have had feet and legs as originally created. The pride that had lifted itself against the Creator was brought down in the dust. Divine Redemption, 15. No doubt the divine sentence included here a natural and continuing enmity between snakes and humans, but far more important is the age-long conflict between the devil who had used the serpent, on one side of this mighty spiritual warfare, and on the other side the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Satan has already bruised the heel of our Redeemer, but in due time He will crush the serpent's head.
CONCLUSION [Galatians 5:13] Persons addressed here are spiritual brethren, and the calling referred to is the effectual call to salvation. In Christ we have a far more glorious liberty than that abused by Adam and Eve. The judgment of death has been removed from us by Christ our Substitute. Now the judgment assigned us for disobedience as children of God is not spiritual but temporal chastisement, which may pile up even to the extent of physical death [Hebrews 12:5-10; I John 5:16; I Corinthians 11:30-32].
Let us make good use of our liberty in Christ, not momentarily pleasing the flesh and so incurring grievous chastisement, but rather by love serving one another and so storing up treasures in heaven.
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, September 12, 1975. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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