What is so wrong with the world?
Genesis 3: What is so wrong with the world?
Theme: The problems of the world all come from sin.
Aim: To help people grasp the reality of sin, repent and trust in the true king of the universe.
How did it all go so wrong?
That is the question we want to answer today.
As we have surveyed the world as it was originally made, in all its beauty, we are left asking ourselves, “how could it possibly have got to the state where it is today?”
Down through the ages people have had lots of different ideas about what is wrong with the world:
Left wing: too many rich people in power.
Right wing: too many left wing people in power.
Feminism: too many men in power.
Buddhism says that we suffer because we think we exist! to escape suffering you must escape all your desires.
Atheism says that nothing is wrong at all. We’re just molecules bouncing around in an otherwise empty universe.
But Christianity makes this claim: that the world’s problems are real and can be traced to one thing - sin. Sin is the cause of all the suffering in the world.
The importance of properly understanding sin
- Most difficulties to do with the Christian faith come from a refusal to acknowledge the sin as it truly is.
- Sin is not that bad
- Sin is not my fault
- Sin won’t have serious consequences
But because they have not understood the Bible’s teaching at this point, the rest of what the Bible has to say seems like nonsense.
Why would God send anyone to hell?
It seems so harsh, until you understand sin.
Why would God send his son to die on the cross to save people?
It seems so unnecessary, until you understand sin.
Why would God save only some people from the world and not others?
It seems so unfair, until you understand sin.
In fact, almost everyone person I have spoken to who has either left or rejected Christianity has done so because, in the end, they could not accept the teaching that they were sinful. It was simply too offensive to them.
For that reason, we need to ask God to give us a clear view of sin. To help us to see it as it really is. That is a dangerous prayer, isn’t it? Are you ready to hear the truth?
The blue pill and the red pill - The Matrix
- Sin is a personal attack on God
Here’s our first point then: Sin is a personal attack on God
Here in Genesis 3 is a record of the first sin, and a pattern of all sin that comes after it.
- disbelieving the word of God (Gen 1)
And we can see that the temptation to sin first came when the serpent raised a question about the word of God.
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
See the way that he has twisted the original command to Adam by putting it as a negative, a restriction. God told Adam that he was free to eat of all the trees of the garden but one, but the serpent puts it this way, “aren’t you allowed to eat from any in the garden?”
Now the woman responds in a way that looks initially very positive.
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
The problem here is that she has made the command of God more restrictive than it actually was. She’s added the notion that she should not touch the tree, which God didn’t say.
So the word of God is being twisted to make it sound like the boundaries that God has set are more restrictive than they actually are.
And now, sufficient doubt has been sown into the woman’s mind for the serpent to be able to make a flat out contradiction of the word of God – he tells her in verse 4, “you will not surely die”, he says which is the exact opposite of what God said to Adam in chapter 2 when he warned him, “in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”
So sin begins this way, with an attack on the word of God. It’s rejecting what God says it true.
And when you cast your mind back to chapter one, as God created the world by speaking it into existence, this ought to seem to us to be utterly incredible.
When God commanded light it just came into being.
When God commanded the stars into existence, they were.
But now the serpent challenges the word of God – “come on, don’t believe what God says. You won’t surely die.”
- distrusting the goodness of God (Gen 2)
And after calling the word of God into question, he proceeds to call the goodness of God into question.
Why has God forbidden you to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
He’s holding you back. He’s really only protecting his own interests and not yours.
He’s restricting your potential and your freedom.
And doesn’t that sound familiar? The idea that God is out to spoil our enjoyment of life is the oldest lie in the book. Here are Adam in Eve living in a perfect world that God has made for them and enjoying perfect harmonious relationship with each other. Made in the image of God who has lavished on them gracious gift after gracious gift and they begin to think that God is holding back from them.
Ultimately, when sufficient doubt has been lodged in their minds about the authority of God’s word and the goodness of his intentions, they decide to disobey him.
So Eve reaches out and does what looks like a very simple thing. She takes some fruit from the tree. And she gives some to Adam, who appears to have been sitting here silently watching his wife fall into temptation rather than supporting her.
But is it such a small thing that Eve has done?
At this moment you can see that the order of relationships in God’s world has turned upside down. God rules over man, who is responsible for his wife and together they rule over the creation. But in this moment, the serpent has taken leadership over the woman who has taken leadership over her husband and together they have tried to usurp the position of God in the universe. The very order of the universe has been turned upside down. And Adam and Eve are now part of a rebellious coo to try and grasp the authority of God for themselves.
Let us be the ones who decide what is good and evil.
Let us take of the tree and exercise our independence from God.
Let us be like God.
Let us be the rulers of our own life.
And all that tells us a lot about sin.
What is sin?
it’s disbelieving the word of God.
it’s distrusting the goodness of God.
it’s trying to take the place of God.
- Illustrate – Spiderman 3
Peter has been tainted by a mysterious black goo—a shadow crossing over him. It has attached to Peter, clinging to him like a dark, new Spider-Man suit. It causes jealousy, rage, and retribution to grow. Dr. Curt Connors identifies this black goo as a symbiote, calling it, “A parasite that amplifies characteristics of its host, especially aggression.” Peter’s aggression comes out in how he treats his friends and co-workers. As a black suited Spider-Man, Peter attacks Harry with ugly truths
about his father, Norman. Peter also argues with Brock, his competition at the Daily Bugle. He even hurts the one he loves, M.J. The act of Peter wearing the suit later on in the movie shows his ‘bad characteristics’
And that is what is going on here with Adam and Eve. A simple act of eating fruit, but it represents an act of defiance that causes rift between all relationships and against God himself.
And that is what every sin is in essence – a personal attack on God. Disobeying his word, defaming his character, and defying him as God.
We live in a culture that denies the seriousness of sin. On eBay they have community values and their first and foremost value is this: “we believe people are basically good.”
And that is the prevailing thought of our society, isn’t it? We’re not perfect, but we’re ok. We’re sinners, yes, but that’s not a serious thing.
Well according to Genesis chapter 3 it’s a heck of a lot more serious than that. Because according to Genesis 3 every sin is a disobedient, defamatory and defiant attack on the person of God.
- Sin is our responsibility
The second thing that Genesis 3 shows us is that sin is our responsibility.
Nakedness is a big theme running through this chapter. And it shows us the innocence of Adam and Eve. At the beginning of the story they were naked and they were not ashamed of themselves.
- the shame of nakedness
But the first thing that happens when they sin against God is that they become aware of their nakedness.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Something has happened to them that changes the way that they see themselves.
They now have something to hide
from each other
and from God
When they hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden they are afraid. And don’t you think that the way they behave is so childish?
Those of us who have children will, I’m sure, will find this part of the story very familiar. But all of us have been children at some stage and can remember this scenario too.
Obviously God knows where they are hiding, but he calls for them:
9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
And Adam comes out with a guilty look on his face. He’s been found out.
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Now God asks him a couple of questions. Again, the Lord obviously knows what has happened, but he wants Adam to say it for himself.
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
And what now follows is a series of attempts to shift the blame onto someone else.
i. the man blames the serpent
Adam blames the woman of course, but along the way has the audacity to blame God for putting her there with him!
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me-- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
ii. the woman blames the serpent
And the woman in turn blames the serpent:
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
And isn’t it just so pathetic.
With their little hastily constructed fig leaves covering themselves.
Desperately aware of their own shame.
But still refusing to accept responsibility for their actions.
- Illustrate – ‘Hancock’ – show clip
Rays shows Hancock some video proof of his negligence and lack of responsibility that comes with his tremendous power.
And isn’t that a typical response of ours to sin? OK, I did it, but it’s not really my fault.
We live in a culture that is a victim culture, don’t we?
Nothing is our fault anymore.
It’s my environment.
It’s my upbringing.
It’s the government’s fault.
It’s the education system’s fault.
We have even renamed our penal system. Now we call it “corrective services”.
Because criminals don’t need to be punished, they need to be corrected.
In our culture, everyone is the victim and no one is the villain.
But sin is our responsibility, friends, and no one else’s. When it comes to the final day and people stand before the judgement seat of God there will be no shifting the blame onto anybody else. Those same words spoken to Eve will be addressed to us, “What have you done?”
As people created in the image of God we are significant. What we do matters to God. And having acted as Adam and Eve have in defiance against God, he will hold us accountable. God is not the God who overlooks sin and just pretends it never happened.
- Sin is judged by God
Thirdly, sin is judged by God.
Our society denies the seriousness of sin and the responsibility for sin.
It also pretends that there are no consequences for sin.
But the way that God responds to Adam and Eve’s sin shows us that the consequences are very serious.
What do you think God will do now with a world that has rebelled against him and tried to take his place?
What will he do now that the good world that he has created for us has turned against him?
What will he do now that the people he created in his image have tried to replace him?
Well, it is impossible really to overstate the gravity of what happens next.
God places the world under a curse. He curses the serpent and he curses the ground. And at the very point where he had blessed the man and the woman in chapter one he now subjects them to brokenness.
If you remember the place in chapter one where God first spoke to the man and the woman, he blessed them and said to them,
28 “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
And if you think about this, it’s shocking. At the very point where the man and the woman each experience the blessing of God there is now brokenness. The woman was to contribute to filling the earth by bearing children, and the man was to rule over the earth in his work.
16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
At the very centre of her role in fulfilling the purposes of God, there is a broken relationship with the world. And her relationship with her husband is now going to be characterised by competition. There is going to be a kind of power struggle between them from now on. She will desire to rule over her husband, but he will always get the upper hand.
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
At exactly the point where Adam fulfils his role in God’s purposes, there is also brokenness. His work will always be painful from now on.
So God meets their sin in judgement. How does he respond to a world that is in rebellion against him? He shatters it. He does not destroy it, but he subjects it to frustration and futility.
What’s more, the man and the woman now become subject to death.
22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Now that man has set himself in opposition to God, there is hostility between God and man.
Man is opposed to God and God is opposed to us.
And these are all just the foretastes of an eternal judgement called hell.
You see, the goodness and the glory of God will not permit him to allow an evil world to run in competition with him. Sin is met by God in judgement.
And that has had huge consequences for us:
· Now the world is nothing like the place we saw last week. It is no longer a safe place to live. It is now longer a secure place to live. It is under the judgement of God.
· Now our lives are a mixture of the pleasure of living in a world that God has blessed and the pain of living in the world that God has cursed. It is under the judgement of God.
· We still rule over the earth, but now it fights back and ultimately the earth wins because we return to the dust from which we came. It is under the judgement of God.
· Our relationships are now a mixture of the love that we were made to share with each other, and the pain that comes from selfishness. It’s no longer safe to be naked like Adam and Eve were.
And that is how the world came to be what it is today. That is how life that was so wonderfully good came to be so shattered:
Because we sinned
sin is an attack on God
sin is our responsibility
sin is judged by God
But it’s not the end of the story.
As you know, this is only chapter 3 of the Bible. There is an awful lot more to come after this. And there is in the middle of this story a verse which gives us a little hint as to what the rest of the story might entail.
- God will be victorious in the seed of the woman
If you look carefully at this story you find that the writer has placed verses 14 and 15 in the very centre because he wants us to see that this is the climax.
And they contain a promise from God which means there is hope for the world.
This is a promise that sin will one day be overcome.
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
The serpent is singled out here because it is he who launched this plan to try to overthrow the rule of God and bring rebellion into the world. And at first glance he appears to have been successful. But here is a promise from God in verse 15 that he will be overcome.
This is the fourth point where I want to end: sin is overcome in a promise.
God makes a promise here that he will be victorious. Sin will be overcome and the serpent will be defeated. God’s good purposes for the world will still succeed.
How will it happen? Through the offspring of the woman and in conflict with the serpent.
God will send a serpent crusher who will defeat Satan, but in the process Satan will strike his heel.
So what we have here is centre of the Christian gospel. God is going to send someone to overcome sin for us. To defeat Satan and to bring us back into the state that we lost before the fall.