We are in a series on marriage, and in the last two weeks we’ve looked at the creation week of Genesis to learn about and learn to appreciate God’s design for marriage. You can go back to the Book of Genesis in your Bibles.
If you are just visiting with us, or this is your first time here, a, first time back in a, in a while, you’re entering into the mid-flow of a, of a series. And it’s kind of like mathematics. Each message, uh, you know, everything in math, it kinda builds on itself, and if you kinda miss those early lessons, there’s no way you’re gonna do calculus. OK, so. This is kinda like that. We are in a flow of messages that are building on each other.
So what you’re gonna get today is coming out of, mostly out of Genesis Chapter 3, which is the Fall. And so if you think that our series on marriage starts with the decline of marriage in the Fall, uh, that is not the discouraging messages that we’re trying to, uh, pass on about marriage. OK, so just ho, hang in there, understand that, uh, there is more to this. Uh, you’ll wanna come back next week and see the issue of redemption, and how God, uh, provided redemption even from the Fall. Go back also and listen to the first couple of messages to see how this whole thing has been set up.
But we have seen in the first couple of chapters of Genesis, we’ve seen God’s wisdom. We’ve seen his kindness to create the institution of marriage. It’s through marriage that God conveys the blessedness of his own goodness to men and women who participate in marriage. Marriage is there to mold and shape them, to mature them, so they might enjoy God and one another in intimate communion. And that happened, that institution was created, not as a remedial institution that is post-Fall. It was created as a shaping, molding, forming institution prior to sin entering into the world, to shape and mold and mature Adam and Eve.
The product of the marital union, our children, “children are a gift from the Lord,” Psalm 127:3 says. And it’s through the gift of children, as those children also, they themselves are shaped by the institution of marriage through the family, God spreads the blessing of his goodness from the home out through the entire society.
At the close of last week’s sermon, we learned that God intended for Adam and Eve and for their marriage, he intended that they would enjoy the world that he created, enjoy the work that he gave them to do, enjoy the role that he gave them to represent him, to manifest his image throughout the Earth. They are his image-bearing representatives to the entire creation.
Everything looked, at the end of last week, anyway, everything looked just perfect. God pronounced his benediction, Genesis 1:31, stamping “very good” on everything that he had made. And if we stopped at Genesis 2:25, if we knew nothing more, God would’ve sent Adam and Eve out into a good world. He would’ve sent them out into a state of perpetual rest. He’d would’ve sent them out to enjoy the intimacy of communion with one another, an intimacy of communion that, that would also be with himself. God with mankind, and mankind with one another, enjoying the intimacy of communion and relationship.
So we have to stop and ask, “What went wrong?” Why is it that none of our marriages seem to come close to God’s design, even in the best of our marriages? They are filled with weakness and imperfection. Even in the very best marriages we point to, as much as we eulogize a Christian and a Christian marriage (and we should do that, we should rejoice in those things), we also realize that there is so much struggle. Struggle to communicate, struggle to understand one another. There’s misunderstanding all the time. Communication is the biggest issue in marriage, is it not? And can I get an “Amen” from married people? It’s a struggle to enjoy the intimacy God intended and designed for our marriages.
So why is this good gift so hard? Paul tells us in Romans 8:20, what we read earlier, that “the creation was subjected to futility.” It’s a passive way of expressing that. Creation “was subjected.” Who is the one who subjected creation to futility? God did. God subjected all creation. Marriage is a creation institution. God subjected marriage and creation to futility. He did that because it was a part of his perfect plan of redemption. It was to work out a, an eternal decree of redemption.
So everything good in God’s created d, order, everything good in his design, it is good. But it is not the end. The end, as we know, is in Christ. Remember that marriage is a formative institution. That means that marriage retains the power that God put into it, pre-Fall and post-Fall. It is a durable institution.
We mentioned Yuval Levin, who described marriage, it, that it keeps its shape over time. It shapes in the realm of life in which it operates. Levin went on to explain how the marital institution, like all institutions, has the power to structure our perceptions and our interactions. And as a result, marriage structures us. Marriage forms our habits and our expectations, and shapes our character. Marriage, family, these are the means by which we are socialized.
“Everything God creates is good, and righteous, and pure, and true, and holy.”Travis Allen
So what happens when the two participants in a marriage are not righteous, but are sinfully depraved? I think you know what happens. Right? You look in the mirror of your own, reflecting back your own marriage. You know what happens. And if marriage retains its power as an institution, what does this durable, formative institution then pass on to society? What kind of culture is it passing on from generation to generation to generation?
We’ve all observed, we’ve all experienced to varying degrees, that the institution has been the means of passing on good and bad. There are good things we learn from our parents, and there are sins passed on from parent to children, right? To the childrens’ children and beyond. Good and bad is passed on. Children grow up. They become adults. They enter into their own marriages, saying to one another with all earnestness and honesty and sincerity, and they say, “Well, we’re not gonna make those mistakes. We’re not gonna commit the same sins our parents committed. Whoa, did they get it wrong! We’re not gonna parent our kids like they parented us.” Only to turn right around, make a whole different set of mistakes. And commit a whole different set of sins, right? And then our kids say the same thing about us.
Many people have been taught, especially in our society, they’ve been taught to blame the institution of marriage for the sorrows of marriage. Many choose to end their marriages. They add sorrow upon sorrow, and they add sin to sorrow by breaking a covenant, by severing a one-flesh union. Divorce just shreds the family. It leaves scars on family members, and they take all those scars with them into their relationships, into the streets. They unravel, eventually, the fabric of society. We’re watching that unraveling happen in front of us in our culture.
But none of that, listen, none of that can be blamed on marriage. It’s not the fault of marriage, as if the institution itself is fundamentally flawed. The institution is doing exactly what God designed it to do. Even when marriage as an institution, when marriage passes on even sins and consequences of sins from generation to generation, listen, it’s proving it’s doing exactly what God designed it to do. It’s passing on what is instilled in that family environment, whether good or bad.
Make an analogy to the law of gravity. Gravity is a good law, right, that governs the physical, material world. It does not become bad or untrustworthy as a law if someone falls to his death. We don’t blame gravity. We say gravity works, and we learn to respect it. We learn to submit to the law of gravity, live with it. It’s actually, gravity is what, the reason we can all sit here right now and not float off into space. B’ thankful for gravity. We don’t rebel against it. To rebel against it is folly.
In the same way, God designed marriage to govern the relationships of humanity, and give humanity form, and structure, and shape, indi, individually and corporately. So we need to respect marriage. Respect its power. We need to realize that God designed it for good. When marriage is not respected and not regarded, when men and women do not submit to its God-given design, but depart from God’s design and do it their own way, listen, there are consequences. There are relational consequences. There are generational consequences. Sin, sorrow, misery, social evils abound.
Bible, as we’ve said before, it doesn’t shy away from portraying any of that, either. It doesn’t back off from showing the high cost of violating God’s design for marriage. Marital sin in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, we said that it resulted in a conflict between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. It’s in a conflict that totally defines our world. Totally defines the Middle East. Marital sins that David committed, that Solomon committed, tore the kingdom apart.
So whether on a grand scale like those examples or a smaller scale, felt more personally, for many of you, a father ruled by a heart of anger. His mouth in the home releases a torrent of harsh words that shred wife, shred children. His behavior, abusive. That leaves a mark. A mother, through her depression or whatever it is, self-medicating using alcohol, or drugs, or prescription drugs. She’s mentally, emotionally checked out. Parents whose ambitions for money or for esteem, or for prominence, causes them either to neglect their children or to so control their children, always angling to fulfill their own agenda through their children. Whatever it is, those things leave a mark. We feel those things, and we react to those things from our past as we go into the present and into the future, don’t we?
Again, we cannot blame the institution of marriage for these evils or any other evils. So it’s the fault of the sinner, isn’t it? It’s the fault of the underlying problem of sin. Sin is the issue, and that’s the subject of our study this morning. To see what happened. To find out how sin invaded our world, got into our marriages and how it corrupts us, how it continues to affect us and trouble our marriages.
And as we go through what we’re gonna go through this morning, be paying attention and thinking, not just to understand what we’re saying here, but to, to draw the lines from what Scripture describes to your own behavior, whether you’re married or not. This applies to all of us as individuals, and all of us as married people as well, and it applies to the entire culture. So try to be thoughtful not only about what we’re learning from Scripture, but also thoughtful to see the implications for our lives, see the implications for our marriages. You’re gonna have to do a little mental work here.
I want you to understand, though, from the very beginning that, if you’re in Christ, you have (and we’re going to get into this definitely more next week), but you have everything you need to navigate forward. To navigate through the difficulty and the challenge of a sinful, fallen world. You can practice repentance. You have the power to do that, because you have a new nature granted to you by a loving God. He removed, Ezekiel 36 says, he’s caused you to be born again, so he’s “removed the heart of stone,” taken that out, a dead, cold heart, lifeless, and he’s put in “a heart of flesh.” He’s given you a new heart. He’s taken away that dead, spiritually dead nature, and granted you a new nature. “If anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come.”
Not only that, but if you’re in Christ, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you. You have the Spirit himself, the Spirit of the living God lives in you. And he teaches you his Word internally, as your internal truth teacher. He illuminates the truth to you in the pages of Scripture, and he helps you, motivates you, strengthens you to walk in the truth. Gives you new longings. You’ve everything you need to practice repentance, to grow into maturity and holiness, whether you’re married or you’re unmarried, even in a fallen world, even in an imperfect marriage.
I’ve got three words for you which you can write down for an outline. Three words are these: Probation, temptation, and frustration. You’re like, “Well, that’s an encouraging sermon.” Probation, temptation, and frustration, and I think that the encouragement of a sermon like this comes out in the clarity that the Bible provides. That’s, that’s where the encouragement comes from, is to understand, “Why is it like this? Why are things difficult? Why are things challenging? Why am I the way I am? Why is he or she the way she is, or he is?” It helps us to figure things out, but also it points us to the only remedy that comes in salvation in Christ. Man, we need to hear it. We need to hear what Genesis 3 has to say. So probation, temptation, frustration.
First, probation. And just, you can write this down if you want to, “Marriage was subjected to probation.” Marriage is, was subjected to probation. What do I mean by “probation?” Probation refers to a trial. It refers to a test, which is exactly what God designed for Adam. A period of probation, of testing. Look down at your Bibles, start in Genesis Chapter 2 and verse 9. It says there in verse 9, “Out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree pleasant for the sight, good for food.” That’s a whole lot of trees. A whole lot of food provided.
And then it says at the end of that verse, “The tree of life was in the midst of the garden.” OK, so eating that tree, perpetuating life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, at this point we don’t know whether that eating from that tree is good or not. We got to keep reading. But that’s the first use of something that sounds bad in God’s good creation, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Why, what’s evil? Why do I wanna? What’s going on there?
We get then into verses 16 and 17 of chapter 2, we read this last time, “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.’” Wide permission, broad permission. “‘But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. For in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.’” We read that last time, and we mentioned that God is doing two things here: He’s setting up Adam’s probation, a test for the head of humanity (we’re gonna cover that today), but God was also preparing him to teach his wife. He’s providing Adam with the proper motivation for teaching, which is love. Love is what drives Adam’s ministry to his wife, his care for his wife.
Doctrine matters, teaching matters, knowing and passing on the truth, it marks the difference, really, between life and death. Never make that mistake in diminishing doctrine, in saying doctrine doesn’t matter. Man, it matters. It is the difference between life and death. It is a difference between assurance and a lack of assurance. It is the difference between confidence and wavering, and s, instability, and double- mindedness. We must have truth. We must have truth rightly understood, which is what doctrine is: teaching theology.
So last week we considered how Adam loves his wife by teaching her, by helping her to understand the truth. He’s motivated because he doesn’t want her eating at that wrong tree. He didn’t want her to die, he just got her. He doesn’t want to live with, a, alone with the animals for the rest of his life. He rejoiced in her (Genesis 2:23). He wants to perpetuate this joy that God’s given him. So he wants to teach her.
This week we’re gonna back up and understand some of the theology of this, to understand the, Adam’s probation. His testing. In Genesis 2:16-17, God set up Adam’s probation. Those verses are meant to show us that God has provided a test, and the test is to prove Adam in his role as the head of humanity. He’s there to represent the human race, and this is a test to prove him. When I say “prove him,” I mean like, a, someone who creates a, a container, a vessel that’s got pressure in it, and so we need to pressure-test a vessel, to make sure that when we get it out in the field, that when they put the pressure on, that vessel doesn’t leak, or worse, explode. So they pressure-test that vessel to make sure it, it is, has integrity, it’s sealed, it’s perfectly sound, so they can send it out, and it’s safe and does its job. In the same way, God is here to test Adam. Pressure-test him.
Against the backdrop of God’s abundant provision, a manifestation of his goodness, we see here in Genesis 2:16-17 that God ended a, added a single restriction there. Just one little prohibition about one little tree among all the good, wonderful fruit-bearing trees God created. Unrestrained permission from God to eat and enjoy all those trees. And so the test is, will Adam content himself in the goodness of God? Will he thoroughly enjoy the world of generous provision in the way that God designed it, within the boundaries that God set? Or, will he ignore all the good things God gave, and take instead what God had withheld from him?
At its heart, this test here is a question of, will Adam Trust God, or will he not? That’s the test all of us face every single day, right? Am I gonna believe God? Or am I gonna go my own way? Am I gonna trust his truth and believe what he said is for my good? Am I gonna do that and walk in that way, or am I gonna try my own, venture out on my own, do my own thing? That’s the test. That’s what we go through every single day.
Now I need to say at the outset, I promised myself I’m not gonna take us down a theological rabbit hole this morning. I really want to. There is far more here about this subject than we can get into now, but I intend to keep the promise not to, not to make your eyes roll over in the back of your head, and people falling out, and all that stuff. I, but I at least here want to make one little theological point. So, thinking caps on, OK? Here goes. To be “created in God’s image” means that Adam was, according to one commentator, “A self-conscious, free, responsible religious agent.” He’s self-conscious, created in God’s image. He’s free. He is responsible. And he is a religious agent.
As a creature, man is a mutable being. He is subject to change. He’s able to move from one state of being into another state of being. So men are mutable. God is unchanging. God is immutable. Man changes, though. He is mutable. So as a man, as a creature, Adam is not created in a fixed state of moral perfection. To be in a fixed state of moral perfection means Adam is not created as a self-conscious, free, responsible religious agent. To be fixed in such a state would mean his obedience would have been fixed, therefore coerced, not freely rendered, not freely given. And God intends that Adam, created his own image, render his devotion from a heart of love. From a heart of trust. From faith.
Since God created mankind in his own image, he did exist in a state of righteousness. Everything God creates is good, and righteous, and pure, and true, and holy. However, Adam is mutable, and he is untested. He’s untested in that perfect condition. As a mutable being, he’s subject to change, so Adam could move from a state of perfection into a state of further maturity in righteousness. Maturity in walking in the truth, maturity in, in, in, filling out and rounding out his experience of walking with God in communion, and righteousness, and joy and holiness. Or he could move from a state of perfection to imperfection, right? From righteousness to unrighteousness.
Adam’s state of being in, created in perfect righteousness, is a contingent condition. It’s subject to testing. His state of being had to be proven. As Augustine said it, “Adam was created in a condition in which he had the power to sin and the power not to sin.” It could go either direction. He’s a free, responsible, religiously moral agent. As a creature created in God’s image, Adam had the freedom and the power to choose. He had the power to sin and the power not to sin. So, depending on what would happen during this period of probation, this period of testing, Adam’s passing or failing the probation, listen, this is gonna affect and determine the future of his race. He is the representative head over the human race at this point. So whatever he does, all his progeny is going to follow in his line. That’s indeed what we see has happened.
Along with everything else that is good in God’s world, this is the ultimate expression of goodness. God set up a trial for Adam. He tested him in order to secure for all of Adam’s posterity a righteous race of humanity. That’s God’s design. He wants a race of people who would never fall away from righteousness, ever, but would enjoy God’s goodness in a state of perpetual rest, and communion, and joy, and holiness. So if you’ve ever wondered, “Why did God ever put that bad tree in the garden to begin with? Why is that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why did he insert that in there into a good world? How is that good? It even has the word ‘evil’ attached to it. It’s a sign there, it says ‘Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ I mean the word ‘evil’ is there. How can that be good in God’s good garden?”
Here’s your answer. Listen, I’ve heard kids ask this question. I, I hope your children are asking these kinda questions in your home, like, “Hey Dad, Mom, what, what?” Pay attention to that. As adults, we just kind of get too polite, don’t we, and too used to things, and we don’t ever ask the questions. It’s one of the joys we have in our Church of having new believers who come to Christ and say, “Wait a minute. Can I put my hand up here? ‘Cause you all seem to just take all this for granted. But what up? You know what’s with that?” It’s really good for us to have to explain things, and have to teach, and, man, putting kids into our homes is exactly that opportunity.
So now you know what to tell ‘em. When that question comes up, “Why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Why this potential for falling?” Well, you say this: “God gave Adam and Eve a whole world of good trees with all kinds of delicious fruits. All of this intended to show his goodness. He gave them one bad tree, told them not to eat from it. He wanted them to trust him. He wanted them to take his word for it, and taking God’s word for it is good. That’s why God put it there, ’cause he wanted to give them a goodness. If they had trusted God and obeyed him, they would’ve passed the test, lived forever in perfect holiness and happiness along with their children and their children’s children for all of eternity. But let me tell you what actually happened. And then you read Genesis 3.
So God tested Adam. Keep in mind he didn’t tempt Adam. The devil did that, and we’re going to come back to that next. But “God himself tempts no one,” James 1:13 says. John Murray explains this. He says, “It is satanic to seduce.” Seduction and temptation, these are “designed for weakening and degradation.” So temptation, that’s the devil’s work. That’s not what God does, but God did test Adam. And that’s a good thing. God set up a trial. He put Adam through a probation. That is a good thing.
Murray also says this, “It is of God to try and prove, with a view to moral and religious strength, and confirmation, and increased blessing.” That’s what a test is meant to provide. We see that later on in Genesis. In Genesis Chapter 22, when God tested Abraham, calling him to sacrifice Isaac, you may remember the story. God drew out of Abraham, what? Exactly what he was meaning to draw out of Adam: Faith.
We see Abraham prove, his faith is proven as he obeys God even when he doesn’t quite understand. He reasons, according to Romans, Abraham reasons that God indeed is able to raise his son from the dead, and so he says, “Well, this doesn’t make sense, but I’m gonna go forward in obedience. I’m gonna do what God has called me to do because I know that God is all powerful and he’s gonna fulfill this promise. Raising my son from the dead, that must be the explanation.” He goes forward in faith. So through that test, which, if you’re a parent, imagine yourself being Abraham in Genesis 22, called to sacrifice your son, your only son, your son Isaac, the Is, the son of promise. God drew out and proved Abraham’s faith through that test. And that test accomplished exactly what God intended for it to accomplish: to demonstrate Abraham’s faith.
What God designed for good, this probationary period to test Adam with a view to proving him, with a view to his success and his blessing for all posterity, it’s yet another evidence, in God’s good world, of God’s goodness and God’s wisdom. How wise of a God that we worship and serve. Did Abraham’s failure to pass the test mean God failed? Does a, Adam’s transgression show a weakness in God’s wisdom, some kind of unforeseen error in his plan? Not at all. The image of God in humanity, we just need to understand, was not yet complete in Adam.
As we discover in the progress of revelation, the image of God was perfected and fulfilled and completed in one person, Jesus Christ. That’s the plan. Thus it is written 1 Corinthians 15:45, “The first man, Adam, became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” That’s the plan. God is not working out some kind of “Plan B” because of an unforeseen failure of Adam in the Fall. This is still “Plan A.” To glorify God in the image of God in Jesus Christ. That’s the plan. But that’s another sermon for another time.
So God is good. Just get the point here. God is good to set up a test for Adam. He is good to establish a probationary period, test the head of humanity. If there is any weakness found in Adam, we need to know about that up front, don’t we? And there was a weakness. And that has shown us our need for Jesus Christ, who is the last Adam. But the devil, the devil is the morally responsible agent of temptation. And we see in Genesis Chapter 3, here he is, making his entrance, slithering onto the pages of Scripture. Genesis chapter 3.
And a second point, number two: “Temptation.” Marriage was subjected to temptation. Let’s start by reading Genesis, big portion of Genesis Chapter 3. ￼Says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field,” and s, the, the language here, it’s talking about this particular serpent, understanding that there is a, there is a, another personality behind this particular serpent. OK, so not j, just, that serpents are like that, it’s, it really is that this particular serpent, “more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
“And he said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden. But God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that’s in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ And then the Lord said to the woman, ‘What is this you’ve done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
We’ll stop there. Such a fascinating account with massive implications for all of us, individually, corporately, whether married or not. For the sake of time, I’m gonna resist of, going into all the theological detail that’s there. We really don’t, it’s just a, it’s just a massive, massively important chapter, but we’ll just keep focused on the implications for the marital relationship. But the pattern we see in this first transgression, this really does shape the paradigm for all temptation. Any sin that you commit, any sin is, the pattern of fall into temptation and sin is here. It’s so important, if you’re gonna understand how to repent of sin, how to work out repentance, and go from sin to righteousness, and put on righteousness, you’ve gotta understand Genesis chapter 3.
James, the brother of the Lord, identifies the paradigm in James 1:14-15. He says, “Each person is tempted when he is lured,” like with a lure, like a fishing lure. “He’s lured away. He’s enticed by his own desire. And desire, when it’s conceived, gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.” Where’d James come up with that? He was reflecting on Genesis Chapter 3. Which is what we’re gonna do.
We’re aided by James’ fishing metaphor. They were “lured away and enticed.” That’s where sin starts. So crucial to understand. I’m gonna give you 4 points here. Four points. Number one: We see that Satan started by baiting Eve. Verse 2, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”’” OK, is that what God said? Is that how he said it? At first glance, this may seem, from the serpent, like an innocent question. He’s just trying to satisfy a curiosity here, right? No way, that’s not, he’s not just trying to satisfy curiosity, he’s not after information. He’s devious. This is deceptive in the extreme. The question, he comes into the question highlighting a prohibition without the permission.
Whenever you represent somebody falsely that way, and you emphasize one thing and you leave out the other, you’re lying. That’s deceptive, don’t do that. That’s what, that’s what the serpent has done. Be fair. He’s not being fair at all. He highlights the prohibition of Genesis 2:17, and he has no mention of the broad permission that God gave in Genesis 2:16. The devil is portraying God here as a stingy miser. He’s not portraying God a, who, as, as he actually is: as a benevolent, kind Creator who gives all things to enjoy.
What this is, is a not-so-subtle invitation for Eve to join in his insurrection against God. He baits her here with a question. He puts a juicy insinuation on the hook. See if she’ll nibble at it. He starts with this sneaky, sinister question. The devil is testing, here, the strength of Eve’s loyalty to God. We gotta ask here, why did the serpent choose Eve and not Adam? He had a choice between the two. He coulda gone for either individual human being, right? So why Eve? Paul makes the point in 1 Timothy Chapter 2, when prohibiting women from exercising elder functions in the church, “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise of authority over a man. Rather, she is to remain quiet.” And then it says this, which we’ve already covered, “For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
Paul, in prohibiting women from exercising elder functions in the church, he doesn’t talk about anything culturally. He’s not talking about his own opinion. He goes right back past all cultures, and all times, and all generations, and he goes right back to what happened in the garden. Before there were ever any societies, before there were ever a, any other people, any children born, he goes right back to the garden. And what he says here is, God designed Adam to lead. He equipped Adam to lead. He trained and taught Adam to lead, to teach. God designed Eve for Adam, to help him, to provide him counsel, to help him exercise dominion. She has a different nature to Adam’s. She is perfectly suited by her design for her role. She’s equal to Adam in intelligence and understanding, but different than him. There’s a creational design difference between the two of them. And Paul is drawing it, our attention to that.
Adam was created first, which means he received the commands, both the permission and the pro, and the prohibition, Genesis 2:16-17, he received those directly from God before Eve was ever on the scene. Eve was not there to hear that from God. She heard everything from Adam secondhand. Which means that Eve, she’s in a position to trust Adam, to rely on a fellow creature for the knowledge of God. She’s in here, a, if you’ve gotta compare the two, she’s in a more vulnerable position in relation to Adam. She’s more susceptible, in the serpent’s mind, s, more susceptible to being deceived.
Like another creature, he’s there to bring other-worldly counsel to her, mysterious things that she has not been told. He wants to offer those things to her. These are things even her husband hasn’t told her. She hasn’t heard them before, so, Satan goes after Eve, not Adam. It’s never been a matter of superiority and inferiority between man and woman. Men and women, both created in God’s image, therefore equal. This is about nature and design. It’s about role and function. The woman has a vulnerability that’s unique to her nature, that’s particular to her role as Adam’s ￼helpmeet. And that’s why Satan, choosing between the two, he went for her and not for him.
She’s enticed by the offer of being like God, having Godlike knowledge, realizing her full potential.”Travis Allen
We see next, number two: “Eve took the bait.” She took the bait. She entertained this false view of God that Satan offered. Verses 2-3, the woman enters into dialogue with Satan. She wants to be conversant with this, this deceptive serpent. She says to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that’s in the midst of the garden.’” Interesting, she doesn’t call it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” She doesn’t draw attention to that. “The tree that’s in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
We know that she took the bait. First, we know that because she didn’t immediately rebuke the serpent for misrepresenting God in his question. She didn’t shut him down and say, “How dare you insinuate that God is withholding anything from us? How dare you misrepresent his question? Here’s what he actually said,” and then just quote verses 16-17. Why didn’t she do that? She’s taking the bait.
She didn’t, secondly, she didn’t immediately defend God’s character. She didn’t preach to this serpent, this erring serpent, the Gospel of God’s goodness. The devil had succeeded here in insinuating his own judgment into her mind, that God is not good, that he is suspect. He is restrictive. That’s revealed in a third piece of evidence that she’d taken the bait: notice she added to God’s Word. She subtracted from God’s word by not declaring the name of ￼the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She pulled that back, and she added to God’s Word. Her first, her addition, “Don’t touch it,” paints God in even a harsher light, casts char, casts doubt on his character, makes him sound even more stingy, reluctant to give, severe in his restriction.
Fourth evidence she’d taken the bait: She softened the penalty. What God actually said was, “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Mut tamut. Emphatic, “Dying, you will die.” There’s no mistake on that point, but Eve represents God as saying, “Don’t eat or touch lest you die,” as if death is only a theoretical possibility. She’s already doubting, already wondering if there might be an alternative outcome. And Satan is there, ready to provide it.
We said, number one, that Satan started by baiting Eve. Number two, Eve took the bait, and number three, we see that Satan set the hook deep within. Verses 4-5, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of that fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Notice, there are no gates on her heart at this point, no barriers of resistance, so Satan here sees no need for caution. He feels complete freedom to tell a bald-faced lie about God, because she has shown she’s inclined to believe it.
Eve has all but defected already. She’s just waiting for a reasonable justification, and Satan seals her defection with his own “gospel” invitation, his own “good news” that he preaches to her. It’s not God’s good news, it’s his. We notice in verse 1 that Satan approached, taking the role of an innocent, naive creature. He’s just asking a question. He’s just wanting to understand God’s ways. That’s what it sounds like. Now he drops the mask altogether, and he takes the role of an informed insider. He’s the spiritual guide now, and he pulls back the veil to show Eve what’s really going on. “You’re the victim of a divine conspiracy. That’s what’s going on here. Let me, let me pull you in here, take you behind the veil and show you, it’s just a guy pulling levers back there. God’s holding out on you. You can be like God, did you know that?”
She’s enticed by the offer of being like God, having Godlike knowledge, realizing her full potential. And make no mistake, in the white spaces of verse five and six, Adam is there to join in the conspiracy. He hasn’t been there for the conversation, I believe, but he’s there to join in the conspiracy as she explains all this to him. Satan’s there to offer them freedom. To give them liberation from a dependency on God. “You don’t need to be dependent on him. Why would you be dependent on him? He’s holding back on you. Be free, independent thinkers. Be autonomous actors. Be the captain of your own soul.”
Adam and Eve didn’t know it, but they were taking the same path that Satan chose for himself, Isaiah 14 verses 13-14. What Satan desired, what led to his fall, is exactly what he tried to offer it to Adam and Eve: The ability to see and define and determine for themselves what it is that constitutes good and evil. For them to choose independently of God, and “choose your own adventure.”
Herman Bavinck says this, he says, “The knowledge of good and evil is the ability to stand on one’s own feet and to find one’s own way. The desire of humans to emancipate themselves f, from God by cultivating that ability. By violating the command of God and eating of the tree, they would make themselves like God in the sense that they would position themselves outside and above the law. And, like God, determine and judge for themselves what good and evil was.” End Quote.
Hopefully as you hear some of this, you’re making some comparisons, analogies to what’s going on in our world today. You need to understand that this is really what is at the heart of the LGBTQ+ movement. Not only in determining how sex can be used, but in determining what male and female means, what marriage means, what marriage is, what being human is. They’ve pulled out all the stops, and they just want to write their own dictionary. Come up with all their own definitions. Write their own laws. That’s what LGBTQ+ represents, is that whole idea gone to seed.
But listen, let’s be honest, this is the issue in every single fallen human heart. “Choose your own adventure.” We’re all caught up in this. This is the issue in our marriages. This is the issue in our families as well. People want to determine for themselves, apart from God’s Word, what good and evil is for themselves. You hear it a lot today. “My truth, your truth, her truth, his truth. They, they’s truth,” whatever the pronoun is. They want to determine for themselves what it means to be a husband, what his role can be. They say, “Weh, it doesn’t work for my marriage. In our marriage, we kinda do it this way. That works for us.” They want to determine what it means to be a wife, what her role can be. “Well, she’s the better leader. She makes better decisions, and I just coast in front of the TV, drink in my hand, chips. She’s doing a great job. Look at her go. You go girl.”
In our world, it is like that, isn’t it? Everything’s up for grabs, as if God has not spoken, as if he hasn’t written a book for us to read and to study. Beloved we, by his grace we get to break the cycle. Look at your Bibles. Read your Bibles, submit to God’s instructions, do it his way.
So the forbidden tree is a test, whether mankind would depend on God, live in submission to him, or try to live independently on their own. Here’s Bavinck again, he says, “The issue in Genesis is whether humanity will want to develop in, in dependence on God. Whether it will want to have dominion over the Earth and seek its salvation in submission to God’s commandment; or whether in violating that commandment and withdrawing from God’s authority and law, it will want to stand on its own two feet, go its own way and try its own ￼luck…. Humanity voluntarily and deliberately opted for its own way, thereby failing the test.”
Eve took the bait. Unbelief had already entered her heart before one bite was taken on that fruit. And Satan, once he spots unbelief, “like attracts like,” once he spots that, he pounces on the opportunity. He set that hook deep in verses 4-5, and then in verse 6 the inevitable happened. That train’s already left the station, its way down the track, there’s a bridge out, and it’s going over the bridge down into the canyon.
Number four: “Eve swallowed the lie.” Eve swallowed the lie. Hook, line and sinker, swallowed it, she sinned, and she led Adam into sin as well. It would appear that by verse 6 there’s a passage of time. Eve has been thinking and pondering and kinda flirting with the temptation. She’s toying with the idea of independence. The temptation to eat has become overpowering for her. But verse 6 tells us something else. Whereas Eve was alone with the serpent in the ver, in, in the first five verses, now we see Adam is with her. The serpent is, it would seem, he’s gone. Perhaps he’s lurking close by, watching from the shadows. But Adam and Eve are there together.
And it implies here that what first tempted Eve is now what tempts Adam. He’s caught up in the same desire. He’s not innocent here. Look at verse 6. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it’s a delight to the eyes, the tree’s desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband who’s with her, he ate.” Quick implication for marriage: Who’s leading here? Who’s following? Who is doing the active thinking in the marriage? And who’s the passive one? Who’s the reactive one? Who should be leading and teaching and protecting?
Notice how her reason has been corrupted here. As unbelief enters into her thinking, man, her, her mind is clouded. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food,” what, are you kidding me? God said, “In the day you eat of it, you shall surely die,” so this tree is clearly not good for food. It’s bad. It’s gonna kill you. This is what it looks like when we go it alone. This is what it looks like when we go our own way and depart from God’s Word. Independent thinking, reasoning apart from God’s Word, is absolute folly, and it leads to certain death.
“When the woman saw the tree was” what? “a delight to the eyes.” Again, how does “pretty” factor into this, making a life and death decision? Shows us what reasoning apart from the truth looks like, where it leads. When aesthetics drives our decision making; when what looks good, feels good, determines right and wrong, and good and evil, sensuality replaces faith. Feelings trump truth. The triumph of feelings and the aesthetic: “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life,” this is the world we live in, isn’t it? The draw’s in every single human heart, isn’t it?
Finally, “When the woman saw the tree was,” what? “desired to make one wise,” who words, whose words are those? Whose words has she been kinda cooking on, pondering, stewing in? Satan has her on the hook. She’s been “lured, enticed by her own desire, that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin is bringing forth death.” Death didn’t come to Eve alone, but after “she took of its fruit, ate, she also gave some to her husband, who’s with her, he ate.” So Satan got to Adam by getting to Eve. Eve became the leader, Adam followed. Adam failed to lead his wife, failed to correct, failed to lead her, failed to teach her. It’s a role reversal that has devastating consequences.
We see this in marriages all the time, don’t we? We see it in our own marriages. We see it in other people’s marriages as well. Again, the reasoning of verse 6, Adam shared that same reasoning. He entered into the same temptation, the path of temptation, enticing, drawing in. That’s the same for both of ‘em.
If it feels like I’m picking on the woman here, b, you just need to understand, no, I’m not. I’m not saying this is all Eve’s fault. I’m not saying that. Adam already tried to do that, didn’t he? He tried to blame his wife for his own transgression, verse 12. God’s not buying that. Neither should we. Yes, 1 Timothy 2:14, Eve “became a transgressor,” but the blame for sin “entering into the world, and death through sin,” that is on Adam, Romans 5:12. Adam is the responsible party. His sin has the greater consequence because of his role, because of his place as, as the head of humanity, his leadership responsibility. Also because he sinned directly against the God who directly spoke it to him. Plenty of blame to go around here.
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Neither men nor women come out of this smelling like roses. Neither of them are unscathed. They’re both guilty. We see that in the next point, Number three: “Frustration.” Frustration. What frustration? Marri, marriage is subjected to frustration. So marriage is subjected first to probation, then to temptation, and now to frustration. What’s the frustration? It’s the frustration and futility that comes because sin came into the world, because of sin’s effect on the mind, sin’s effect on the reasoning. That’s the frustration that enters, and “death through sin.”
Everything ends in futility and death, everything dies. You can build, build, build empires and kingdoms and everything else, but what happens after you die? Someone else takes, takes it over and ruins it, right? First Corinthians 15:22, “In Adam all die.” Why? Because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The frustration that comes to humanity in general, the frustration that comes to individual men and women, and married men and married women, this frustration is due to sin, the futility that’s caused by sin. We all, don’t we, feel like our efforts are undermined and our, our endeavors are thwarted, and all of our reasoning is weakened, and our en, energies are short, and all of that.
Ask any older, wiser couple, skin wrinkling and hair graying and all the rest, and they’re gonna try, that older, wiser couple is gonna try to pass on to a younger couple their wisdom about marriage, about how to do this well, how to come to the end with a joyful marriage like they have. They’ll say, “My young friend, don’t fight with your husband. Don’t fight with your wife. Cherish one another. Enjoy your days. Oh, beloved parent, don’t micromanage your children. Go easy on that firstborn. I know it’s your first kid and you want to do everything right, but you’re not gonna do everything right. Don’t worry about it. Love them, teach them, do your duty as a parent, but the results will come out OK. Just trust the Lord, enjoy your children, enjoy your marriage. Cherish one another.”
They’re saying that because it took ‘em a very long time to learn that. Now that they’ve learned, and enjoying their marriage, finally, there’s so little energy, so little time left. They’re like, “I’m soaking this up now, but oh, could I please get someone to listen to me?” And that young couple looks at ‘em with those starry eyes and says, “Yeah. That’s what I want to do, exactly.” And they turn around and have a fight with their wife.
Alas, the futility of this fallen world, it’s etched into the heart, isn’t it? Youth is wasted on the young. They must learn their own mistakes, commit their own sins, learn their own lessons for themselves. Listen, it’s not the fault of marriage. Don’t blame the institution of marriage for marital woes. The institution of marriage continues to do its job. It is a durable, formative institution that forms, shapes individuals, but individuals who take part in that institution, us, as well as everyone who refrains from taking part in this institution, we’re subject to the frustration and futility of sin, and “sin leading to death.”
Again, John Murray says, “Spiritually, our first parents became dead in the day that they sinned. Their sin constituted this death. They estranged themselves from God, and their mind became enmity against God.” That’s what we read in Romans chapter 8, beginning of Romans 8. Death, this spiritual separation from God, also a physical separation, was a disintegration of body and spirit in humanity. Death is the very disruption of our being. The disintegration of our being. It starts all in the mind, in the thinking. Look at verses 7-13, and we’re gonna see in, portrayed in Scripture, exactly what Murray explained theologically. This is what happened the day that Adam and Eve died. This is the evidence of the death that’s in them. It’s the result of sin. It’s the reality that lee, we live with.
Number one, in verse 7, number one, where there had been confidence in their purity, now there is a self-awareness of shame. It says, “The eyes of both of them were open. They knew that they were naked.” Hadn’t been a problem before. Now, though, in a state of guilt, they are self-conscious and ashamed. Verse 7, Number two, verse 7 where there was a rest in God’s goodness, and depending on God’s grace, now there is self-dependence. There’s a futile attempt to cover their own shame. They sewed fig leaves together, made themselves loincloths. It’s a picture of self-atonement, isn’t it? Self-covering, providing their own plant-based coverings. Worthless.
Number three, in verse eight, they had unity with one another, deep spiritual communion with God, but that’s replaced now with hiding, with covering up. Their shame is an evidence of their guilt. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” The loss of spiritual communion with God means their theology is gone. Their theology is confused. Not only do they think that they can hide successfully from an omniscient, omnipresent God, worse, they think that that’s a good idea. Hiding from God is not a good idea. It only exacerbates the problem. Coming into the light and confessing and repenting, once sin has been committed, that’s the only good idea.
Number four, in verses 9-13, they refused to take personal responsibility for sins. They engage in blame-shifting, another form of hiding from God and from one another. “The Lord God called the man, said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you walking in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked. I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you you’re naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I’ve told you not to eat, I’ve commanded you not to eat of it?’ The man said, ‘Well, the woman you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.’” “It’s her fault,” which is what? It’s an accusation against God. God is the one who designed, fashioned her, blessed him with her, and now he’s gonna blame God? “The Lord God said to the woman, ‘What’s this you’ve done?’ The woman said, “Serpent. He deceived me, I ate.’”
Look, all those elements, right, all those elements are present realities and struggles in our marriage today. The sense of guilt and fear and shame and hiding. Hiding by blame-shifting, by counter-accusation, by denying, by shading the truth and trying to get our own way. All that is happening. Refusing to take personal responsibility, refusing to draw near to God for help. Refusing to confess our sin. The day we disobeyed, death set in profoundly, thoroughly. Murray says, “There entered a new dispositional complex of desires, impulses, affections, motives and purposes.” A fallen disposition with a proclivity toward more sin, toward more death.
What of the institution of marriage? What happens to that durable, formative institution? Well, it continues to give shape to the individuals who take part in it. Again, nothing wrong with the institution. Marriage is doing exactly what God designed it to do. To, don’t get it in your head that marriage has been corrupted by systemic injustice. It’s not a tool of oppression, it’s not where the oppressor, that bad man, oppresses that victim, that wife. Can be, some of victimization and victimizing, and can be oppressive and oppressor, but that’s not the institution’s fault.
“The day we disobeyed, death set in profoundly, thoroughly.”Travis Allen
Sinners may try to do away with marriage, redefine it, redesign it, but marriage will continue. It will continue to the very end. “When the Son of Man comes, it’ll be like the days of Noah, people marrying and giving in marriage.” It’s gonna happen all the way to the end. Marriage is gonna continue until God brings this present order to a close. That’s promised, isn’t it? At the end of Genesis chapter 2, look at Chapter 2, verses 23-24. Adam said, rejoicing, “This is, at last, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called ‘woman,’ because she’s taken out of a man.” He is thrilled, he is rejoicing. He’s not blaming God for bringing an imperfect creature into his life. Loves her, he loves God. He sees the goodness, the wisdom, the design.
it says, verse 24, probably an insert, (This is probably Moses writing this and revealed by God), “Therefore,” because of this joy and rejoicing in this creature, “therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” They’ll be molded together, ‘welded together’ is the word there. They shall join together. The institution of marriage continues to be this attractive, irresistible blessing that God designed and created it to be, even in a fallen world, fallen men, fallen women want to marry each other, still. Whether coming from homes that are broken or whole, whether coming from homes that are corrosive or constructive, affirming or abusive, loving or hating, men and women still want to marry each other.
But when sinners say, “I do,” they bring themselves and the habit patterns of their fallen nature into the marriage with them. It’s not the marriage’s fault, it’s not the institution’s fault. It’s their sin. And that’s what we’re gonna start to see next time: that marriage, in the context of redemption, it has the power to remediate. It has the power to remedy, to train us, and to do its job to shape and mold, and shape us for redemption. That’s for next time. Let’s pray.
Our Father, we thank you so much for your goodness and wisdom, shown in the, in the institution of marriage. How you designed us, how you designed that institution. And it is doing its job, even now, in a fallen world. Like all of creation, it is subject to futility, because you subjected it, in order that you might bring in our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the image of the invisible God. We love him and we love you because of him.
You’ve shown us your truth. You’ve revealed your fatherhood to us, and we couldn’t be more happy to belong to you. Thank you for your love for us, and your love for us even in a fallen world, where your heart is filled with compassion for fallen sinners, and you save the sons of Adam in Christ. We love you and thank you for that. And as we go into the Lord’s table, we ask that our hearts would be filled with joy and desire for worshiping Christ, and appreciating all that he’s done for us in the Cross. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.