Genesis 3:1-21: Addicted to Sin

Snake, Fruit, and Eve (610x351)We began our 40-day journey to Easter this past Wednesday.  On that night, we heard solemn words from the Prophet Joel, calling all to repent.  Joel said, “Sound the horn in Zion!  Announce a sacred fast and call for a solemn assembly!  Gather the people!  Consecrate the congregation!  Assemble the aged.  Gather the children and even those nursing at the breast” (Joel 2:15).

Joel called for a fast because the people to whom he preached were sinners who needed to repent.  When you read about fasting in the Bible, you will always find fasting linked with repentance.  If I were to call for a fast, my reason would be the same as the Prophet Joel’s.  For every last member of Shepherd of the Hills is a sinner who needs to repent–that is, to turn away from his sin toward God.  No exceptions exist, not even the pastor in this pulpit.

But back in Eden before our Fall into sin, there was no fasting.  God had put Adam and Eve in a garden filled with such plenty that if they had not sinned, they would have never wanted for food.  Plenty would have been the norm.  Humanity would have never experienced hunger.  Hunger resulted because of our Fall into sin.

That’s why Scripture links fasting to repentance.  It reminds us of our sin.  And so it also reminds us of our need to repent.

In Paradise, in Eden, fasting was never needed–that is, until Adam and Eve sinned.  That’s when God imposed fasting on them, for that’s when He expelled them from the Garden’s feast.  For outside Eden, Adam and Eve would only eat by the sweat of the brow as Adam fought with thorns and thistles that turned farming from joy into a hard and painful toil.

Fasting leads to hunger.  And although hunger is a result of our Fall into sin, it still can be a good gift.  For through hunger, God can teach us about our place in the world.  Hunger makes it clear to us that we are not self-sufficient.  We must eat to live.

When our stomachs complain that they’re empty, they remind us that we’re always moving closer to death, not further away from it.  Hunger is a sign of our mortality.  It proclaims the death that waits for us.  It brings to mind that every moment of our life is a gift, and that each moment we experience could be the last.

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree that God had not given them, the feast was finished.  The flesh of that fruit moved Adam and Eve from a feast that would have gone on for eternity to the pangs of hunger and the dust of death.  Before they were cast out of paradise, Adam and Eve had never wanted for anything.  Now they would only eat by the sweat of the brow.

All that we suffer today is part of the painful echo of Adam and Eve’s theft in the Garden of Eden.  But that we inherit sin from Adam does not mean that we can lay all the blame at his feet.  Every day, each of us sins.  And when we sin, we live in rebellion against God and His commands.

It is our sins, not just Adam’s that have sent Jesus to the cross.  It is our sins, not just Adam’s that have filled this world with evil, sickness, and death.  Adam is long dead; his body is buried.  Today, the responsibility for the evil in the world lies at our feet.

We are all addicted to sinning in one way or another.  The siren’s call into sinful rebellion is always unrelenting, only waiting for our moment of weakness.  Meth and marijuana can compare little to sin.  Many of us have never used illegal drugs–but who here is free from sin’s infection?  For this falleness of sin infected us even at the moment of our conception.

Sin has us in its addicting grip because in the Garden of Eden Satan carried out a horrendous reversal.  God had created His angels to do His will.  On the sixth day, God gave Adam authority over all of creation. “All creation” included the holy angels.  God had originally created the angels, with all other living creatures, to serve humanity.

But Satan, one of God’s angels, chafed at this.  As an angel, God had created Satan with much power.  The Old Testament Prophet Isaiah tells us that one angel could kill hundreds of thousands of soldiers in one night.  Satan’s power filled him with much pride.  To Satan, it was utter nonsense that he should serve man.  Satan thought the weaker should serve the stronger.  Satan thought that he should have dominion over Adam.

In Eden, Satan managed to twist and distort what God had intended.  He asked Eve leading questions, which led her to doubt the Word of God that she had received from her husband, Adam.  Satan framed his questions to lead Eve into believing that God was holding out on her.  Satan wanted Eve to think that if she served him, he would be generous where God had been stingy.  Satan wouldn’t hold out on her.  Satan wouldn’t hold anything back.

But we know the story.  Although Satan had hidden a small grain of truth in his words, he was lying.  God was holding out on Adam and Eve–but it wasn’t because He was stingy.  Because of His love and concern for His children, God had held back–He kept from them what might hurt them.  He didn’t give Adam and Eve the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because it wasn’t good for them to have it.  In the flesh of that fruit was death.

Adam and Eve already knew all that they needed to know.  They knew God.  They knew that He loved them and had provided for all their needs.  They knew that they lived in paradise and had no need for anything.  After all, God had already plentifully provided for them. That was enough.

When Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie, they began to believe that God’s wisdom was selfishness.  God was keeping the best for Himself and was forcing Adam and Eve to get by on mere crumbs.

That’s how it is when our sinful nature interprets events.  Our sinful nature sees God in a messed-up way, for our sin cracks and stains how we see Him.  It’s like looking at your reflection in a shattered mirror.  Nothing looks as it is.  Such a fragmented reflection is not much of a true reflection at all.

Some say that God is a giant bully or a cosmic killjoy.  And if that characterization of God were accurate, then they’d have a point.  But God is not a giant bully or a cosmic killjoy.  He wants you to have a joy that undergirds your life.

God is not like the judge we sometimes saw in those old, black-and-white westerns, where the old judge wanted nothing more than to hang the criminal high from the gallows.  Instead, God loves us–even though we sin every day.  He loves us–even though according to the strictest demands of His holy Law, we are blasphemers, adulterers, murders, liars, and thieves.

God doesn’t run us through a sham of a court and hang us high.  Instead, He places all of our sin, which would rightfully earn us eternal wrath and punishment, onto His own Son.  And then He hangs Jesus high.  Although Jesus is the only innocent man ever to live, He alone bears the punishment for all of our sin.

Unbelievers do not suffer eternal suffering because God is upset with them because they haven’t believed in Him.  They suffer because eternal life, joy, and peace only exist in Christ.  They suffer because they have separated themselves from the source of all good in the universe.  They suffer even though Jesus has forgiven every one of their sins on the cross.  All who suffer eternal torment had their sins forgiven by Jesus on the cross.

That is the measure of God’s love for you and me.  Jesus has suffered and died for every sin.  He has forgiven them all by living a perfect life in our place and by taking all of our sin to the cross.  God credits us with Jesus’ righteousness because He has suffered the eternal consequences of our sin.

Satan thought that he had won an unstoppable victory in Eden.  The master served the slave.  Adam and Eve served Satan.  But where Adam and Eve fell, Jesus conquered.  Although Satan tried to persuade Jesus to serve him instead of His Father, Jesus stood without wavering.  Where we have failed, He succeeded.  He fasted for forty days, and even in that weakened condition He conquered Satan for us.

After Satan’s temptation failed, the devil left Jesus and angels went to serve Him.  The angels didn’t serve Jesus because He was God; they served Him because He was man.  They served Him because serving man is what God had created the angels to do.

Jesus has in every way become your substitute.  He has been hung high because His Father loved you.  Jesus has been punished with what you deserved.  But Jesus loves you now, even as He did as He hung from the wood of the cross.

Do not let your sins cause you to despair.  Your Savior is greater than all your sin.  He loves you, and you are forgiven forever.  Amen.