“Knowledge of Good and Evil”
Lesson Text:Genesis 3:8-17, 22-23
Background Scripture: Genesis 3:1-24
Devotional Reading: Deuteronomy 30:11-20
Genesis 3:8-17, 22-23 (KJV)
8And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
21Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
23Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
To describe the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve.
To acknowledge that sin disrupts our relationship with God.
To confess our trespasses and trust God to give us the ability to turn away from our iniquity.
Surviving the Fall
May 30, 2011, was an unusually hot Memorial Day in the Bronx section of New York City. From the fifth floor of an apartment, 14-month-old Xania Angel Samuels tumbled out of an open window to the ground below. She survived the plunge and was rushed to the hospital with head trauma. Xania had been wearing her favorite pink winter coat when she fell, and the heavy coat—which she insisted on wearing on what was the hottest day of the year to that point—probably cushioned the impact and saved her life.
Today’s lesson text from Genesis 3 includes the consequences of what is often termed “the fall” of Adam and Eve, caused by their disobedience to God. Clothing did not protect them from those consequences, but clothing was provided as a part of God's care for them after their fall. Today’s text will also show how God looked ahead and foretold a special plan to “cover” all of humanity and shield it from the effects of the fall by administering His own “head trauma” to the serpent.
Time:The dawn of human history
Place:Garden of Eden
Last week we studied God’s creation of woman as an appropriate helper for man. A situation that God had previously called "not good" was then made good and complete. But the happy ending of chapter 2 is quickly countered by the opening of chapter 3. The first three words are ominous: “Now the serpent ...”
Nowhere does the record in Genesis associate the serpent with Satan (the devil). But we know from other Scriptures that the serpent is the instrument of Satan to carry out his hideous designs against the man and the woman, to ruin the perfection that God the Creator established in Eden (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9).
The serpent’s first words were intended to cast doubt on the authority of God's word: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1). In a blatant denial of the Creator’s established consequences for disobedience, the serpent brazenly assured the woman, “Ye shall not surely die” (v. 4). Such a lie is in keeping with the devil's tactics (John 8:44). Tragically, the woman fell into the devil's trap as did the man (Genesis 3:6).
Thus far our consideration of “First Days” in this unit of studies has been positive. It now takes a tragic turn in the opposite direction as we see unfolding before us the chaos that the first sin brings upon the human race and, indeed, all creation. Genesis 3:7 tells us that after the man and the woman had eaten from the forbidden tree, “The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Thus the consequences of sin are apparent even before the Lord confronts the guilty parties. The innocence and lack of shame that had characterized the man and woman’s relationship (2:25) were gone, and they covered themselves with garments made of fig leaves (3:7). Then they had to face the one whose command they had disobeyed.
The Advent of Sin (Genesis 3:8-13)
The Lords’ Presence (v. 8)
1. What changed about Adam and Eve’s meetings with God? (Genesis 3:8)
Prior to their moral and spiritual fall, Adam and Eve most likely looked forward to their meetings with God. But the advent of sin changed all that. The Creator, of course, is aware of everything (c.f. Ps. 33:13-15; 139:1-16; 147:5; Prov. 15:3; Jer. 16:17; Heb. 4:13). In this case, He knew immediately when the couple had eaten the forbidden fruit. It was the “cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8) when the pair heard the Lord “walking in the garden.”
It may seem odd that God is described as walking in the garden, since “God is a spirit” (John 4:24). The language is most likely a way of portraying the closeness that has characterized the relationship between God and the two humans to this point. One may assume that Adam and Eve’s “walk” up to now has pleased God, and they have welcomed the opportunity to walk with Him whenever He comes into the garden. That situation is about to change.
As we now see in Genesis 3:8b, Adam and his wife no longer welcome the sound of God's approach. The trees of the garden that have been given to them for their pleasure and enjoyment (Genesis 2:16) are now used as a shield to hide behind. The two are trying to avoid having to face the Lord.
What Do You Think?
What are some ways that people “hide” today? How can we grow spiritually from such experiences?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Hiding behaviors | Hiding feelings | Hiding motives | Other
The Lord’s Questions (vs. 9-13)
2. What was God seeking to do in questioning Adam and Eve? (Genesis 3:9-10)
When Adam and Eve sensed the Creator’s proximity, their response was the opposite of what He wants His spiritual children to do, namely, to hear and heed Him (see Deut. 6:3). While the first human pair might try to hide from God’s holy presence, they could not escape the accountability He required for their disobedience. Due to the Lord’s love for and commitment to them, He had to find and discipline the first sinners. Even though God already knew where the husband and his wife were, it was for their benefit that He summoned them. Specifically, the Lord gave them an opportunity to voluntarily confess their sin.
The process began with the Creator rhetorically asking where Adam might be (Gen. 3:9). God already knows where Adam is, of course. God asks “Where art thou?” because Adam needs to know that God desires a word with him.
Adam’s response was “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (v. 10).
Adam’s admission of being afraid signals the end of the closeness that has characterized the relationship that he and Eve have enjoyed between themselves and God to this point. The nakedness that had produced no shame previously (Gen. 2:25) is now a source of shame.
3. Why did God ask follow-up questions of Adam after he had admitted his realization of nakedness? (Genesis 3:11-12)
The Lord, with full knowledge of what had happened, asked the man how he had become self-conscious of his nakedness and whether he had eaten the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:11). In this exchange, God was extending to Adam a chance to own up to his transgression, as well as to ask for divine mercy and forgiveness. Regrettably, the man chose to make flimsy excuses.
In particular, Adam blamed his wife for his own willful act of defiance—the very person whom he had earlier described ecstatically as “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23)! Now it appears that he wants nothing to do with her. Adam even suggests that some blame be placed upon the Lord since Eve is the woman whom “thou gavest to be with me.” Perhaps Adam is implying that being "alone" would not have been such a bad thing after all, in contrast with what the Lord had stated (2:18).
Adam is correct when he says she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. That is indeed what happened according to Genesis 3:6. But for Adam to create a scenario that absolves him of all guilt and responsibility is a consequence of the fall that humans continue to practice and perfect. We call it “blame-shifting.”
4. How did Eve respond to God’s question? (Genesis 3:13)
Next, the Lord gave Eve a chance to acknowledge her sin by asking why she had given her husband the forbidden fruit to eat. The woman responded by trying to point the finger at the serpent, whom Eve claimed had tricked her (v. 13).
Eve admits more of the truth than Adam does. Her statement “the serpent beguiled me” may reveal some blame-shifting on her part, but the key word “beguiled” indicates that she knows that a deception has occurred. The serpent is the source of the deception. The bliss and delight that he implied would belong to the man and the woman are nowhere to be found.
Second Corinthians 11:3 makes it clear that Satan’s target was Eve's mind and that his weapon was deception. By questioning what God said, Satan raised doubts in Eve’s mind concerning the truthfulness of God's Word and the goodness of God's heart (Genesis 3:1,4,5).
For the Serpent (vs. 14-15)
5. What curse did God pronounce on the serpent? What did he represent (Genesis 3:14-15)
Regarding the serpent, Genesis 3:1 states that before the Fall, this creature was the most cunning and devious living being in the entire animal kingdom. Since the serpent has been the instrument of deception, God addresses him first in judgment. God’s pronouncement of a curse on the serpent above all cattle, and above every beast of the field seems to say that all other creatures will suffer negative effects as a result of sin's entrance into the world (see Romans 8:22, 23), but the serpent will be punished more severely than they.
The serpent would experience the humiliation of slithering on the ground and being forced to ingest dirt as it moved along (v. 14). Jewish teachers have traditionally interpreted this verse to mean that previously snakes had legs. But the curse may simply mean that the serpent’s mode of travel, along with its closeness to “dust,” would now symbolize Satan’s moral lowness and metaphysical ignominy (see Ps. 44:25; 72:9; Isa. 49:23; 65:25; Mic. 7:17).
Because the snake tricked the woman, God would allow a perpetual state of hostility to exist between the serpent and the woman (Gen. 3:15). However, the enmity, or hostility, mentioned in this verse, especially toward the end, points to a deeper spiritual hostility that understands the seed of the serpent to be linked with Satan and all who carry out his evil intentions (compare John 8:44). Satan’s continuing desire is to ruin lives by deceit (just as he ruined Eve’s), thereby thwarting God's righteous purposes toward those created in His image (compare Revelation 12:9).
In time, however, one seed (descendant) of the woman fulfills God’s purpose by dealing Satan a death blow. This is pictured here as striking the enemy’s head. Jesus does this by means of His death on the cross (Hebrews 2:14, 15; compare 1 John 3:8). That Satan is to bruise his heel indicates that Satan inflicts a measure of suffering on the Son of God, but this in no way causes the kind of damage that Jesus inflicts on Satan.
What Do You Think?
How should the fact that Christ crushes Satan affect how we approach our spiritual battles?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Regarding God’s task (Zechariah 4:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13)
Regarding our task (Ephesians 4:26, 27; 1 Peter 5:8, 9; James 4:7)
For the Woman (v. 16)
6. What difficulties would Eve face from then on? (Genesis 3:16)
God turns His attention to the woman. Childbearing was to occur as a part of God’s plan prior to the fall (Genesis 1:28), but now the process of multiplying through childbearing will be accompanied by a multiplying of sorrow, referring primarily to the pain involved in giving birth.
Some suggest that a part of this sorrow includes the understanding that any child will enter a world greatly tainted by sin. Who can foresee what aspects of the curse of sin lie ahead for a newborn baby as he or she matures? Despite a parent’s best intentions, a child will experience the sorrows of life in a fallen world—and for some that sorrow will be especially tragic.
Another consequence for the woman is stated, one that affects the relationship between husband and wife: “and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” This has been interpreted in various ways. However, it seems best to view this statement as a description of the tension, in the sense of a power struggle, that will characterize the relationship between a husband and a wife as a result of the fall. The harmony and unity that was so eloquently expressed by Adam when the Lord brought the woman to him (Genesis 2:23) will now be a struggle to maintain.
No man should interpret the language of this verse as a license to mistreat his wife. He must honor God in the way he treats his spouse, a principle discussed by Paul, who uses Christ's love for the church as a model (Ephesians 5:25).
For the Man (v. 17)
7. How did the divine curse affect Adam? (Genesis 3:17)
Now addressing the man, God makes Adam’s blame clear: “he hast hearkened unto the voice of [his] wife” rather than to God's voice. Then the man's punishment is pronounced: cursed is the ground for thy sake. Like the woman, the man will experience his own version of sorrow; it will come in his efforts to bring forth food from the ground. God had placed the man in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). This task was intended to be a source of satisfaction as the man worked in harmony with his Creator. Now, however, such work will be much more of a drudgery or toil.
Thus the important tasks given for the man and the woman will still be done: children will to be born and crops will be harvested. But the struggle to carry out these duties will always be a reminder of the high price of disobeying God.
Caring for the Couple (vs. 21-22)
8. What did God do with Adam and Eve after their discipline? (Genesis 3:21)
Following the devastating announcements of discipline, God proceeds to demonstrate an act of grace: He makes coats of skins for the couple. The two have already made coverings of fig leaves for themselves (Genesis 3:7). However, God removes their flimsy man-made garments and clothe them with acceptable garments that He Himself provided (Isa. 61:10). Innocent animals had to die so that the man and woman might have a new beginning and be back in fellowship with the Lord. It's a picture of what Jesus did for sinners on the cross when He died for a sinful world (2 Cor. 5:21).
The immediate message to Adam and Eve is what should not be overlooked: the God who has just disciplined them still cares deeply for them.
What Do You Think?
When was a time that God provided for you in the midst of a problem of your own making? How did Hebrews 12:5-11 apply to that situation?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Alienating a family member | Incurring too much debt | Behaving dishonestly | Other
Clothing from God
Corporal punishment, time-outs, loss of privileges. Discipline of children can be a controversial topic. Experts seem to agree that the one thing children need when receiving discipline is reassurance of the parent’s love. I’ve seen it dozens of times with children barely old enough to walk: when reprimanded, they rush to the parent's arms. They do so to be reassured that they have not lost the loving relationship with their parent.
The first sin shattered the blissful harmony between God and humans. The consequences pronounced on the first man and woman were surely difficult. What kept the consequences from being unbearable for those two was what God did next. God reassured them of His continuing love by providing them appropriate covering.
God is still busy loving His rebellious children. He sees us attempting to clothe our sin through our own efforts, attempts that end up being only “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In response, He sends Jesus, who covers our sin with “the robe of righteousness”(61:10). There is probably no better statement of God's love than John 3:16.—V. E.
9. Why did God evict Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden? (Genesis 3:23)
God gives the reason for their eviction—so that they, in their fallen condition, will not eat of the tree of life and live forever. This is an act of grace. If Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life, they would live forever on earth as sinners, and their future would be bleak. They must one day die because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, the Lord banished the couple from the garden; in fact, Genesis 3:24 says that He “drove” them out. (See 4:14 and 21:10.)
God’s love for sinners in no way eliminates His holy hatred for sin, for while it’s true that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), it’s also true that “God is light” (1:5). A holy God must deal with sin, for the good of the sinner and for the glory of His name.
God now put angelic guards at the entrance of the Garden to make sure Adam and Eve didn’t try to reenter (Genesis 3:24). The way to “the tree of life” would one day be opened by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross (John 14:6; Heb. 10:1-25; Rev. 2:7; 22:1-2, 14, 19).
POINTS TO PONDER
Choices and Consequences
The account recorded in Genesis 3 of Adam and Eve reads like a missed opportunity. Imagine how different life would have been had Eve refused to listen to the serpent. Also, consider how much better our world might be today had Adam decided to heed God’s prohibition.
Perhaps there are times when your old friends get together and talk about something they wished they had done in previous years, but did not. “I wish I had invested in Apple’s stock 15 years ago before it skyrocketed in value” or “I wish I had finished that degree before the bottom fell out on the job market.” Life seems cluttered with these sorts of missed opportunities.
Yet, like the first human couple, “We cannot go back in time and cancel a poor decision we made. We have to live with the consequences of our choices. Even then, not all is lost. We have an opportunity right now to decide to go in a different direction with our lives. It includes trusting in the Lord Jesus for salvation and seeking to follow His will by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Regrettably, Adam and Eve listened to the serpent’s lies, and the resulting sin ended up devastating their relationship with the Creator. The previously mentioned passages of Scripture disclose that sin still clouds our relationship with God. Thankfully, through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus at Calvary and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the opportunity to go beyond our sin. We can do so by confessing our trespasses and trusting in God to give us the ability to turn away from our iniquity. It is then that we experience a renewed, closer relationship with Him.
Father, we live in a time when many freely and proudly boast that they have rejected You. May we who claim to be Your people live lives that will not give them further reason to boast. May our faith in and devotion to You be unmistakably clear. In Jesus' name, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Knowledge without God is ultimately ignorance.