Chaos, Enter Stage Left
Things are not the way they are supposed to be. We all know it. We all feel it. We’ll all admit it. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. We turn on the TV and see images of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. We hear stories of shoddy construction in Bangladesh that led to the collapse of a building where over 1100 people died. We read news reports of business executives embezzling millions upon millions of dollars while the average worker in their company scrapes and scrapes simply to get by. We walk down the hall of a junior high school and see a small 7th grade boy slammed up against a locker by a group of older, tougher 8th grade boys. We fantasize in our mind about what we wish we had quipped back when someone made a derogatory comment at our expense. I could go on and on. You get the point. Things are not the way they are supposed to be. Chaos has entered the story, and it has tragically affected the human condition. And this chaos is called sin.
We are in the second chapter of the Story of God, a chapter called “Chaos.” This is the chapter when tragedy enters the story. Our first parents Adam and Eve walked with God in a beautiful paradise. The paradise was paradise because He was there with them and because they were there with Him fully and completely in unhindered relationship. All of that is decimated in a moment as the splendor of God is consciously exchanging for a lie. The lie that we can do it better than God. The lie that we can rule our lives and this world better than He could. And as the rest of the story reveals, we’ve been duped. So the story tells that “all have fallen short of the glory of God,” and now chaos and death are tragically woven in the fabric of life.
We need to talk about the consequences of the chaos of sin. But have hope because we will turn the corner and see the cure. Read Genesis 3:1-24
Things are not the way they are supposed to be because we have now experienced our first theme…
#1: The Chaos of Sin
Let’s walk through the story and see the in-breaking of sin and chaos into the story. Then let’s talk about the larger implications of the chaos and sin. Our story has 3 scenes:
Scene 1 (vv. 1-7). Satan enters the garden in the form of a serpent to tempt Adam and Eve to distrust and disregard the word of God, and our first parents take the bait and rebel against God by disobeying His command.
The serpent is Satan. At some point in the story, after the creation of angelic beings and likely before the rest of creation begins, there is a war in heaven. Lucifer who was one of the chief angels, suffers from extreme pride and wants to be God. So he stages a cosmic coup with a third of the angels. Revelation, the last book in the Bible, strangely enough gives a picture of what happens at the beginning of the story. Read Revelation 12:7-9.
So Satan, disguised as a serpent, enters the garden, and he tempts Eve by misrepresenting God’s word and command. “Indeed has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” That is not what God said. Read Genesis 2:16-17. Satan in his accusatory question casts doubt on the provision and goodness of God.
So the woman responds and in her response there are three changes to the original command. (1) She minimized God provision by leaving out “freely, (2) she adds “touch it” which was never in the original command, and (3) she weakens the penalty for sin by changing the “you will surely die” to “you will die.”
Next Satan blatantly calls God a liar! And then He casts doubt on the character, goodness, and integrity of God. He makes Eve (and possibly Adam if he’s standing there with her) believe that there was some greater good that God withheld from them. He basically says, “If God really loved you, He’d be much more generous. He’s holding out on you!” The bait is laid out… and the temptation and what will become the essence of sin is this… unfaith. Eve’s choice right now is to trust and have faith in the full love, provision, and goodness of God or she can choose to believe that God is holding out on her or that she can do it better than He can… unfaith.
Every temptation is a question of faith and trust. Will this satisfy me more than God can? Will He vindicate me or do I need to take matters in my own hands? Is He really good and will He do what is best for me? Every temptation is a question of trust. And every sin that results from failing in temptation is an expression of unfaith. When we sin, we rebel from God… His character, His heart, His provision, His grace, His goodness. When we sin, we choose unfaith. We choose to think that something else other than God will satisfy us (we call that idolatry). We choose to take matters into our own hands because we don’t think He’s fully and finally the highest good. Sin at its root is unfaith.
So back in the story, we see that Eve chooses unfaith, the essence of sin. She coveted the fruit. The Hebrew text tells us “delight” is the same word used in the Law for unlawful taking. She took the fruit and gave it to her husband who I believe was standing there right beside her the entire time.
And their eyes were opened… their innocence was gone… their guilt and culpability was exposed… perfect communion with God had now been destroyed… shalom had now been vandalized… in a moment of unfaith… choosing to believe that there was something out there good outside of the gracious and perfect provision of God.
Scene 2 (vv. 8-19). And the story only gets more tragic. Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden in the cool of the afternoon, and they hide from Him. For who knows how long, they had perfect, harmonious, unbroken fellowship with their Creator. We can only contemplate the perfect existence of Adam in the garden from limited Scriptures. Adam had never hidden from God before.
The plot thickens. God knows what has happened, and He calls out to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” (as if God doesn’t know where they are). God finds them and questions Adam. “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (3:11). Watch out!!! Here comes the doozie!!! Adam replies (in his new fig-leaf underwear), “The woman that You gave me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (3:12). Can you believe it? Not only does he blame his wife (who is also hiding in her new fig-leaf underwear), but He also blames God – “the woman that You gave me.” And then Eve blames the serpent. In their pride, Adam and Eve do not take responsibility for their actions. They blame someone else.
The Curse and Consequences of Adam and Eve’s Sin.
The Serpent. God first deals with the instigator of the whole charade – the serpent. He would be humbled forever, slithering on his belly. Basically, “I hope you like dust because you are going to be eating a lot of it” (my paraphrase of Genesis 3:14). Once again, I believe this curse has most to do with Satan… that because of his rebellion from God in the heavens, He would be subjected to humility. But even right in middle of the curse of Satan the serpent, there is a seed of hope. READ Genesis 3:15. We call it the “protoeuangelion” – the first gospel. Ultimately, Satan’s head would be crushed by the seed of the woman, the Incarnate God Jesus Christ.
Eve. The curse for the woman was two-fold: pain in pregnancy and childbirth and conflict with her husband. She would have a desire to have her way with her husband, but in turn, her husband would rule over her.
Adam. Adam would now experience “back-breaking” labor to bring forth crops from the ground. I get the picture that the Garden was this plush green place where Adam and Eve basically had their own produce section in their living room. Now Adam would have to do some heavy labor to feed himself and his family. And there’s one last reminder of the curse in every town–a cemetery.
Scene 3 (vv. 20-24). But the most tragic consequence of the chaos of sin was this… separation from God.
Adam and Eve were now “homeless.” They were evicted from the Garden, and now they were to make their weary way into a freshly tainted world (because of their sin). In a picturesque view of their new life, theologian Robert Pyne writes in Humanity & Sin:
After they had been driven out of the Garden, Adam and Eve found that the only road back was blocked by the flashing sword and the cherubim. They had not hesitated to challenge the authority of God when it took the form of a verbal threat, but the sword would prove more effective than the commandment. Self-interest now told them to stay where they were. That way they could at least stay alive, although life here was certainly different. There would be no more easy cultivation of the fruit trees, as the ground felt hard beneath their feet and their clothes snagged on the wild brush. Better to tear garments than one’s flesh, and neither of them wanted to go naked, but those clothes still felt odd next to their skin. That wasn’t so bad; they would grow used to the clothing. But the loneliness was something different. Standing together to the east of Eden, each felt alone – betrayed by the other, alienated from God, and confused about how it had all come apart so quickly. Neither they nor their descendants would ever be comfortable with that.
The Consequences of Sin. The story was not only tragic for Adam and Eve, but it is tragic for us as well. Adam in his sin represented all of humanity in that moment… he sinned as our representative… and all of humanity is culpable of the vandalism of shalom… breaking peace with our God. Listen to how the Apostle Paul explains it in Romans 5:12. Sin and death spread to all humanity because in Adam we all sinned. Paul is not talking about sin as an action here… he is not talking about a pattern of behavior that was introduced when Adam sinned. Paul is talking about sin as part of our disposition… he is talking about depravity. After Adam’s sin, every human being was born “under the Fall”… with a depraved heart, mind, soul, and body. Every part of us is impacted by the Fall, by sin, and by depravity. Sin is not something “external” to us… it comes from within. Jesus put it this way in Mark 7:20-23.
Because of the Fall, humanity is only able to reflect a glimmer of the image of God. The image of God within us has not been “erased,” but it has been “defaced.” Because of Adam’s sin, we have inherited depravity. “The doctrine of depravity says that man is as bad off as he can be… The doctrine of depravity has to do, not with man’s estimation of man, but rather with God’s estimation of man.” This is the chaos and consequences of sin.
In the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” We must move forward in the story to…
#2: The Cross of Christ
Without God graciously stepping into the human condition of chaos, sin, and depravity, we would be left in our wretched straits. But as we briefly looked at, even in the curse in Genesis 3, there was a seed of hope. “The seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent.” And that hope built through the entirety of the Old Testament, until Jesus Christ came. God put on flesh. He dwelt among us and ultimately died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin and separation from God.
Romans 5:18-21. As we talked about in Romans 5:12, through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. Paul carries that thinking through the rest of the chapter as He explains the final Adam, Jesus Christ. We might not like being culpable of sin simply because one man sinned. we might not think that’s fair. And I find that ironic because we sure like being made righteous because of the death of One Man. We sure like having His righteousness imputed to us when we did nothing to deserve it.
The Cross of Christ rescues humanity from death because Jesus Christ died in our place as our substitute and His death on the cross absorbed the punishment and wrath from God the Father that we deserved. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is under attack in much contemporary theology and preaching… the doctrine that Jesus was our substitute on that cross… we deserved to die and He died in our place, atoning (covering over and doing away with) our sin. He absorbed the wrath of God that was due to us. Don’t talk about “sin,” talk about “self-esteem.” Don’t talk about wrath, talk about love. Don’t talk about blood and death, talk about life. There is no “self” without talking about sin. There is no experience of love without talking about Jesus absorbing the wrath due to us because of our sin. There is no life without talking about blood and death. You read the Genesis 3 story and you see the consequences of sin. There’s no way back to God without God taking the initiative to bring us back to Him through Jesus Christ. He is the Rescuer. He is the Redeemer who purchases us from the wages of sin.
He’s the Restorer of the Story. Remember, the story of God is the story of the God who creates and re-creates for His glory and for our good. The Fall is why He re-creates. He takes the initiative to bring us back together with Him to the place where He is, a place of everlasting joy. And He does this through the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s why He gets the glory and we get the good.
Listen to how the Story ultimately ends. Read Revelation 22:1-5. Genesis 1-2 are bookends with Revelation 21-22. Original creation and ultimate re-creation. And Jesus Christ, through His Cross and His resurrection rescues the human heart and restores the story of God. He is the God who creates and re-creates for His glory and for our good.
If we’re honest, we know things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. We know that shalom, that perfect peace and glorious goodness pronounced by God as He finished creation has been vandalized by a rebellious humanity. We have chosen unfaith as a response to His goodness. We have chosen pride as a response to His provision. We have chosen ourselves instead of Him. Each of us has gone his or her own way… playing the divine… taking and keeping that illusory control. And as a result, we experience the consequences of sin, chaos, pain, and ultimately death. But God has stepped in. God in His great and gracious love steps in through Jesus Christ, rescues our lives and restores the story so that we might be able to see and savor Him above all else and experience anew His everlasting joy.