And Yahweh God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than any of the cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
Here is the beginning of the divine curse. We have a curse on the serpent. We have a curse on Satan. We also have a curse on the woman down in verse 16 and a curse on the man in verses 17-19. All of the actors involved in the fall are cursed by God. And here we find out why the world is the way it is.
When Adam and Eve set into motion a spiritual avalanche as the result of their sin, they experienced the law of unintended consequences. They had no idea of the curse that would come from them succumbing to temptation.
Here, God’s judicial penalty on the culprits is rendered – both on Adam and Eve and on Satan and the serpent.
Now, there are natural consequences to sin in life. We understand that. There are processes we set in motion by our sin, and we need to be reminded of that.
For example, if you tell a lie, it is very likely that you will have to develop your lie even further as the search for the truth begins. You’ll perhaps have to lie to other people in other circumstances and other situations to continue to cover your lie.
If you drink alcohol and become drunk, there are natural processes that will occur. You may lose control. You may behave in a way that is wicked and sinful. You may find yourself becoming a drunkard. You may find yourself developing physical illnesses.
If you commit sins of unfaithfulness in a marriage, then you catapult yourself into a very difficult situation. Now you have to lie about your unfaithfulness. You have to deceive your spouse. You have to deceive your children.
So there are, in sin, certain natural processes that are set in motion. Whatever a man sows, he reaps. You plant a certain behavior and you reap a certain kind of process that comes out of that behavior.
All of that is true. But this is not what we’re talking about here in Genesis 3. This is not what this curse is about. This is not a matter of natural processes triggered by Adam and Eve’s sin. What we’re looking at here is a far greater reality than that. It is the reality of divine judgment. This is the Almighty God and judge of the universe stepping in to render a sentence.
And I want to add another footnote here, because it’s very important to remind you of it. Sin violated God’s law. It violated God’s nature. It violated God’s glory. It violated and destroyed paradise. It ruined the heart of Adam and Eve and catapulted the whole human race into iniquity. It gave a certain power to the enemy, Satan, because now he had become, as it were, the god of this age, the ruler of this world who would now have a measure of control over these fallen people.
But in spite of all of those effects of sin, it’s important to remind you that man’s sin did not and does not threaten God’s sovereignty. It only changes the paradigm in which that sovereignty operates.
God is still sovereign, and the immediate articulation of the curses demonstrates God’s sovereignty. He’s no less sovereign in a fallen world than He was in a unfallen world. He’s no less the sovereign God over Lucifer after his fall than He was before his fall. He’s no less sovereign over Adam and Eve after their fall than before their fall.
God is not a victim of Satan. He never will be a victim of Satan. God is still sovereign in His universe.
It’s important to say that, because there are people within the framework of “evangelicalism” who would do everything they can to convince you that Satan is now sovereign and that God, along with all the rest of us, is doing His very best to try to overcome him. But we have no reason to assume that whatsoever, because immediately after the fall, God takes His sovereign place and pronounces what amounts to sovereign curses on the serpent, on Satan, on the woman and on the man.
So God has given up no sovereignty. We are just seeing His sovereignty in ways that Adam and Eve wouldn’t have seen before the fall: in ways that bring judgment on sin. But He is still the sovereign. He is sovereign over Satan and all humanity.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 2000, titled “The Curse on the Serpent, Part 1.”
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