Something that occupies our society a great deal is this question: Why is the world the way it is? And related to that, how did it get that way, and where is it headed? Philosophers, educators, politicians and scientists, as well as normal folks, are trying to sort this out.
Well, the Bible includes an origin story. And in Genesis 3 it describes an origin of sin, the thing that explains all the troubles in the world. Sin explains all the decay, disease, dysfunction, evil, imperfection and death we experience. All of that began in Genesis 3.
The account in Genesis 3 is actual history. It is not myth or legend. It is the true and accurate record from God about how sin came into the world, and it was sin that consequently caused all the problems that exist in our universe.
It is important to understand this story – to understand how sin came into the world. In order to understand redemptive history, we must understand its beginning. In order to understand the cure, we must understand the problem. In order to understand the Savior we have, we must understand what He is saving us from. Why is it important that Jesus died, was raised, and will return again to restore the planet and ultimately entirely recreate it? We cannot understand all of the sweeping elements of redemptive history unless we understand the problem and how it came about.
Understanding Genesis 1-3 is the only foundation for an accurate worldview. You must understand that God created the entire universe as it now exists in six 24-hour days. You must understand God’s purpose in creating man in His own image and giving a helper to him. You must understand the foundation of the physical universe and man’s role in it. And you must understand the fall of man. If you do not understand those and believe those to be exactly as represented in the Bible, you have a faulty worldview, and any attempts to understand the world will leave you without a proper answer.
Man did not evolve to the heights of where he is today through millions of years of evolution. Man did not evolve from anything into what he is today. He fell into what he is today in one moment on one day. He fell from what he once was in perfection and innocence in the image of God into the depths of sin and depravity. He did not ascend from anywhere. He descended from the wonder of his original creation in the image of God to his current condition in sin and under divine judgment.
It is critical to understand that man was created on one day in full maturity. He was created for fellowship with God and to enjoy the world that God had made. And he plunged from the perfection of that original creation into the fallenness which has marked him ever since. And it all happened in one event:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which Yahweh God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God said, ‘You shall not eat from it, and you shall not touch it, lest you die.’”
And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, so she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Genesis 3:1-7)
In this account, the solicitor, Satan, plants thoughts in the mind of Eve that are untrue. He suggests that God is not kind and not good, but instead harsh and untruthful.
This deception takes root in Eve, and she begins to realize that the tree was good for food, good to the eyes and capable of making her know good and evil. So she and her husband both eat of it, and that act of disobedience results in their shame. Their eyes are opened, and they understand evil – not by some academic process, but because it is now in them and they feel it. And they become embarrassed about what they had never been embarrassed about, their nakedness. And they cover themselves with some leaves that they have sewn together to try to hide their shame.
On that day, an avalanche of sin was loosed that will never stop until the final destruction of this universe. Adam and Eve had pulled a stone from the base of a mountain and were horrified to discover that fatal rock slide would bury them and all humanity and its environment in the dirt and rubble of sin.
This story, and what happens immediately after, will be the subject of our study.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 2000, titled “Confrontation in Eden.”
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