The Origin of Sin in Man

Genesis 3:1-3 The Question that Satan Asks
       The serpent is described as “more subtle” – beyond the norm - for any other beast of the field. This was unusual and should have alerted the Woman by its very strangeness
       “He said”, means that he could speak in such a way that the Woman could understand and didn’t seem to be surprised. He asked a question indicating his thinking ability. E.J. Young makes a good case for the snake being a creature of God that Satan commandeer to do what only one creature could do – speak – to utter lies that God would not have had His creatures pronounce. The lies that follow are characteristic of Satan (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9)
       Why this tree? A test. Adam and Eve are a symbol of God’s authority as His “image” but they cannot be a symbol of God’s authority unless they obey. What about a “covenant of works”? (covenant of obedience?)

       The Woman added something to God’s statement - “neither shall you touch it”. Makes God more restrictive than He is really is. Compare what God said with what the Woman said. The Woman was not a careful student of God’s word. Note the differences. Is that an understanding she had of what God said or did Adam instruct her? Shabby Bible study is dangerous. 

Talk about the Bible being contemporary! The current political season features lies, the telling of lies, and the denial of lies. The Bible tells us where lies come from.
                           Genesis 3:4-5 The Lie. 
            We must wait for centuries to fully identify the serpent -“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.”(Rev. 12:9)
  •  Calvin would seem to support this idea. As we read further, we don’t find Satan named. Why? God knew who was behind the lie. Evidently it was not necessary for Adam or Eve to know.
  •  The issue, after all, was not Satan but Adam and Eve. Will they obey God or chose their own way which unknown perhaps to them was manipulated by Satan. 
  •  All we know is that a crafty serpent (cf. Matt. 10:16) talks Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which she then hands to Adam. the serpent is simply one of God’s creatures. 
  • The explicit equation of the serpent with the Satan, the accuser, comes in later Jewish and Christian apocalyptic works (e.g., 2 Enoch, Revelation).
Satan is behind these statements. They are assertions that imply knowledge that a snake would not have. Who know what “God knows”? This kind of knowledge assumes either authority or bluster. The nature of the statement is that the speaker knows something about God that neither Adam nor Eve knew. It assumes that their eyes were “closed” – that they were blind to a reality about themselves. It assumes that “eyes open” will make them to be “like God”. What kind of an assertion is this? Would Adam and Eve really like to be “like” God. The assumption is “Yes”. The assertion is that God knows good and evil. Where does that come from? God knows everything. God is good. Adam and Eve have been warned about the knowledge of good and evil. There is danger in that knowledge. God warned them about that knowledge. 

            We see temptation here. Did Adam and Eve? They did see a test – would they obey God? It is not as though the test is evil or bad. Is a No Trespassing sign a temptation? Temptation is a test (Deut. 8:2) looking for success not failure. Temptation is not necessarily an enticement to evil. (See James 1:2,14,15). Also see Genesis 22:1 God ‘tested’ Abraham. One final observation - “This passage is a perfect case study of temptation, for sin cannot be blamed on environment or heredity.” - Ross

Genesis 3:6   What did the woman see (understand)? 

  • (1) the tree was good for food. Physical appetite is involved. Was she hungry? Is our relationship to food the same as the woman’s? 
  • (2) it was a delight to the eyes. How much are we affected/motivated by our eyes? The Scriptures says something about the eyes.  Eyes are not evil. Psalm 101:3 gives a guidance “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. 
  • (3) the tree was to be desired to make one wise.  We would have to read the whole book of Proverbs and consider many other Scriptures to understand how this desire for wisdom produced sin. How about our modern quest for ever increasing knowledge? Will that quest produce obedience to God or sin?
         What is Man’s first sin? It is related to the idea of “to make one wise”. True wisdom comes from God not Satan - See Proverbs 1. The first sin was not trusting God’s word and taking Satan’s word instead. It was a matter of faith - see Romans 14:23.
         Her imagination and feelings were completely won. The actual presence of the husband standing mute in the very scene of the temptation presents great difficulty. The comment that the man ate also is important. He needed no temptation with clever words—he simply went along with the crime. His way that led to transgression was willful conformity. The New Testament says that Eve was beguiled, but man sinned willfully (1 Tim. 2:14; Rom. 5:12, 17–19). Paul elsewhere states that sin came not by the woman, but by Adam himself, (Rom. 5:12.)

 Genesis 3:7-10
They saw
         They saw something in each other that could be exploited. What does that mean?
Ross says “They knew more, but that additional knowledge was evil. They saw more, but what they now saw they spoiled by seeing.” We have here - Broken promises. Broken dreams.
         Things have changed. The relationship between God and Adam has been altered. The Good Shepherd seeks and finds the lost sheep; the sinner must seek and find God; the relation must be an ethical covenant relation. 
Yahweh walking
         This signals that the writer wants the reader to picture God as a human being (an anthropomorphism) present in the garden of Eden. This is the first theophany in the OT—an appearance of God to human beings in a manner that can be processed by the human senses. 
         The fig tree has unusually large and strong leaves. Incidentally, it is indigenous to the Land of Israel, where it was cultivated very early, but it was not known in Babylon; hence, this detail reflects a West Semitic, not a Mesopotamian, cultural background. Where did Moses get the detail about fig leaves? Certainly not from his own experience but from Adam via oral tradition.
What was Adam afraid of?
  •     Adam is delivered as an act of the grace of God rather than an act of repentance by Adam.
  •      Adam still believed in God.
  •      Adam is delivered.

    My opinion about Adam – Will Adam be in heaven? I think so because of the above grace of God. Tom asked about whether Adam met the criteria of been born again? The term “born again” is actually ambiguous and can mean a second time or born from above. Technically Adam was born from above since he was uniquely created from the dust of the earth by the Hand from Above – God. Old Testament salvation is based upon two things – belief in God and the grace of God. The sacrificial system used both of these things to teach God’s people about salvation. Adam is a unique individual and the Jews were incorporated into a covenant people thus giving them salvation. New Testament salvation places us by faith in Christ based upon belief in God and the grace of God. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ is the basis for salvation whether in the Old Testament or New Testament. Faith is effective to salvation because of the object of faith not the exercise of faith on the part of the believer. Calvin says “a new remedy was offered him in sacrifices.”

 Genesis 3:11-13
         Instead of confessing, Adam and Eve tried to excuse the sin and lay the shame blame on others.
         Adam knew what fruit he was eating. “fruit of the tree”. His excuse – Adam’s excuse - The woman whom you gave to be with me. It’s her fault. We are shocked to read “Behold, Adam is become like one of us.” (Gen. 3:22.) 
         Eve’s comment - ‘The serpent beguiled me.’ Raises serious questions:
  • Is it a sin to be deceived?
  • Did Eve lie about being deceived?
  • Was the Fall the result of deception?
  • Does the knowledge of good and evil define the ability to detect deception?
     Eve said something like, ‘I received from the serpent what thou had forbidden; the serpent, therefore, was the impostor.’       
          But who compelled Eve to listen to his fallacies, and even to place confidence in them more readily than in the word of God?

     Paul says that Adam was not deceived but Eve was deceived and became a transgressor (1 Tim. 1:14) 
                         Where did deception come from except from the “chief of liars”?

         The Serpent - In this case the serpent is condemned to isolation from all the other animals. Calvin observes, “We must now make a transition from the serpent to the author of this mischief himself; and that not only in the way of comparison, for there truly is a literal anagogy; because God has not so vented his anger upon the outward instrument as to spare the devil, with whom lay all the blame.”

Genesis 3:14-19 There are consequences for mankind’s sin. God speaks to these consequences. He verbalizes them. He does not leave us to speculate. He pronounces.          
           * Only the serpent and the ground are cursed.  
           * To the serpent. In Gen. 3 the serpent is simply one of God’s creatures. The explicit equation of the serpent with the Satan, the accuser, comes in later Jewish and Christian apocalyptic works (e.g., 2 Enoch, Revelation). 
 If the serpent is a creature of God controlled by or somehow occupied by the adversary of God (Satan) that is another thing. The Scriptures seem to indicate that a further understanding throughout Scripture teaches us that Satan was involved. On logical and theological grounds the early church Fathers and the Reformers believed that Satan fell from grace, entered Eden, used the serpent as his tool, and was cursed under the form of the serpent, to eternal punishment. It was recognized that there are elements in the judicial curse on the serpent that point beyond it to the figure of Satan; the curse was deliberately prophetic.
  • To the woman. Many Christian theologians (going back to Irenaeus) understand v. 15 as the so-called protevangelium, prophesying Christ’s victory over Satan. In this case “pain and trembling” refers to the physical effects of childbirth. Conflict between man and woman will become the norm in human society. 
  • To the man. Adam is condemned because he disobeyed God and listened to his wife. Five words are used in the condemnation: (1) cursed is the ground because of you; (2) pain shall plague your labor; (3) you will harvest thorns and thistles for your pain; (4) you shall eat the plants of the field; (5) to dust you shall return.
Genesis 3:20-24 The Profound Results of the First Sin
         The results of sin are a mixture of justice, wrath, mercy and grace. They are even accompanied by faith expressed by Adam.
3:20. The naming of Eve. Adam named his wife Eve, ‘life’. Adam heard the promise of Genesis 3:15 as a promise of life in spite of death.
3:21 The Hebrew term for garments was a kind of long- or short-sleeved shirt, generally made of linen or wool, that reached down to the knees or even the ankles. Thus, the clothes they received were quite likely “robes”. Rather than made of a plant (fig) this clothing required the death of an animal. There is no way to avoid the implication that the garments would appear to be a sacramental sign of grace, a type of the death of Christ.
3:22 “The man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil” These words indicate a profound change in man. Man now has the responsibility of knowing which is more than a choice. His definition of good and evil now goes beyond obedience to God. What that means is yet to be revealed. The implication is that Man will live forever in the physical life which the Garden affords to him. That is a physical life forever. Man was delivered from this fate by the mercy of God.
3:23, 24a The banishment from Paradise was, therefore, a punishment having for its aim the salvation of man.
3:24. Every detail of this verse, with its flame and sword and the turning every way, actively excludes the sinner. His way back is more than hard, it is resisted: he cannot save himself. 
 east of the garden - The entrance of the garden was envisaged as being on the east side, facing the rising sun. It is assumed that Adam and Eve could walk back into the garden if they so desired. Steps must be taken to prevent this from occurring. Thus and angel with a flaming sword is set to guard the way to the tree of life.

Adam and Eve are evicted from their home on earth. They are sent into the world God has made. They are not abandoned but the journey will not be pleasant.

The Theological Meaning of Genesis 3

The universal dimension of Adam’s sin and Christ’s redemption is stated succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:22 (“as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ”) and in greater detail in Rom. 5:12–21: “Sin came into the world” through Adam and “death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned” (v. 12). The full meaning of the final clause, “because all have sinned,” is unclear. It implies personal guilt for committing sin, but in light of statements that Adam’s sin “led to condemnation for all” (Rom. 5:18) and that by his disobedience “the many were made sinners” (v. 19), the connection between Adam’s sin and that of all others must be very intimate. Paul is aware of the dominion of Adam’s sin over all humanity, Augustine contributed the idea that sin is inherited. – Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible

                                        A Summary of Genesis 3

  • Adam and Eve sinned because they doubted God’s Word. (Genesis 3:1-3)
  • Eve believed and Adam accepted a lie in the place of truth. (Genesis 3:4,5)
  • The sin of Eve and Adam was an overt act of disobedience. (Genesis 3:6)
  • The sin of Adam and Eve made them afraid. (Genesis 3:7-10)
  • There was no way for Adam and Eve to avoid the consequences of sin. (Genesis 3:11-13)
  • The sin of Adam and Eve made God speak His wrath to them. (Genesis 3:14-19)
  • The result of sin is a mixture of justice, wrath, mercy and grace. (Genesis 3:20-24)

Here’s a question to ponder – Does every person have the same choice between good and evil that Eve and Adam had in the Garden? Your comments will immediately be addressed.