Sermon on Genesis 3:1-7
Text: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
In September 1862, during the Civil War, the Union army was at a loss. General Robert E. Lee had just won a victory at the second battle of Bull Run. General McClellan, the Union general, had no idea where General Lee was going or where he might attack next. On September 13, a Union sergeant, by the name of John Bloss, found something on the ground on the site of what had been a Confederate encampment a few days earlier. It was an envelope with three cigars in it. As Sergeant Bloss hurried to light one of the cigars, he noticed something about the paper in which the cigars were wrapped. Upon closer investigation, it turned out to be orders from General Lee to General Hill, detailing his plans to spilt his forces and make a move on Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. These orders were carried up the chain of command, until they reached General McClellan. Now, he knew exactly what Robert E. Lee was doing and where he was going. Because he knew battle plans, he was able to attack and defeat the Confederate forces at Antietam. Knowing the battle plans made it possible for a victory. This morning, we are going to witness a battle that took place in the early days of the world’s existence. As we do so, we will see A BATTLE LOST. However, we will, also, see A BATTLE WON. We note that 1. Satan’s Tactics Haven’t Changed and that 2. Christ Shares His Victory With Us.
When God created mankind, he showed his love to them in so many different ways. First of all, we see that God took special care in his creation, forming him from the dust of the ground and breathing into him the breath of life. He created a special place for Adam and Eve to live called the Garden of Eden. There in the middle of the garden, God planted two trees, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God had only one command for Adam and Eve. They were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16&17)
You might ask, “Why did God plant that tree in the garden? Why was he placing temptation in front of them?” God didn’t put that tree there to tempt Adam and Eve. We know this because the Bible says that God tempts no one. Rather, this was an opportunity for Adam and Eve to show their love for God. God didn’t want a bunch of mindless robots. He wanted beings that consciously chose to obey him out of love for all that God had done for them.
It is here that we pick up our text. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Verse 1) Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent. This should have set off alarm bells in Eve’s head. First of all, she knew that snakes don’t talk. Secondly, animals have no sense of right or wrong. Yet, she engaged in this dialogue with the serpent, with Satan himself. Let us take a few moments and look at the various ways he attacked Eve.
First of all, he asked, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The question sounds innocent enough. ‘Eve, are you sure you got this right?’ What was Satan trying to do with this question? He was trying to raise doubt in Eve’s mind about what God had said to them. ‘Did you hear right? Did God really say this?’
We see that Satan hasn’t changed his tactics at all over the centuries. He still comes to us and asks us “Did God really say . . . ?” For example, he may whisper, ‘Did God really say that this is a sin?’ We see so many people engaged in that sin and the world accepting it and celebrating it. Can it really be wrong? Many times this attack comes in the form of supposed Bible scholars who tell us that we have to read the Bible from a cultural point of view. When the Bible writers wrote, they were speaking to people of their time. We have grown past that type of thinking. He tries to get us to doubt whether or not God really said this.
Eve answered Satan’s first volley by saying, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” (Verses 2&3) She answered correctly. This is exactly what God said. She had successfully fended off the first attack. However, the devil wasn’t going to go away in defeat, so he used a different tactic. Picking up on what Eve said, he responded, “You will not certainly die.” (Verse 4) He blatantly lies to Eve’s face. This shouldn’t surprise us, for Jesus calls Satan, “the father of lies.”
Satan lied to Eve and he continues to lie to us, today. He tells us that God is lying to us in so many different things. God is lying to us when he tells us that he is serious about people keeping his commands. After all, we see people who are openly sinning and nothing bad seems to happen to them. They seem to prosper. He tells us that God is lying when he says, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) He lies to us and tells us that hell doesn’t exist. When you die, that is the end of it. Or, he tells us, that God will give everyone a second chance after death. Another variation of the lie is that, ultimately, all people will be saved. No one will be condemned. The lies of Satan come in many shapes and forms.
Going on, Satan said to Eve, “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Verse 5) Satan was telling Eve that God was holding out on them. He didn’t have their best interests in mind. He was keeping them subservient to him. He didn’t want them to experience everything that they could. He wasn’t allowing them to reach their full potential.
We hear these same things, too, don’t we? God doesn’t want you to have any fun. Think of how happy you would be, if you did this or that. God isn’t allowing you to experience all that life has to offer. Look at all you could accomplish, if you just would overlook this command from God! God is trying to keep you down. Satan’s tactics haven’t changed at all over the years.
Satan’s tactics worked on Eve. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Instead of telling the devil to go away, Eve started to look more intently at the fruit. The more she looked at it, the more she wanted it. So, she reached out and took it. Adam, also, took some of the fruit and ate it. What was the result of their action? “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Instead of the freedom that had been promised, Adam and Eve now knew that they were in slavery to sin. They tried to cover up their sinfulness, but it didn’t work.
How well we can identify with Adam and Eve. Instead of telling Satan to go away when he tempts us, we sit and look at the “forbidden fruit.” The more we think about that sin, the more we want to do it. When we succumb to that temptation, we quickly realize that it didn’t bring the satisfaction that we had hoped for. Instead, we are caught in that sin. We realize that we have broken God’s law. Just like Adam and Eve, we try to make coverings for ourselves, by trying to do something that will make up for it. However, the sin remains, and we cannot stand before God in the flimsiness of the fig leaf coverings www.buy-trusted-tablets.com of our self-righteousness that we try to craft for ourselves. Just as Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, we deserve to be driven from the presence of God’s love and face his anger for all eternity. In Adam and Eve’s case, in our case, it is “Battle Lost.”
However, in our gospel lesson from Matthew chapter 4, we see the “Battle Won.” Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days. During that time, the devil used the same tactics that he had used on Eve. In essence, the devil was asking Jesus “Did God really say?” when he tempted Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple. Satan even quoted from the book of Psalms to try to show Jesus that this was a good thing to do. It is worth noting that the devil is not above using the Bible when it fits his needs, by twisting it to say what it never was meant to say. How did Jesus respond to this tactic? He quoted from the book of Deuteronomy, showing that it would be wrong to do this. Jesus knew well what God had said and what he had not. He did not succumb to this tactic.
So, the devil tried the other tactic that had worked so well on Eve. The devil took Jesus to the mountain and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world and all of their wealth. He promised to give this to Jesus, if only he would bow down and worship him. First of all, Satan lied to Jesus when he told him that he would give this to Jesus. It wasn’t his to give. Secondly, Satan was implying that the Father was holding out on Jesus. In essence, the devil told Jesus that his Father was lying to him when he told Jesus that the only way to save the world was through his suffering and death. He’s making it too hard for you. Here’s an easier way to accomplish the same thing. Again, Jesus saw through the tactics of the devil, knowing that his Father would never lie to him. He knew that it would only be through his suffering and death that the world could be saved. Then, instead of continuing his conversation with the devil, he told him to go away.
Jesus won the battle that day. He continued to win all of the battles that he had with Satan over the course of his life. It was one victory after another. Jesus won all of those victories for you and for me. He was being perfect where you and I are not. We also focus on the great battle that took place on the cross. While on that cross, he suffered and died for the sins of the world, for your sins and my sins. He was suffering all of the torments of hell in our place. He paid for every one of our sins. It looked as though death had won when Jesus died on that cross. However, we go to that tomb in the garden and see that it is empty. Jesus rose from the dead and won salvation for all people. As a result of Jesus’ victory, we have been set free. Death no longer has mastery over us, for we know that, should our eyes close in death before Jesus returns at the end of time, we will rise from the dead. We have also been set free from the slavery to the devil. No longer can he accuse us of sin, because Jesus paid for all of them. In addition, with the help that comes from God and out of thankfulness for all that he has done for us, we can say “No” to the devil’s temptations. With Jesus’ help, we can tell the devil to go away from us. We want to live for him who won, not only the battle, but the war. He won the victory. As Paul exclaims in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we began our sermon, I mentioned the battle that took place at Antietam and that it was a victory for the Union army. What I didn’t mention is the fact that that battle was one of the bloodiest in the entire Civil War. Even though they had the plans, it was still a struggle. Yet, they still won. We would do well to remind ourselves that, even though we have Satan’s plans so clearly shown to us, it is still a tough fight. The temptations will come at us one after another. Just when we think that we have repulsed the devil, he will attack us from another side. How grateful we are that Jesus has won the victory for us. We also thank him that he continues to be by our side every step of the way, strengthening us for each new battle that we face. May we continue to keep our eyes wide open, so that we see the tactics that Satan is trying to use on us. May God help us to continue to fight, until we are at complete peace for all eternity with him. Amen.
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