We cannot fulfill our purpose in life without understanding the human condition. And we cannot understand the human condition without understanding sin and its effects. The Bible clearly defines the consequences of sin, consequences we can overcome only by God’s grace.
In our last session, we watched as Adam and Eve, in defiance to God, ate the forbidden fruit in order to become like God, and now they’re hiding from God behind some trees in the garden.
But God comes calling. This is the beauty of God’s grace. Like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He comes to seek and to save those who are lost.
God knows where Adam and Eve are hiding, but He’s going to give them the opportunity to come out of hiding and confess their sin to Him. The problem is, they aren’t ready to confess anything. In fact, they’re going to keep on sinning.
And as a result, Adam and Eve experience five tragic losses in this garden scene.
First, there is the loss of spiritual intimacy.
When God calls out, “Where are you?” in verse 9, instead of coming clean, Adam says to God in verse 10, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
“I felt afraid, Lord!” Notice how Adam makes this all about how he feels rather than about his disobeying what God had said. We do the same thing today, don’t we? “Lord, I can’t help how I feel; this is what makes me happy.”
This is the first time the word afraid is heard in human history. Because of sin, instead of walking with God, Adam and Eve are now afraid of God. Spiritual intimacy is gone.
Second, there is the loss of honest transparency.
Listen to their conversation, beginning in verse 11: “[The Lord] said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’”
Of course, God knew the answer; He saw them take their first bite. He sees the fruit stains on Adam’s fingers, so to speak. He just wants Adam to admit it and confess it.
Verse 12 continues:
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LordGod said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
God has never been surrounded by so many innocent people! They’re not going to confess to anything!
Honest transparency has turned into deflection and excuse making and finger pointing.
Third, there is the loss of marital unity.
Eve blames the serpent, and Adam blames Eve—but not only Eve. Notice Adam says in verse 12, “the woman whom you gave to be with me.” “Lord, if You hadn’t given her to me, I wouldn’t be in this mess. So, God, it’s really Your fault; and then beyond You, it’s all her fault.”
Not only did it grieve the heart of God to hear Adam blame Him, but can you imagine what it did to the heart of Eve? I don’t think she would ever forget hearing Adam complain that God had given Eve to him to be his wife.
To this day, marriage is now the union of two sinners, and we’re just like Adam and Eve—blaming and excusing and pointing fingers.
God informs them of some additional challenges in life. In verse 16, God says to Eve, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.”
So, every woman who’s had a child can go ahead and say, “Well, thanks a lot, Eve!”
Had it not been for sin, childbirth would have been free of pain, just as raising a child would have been. The delivery process through the training process would have been painless! Imagine raising a child without a sinful nature. There’s no such thing as the terrible twos or temper tantrums. Had it not been for sin, you really would have parented without problems and even delivered babies without pain.
Pain in childbirth will be a lasting reminder that sin brings pain—sin hurts. God’s promise of this consequence has indeed come to pass.
God says something else to Eve here in verse 16: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Before sin entered the picture, Adam was a loving leader, and Eve was a submissive complement. It was perfect harmony. They were equal in essence but different in function and role. But because of sin and a fallen, selfish nature, God says marriage will become a tug-of-war.
Sin will cause a woman to have her desire rule the day—even when it’s contrary to her husband. But God says her husband will rule over her. In other words, the man is going to turn his loving headship into a proud dictatorship. So, while the woman will learn to manipulate and coerce, the man will learn to exploit and dominate. Their roles are now corrupted by their sinful nature.
And to this day, instead of cooperation, marriage can easily become competition.
Marriage, like everything else in a fallen world, becomes hard work—it takes effort and investment to regain what Adam and Eve lost.
So where do we begin to climb out of the hole Adam and Eve started digging us into there in the garden?
Well, the answer is God’s Word. The apostle Paul writes that a godly man will use his position as the head of the home to lovingly care for his wife, and the woman will use all her skills to complement and follow her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33).
It’s going to take self-denying, self-sacrificing, self-giving love between a husband and a wife.
Back in Genesis 3, another loss is mentioned.
Fourth, there is the loss of nature’s harmony.
God turns to Adam and announces:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” (verses 17-19)
Just as Eve can’t deliver a child without suffering, Adam can’t deliver food without toil.
Sin has affected the natural world. Every time Adam struggles to get crops out of the ground, he will be reminded of his rebellion against God.
God isn’t trying to be mean to Adam and Eve. He’s actually giving them reminders of their need to confess their sin and walk in humility and depend on Him through life.
Fifth, there is the loss of physical immortality.
At the end of verse 19 the Lord says to Adam, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
God had warned Adam and Eve that if they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would die. That didn’t mean that physically they would die immediately; it meant they would die eventually.
The Bible promises us, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). If you don’t think you’re a sinner, just ponder the fact that you are going to die.
During this Wisdom Journey, more than fifteen hundred people have died on Planet Earth. By the time you read this sentence, seven people will have died. The valley of the shadow of death looks like rush hour.
In the face of all these losses, what possible hope did Adam and Eve have? And what hope do we have today? The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The only hope anyone has is related to a Redeemer; and God is about to reveal to Adam and Eve the promise of that coming Redeemer.
But that’s for our next study.