Don’t Do It Eve, Don’t Listen to Him, Genesis 3:1–21, First Sunday in Lent, March 1, 2020
Have you ever screamed at the screen or an actor during a horror film? “Don’t do it, don’t go in there, there is a bad guy behind the door!” And sure enough, even though you tried to warn them, they walk right into the scene where something bad happens to them. “I tried to tell you not to do that!”
Steven Spielberg, the creator of Jaws, used many different techniques to draw in the suspense of viewers and to capture their imagination. These techniques include the classic Jaws theme music, known by millions of people, to help build up tension, to let us know when the shark was approaching. Every time we heard that music we knew someone was about to be eaten by the shark. “Don’t do it, don’t get in the water!”
There is even a current Geico commercial that capitalizes on the bad decisions made by actors in horror movies. The commercial shows four teens running from a boogie man, but rather than getting in a running car they choose to hide behind chainsaws. The commercial concludes with the tag line “When you’re in a horror movie, you might make poor decisions. But with Geico, you don’t have to worry about overspending.”
Poor decisions, that’s what I think about every time I read the verses of our Old Testament text in Genesis. I shake my head in amazement, astonishment, and anger and yell “don’t do it Eve, don’t listen to that sneaky old snake!” My confused bewilderment and bafflement continue as I continue reading, “Don’t do it Adam, don’t do it!”
When I consider the perfect world that Adam and Eve had going for them; when I think of the beautiful creation of this world, by the powerful Word of God; when I contemplate the great care and pains He took making man and woman, and His wonderful love in preparing their home, the Garden of Eden; I’m shocked and stunned at God’s magnificent, gracious love for us. Then, I’m angered by the foolishness and stupidity of our first parents, who tossed it all away by believing the lying, tempting words of that sneaky old snake, Satan. “Why, why didn’t you listen? Why did you do it?” How could they do it?
Yet, I know better than to say I wouldn’t have done it, because ten chances out of nine, I would have done the same thing. So would you. Satan’s temptations are hard to resist. That sneaky old snake is a formidable foe and forceful factor in the world. He, and his cunning, deceive and seduce us. This, he will continue to do until Christ comes again in glory. As Christians, we must take him and his cunning seriously because our eternal fate and future hang in the balance!
The noose of sin, snares, strangles, and suffocates every one of us without exception! The slithering, subtle, sneaky; suggestive, subversive serpent seeks to seduce everyone. So take him seriously and resist his assaults. Satan wants us to think of him as that laughable caricature, you know the fellow with horns, long tail, and pitchfork, which no one really believes in. If no one takes him seriously, it’s that much easier for him to do his deceptive work.
That sneaky old snake still challenges and seduces. Talking snakes, are you serious? Who would be dumb enough to believe that? Yet, that subtle serpent, Satan, successfully seduces. He did, and he does! That’s his nature. The Bible refers to him with several descriptive names: “devil,” which means accuser or slanderer; and “Satan,” which means adversary, enemy, or opponent. Jesus calls him a murderer, a liar, and the father of all lies: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
The serpent is crafty, not in the hot glue and glitter sense. But he is shrewd and sly, more than all other animals. Since all things were new and wonderful to Eve, what is normal and usual was still being established. A talking serpent would not have been too surprising.
Yet she knew that the consequence of the forbidden fruit would be death. The serpent’s words imply a promise he could not keep, namely, that by some special knowledge or ability he possesses, he would keep her alive, even if she ate the fruit. But the serpent had already rebelled against God. Since he has no access to true life, he cannot give it to anyone else. The serpent insists that the woman will gain, rather than lose, something by eating the forbidden fruit.
In eating the fruit, Adam and Eve lose their life and righteousness. Since they, like the serpent, no longer have those things, they are no longer able to give them to each other or to their descendants. What they do not have they cannot give. They can give only what they have, which now is sin and death. Their sin is exposed by their disobedience to God’s command. Their death is as certain as the truth of God’s Word.
Adam and Eve also have guilt, which they will give to their descendants too. This guilt is exposed by their blaming of God and each other. And God gives His wrath and judgment. Yet, to Adam and Eve, He also gives a promise that reflects the love He has for them. His love is seen both in His action of searching them out, and in giving them clothing made from the skins of slain animals.
The first three chapters of Genesis are often read as myth in our culture today. But be warned, they are not a figment of Hollywood horror! This is where it all starts. This is the root of the problem. If we buy into some notion that this account is nothing but a mythical reading, it gives a false sense that the evolutionary theory of origins can be taught as truth, alongside biblical-Christian teaching. This contrast is impossible. If life and death existed in the world and precedes sin, then death is not an enemy that needs to be defeated, and the apostle Paul is either lying or deceived in what he wrote.
The evils of hunger, disease, and death will not be solved by social programs, medicine, or better health. They are but temporary solutions, crutches which enable us to lurch forward for another day. The real solution only happens when we address what happened in this garden long ago. Satan is wrapped up with our biggest problems and has been from the beginning. Any real victory over our problems will have to involve his defeat.
The sin of Adam and Eve ruptured the relationship with God. He used to walk with them in the garden, in the cool part of the day. But now they hide from Him. They are afraid where fear had been unknown. This knowledge of Good and Evil is not a beneficial thing, it has warped every part of their lives.
But God calls for them. He could have simply destroyed them. He knows exactly what they have done; there is no need on God’s part for the interrogation that follows. He knows what they have done and just which bush they are hiding behind. God wants to hear it from them. He wants His creatures to admit their sin, for He would forgive it. So He seeks them out, not to punish but to love them.
Adam and Eve, the only genuinely spiritually capable people who ever lived before Jesus were not up to the task, or perhaps we should say, they succumbed. They were up to the task of resisting Satan; they just didn’t do it. Ever since their fall we have all been losers to him, spiritual cripples who cannot walk the straight and narrow road. Our paralyzed limbs and broken bodies just cannot do it. Only one of us has managed it, and our hopes are all pinned on Him.
Of course, God already had this solution in mind. The painful bearing of children will also be the bearing of salvation. In the cool of the day, God comes to Adam and Eve with a promise. For God still has love to give us. For God, there is no quit, there is no abandoning His people.
Instead, the promise begins to be fulfilled as God comes in the cool of the night at Bethlehem, His message conveyed by holy angels to the shepherds in the field. A child born in the pain and fear of a young woman who labors in the un-hygienic and humble confines of a stable will be the one who undoes Satan’s power. His head will be crushed at the considerable cost of a bruised heel, but Satan’s power will not always hold the field. Satan can be conquered, he will be conquered, and he has been conquered in the one who did not succumb to his tricks, who resisted temptation at every turn.
Still, sin must be punished, with death! In the cool of the morning, cool enough for a fire in the high priest’s courtyard, God’s Son is tried, convicted, and crucified. Jesus faced the furnace of hell. God gave Jesus all the wrath He had to give! Jesus gave His holy, innocent, precious blood in exchange for peace with humanity. The sacrifice of Jesus appeases the wrath of God.
Jesus gives us His own value; the worthless become priceless. The dead are made alive. The resurrection of Jesus assures us that the serpent’s head is crushed.
And now, Jesus comes to you in the cool water of your Baptism. For the Holy Spirit is active in your Baptism to wash from you, all sin, shame, and guilt. Jesus restores your honor by clothing you with the holy garment of His righteousness, which is His to give, as the lamb who was slain. And then He invites you to daily repentance, to be ever arrayed in the spotless garment He has given.
It’s hard not to make poor decisions and to resist Satan’s temptations. That sneaky old snake is indeed a formidable foe and forceful factor in the world. His crafty cunning will always deceive and seduce us.
Oh, the deceiver still wants to give you what he has, and to promise what he can’t, to rob you of your holy garment. “Don’t do it! Do not listen to that liar!” Keep your eyes and your ears fixed on Jesus, your Creator and Redeemer.
Jesus Christ has fully and completely endured the wrath and condemnation for sin, guilt, and shame. That’s now spent, it’s all gone! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. All that’s left is forgiveness. Amen.