The First Broken Home
Passage: Genesis 3:1–3:24
Why are things not the way they are supposed to be?
A couple weeks ago, Katie and I were giving Hudson, our 8 week old son, a bath on Saturday night. We like to do this together and have fun with it and usually he enjoys it too. When we finish washing him, we like to do something we call “spa time”, which means we wet the wash cloths and lay them over him then he just sits there relaxing.
On this particular night, Katie went into the living room to get something and as she did so, she said something to me. I said, “What? I can’t hear you.” Then she continued to talk and wasn’t talking loud enough that I could hear her so I was feeling frustrated and, with a little harshness in my voice, said, “If you’re talking to me, I can’t hear you.” Then, I heard another voice. I realized she actually wasn’t talking to me. Larry had stopped by to visit and drop something off.
Then I wondered, “Did he hear me speaking harshly to Katie?” I felt exposed. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. If he heard me, I wondered what he would think of me. I hoped he didn’t hear me. We’ve all felt that way before, haven’t we? We’ve done something we feel ashamed of. We are scared of what another person thinks of us.
Today, we are continuing our series in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Genesis is a book of beginnings. In the opening chapters we saw the beginning of humanity’s home. God created the world as a place for us to dwell with him and call home. But as we will see this week, our home with God becomes the first broken home in human history. Genesis is all about how God puts a plan into motion to bring us home. That’s why the name of this series is: Beginning the Journey Home.
Today, we are going to see two people who feel exposed and who hide from God and each other. This is not how things are supposed to be. Genesis 1 and 2 describes a world at rest where everything is at should be. But everyone who has ever read Genesis will quickly recognize that this world no longer exists. The world no longer feels like a home where we are safe and secure and at rest.
If you watch the news, it looks nothing like a peaceful home. The news cycle of wars, political fighting, school shootings, and confessions of inappropriate sexual conduct are just a handful of the evidence that shows our world is broken. But if you think longer, you realize that the problems aren’t only “out there”; they are in here too. Our relationships with others are not as they are supposed to be. We fight, we shame, we blame, we justify. We hide our ourselves from each other and most disastrously, we hide ourselves from God. Things are not as they are supposed to be.
This brings us to the big question this passage answers. The big question is: Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? Why are things not the way they are supposed to be?
We will go over this passage in two parts: first, the root of sin then the results of sin. As we do so, we will answer our big question.
First, let’s begin with the root of sin in verses 1 through 6.
The Root of Sin (3:1-6)
Let’s set the scene. God made a world of goodness and delight. Then he made man and he made a garden for man to live in. This was home. God was present with man in the garden and man’s job was to work and keep the garden. God also made a woman to be the man’s companion. They were both naked and were not ashamed, meaning they had no barriers between them. There was no reason they should hide from the other person. This is a picture of our home: with God, with each other, and set over creation as God’s representatives.
But God gave a warning. He said there is one tree in the garden from which they must not eat: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that the day they eat of it, they shall surely die. So far in the story, God is the one who declares what is good. The tree represents a choice. If the choose to eat, they are choosing to define good and evil on their own. They are choosing death over life by breaking their relationship with God.
This is where Genesis 3:1 picks up. Verse 1 says:
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1a)
We are introduced to a new character: the serpent. Since the serpent is described as “crafty” and can talk, we know that this isn’t a regular snake. You may be wondering: “A talking snake, really?” But for the ancient readers, the snake was a symbol of chaos and that is exactly what this character represents: it leads God’s world back into chaos. Crafty people achieve their aims by deceitful or indirect methods and that’s how the serpent leads God’s world back into chaos. He works through lies, deception, and half truths.
The big question this passage answers is: Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? The first answer is: Because we have been deceived. Because we have been deceived.
Disobeying God always starts with deception. It always starts with a lie. Everything we are about to read is filled with deception. So how does the serpent bring deception? Look back at what he says in verse 1:
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1b)
The serpent is bringing what God has said into question. There is surprise in his question: Did God actually tell you that you can’t eat from any of the trees in this amazing garden? Verse 2 says:
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3)
God created a good world with one prohibition: do not define good and evil for yourselves. This choice is represented by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Without even mentioning the tree that God said is off limits, the serpent has got the woman talking about it. But the serpent’s opening question portrayed God as overly strict. “God really doesn’t want you to eat from any of these trees?” The woman corrects him, but his portrayal of God as a strict party pooper has already infiltrated her thinking because she says, “No, we may eat of any tree except one. We can’t even touch that one.” God said nothing about touching it, so the woman has added more prohibition than God originally gave.
Verse 4 says:
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
Now that he has got her in conversation, the serpent directly contradicts what God has said: “If you eat of that tree, you won’t die like God said you would. In fact, God doesn’t want you to eat from it because he knows that if you do, your eyes will be open and you will be just like him. You’ll know good and evil just like he does.” Now the serpent has tempted the woman with the possibility of being like God. But we know from chapter one that she is already like God. God created man and woman in his image and likeness to reflect what he is like to each other and the rest of creation. She doesn’t need to disobey God to become like God. This is the deception that the serpent introduces. He gives her the lie that only if she disobeys God will she be like God.
The big question this passage answers is: Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? These verses give us two answers.
First, things are not the way they are supposed to be because we doubt God’s goodness. Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? Because we doubt God’s goodness. The serpent questions whether God really has their best interests in mind. “The only reason God doesn’t want you to eat from that tree,” he says, “is because he knows you’ll become like him if you do.” God’s motives are self-protective. He isn’t good. He’s just trying to keep something for himself.
Second, things are not the way they are supposed to be because we doubt sin’s badness. Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? Because we doubt sin’s badness. The serpent directly contradicts what God said about sin and disobedience. God says “you will die” but the serpent says “no you won’t.” God said that if they choose to sin - to not follow his ways - that it would be really bad. There would be disastrous effects. But the serpent says, “No, sin isn’t that bad.”
The serpent wants her to eat from the tree. He wants the woman to disobey God. He wants her to not do what God says. But he knows that if he just walked up and said, “Eat from that tree,” it wouldn’t work. So he uses deception and introduces doubt to get her to do what she shouldn’t do.
If you think about your life and why you don’t do what God says, you will find that these two doubts are always the seed. God says loving money will ruin our lives. But what do we do? We stress about money, we want more of it, we never have enough of it, we overwork to get it while the neglect our relationship with God and other people. Why? If you really believed God was telling you the truth, you would listen to him, right? If you really believed letting money control you would ruin your life, you wouldn’t love it, right? The problem is that we doubt God’s goodness - that he really is telling us what is for our own good - and we doubt sin’s badness - that loving money will really ruin our lives.
Every time we are presented with the choice to follow God’s way or a different way, we are at a crossroads. If we believe God is good and sin is bad, we will follow God’s ways. But if we doubt God is good and that sin is bad, we will go the way of the serpent.
Many Christians would say, “Of course I believe God is good and sin is bad. I don’t doubt that for a second.” But when it comes to our beliefs, actions always speak louder than words. Your actions prove your beliefs. Our actions are clear evidence of what we believe. When you choose sin over God, you are proving that you believe sin has more to offer you than God does. When you stand at a fork in the road with the path obedience or the path of disobedience before you and you choose to not do what God says, you are showing that you believe the path of disobedience leads to a better place than the path of obedience. You have been deceived by the serpent into doubting God’s goodness and sin’s badness.
The serpent has got the woman thinking about the tree and doubting God. What does the woman do? Look at verse 6:
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)
In chapter 1, six times we heard the phrase: “And God saw that it was good.” One time we heard: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” God is the one who sees and declares whether something is good. He is the one who defines good and evil. But here, after she begins doubting God’s goodness and sin’s badness, the woman saw that the tree was good for food. Now who is seeing and declaring whether something is good? The woman is. But she is declaring something to be good that God has said is bad. She is defining good and evil on her own terms instead of God’s. Seeing and deciding that the tree is good leads her to desire it.
The big question this passage answers is: Why are things not the way they are supposed to be? The answer here is: Because we desire what we shouldn’t. Because we desire what we shouldn’t.
Deception led to doubt which led to desire. Because she doubts what she shouldn’t doubt, she desires what she shouldn’t desire. She desires something that God has said is off limits.
That’s one answer here for why are things not the way they are supposed to be. But a second answer that things are not the way they are supposed to be is because we do what we shouldn’t. Because we do what we shouldn’t.
Because she doubts what she shouldn’t doubt, she desires what she shouldn’t desire, and she does what she shouldn’t do. She is not supposed to eat from the tree - she is not supposed to define good and evil for herself. She is supposed to trust God to do that. Deception led to doubt which led to desire which led to disobedience. And even though her husband was with her the whole time, he neglected his responsibility to work and guard the garden. He allowed this agent of evil to deceive his wife and him right along with her.
In these verses, we learn that sin was the last step in a four-step process. First, the serpent worked through deception to plant the seed of doubt. That doubt grew into a desire for what God said not to do which led to sinful disobedience. Lies about God are the root of every sin. And it comes with tragic results. Starting in verse 7, let’s look at the results of sin.
The Results of Sin (3:7-24)
The big question this passage answers is: why are things not the way they are supposed to be? The results of sin give us three more answers.
First, things are not the way they are supposed to be because we hide from each other. Because we hide from each other. Verse 7 says:
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7)
This relationship which was once defined by no shame and total openness has now been disrupted by shame. Being naked in front of each other now makes them feel exposed so they cover up.
We are all hiding things from each other. We are all hiding things that we are ashamed of and don’t want anyone else to know about. Some of us are ashamed of how we look, some of us are ashamed of our past, some of us are ashamed of our education level, some of us are ashamed of what others have done to us, some of us are ashamed of what we have done. That leads us to hiding ourselves, or at least parts of ourselves, from other people. We cover up and conceal in our relationships or we avoid having deep relationships where someone might find us out. That is not the way things are supposed to be.
Sea anemones can either be open or closed. When they are open, they are quite beautiful with bright colors. But if the environment isn't right, the close up and all their colorful and beauty is hidden. Humans were created in God's image, able to reflect what he is like in all his beauty. We can be beautiful, but with sin, we close up and hide our beauty. Our environment isn't right because of sin so we close up.
Second, things are not the way they are supposed to be because we hide from God. Because we hide from God. In verses 8 through 13, God comes to be with the man and his wife but when they hear him, they react differently than they ever have before: they hide from him. They are ashamed. Like a parent wanting their child to explain what is going on, God draws the man out with a question: where are you? The man answers:
“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)
“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11)
Then the blame game starts. The man says:
“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)
The man blames the woman, but he also lays some blame on God too because who gave him the woman? God did. Then God turns to the woman and the blame game continues.
“What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)
The man blames the woman and God. The woman blames the serpent. The two people who actually sinned never own up to anything. Does this sound familiar? We are notoriously bad at owning up to what we have done. We scramble to find someone or something else to blame. “I yelled at you because you yelled at me. I’m harsh because I had a bad day. I’m really tired so that’s why I’m being impatient with you. If I don’t do this, my boss will be mad at me. Sorry I’m late, traffic was bad.” Blame, blame, blame. Our actions and attitudes are always the fault of others and not our own. We are afraid of the consequences so we try to get the blame off ourselves. The man and his wife were afraid of God so they hid physically and they hid morally behind other people through blame.
Third, things are not the way they are supposed to be because our home with God is broken. Because our home with God is broken. In every way, the world is now messed up. God’s good creation where he is supposed to dwell with us has been broken. Four relationships show this brokenness.
First, the relationship between the serpent and humanity. The serpent is cursed for his actions, but humanity’s battle against him will be constant. We will constantly be presented with the choice to follow God or the serpent.
But ever since the coming of Jesus, people have seen in verse 15 the first announcement of the gospel when one from humanity will come as the Snake-Crusher to defeat the serpent once and for all. But in doing this, he also will receive a fatal blow. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he went into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. He was tempted to disobey God but he resisted the serpent’s temptation. He did not define good and evil for himself. And yet, he went to his death as one who ate from the tree so that he could defeat the serpent and free humanity.
Second, the relationship between wife and husband. God says at the end of verse 16: “your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” God created man and woman to complement one another through different roles in marriage, both representing what God is like to one another. What this verse is saying is that sin distorts the marriage relationship through those roles. One major desire that a woman has from a man and a wife from her husband is affection: someone who will cherish them, make them feel special and beautiful, and care for them. This is a good desire. But this good desire was meant to be found first and foremost in God as the one who perfectly cherishes you, makes you feel special, and cares for you. But when that desire for affection is sought only through men, it doesn’t go well.
On the flip side, the husband is not supposed to rule over his wife. Yes, the husband is the head of the household, but the husband isn’t supposed to see himself as a king ruling. He is supposed to see himself as a servant cherishing, providing, and protecting. When husbands think of themselves as kings, that is nothing but pride.
The third relationship that shows our home’s brokenness is between the man and the earth. Whereas before he was living in a garden where God was providing food, now his relationship with the earth has changed. His food will come through pain and toil. The woman’s role as mother and wife has been disrupted and the man’s role as provider has been disrupted. Both involve pain and hardship because of sin.
The fourth relationship that shows our home’s brokenness is between God and humanity. In verse 20, Adam the man, names his wife Eve. God provides more suitable clothing for them from animals. But then because they have tried to take the place of God in defining good and evil, God sends them from the garden. They are separated from his life-giving presence.
God warned that if they eat of the tree, on that day they would surely die. But then we are left wondering, “Why didn’t they drop dead when they ate?” Here we learn what God meant by death: they will be exiled from his presence. They chose death over life and that means no longer dwelling with God.
When you are part of an orchestra, you are supposed to follow the conductor to create beautiful music. But if people decided, "You know what, I'm not going to follow the conductor anymore. I'm going to play my own notes and melody," then it would create discord and disharmony. God is the conductor all of creation is supposed to follow but we have decided to go our own way and the result is discord and disharmony.
Things are a mess and we messed them up. Our sin leaves us hiding from each other and from God in shame. Our home with God has been broken. We have been sent from his presence and cannot go back ourselves. But there is good news. Know that Jesus can cover your shame. Because of Jesus, you can come out of hiding. Because of Jesus, you don’t have to be afraid of other people. Because of Jesus, you do not have to be afraid of God. Before the eyes of God, all our selfishness, pride, bitterness, and hatred lies exposed and we should cower in fear and hide in shame. But if you have trusted in Jesus, you are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus always did what was good and never did what was bad. He always said “yes” to God and “no” to sin. He always obeyed God and because he died the death we deserve in our place for rebelling against God, we can be free from the shame of our sin.
At the beginning of the Bible, sin enters through world through Adam and death through that sin. The rest of the bible is God taking the initiative to bring humanity back into his presence - to bring us back home. Jesus is the better Adam who was tempted by the serpent but didn’t give in and he is the one who leads us back home.
The problem is, we still believe the same old lies. God isn’t that good and sin isn’t that bad. And as long as we believe that, we will remain in hiding. Some of us have trusted in Jesus to cover us, but we still hide parts of us because we don’t believe he really covered it all.
Instead of going in the closet and putting on Christ’s righteousness, we put on other clothes in an attempt to cover our shame. Adam and Eve tried to cover their own shame with fig leaves and hiding but they couldn’t. When we feel that we fall short, we will try to cover our shame with excuses, blaming other people. Or we will try to just keep it hidden so that nobody knows. But neither actually takes shame away. Neither actually covers us. Only Jesus can cover our shame. Only Jesus can take care of the sin that causes it.
When we look to Jesus, we see the ultimate picture of God’s goodness and sin’s badness. Jesus died on a cross for our sin even though he was innocent. God is so good that he took it upon himself to pay for our rebellion against him. Sin is so bad, that it required he send his Son to die in our place. Jesus was exposed and ashamed even though he did nothing to deserve it.
Take a moment and close your eyes. What are you scared to tell others? What are you scared to tell others because you think that if they knew about it, they would never love you or accept you. They’d never look at you the same. If they knew about it, you’d be ashamed. You’d avoid them and when you see them, you’d feel like they are always looking at you. So you hide it. What is that thing?
If you are willing, pray with me silently: God, I know that my sin is bad, but you are better. I am ashamed of this thing, but I am handing it over to you and I am trusting Jesus to cover my shame. Thank you for sending him. Amen.
After their rebellion against God, Adam and Eve are sent out of God's presence to the East of Eden. For the rest of the book of Genesis, we will see different characters move further East of Eden, showing they are moving further from God and his presence. God makes clear that the way back is blocked: it is guarded by a heavenly creature. Humans cannot go back to God's presence. It is blocked. But as we will see, God makes a way back home.
As we go through Genesis, we are going to encounter a lot of characters who are confronted with the temptation of the serpent, even though he is not a visible character. As we do so, we are going to learn how we can resist the temptation of the serpent by trusting God just like Jesus did.