Original sin is the loss of original righteousness, just as blindness is the loss of sight. As a result of the fall, the intellect became darkened so that we no longer know God and His will, and no longer perceive the works of God...we neither trust God's mercy nor fear His righteousness, but without concern follow the flesh. We take on complicated defenses and remedies to keep our consciences quiet. In this life we cannot completely get rid of them.
Because Adam turned from God, we are born with no knowledge about what God is, what grace is, what righteousness is, and finally, what sin is.
Unless we correctly recognize how deadly the disease really is, we do not know or desire the cure for it.
As to why this took place. Certainly God knew even before He created Adam. There is no profit in speculating about it. The most we should say is that it pleased God that Adam should be tempted as a test of his abilities.
Even today, it pleases God that His Church, cleansed by the Word, is still tested by continual temptations and dangers.
The account in Chapter 3 of Genesis became crystal clear only when Christ and the Holy Spirit came and shed light upon all the mysteries of Scripture.
We see the cleverest of all creatures being used by Satan (we think of the fox today as a clever animal). The serpent at this moment was apparently upright and beautiful, and Eve seemed not at all taken aback by its talking to her. The serpent began by attacking God's Word and God's will. It tries to show that because they were told not to eat of that one tree, God's will toward them is not good. Eve is urged to think against the Word and good will of God.
In Adam's innocence, the only service he could offer God was obedience. Unbelief is the source of all sins, leading to all the others. After the Word and their trust in God is lost, man becomes proud of himself and scorns God.
Satan forever perverts and changes God's Word. In this way he also tempted Christ, who in contrast to Eve, kept God's Word unbroken.
All who give up the Word of God and worship their own thoughts are idolaters.
Satan asks, "Did God actually command you?" saying in effect, "how can God bear such ill will toward you as to deny you the ability to be wise."
In John 8:44, Christ identified the real enemy of God (and man) as the Adversary, a lying murderous spirit, who has no fear of distorting the command of God and to urge man to idolatry - which he knew would result in the destruction of the entire human race.
Especially in our day we have many who have a similar smugness, who gladly distort the Word of God and lead many astray.
Satan used this animal best suited to tempt Eve. It was later cursed, losing most of its cleverness; it was to be considered evil above other animals; it lost its uprightness, and was made to eat dust. Because of sin we lost our innocent nakedness, our upright will, our righteous intellect.
As satan begins his deception, he tries to sound completely reasonable. He uses the pretense of God's Name and Word - but in reality he is denying both. This is the beginning and main part of every temptation - when our reason tries to reach a decision about the Word and God's will separate from that Word.
The one command about that one tree gave man an opportunity to show that he was obeying - in effect it was an outward form of worship, done in faith for Adam didn't know what the fruit would do, nor did he know anything about death.
Eve's response begins well. She quotes God's command - but when quoting the punishment she backs off a little by saying not "you will surely die," but "lest perhaps we shall die." Her faith is wavering. The devil has persuaded her that God was not so cruel as to kill them for eating of that one fruit. Of her small distortion of God's Word, satan takes full advantage. (Verses 4,5.)
By first raising the question in verse 3, satan did not openly deny God's Word but sought to raise doubt. Once he achieves this, he now goes on boldly to directly deny the Word, and to charge God with lying and cruelty. He takes Eve's little word "perhaps" and makes it a full negative "you will not die". Eve's silence means agreement.
Before the desire to eat of the fruit could arise in Eve, she had to first lose faith in the Word which God had spoken to Adam.
Peter warns Christians in I Peter 5:9 that we must learn from this experience and stand firm in temptation, to resist the tempter while holding to the Word, closing our ears to what is foreign to the Word.
Satan goes on to say "God knows that your eyes will be opened." This suggests two meanings. First, satan attempts to stir up resentment against God, as if God has purposefully kept something good from Adam and Eve. Satan suggests that God could not really want them to live in darkness, without any knowledge of good and evil. He says, "God is good. Certainly he doesn't begrudge you anything useful or helpful. He won't be upset if you become like Him." With this, satan has manufactured a different Word and will of God, to give Eve's desire a push. Satan's poison is the addition, to her desire of wanting to have insight beyond what God has commanded. She even now turns this sin over in her mind, where before she would have run away at this suggestion.
The disease is begun, only death can follow. God is long-suffering, therefore not punishing sin immediately. We would learn better, but only too late if our punishment was direct. All would perish in their sins. Satan abuses God's mercy by keeping men from even being aware of their sin. Because the punishment is delayed, satan fills the heart with smugness, and man not only does not become aware that he has committed sin, but even enjoys and finds satisfaction in his sins.
The farther man goes away from God's Word, he thinks himself more educated and wiser. This satan helps man with, every step of the way. This must also reflect the devil's own mind and experience.
Once sin begins, it infects all the senses. Eve saw, thought, desired, and finally acted. She puts God aside and becomes satan's pupil.
Some look only at the final action of picking and eating the fruit, and not at the sin from which this action followed. They conclude that God is cruel, that because of such a small sin He has inflicted such a great punishment on the entire human race. Some of these hate God and despair - others call this a fairy tale.
Let us focus a moment on this most important point: satan did not first try to allure Eve by the loveliness of the fruit. He started by attacking man's greatest strength - faith in God's Word. The real source of sin is unbelief, just as the source of righteousness is faith. When satan had succeeded in getting Eve to disbelieve in the command God had given, it was easy to bring about the eating of the fruit.
Verse 6. Eve sins with her whole self, all her senses, and yet is not aware of her sin. She eats with pleasure and then urges her husband to do the same.
Verse 7. When the Law becomes alive again, sin also becomes alive at the some time, as Paul explains in Romans 3:20. When sin is active, awareness of it sleeps or lies as if dead; but when the Law comes, then the eyes are opened, and man becomes aware of what God has commanded and what punishment He has promised for the transgressors.
Satan allows their eyes to be opened, so that they see the awfulness of what they had done. Satan, of course, hopes that they might perish in despair.
As it is the nature for the eye to see, so in Adam it was the created nature of his reason and will to know God, to trust God, and to respect God.
Just as when the eye is damaged, sight is impaired; so when man fell from righteousness to sin, all his natural abilities are corrupted by sin.
Through sin, the most useful members of the human body have become the most shameful.
Only in the Bible do we have the origin of shame because of nakedness as a result of sin. Before sin it had been honorable.
From then till now - we still attempt to cover our sin and appear righteous.
Sin brings evil results - first shame, then covering themselves and here in verse 8 they try to hide from God.
At evening, when the heat of the day subsides, the breeze begins to blow. Adam and Eve were terrified by the rustling of the leaves, since they knew the wind preceded the appearance of the Lord.
This fear, in the light of day, shows how complete their fall from faith was. They feared that God was coming to demand punishment from them.
The extent of their fall is indicated by the fact that they shrink in terror more from God, than from the sight and presence of the devil. Man also lost his sound reason; he tries the impossible - to hide from God among the trees. The nature of sin is that the farther man withdraws from God, the farther he still wishes to go.
Verse 9. Adam is called to judgment.
Verse 10. Adam is so confused that he does not see that he has condemned himself by hiding; he then proceeds to condemn himself with his own mouth. He confesses fear of what he did not used to fear - the voice of God. Adam had changed. He now had fear; he was now ashamed because he was naked. And he was fleeing from God, which itself is a sin and a witness to previous sin.
It was as if Adam was saying (verse 10): "Thou, Lord, hast sinned, for I would have remained holy in Paradise after eating of the fruit if Thou had kept quiet." In other words He said "I wouldn't have run away if your voice had not frightened me."
We all prefer to accuse God rather than acknowledge our sin before Him. Adam seeks to blame God for his nakedness, as if God created something shameful.
Verse 11. God says "your conscience convicted you of sin because you ate the fruit from the forbidden tree." Because you are terrified, you prove that you have sinned against this command.
Adam is not able even yet to acknowledge his sin. He continues to flee from God rather than run back to God. He seeks any excuse - now he blames Eve. He ties to claim that his action must be alright because ultimately it came from God. He transfers his guilt to God by saying "If Thou had not joined this woman to me, I would not have eaten." "You gave me this woman, therefore You are to blame."
Adam tries every way to clear himself. At the same time, he hates his punishment, God's justice and God Himself. He tries with all his might to persuade God and everyone else that he is suffering innocently. He minimizes his sin by saying that he did not listen to the serpent, and he didn't pluck the fruit. Adam cannot be forced into a confession of his sin, but as long as he has any hope or any excuse left, he denies it or excuses it.
In the beginning he had hoped to cover his sin. Then he accuses God rather than admit it. After his conscience has convicted him, and he has heard his sin from God, he passes on the guilt to the woman, and then to God.
He is saying in effect, "If Thou had not burdened me with having to live with this woman, I would have remained without sin. Therefore, this guilt for my having sinned is Thine, since Thou didst give me this wife."
Sinners in despair cannot do otherwise - accurse God and excuse themselves.
Verse 13. When God questions Eve, she does no better than Adam. She excuses herself and passes on the guilt to the serpent, "Which Thou hast created, and which Thou has permitted to move about in Eden, deceived me." Sin causes unbelief to turn into blasphemy, disobedience, and contempt of God.
Verse 14. As God turns to deal with the serpent we see quite a difference.
God had dealt with Adam, almost softly, in a fatherly way. (Not as terrible and awesome an event as at Mount Sinai.) He called Adam back from his sin, though Adam is unable to see it this way. After Adam's sin, God is very gracious and speaks with fatherly concern, and doesn't remain silent and inflict punishment. We can perceive Christ as Mediator and Deliverer already in the thought and council of God, though the promise is not yet spoken.
Christ said in John 3:20 "He who does evil hates the light." Just as Adam covered himself and fled to hide from God, it is the nature of sin to desire to remain hidden and not be brought into the light. Paul comments in I Timothy 2:14 that Eve was persuaded, or seduced, by the wiles of the serpent, while Adam sinned knowingly, by choice. He was deceived by his wife and by himself when he persuaded himself that his deed would not result in the punishment which the Lord said would follow.
The trial and inquiry has been carried out, now in verse 14 begins the execution of the sentence.
God in person speaks here more extensively than anywhere else in the Books of Moses. There is promising good or threatening evil to come to both. God heals sin, like a wound, with the promise of the Coming Seed, which is Christ; also a threat is included to serve as a cure for the lust of the flesh.
As God speaks to the serpent - He speaks to an intelligent creature, figuratively speaking to the devil who controls the serpent. The serpent also suffered because it was used for such an evil deed. It was cursed by becoming the most hated among all animals.
Even after sin, God seeks and calls man, talks with him, and listens to him. There is Law and judgment but also mercy. Toward satan and the serpent God simply announces the verdict, harshly speaking; "You, satan, have already committed sin previously and you have now added another, in order to bring man into sin, through your misuse of the serpent. For this reason the serpent will bear this punishment, as a continual witness to this evil, it will alone lie under the curse, when before it shared in the blessing all other beasts had.
Verse 15. This was spoken for the benefit of Adam and Eve, that they may hear this judgment and be comforted by realizing that God is the enemy of that being which led man so far astray. In the midst of the wrath which sin and disobedience aroused, God points to a deliverance, a victory against the enemy that deceived and conquered human nature.
It was through satan that man fell into sin - now the judgment of satan and that of man are not the same. God had a right to put them together in punishment, but he separates them to the utmost. Although God is angry with man for obeying the enemy against God, yet His anger against satan is far greater. He simply condemns and convicts him before Adam and Eve, that through the condemnation of their enemy, they may get themselves together and realize that their situation is far better.
They hear themselves drawn in a battle line against their condemned enemy. To this is added the Salvation Hope from the Promised Seed of the Woman, the Coming Son of God. Forgiveness of sins and full reception into grace are pointed out. Though they are to be in a constant conflict - the ultimate outcome is assured - the destruction of satan and all those that follow his tyranny.
The human's heel is in danger and is bruised but his head is uninjured and undefeated. It is the head of the serpent that is to be crushed underfoot by the Seed of the woman.
Matthew 16:18 tells us that by faith the Christian is made the victor over sin, over the Law, over death, so that even the gates of hell cannot prevail against him.
In effect, God says: "Through the woman, you, satan, set upon and seduced the man, so that through sin you might be their head and master. But, I, in turn, shall lie in wait for you by means of the same instrument. I will produce a Seed from the woman that will crush your head. You have corrupted the flesh through sin and have made it subject to death, but from that very flesh I shall bring forth a Man who will destroy you and all your powers."
Adam and Eve were given hope in this sure promise of God. In Christ we have seen this promise fulfilled. He was uniquely born of a woman without a human father, and though satan bruised his heel as Christ died on the cross, it was Christ who crushed the power of satan when He arose from the dead - this is the first fruits that all believers in Christ are to one day experience when satan is finally put into hell forever, and death is destroyed. This promise is as sure as God Himself. If he could promise Christ in the very opening of human history, thousands of years before the event, so also will all else come to pass as He has spoken it. Amen.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.