Entry Level Theological Truth [31]

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7

An old saying affirms: “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it.” The serpent promised Adam and Eve new and illicit knowledge. After a fashion his promise came true, but not in the manner that our first parents desired. As good as his word, the first humans did gain a new perspective on the world, but with tragic consequences for their progeny and themselves. Similarly, modern people often think that sin will lead to personal fulfilment; in reality it only leads to shame and fear.

 


Knowledge Tainted By Failure



 

Adam and Eve’s newly found insight did not produce the results for which they were hoping. As one commentator says: “The knowledge to which they have attained is neither that of happiness, wisdom, nor power, but that of the consciousness of sin and of its conflict with the Will of God.”1 Echoing the historian Kurtz, Groves makes the same point: “It actually happened as the seducer promised, though in malice and in an evil sense. Their eyes were opened, but they only saw their nakedness, and were ashamed; they knew good and evil, yet only by their sad loss of what was good, and by their disastrous experience of what was evil…”2 Kidner confirms it in these words:

The serpent’s promise of eyes … opened came true in its fashion (and cf. 22), but it was a grotesque anticlimax to the dream of enlightenment. Man saw the familiar world and spoilt it now in the seeing, projecting evil on to innocence (cf. Titus 1:15) and reacting to good with shame and flight. His new consciousness of good and evil was both like and unlike the divine knowledge (3:22), differing from it and from innocence as a sick man’s aching awareness of his body differs both from the insight of the physician and the unconcern of the man in health.3

 


The End Of The Innocence



 

Nakedness is a picture of innocence. Infants and toddlers are unashamed when they are unclothed. But Adam and Eve passed from their spiritually juvenile state of innocence to an unwanted position of guilt brought on by their sin. Rather than exhilaration and enlightenment, they experienced shame for the first time. This was part of the penalty for disobeying God – one element of the death that they had been promised. As Candlish notes: “Their shame, therefore, and their fear, prove that they really died; that having sinned, they in that very day came under the guilt and the curse of sin,—the guilt of sin, causing shame,—the curse of sin, causing fear. Such is their instant knowledge of evil.” Henry eloquently explains: “What a dishonour and disquietment sin is; it makes mischief wherever it is admitted, sets men against themselves disturbs their peace, and destroys all their comforts. Sooner or later, it will have shame, either the shame of true repentance, which ends in glory, or that shame and everlasting contempt to which the wicked shall rise at the great day. Sin is a reproach to any people.”5

Accordingly, Adam and Eve’s first impulse was to cover themselves with homemade garments fashioned from fig leaves (Gen. 3:7.) This primitive attempt at self-deception was the prototypical human effort to mask personal wrongdoing – the first act of self-deception in a long line of works that are intended to hide the true moral and spiritual condition of fallen mankind. Toplady poetically refutes this common conceit in these famous stanzas:

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.6

Fellow hymn writer and preacher, Horatius Bonar reminds us why man’s efforts are futile in this regard: “He forgets the eye above, that can look through every human covering; and hence, as Adam tried his fig-leaves, so he tries his good deeds, his prayers, and his repentance; forgetful that the eye of flame (Rev. 2:18) can look through them. The covering he needs is one which will hide his shame from the eye that is divine.”7 Human works can no more cover sin, than could our first parents’ jungle aprons could deceive the all-seeing God. A sacrifice that satisfies the Almighty’s righteous demands must be offered in place of guilty human beings. The sentence of death must be carried out; only through God’s gracious provision in Christ can people be rescued from the penalty for their sin: eternal separation from the Creator. This sacrifice is foreshadowed in the covers of skins that the Lord uses to replace Adam and Eve’s inadequate garb (Gen. 3:21.)

 


Sham Religion Versus Salvation By Faith



 

Sacraments, ceremonies, philanthropy, church membership, civic mindedness are all good things, but when they are employed as a means of gaining merit before God, they are no better than fig leaf clothes. Billions of people continue to labor to cover their sin and fashion facades of pretended piety under the guise of religion and human altruism. Nevertheless, manmade spirituality is an exercise in futility. C.H. Mackintosh accurately summarizes the dissimilarity between human-devised religion and the divinely ordained way of salvation in this way:

…the difference between true Christianity and human religiousness. The former is founded upon the fact of a man’s being clothed; the latter, upon the fact of his being naked. The former has for its starting-post what the latter has for its goal. All that a true Christian does, is because he is clothed—perfectly clothed; all that a mere religionist does, is in order that he may be clothed. This makes a vast difference. The more we examine the genius of man’s religion, in all its phases, the more we shall see its thorough insufficiency to remedy his state, or even to meet his own sense thereof. It may do very well for a time, it may avail so long as death, judgment and the wrath of God are looked at from a distance, if looked at at all; but when a man comes to look these terrible realities straight in the face, he will find, in good truth, that his religion is a bed too short for him to stretch himself upon, and a covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in.8

1 Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis in the Revised Version With Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), pp. 51-52.
2 Henry Charles Groves, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, (Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1861), p. 52. Italics original.
3 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 74. Italics original.
4 Robert S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, Vol. 1. (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1868), p. 73.
5 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Ge 3:6–8 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994); electronic ed. (Logos.)
6 Augustus Toplady, “Rock of Ages cleft for me,” found here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/r/o/rockages.htm Accessed on 7/6/12.
7 Horatius Bonar, Earth’s Morning: Or, Thoughts on Genesis, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1875), pp. 130-31. Italics original
8 C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch. (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1880, reprint 1972), p. 32.

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Jottings – The Rainbow

Jottings

On the rainbow of Genesis 9:16: “…it is happy to bear in mind, that when the bow appears, the eye of God rests upon it; and man is cast not upon his own imperfect and most uncertain memory, but upon God’s. ‘I,’ says God, ‘will remember.’ How sweet to think of what God will, and what He will not, remember! He will remember His covenant, but He will not remember His people’s sins. The cross, which ratifies the former, puts away the latter. The belief of this gives peace to the troubled heart and uneasy conscience.”

C. H. Mackintosh, Genesis to Deuteronomy: Notes on the Pentateuch. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1972, p. 55.

Notes on the Pentateuch available online here.

 

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Entry Level Theological Truth [30]

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1 Timothy 2:13-14

The modern confusion over gender issues stems from humanity’s first parents’ ancient failure. Adam and Eve did not maintain their proper roles, which led to their disobedience to God’s Word. The Man failed to lead and thereby opened the pathway for his wife’s deception and the ensuing sin that snared each of them. By ignoring their divinely-ordained roles they brought terrible consequences upon their world and themselves.

 

 


The Danger Of A Leader’s Silence



 

Adam was created to lead. Eve was meant to help in the great work of subduing the earth (Genesis 2:20-24.) Unfortunately, it appears from the statement “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6) that the man was present throughout at least a portion of his wife’s conversation with the tempter. This implies that he stood by and was silent, allowing Eve to do the talking and the serpent to dictate the direction of the discussion. Instead of silencing the adversary’s blasphemy, Adam remained quiet, and watched Eve disobey. He then followed suit by knowingly eating of the prohibited tree. Effectively he chose Eve over God. For his behavior, Adam is given chief culpability in the fall among humans (Genesis 3:17-19; see also Romans 5:12-19.)

 


The Danger Of Stepping Out Of Submission



 

When Eve stepped into the leadership vacuum left by Adam’s inaction, she placed herself upon dangerous ground that led to tragedy. She did not closely adhere to God’s Word and thus fell prey to deception. This resulted in her spiritual death before God, as well as the beginning of physical death in her body (a process which would not be finished for many a year, but which led inexorably to the separation of her soul from her body.) Further she put Adam in the difficult position of having to choose between their Creator and her. The guilt for his sin rests upon the man’s shoulders; nonetheless, Eve did not prove to be a fitting helper for Adam in Genesis 3.

 


It’s Deja Vu All Over Again!



 

Similarly today there is a dearth of men who are willing to develop their God-given mandate to lead in the world, the home, and the church. Too often men selfishly shirk their responsibilities in favor of an easier life or the gratification of their lusts. This in turn opens the door for women to usurp the authority of the man – willingly or unwillingly – in hopes of doing what needs to be done.

The failure of men to be leaders like Christ is at the root of the problems facing society, the family, and the church. Of course, they can only exercise this kind of loving servant leadership in the power of the Holy Spirit, and one can only receive Him by being born again through faith in the Lord Jesus who died on the cross as a sacrifice and then rose in victory. Likewise, in order to be submissive, godly helpers, women must have the power of the Holy Spirit enabling them to obey God’s Word. Only by being saved through faith in the Lord Jesus may they achieve their purpose in God’s program.

The church should serve as a microcosm of the new order of redemption in Christ. Accordingly, men ought to lead in the government of the local assembly as overseers (1 Timothy 3:1.) More basically they are given the privileged responsibility of vocally leading in the assembly in worship, praise, and teaching. The sisters are to remain silent, not teach, and not usurp authority over the brothers (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15.) The men are to be uncovered and the women are to cover, so that the headship of Christ and glory of God may be seen among the angels (1 Corinthians 11:2-16.) In this way, the original creation order is restored: man offers godly leadership and the woman offers godly submission – all to the glory of God.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [29]

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6

 

Temptation appeals to fundamental human impulses, including the senses. First, Eve “saw,” then she reasoned in keeping with her own intellect; finally, she took and ate involving the tactile and taste senses. People fall prey to the same traps today, following their personal thoughts and impulses to their own spiritual cost. A post mortem on this tragic episode in human history provides modern people with help in recognizing and overcoming temptation.

 


Looks Can Kill



 

AppleGod is the author of true taste and beauty. He created man’s aesthetic sense, and filled the original creation with many lovely things. Even this present, fallen world still has many vestiges of its original divinely-engendered beauty. The problem is not that Eve appreciated something tasty and attractive, but rather that she sought these blessings apart from obedient love towards the Blesser. As the Lord Jesus later summed up the demonstration of true creaturely and filial affection: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15.)

One commentator describes Eve’s view of the prohibited tree in this way: “Already she looks upon the tree with quite other eyes than before. The more she looks upon it, the more charming to her does its fruit seem to be, both in itself and on account of the advantage to be obtained from it. Now, finally, this external charm of sense decides her to the commission of the deed.”1 Her wayward eyes led to the sin. Sight displaced faith in favor of human reasoning that ignored God’s stated command.

The internal strivings of the first woman’s mind exhibit the first demonstration of loving the world, instead of the Lord. 1 John 2:16 spells out the characteristics of such an affection: “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Kidner explains: “The pattern of sin runs right through the act, for Eve listened to a creature instead of the Creator, followed her impressions against her instructions, and made self-fulfilment her goal. This prospect of material, aesthetic and mental enrichment (6a) seemed to add up to life itself; the world still offers it (1 John 2:16). But man’s lifeline is spiritual, namely God’s word and the response of faith (Deut. 8:3; Hab. 2:4); to break it is death.”2

 


A Gilded Road To Perdition



 

Gilded Road to PerditionIt is a sad reality that a perverted exaltation of the good things of life – flavor, color, melody, and other appealing qualities – can drag someone to hell. Many people are so taken with art, music, and literature that they have no time or interest in a relationship with their Creator. How many gourmands flock to the latest “foody” hotspot, but never even consider going to a place where the gospel is faithfully preached. This is really a subtle form of idolatry, which substitutes sensations, pleasures, and things for adoration of the One True God. This is why the Bible equates covetousness with idolatry (Col. 3:5.) As a contemporary author writes: “Covetousness is a form of idolatry because it is both the exaltation of the object desired as well as of yourself, while Christ is eclipsed by both.”3

 


Overcoming Tasty Temptation



 

God alone can give victory over temptation. His absolute triumph is evidenced by the Son’s conflict with Satan in the desert, where he tested Him three times in a vain attempt to entice this sinless One with the same plan of attack. When the adversary appealed to Christ’s physical appetites, He responded with utter confidence in the Holy Scriptures, keeping His desires in full conformity to His Father’s will (Matt. 4:4.)

Next, the devil bade him to orchestrate a dramatically supernatural spectacle at the Temple by throwing Himself from the roof’s pinnacle in order to force divine protection via the agency of protecting angels. How that would incite pride in ordinary men! Yet the Lord Jesus refused by citing the Scriptures as to His proper role in seeking His Father’s will (as opposed to self-promoting exhibitionism – Matt. 4:7.)

Lastly, from the impressive vantage point of a high mountain the evil one offered Christ a crossless crown. Even seeing the glory of the world’s kingdoms did not turn the Lord’s head. As He said later: “…the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (Jn. 14:30.) Only by faith in Christ (1 Jn. 5:4-5) and by the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given to believers (Rom. 8:1-5) can we overcome temptation.

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1A. Dillmann, Genesis Critically and Exegetically Expounded, Vol. 1, trans. Wm. B. Stevenson. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1897), p. 152.

2Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 73.

3Joe Thorn, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re:Lit) Good News Publishers/Crossway Books, 2011, pp. 111-112. Kindle Edition.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [28]

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The title of Tears For Fears’ 80’s pop anthem “Everybody wants to rule the world” hits on a basic truth about humanity: people innately desire to command their own lives and circumstances. Of course, the reality is far different. Many live like the embodiment of Henley’s skeptically poetic lines:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
1

 

Yet the sad truth is that men are not in control of their fate, lives, or world. This inner yearning for control with its correlative quest for personal knowledge and enlightenment are artifacts from the fall. From the garden of Eden onwards, Satan has peddled the lie to humanity “…you will be like God”2, holding forth the promise of self-sufficiency for wayward humanity.

 


A Faustian Temptation



 

The serpent implies to Eve that the Almighty does not want competition by saying this: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5.) In other words, Adam and she will know what God knows and be able to decide for themselves concerning the nature of good and evil. Contemporary people also find this lie attractive. They erroneously believe that they are their own arbiter of truth and can determine good and evil for themselves. But God is the standard of truth in Himself; apart from Him humans do not have the capacity to escape evil and achieve lasting, eternal good.

Of course, the Lord does not want man to be ignorant; He is a God who reveals Himself and gives light through His Word (Ps. 119:130.) He wants people to walk in the light with Him (1 Jn. 1:5-7.) That is, God wants them to discover knowledge in Him. Good is what agrees with His character and will (these things are explicitly revealed by what He commands and teaches in His Word.) In Christ – the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) – believers find the truth about God and themselves (Jn. 14:6.)

 


Rejecting Destructive Independence



 

The essence of sin is rebellion against God – a treasonous act of disloyalty to the One who made mankind. When one sins, they dethrone God in their life and place themselves squarely on the throne. As Stott pointedly said: “Every sin is a surrender to the primeval temptation to become like God.”3 When they sin, they are saying in effect: “I know better than God what is good for me; abstaining from this act would be evil – I must do it.”

 


Sharing In The Life That God Has For Us



 

Christian sanctification is the process by which our Creator and Redeemer works out the new life in His new creature’s lives. The more that the saints walk with Christ, the more they learn to deny self in favor of obedience to God. A nineteenth century preacher put it well:

The first object from which our heavenly Father weans His child is self. Of all idols, he finds self the hardest to abandon. When man in Paradise aspired to be as God, God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself. From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race, and will continue to be until Christ comes to restore all things. In the soul of the regenerate, Divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol, and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is not eager to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. There is much yet to be achieved before this still indwelling and unconquered foe lays down his weapons in entire subjection to the will and the authority of that Savior, whose throne and rights he has usurped…The moment we learn to cease from ourselves–from our own wisdom, and power, and importance–the Lord appears and takes us up. Then His wisdom is displayed, His power is put forth, His glory is developed, and His great name gets to itself all the praise. It was not until God had placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, that His glory passed by. Moses must be hid, that God might be all.4

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1William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”; found here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/ Accessed on 6/5/12.

2Or “gods” according to some translations; either rendering of elohim is permissible in Hebrew. If one thinks of Elohim as a proper title for God – as in Gen. 1:1 – than it is “God” (NKJV, JND, & ESV.) If, however, the serpent was using the term generically of Adam and Eve, then “gods” would be the correct translation (KJV; “divine beings” NET; see Ps. 82:1, 6 – especially note the margin of the NKJV.) It is a question of emphasis: is he saying they will be like God, emphasizing that they could achieve the same level as their Creator? Or is he affirming that they will be little gods who can decide things for themselves apart from their Maker? Either way, it is a sinful declaration of independence from the God who is the truth.

3J.R.W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist. London: Tyndale Press; Downers Grove: IVP, 1970, p. 207.

4Octavius Winslow, from the blog: http://octaviuswinslow.org/ Accessed on 7/30/10.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [27]

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

After contradicting the Lord’s word, the serpent impugned the Almighty’s goodness by inferring that His prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was motivated out of self-serving jealousy that wanted to withhold something worthwhile from human beings.

Satan has employed this timeless tactic throughout the centuries to plant seeds of doubt regarding their Creator’s intentions in people’s minds. It is a common misconception that God is the cosmic kill-joy – a self-absorbed ogre who wants to hoard the good stuff for Himself, while keeping His creatures in bondage. But this could not be more inaccurate.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [26]

The Rock of Gibralter

“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’” Genesis 3:4

After beginning subtly, the adversary changes tactics by directly challenging the Word of God. From an implied undermining of the Almighty’s goodness Satan’s argument now proceeds to specific contradiction of the Creator’s authority. Eventually the enemy always unmasks himself in opposition to the Lord’s revealed mind in the Scriptures. Ultimately, everyone must decide: “Does God’s Word have authority in my life?” Whether one realizes it or not, disbelieving or disobeying the Bible flouts the power, holiness, and sovereignty of the Most High God.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [25]

Graveyard

“…Lest you die.” Genesis 3:3

“There’s nothing certain except death and taxes” says the familiar adage, but why is that so? People of every race, nationality, socioeconomic and educational level die. One out of every one dies in our world today; these are easy statistics for the mathematically challenged (like this author.) How does one account for the ubiquity of death in our world? Genesis 3 gives the answer.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [24]

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die”.’” Genesis 3:2-3

God’s Word is a disclosure of His mind and a revelation of His character and will; therefore, it must be handled carefully. To be slipshod in one’s reading or interpretation of the Scriptures is to invite spiritual error and the disaster that inevitably ensues.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [23]

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman,’Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” Genesis 3:1

Among human beings, it is a common sin to discount the goodness of their Creator. Often when God is brought into any conversation, it is merely to complain about what’s wrong with the world. Many people live under the misconception that God wants to rob them of any enjoyment they might have on this woeful planet. This brings to mind the journalist H.L. Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: someone who fears that somebody somewhere is having a good time. Many people think God is like that. Not surprisingly, therefore, the first temptation to Adam and Eve came in the form of a question ascribing harshness to the Almighty’s provision for His creatures.

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