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Online Text Sermon - The Fall and Recovery of Man, Genesis ch.3 v.15

PreacherRev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness
Sermon TitleThe Fall and Recovery of Man (End missing)
TextGenesis ch.3 v.15
Sermon ID415

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God is here speaking, and God says to the serpent -

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3, 15).

It is impossible to understand man's life in this world until we have understood this third chapter of the book of Genesis. There is more wisdom and more understanding to be gained from a realisation of the meaning of this chapter, than there is from studying half the books in the British Museum. You will never know what man's real problem is until you have digested the message which God gives us here in Genesis, chapter 3. Because, here, of course, in this chapter we are informed about the original state of man: how he was made perfect but then, sadly, how he lost his perfection and fell into a state of sin and of misery.




I, personally, am of the opinion that we find Adam and Eve here, in this chapter 3, in three different states of mind and soul. Certainly, we must agree that Adam and Eve, when we first meet them here, in chapter 3, are perfect: morally, spiritually, physically and mentally perfect. Then, and nobody can disagree with this; we meet them secondly in a condition in which they are fallen from that condition of innocence and perfection into state of sin and rebellion against God, as we shall see.

Not everyone agrees with the third point I wish to make but, I for myself, am convinced, I think on satisfactory reasons, that we also, thirdly, find Adam and Eve here, at the end of the chapter in a state of grace and salvation. They came to be converted as believers today are converted, to faith in the promise of the Gospel. Because, verse fifteen, is often referred to as the proto-evangelium - a long Latin word, which simply means the 'first Gospel promise': the first preaching of the Gospel. Therefore, I beg to look at this section of Scripture with you today, by no means confining our thoughts to this one verse - important as it is - but looking at this most valuable and important passage of Scripture as a whole. I believe the place to begin, in understanding this chapter, is with the two trees that were planted in the Garden of Eden.



God had said to Adam that he and his wife might freely eat of all the trees in the garden, apart from one. We discover, indeed, that there were two special trees that differed from all the rest. The first of these is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was located in the centre of the Garden of Eden, in the middle of the garden. God said, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof (from that tree) thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2, 17). Therefore, we now need to ask the question: Why should God put that tree in the garden at all? Why did God not simply leave that tree out, unplanted? Why did He insist on planting such a tree, knowing, of course, that it constituted a temptation and a danger to the whole human race? The answer we must give to that question is this: That it was God's plan, and His intention to place every moral creature under a test of obedience to His will, so this tree was a test, as to whether our first parents, would do as they were told by God.

You understand that the distance between God and man is so vast that it was absolutely proper and right, that God, if He saw fit to do so, should impose an examination and a test upon mankind, as to whether we would obey and submit to His authority and to His Word or not. It would have been perfectly possible, of course, for God to have planted the trees of the garden and not to have put there this Tree of the Knowledge and Evil; there can only be one purpose why God put it there, and as I say, it was to test our obedience as a human race.

Evidently, there had already been a similar test in heaven, amongst the very angels of God. We may not know on which day of the week - there being six days of creation - the angels were created on, but we do know this: that some of the angels, shortly after their creation, entered into a state of rebellion and sin against God. They were cast out of heaven and were no longer angels but demons or, if you like, devils: Satan, himself, being the chief. Therefore, we must conclude that in heaven also, the angels in glory, at their creation, were placed under some similar moral test of their obedience. Some failed the test. That had already happened before Genesis 3. Satan comes now to tempt mankind into a similar rebellion to the rebellion which he had already committed against his Maker and his God. That then is the background to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

You mustn't suppose that the tree was in some way poisonous, or that it had some harmful effect upon man in and of itself. No, it was a test: a test of obedience to God. My dear friends, we are all in a similar condition. We are all under this similar test. God has given us His Word in the Bible, and you and I, and all the rest of mankind, will be, in the end, tested by our attitude to this Book and to this Word, and to this message which is to be found in the Bible. God is giving us the same test - not identical, certainly - but in a similar manner today. Your whole future, your whole destiny, depends on your attitude, I say, to His Word which is found in the Bible.


What then is to be said about the Tree of Life, which also is referred to here in this chapter? The Tree of Life, evidently, was a sacrament, similar in some ways to the Lord's Supper. You understand that the Lord's Supper is not for everyone; the Lord's Supper is for those who are duly qualified - that is to say, for those who are true Christians, for those who are believers. The bread and the wine are the emblems, symbols if you like, of the body broken and the blood shed of our great and glorious Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is those who have faith in that Saviour who are eligible to take the Lord's Supper; just so, the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden - that was a sacrament for Adam and Eve on the condition that they passed their test. Had they refused the temptation that Satan brought to them, had they said 'no' to the devil, then they would have been confirmed in holiness. That single first test was the one and only test of its kind they would have had.

Had they passed the test and refused the temptation then they would have had a right to eat from the Tree of Life, which was the sacrament confirming to them the promise of God of everlasting life. This is implied in Genesis 2, verse seventeen, where God says, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The implication being, if they rejected the temptation and refused to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would certainly live with eternal life. No doubt what would have happened to Adam and Eve, and all the human race is, they would never have died, but would have been carried one-by-one into the glory of God, just as Elijah was; and before him, just as Enoch was. There would be no death, with all Adam's children in due time, by some marvellous transfiguration, would be lifted and translated to the heavenly kingdom, without seeing death. So the Tree of Life then, was something they were disqualified from taking from, once Adam and Even had sinned.

There is, of course, this lesson to you and to me: The highest worship is the worship in which we are obedient to God. Beautiful language, flowery words, may have their place; ornate buildings, gorgeous ceremonies, perhaps may occasionally be in place - just occasionally. However, God has no interest in anything, my friends, apart from one thing: obedience, obedience, obedience to what He says here. "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15, 22). Adam and Eve were placed under this moral test, when the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was there to test their obedience.


Let's look secondly at the strategy of the tempter: the devil. The devil, we are told, was extremely subtle, crafty, cunning and ready to tell lies, or to do anything which furthered his cause and advanced his interests. We are told by Jesus Christ that the devil was a liar and a murderer (John 8, 44). The devil's motive in tempting Adam and Eve was to kill them. It was murder, not simply of the body, but of the soul. What the devil wanted to do was to have them in hell with himself. He knew that once he sinned against God he was cast out of heaven with his fallen angels; demons or devils we call them today. We don't know how many of them there are but there are many hundreds - probably many thousands, maybe millions for all we know. They are a great empire of wickedness against God and against the souls of men. The devil's greatest eye was to ruin mankind, to drag us down.

In this chapter, we see how he begins his campaign of evil against the human race. That, by the way, is the way sinners are in this world. Those who are drunkards would like to make others drunkards. Those who are fornicators would like to encourage others to be fornicators. Those who are unfaithful in their private lives would wish everybody to be unfaithful. Those who are child molesters would encourage it, and they do so on the Internet these days, and in many other ways. It is of the nature of sin that, when we are under the power of sin, we desire others to be under the power of it. We desire others to be under the same bondage to sin that we are ourselves. The devil was in that condition, and he endeavours now to murder the entire human race. My dear friends that is the world we are living in. Let's make no bones about it. The devil is still doing that. He does it in newspapers, magazines, videos, films, television, pop music, and a thousand other schemes that he has. I am not saying that all these things are absolutely wrong; some are more dangerous than others. What I am saying is: That is how the Christian must live. He must realise that he is in a dangerous world, where the devil with subtlety, and craftiness, and persuasiveness, and cunning, and flattery, and a thousand wily arts, is trying to drag him down; we must know that. Every Christian understands that.

The devil had already sinned and fallen, and he comes now, in the Garden of Eden, notice not to the man, but to the woman. The Bible uses this phrase: That the woman is the weaker vessel. It doesn't mean to insult her. It is not being sexist in that unkind sense. The Bible says that the man was given a certain function by God; he was to be the head of the home, and the woman was given to be his help-meet. She has a wonderful place in life - a God-given function - which is of immense importance to herself and to the husband; but she is never the head of the race and never the head of the home or of society, by God's ordination. So the devil craftily comes to her, as to the weaker vessel, and he begins to sow doubts in her mind, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden" (Genesis 3, 1)? He is beginning to cast doubt on the Word of God.

My beloved friends, this is ever the devils stratagem, this is ever his way. If you know anything about the history of the study of the Bible in the last one hundred and fifty/two hundred years you know that is exactly the way many university divinity departments have been conducting their studies. They don't accept the Bible as the Word of God. What the Bible says is taken with a pinch of salt. The students are taught to take the Bible with a pinch of salt. They refer to the Bible very often in these divinity departments as being a historical document of great antiquity in which men were groping after an explanation for the truth. "Of course," they say, "it is not a revelation from God - plain and simple. It is the record of a revelation, which has, in itself, many, many flaws and blemishes." You see it's the same whispering voice of the devil. He knows very well that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, but he spends all his time sowing lies about it. Therefore, what he does here to the woman, he does to people still to this day.

He comes to the woman, and having got her off her guard, he now tells her an outright lie. "Ye shall not surely die," he says, "For God doth know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3, 4-5). Alternatively, it could be translated equally well, "You will be like god." You see the temptation? "God is not very kind to you is He?" he means. "Here you are, just men and women in the garden. Well now, if you were to eat from that Tree, you would be far more understanding than you are. You would be so full of knowledge you would be like God Himself. Why then should you deny yourself this wonderful privilege of becoming like God? All you have to do is put forward your hand and eat from the Tree." "But oh," says the woman, "God told us not to." "God is unkind. God tells lies. You can't listen to God" - you see that is the voice; a voice which we hear plenty of today, don't' we, in all sorts so of realms? We must beware of that.


We come now, sadly and thirdly, to the fall of mankind. I have said already that what the devil aimed at was to murder us, body and soul; to bring us under the wrath and curse of God. He wanted to have us in hell with himself - the whole human race is what he aimed at. This is what we discover from the rest of Scripture: that Eve was taken in. She did not see the crookedness which the devil was using; but we are told, Adam was not deceived. 1 Timothy 2, 14 is the revelation here that tells us that Eve was taken in; Adam was not taken in. She didn't realise this was a deadly trick, he did, which gives rise to the question: Why then did he eat?

What he should have done is this. When he saw that she had sinned, he should have refused. God would, no doubt, have given him another wife in some other way. Eve would have died. What Adam evidently argued in his mind was this: "I love my wife too much to part with her." He made the woman his god. He put the woman ahead of his obedience to God. Now, of course, he is not the only one to do such a thing. The strong instinct that a man has for a woman, or a woman for a man, is one of the primary means that the devil uses to turn people away from their duty to God. Of course, the answer we give is, nothing must come between ourselves and our duty to God. We must turn our back on every duty in the world, if that duty involved compromising our obedience to God. Adam sinned, as we say, with his eyes open.

Which of the two sinned first? Answer: Eve. Which of the two sinned worst? Answer: Adam. He sinned a sin which was far, far more serious than hers, because of his position. He was what we call the 'federal head' of the whole human race. He was acting on our behalf. His obedience, or disobedience, would have implications for the entire human race, to the ends of the earth, to the end of time, and indeed to all eternity. Heaven and hell were suspended on the obedience or disobedience of this one man. If you doubt the accuracy of my words, read at your leisure Romans 5, 12 >. "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." When Adam sinned, all sinned. We sinned in him, and we fell with him. That's the way we are to think of it, because a federal head is one who acts for others - like President Bush when he signs a document on behalf of the whole American nation, then his action affects everybody. If he were to go to war, let's say, God forbid, but if he were to put his signature to a declaration of war, every American would be involved automatically. So it was with Adam; when he sinned against God, the whole human race was implicated and involved in the consequences of it.

That is something that we must bring our minds to understand. Three things especially were implicated for you, me, our children, our grandchildren, everybody in China, America, Australia, wherever they live; the entire human race was implicated in three ways in Adam's disobedience. First: He brought sin upon us all. Second: He brought condemnation upon us all in the sight of God: we are a condemned humanity. Our sins have brought us into a state in which we are alienated from God and under His just displeasure. Thirdly: Eternal punishment and death. These are the effects of sin.


I want to mention too, we can see the beginnings of all of these effects of sin, right here in this very chapter. It is true that Adam and Eve did not die in every sense, there and then on the spot. Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty or thereabouts. I don't know how old Eve was, I don't think we are told, but sooner or later, death overtakes every man and every woman because of Adam's disobedience.

You see the way sin is visible at once in Adam and Eve. The first thing we see is: their eyes are opened, and they realise they are naked, and they were ashamed. Not because they were in one another's presence, they were man and wife. There was no embarrassment arising from the fact they were naked as man and wife; they were one flesh. But, the embarrassment arose from this: They were naked in the eyes of God. They realised that in God's eyes something had gone wrong with them. Their psychology was now changed; they had a sense of shame for what they were, as in the sight of heaven. That is why when the voice of the Lord God was heard in the evening of the day, walking, as no doubt had happened before, and Adam came to speak with God and they would walk and talk together. God taking on a human form, probably, to talk to His created being, Adam, and they had fellowship together before. Now we see a different reaction. When he hears his Maker coming to talk with him, he hides behind the trees. He cannot bear the thought of facing God and his wife does likewise, and they try to cover themselves with fig leaves.

My friends, that is exactly what men and women do. They would rather go to picture houses, to theatres, to operas, to bingo, to football, to anywhere but not to the house of God: not to where the Bible is being preached. That is why the football stadiums are full and many churches are only partly filled, and very often largely empty. It is because man cannot face his Maker. Man is afraid of appearing before God. Why? Well, because of his inward sense of shame. He knows he's guilty. You know it and I know it by nature and until we know the Gospel answer to the problem, we shall all our lives go on in this terrible condition of being ashamed before God.

Men try to brazen it out, of course. Don't we see - it's not humorous but it's almost enough to put a smile on your face - to see the way they each blame one another. When God turns to Adam, what does he say? Does he say, "Lord, I can't blame anyone else, it's my own sinful wicked disobedience." Does he say that? Not at all. "It's her," he said, "she did it. The one you gave me, she is the mischief maker." Aren't we so like it? We blame one another. Have you not seen it among young children, even from an early age? "It's her fault - It's his fault - He did it - They did it - Not I, but them." O my friends, our human nature is the same. We are all a fallen, rotten human race, and all because of this one great, historical transformation: the fall of Adam, the fall of the human race. Our change from being perfect, sinless and holy, into a condition of sin and guilt.


How does the Word of God here go on? Well it goes on next to talk about the judgement of God. God now comes on the scene and He begins to judge these events. My dear friends, here is the bad news for all that are not Christians. God will always, sooner or later, judge sin; He must. He must judge sin. Why? Because He is infinitely holy, and infinitely righteous and God cannot leave sin undealt with. I wish our nation would wake up to that single truth if they woke up to nothing else. Whether men live like Sodom or Gomorrah or whether they live in some other wicked form of sin and guilt - they have to be told, and they must know - that sooner or later Almighty God will confront them and they will have to face up to what they have done, what they are, the way they have lived, and the way they think. God, I say, is a God of righteous judgement. That is what we see in this very chapter. He comes and He begins to ask questions; this is what a Judge does. "What have you done and what have you said? How did you behave?" It's not, of course, that God doesn't know already. I hope none of us would run away with the thought that God has to ask questions to get answers; He knows the answer before He asks the question, of course. He knows all things. He knows the secret things, but He asks the question in order to draw out the responses from the persons who are guilty, so that they might confess; if they confess at all, the things that they have done.

My friends, this is a prelude to the day of death. Let me say to you, dear friends, that as soon as a person dies - man, woman or child - the very first thing they will have to do in eternity, beyond the grave, is they will have to confront God. He will do the questioning and they will have to do the answering. Woe betides you or me, or anyone, who does not have Jesus Christ speaking up for him in the day of death. That's what we call the private judgement of death. It determines where your soul goes, to heaven at once or to hell at once.

Then in the end of history when the resurrection has taken place there will be a general judgement, and all the human race will be there: all of all generations, all of all ages from the Old Testament and New Testament, men and women and children, and all. In the Day of Judgement, the whole universe will assemble before the Judge, Jesus Christ. He will sit upon His great throne and He will separate between the sheep and the goats, the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous; some He will take to glory and some He will send to hell and everlasting burning. I say these things because it is as plain as plain can be that this is what will happen in the end of history. This is the last page of history. The Bible tells us this so that you might prepare for it right now, whilst you have breath in your body.

God, therefore, is going to judge and God does judge here, and He asks the question. "Did you take from the tree?" "Yes! It was the woman who temped me." "Why did you do it?" "It was the devil who tempted me." Then God begins the process of punishment. The purpose of judgement is to find out the truth concerning us all, then God will reward or else punish, according to what He knows to be the truth. Judgement will be according to truth. It doesn't matter how clever the spin-doctor's are, it doesn't matter how fancy the language they use in the newspaper columns or magazines or over the air, in English or Gaelic or any other language under the sun; all the spinning will be useless in the day when God judges. He is a righteous Judge, a holy Judge, and we see it all right here.


The penalty fits the crime. The serpent, or the devil if you like, is going to be smitten in his head. His head will be crushed. That means to say, in the end of history, the devil will be cast into the lake of fire. He will suffer the greatest possible torment, and he knows it, and he knows his time is short, and he wants to go about and to drag as many people down with him as he can. My dear young people, boys and girls and teenagers, and others, let me say to you: Don't you consent to share eternity in the lake of fire with the devil; don't you agree to that. I know it sounds very sweet the way the devil puts it to you: "Just a little bit of sweet sinning for the night; nobody will know. Just a little bit of sweet enjoyment for an hour or two; nobody will ever hear of it." Don't you believe it! The eye of God is watching. Don't you consent to go to hell with the devil, but resist his temptation, because there is always a penalty to pay for agreeing with the devil.

So the serpent is to be crushed and then the woman's judgement comes. O what a sad, sad punishment. The special gift, of course, of the woman is motherhood: to be a mother of children. But, says God, this will be your punishment for what you've done: Child bearing will be painful and dangerous from now on. Every woman who bears a child from now until the end of time will be exposed to physical and emotional dangers and difficulties which are associated with the act of childbirth.

Then to the man: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (verses 17-19). No more easy days as before. No more paradise as before. Out you go from the paradise into the wider world, with the thorns springing up, and the thistles and the troubles and the sweat of your brow. It explains, my friends, the misery of Calcutta, the misery of cities and towns, the miseries in London, the miseries in Birmingham. All these things are explicable and explainable in terms of this single text: the judgement, the curse of God upon the world. If this is all we have to say it would be bleak news, and sad news; news which would make us all terrified and scared, and go miserable to our homes.

There is now in my text something wonderful. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (text). The question then is: Who is this seed of the woman, and Who is the woman? The woman, of course, is Eve, and her seed is a Man who is going to be born in the course of human history. Given the process of time, with the passage of the ages and the centuries and the millennia, one day God means, one day a Man will be born into the human race Who will smash the power of the devil finally and totally, and Who will bring peace to the world. You know very well Who that is: our blessed and holy Saviour, Jesus Christ, came into the world many centuries later, possibly as many as four thousand years later. We may not know the precise number of years, but something like four thousand years later He came into the world Whose name is Jesus. "And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1, 21). And this He does by bruising the serpent in his head.

How did he do that? By dying on the cross. On the cross, two things happened. The devil bruised Jesus in His heel and Jesus bruised the devil in his head. A bruise in the heel is painful. The heel is a sensitive part of the body and to be bruised in the heel is to suffer pain, great pain. Our beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ, suffered intense pain upon the cross, shedding His blood as the Lamb of God. The devil and all his forces of darkness did everything they could to make the pain intense. Round the cross stood the Pharisees, mocking and jeering; wagging their fingers and saying "He saved others, Himself He cannot save." All of that was the bruising of our Saviour's heel.

The devil was suffering the greater condemnation at that very time. On the occasion of His very death, our Lord destroyed him that hath the power of death, that is the devil, and delivered those who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage. The cross of Christ, where He shed His blood brings redemption to the world, and this was the first Gospel promise: the proto-evangelium, as the Roman or the Latin phrase has it, the first Gospel preaching. My very dear friends, Adam and Eve heard it, and they believed it. I believe fully, they were brought into a state of grace and salvation and the knowledge of God.

The Apostle Paul sums it up really like this, in these wonderful words: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1, 15). This is the promise that is given here. In order to confirm the promise, as so often, God gives an outward symbolism in order to make it still clearer to Adam and Eve. The symbolism had regard to the clothes that they were wearing. As man and woman were first created, they didn't need clothes. We wouldn't need clothes, at all, if we were not so wicked. Life would be impossible without proper clothes. We are so rotten, so fallen, so foul, so filthy, we have to cover ourselves and our shame and our nakedness because we are so ruined in our thoughts. Our thoughts are dreadful thoughts.

That is why, by the way, we should put on proper clothes. Clothes are to cover our nakedness; they are a sense of shame. When we wear clothes, we don't put them on to boast and swagger about. Our clothes are put on because we are shameful people, a shameful race, and our clothes ought to cover our bodies sufficiently for decencies sake. It is outrageous when people use clothes to excite foul passion in one another; that is the devil's work. We must refuse to agree to such a practice.


Now I say there is symbolism here: the symbolism of salvation. The symbolism has to do with the fig leaf. God now strips them of their fig leaves and He puts on them coats of skin. You understand that the change of clothing was not an accidental or insignificant detail; it was a symbol of a change for the better. The fig leaves were a symbol of man's attempt to cover up his own shame and sin. God removes them; they will not do. He puts on them coats of skins, which He has made. The coats of skin being animal skins, involved, of course, the shedding of animal blood. It was at this moment that the practice began of slaying animals in sacrifice to God. God Himself instituted this very practice; He began it. All through the Old Testament until the death of Christ, this was done; animals had to be slain and blood had to be shed. All of that was a picture and a symbol, of course, and a shadow of the blood of the eternal Son of God Himself; of that we are left in no doubt. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9, 13-14)? How much of that Adam and Eve saw we may not know, but I personally am convinced, they saw enough to know this was God's way of covering their nakedness.

As I close dear friends, it's the only way that God covers nakedness still. He gives us the promise of the Gospel. He says, "Whosoever believeth in him (Jesus) should not perish" (John 3, 16). There's the promise, and if you believe the promise, you are clothed upon with the righteousness of Christ. It is all right here, in Genesis 3: the fall of man and his recovery, or rather, God's recovery of fallen man. It's all here. It explains why the world is the place it is.

Let me ask you dear friends: Where are you in the midst of all this teaching? Are you on the world's side or are you on God's side? Are you still wearing the fig leaves of your own self-importance and self-righteousness or have you renounced all of that? Are you wearing the righteousness of Christ, by faith in His most precious Person and His most precious blood? There is the question that I put to you this evening.

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