The Story #1: Sin Brings Separation and DeathSeries: The Story: A Big Picture View
Day after day books and articles promise answers to life’s problems. The research is always top-notch. The best doctors and psychologists have discovered the key to longer, more fulfilling lives. But day after day the answers change. Today’s research always seems to nullify yesterday’s conclusions. While people swear by their ever-changing solutions, the Bible has not ceased to change lives for thousands of years by consistently pointing to one problem and one solution. Death is our problem. Jesus is our solution.
Unfortunately, many fail to find the life offered in God’s word because they do not embrace the whole message. Many know some stories and details in the Bible, but most struggle to truly know God, the Bible, or how those stories and details fit into the Bible’s story and message. More importantly, few are able to see how the Bible relates to life today. Who is God? Why did God create people? Why does God give commandments? How do we start a relationship with God? Why should we care about any of this? Our goal is to answer these questions by considering a big picture view of the Bible in five movements.
- Sin Brings Separation and Death
- The Law of Moses Exposes Sin
- A New Covenant Promises Hope
- Jesus Conquers Sin and Death
- The Spirit Brings Restoration and Life
Many see the Bible as incomprehensible, but God’s words are meant to be understood by common people (Ephesians 3:3-5). You can see the overall Bible story portrayed on the cover. God blessed mankind with the opportunity to live with him in the garden, but mankind’s sinfulness did not allow eternal life and fellowship with God to continue. Though people normally believe they can save themselves, God gave the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai to show us all that we are sinful and deserving of death. But God showed his love for us when he sent Jesus, the sinless one, to die on the cross so our sins could be forgiven. From beginning to end, the Bible displays God’s glory by telling the story of how he made it possible for undeserving people to have eternal life and joy with him.
The Bible is a compilation of 66 books written by approximately forty different authors who wrote over the course of 1500 years. Individually, these books contain their own important and beautiful messages for mankind. But, like a mosaic, when these 66 books are seen together, they form a larger, unified story of a glorious God who loves his people and judges his enemies. These books are united, powerful, and relevant because their words were spoken by our Creator. The Holy Spirit put God’s words in the minds of authors (inspiration) who wrote exactly what Gold told them (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Scribes made so many copies of these books in their original languages that we have thousands of manuscripts today. Human error has caused some differences to exist between these manuscripts, but almost all of these differences are considered to be minor (i.e., spelling, articles, order of words, etc.). Modern Bibles are translated from the original languages by large committees of experts in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The enormous amount of manuscript evidence helps these translators identify scribal errors so that we can trust the Bible is God word. The Bible truly leads us to victory over sin - the only problem that matters.Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Many wonder why God created such a beautiful universe. Psalm 19:1-4 tells us creation declares the glory of God throughout the earth. Every massive star, beautiful sunrise, and tiny atom was created to testify to God’s greatness. After God created the heavens, earth, vegetation, celestial beings, and animals, Genesis 1:26-28 says God made males and females in his own image and told them to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. We could also ask why God created mankind in his image. Isaiah 43:7 tells us God created mankind for his glory. As a picture of an owl “images” an owl, we were created in God’s likeness to “image” God’s holiness. We are meant to fill the world with God’s likeness in holy living for his glory.
Our study begins with the first man, Adam. God created a garden in Eden and placed Adam there to work in it. God saw it was not right for man to be alone; so, God made a suitable and equal helper for Adam - Woman. She became his wife and Adam named her “Eve.” Since Adam and Eve were pure, they were naked and not ashamed. Eden was perfect - both God and the tree of life were there. Genesis 2:16–17 says God withheld only one thing from Adam and Eve. They could eat of every tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day they ate of this tree, they would die. 1 John 3:4 says sin is breaking God’s law. Genesis 3:1-6 tells us how God’s enemy, Satan, came as a serpent to deceive Eve into breaking God’s law. Let’s notice how Satan deceives so we are aware of his schemes.
Sin Is Tempting (Genesis 3:1-6)
Genesis 3:1–6, “1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?’ 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.’’ 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.’ 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.”
You Cannot Eat of Any Tree (3:1)? Did you catch the craftiness of Satan’s question in verse 1? God told Adam and Eve they could eat of every tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so they would not die. God’s original statement was very generous, but Satan ignores God’s generosity and twists God’s words to cause Eve to dwell on the one thing God did not give her. Now, God’s command sounds stingy. Satan also does this to us. God gives us a world full of blessings with simple parameters so we do not lose life with him. Satan tempts us to ignore God’s blessings and focus on how limiting God's commands are. Fight discontentment by praising God for what he has given us.
You Will Not Surely Die (3:4). Do you see Satan’s deceit in verse 4? Satan now deals with the consequences of sin. God said she would die, but Satan finds that notion silly. “You will not surely die!” Satan still eases our fears about sin today. God sounds very extreme when he warns us so seriously about sin. God talks about sin as if it is the end of the world, but everyone else lives how they want and they seem to be just fine. Satan tempts us to think, “It is not like sin will literally kill you!” These thoughts may seem true initially, but we will soon see how nothing could be further from reality.
Your Eyes Will Be Opened (3:5). Can you see Satan’s deception in verse 5? Satan tells Eve her eyes will be opened and she will be like God, knowing good and evil. Consider two problems with this. First, Eve is already like God. She was created in God’s image to glorify God’s character, not to be God. Second, having one’s eyes opened to know good and evil is a vague promise that is only good in theory. Satan tempts us with the same godlike desires. Fame, fortune, power, pleasure, and knowledge all sound great. In reality, people go mad pursuing these desires and are still dissatisfied once they taste them. Sin never fulfills its promises. Notice how Adam and Eve displayed shame over their sin in Genesis 3:7-13.
Sin Is Shaming (Genesis 3:7-13)
Genesis 3:7–13, “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. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ 10 And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ 11 He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ 12 The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”
They Covered-up and Hid (3:7-10). How do Adam and Eve display their shame in verses 7-10? Satan’s promise that their eyes would be opened came true in an unexpected way, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover up their nakedness. But their shame remained because they tried to hide from God when he came. This is a common first response to realizing our sin. We hide the evidence and silence our conscience from making us feel guilty. We act like God cannot see by avoiding prayer, God’s word, and God’s people. But only God can remove sin and shame. Cover-ups and avoidances are useless.
They Shifted the Blame (3:11-13). How do Adam and Eve show their shame in verses 11-13? They feel cornered and do not want God to know their guilt, so they both shift the blame. Adam blames God and Eve while Eve blames Satan. This was a mistake. Even if we are led astray by another, we must always take responsibility for our own actions. It is our own choice to sin. Shifting blame does not change that, it only increases turmoil. We will return to verses 14-15, but notice in Genesis 3:16-19 the painful consequences of sin. Since males and females have different roles, their consequences for sin also differ.
Sin Is Painful (Genesis 3:16-24)
Genesis 3:16–19, “16 To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ 17 And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”
The Woman’s Consequences (3:16). What do the woman’s consequences for sin center around? Family. Women often desire to bear and raise children, but now this will be painful. Sin will also cause trouble for her marriage. Just as sin desires Cain in Genesis 4:7, Eve will sinfully desire to control Adam. Adam will sinfully respond by ruling over her (see NET translation notes). Sin already caused Adam and Eve to turn against one other: Eve took control by giving Adam the fruit and Adam blamed Eve for his sin. Adam was supposed to lead Eve and Eve was supposed to help Adam. The opposite happened. Ephesians 5:21-33 teaches husbands and wives to overcome these sins by submitting to one another. Husbands must sacrificially and lovingly lead their wives while wives must respectfully submit to their husbands.
The Man’s Consequences (3:17-19). What do the man’s consequences for sin center around? Work. Men enjoy providing for their family, but sin makes this painful. Before, the garden naturally bore fruit; now the cursed ground would bear thorns. Even worse, God says in verse 19 that Adam will toil only to produce bread that will not keep him alive. This futility exists today. We work to provide food so we do not starve. Work feels pointless because no matter how much we work to eat, we will still die. God warns in Scripture that we will not find true life in bread, but in God’s word (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:27). We will find life when we seek sustenance in God’s word. Sin’s worst consequences are in Genesis 3:22-24.
Genesis 3:22–24, “22 Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’ 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Driven from Eden (3:22-24). What do Adam and Eve lose here? They lose the tree of life and fellowship with God in Eden. God’s presence is the only place where joy is full and where pain, sin, and death do not exist. Corruption grew outside of Eden so that sin and death increased. Genesis 6:5-7 says people’s thoughts were on wickedness continually so that God regretted creating people and decided to destroy them in a flood. God saved on Noah’s family of eight in an ark, but no one else repented and God destroyed all. God is serious about judgment! Sadly, people still rebelled after the flood and congregated to make a name for themselves instead of magnifying God’s name. God confused their language at Babel and dispersed them across the earth. People were enemies with God and with each other. The rest of the Bible glorifies God’s grace to work his plan to let mankind return to God’s presence and the tree of life. Unexpectedly, this hope is first prophesied in the serpent’s curse in Genesis 3:14-15.
Hope for the Woman’s Offspring (Genesis 3:14-15, 12:1-3)
Genesis 3:14–15, “14 The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’”
The Serpent’s Curse (3:14-15). Satan had consequences for his sin too. God says he will put enmity between Satan and the woman and between her offspring and his offspring. The NET translation helps. “And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.” An attack to the head is superior to an attack to the heel and God prophesies here that one day the offspring of woman will bruise Satan’s head. One day, the offspring of woman would be able to overcome the power of Satan and his offspring. Let’s conclude by seeing how God continued to promise hope through Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
Genesis 12:1–3, “1 Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”
All Blessed through Abraham’s Offspring (12:1-3). Abraham’s wife was barren, but God promised to give Abraham land, make him a great nation, and to cause all families to be blessed in him. Abraham had no children at the time of the promise, but he trusted God to be faithful. Two thousand years later, God brought the savior of the world through Abraham’s lineage (Matthew 1:17). In the next lesson we will turn to Exodus to learn about the purpose of the law God gave the nation that came from Abraham.