Lesson 3

The Fall Into Sin

(Genesis 3)
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Introduction: There is an old saying: "You get one shot at the king; either you kill him or he kills you." Imagine the thinking of Satan: if you were given one opportunity to test the loyalty of Adam and Eve, wouldn't you bring your best argument, your best temptation? Everything was riding on that "one shot." I wonder if Adam and Eve gave as much thinking to their upcoming test? Let's jump into our lesson and consider how sin entered our world!

  1. The Shot


    1. Read Genesis 3:1. Some people do not believe that the Biblical account of the fall of humans into sin is literal. Do you think a snake is really speaking to Eve?


      1. Most Christians think the snake is Satan. Revelation 20:2 calls Satan "that ancient serpent." If this snake really is Satan, does that prove this story is an allegory and not literal?


      2. Why does the Bible tell us that the snake was the smartest animal around? Why is that detail necessary? (This explanation suggests the story is literal. If any animal could speak, this one could. Thus, Eve would not have been surprised to have been speaking to a snake.)


      3. Do we have to choose between a smart snake and Satan? Between believing this story is literal or believing the snake is Satan? (A New Testament story helps unravel this mystery. Mark 5 contains the story of the demons "Legion" ( Mark 5:9) who possessed first a man and later a herd of pigs. The demons spoke through the man, according to the Biblical account, and they could have spoken through the pigs. I think Genesis 3 is a literal account and Mark reveals what is happening here. Satan takes control of a snake. Because snakes are so smart, Eve is not shocked to hear a snake talk. Note that the apostle Paul refers to this as if it were a literal event. 2 Corinthians 11:3.)


      4. Why does Satan ( Genesis 3:1) ask about eating from trees? Why does he state what is obviously not true? (Remember, this is the "test," the "one shot." You don't want anyone arguing later that Eve "missed the meeting" about eating from the trees. Satan did not want a dispute about whether she understood God's command, so he misstated it so that she would correct him.)


    2. Read Genesis 3:2-3. What do you think about Eve's response? Does she answer correctly? (She is both wrong and ambiguous. Read Genesis 2:16-17. God did not say anything about "touching" the fruit. According to the Bible He merely said "Don't eat." Notice that there were two trees in the middle of the garden: the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. (Genesis 2:9))


      1. Was refraining from touching the fruit a good idea? (If you are going to avoid eating it, it helps if you avoid touching it.)


      2. Was Eve doing the right thing in saying that if she touched the fruit she would die? That would be a good idea, right? (Read Deuteronomy 4:1-2. I think it is a serious mistake to confuse what is a "good idea" with what God actually said is sin. When you teach your children about sin, do not confuse in their minds what is actually sin and what are good ideas to avoid sin. Otherwise, when they violate your "good idea" and find no harm, they will think that the same is true with sin.)


    3. Read Genesis 3:4-5. This is Satan's "shot" to obtain the loyalty of humans. Analyze Satan's approach. What does he do? (First, he flatly contradicts God. Second, Satan suggests that God has lied to Eve so that she will remain inferior. She can be like God.)


      1. How would you characterize Satan's temptation to Eve? Is it appetite? Is it trust? Is it greed? Is it vanity? Is it pride? (I think it is all of these things except appetite. Eve decides to trust in her (about to be acquired) knowledge, rather than trust in God. This is pride.)


      2. Compare Genesis 3:22 with Genesis 3:5. Was Satan telling the truth? (In part.)


      3. Did God hide the fact that He did not want humans to know about evil? (Read Genesis 2:17. God gives the tree the label "knowledge of good and evil." In the Bible account, He does not explain why they should not eat it. He just tells them the penalty.)


        1. What lesson is there in this for you today? (We laugh at parents who answer the "Why?" of their children with "Because I told you so!" I determined that I would always give my children a reason for my rules. Perhaps that was the wrong approach. On some things we need to learn that God does not need to explain His rules to humans other than to say, "I'm God and you are not.")


    4. What percentage of the population does not trust the Creation account or the story of the fall of humans?


      1. Where do they find an alternative account? (The theory of evolution, for one.)


      2. How ironic is this? Let's assume for a minute that this is all allegory, myth or whatever label they use to say "I cannot believe this is literal." If anything is to be taken away from this story, what is it? (That we are to trust God and what He says rather than depend on our own understanding. If even the "myth" people believe there is a lesson here, why don't they apply it to this story? Why would they think they should supply their own story based on their own supposed knowledge?)


  2. The Fall


    1. Read Genesis 3:6. Why did Eve eat the fruit when she knew what God said? (The text says that the fruit was desirable to look at. It looked like good food. It would give her wisdom.)


      1. Why would the appearance of the fruit be a major factor in Eve's decision? (What she saw contradicted what she expected from a tree that God said would cause death. Surely a "death tree" would have ugly, or at least suspicious looking fruit.)


      2. Was Eve's sin a gradual one? (I think a major problem was that Eve misstated the law of God ( Genesis 3:3). She touched the fruit before she ate it. Because she did not die when she touched the fruit, she was led to believe that God was not trustworthy and she would gain wisdom by eating it.)


      3. How many times have you thought that God was untrustworthy when the real problem was your failure to read and understand God's word?


    2. Why did Adam eat the fruit in violation of God's command? (Read 1 Timothy 2:14. Paul tells us that Adam was not deceived.)


      1. Paul seems to conclude that Adam is entitled to some credit because he was not deceived and Eve was deceived. How do you look at this? (All sin is sin, but I look at deliberate disobedience in a far worse light. Consider how you compare the two when your children disobey you.)


    3. If you were giving advice to Eve, what would it be? (She should have been on full alert when the serpent contradicted God ( Genesis 3:4). She should have been more familiar with God's word. She should have trusted God and not her own intellect. She should have been satisfied with the knowledge God had given her.)


    4. What advice would you give Adam? (With Eve, it seems there is room to get this right "next time." With Adam, he just seemed to flatly disobey God.)


  3. God's Reaction


    1. How would you react to Adam and Eve if you were God?


    2. Read Genesis 3:8-11. What does God do after Adam and Eve sin? (He comes looking for them.)


      1. Read Isaiah 59:1-2. Why didn't God just abandon the earth when Adam and Eve sinned? Isaiah seems to say when you sin God turns away from you. How do you explain the apparent contradiction between what we observe about God in Eden and Isaiah's statement? (When I was a young man, I was taught that if I sinned God would not listen to me. It was a horrifying thought - I could make decisions that would cause God to abandon me.)


      2. Read Ephesians 5:5-6. Do Paul and Isaiah agree? If so, what is God doing in Eden?


    3. Read Luke 15:3-7. What does Jesus teach us about His attitude towards sinners?


    4. Read Romans 5:6-8. Considering all of these verses, what do we learn is God's reaction to sin? (Eden gives us a good view of our God. He loves us, He comes after us, He confronts us with our sins. But, if we finally reject God, He will turn away.)


    5. Put yourself in God's place in our point in time. You created the world, but many people doubt your word about that. Your creation - humans - doubted you and believed Satan. As a result, you sent your Son to die for their sins. Humans killed your Son. What would be your attitude, as God, towards humans? (Read Hebrews 10:29-31. I certainly do not want to be lost. But if I reject everything which God has done for me, His judgment is fair - more than fair.)


    6. Friend, consider what God has done for you. Will you walk away from Him or give your heart to Him right now?


  4. Next week: Atonement and the Divine Initiative.

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