This message explains why God created humans, and how mankind fell from the paradise God had intended for us and into the broken world we live in today. Additionally, Todd discusses how Satan uses the same methods today to deceive us and tempt us to doubt God's goodness.
Why The Bible Can Be Trusted
Why There is Hope
Why The Church
Why Change is Possible and Necessary
Why All the Passion
Why There is the Law
Why the Jews
Why We Are Here
Why There is Evil
Why the Story You Live in Matters
Welcome again. We'll let some of our guests who are still making their way in grab a seat in the back. I want to introduce you to what we're going to do next. We have, as I said, been making our way through this little series that explains the Scriptures, from "In the beginning" to "He will reign forever and ever," and explaining to you the author of that story, why who he is significant.
We've talked about how when you get to Genesis, if you don't already know who the author is and what has been created before Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:1 doesn't make much sense. That's why we've spent the last two weeks. But where we are in the story right now is how God is creating a history that is familiar to you and me; it's the history of man in the context of the history of God as he's revealed it.
What you'll find out is that God longs to share his greatness with others. God, because he is love… God is not lonely; he has eternally existed, as we said the first week, in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Love, community, affection, completion, and care have eternally existed in the person of God. He wasn't lonely. It's not why he created others.
But because he is love, and love is not selfish, God would not keep what was good in and of and to himself to himself, but he created others that he would share it with. We talked about how he created the angelic realm and how, in the midst of that angelic realm he created to share in his glory and to minister to him and his greatness, there was a rebellion, a coup. Pain entered into creation. Horror, rebellion, sin, and evil came.
The Scriptures talk about how Satan was hurled from the heavens and down to the earth that was formless and void to the depths, the darkness, the deep, away from the Eden of God, the holiness of God. In the midst of that, God reestablishes his greatness, and we'll talk about that in a minute. What you're about to see, in an artistic way through song and through a visual image, is the longing of God to reestablish his greatness in the heavens, that the angelic realm might know that he is good. Not just powerful and sovereign, but loving, benevolent, kind, and good.
You'll hear God as the baritone voice show up and say, "Who will hear the music that I hear? Who will share with me the life that is in who I am, that eternally existed with me? I want others to know the goodness of the love that I share in the context of the Trinity." God spoke creation into existence.
You'll hear man come in with that tenor voice and celebrate the goodness of God who has called him to participate in a life of wed hearts with him, as God intended. Today we'll talk about what we've done with that glorious creation, which you'll see that God had created in the landscape of time, that we've brought distortion and death to, how that came and what God's going to do about it. Listen.
Man, doesn't that stir you? Do you understand what creation is? The author of the story was not lonely in the sense that we think of loneliness, that is lacking relationship. God, we've established, has revealed himself in a word we use that's not ever in the Scripture. The word Trinity is never in the Scripture; the idea is all through it, right from the very beginning to the very end.
You find that God reveals himself as eternally satisfied in and of himself in a perfect harmony of love in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because they're three, we call them a Trinity. God is saying because he is love, he refuses to selfishly keep that love within himself, and by the force of the goodness of his nature and character, he must create. He creates others to share in the love of who he is.
God, in the context of creation, is not seeking glory, but creation is all about establishing the glory of God, that those who he made might enjoy him forever. In fact, those who effort themselves to explain why man is here will tell you, in a very brilliant way 300 to 400 years ago in something called the Westminster Shorter Catechism, that the chief end of man is to know God, is to enjoy God, and to glorify him forever.
How do you glorify God? The answer is by being completely satisfied in him and by showing him that we lack nothing and need nothing else. That's why we are told to, whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, do all to the glory of God. When we go to a table, we're not to dive in like the barbarians. We're not to dive in like the hedonists, the Epicureans, who believe that only in satisfying their flesh and the experience of the moment is what gives them joy.
No, we are to stop, we are to pause, and say, "God, this meal is an expression of your goodness and thanks. But I am more satisfied in who you are, even in this meal of delight and satisfaction that will sustain me in my physical existence. But only you sustain me in my soul. As I enjoy this cup, as I enjoy this table, it is a reflection of the ultimate satisfaction I have in you. I don't fight over it, I don't dive into it, I don't live for it. I accept the sweetness of it as an expression and testimony of who you are."
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. God wanted to make in creation others who would enjoy him. We know, first, that he created the angelic realm. We talked about that last week. We know that there was a rebellion in the heavens, that the angels didn't believe that being in God's story, sharing in God's greatness, participating in his glory, ministering to him, reflecting the grandeur of who he is, and enjoying him was enough.
One angel specifically, who we've come to know as the morning star, Lucifer, asserted his will instead of accepting God's gracious provision. He said, "I will exalt myself. I will be over creation. I will have others acknowledge me the way God wants us to enjoy him. I will life to be told in this story, with me at the center of it, not with God as the author." There is a rebellion in the heavens. There is a coup.
Before you ever get to Genesis 1:1, where we read the words, "In the beginning…" God tells us there's a story that already existed that explains who he is and explains where evil came from and also explains why the world we live in now is a world at war. The world is at war; it's a war for our hearts.
Let me say again: God did not create the angelic realm, nor did he create man, because he was lonely. I told you that God has forever lived completely satisfied in the context of relationship with himself. We, in effect, are not essentially needed except that we participate in allowing God to be glorified in the way we enjoy him. Even in the way we glorify God by enjoying him, it is for our good. What a great God.
History reveals God; it does not entertain him. History is God's unfolding of his glory to those he created to enjoy him. Creation, as we know it, is not re-creation. It is a creation that reestablishes, that reasserts the dominion, the goodness of God to a watching angelic realm. If God wanted to, he could have removed evil the moment it exerted itself, and it would have been clear in the heavens that God carried the biggest stick, but the question would have remained, "Is God really good?" You have God now entering into history, into eternity, us.
Do you want to know why you're here? I'm going to tell you. You are here to enjoy God, to be his corazón, the way that song said it. Look what you just heard one more time in the words. "This wondrous paradise," God says, "this wondrous paradise and all you can see in the glory of what I have created could never match the joy that you have when you're here with me. I've given you paradise. I've put you in Eden; I've put you in a glorious place."
Even today, though this world has been defaced in its greatness as a result of the curse that we have welcomed into it as those who are sovereign over it, there are still places you can get to where there's just a radiance of God's glory. We are fully, at times it seems, enraptured with the greatness of creation.
And yet, that creation speaks to something that in our hearts we long for, that's more than just being satisfied in aesthetics or even in satisfaction through sexual experience or emotional experience with another human. It's sweet, but it anticipates something far greater that God created us for.
God says, "The message of my song will always be true, mi corazón, my lover, my heart, because my heart belongs to you." What I want you to understand and we're trying to communicate during these 10 weeks we're sharing together is that God is a radical, almost irresponsible lover.
I have told you that one of the greatest things that has happened to me in preparation for thinking through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation, which is what we're doing, we've already been doing it for two weeks, and we're just now to Genesis 1, has been that it's brought me back to the person of God.
A long time ago, the Scriptures tell us in John 1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In the beginning was the Word. It says that "…the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…" God wanted us to experience him. He gave us someone who was him, who was the exact representation of his nature. Colossians says that he is he is the visible image of the invisible God, that all the fullness of deity dwells in him in bodily form. God made the Word, which was in the beginning, flesh.
Ever since then, theologians, people who are lovers of the Word of God, consistently make it Word again. Let me say that one more time. See, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but too often, theologians make it just Word again. What do I mean by that? Too many of us are victims of what has become doctrinal dogma alone. Instead of taking doctrine and having it lead us into a relationship with the God who is, we settle for just propositional truth.
"God is very good. You are very bad. He had to do a very amazing thing because you're so very bad. You must believe in the very amazing thing he did, and you should behave until you go to heaven." We listen to that, and we understand that if God is holy and we are not, there has to be some means to bridge that.
We hear this story about Jesus Christ crucified, dead, and buried, resurrected on the third day, which is an essential part of the good news, but what you need to understand is this is not an a squared plus b squared equals c squared, something to leave you cold, a mathematical equation. This is a story about a God who loves you, a God who is not afraid of adventure, a God whose life is full of radical joy, strength, power, and greatness and yet is filled with the love of a Father, the love of one who will go to no small end to rescue you from the prison you are in.
This week, I watched The Last of the Mohicans again because I've thinking about this idea that every great story that resonates with our hearts has elements of the great story that God has placed in us. The Scriptures say that God has set eternity in the hearts of men, that we are made in his image, which means that we are made to love. We are made to experience greatness and glory. We are made to rule as images of God.
The Puritans used to call us viceroys, which vice is a key word to what we're going to talk about today. A vice is something which stands in the place of something else. A vice president is somebody who stands in place of the president. In the Catholic drama, they call the pope the vicar of Christ, one who stands in the place of Christ, who has gone to sit at the right hand of the Father. If you live vicariously through somebody, you experience life by living through them.
God has placed us here as his vice-regents, his viceroys. Roy comes from the idea of rey, which is a king; a vice king. We rule in this earth as people made in the image of God, who rules over all of created order. We have intellect, will, and emotion, but so do angels, we saw last week. What makes us different from the angels is the angels were not given anything to rule over, but we were. Who are we? We are common men, made from dirt, who are needy and dependent.
God created a perfect world, an Eden, a paradise for us, that we would be perfectly sustained and cared for to establish that the one who created us is a good, wise, powerful, benevolent, loving God who would allow us, then, on that earth he created, to rule in an image of who he is as we are stewards of it and reflected his goodness by walking by faith in his revelation to us.
The Last of the Mohicans starts with three men in relationship with each other, a fellowship of hearts, as it were. These are men who live in colonial America, right at the brink of the French and Indian War. They are men who are from Mohican descent and have relationships with each other.
They are making their way through this grand wilderness, working together, chasing this animal that they would bring down in subjection to them, that it might provide clothing and provision for those whom they love. One can't do it alone. They run and race together. They tire and stalk and hunt the animal together. They bring it down together. They enjoy the fruit of it together. Others are called into the fellowship of this trinity and are blessed by their love that they share with other people.
In this story, the son of that trinity is named Nathaniel. Nathaniel comes alongside the daughter of the general of the king's army, the daughter, if you will, of the king, whose name is Cora, who is dressed in white. She is a bride. She is taken captive. She is kidnapped by the awful Huron Indians, led by the leader of their war party, Magua. Magua has taken Cora, the bride, captive, and Nathaniel loves her.
There's a dramatic scene when Magua and the Huron war party have caught the trinity there with Cora behind this great waterfall. Death is coming at the door, and for a moment, Nathaniel leaps through the waterfall, only to escape that he might return to rescue her ultimately. If he stays there, he's certain to die.
He grabs her, and he says, "I know that you are in bondage. I know now that death comes around you. You wait for me. I will come for you," he says. He jumps through this waterfall, this adventurous, grand, loving man. He's just a guy… You're like, "Oh my gosh. Would I have the huevos to do that?" I'm proud of myself.
I think, "To be a man who would love that much, who would risk certain destruction, to fight to stay alive when I get in those rapids." To be hoisted out, we find, by the two other members of the trinity who had gone before him. They come up with a plan, and you'll find out that later Nathaniel returns and marches into the enemy camp, being beaten as he goes, almost in a Via Dolorosa.
On the way toward the chief, he is spit at, he is scorn, he is struck. Blood comes from him on the way to offer his life. He stands there before the chief, and he says, "Let Cora live. I am a much greater trophy for the Huron tribe than to sacrifice this woman. Take me. Let her go." I'm telling you, man. You watch that story, and you go, "To love a woman like that, to be loved by a man like that, to be that brave, to be that grand."
It is an incredible story, and every great story our hearts resonate with is a story that reflects back and builds upon the elements that are the story of this Book that answers every question of your heart. Too many of you are so victim to the lie, to be pulled other directions because you don't know that there's a God who doesn't want you to respond to a propositional truth. There's a God who calls you into relationship with him.
Don't find some vice, something that you can find life in in place of what true life is meant to be, which is to share you heart with the heart of God who created you and put you into creation to share in his glory. He wants you to know this. There is a war, and you are born into a story and brought into a land that is glorious, but there is a war going on.
Just like Cora was introduced into the Americas in the midst of a war, and the wicked Huron people had partnered themselves, in this movie, with the wicked French, who were assaulting the king's people. She was not careful to protect herself, and so this war party swooped down upon her, and in her innocence, she was captured and taken away, surely to die, until she's rescued by the trinity who loves her. Man, it sounds familiar.
God is desperate to tell you that he created you and loves you, but you live in a world that is at war, and you must be careful because in this world he created which is glorious, there is a lion on the prowl. If you live in Dallas, Texas, this is a vivid illustration for you this week, to be in the wilds of Africa, to have one who is free, who darts in and out of the tropical surroundings, so you can't see where he will come.
He will steal your joy while you are at the zoo. He will kill you and slam you up against the cage. He will destroy the fun that you're there to celebrate, unless you can be delivered from the horrors of this wild one who has escaped. That's the story. You are created into it. God says when he makes creation, "It is good," but in the midst of the goodness he creates…
It's good not because it gives pleasure to God, by the way. It's good not because God needs it. It's good because it's perfect to reflect his power and greatness and reestablish who is he as he asserts his glory throughout all the created order, so the angels who did not rebel might know that he is, in fact, God, that he is, in fact, good, and mere man, who is dependent, who needs gravity to hold him, food to sustain him, water to nourish his soul, that everything is as it should be for him. But there is a villain there, and he wants to destroy you.
I gave to you last week John 10:10, where Jesus says, "I've come that you might have my heart, that you might have me. I've come that you might have a relationship with a living God. Not this vague idea, but the God who pursues and loves you, that you might know my love for you. I've come that you might have life and have it abundantly."
You remember that he says that in the middle of a sentence, and he precurses that with a warning. He says, "I want to tell you: there is a thief that is among you. He comes to steal, to kill, and destroy, but in contrast to him, I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly." Jesus wants you to know there is a war going on for your hearts.
The Enemy doesn't care about you. You are a pawn. You are insignificant to him, but he only seeks you because he knows he can bring pain to the one he hates, who is good in contrast to his lack of goodness. He resents the fact that he is not God. Instead of enjoying God and sharing in the fellowship of the Trinity, in the fellowship of the love that was the Trinity, the Enemy rebelled against God, and God cast him away from the Eden of heaven and put him in the deep. He hates God because any time you live God's story, you hate the story you find yourself in, and he blames God for that which he chose himself.
God made the angels. He made man as free creatures. Not that man is sovereign; God alone is sovereign. God created perfect creatures. Perfect creatures must be able to love. In order to love, you must be able to choose to love, because if you are obligated to love, it's not love at all. You are a robot. You are forced to do something, which doesn't make you a lover. Love is something that can only happen by choice.
It has been well said, "Money can buy you a pretty good dog, but it cannot buy you the wag of its tail." You can be sovereign over any mutt down there on dog row, any dog at the SPCA, but to teach that dog's tail to wag when it hears your voice, you must love it. God loves you as your Master, and he wants to glorify himself by the wag of your tail, as you are satisfied in his voice and his presence.
He tells you that there is another who hates you, and in this world he created which is perfect for you, that Enemy is as a lion seeking whom he might devour. Beware of him. If you walk through this world without knowledge of that villain, if you walk through this world with naiveté, you will be destroyed because that villain will lie to you and deceive you, and he will go for you heart. God tells you in Proverbs 4:23 that you should guard your heart, for from your heart flows the wellsprings of life.
Where is your heart this morning? Not, "Where is your propositional surrender?" Many of you, not all of you, and we're glad not all of you because we want you to know about the greatness of God… We hope that all of you will soon surrender to the propositional idea that you are a sinner, that God is holy, that God loves you in the midst of your sin and demonstrates his love, that while you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you.
Death did not hold him captive because he did not owe to death anything because he was sinless. So God, to affirm that Christ was able to pay the debt that our sin had won, raised him from the dead where he has now been ascended again into the throne of God, brought back together with the fellowship of the Trinity, where he sits at the right hand of God the Father and extends life to all who will turn to him as provision for their lacking.
Too many of you are here accepting that theological idea, and not enough of you are in love with God. You have not guarded your hearts. You have forgotten the adventure, the love, the majesty of who God is. What I have been trying to live in myself, and this has been so great for me as I get back in this story, this Book that I've spent so much of my life, by the grace of God, studying and understanding the Word, I forget too often that God is not a Word. He's not a propositional presentation.
He is a living person who wants relationship with me. It is the greatest of adventures. It makes Nathaniel and Cora look sick in comparison. When I see Nathaniel love Cora, when I see him walk into the Huron tribe and present himself with blood coming down his face… When I see him jump through waterfalls, I put myself in his shoes. I'm full of that majesty and love. God made me, and I resonate after seeking after that, of being a part of this great adventure.
He has made me an intimate ally with him and made me in his image, but there is some of Cora in me too; I want to be loved. Don't you? That's who God is. If you're here today, I don't care where you've been, I don't care what you've been doing, I don't care how imprisoned you are, how many Maguas you willfully sleep with, God wants to redeem you from the prison of that hateful love that controls you and deliver you back into a real love that doesn't manipulate you, deceive you, and leave you dead but leaves you satisfied and alive.
When you are satisfied in God like that, your heart is protected and guarded. If all you have this morning is a doctrinal creed, you are very vulnerable to vices. That is why so many people who know the truth about Jesus Christ are continually enslaved to pornography, materialism, and self-advancement because they acknowledge who Jesus is by fact, but they do not live in love with him as a God who satisfies. This is the story of God and his goodness to you in creation.
Now look at this. Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning…" it says. In the Hebrew, that can be understood just as easily and just as well, in fact, by saying, "When God began this history that you're about to hear…" In other words, you're being introduced into the middle of a story. "In the beginning of creation with humankind…" You're going to find out that something exists, and Genesis 1:1 is a key verse because it explains the foundational things that must exist in the context of creation.
The earth is a mass. Mass needs space to exist in. Mass must come from somewhere, and so you need an eternal, primary mover, if you will. You need somebody who is a primal cause. You need something to place mass and space in. That something is time. You have time. Where? In the beginning of time as God is going to reveal it, you have a prime mover, a primal causer: God. He will exert energy. He will create the earth, which is mass, and he will place it in the context of something called space, which is the heavens. All of the foundational elements are right there in Genesis 1:1.
God's going to explain to you, "Do you want to know how we got here? You don't have to use your imagination. You don't have to use your reason. I'm going to introduce it to you, I'm going to explain it to you, and I'm going to tell you who I am, who you are, why you're here, why you hurt, why you feel pain, why you long to get out of this world you're in: because it's at war, and war is not a pleasant time. But I will make things right, and if you love me, you will be satisfied, I will be glorified, and all will be as it should be."
Isn't that a great story? How great that God anchors this story in the context of history that we might verify it, that it might not be considered nonsense, which means something that we cannot make sense out of. It's not some vision, not some poem. It is historical narrative, placed in the context of history that we can make sense out of it.
If it is some imaginary dream in upstate New York, or some imaginary from an Arab state, it might be great poetry, but it is nonsensical. You can't make sense out of it. It is simply a vision. God's Word is not so. He anchors it in that which you can test. He calls you to believe in that which you cannot test, but with incredible evidence preceding it.
It says that this God was about to do something in the midst of this depth, this darkness, this deep that this villain had been cast down to. It says that God, on the first day, created light in the midst of this darkness that was the inhabitance of this place of rebellion. He made light in the context of darkness.
It says on the second day that he made the heavens and the earth. On the third day it says that he separated the dry land from the oceans and brought vegetation to it. It says on the fourth day, he made a greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night and the stars. Then he creates, on the sixth day, all animals…cattle, and it says this in verse 24 about what he created there. He says, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind…" It was so.
It continues by saying, "God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good." Why was all of this good? Not because God needed it, or not because he himself was necessarily pleased by it, but because it accomplished what God created it to accomplish. He made something perfect for that which he loved the most, that which was going to be made in his image. He created an Edenic nursery. The crib is perfect for his baby, and so it's good.
God has established in his created order that things should produce after their kind. In order to perpetrate his glory, he was going to bring forth something to have relationship with him that would give life to other humans who would also then walk with God, enjoy God, even as they did and create people after their kind.
What kind of people were Adam and Eve? People who were placed in Paradise that was a symbol of the benevolence, power, protection, and goodness of God, who loved him, who walked by faith with him, who delighted in his Word, who believed him that they should be satisfied in all he gave them, who passed the test that God anchored in the middle of that garden in order to show that they really did love him, and who stood against the Evil One who was there to deceive them that God wasn't true.
"You reproduce others who will glorify me by not finding other things that you would substitute for me, other vices that would give you joy. Be satisfied in me." Genesis 1 closes by God saying, when he was done, when he didn't just make male, but he made male and female, in the context of them being people who, with intellect, will, and emotion, and with the ability to reign in glory and not just that, but with multiplicity that dwells in unity, they together, in this perfect place, like God in the heavens in the context of Father, Son, and Spirit, male and female, in this earthly Eden, it was very good.
Remember, in this earthly Eden, there is a villain. In Genesis 3, we have our, if you will, male and female heroes brought to a test. This is what it says. Genesis 3… If you have your Bible, turn there with me, and let's take a look at some passages that are familiar to us but that I want you to see this explains a lot of what's going on with your hearts.
There is a war going on for your hearts. God is purposeful about pursuing your heart, and the Enemy is purposeful about destroying your heart. You are not a peasant in God's kingdom to make him richer; you are to be a son or daughter who sits at his table and enjoys him, who is a coheir with him, who is to be established in his kingdom and enjoy it forever.
To the Enemy, you are a pawn who he can use to hurt, if you will, the mother who created this crib for you to lay in. When a mother is getting ready to give birth, I'm telling you, I've seen it six times. They create an Eden. They want the colors just right. What was good for that last baby won't be good for this one. We need a crib that has slats just the right width apart so they can't stick their little hand through there or their little head and get trapped. We need the cushions to match what sex it's going to be, the theme to match what we think is right for this child.
When it is all done, the woman steps back, puts her hand on her belly. She sees the changing table, she sees the diapers, and she says, "It is good." Then she goes, and she brings forth that which God, in his grace, allowed her to create and places that child in its Eden. But there is a villain in this world who will seek to seduce the heart of that child.
This is why, by the way, as we sit in here, what's going on over there is what God intended to go on in Eden. We have children over there who are going through a three-year course, and they will for perpetuity, each year will be filled in more and more and more, that takes 36 wisdom principles, that teaches them that life is rooted in understanding who God is and how he says you should live it.
Each month, they take a different characteristic about wisdom living that is rooted in the book of Proverbs, that is most fully expressed in the visible image of the invisible God, Jesus Christ. What it is, how we get it, how we pursue it, what it costs us if we don't live that way, and how it's ultimately satisfied in the person of Jesus Christ… We have 36 different wisdom attributes in order to protect them.
This is what it says in Proverbs 1:4. It says that God has given us this particular book in order that the naïve might be spared, that principles would be given to those who would live without principles if it wasn't spoken into their world, to give to the youth knowledge and discretion. Why? Because without knowledge and discretion, the lion will devour you. Mamas do not like to see their little babies in their Eden have horror befall them.
That is why, as parents, it breaks our hearts to see the choices that our kids make, choices of rebellion. They would eat themselves to death with bad food. They would align themselves in relationships with people who don't have their best interests in mind. They would go after what their flesh craves. They would chase after what the world offers.
We know the pain it would bring them because too many of us have marched after that drum, have given our hearts away like them, and have the scars to prove it. We want them to live a life of wisdom. Just like you are desperate to make decisions which lead to life, your Father in heaven wants you to make choices that lead to life with him.
Let me say this before I go here because what is really going on right here… If you live, as one man has said, in the Christianity of tips and techniques, of "believe and behave" Christianity, then what you have going on most of the time is a view of sin that sees it as some offense of some law that is impersonal. Sin is when you run a stop sign. It is paid with a small fine or a ticket. Sin is when you cheat on your taxes, or when you lie and get caught, or when you raise your voice in anger. All it is is an activity that brings about negative relationships.
You need to know something. The Bible does not consider sin as just some small act. The Bible calls sin adultery of the heart. It is a scandalous act. Those of you in this room who have been betrayed by a lover know that there is no pain as great as having someone who you thought you could trust, who you were wed to, who you loved, who you trusted, betray you.
God put us in this perfect place. He put us in Paradise and walked with us, and in three stinking chapters, we're sleeping with the Enemy. Nathaniel is looking for us and he can't find us because we're in the teepee with Magua. It is scandalous. You see your sin as a little habit. You see your sin as a satisfaction of a little craving. You see your sin as a compromise, and you rationalize it away.
You need to know, when you and I choose to live a life apart from the wisdom of God, it is adultery of the heart. You are betraying the greatest lover who ever was in order to get some fleeting satisfaction and to experience vicariously some vice that is in place of what should be. There is a war for your hearts, and it always looks like this.
Genesis 3 is a historical reality, but what you see happen in Genesis 3 is played out every day in creation. The same problem that befell people who God loved in Genesis 3 is the same problem that befalls you heart. Every day, you're in a garden, and every day, you decide whether to trust in the Word of God, the justice of God, the nature and character of God, or to trust in what you think will be satisfying to your stomach, what you think is satisfying because it's pleasing to your eyes, what you think will give you the glory you want in your heart. Or will you take what God offers?
It says right here that the Serpent approached the woman, and he said, "Isn't it true that you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?" A misquotation. "The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat…'" Notice she doesn't say, "We may eat freely." She already puts a restriction, already is minimizing God's abundant and gracious provision, like we always do. We cut God short.
Through our familiarity with the riches of his abundance and the greatness of his glory, we go, "Yeah, I mean, I can have fellowship with God. I can enter into his presence. He lives in my heart. We're wed together. He's sovereign over me. Nothing comes into my life except that which passes through his hands." We forget the greatness of God's provision; we limit it.
"…but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it…'" I can just see the man. "Look, woman, it's so hard to try and convince you of what I need you to know. Look, I'll just tell you this. Have a big time, but you see that tree over there? Don't go near it. Don't go within 15 feet. Don't ever touch it, or you'll die. All right?" Just like a guy. "Just don't even touch it. Just leave it alone."
What we did, if you will, or what happened here, or at least what she introduced and believed, was that if you even touch it, you can die, which sets up the Serpent very easily. He goes, "That's not true; watch this." There's legalism that is there. Whenever you introduce and add to God's law, you're always making yourself vulnerable to a lie.
What you have here is Satan doing a number of things that he always does. You know the story. It says that when she saw that the food was attractive to eat, that it was pleasing to the eye and desirable to make you great or wise, she went for it. We find out that what the Enemy did was first, he wants you to focus on the restriction and not on the greatness of what God has offered you. He says, "Hasn't God told you can't eat of that tree?" Instead of saying, "Hasn't God given you all of this," he challenges the nature and goodness of God.
Here are three things that Satan always has to get us to believe in order to get us to commit adultery of the heart. It happened then, and it will happen to you this very day. First of all, he will tell you that obedience to God is bad. "Do you know why you're not supposed to eat of that tree? Because you're missing out, and God is holding out on you."
Second, he will tell you that disobedience will be fun. "If you do this, you'll be able to think like God and do what you want to do when you want to do it. You won't need God anymore." Third, he will try and tell you that evil is really good, good is really bad, and you will never really live until you free yourself from God's authority. This is the way he always goes about seducing your heart.
Here's what he will do every time. He will challenge us in this way, in the same way, because we are in a war. There's a battle for our hearts. These are challenges that the Enemy always uses to deceive our hearts. First, he'll challenge the Word of God. He'll say, "It doesn't really say that, and it wouldn't matter if it did. It's not true."
Second, he'll challenge the justice of God. "You're not going to die." Do you remember what it said? God said, "You will surely die." Satan comes back and says, "You surely will not die. Justice isn't that severe. Sin isn't that bad. Nothing is that certain. God is not somebody you need to fear or worry about. Live and let live." That is why you hear people say all the time, "Where is God and his coming justice? They've been talking about justice for a long time."
This is why God, who knows this, told us, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of sons of men among them are given fully to do evil," in Ecclesiastes 8:11. All of us ask this question: "Evil is there; why didn't God ultimately destroy evil?" It would establish he has a big stick but wouldn't establish he is good. God says the reason he hasn't destroyed evil ultimately on this earth yet is because he is a lover. He is still involved with rescuing Cora from the grips of Magua. He wants none to perish but all to come to life.
The question is not, "Will God do away with evil?" The question the Bible has is, "Why hasn't he done away with evil yet?" The answer is because he's a God who loves, who still seeks, and who has not yet brought all of his sheep home, maybe one who's sitting here. There will be a day when God will rescue his last sheep, and you will find out that he will accomplish his purposes.
The challenge that comes to you is that God is never going to judge. "Quit living in fear of that. Quit being oppressed by this invention of fearful, small-minded men." Great thinkers will tell you that you should move on and leave this oppression that is this God talk that you believed as a child, like you believed if you were naughty and not nice that Santa wouldn't come.
Third, they challenge the nature of God. "Do you know why God doesn't want you to do that? Do you know why God doesn't want you to date that gal? Do you know why God doesn't want you to pursue that career? Do you know why God doesn't want you to live in comfort? Because he is not good. He doesn't love you. He doesn't have your best interests in mind.
I have your best interests in mind. Go satisfy your flesh. If it feels good to you, do it. If your stomach would be satisfied by it, eat it. If it looks good to your eyes, live it, pursue it. If you think this will get you greatness, go this route." You will be told again and again, "Trust in your flesh. Trust in your eyes. Trust in your wisdom."
God says, "No, love me. You are finite; I am infinite. You are flawed; I am perfect." Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge God, not what you see, not what you feel, not what you think. The Enemy is going to come, and he's going to try and steal your joy. He's going to kill you, and he's going to take away your life if he can capture your heart. So God says, "Guard it." How do you guard it? With wisdom and relationship with the strong one.
There is seduction. Cora is sleeping with Magua, and what does God do? God comes rushing in. The first thing he does is he shows up, and he says, "Man, where are you?" This is the sovereign of the universe. This is not a hide-and-go-seek game that he has lost; he knows he's on the third bush to the left, but he says, "Where are you, Adam?" He wants Adam to know. "I am in a bad place, God. That's where I am. I am naked and ashamed. I have turned away from you. I am an adulterous lover, and I don't know what to do."
But man did know what to do because once man makes a decision to abandon God, man then makes another decision about what he thinks will allow him back into the presence of God. Man, on his own… You have the entrance of religion in Genesis 3. You have man's working to cover up his sin to make himself acceptable to God. He takes some fig leaves, he puts them together, he wraps it around him, and he goes, "Okay, now I'm covered in my nakedness and shame. Now I can go back into the presence of God without fear."
God says, "That will not be acceptable because my justice is more severe. I told you in the day you eat of this, you surely will die, and so it will be." I believe God was going to destroy Adam in that moment, but because God is about his glory and his greatness, God was not surprised. You understand this; God was not surprised by what happened. He knew when he created us in Eden what it would cost him.
Still, as an almost irresponsible act, he let it happen because he was going to pursue that adulterous creation and give his own life to rescue the bride to reveal his goodness to angels who were in awe at that kind of love, that kind of adventure, that kind of warrior, that kind of victor. God went crashing in.
He said, "Adam, instead of killing you, watch what happens. I'm going to show you in anticipation of two things that are to come. First of all, Adam, why did this happen?" Typical response. Just beautiful leadership right here. "Well, the woman that you gave to me, she screwed up. All I did is come home for dinner. That's all I did."
"Woman, what happened?" "I was deceived." See, the woman says, "I was deceived. I didn't live in accordance with wisdom. My protector didn't cover me." But the man sinned willfully and knowingly. He was an adulterer of the heart, even as Eve was. God said as a result of that, that beautiful creation we saw moments ago is cursed, and there is death upon it.
It's not longer as it should be because if God, who created us to reign over creation that was perfect as individuals who lived in relationship with him, now that the ruler is flawed, he said, "You will not rule over a perfect creation. There is a curse that has come on the earth. This earth has been defaced. Not erased; you can still see the glory of God in places around. You can still see the glory of God even in us, but it's not as it should be.
God says, "Here's what I'm going to do, Adam. Instead of judging you, instead of wiping you out, there will be a sacrificial death. I do not accept your own efforts, your own works to cover yourself. That fails me. There is always a consequence to sin, and it is always death. When you choose to leave me, you separate yourself from life. You experience the opposite of life, which is death."
Then God says, "What I will do is I will take an animal, an innocent animal, and I will slay it. Blood will be shed. I will take its skin, and I will cover you as an anticipation of, eventually, the perfect Lamb who will one day be slain, whose blood will be spilled, that you will covered. The word is atoned; it means to cover. You will be covered by the death of the Lamb one day. You will believe in my provision.
Adam, take off your fig leaves. Take off your own effort to make yourself right in my eyes and take my provision for you." By faith, Adam accepted the offer of forgiveness from his lover, dropped his fig leaves, and clothed himself, it says, in the skins of the animal, the provision that God provided. The relationship is reborn.
We know it doesn't stop right there in Genesis 3. You're going to find out throughout Genesis 3, and we're going to move forward rapidly now. You're going to see that, again and again, man betrays his lover. He leaves the one he has faith in. He leaves the one who he loves. He leaves the one who forgave him and goes again to Magua. His heart is not protected by wisdom. He keeps trusting in himself.
God says in Genesis 3, "I'll tell you; one day, we'll put an end to it." This is how he will. He says, "One day, Adam, this Serpent will come and have enmity between the seed of the woman." Look at this. Genesis 3:15… "I will put enmity between you and the woman. There will be hatred between your seed, the seed of rebellion, and the seed of the woman, children of faith, and between your seed and her seed.
Your seed, Serpent, children of darkness, immoral, rebellious men who believe in the whispers and the hisses of finding life apart from God. Satan will bruise the singular male seed of the woman, who shall be struck on the heel. He will walk with a limp. It will look like you've won. Your venom will strike him. But there will be a time when he will crush your head."
This is an image that has become more familiar to the American public because of the film The Passion of the Christ. If you remember, in the garden of Eden, that there is a singular male, one whose lineage is traced not back through the father… Why? Because there is no father but traced back through the woman. Why? Because this child was born of a virgin.
The father is the Father who is in heaven. This is not a child of death and sin; this is a child of God who is born to take the burdens of the world and to suffer the death of the world, in order that he who knew no sin would become sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
In the garden, he's wrestling with, should he trust the Father? Just like the other son was in a garden and wrestled with, "Should I trust the Father?" The same Serpent who said, "Don't trust the Father. He is not good, doesn't have your best interests in mind. Leave the cross. Follow me. No man can bear this pain."
That Son said, "I will trust the Father. Father, help me. I want this to happen another way, but not my will but your will be done." Then you see, in that movie, the Enemy lets the Serpent come out from it to go toward the Son and strike him. But what does the Son do? The Son decides to trust not in his flesh and what seems right to him but to surrender to the Father and stomps on the head of the Serpent and says, "Your way will not carry the day. The way of the Father will."
On to the cross he goes, right into the death camp of the Enemy, beaten, scorned, bloodied, and spit upon and says, "Take my life and free Cora." Sound familiar? What a God. What a wonderful maker, who gives us glory to live in, and we turn from it, and then he recreates even our perverted hearts. Will you serve him?
Father, I pray for my friends, that they would not have some small view that you're some doctrinal idea that they need to check, some census believer who says, "Yeah, I'm a Christian. I'm not a Muslim. I'm not a Buddhist. I'm not an atheist. I'm a Christian." Yet they have no idea how great you are and how much you love them. They give their hearts to pornography. They give their hearts to anger. They give your hearts to revenge.
I give my heart, Father, to so many of these things. I am an adulterer of the heart. I am so grateful that you are a wonderful maker. You come into my world, and you rescue me again and again and again. You call me to your goodness. You restore me. You tell me to agree that what I've done has brought pain to you and reconcile with me again and again.
I pray that today there would be many in this room who would reconcile to you, some for the first time. I pray that we would walk out of here not agreeing with some presentation of knowledge but wildly in love with the God who has ransomed our hearts, who has redeemed our hearts, and who wants us lead us into greater life as we are partners with you, intimate allies who go and rescue others, calling them away from vices, things that exist in the place of that which should be, and leading them back to life.
Father, we want to repent. We want to turn from things which give us the illusion of life and turn back to you, the author and giver of life, and see you as the wonderful maker, the wonderful maker of glory, the wonderful redeemer of adulterous hearts.
We all love a great story...one filled with rescue, romance, and unrelenting love...one filled with courage, heroism, and ultimate triumph. Stories like this resonate with something deep inside all of us. Why? Because there is a greater story that we are all a part of. A story so embedded in our beings that we find even a shadow of it irresistible. It is a story that makes the most audacious claims in history, and a story which uniquely and powerfully provides hope, meaning and answers to all of life's great questions.