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Worship Series: Genesis: Foundations of the Christian Faith
Worship Theme: Original Sin - Relationships Destroyed
First Lesson & Sermon Text: Genesis 3:1-24 (EHV)
Gospel Lesson: John 3:1-15 (EHV)
Music: Lord, Have Mercy, CW 378 All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall, Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone), CW 334 Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Message: Original Sin - Relationships Destroyed
We have an awesome God! Over the past 4 weeks we have seen how our three in one God demonstrated his power, wisdom, and love when he created the perfect place, filled with incredible creatures, all for the crown of his creation (man and woman) to enjoy. God lovingly planned and made Adam and Eve in his image—holy and perfect—to enjoy the perfection he had made for them. He gave Adam a purpose in life—a job. Adam would manage and rule over God’s perfect creation. He would explore and learn and use everything God had given to him. God established a perfect relationship with Adam. Adam knew what God wanted and expected, and he loved it! Once Adam realized he was alone, God made Eve from Adam’s rib and established a perfect relationship between husband and wife.
Everything was perfect! Perfect God makes a perfect world. Perfect man and woman live in a perfect world. Relationships were perfect. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31 EHV). As we move into chapter 3, a shadow falls over God’s perfect creation. One of God’s created angels, Satan, rebelled against God’s perfection and rejected the job God had given to him. God banished Satan and his supporters from heaven, never to return. Satan continued his rebellion as he turned his attention to Adam and Eve. He would do anything to ruin everything God had done, and began with a simple question for Eve: “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 EHV). We heard all about this tree last week. Satan knew all about it. He had heard God’s command. He offered the question with a twisted, evil purpose. He wanted to create doubt in Eve’s mind.
Eve didn’t bite. She went back to the things her loving Creator had said. “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, but not from the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden. God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it. You shall not touch it, or else you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3 EHV).
That should have been the end of it, but Satan never gives up that easily. He issued a flat out lie, the first of many that would slide from his serpentine tongue. “You certainly will not die. In fact, God knows that the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4–5 EHV). Satan wanted Eve to believe that her Father was holding out on her, that he had something good that he had refused to give. She looked at the tree. The fruit looked good—as good as any of the other trees. It was beautiful, just like the fruit from the other trees. It would offer wisdom—new wisdom? The temptation was great, and Eve’s reaction seemed so innocent. “She took some of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6 EHV). Remember where Adam was during all this. He was right there with her. “She gave some also to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6 EHV).
That’s it. Just a piece of fruit. No earthquakes. No explosions. No sirens blaring or evil laughter. Just sin. Original Sin. Let’s pause and explore that term. The Hebrew word is חָטָא. It means “to miss the mark.” Have you ever played darts? I was playing against one of my good friends, and the game was nearing the end. One of us had to hit a bullseye to win. I threw first (thankfully, since my friend rarely missed). My dart flew from my hand and hit the dartboard just one hole from the bullseye. Bust! My friend stepped to the line and calmly threw his dart. Bullseye! Game over. “Sin” means that we’ve missed the mark of perfection.
What about “Original” sin? Thanks to Adam and Eve, that’s what infects each one of us. The apostle Paul, as he contemplated the scene in the garden, wrote, “So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, so also death spread to all people because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 EHV). The sin that originated with Adam is worse than COVID. It doesn’t spread via cough or droplets. It spreads from father to son, to the next generation, and the next. It doesn’t have a 4% mortality rate. The mortality rate for original sin is 100%. We can’t avoid it. We can’t get a shot or take some sort of medication that prevents it. Original sin infects us all—men, women, children, even infants. Infants? Yes, infants. King David confessed, “Certainly, I was guilty when I was born. I was sinful when my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5 EHV). That innocent little child, sinful? It can’t be! It’s true. Even from the moment of conception, a child is subject to sin’s curse. Tiny babies, barely big enough to cause their mommy’s tummy to bulge out, can die. Original sin infects us all.
It doesn’t just infect us, it affects us. It affects every single relationship we have. Just look at what happened in the Garden. As soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they brought about a change of cosmic proportions. “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7 EHV). Until now, Adam and Eve viewed their bodies as gifts from God, gifts they used according to God’s command and in perfect love toward each other. As they looked at each other, they had lost their perfect self-control. Selfish desires had awakened, along with guilt and shame. They were so ashamed that they immediately tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. Their relationship with each other had been affected. They were imperfect in everything they thought about themselves and each other.
Sin affected their relationship with God. “They heard the voice of the LORD God, who was walking around in the garden during the cooler part of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8 EHV). The joy they had previously felt every time they heard the LORD God walking in the garden dissipated in the waterfall of fear that poured over them. They knew they had disobeyed, and they desperately looked for a place to hide, like a guilty child pulling the blanket over himself, thinking that dad will never see him. They were imperfect.
They couldn’t hide from God. Their loving Father called to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 10:9 EHV). Adam can only confess his fear and nakedness that led him to hide. His Father tried to lead him to confess what had happened: “Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11 EHV). The breakdown in the relationship is complete. Adam not only pointed the finger at Eve, he blamed his Creator. “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me fruit from the tree and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12 EHV). Eve was no better. She blamed the serpent, another of God’s creatures. Sin affected—no, sin destroyed their relationship with God!
Over the past 4 months, the “stay at home” order forced families to spend more time together. We’ve had time to eat family meals together, play games together, watch church together. What a blessing!
What a curse! The infection still affects us. In just a few weeks, domestic violence calls jumped 12 percent in the city of Chicago. Nationally, calls to the National Child Abuse Hotline increased 17 percent.1 Why? The infection of imperfection affects relationships. When the curse of original sin goes unchecked and uncontrolled, it shows its ugly face in families.
What a curse! In just four weeks, the San Francisco Bay area saw a year’s worth of suicides in 4 weeks thanks to loss of jobs and mental health issues magnified by isolation.2 Elderly citizens isolated in their rooms are dying from loneliness.3
What a curse! The infection has affected the way we look at each other. We try to do the right thing, keep our distance, and show our love for each other. Even our good is imperfect. We live with fear of becoming sick. We end up coming home from the store depressed because we can’t see people’s faces. We can’t see their expressions. It gets worse. We start judging people’s hearts based on whether they are wearing a mask or not. Our church family is separated and unable to connect. We aren’t able to carry each other’s burdens because we haven’t gotten together to share what’s going on in our lives.
What a curse! Look at the way the infection has affected relationships with people of different nationalities and skin colors. George Floyd’s death sparked a nationwide explosion of tension and destruction and hurt. It goes deeper than race. It goes deeper than injustice. It goes deeper than oppression. George Floyd’s death has simply reopened the window on the human soul. When we take an honest look inside, we see the infection that taints us, and affects everything we think and say and do—SIN!
What a curse! Look what happens to our relationship with God. He hasn’t changed. He can’t change. The same love that formed Adam out of dust gave us life in our mother’s womb. He has given us everything. He promises to be with us no matter what. Then, the infection affects the way we interact with him. We are suspicious—if you are so loving and powerful, why don’t you just stop all this from happening? We ignore him—if he won’t listen to me, I just won’t listen to him. We attack him—that’s not the way I want to live my life. Who is he to tell me what to do? We hide from him, like guilty children with faces smeared with contraband chocolate. We insist that we are innocent, all the while knowing deep down that he knows the truth.
A terrible curse, and all of it thanks to a tree! Adam and Eve introduced the curse of sin with a bite of fruit hanging from that tree. The curse extended to people hanging from a tree: “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 EHV). The curse was carried by one who hung on a tree for us. Original sin has infected us all. Original sin has affected us all. God has provided an answer to the sin that has so completely corrupted our hearts. That answer is JESUS! Paul shares this incredible promise: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13 EHV).
Jesus took care of original sin and all of its effects. He was perfect to cover all our imperfections. Just know that no matter how bad things look right now, Jesus paid for the root cause—SIN. Only Jesus can calm the anger of an abusive spouse or parent. Only Jesus can give a suicidal person hope. Only Jesus can calm our fears over illness and death. Only Jesus can help us take someone’s words and actions in the kindest possible way. Only Jesus can fill a heart with love for the people around us, regardless of skin color or status. Only Jesus can bless our nation and protect the freedoms that we celebrate this 4th of July weekend. Jesus isn’t worried about all the external things we’re struggling with. He wants our hearts. He’s laser-beam focused on our souls. He wants everyone to be in a relationship with him—a trusting, confident, loving relationship that trusts sins are forgiven and past mistakes aren’t held against us. Jesus reaches out from that tree, carrying the burden of the sin that infects us and says, “Forgiven!” I love that! I need that! I want you to have it too! Amen.