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How did we get into this mess? – 5: The snake Sin

by on October 22, 2014

Genesis 3: THE SNAKE SIN

We’re living at a time of great confusion and distress, aren’t we. We’ve got a Royal commission into child abuse in churches. We are getting involved in yet another war. The nations of the Middle East seem to be collapsing. We hear of a vast number of children around the world living in unsanitary or dangerous conditions, without hope for a future. In Nigeria, hundreds of girls have been kidnapped in one day. Thousands sold into sex slavery in Asia. Here at home a million people in our city are suffering rental stress. Our state government has been riddled with corruption for years. A huge number of Australians are taking antidepressants. And we look at all this and wonder. What went wrong? Surely things are not supposed to be like this? How did we get into this mess?

Here in Genesis 3 we come to the heart of the Bible’s answer. We get to see how it all went wrong. We can sum it up in one word: sin. Mankind was deceived by lies, and led captive into wickedness and self-destruction.

But Sin is an unpopular word. It reminds us of all that’s worst in the Church’s history: a harsh judgmental stance towards others; a readiness to condemn people. These days we like to say that you need to understand there are reasons for people’s negative behaviours. Perhaps they were badly treated as children. It’s a lack of education. They feel powerless and alienated. But don’t speak of wickedness. Sin is a dirty word. We’re going to come back and talk about that problem, but first lets take a look at the story, see what it tells us. We’re going to see two things about sin here.

1. What was the sin?

2. Where did it lead?

One of the most interesting things in this story is how sin is personified in the form of snake. And it says “Did God really say you can’t eat anything?” The woman says, ‘no, we can eat any fruit except from the tree of knowing good and evil. If we eat that, we will surely die.’ See how the serpent is twisting God’s words? He goes further: “You will not surely die! For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” You can see the technique the snake keeps using to trap her: again and again he’s undermining her confidence in God her creator. God cannot be trusted. He is trying to stifle you. He is not your friend.

It’s exactly same lie we eat up about Christian faith today. God is against you, doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Christ will tie you up in chains and repress you. When the truth is, until Christ floods in with his Spirit and freedom, you are a slave.

And this is what sin always does. It lies to us to suck us in. Did you know, behind every sin there is a lie. No one goes into sin thinking “this is going to be really bad”. No, sin always blinds us first. Whether your sin is greed or sexual or a violent temper, whatever it is, if you dig down under it you’ll find a lie. A voice telling you bad is good. Sickness is health. And the lie at the bottom, behind all the other lies, is this one: “God cannot be trusted, he does not love you.” That’s the father of all the lies: we see it here in the garden.

But there’s more to this lie: “For God knows that when you eat of it…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  What is this tree of knowing good and evil? All the commentators disagree. Here’s my take on it. God had said ‘if you eat from it you will surely die’. But the serpent says ‘No if you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’

So this tree seems to be about wisdom: knowing and understanding good and evil and the difference between them. God has this wisdom. I’m guessing mankind needs to gain it too. Probably that’s part of God’s plan, to teach man wisdom gradually. That’s what Fathers do: they train their children to know right from wrong. God was our father, we were supposed to learn this from him.

But the snake offers another way: you can reach out and grab wisdom for yourself. You don’t need God! Make your own way, your own wisdom. Don’t rely on the wisdom God teaches because he’s lying to you.

I think that’s what this fruit is about. The snake’s lie is: You can’t trust the wisdom that comes from God. You be the god.  Eat this fruit. Make your own judgements.

We’re still stuck in that same lie today. This is the story our whole society has been telling about God. God is trying to hold you down, spoil your fun, box you in, keep you as slaves. Being a Christian is a kind of slavery. It’s time to grow up, be an adult,  turn your back on those silly beliefs. Find your own way. And even Christians are influenced by this, we find ourselves thinking ‘The only way to preserve a tiny bit of freedom is to protect areas in your life, in your heart, to keep Christ out. Areas where you say, I’m the boss of this part. I’m saving it for myself.’

That’s the lie. And the sin that comes from it. The woman looks at the tree of knowing good and evil. And it looks good, and she wants it, she wants that wisdom. So she takes and eats. And her husband follows her lead. They go off God’s path, and decide to make their own way, choose their own wisdom.

We’ve been doing it ever since. ‘Let’s make a city and a tall tower and secure the future for ourselves.’ Jacob and his mum Rebekah: ‘Jacob, God has promised you the inheritance. Instead of trusting God to give it to you, let’s dress you up in goat skins and fool your blind father and get the blessing now.’ Good idea! And later the kings of Israel say ‘instead of trusting God to save us from enemies, let’s hire the Assyrian army to fight for us. We can trust those guys!’

And we still do it today. God says be generous with your money, we say, no I’ll be safer if I store it up for myself and my family. We make our own way.

Well that’s what sin is all about. Sin is buying the lie, making our own wisdom without God as our father.

(to be continued)

From → Bible talks

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