Surprised By Grace - Part 3

Theme: The Need for Grace

This week’s lessons show us how grace came unexpectedly to Adam and Eve when they sinned, and that this same grace is given through Jesus Christ to all who will come to him for salvation.

Scripture: Genesis 3:21

At the end of yesterday’s study we saw how Satan tried to make Eve doubt God’s goodness. Satan's next thrust was to cast doubt on God's word. God had said, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Now Satan said, "You will not surely die" (v.4). Here was a problem! God had said, “You will die,” but the devil said, "You will not die." Whom was the woman to believe? We know what she did. Instead of believing and obeying God implicitly, which she should have done, she decided to submit the matter to her own judgment and so examined the tree, finding it to be “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (v.6). That is, she submitted it to a pragmatic test (did it have nutritional value?), an aesthetic test (how would it look on the table?), and an intellectual test (would she learn anything by eating it?). When the fruit of the tree passed those tests, she decided that the devil was right after all and so took some, ate it, and gave it to her husband, who ate also.

And yet, maybe Adam was himself also moved by something Satan said, if Eve reported it to him. Satan had said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Perhaps that is what Adam wanted to be—like God. Never mind that he had been created in the image of God already! As long as he was unable to do exactly what he wanted to, without any limitations whatever, he thought that he was not really like God. And as long as he was not really like God, the only way he could assert himself as God was by resisting the only command God had given and so eat from the forbidden tree.

Over the centuries the devil has undoubtedly gotten a great deal more sophisticated in his temptations. But these initial three temptations worked so well that he repeats them again and again. We hear them constantly.

Temptation number one: “God is not good. If he were good, he would not tell me not to do something I want to do. I will never be happy unless I get to do it. God must not want me to be happy.”

Temptation number two: “God lies. God may have given us the Bible, but the Bible does not say the same thing as today's psychiatrists, scientists, authors, artists, and politicians. It is contradicted by today's newspapers, books, movies, and television shows. The Bible must be wrong.”

Temptation number three: “I cannot be fulfilled unless I am free to do anything I take it into my mind to do, regardless of what it may do to other people. I want what I want when I want it. I want to be God.”

As soon as we analyze these temptations and the consequent fall of Adam and Eve into sin, we see that this is not merely a record of something that happened long ago, though it did happen, but that it is also an accurate description of our condition now. Those temptations are precisely our temptations, and their disobedience and fall is a true picture of the state of all human beings in their rebellion against God.

Whether we like it or not, it is still God's universe, however. And since God is a just and moral God, it is always the case that sin must be judged. In this case, God came to Adam and Eve at once, demanding to know what they had done. They tried to make excuses, of course, just as we do. When God asked Adam where he was, Adam, who had tried to hide when he heard God coming, explained that he hid because he was naked. God then asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Adam could hardly deny the fact. He had eaten from the tree that was in the middle of the garden. But he pled extenuating circumstances. It was not his fault, he said. He had been misled by the woman. “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (v. 12). Of course, hidden in Adam's excuse was the not-too-subtle implication that in the final analysis the fault must be God’s, because he would not have sinned if God had only given him a better woman.

Next God confronted Eve, “What is this you have done?” Adam had already blamed her, and she could hardly blame him. But Eve could blame the devil, which is what she did. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (v. 13). On the surface this seems to have been a better excuse than Adam's. The devil had deceived her. That was better than blaming God. But, of course, it comes to the same thing in the end. For who was responsible for Satan anyway, if not God? Who was it who let him into the garden?

One of the saddest things about sin is that sinners almost never admit their responsibility for it. Instead, they blame something or someone else. “I got my bad temper from my father. I can't do anything about it.” “Everyone else is doing it.” “You wouldn't blame me if you saw the neighborhood where I grew up.” Behind all of these excuses is the suggestion that in the final analysis it is God and not ourselves who is responsible for this present evil world.

Study Questions:

  1. What are the initial three temptations Dr. Boice mentions? How did Satan use them against Adam and Eve in the garden?
  2. How are these same three temptations a problem for you?

Key Point: Those temptations are precisely our temptations, and their disobedience and fall is a true picture of the state of all human beings in their rebellion against God.

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