Obstacles to FellowshipAnd the serpent said unto the woman, "You surely will not die..." Genesis 3:4
Opening Prayer: Father, many times it seems like there are more ways to fail than to succeed at building relationships. Teach us to walk in Your ways, we pray.
In Lesson One we saw the foundations -- elements that contribute to strong relationships. This lesson charts a few icebergs that can sink relationships.
Let's start in Genesis 3, verses 1-5:Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'" And the woman said unto the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, But of the fruit of tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat of it, nor touch it, lest you die.'" And the serpent said unto the woman, "You will not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
What negative element do you see here?
The enemy had a different agenda -- different set of goals. Even though he started out sounding like he wanted to discuss things shared in common, it was deliberately misleading. In fact, he made it sound like a Bible study -- "Indeed, has God said..." -- even though his goal was 180 degrees opposed to God's will.
How can having different goals or agendas affect the relationship between man and woman?
Even though they may begin with quite a bit in common at first, they're moving in different directions. End result -- less in common, fewer values and activities shared, fewer principles cherished, less love, and damaged communications: maybe less said between the two, or greater friction or (worse) else more of a tendency to tell the other person what he or she wants to hear rather than truth.
So what was/is negative number two that we see the enemy model?
Lies and distortions (or denials) of the truth.
What were the lies?
- You will not die.
- God lied to you.
- God is jealous of His powers.
- Disobedience is really a shortcut to being like God.
Did Adam and Eve eventually die? Did they ever become like God? Were they able to prove that God had lied or that He was jealous of His powers?
You already know the answers to these questions. So does everybody else you know.
Now read v6:And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he ate.
Here we see a third enemy of fellowship: Traits/characteristics that are NOT God-like.
In verses 7-10 we see several other enemies of fellowship. Verse 7:Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
They had GUILT, the fourth enemy of fellowship. Unresolved guilt can tear up a relationship.
Look at verse 8:And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
What fifth enemy of fellowship do we see here?
Hiding, fear, making excuses, blame-shifting, trying to conceal guilt and shame. Pride. Bottom line: failure to accept responsibility for actions.
Have any of you observed this type of behavior among your acquaintences?
Well, yes, but surely none of US would ever stoop to such a thing.
Now look at verses 9 and 10:And the LORD God called unto Adam and said unto him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
God asks Adam why he's hiding and Adam says that he was afraid because he was guilty. So Adam has blown it pretty badly up to this point. He has not handled this crisis well. But somehow he manages to make it worse, as we'll see.
Let's read verses 11-13:And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded that you should not eat?" And the man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate." And the LORD God said unto the woman, "What is this that you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate."
In verse 11 God gave Adam a chance to repent and confess his sin. In fact, notice that God addressed Adam FIRST. Why?
Adam was supposed to be in charge of the Garden. So God asked His first officer to report, just like in the military: "You're in charge here, Adam. What happened in my absence?"
Now let's indulge in some speculation: Suppose Adam had had the integrity to accept the responsibility for his mistake squarely, to take the blame, and ask forgiveness. Is it possible that things might have turned out differently?
Very possible, indeed.
Did Adam show character and integrity?
Nope. He said, in effect, "This woman YOU gave me -- SHE messed up. It's HER fault and YOURS, God. It's not MY fault."
That's funny -- Adam sounds a lot like me at times. And lots of other people. It seems like our newspapers are filled with people saying, "It's not my fault."
So God came to the man He had put in charge and asked him for an accounting. And what did Adam do?
Has anybody here been in the military? If someone in your command messes up, what happens?
The officer in charge takes responsibility in the eyes of his superior officer. Later the officer in charge will settle up accounts with the underling who messed up.
For example, when I was at Air Force ROTC survival training (a two-day hike through Camp Pendleton in summer without food), it happened to be my turn to be in charge of the squadron. One of our guys wandered ten feet away from the group during a rest stop, and one of the officers in charge jumped me for having people out of formation. Petty, yes, but I was in charge of my squadron, and I was responsible for keeping the guys together.
Then God turned to the woman to see if she could do better. This is important. Man refused to accept responsibility for the situation. So God turned to the woman.
What if Eve had said, "God, it's my fault. I blew it. I made a big-time mistake listening to the serpent. Forgive me, Lord -- please restore me to fellowship with You, because I can't stand the way I feel as a result of this guilt and fear!"
What if the woman had shown that type of courage and love for God? Isn't it just possible that God might have given women dominion over the earth and over their spouses? Think about it. Instead, well, we all know what happened. If not, you can read the rest for homework. Bottom line: she was human, too. And so are we.
Last question: Why is this story here?
- Did God put this story here just to dump on Adam and Eve?
- Did God get bored one day and create this story as fiction to amuse and entertain us?
- Did He write this story to make us feel guilty and inferior about our tendencies to be weak and rationalize our mistakes?
God put this story here to give us hope. Here's what we can learn:
- God gave us the capacity to have fellowship with Him as well as with each other.
- Even though some part of us was created in God's image, we are not content to turn to God alone to get our needs met.
- There is an enemy of our souls, who preys upon our weaknesses, tells us convincing lies, and then laughs when we catch hell for believing him.
- Even without help from the enemy, men and women can fall short of their highest and best, and betray the trust placed in them.
God understands our weaknesses, and knows that our fleshly best isn't good enough to merit heaven. Cross reference Romans 3:23, 24:For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace...
Therefore, He provides substitutionary atonement and justification -- fancy talk meaning that another can pay the price/penalty for our mistakes, and we can achieve eternal salvation by faith -- IF we first acknowledge that "All our righteous acts are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6)
In the Old Testament (the Torah), God made provision for this by animal sacrifices, beginning with the Passover sacrifice. This was a picture of the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, Yeshua, whom we call Jesus. This will be explained in Lessons Three and Four: Relating to God.