Genesis 3:8-19 | Consequences and Grace | Andrew Gutierrez

July 29, 2018 Speaker: Andrew Gutierrez Series: When Everything Falls Apart

Topic: Worship Gatherings Passage: Genesis 3:8–19

Please turn, if you will, to Genesis chapter 3.  This morning we will be in verse 8 through 19, Genesis 3:8-19.  If you’re new or have just started coming for a couple weeks, we are going through Genesis chapters 1 through 11 verse by verse, and we come to these two chapters, Genesis 3 and 4, and we’ve kind of isolated them and named a series called “When Everything Falls Apart,” or something like that.  Should be on the screen.  Yeah, “When Everything Falls Apart.”  I was right, I guess.

Because, to some degree everything’s falling apart, and we feel the pain of that.  We know that there is wonder when a child is born, but we know that we are born and we grow up and then we die.  That’s the pattern.  And why does that all happen, and why is there conflict in our home, and why is there conflict in church, and why is there death and sin and disappointing news at the doctor’s office?  Why does all that happen?

Well, here is the first place in the Bible where there are answers given as to why that all happened.  So, appropriately so, we’ve called these two chapters “When Everything Falls Apart.”

And this morning I want to point you to Genesis 3:8-19.  I’m entitling this message “Consequences and Grace.”  And I know, I know, I know, it says something else in your worship guide.  But I try to get my message done on Thursday nights, and I send the guys all my stuff, and then there’s still some time left between Thursday night and Sunday, so things change.  So welcome to my world, and here we go.  Consequences and Grace.

Let me read the passage for us.  Genesis 3, starting in verse 8:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
    and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”

Consequences—plenty of them—and, if you read carefully, lots of grace.  Lots of grace.

Now you might wonder, why was God so harsh?  Pain in childbirth?  Difficulty in work?  Fractures and friction in marriage relationships?  Why is he so harsh?  Well, when we ask that, when we unwisely ask that, when we ignorantly ask that, we’re forgetting that God is not like us.  Adam and Eve didn’t sin against another sinful man.  Adam and Eve didn’t sin against Satan.  Adam and Eve sinned against a holy and good God who created them.

The question isn’t, why was God so harsh here; the question should really be, how could he be so gracious to them?  Angels rebelled against him prior to this, a third of them.  They were rejected from heaven and given no opportunity for redemption.  None.  Man and woman sin against him, and he comes, walking, talking.  Yes, announcing curses, but also pointing them to provisions in the curse—and ultimately the capital p Provision for the curse, his own Son, Jesus Christ. 

In this passage is the first reference to what we know as the gospel.  Genesis 3:15.  The promise of the seed.  The one who will defeat Satan, and who will not just defeat Satan and himself benefit from it—that defeat—but who will defeat Satan, and all those who are under his care will be in him, victorious over Satan.  That’s grace.  The question really is, how could you be so gracious? 

David Platt tells a story of a friend of his, an Arab believer named Azeem.  Azeem was riding in a taxi cab and had this discussion as recounted by David Platt:

Azeem, an Arab follower of Jesus and a friend of mine, was talking recently with a taxi driver in his country.  The driver believed that he would pay for his sin for a little while in hell, but then he would surely go to heaven after that.  After all, he hadn’t done too many bad things.

So Azeem said to him, “If I slapped you in the face, what would you do to me?”

The driver replied, I would throw you out of my taxi.”

“If I went up to a random guy on the street and slapped him in the face, what would he do to me?”

“He would probably call his friends and beat you up.”

“What if I went up to a policeman and slapped him in the face?  What would he do to me?”

“You would be beat up for sure, and then thrown into jail.”

“And what if I went to the king of this country and slapped him in the face?  What would happen to me then?”

The driver looked at Azeem and awkwardly laughed.  He told Azeem, “You would die.”

The driver got Azeem’s point and realized that he had been severely underestimating the seriousness of his sin against God.

Sin is as bad as the one you are sinning against.  When we sin against God, that is the most heinous of all acts.  One act of sin launched the whole world into a state of chaos and trouble.  And yet this just and righteous God who will punish every single sin on the face of the earth and throughout all human history, either on the sinner themselves or on his Son Jesus Christ—that righteous God still in some way is gracious to sinners.  And this is the story of that.

So how does God deal with sin?  How does he deal with sin?  How does he deal with Adam and Eve’s sin; how does he deal with our sin?  Three responses, in this passage, of the Lord’s dealing with sin.  Three responses of the Lord to sin.

1.  The Lord Confronts the Sinner

Number one: the Lord deals with sin first by confronting the sinner.  People are confronted.  When there is sin done by man and woman, people are confronted by the Lord.  They don’t get away with it.  They are approached in some form.

Verse 8:  “And they [Adam and Eve, we know from last week’s passage] heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

They heard God coming.  God manifested himself in some way to where he would actually be walking, and they could hear the sound of him coming.  He came in the cool of the day, which most people think is the evening part of the day, the idea probably being that they sinned earlier in the day, sewed the fig leaves together, then hid when they heard him coming in the evening.  Some people have guessed that this was the time where they would often walk with the Lord, and that’s not a bad guess.  But they heard him coming in the cool of the day, and they are hiding themselves from his presence.

Now, if you were teaching kids’ Sunday School this morning, you would ask them, can you really hide from God?  And they’d all shake their heads no.  And then maybe they’d go home this week and do something wrong and try to hide it.  You know who they’re like?  Us.  We know that we can’t hide from God, but we still try to cover up our sin by calling them mistakes and blaming them on other people.  We hide from God just like Adam and Eve hide from God.

They knew that this was a holy God.  They knew that he promised death for sin.  They knew those things, and appropriately, they were fearful.  It’s not a bad response.  Nobody, after all, can hide from his presence—Proverbs 15:3.  Or Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:  “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  He’ll bring it all into consideration.  He knows it all.  No one can hide from his presence.

Verse 9:  “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’  And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’”

God comes walking and asking questions.  God didn’t make a declaration immediately.  What is that?  Well, I would say that that is an evidence of grace as well.  God is offering Adam—notice he didn’t go to Eve first, by the way.  Adam should have protected her from being tempted by the serpent; he didn’t; he fell down on the job; he blew his leadership.  God comes, not for Eve; God comes for the one who blew it first—Adam.  He comes to Adam and graciously gives him opportunity to confess.  “Where are you?”  “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

I used to be a vice principal of a school, and the vice principal is in charge of doling out the punishment, and so there would be times where I would—most of the time it was teachers telling me something a kid did, and they would get sent to my office, but sometimes I would actually see myself what the student did. 

And there would be times when they would come into the office, and instead of telling them, here’s the punishment, here’s what you did; I would say, tell me what happened.  And they could either confess and be honest about it, or lie.  Oh, I kinda nudged him.  No, I saw it.  It was an all-out punch to the face.

So, when we are given an opportunity to confess, and then we try to cover it up or we don’t expose it for what it is, really then we have two problems—the initial problem, and now the second, the lack of confession or the cover-up or the hiding.  Doesn’t go well with God.  Yet this is what Adam does.

And notice, by the way, Adam does not focus in on his sin; he talks to God about how he feels.  He said, “Where are you?”  Adam responded, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”  Poor thing.  Poor Adam.  This is often what happens.  We focus on the consequences of our sin rather than the sin itself.  God, free me from these consequences.  God, I don’t like how I feel.

Yet God points Adam back to the sin.  He’ll take care of the consequences later, but he points Adam back to the sin.  Adam should have said, I’ve sinned against you, but he says, I don’t like the way I feel right now.

Remember David and his exemplary confession in Psalm 51?  He calls out to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4).  That’s how to confess. 

God points Adam back to his sin in verse 11.  He said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”  Who told you that you were in this state where you should be experiencing shame?  How did that come about? 

And then God links it to the sin.  Is it because you did what I told you not to do?  That’s the real issue for God.  Is it because you’ve done what I told you not to do?  The tree is emphasized here.  The commandment of God is emphasized here, not the nakedness.  God is focusing him on the violation of the commandment.

Verse 12:  “The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’”  Adam’s attention is on covering up for himself.  Doesn’t like the way he feels; he doesn’t want the sin brought out in front of him, so he blames it on someone else—his wife. 

And, as I mentioned before to you, he blames it on God.  He’s really blaming the whole thing on God.  The wife whom you gave me—she is the one who gave me the fruit, and I ate.  This is God’s fault.  One day it’s, praise the Lord, look at her.  The next day it’s, you gave her to me.  I’m not saying that’s the way it is in every marriage; I’m just saying that’s the way it is here.  It’s not the way it is in every marriage.

Adam blames his wife, and he blames God.  And let’s just make sure we get this straight; you can read James 1:13 and know that our sin is never God’s fault.  Ever.  Our sin is never God’s fault.

As Eve’s leader, Adam blames her for his failure.  This is the classic leadership failure.  Why did the mission fail?  Because of the soldiers under my charge.  No, the mission failed because of your leadership and not preparing the soldiers well enough.  Leadership takes the blame.  Adam should’ve taken the blame.  He didn’t.  He passes the buck.

God will deal with Adam again, but for now, since Adam mentioned it, he turns to Eve.  Verse 13:  “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’  The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”  Now she’s following Adam’s lead.  He shifts the blame; she now shifts the blame.

Here it says, “Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’”  If I were writing a paraphrase Bible—which I wouldn’t, ‘cause they’ve got issues—if I were, I would phrase this, Eve, what in the world?  Eve!  What are you doing?  Eve, what is this that you’ve done?  That’s the idea here. 

She also, as I mentioned, passes the blame.  She says, the devil made me do it.  That never goes over well with God.  In reality, no one ever makes us sin.  Never blame your sin on someone else.  They may be tempting you towards sin, but with every temptation we know there’s a way of escape.  We make ourselves sin.  Someone can tempt us; we make ourselves sin, because we, in Christ, can avoid that temptation.  Eve perhaps thought that that answer would do.

So God approaches Adam and Eve, and he does what he does to every sinner.  He confronts them.  Even the person who’s never heard of God or never heard of Christ Jesus in some far off place where there’s no access to the gospel or the Bible—understanding the character of God—even that person, Romans 2 tells us, has a conscience that accuses them.  God confronts every single sinner, in their conscience, with his word, by his word spoken in a sermon, by a friend who brings a rebuke, by the law and the authorities who maybe are the ones who are designated to punish that evildoer.  God confronts sin, in a multitude of ways.  This is what he does.

And notice how he does it.  As I mentioned earlier, he comes walking and giving an opportunity for confession.  He temporarily withheld judgment.  He was patient, and he gave them an opportunity.  There is justice in these verses I just read to you, and there is mercy in these verses.  Why?  Because that’s our God.

So, I would encourage you, allow yourself to be appropriately confronted on a regular basis.  Every time we read our Bibles.  When we read about faithless Israel and we shake our heads and think, I would never do that, it’s good for us to stop right there and to think, how am I like faithless Israel?  And not just stop right there, but then go to him and tell him, Lord, this is how I’m like faithless Israel.  I’m admitting to you what you already know.  Would you be gracious to me?  And we know that he will.  He will.

Listen to what Hebrews 4 says about God’s confronting us with the word of God.  Hebrews 4 says this: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  This sword penetrates deep, and it knows all things.  It highlights in its surgical ways every single sickness.  No sickness gets undetected by this word. 

“[N]o creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed [see that naked word and think back to Genesis 3] to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).  God knows all about us.  He knows our nakedness, knows our flaws, knows our sin, knows all about us; and this word diagnoses all of our sin.

Now oftentimes if you hear sermons on Hebrews 4, it tends to end right there.  Acknowledge your sin.  Let the word dissect your sin, your situation.  But listen to the next words. 

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

There’s the message for us based on Genesis 3.  God has given us more revelation than just Adam and Eve have.  We know now that when we sin and we’re naked and exposed, we can go to that same God—get this—that we sinned against, because he understands our frame because he came to be one of us.  We can go to him because he is merciful and understanding. 

So go.  Don’t cover up.  He knows it all.  He can see behind that tree.  He can see behind that closed door in the bedroom.  He can see behind whatever it is we’re trying to hide.  He can see it all, and he offers himself as the sacrifice for that sin, but you have to go to him in honesty.  When sin happens, God will confront.

2.  Satan is Cursed

What else happens when sin occurs?  Number two, Satan is cursed.  Sin happens; God comes to confront the sinners.  Sin happens, and he comes to curse the one who brought about the first sin in heaven, Satan himself.  Sin was found in him, according to Ezekiel 28. 

As soon as sin entered the world, God pronounced a curse on the author of that sin.  Today when sin happens, it reminds us that one day the tempter will be destroyed. 

Verse 14:  “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.’”

Here’s what I love about this passage, because I hate Satan just like you do.  I love this: God comes to Adam and Eve and asks questions.  God comes to Satan—no questions; judgment for you.  You’re not gonna—pardon the pun—wiggle your way out of this one.  No way.  I’m telling you what it’s gonna be like.  You will be destroyed.

“Because you have done this, cursed are you”—what’s a curse?  To have divine harm done to you.  Because you’ve harmed my children, you will have divine harm done to you.  Then he says, “[C]ursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field.”  All of the livestock and beasts of the field would experience the curse.  They all do.  All creation does—Romans 8.  But above them, more than them, the serpent will experience the curse. 

For some reason, in some way, God cursed all serpents because Satan came into this serpent in Genesis 3.  And we see when you see a snake, you see evidence of the curse and the victory of God.  Many people think that snakes moved around some different way prior to the curse, perhaps flying, perhaps walking in some way—we don’t know.  But evidently here is when they’re driven to the ground and eat the dust of the earth.  One of those questions we have, we don’t know about.  But we know Satan is cursed, judged, sent to the ground.  The dirt is his food, “all the days of your life.”

Now what’s interesting here is—we see that.  When you go outside and see a snake going around, it’s like, I’d rather not be on the dirt, eating the ground.  I’d rather be an animal that’s more upright.  That’s an evidence of what God did here with Satan.  It’s interesting that in Isaiah 65 there’s a prophecy about the coming kingdom of Christ, and it appears that there’s this reversal of the curse for the rest of the animal population.  It says that the wolf will lie with the lamb—or lion; I can’t remember exactly which animal Isaiah 65 is off the top of my head; you’ll check it later and send me an email.  There’s an animal that’s a predator, lying with the lamb, and there’s this idea that they will be at peace together. 

And then it says, and the serpent will eat the dust all the days of its life.  So evidently, for the rest of the animal kingdom, it’s like, this is great.  The curse is being reversed.  Not for the serpent.  You’ll eat of the dust of the earth all the days of your life.

God continues, verse 15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  I will put enmity—deep-seated ill will.  Contention.  Rivalry, of the highest magnitude.  I will put enmity between you, serpent—Satan—and the woman, Eve.  Why not Adam?  Because Eve’s the one that would produce children from her.  They would come from her, and Satan would go after those children.  See the very next chapter, chapter 4.  Cain.  Sin desired Cain.  It’s an example of this enmity.

So the offspring of Eve and the offspring of the serpent will be at enmity, will be at war.  It’s the same way it is today.  The offspring of the serpent and the offspring of Eve—really, the offspring of God himself—will be at war.

Remember when Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees in John 8:44?  He says that they were of their father the devil—the offspring of Satan.  Child of Satan, or you’re a child of God.  No in between.

But this doesn’t just seem to refer to all of Eve’s offspring, but one particular person in that line.  Because he says, “…and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head.”  He’s referring now to one from her offspring.  Well, who is this?  Jesus Christ.  The seed of the woman. 

You trace the seed through the Old Testament, and you see, okay, this could be anybody.  Eve’s gonna have kids.  Who’s the seed?  And we’ll see later on in Genesis 5, we’ll see that they were looking for the One.  They’re looking for one person.  The families that came after this pronouncement are looking for one person. 

And there are these promises given.  It’s gonna come from the line of Abraham, according to Genesis 12.  Okay, so now it could be anybody in the earth, but now the Lord’s gonna narrow it in.  No, it’s gonna be from this man’s line.  And then you come to Micah 5, and you realize it’s gonna come from someone born in Bethlehem, and you know it’s gonna be from the tribe of Judah, and you know that he’s gonna come in David’s line. 

Until one day, about 2,000 years ago, someone fulfilled all those prophecies and was born.  And you might think, ah, coincidence.  And then he lived a perfect life.  No coincidence.  This is the promise of Christ, the One who would crush the head of the serpent as the serpent bruised his heel.

“[H]e shall bruise your head”—this is a blow of finality.  You’d rather have your heel struck than your head struck, right?  The head is the blow of finality. 

So he will defeat Satan, crush his head, as he himself receives a wound to the heel.  This is the reference to the cross of Jesus Christ.  He would receive wounds.  He would suffer the wrath of God.  He would be speared.  He would be whipped.  He would be nailed to a cross.  And in doing that, he defeated Satan, the author of sin.

So when sin entered the world, God immediately told Satan, you will be doomed.  Immediately.  Doesn’t ask questions of Satan—why’d you do this?—doesn’t do any of that; immediately tells him, you will be doomed.

Listen to Hebrews 2:14-15.  “Since therefore the children [that’s you and me] share in flesh and blood, he himself [Christ] likewise partook of the same things [flesh and blood], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death [that’s us] were subject to lifelong slavery.”

In the death of Christ, he said, I’m paying your penalty; you are no longer needing to fear death.  You are in me.  And in his death, he defeated the serpent.

Now Satan still brings a presence of sin to the world, doesn’t he?  There’s still sin in this world, still the effects of Satan.  But when you know that Jesus died for you and took your penalty and gave you his righteousness, and that you are alive to him, that takes away the power that sin has over you.  And it takes away the penalty that sin has for you.

So yes, we experience the presence of sin, but the way it dominated us before we were regenerated from the heart—the way it dominated us, the power it had over us—is no more.  We still struggle with it, but we do not have to sin like (John 8:44) the children of Satan have to sin.  That’s just who they are.  That’s what they do.  We don’t have to.  We’ve been made alive in Christ.

So there’s the presence of sin, but not the power, and not the penalty.  We will not pay for one sin that we ever commit.  Ever.  Ever. 

So, when you and I feel guilty for sin, let’s not place our hope in a do-over or doing better next week or even God grading on a curve.  Let’s just admit what is true and trust in the seed of the woman, trust in Christ’s death for us.  Trust in Christ.

I really believe that a group of people who honestly are just open and confess their sin appropriately—confess their sin and just admit who they are—are the people that understand grace the most.  People that try to show that they’re better than they are and that’s what they do by nature and never confess sin, always act like they never do anything wrong—the mom and dad who only tells Junior what to do and never admits that they’ve done anything wrong—those people, I don’t know if they really understand grace, if they’re really resting in what Christ has done.  Just admit where we’re at and trust in Christ.

Martin Luther said this:  “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell.  What of it?  For I know one who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where he is there I will be also.’”  He’s where our hope is.  Christ Jesus, the promised One.

3.  Productivity is Challenged

What else happens when sin takes place?  What else does God do when sin takes place?  He confronts the sinners.  He brings a curse to Satan.  Third and finally in this passage, productivity is challenged.  There’s a curse on the earth.  This is gonna be difficult.  This is part of the punishment for sin.  This is part of the discipline and the effect of the curse.  Because of sin, nothing is perfect anymore.  Nothing.

Verse 16:  “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 

In pain you shall bring forth children.  Now most people think, as I do, that this isn’t just speaking of those moments in the hospital room.  The moments prior bring some pain, don’t they?  I don’t know by experience, just on what I read in the news and what my wife tells me.  There’s some pain brought in the time of pregnancy, from conception until birth.  And there’s also pain after the child is born, right?  There’s difficulty, there’s emotions.  There are things that continue to happen in your body.  This whole process of raising a child from conception until the end—it’s painful.  It’s not easy.

This pain is not limited also to physical pain.  It’s emotional pain as well.  You can see that throughout the Scriptures.  Mothers, who are in torment emotionally because of the sin of their children or difficulty of raising children.  Or, the difficulty of not having children.  There’s pain there even.  Sin does this.  It brings a curse. 

God says also, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”  “Contrary to your husband” is the ESV’s rendering; your version may say something different.  “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

What happened when Eve fell?  Well, Adam didn’t lead, and Eve didn’t submit to his leadership.  Both problems happened.  And God here is saying, that’s the way it’s going to continue to be.  This is what you chose.  That’s what life is going to be like in your marriage.

This is not saying, Eve, because you first sinned, then you will need to be submissive to your husband, and he will take the leadership role.  That’s not the curse.  That happened before she sinned, that he would lead the family.  He fell, and now what’s happening here isn’t roles in the family; it’s an abuse of roles in the family.  That’s what he’s pointing to.

He’s saying, there’s going to be an abuse of roles in the family.  You will want the authority that your husband is meant to have, and he, by the way, will misuse his authority.  This isn’t, he will lead you.  That’s part of the curse, Eve; sorry, he’s gonna lead you.  No, no, that’s not a curse.  That’s a gift.  Good leadership is a gift.  The curse is, he will wrongly use his leadership.  He will abuse the authority that he was intended to steward.

Allen Ross says this:  “It may be argued that male domination in the history of the human race is a perpetual reminder of the fall.  The woman at her worst would be a nemesis to the man; the man at his worst would dominate the woman.”  Both are wrong.  A kicking against the leadership is wrong, and an abuse of authority is wrong. 

Sometimes when you teach on roles between a man and a woman and you read a passage like Ephesians 5 and you say a woman should submit to her husband, a lot of times men kind of do like, yeah, that’s right.  Submit to me.  No, what you just said right there, sir, is an abuse of your authority.  That is not understanding your proper role.  You are not meant to lord your authority over her, but to come under and to serve and to nourish and to cherish. 

God is saying part of the curse is that there will be an abuse of authority in homes, and wives will be tempted to kick against good authority in homes when that occurs.  This is the way it is.  And we see this all around, don’t we?  People don’t understand the gift that men’s and women’s roles are to families, to marriages.

I love what Ross says later on in his writing on this passage.  He says this: “For believers in Jesus Christ, life in the Spirit removes the sting of the curse so that a much more harmonious and loving relationship is envisioned than that which is declared to be the result of evil in the human race.” 

You can see this in our church.  You can see the gift of the Holy Spirit in the ladies of this church in so many families who understand their role and live it out to the glory of God.  Yes, there is a curse, and yes, life at home is not always easy; but they understand following leadership and trusting the Lord in that.  It’s a beautiful picture.

You see men who lead their homes well in this church.  It’s evidence that God, even though there’s a curse, he’s still gracious.  And he gives his Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, to live in the men of this church to lovingly lead and sacrifice for their families.  You can see God’s provisions among the people of God, God’s provisions against the curse.

But we’re not perfect yet.  It’s not the new heavens and the new earth.  So when you’re married and it’s wonderful and you’re both living out your roles, we still don’t do that perfectly, do we?  It’s why I like the title of the Dave Harvey book on marriage, When Sinners Say “I Do.”  That’s just what it is.  Yes, there’s romance.  And yes, there’s work.  It’s not easy.

Now Adam and Eve knew they’d be fruitful and they’d multiply before the fall.  They knew that.  God told them, be fruitful and multiply.  They understood that.  But now it’s going to be hard.  They knew that they were married.  They knew that.  But now it’s not going to be as easy as it once was.  This is what happens because of sin.

Verse 17:  “And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field’” (Genesis 3:17-18).

Because you’ve listened and obeyed the voice of your wife and then sinned because you allowed her to lead you into sin, instead of you leading her in a way that protected her from sin—because you’ve allowed this reversal of roles to happen and it didn’t go well and you sinned—because of this, your life is going to be difficult.  Your work is gonna be toil and hardship.

Now remember, Adam worked before the fall.  Work isn’t a consequence of the curse.  Hard work, painstaking work, sweat—those things are part of the curse.

Again (did you see this again?) God’s command is prominent.  Because you’ve listened to the voice of your wife and you’ve eaten of the tree of which I commanded you.  God keeps bringing up the fact, I told you not to.  I told you not to.  I told you not to.  That’s the real deal.  They’ve violated the command of God.

Because of this, the ground will be cursed.  Obtaining resources will be a challenge to you.  There will be pain; there will be difficulty.  Famine, fires, insects, weeds, labor disputes, poor management all threaten productivity.  The Lord’s given us resources, and all of them are difficult to obtain.  They’re not as easy as they would have been in a perfect world.

So when we read of an airline mistreating a customer, we see the effects of the fall.  Airlines.  Wonderful gifts, evidence of grace.  I can travel from here to Europe to see family members, or wherever it may be.  Airlines.  Wonderful gift.  Productivity.  Airlines provide jobs for people.  Productivity.  Wonderful grace from God. 

But guess what?  Bad things happen.  An airline mistreats a customer; someone snaps a video of it; their customer base falls in response; they lose money; they lay off people; life is difficult for a bunch of people because of that.  Productivity, grace, and there’s also a curse—it’s hard.  That’s everything in work.  Everything.

This goes back to Genesis 3.  So when you ask, why is my boss being such a jerk?  Genesis 3.  I was gonna say, why is my wife being such a—no, no.  Why am I being such a jerk in our relationship?  Genesis 3.  It all comes back to our violating the lordship of Jesus Christ, the lordship of God over us.

“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).  Remember what Gold told Adam and Eve?  He said, you may eat freely of any tree of the garden except for this one, because in the day you eat of that, you will surely die.  They didn’t die that day they ate; there was a judicial death.  They were launched into a spiritual death that only he could solve, God could solve. 

And there was also a promise of physical death one day, and this is what God is saying.  Before this, if they wouldn’t have sinned, there would not have been death.  But now there’s sin, therefore there’s death.  You came out of the dust; you’re gonna go back to being dust, physically.  Physically. 

Spiritually, because of the redemption that God offers, we know that he will not allow his holy one to see corruption—Psalm 16.  We know that when our eyes close, we will be with him.  We know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  We know that when we close our eyes, we will see his likeness, according to the psalmist.  We know that there is no final spiritual death because God is the one who can reverse that curse. 

But there will be physical death as a consequence.  And then a resurrected body.  So this is a prophecy of Adam and Eve’s and our future death, after a life of difficulty.

So when we sin against a holy God, even the good gifts he’s given us—food, children, marriage, jobs—none of them are perfect.  There’s difficulty and hardship in them, because of sin.  But in this passage, food, children, and even work should be seen as a wonderful act of grace, because even in difficult work there is food that’s brought about.  Even in the difficulty of childbearing, there are children.  And aren’t they wonderful?  God’s still gracious.

Now, based on the fact that there is a curse in this world and life is hard, I wanted to remind you of some things.  I’ve got three reminders for you, based on this last point.

Remember that life is hard.  Now, some of you are like, thanks preacher.  Didn’t really need that.  I knew that.  But sometimes I think we have this expectation that life shouldn’t be hard.  We’re in America; we’re perhaps the wealthiest people who have ever lived.  We’ve got vacations and second homes and things like this, and then when something’s hard, we—oh my goodness!  No, no, no.  All of the benefits that we have are abnormal; the hardship is normal. 

So just remember that life is hard because of sin.  Handicaps, job losses.  Life is hard.  Why?  God’s not good; God’s not answering all my prayers.  My boss this—no.  It’s hard because of sin.  And not just Adam and Eve’s sin; it’s hard because of our sin.  When you see death, when you see pain and hardship, it’s a great way to go, I’m part of the problem.  It’s because of sin.  It’s because of violating God’s word. 

So remember that life is hard.  And embrace it.  Just own it.  Don’t say, life is too hard; I’m just not gonna work.  Life is too hard; I’m not gonna try anymore.  No, no, no.  Life is hard, and God’s given us provision for how to operate in a world where life is hard.  He’s told us how to work; he’s told us how to handle conflict.  All through the Bible you can see God realizing there’s a curse and here’s how you operate under it.  So remember that life is hard.

Second, remember (I got into this) that we have provisions for the curse.  See God’s grace in seatbelts.  We have provisions for the curse.  Back when I was a kid growing up, it was just like Mom’s hand over you, and my mom is like five-foot-tall.  Like, what’s that gonna do?  But we have technology that develops, and now we have seatbelts that are safer when you’re in a crash.

Why?  Isn’t this world cursed?  Isn’t it supposed to be dying?  Yes, but when you see the withholding of death and when you see life expectancy rates grow, when you see that, it’s little glimpses of grace which point to a final new heavens and new earth.  So yes, life is hard, but God has given good gifts.

Medicine.  Good gift from God.  Yes, there is a curse; God still gives good gifts.  Books to read to help your marriage.  A provision for the curse.  Good gifts.  Building codes.  Good gifts from God.  Diets.  Good gifts.  Medical research.  Good gifts.  So remember that we’re under a curse, but remember there are provisions for the curse.

And third, my third reminder for you, but remember that none of those provisions are your savior.  Seatbelts are not your savior.  Your favorite political party—they’re not your saviors.  The piece of legislation that you want to exist—not your savior.  Your diet—not your savior.  Your spouse—not your savior. 

None of those are ever meant to be your savior.  They’re just provisions under the curse.  Provisions, little p.  The capital p Provision for your curse is the one who will reign on the new heavens and new earth and will rule without any sin present.  He’s the Provision.  He’s where we put our hope.

Romans 8:22:  “[W]e know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”  So we get epidurals.  And so we cage animals so that they don’t harm us.  Good gifts.  But that’s not what the soul longs for. 

“[W]e know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait ...” for the next medical advancement.  For the cure to cancer.  No. 

“… as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”  We wait for his redemption of our bodies.  We wait for our final salvation, where we know right now we’re adopted, but there’s a final gathering in of his people.  That’s what we’re waiting for.  So don’t put all your hope in the little p provisions; put all your hope in the one that is yet to come. 

God came walking toward the first sinners.  He came up to the serpent and promised his demise.  He came up to the first sinners and spoke to them, asked them a question.  Promised One that would come to where they could find their victory.  God came walking toward the first sinners.  He would confront them, he would defeat their enemy, and their life would be a challenge.  He came walking to them as judge, and he also came walking to them as savior. 

Later we’ll see that Adam and Eve believe what he said.  And that’s key.  Every time the gospel is preached, God is presenting himself to the listener.  It’s as if God is standing before you saying, what have you done?  Admit to me what you’ve done. 

What’s your response?  Will you admit what he already knows?  Or will you try to hide from him?  Or will you simply disregard him?  I want you to see that if you are breathing right now, God has been gracious to you. 

Jesus Christ walks up to sinners.  Wasn’t just that God walked up to them in the garden; Jesus walked up to blind Bartimaeus as he cried out for mercy and healed him.  Jesus walked intentionally, probably against the advice of other people, walked up to the woman at the well, and she was forever changed.  Jesus walked up to Matthew, while he was in the act of sinning.  Walked up to Matthew and called Matthew to follow him.  Jesus walked up and called tax-collecting Zacchaeus, by name. 

Why?  Because he came to seek and save the lost.  Think of that phrase that Jesus said about himself, the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.  Now impose that on Genesis 3.  Now impose that onto your life.  He came to seek and to save the lost.

We will all stand before Christ, naked, open.  We will either stand before him as our judge or as our savior.  If he is going to be savior, admit to him what he already knows and ask him to be the one to change your future.  That’s what this whole thing is about.  That message.  Let’s pray.

Father, we thank you for all of the truths in this passage.  We thank you for your character which has been on full display for us as we read through it.  We thank you for your justice.  How horrible would it be to live under a God who sometimes let things go.  We don’t want that. 

We also thank you for your mercy, because we are a people who deserve justice, and we, by trusting your Son, will receive only mercy all the time and only grace.  There’s none like you. 

And Father, we pray that as we go on from here, we would rest in your forgiveness as we are honest before you, and that we would look for your final reversal of the curse.  We want you to come and make all of the wrong right and take care of all the things, all the injustices that have been done.  We fully trust in you and ask that you would come soon.  We pray this in your name, and based on your work.  Amen.