Sin and the Battle of Life
Genesis 1:26-29 (NIV) -
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
Genesis 4:3-7 (NIV) -
3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Matthew 23:35 (NIV) - And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
John 8:44 (NIV) - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV) - The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
What was God's original plan for man? Was he to live forever in the Garden of Eden, or did God intend for him to rule over the entire earth? Adam had the responsibility to pass on the answers to these questions to his descendents. He had to interpret what happened in the Garden for them. We conclude that the story of the Garden of Eden, the events there and God's response originated with Adam. He was required to function as both the head of his household and serve as their religious leader He had to teach them the foundational truths we now have in the Bible.
ADAM'S PLACE IN HiSTORY
Has history been a little unfair to Adam? He is identified with what we call the Adamic nature. He has not been given credit for the original interpretation of God's foundational promise that he claimed for himself and his family. God had a purpose, a mission, for humankind. That vision was for the entire World. He was to multiply, fill up the whole earth, and bring it all under control (see Genesis 1:26-29). Clearly, the whole earth was not a Garden of Eden (2:8). Eden was a place on earth that served as a starting point for humanity. Nothing in the record indicates that it was God's plan for the Garden to be a place of rest for eternity.
The question about our mission or purpose on earth takes us back to the first study in this discipleship series on the question of adversity. Would mankind have been better off if Adam had not sinned, bringing us under the curse of sin? Note carefully that no curse was placed on either Adam or Eve. God cursed the serpent, and He also cursed the earth. But the punishment for the sin of disobedience was not called a curse (see 3:16-18, 5:29).
A NEw BEGINNINNG
For punishment, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Outside the Garden they were able to partake of all the food provided by the plants and trees that were outside the Garden. They were able to exercise dominion or authority over the whole earth in keeping with the original purpose set forth by God before the Fall.
This dominion would require pain and toil. The King James version (KJV) uses the word sorrow to translate the Hebrew word itstsabown. This same word is used in verses 16 and 17 to describe the results of sin for both Adam and Eve. The New American Standard Bible uses the words pain and toil for sorrow as a more literal translation of the Hebrew itstsaboWn. In 5:29, the KJV uses the word toil to translate the same word it translated as "sorrow in 3:16,17.
Should the word toil be considered the same as "sorrow?" Many find great satisfaction in work, which they see as a creative activity. It is probably a serious mistake to see the pain and effort in planting and, in the case of women, in giving birth to children as "sorrow." We use the expression, "No pain, no gain." Clearly, a woman goes through great pain in order to become a mother. Yet, they normally consider it to be worth what it costs.
Toil is required to subdue the earth and acquire the bountiful, abundant harvest of good things this earth provides. Most of us recognize the fact that we don't place much value on things that come too easily.
MORE THAN ADAM's NATURE
Is it possible that we have failed to recognize the blessings that can come from pain and toil? Is the Adamic nature, as theologians refer to it, an accurate definition of the problem of humanity?
Those who establish a relationship with Satan become "[children] of the devil" (Acts 13:10). The problem of greater concern is not Adam's nature but the adversary, Satan, or the devil. The biggest error Adam and Eve committed might have taken place when they established a relationship with the serpent and decided to listen to him. You can not be a son of God and a son of "your father the devil" (see John 8:44).
Adam made the mistake of failing to confess his sin. Instead, he placed the blame on his wife. But God went looking for them and reestablished a relationship In Genesis 4:3-7, Adam s two sons, Cain and Abel, took offerings to God in an act of worship.
This is evidence that Adam taught them to worship God, and that he had continued to maintain a relationship with God after leaving the Garden of Eden. Jesus called Abel "righteous" (Matthew 23:35), and he is a hero of the faith in Hebrews 11.
Sin and death function as enemy powers in our lives. Cain could have controlled the sin that attacked him and tried to establish dominion over him. If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it" (Genesis 4:7).
Instead, he allowed sin to rule over him. We cannot win the victory over our Adversary without God's help. Apparently Cain refused to allow the power of God to rule him and surrendered to Satan. The carnal nature is a powerful enemy. Our Adversary works through a power greater than the Adamic nature. It is the power of sin and death a power that became a force available for Satan to use against us when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
lt is extremely important to clearly identify the Enemy. Spiritual warfare is a reality of life for Christian disciples. We should never underestimate the Enemy or be content with a partial victory over something that is not the main enemy.
While the flesh (sarx in the Greek) is a serious problem and one that we must overcome, the real enemy is Satan and the power of sin and death that are at work under his authority. We will have the flesh as long as we are in the flesh. Only when we receive our resurrected body will complete victory over the flesh be won.
But we must understand that the war is against our Adversary and against the world system under his authority. Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). Adam had the awesome responsibility of establishing mankind' s original understanding of the world, the people of the world and the relationship of the created order to the Creator.
Adam should be seen as a man of vision who was the first to clarify his vision to his posterity. He had to make disciples of his household and teach them to live in a proper relationship with God. True discipleship prepares us to wage spiritual wartare against our Adversary.
The victory can be ours. The battle will be won by those who prepare for serious spiritual warfare, The opening chapters of the Bible make clear the seriousness of the battle of life on this earth.
1. Did God plan for man to stay in the Garden of Eden forever, or did He expect Adam and Eve to eventually leave it?
2. What responsibilities did God give Adam?
3. In light of the so-called "Adamic nature," why did the New Testament call Adam "the son of God" (Luke 3:38)?
4. What leadership responsibilities did Adam have?
5. What curse was placed on him?
6. What mistake did Eve make before she and Adam disobeyed God's command?
7. On what basis can Abel be considered righteous?
8. Fleshly desire is clearly a problem. On what basis can we say that it is a greater problem than the carnal nature?