Sin Makes a Mess . . . But God Makes a Way — Genesis 3:16-24

Sin makes a mess … there’s no way to sugarcoat that awful reality.  It has been like that since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  There are always consequences for our sinful choices.  What might seem pleasurable for a moment can turn into a lifelong struggle against obstacles and bondage.  Think of the choices that lead someone into the devastating lifestyle of addiction.  We heard this week of a family friend that is in treatment for cocaine addiction.  He was raised in a Christian family but he made a series of bad choices.  God has said that He will not be mocked – whatever a man sows … that shall he also reap.  There is no getting away with sin.  Sin makes a mess.

I spent some early years when we first moved to Baltimore working in a ministry with a gifted Christian counselor.  What struck me as couples or individuals would come into the office in desperate situations seeking hope and deliverance was what a tangled mess sin makes of our lives.  It is like a ball of twisted yarn.  You can pull on one thread and seemingly make some progress but it is so difficult to straighten out a life gone down the wrong path.

But we are also going to see in this passage, that God makes a way.  Where man tries to cover up his sin with the futile attempts of a patchwork of fig leaves, God provides the seed of the woman to offer up His sinless life as a sacrifice for sin.  Only God can clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and by His grace shower undeserving sinners with His grace and compassion and mercy and forgiveness.  We are all undeserving sinners.  We are all in bondage to sin and guilt and death apart from the salvation offered freely by a gracious God.

This morning we get back to the roots of humanity – the origin of sin in the human race and some of its devastating consequences.  But we will also witness the grace of God at work behind the scenes.

SIN LEADS TO GUILT . . . AND GUILT CHANGES EVERYTHING – PART 2

Last week:

I.  (:8-10) A GUILTY CONSCIENCE

II.  (:11-13) A GUILTY VERDICT

III.  (:14-15)  A GUILTY SENTENCE – UPON THE SERPENT

 

IV.  (:16) A GUILTY SENTENCE – UPON THE WOMAN

To the woman He said,

A.  Pronouncement of Cursing – Impacts Childbirth

I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,

        In pain you shall bring forth children;

In all of the gender confusion over the role of man and woman in today’s culture, nobody disputes that it is only the woman who gives birth to children.  The role of man and woman remains distinct from a biological sense just as God testifies that there are unique roles for men and women to perform in the home and in the church.

Here we see the consequences of sin for Even directed towards that fundamental arena of giving birth to children.  We have Moms here this morning who can testify to the pain involved in childbirth.  This multiplied pain came about because of the sin of Eve.  As we bring new life into this world it is a reminder that our nature has been transformed to one of sin and depravity just as the world around us reflects the brokenness and pain of sin.

“toil, heart-break, sorrow and pain.”

Parunak: These two clauses both speak of the woman’s “sorrow,” particularly in childbearing. Hebrew has a number of words that are commonly used for labor pangs, but Moses chooses here two derivatives of another term, `eceb. Once again he shows his penchant for puns, for the first two consonants of this term are the same as those of the word for “tree,” `ec. She was fascinated with the tree, so now she is doomed to remember it in the pain she must endure.

Dr. Jack Arnold: A mother’s sense of success or failure in life is related to her children. A mother’s heart is wrapped up with the life and career of her children. She lives in and by her children. The meaning of her life is revealed in them, and if they succeed, she has succeeded, but if they fail, she has failed.

1Tim 2:12-15

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

Steven Cole: God mercifully tempers the pain with the great joy which children give. As Jesus said, “Whenever a woman is in travail, she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world(John 16:21).

B.  Condemnation to Conflict – Impacts Marriage Relationship

  1. The Wife Must Restrain the Sinful Urge to Be in Control

Yet your desire shall be for your husband,

Dr. Jack Arnold: But as a result of the Fall, there is a struggle and tension inside the woman, in which she is torn between the natural God-given desire to yield to her husband, and at the same time the awakened desire to exert her will against his, a perverse urge to rivalry or domination.

Steven Cole: Two views are the most likely. The first is that in spite of the woman’s increased pain in childbearing, she would continue to have sexual desire toward her husband. Sex was not cursed by God. The woman has as much right to enjoy sex in marriage as the man. Two things commend this view. The word “desire” is used in Song of Songs 7:10 to refer to the desire of a lover for his beloved. And, the woman’s pleasure in sex serves as a gracious blessing to offset the preceding curse of pain in childbirth

[other view explained by Parunak below]

  1. The Husband Must Restrain the Temptation to Rule in Domineering Fashion

And he shall rule over you.

Instead of joyfully responding to the loving leadership of the head of the home, the wife will chafe against the leadership the husband exercises.

Of course this is no ticket for the husband to dominate his wife in an unloving fashion.  The standard has been set for husbands in Ephes. 5 to love their wives in a humble and sacrificial fashion as Christ has loved the church.

But God wants Eve to know in no uncertain terms that this marriage relationship will be a struggle for the woman and source of tension and frustration.

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Parunak: close parallel in 4:7

In 4:1-5,

– Cain and Abel are born,

– And take up their respective work as tiller of the soil and shepherd.

– Each makes an offering to God of his produce.

– God accepts Abel and his offering, but not Cain. When we get to ch. 4, we will consider the reason for this.

– Cain is upset. Subsequently, this upset is so severe that it leads him to murder Abel (v.8).

In vv.6-7, the Lord expostulates with Cain over his disappointment. He places a choice before Cain. Note the double contrast:

The verb used to describe sin’s posture at Cain’s door is characteristic of a wild beast in its lair (Gen 49:9; Ps 104:22). The point is to picture his position as precarious. Every time he sets foot out of his house, he must walk past the den of Sin, which may snare him at any moment (and in fact, does, when he rises up and slays his brother).

Concerning sin in this figure of a lion in its lair, God continues in terms nearly identical to 3:16: “Unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” Two things are clear here:

  1. Sin’s desire for Cain is not affection, but a desire to overpower him and control him.
  2. The statement about Cain’s rule over sin is not a prediction, but an exhortation that Cain unfortunately does not heed. It is Cain’s duty to resist sin’s ambition to overtake him, and remain in control.

The same understanding fits perfectly in 3:16.

  1. thy desire shall be to thy husband.” This is a prediction of the battle of the sexes, the origin of feminism. Instead of being the channel for God’s help to him, you will wish to dominate him, to assert your agenda rather than his. Just as the judgment on the serpent instituted enmity between believers and unbelievers, the judgment on the woman institutes enmity between male and female. Note that the woman here is confirmed in her sinful behavior, according to God’s harvest law (Gal 6:7). She has sowed rebellion against the man’s authority, and now reaps it as her steady portion.
  2. Nevertheless, it remains the husband’s responsibility to control the rebellious wife. “He shall rule over you” is normative, not declarative; a statement of his responsibility, not a prediction. This was always his responsibility. Adam failed to exercise it when his wife offered him the forbidden fruit. Now it is still his responsibility, but made more difficult because of the woman’s propensity to rebel.

[This also fits Cant 7:10, where the woman, truly overcome with love for her husband, cedes to him the right to direct the relation by accepting his desire over her. Note the progression from 2:16 (possession) and 6:3 (putting him first) to surrender (7:10).]

NT Consequences

We now have the pieces we need to understand 1 Tim 2:12-14. Woman is not to teach in the church, for two reasons:

  1. The order of creation. She is to be a helper to the man, not his replacement.
  2. The circumstances of the fall. By her own confession, she was deceived in the sin (“the serpent beguiled me”), and the judgment pronounced on her emphasized her tendency to usurp authority over the man, and his responsibility to maintain control over her.

Feminist propaganda suggests that women tend to be abused by their husbands, and that dictatorial husbands are the rule rather than the exception. Certainly, there are such husbands, but this understanding suggests that another situation is far more common: strong-willed women, and men who find it easier to let them have their way than to give godly leadership. (Given the male ego, it is not surprising if this situation is underreported.) The responsibility of believers in light of this judgment:

  1. The husband is responsible to lead his wife, even if she resists his leadership. This responsibility does not excuse tyranny or abuse; the standard is Eph. 5:25, “as Christ loved the church.” Still, he must lead. If unfallen Eve could divert her husband from godliness, so can even a regenerate wife, if the flesh slips into the picture. The situation is analogous to the responsibility of parents to keep their children under control. Do not confuse love with permissiveness.
  2. The wife is to recognize her fleshly tendency to rebel, and submit herself to the husband in everything as the church does to Christ. Only thus can she be his helper as originally intended.

Echoes Later in Genesis

The efforts of women to control their men, often with devastating effects, are common throughout the book.

– 16:3, Sarah urges her handmaid on Abraham, leading to the birth of Ishmael and later bitterness in the family.

– 27, Rebekah conspires with Jacob to deceive her husband Isaac and obtain the blessing that belonged to Esau.

– 29-30, Rachel and Leah seek to manipulate their husband in their competition with one another.

– 38, Tamar manipulates her father-in-law when he does not provide her a husband

– 39, Potiphar’s wife has Joseph imprisoned when she cannot bend him to her will.

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Constable: “The “curse” here describes the beginning of the battle of the sexes. After the Fall, the husband no longer rules easily; he must fight for his headship. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship), and he must master her, if he can. Sin had corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. And so the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny, domination, and manipulation.” [Note: Foh, p69. See also her article, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” Westminster Theological Journal37:3 (Spring1975):376-383; Mathews, p251; and Waltke, Genesis, p94.]

Deffinbaugh: To those men and women who wish to disregard God’s instruction I must say, that is precisely what Satan desires. Just as he drew Eve’s attention to the restriction of the one tree, so he wants women to ponder the restriction placed upon women today. “Throw off your shackles,” he urges, “Find self-fulfillment.” “God is keeping you from what is best,” he whispers. And it is a lie! God’s rules have reasons, whether we understand them or not.

MacArthur: the woman is also given a curse in the realm where she lives her life. It affects her childbearing and her relationship to her husband. The home is where God designed a woman to be. That is her realm. That is her sphere. And so God places a unique curse on her realm so that she is going to find life particularly difficult in her relationship with her children and her husband. Childbirth itself will take her right down to the edge of death . . .

She desires to have her own way and have her own will and dominate, and he controls her. So there in the very sphere of her life she finds the curse operating which is a constant reminder, designed by God to be a constant reminder of the terrible nature of sin

V.  (:17-19) A GUILTY SENTENCE – UPON THE MAN

Then to Adam He said,

A.  (:17a) Reason for the Curse

  1. Abdicating Role of Leadership

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,

Adam should have maintained his role of headship and leadership.

  1. Transgressing the Command of God

and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you,

                saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

Note:

  • Contrast in the source of the spoken word –
    • Helper / Wife – created by God as a suitable helper for Adam
    • God the Creator Himself
  • Contrast in the intensity of the spoken word –
    • Suggestion from the woman
    • Commandment from God
  • Contrast in the authority of the spoken word —
  1. (:17b-19) Pronouncement of Cursing

Cursed is the ground because of you;”

The environment has every reason to be upset at humanity – all of creation is in a state of groaning – waiting for the coming redemption – because of the sin of Adam

Work was designed to be a pleasurable experience with the environment cooperating in every way; but now the ground fights against the efforts to cultivate the soil and produce the necessary crops for man’s sustenance

B.  (:17c-19) Condemnation to Conflict and Death

  1. (:17c-19a)  Condemnation to Conflict in Working for Food

In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

                Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;

                And you shall eat the plants of the field;

                By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread,

Men, Why are we surprised when we face difficulties at work?

We need to adjust our expectations.

It is going to be a grind.

We are going to have to toil and labor and sweat and groan and suffer exhaustion.

Dr. Jack Arnold: Work itself is not a curse; It is the sweat, anxiety and pres­sure of trying to get more and more out of reluctant nature.

Psalm 127:2He eats the bread of sorrow.”

Parunak: The phrase here has the specific meaning of grain, which requires cultivation, as opposed to the fruit trees with which the garden abounded.

MacArthur: [Message of book of Ecclesiastes]  Verse 17, “I hated life for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me because everything is futility and striving after wind, so I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.” And the worse part is I’ve done so well, I’ve got a whole lot, I’m going to leave it to somebody. “I don’t even know…verse 19…if he’ll be a wise man or a fool, but he’ll have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun, this too is vanity.” I don’t like the whole idea. I don’t like the idea of working. I don’t like the idea of working and succeeding and having to leave it to some fool and they waste it. Verse 23 says, “Those days of labor are painful and grievous and even at night his mind doesn’t rest.” Can you identify with that? You work all day, you go home and you can’t go to sleep because you’ve got a problem at work you’ve got to solve or because you’ve got some problems in your job, or you’ve got some bad relationships, or you might lose your job, or you don’t like the things the way they’re going. Work, work, work, work.

We groan trying to get to 65-70 to retire – look at how long Adam had to work – died at 930 years – must have really been worn out

  1. (:19b)  Condemnation to Death

Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken;

                For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.

VI.  (:20-24) DIVINE PROVISION AND PROTECTION FOR GUILTY HUMANITY

A.  (:20) Posterity Impacted by the Fall – But Not Wiped Out

Now the man called his wife’s name Eve,

        because she was the mother of all the living.

Adam understands that the hope for humanity for restoration to paradise lies in the seed of the woman and so he renames his wife Eve as a reminder that she will bear offspring – one of which will be that victorious seed that conquers Satan and sin and death

Parunak: Up to this point, the woman’s name has been properly only ‘ishah “woman,” assigned in 2:23-24. Now Adam gives her a new name, “Eve,” derived from the root for “life.”

Both names are based on the divine actions that led to that point.

–  “Woman” is based on God’s action in creating her from man’s rib.

–  “Eve” is based on God’s promise that she shall bear seed.

Though each individual is condemned to die through her sin, yet through the bearing of children, the race will continue. Thus by giving her this name, Adam is reflecting a degree of faith, however slight, in the promise of God that goes beyond the judgment.

Steven Cole: After the morbid words of verse 19, you would expect something like, “Now Adam called his wife’s name the Grim Reaper, because she was the mother of all the dying.” But instead of the Grim Reaper, Adam calls her “Eve,” which means “life-giver.” And even more strange, she has not yet had any children.

B.  (:21) Provision of Covering Garments

And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

Only God can provide the covering we need for sin; man’s attempts are inadequate

Importance of the Grace of God  = Undeserved Favor – cf. dinner last night to celebrate 40 years of ministry for Dan Broadwater – it’s all about the grace of God – from start to finish

Parunak: The tunic is distinctively a priestly garment, and the verb “to clothe” (hiphil) is used of the vesting of priests. Cf. Exod 29:8; 40:14; Lev 8:13. Exod 28:40-41 has both verbs “make” and “clothe.” The purpose of the priestly clothing is explicitly to cover their nakedness, Exod 20:26; 28:42. Given so much further sanctuary symbolism in these chapters, it is likely that we are to see here a hint of the sacral role that God intends the man to fulfill, and thus a further mark of grace.

MacArthur: This introduces for the first time in Scripture the matter of atonement or covering of the sinner through the death of an innocent substitute. This is the sovereign work of God. God chose the animal. God killed the animal. God took the skin of the animal and covered the sinners. This is the first death in the world–never been death before this. The first death is the death of an animal killed by God to cover sinners. My, what a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus, who is the Lamb slain by God from before the foundation of the world, the Lamb slain by God from before the foundation of the world.

C.  (:22-24) Protection from Hopeless Lost Condition – Removal from the Garden

  1. (:22)  Experiential Knowledge of Evil

Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand,

                 and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—

Parunak:

To know” in Hebrew commonly has the sense of “to experience.” Consider Eccl 8:5, “Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel yeda` no evil thing.”

By their disobedience, Adam and Eve have come into the experience of evil as well as good.

The exclusion from the tree of life spares them from living forever with the consequences of their sin.

The first exclusion (in 2:16-17) was by a command. They have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with a command, so he must remove them physically from the danger (and along with it, from the attendant blessings of the garden).

MacArthur:Behold, the man has become like one of Us”–only in the sense of knowing good and evil. But not in the sense that God knows good and evil, because God is good and there is no evil in Him. Man is evil predominantly, and only by the grace of God is there any good in him. But the simple truth is man now knows what’s good and what’s evil. That is true. They know it from the inside. God knows it from the outside. God knows it because He knows everything. But God doesn’t experience it. Adam and Eve along with us know it from the inside because we experience it. So in that sense, “man has become like one of us”; only for him this is a debilitating, overwhelming, overpowering personal experience of evil in his own heart. They know evil because it’s in them. They know evil because it drives them. They know evil because it’s in their nature. They know evil because it is their constant experience.

  1. (:23-24a)  Expulsion from the Garden

Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden,

                to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

                So He drove the man out;

  1. (:24b)  Eternal Security

and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim,

                 and the flaming sword which turned every direction,

                 to guard the way to the tree of life.

CONCLUSION:

Steven Cole: So the curse shows us that God allows us to suffer consequences for our sin. Sometimes those consequences are directly related to some sin we have committed; at other times we just suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world. While God graciously tempers the severity of the consequences with glimmers of grace, the consequences are real. They remind us that with the holy God, sin is serious. But God’s grace triumphs in that He doesn’t leave us to suffer the ultimate consequences of sin:

So Sin makes a mess … but God makes a way


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