Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17, 3:1-7
The Bible Reveals Immediate Change
I. From Perfection to Destruction
II. From despair to confidence
I think each candidate running for president has promised to bring change to Washington. No matter your political agenda, the idea of changing our government is appealing. If a candidate can promise convincingly enough to change the tax code, health care system or the war in Iraq, it might just get them elected. But when the new president takes office, change will take time. It will not be overnight. It will not be immediate. In this government, the wheels of change turn slowly if at all.
It is very different when you look at the Bible. Major change comes immediately. When Adam and Eve were created they were perfectly in God’s image. Once they ate from that tree they were immediately sinful and destined to die. But when God made a promise to send a Savior he immediately changed things back. Today our theme for worship focuses on the change that lent brings. Looking at Genesis 2 & 3 we have the opportunity to see how the Bible reveals immediate change; sin changed this world from perfection to destruction. God’s promise of a Savior changed things from despair to confidence.
Genesis 1 tells us how God masterfully designed our world and universe. He crowned his creation when he made man and woman in his own image. Chapter 2 gives more of the details about God crating Adam and Eve. Verse 7 tells us, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Adam and Eve had it all. They were given the perfect occupation of caring for the Garden of Eden. They had the perfect marriage and a prefect relationship with God. Part of that relationship was an opportunity to show love and thanks to God by obeying the one law that he gave them. In verse 15 we hear, “15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Some try to blame sin on God because he placed that tree there, but God placed his seal of approval on his perfect creation at the end of chapter 1 when we hear, “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” We hear what the results of that perfection were Adam and Eve at the end of chapter 2. “The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” That was perfection. That was the way God created this world and the way he created his people.
But then change came and it came immediately. We don’t hear about the first change from perfection to destruction, but it happened sometime between the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. We find out what happened from the book of 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment.” Between those two chapters change took place when a group of angels rebelled against God. God announced their judgment right away. They would go to hell forever. But ever since that judgment they have been doing all they can to take God’s people with them. They started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
Listen to Genesis 3:1-7 and notice how change took place for us human beings. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
The devil brought destruction. He tempted Adam and Eve to join him in the same place. Both Adam and Eve sinned. They deliberately ate from that tree and they ruined their relationship with God. They chose earthly pleasure over God’s perfect plan for them and that will always brings destruction. Eve knew the right answers, but she believed the lie. Adam was right there when the temptation came, but he silently sat by and ate with Eve. Their eyes were opened, not just to notice nakedness, but they now knew evil. They were changed into evil, sinful people. They went from perfection to destruction.
This immediate change that took place in the Garden of Eden still impacts each of us. From the moment we are conceived life is there in our mother’s womb, but so is our sin. Psalm 51:5 says, “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” In an instant our life was created, but in that same instant our sin was there. It all goes back to that one terrible change in the Garden of Eden.
Even now as God’s people we still show that sin has its grip on us. We show that by nature we still suffer from that change that took place way back in the Garden of Eden. Like Eve we fall for the lies of the devil and choose the sinful things of this life over the perfect will of our God. Like Adam we are content to sit by and be led right into sin, sometimes simply by not saying or doing what we should. We even come up with great excuses to defend ourselves. I can’t make it to worship each Sunday, or during Lent; I just have too much going on during the week. I can’t give a planned, regular, generous offering to the Lord, I have too many bills. I will give when I am able. I can’t really get involved at church. I have too many projects around the house and I might not be here that long. There are others that can serve. It is not my place to encourage a fellow believer to be in church. I will leave that to the pastor.
Those may all be valid excuses, but when we give them we are forced to defend them, not to your pastor, not to your fellow Christians, but to the almighty God who knows all things and judges all things. We are forced to honestly evaluate where our priorities lie. And we do it with an intimate conversation with our God on the basis of his Word. And we know the results. We know we have sinned and deserve God’s destruction. If we don’t know that or believe that, then we don’t really know what God’s law says. Let me reminded you of one commandment. “You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear love and trust in God above all things.”
All things come behind God. That means we should perfectly obey him. That means we should always trust him. That means we should always respect him, even when we think we are so busy and we think God will understand. But we certainly have not been faithful to the Lord and therefore we show that the destruction of sin is in our life and in our heart. We show that we deserve exactly what Adam and Eve deserved, physical death and eternal death.
After Adam and Eve sinned, God came looking for them and we hear that they were hiding from the Lord. How foolish! They were changed. God did not want them to face eternal destruction so he called them to repentance and then directed his words to the devil. God promised to send the offspring of the woman to crush the head of the devil. It was this Gospel promise that Gave Adam and Eve hope. It is this Gospel promise that was traced through the rest of the Old Testament. It was this Gospel promise that was fulfilled in Christ Jesus. In his promise and in the work of Christ God brings an immediate change into the lives and hearts of his people, from despair, to confidence.
Like Adam and Eve we could never change things with God, so God did the changing, with his promise of a Savior. He brings immediate change, from despair, to confidence. Adam and Eve were to suffer all sorts of consequences from their sin, they had to leave the Garden of Eden, they would endure pain, their marriage would be strained and they would face a physical death. But there was no despair. For those Old Testament believers there was confidence because God promised a change.
That change came as a result of Christ. Even before he was born, Jesus was different. He was conceived by the Holy Sprit and born of the Virgin Mary. He had no original sin that clung to him. As he grew he showed that his life was different. It was always in line with the will of his Father. He was always obedient to the law in thought word and action. His death was different because he was sacrificed for the sin of the world and he suffered the destruction of hell that we all deserved. And what was really different was the fact that three days later his grave was empty because he rose from the dead.
In his fifth chapter of the letter to the Romans, part of which we read earlier, Paul describes the immediate change that Adam and Eve brought, the immediate change that Christ brings for us and for all. “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” The work of Christ changed us. The work of Christ took us from despair to confidence because we know that through faith in him God sees us as perfect now and promises that we will live perfectly in heaven with him.
This change happened for the whole world when God made the promise and kept the promise in Jesus. But that change became ours when Christ changed our hearts. We were born dead in sin, but by water and the Word were made alive in Christ. We daily commit sin, but daily we are comforted with forgiveness through Word and sacrament. We will die an earthly death, but we will rest in the peace of eternal life in heaven the moment we leave this world. And we will finally be changed in the flash in the twinkling of an eye when Christ returns on judgment day to take us and all his people to live with him forever in heaven. That is truly a change. It has certainly taken us from despair to confidence in Christ Jesus and his work for us.
This confidence keeps coming through the Word. Our life has changed and keeps changing, as we become more and more Christ like in our life and in our trust. This change keeps taking place in our hearts when we are connected to the living and enduring Word of God. We are different from the unbelieving world that lives for pleasure and self. We are different in the way we approach the future, not just in this world but eternally. We have confidence that God will bring us home to heaven, no matter what happens to us in this life. We live as people who know they needed changing and people who know that change is for all people. That is why we boldly proclaim that Christ’s death and resurrection changed us and therefore the change last forever.
Imagine the change for Adam and Eve. They were perfect and then they were sinful. They knew the difference very well. We have always been sinful and can get a little used to it. But God’s Word helps us understand the true nature of our sin and the destruction we deserve because of it. Then when we have opportunity to rejoice in the promises of forgiveness in Christ we understand a little better what kind of amazing change God has brought us. We sang about it in the hymn Amazing Grace. It is amazing grace that took us from lost to found, from blind to sight, from despair to confidence. This change will be eternal. When we’ve been there 10,000 years we no less days to sing God’s praise then when we’d first begun.
History is a good indicator that change will come to our country. Some of it is due to our leaders, some is a result a changing world, but ultimately sin brings awful change into this world and our life. We see the evidence of what happened so long ago in Eden. Therefore dear Christian, cling to the hope you have in Christ Jesus. Rejoice that you have been rescued. Stand firm in the sure and certain hope of eternal life through Christ Jesus. There is your confidence. Amen.
Pastor Matt Brown
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (WELS) of Union City, Tennessee, Rooted in the WORD