Genesis 3:6 | The Temptation of Eve, Part 3
Topic: Expository Passage: Genesis 3:1-7
Good morning! Welcome to Sunday school. Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 3:1-7.
We are in the midst of a series on temptation. For the past two weeks, we’ve been studying Satan’s battle plan against Eve. Two weeks ago, we also discussed two mistakes that Eve made. First, she continued the conversation with Satan; and second, she sympathized with what he was saying. Today, we are going to examine a couple more of Eve’s mistakes. She believed a lie, she followed her heart, and she failed to take responsibility and subverted God’s authority.
Let’s read Genesis 3:1-7 (Gen 3:1-7).
3. Believing the Lie.
We talked about this at length last week, so I will skip over it today. But before I do, how do I defend myself against a lie? (with the truth!) You defend yourself against Satan’s lies by renewing your mind in God’s word.
Eve’s third mistake believing Satan’s lie. Her fourth mistake was following her heart.
4. Following Her Heart
Verse 6 describes three ways in which Eve was attracted to the fruit. First, she saw that it “was good for food.” It appealed to her physical desires. Second, she saw “that it was pleasant to the eyes.” The fruit appealed to Eve’s God-given sense of esthetic beauty. And third, Eve perceived that the tree was “desirable to make one wise.” Satan’s explanation appealed to Eve’s God-given ambition.
I’d like to do some more meditating on those categories; and as we do so, I want you to write down four things. First, I want you to write down one way in which you are tempted in each of these categories. (You’ve got that? So that’s three things, because there are three categories.) Second, I want you to determine which set of appeals has the strongest pull upon you. (I’ll explain that more as we go along.)
Let’s start with the category, “Physical Desires.” What are some desires that fit in this category? (food, drink, sex, drugs, sleep, comfort, exercise, adrenaline)
It’s important to recognize your propensity to be lured into sin by means of your physical desires. Some people love eating, but they can be gluttonous and fail to steward wisely the body God has given them. Other people have a particular propensity to alcohol or drug abuse. Some people are drawn to sexual sin because they are fulfilling physical desires. Others are lazy–that’s a physical desire to avoid the discomfort associated with working hard. Other people have the opposite problem–they are addicted to exercise and adrenaline! Some people bounce back and forth between those two extremes.
Take a moment now to write down one way you are tempted as it relates to your physical desires.
The second category of desires mentioned in v. 6 is attraction to beauty. Eve “saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes.” Did you know that God made mankind to be attracted to beauty? We even recognize “ugliness” not necessarily as thing in-and-of-itself, but as a departure from the standard of beauty! God loves beautiful things! That’s why He created a beautiful world! And that’s why we love to look at, create, and possess beautiful things!
As fallen human beings, how can our love for beauty get us into trouble?
There are a couple of ways that our love for beauty can get us into trouble. First, it can lead to materialism. You always have to have the newest iPhone. You think that your house should look like the homes on HGTV. You have more clothes than you could ever use! And all the husbands say, “Amen.”
But guys, you’re not off the hook, either! When our wives go on a splurge, they come home with a new pair of shoes. When we go on a splurge, we come home with a new truck! Why? Because it’s new and shiny! It appeals to our eyes.
Some people are attracted to operas, shows, award-winning movies, or brilliantly-composed music that appeal to their sense of beauty. However, often those works of art are also filled with sex, violence, profanity, etc. We’ve got to be careful! And of course, the human impulse for beauty also works against us when it comes to sexual temptation.
So take a moment now to write down one way in which you are tempted as it relates to your attraction to beauty.
The last category referred to in v. 6 is ambition. Eve perceived that the tree was “desirable to make her wise.” What are some sins of ambition?
In my ambition series this summer, we studied the difference between godly and selfish ambition. Proper ambition seeks to become more like Jesus in order to glorify God. Selfish ambition is all about me–and it is a horrible, ugly sin. Selfish ambition is often considered to be acceptable (or even desirable) because it drives people to work hard and accomplish great things. However, it also involves pride, unkindness, people pleasing, strife, and sinful perfectionism, just to name a few. God hates selfish ambition.
Write down one way in which you are tempted as it relates to ambition.
Now I want you to determine which type of appeal tends to have the strongest pull upon you. Raise your hand if it’s physical desires. How about attraction to beauty? Who is most tempted by selfish ambition? Let’s be aware of our weaknesses and pray for God’s grace in those areas.
Eve’s fourth mistake was following her heart. Of course, according to Disney, this is a virtue! But not in God’s way of reckoning! Eve followed her heart right off a cliff!
The final mistake Eve made that we will discuss this week was failing to take responsibility/subverting authority.
5. Failing to Take Responsibility/Subverting Authority
Commentators have noted how God’s creation order was turned on its head in this passage. The animals were supposed to submit to people, Eve was to submit to her husband, and the couple was to submit to God. Now it is backward. Eve submits to the serpent, Adam submits to Eve, and all of them together rebel against God. The point is that God’s authority structures are intended for our protection, and when we ignore them, bad things happen.
We can ignore God’s authority structures in two ways: first, we can fail to take responsibility; and second, we can subvert authority. Eve does both of those things in this passage.
First, Eve fails to take responsibility. What was Eve’s responsibility toward the snake? Adam and Eve were supposed to have dominion over the animals. Now, granted, this is an awkward discussion because animals don’t usually talk! However, if you are following the storyline in Genesis 1-3, the fact that Eve is following a creature she is supposed to be leading should set off red flags!
However, if you want to talk about shirking authority in this passage, who is one most at fault? It’s Adam!
The most famous retelling of Genesis 3 is Paradise Lost, by John Milton. It is a breathtaking epic poem! However, I hate the way that Milton portrays Adam! He makes him out to be this hero who happened to be absent when Eve was tempted, and then in a Shakespearean twist, decided to eat the apple and die with Eve rather than living alone forever. It’s very melodramatic. The Bible does not portray Adam that way.
When v. 6 says that Eve gave the fruit to her husband “with her,” that is an indication that Adam was nearby. Also, all of the “you’s” in vv. 1-5 are plural. So Adam was definitely there.
However, 1 Timothy 2:14 states very clearly that Adam was not deceived. It says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” So what is going on here?
Well, it appears that Adam was close by, that he perhaps overheard the conversation, that he even saw through Satan’s lies–and yet, he did NOTHING. Not only did he do nothing, but he went along with it! What a massive failure in leadership!
Many sins could be avoided by the exercise of godly authority. By a mom getting up off the couch ten times in a row if necessary and disciplining her toddler. By a father teaching his teenage sons about biblical masculinity. By a pastor addressing theological heresies being taught in the church. God gave authority for our protection; but in order for that system to work, the authority figure must exercise authority! Why don’t we do that? Because it’s hard work! It’s so much easier to go with the flow!
Father, you dare not go with the flow in your home. That is a recipe for disaster.
But of course, there’s two sides to the problem here, isn’t there? In this case, I would lay most of the blame on Adam’s shoulders. Eve wasn’t really disobeying him, because he appears to have said nothing! However, could not Eve have asked his advice? Would not that have been a wise way for her to acknowledge God-given authority on a question of this magnitude?
Whenever you have a husband and a wife who are struggling in this area, usually both are at fault. The husband is failing to lead and the wife is failing to follow. And of course, the easy thing to do is to point your finger at the other person. The much more difficult thing is to repent of your own sins and focus on yourself.
Before I move on, I want to say that some people have very wacky ideas about what it means for a husband to lead or a wife to submit. Some men think that leading their wives means dominating them. And on the flip side, some wives have unfair expectations of their husbands. So if you are struggling in this area, and you really want to grow, I would encourage you to do a couple of things. First, seek counsel together. That “together” part is very important. Second, spend time with people whose marriages you respect. Observe them carefully. Ask them lots of questions. And learn by means of their modeling.
Eve’s fifth mistake was failing to take responsibility/subverting authority.
In conclusion, this lesson reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 11:9 says,
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart,
And in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment.”
I love that verse for two reasons. Number one, it commands me to enjoy life. In fact, it even tells me to follow my heart! This seems to be in direct contradiction with what we said earlier about Eve following her heart! But it’s not. And that’s the second reason why I love this verse: because it clarifies that I am to follow my heart with the judgment in mind. In other words, I am to fulfill God-given desires within God-given boundaries.
Nobody likes boundaries. When you were a child, you probably didn’t like your parents telling you, “Don’t ride your bike in the street.” As a teenager, you probably hated your curfew. But the Bible is clear that God-given longings must be satisfied within God-given boundaries. [Repeat]
What are some boundaries that God has given us? (biblical commands, biblical principles, and circumstantial limitations) Let’s talk about those three types of boundaries, starting with the commands.
The Bible says, “Do not steal.” That command is a hard-and-fast line curbing the fulfilment of your desire for beauty. You can’t walk into Target with your old shoes and walk out with new ones unless you buy them! So, if you don’t have the money to buy them, your God-given attraction to beauty can’t be fulfilled in those shoes! Does that make sense?
We must view God’s commands as final! If you’ve had kids, you know how they can bend the rules. Mom says, “Don’t take food without asking.” “But what about snacks?” “Today is a holiday, so I’m sure it’s different.” They’re little lawyers, aren’t they? But oftentimes, we’re just as bad! We make excuses why the rule doesn’t apply to us! Don’t rationalize sin!
Two weeks ago, we discussed the shield of faith. Last week, we talked about the sword of the Spirit. The piece of armor from Ephesians 6 that corresponds to today’s lesson is the breastplate of righteousness. It is the aspect of Christian character that relates to a clear conscience. It is the utter determination not to transgress God’s rules. We must view God’s commands as final.
Not only is it important to view God’s commands as final, but it is important to view His commands as good. Pretend that you’re working in Awana, and a child comes to you and says, “I have a really mean dad.” You ask, “Why do you say that?” The child says, “My dad makes me eat vegetables; I have a really mean dad.” What’s wrong with that reasoning? The child doesn’t realize, the command is an expression of love! Do you realize that God’s commands are expressions of love?
Just like God’s commands ought to serve as boundaries; biblical principles should serve as boundaries. Let’s go back to the shoe illustration. You say, “I’m not going to steal these shoes from Target; I’ll just put them on my credit card.” What’s the problem there? If you don’t have money to pay for the shoes, then putting them on your credit card is probably unwise! How would you know that? Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” That’s a biblical warning against debt. It’s a principle that’s meant to function as a boundary, keeping you from buying those shoes you don’t need on credit!
The command to obey God-given authority ought to act as a boundary. We talked about how God’s plan for authority was turned upside down in Genesis 3. If Adam and Eve had been functioning properly within their God-given roles, they would never have eaten that fruit. What are some ways we can apply this?
I know that we don’t have many teens in here, but teens, if your parents say no, then that is God’s answer! Do not run from their authority because you if you do so, you are running into trouble! Adults, how about this one? If the state of California makes a law, then no matter how stupid that law is, you are required to obey it! Why? Because that law is a God-given boundary! And if you transgress that boundary, then just like the rebellious teenager, you are running into trouble!
You could apply this principle of boundaries even more broadly to includes circumstantial limitations that we face. There are only 24 hours in a day. You only have so much physical strength. Your body can only process so many calories or types of food. So don’t injure yourself trying to carry something too heavy! Don’t be late because you were trying to do too much and you ran out of time! Don’t be gluttonous! This is a way of life that flows from a biblical understanding of what it means to live within your God-given boundaries.
You say, “Pastor Kris, that’s very restrictive!” No it’s not! What did God say to Adam and Eve? “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” Life is full of good things for you to do and enjoy! There are thousands of trees from which you can eat! And you know what the best thing is? The fruit from those trees won’t make you sick! Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
But if you try to fulfill God-given desires outside of God-given boundaries, you will have sorrow. Sex outside of marriage produces sorrow. Within marriage, it is a wonderful, God-glorifying blessing! That is just one of literally thousands of examples.
So, I close with the command of Ecclesiastes 11:9: enjoy life! Recognize that your physical desires, your attraction to beauty, and your ambition are God-given and have positive outlets. But you must decide never to fulfill those desires outside of God’s prescribed boundaries.