Pastor Craig Carter
Among all the things the Lord made, one particular group is uniquely related to Him – human beings. That’s because they are created in His image and made to be like Him. Let’s explore the first members of the human race – Adam and Eve.
The name, Adam, means “human” and Eve means “source of life.” Some folks see them as literary representatives of the human race rather than literal individuals. I opt for the fact they were actual persons for two reasons. First, there had to be two folks that got this whole human thing going. And second, both Jesus and the other New Testament writers address them as real people.
There are many lessons we can learn Adam and Eve about how to live and how not to live out our Christian faith. Studying their lives may answer some questions you have but it will undoubtedly raise even more. Many of your questions are likely unanswerable, so let’s stay focused on the purpose of our study: Discovering what the first humans tell us about God and our relationship with Him. This is the real reason to read and study the Bible.
A method that I use is asking questions as I read through the text such as: What does this say about God? What does it tell me about myself? How does it affect how I relate to the Lord and how He relates to me?
The first thing we learn from Adam and Eve is that human beings have been given a unique Capacity. As pointed out last week, every other creature was made according to its own “kind.” And then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” (Genesis 1:26a NLT)
Chapter 2 tells us how human beings were fashioned in God’s image: Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. (Genesis 2:7 NLT)
The ancient Hebrew word translated as “breath” was ruach, which means “spirit.” The same word was used to describe the “Spirit of God,” first noted in Genesis 1:2. So God set Adam apart from the rest of creation and gave him something nothing else received – His Spirit. The “breath” made it possible for human beings to be inhabited by God Himself.
There are plenty of other Scripture references that speak of the Spirit of God dwelling in us, such as: “In him we live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28a NLT) and “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19a NLT)
The human spirit was meant to be indwelled with the Holy Spirit so that we could be in relationship with God. That’s a capacity no other living creature has.
Another thing we learn from Adam and Eve is something about our human Condition. Adam and Eve were given everything they needed. They lived in a “perfect world” (Genesis 2:8-17), where there was a garden with beautiful trees and delicious fruit, flowing rivers, and the tree of life. All that they enjoyed was a gift from God. He is the Great Provider (for us, too).
It’s worth noting that, initially at least, Adam was celibate and happy and content to be by himself. He went about his work in the garden, enjoyed fellowship with God, and lived a full life as a single person. The lesson here is that sometimes we have to choose to be happy with the state of being that God gives us. We don’t necessarily have to be married to live a full life. As Jesus once suggested, marriage isn’t for everyone (see Matthew 19).
While marriage isn’t for everyone, relationships absolutely are. Let’s look at how Eve came on the scene…
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NLT) Lessons about Community, Courtship, and Companionship are a central theme of the story of Adam and Eve.
Note that “helper” (Hebrew: ezer) does not suggest subservience. In fact, other than in Genesis 2, all other biblical references to this word refer to God as our “helper.” So humans are created to help other humans (husbands, wives, and everyone).
And how was this helper was made? Not “from dust of the ground” as Adam was made.
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs…Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21-22 NLT)
With divine anesthesia, God performed the first human surgery. I like what New Testament commentator, Matthew Henry, says about what happened: “God took Eve from Adam’s side, not from his head to rule over him, and not from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be his equal, to be protected under his arm, and loved close to his heart.”
There is no doubt the Bible intends Genesis 2 to be a portrait of godly love, courtship, and marriage.
In our modern world, we emphasize boundless freedom, experimentation, and trial-and-error when it comes to romance. Our earliest example of this is written in Genesis 2:19-20 NLT: “So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.”
Sounds like modern dating as we try to pick and choose among a “parade” of individuals.
But whereas dating is our accepted pattern, dependence on God is the biblical standard. When God brought Eve to Adam, his reaction is documented as, “At last! This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23a NLT)
God designed Eve specifically for Adam. He is the perfect matchmaker. This is an important lesson for those who are single. Don’t date haphazardly, as you never know who you’ll fall in love with. Ask God, set godly standards and trust the Lord to provide.
Adam and Eve show us that life is not meant to be lived in isolation. And when marriage is involved, it’s “til death do us part.” As Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:9 NIV)
Things were pretty perfect for Adam and Eve initially. But what happens next in their story teaches us about Caution and Challenge.
The Lord God warned [them], “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden – except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:17 NLT)
Adam and Eve were persons, not puppets. So God made them to be rational and morally accountable with freedom to choose. And since “Father knows best,” He set some boundaries to protect His children.
In chapter three, the serpent (Satan) enters the picture. Elsewhere in Scripture we discover that he is Lucifer, a fallen (arch)angel. He issued a challenge through a dialogue with Eve: “One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1b NLT)
He caused Eve to question the accuracy of God’s word, which sowed seeds of doubt. “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.” (Genesis 3:2-3 NLT)
Note that Eve misquoted and misapplied God’s truth.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 NLT)
The Serpent not only questioned God’s word, he denied its truth when he said, “You won’t die!” He also caused Eve to doubt God’s motives which altered her view of the Lord. Satan still tries to convince us that God’s demands are unreasonable and following them will make us miserable rather than satisfied. His tactics are the same now as they were then.
The main issue for Adam and Eve was: Were they going to trust God and obey Him? Or were they going to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil?
As we all know, they chose the latter, and as a result our world still deals with the consequences of humankind’s prevailing reliance on self-determination, self-moralizing and situational truths. For example, we may ask: “Did God really say I should remain faithful to my marriage vows when we’ve fallen out love? Did God really mean that I should give away a significant portion of my income when it might be misused? Is God serious when He says to forgive that person who has repeatedly hurt me?” We so often respond with one of the following: “It’s not that big of a deal. God will understand.” “Those ancient rules don’t apply.” “Go with your gut.” “You deserve a ‘guilty pleasure’ now and then.”
Every temptation starts with a question about God: Did He really say that? Is that what He really meant? Does God’s opinion matter?
In the Garden, a Choice was made: “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” (Genesis 3:6 NLT)
Note the slippery slope of sin: a look turned into lust, which turned into desire, which prompted a decision, which led to sin, which resulted in seduction.
Eve was deceived by the serpent. Adam wasn’t deceived, he was simply disobedient (see 1 Timothy 2:14). Eve followed her head and sinned, while Adam followed his heart into sin. He loved Eve and allowed it to control his actions, rather than subordinating that love to his love for and trust in God. “Peer pressure” was born in Eden that day. Eve listened to the serpent, Adam listened to Eve, but no one listened to God. The result: “At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis 3:7 NLT)
Their picture perfect paradise was suddenly lost. Innocence was replaced by guilt, purity was replaced by shame and fellowship with God was replaced by fear of Him. In a way they did “die” – to their former, glorious way of life. This shows that the effect of sin is death. And in fact the serpent was half right, their eyes were indeed opened, but they did not become like God. That day birthed every false religion that has followed through the ages – each one a result of humans who attempt to cover guilt and shame with self-effort.
Today we’re still presented with choice: to whom or what will we listen and obey?
Next in the story: Confrontation and Confession. God already knew what they had done, but in His mercy, He came looking for them. He questioned them and gave them a chance to come clean on their own (Genesis 3:8-11). When asked about their newfound guilt, they began to pass blame (Genesis 3:12-13). Adam said, “It was the woman you gave me…” Notice that he blamed both Eve and God! Eve coined the classic, “The devil made me do it.” The serpent wasn’t even given a chance to respond. Its fate was already sealed.
It wasn’t much of a confession, but at least Adam and Eve didn’t deny their sinful action. As always, confession is good for the soul and gives God an opening. When you sin, God comes looking for you, but not to brow beat and punish. The Lord comes, hoping that, confronted with the error of our ways, we’ll confess, repent, and seek His forgiveness.
The sin was very brief, but the Consequences were far-reaching (for them and everyone). Adam and Eve were no longer inhabited by God and His Spirit; instead they were filled with sin. Sin became the controlling factor in the human race and everyone was infected. “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12 NLT)
God proclaimed a series of judgments on the guilty parties (Genesis 3:14-19). Previously, they were blessed by God; now they were subjected to some curses. For woman the curse was painful childbirth and child-rearing. But God’s grace allowed that she could still have children. For man the curse was that it would be difficult to work the land and produce food. But God’s grace allowed that there would still be work to do and food to eat. Both were banished from the Garden, which was possibly an act of grace as they would not have to live in their sinful state perpetually (see Genesis 3:22-24). The serpent’s punishment was to crawl on the ground and live in hostility with humans and ultimately, Eve’s offspring will crush his head. No grace was given to the serpent.
The world no longer looks like it was intended to be because of sin. This explains why life is so hard. But even amid the punishment, the promise of God’s grace remains.
Adam and Eve next demonstrate another, more positive lesson: Commitment. They stayed married, in accordance with God’s design. They remained committed in spite of terrible marital turmoil. This provides us with a valuable model of “stick-to-it-ness” to follow. They also remained faithful to the Lord. After giving birth to her son, Cain, Eve said, “With the Lord’s help…” (Genesis 4:1)
God remained committed, also. He didn’t give up on human beings. Rather, he immediately started the process of redemption and salvation. He started by making clothing for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He still loved them deeply and was committed to them. And in Genesis 4 we learn that the coming Savior was a direct descendant of Adam and Eve, through their third son, Seth (Genesis 4:25).
From Genesis 4 onward, everything is gospel, or “Good News.” The story all leads to Jesus. We learn that, though Adam and Eve failed to resist temptation in the garden (a perfect place), Jesus overcame it in the wilderness (an imperfect place). Ultimately, Jesus was bruised on the cross, but Satan was crushed at the resurrection.
While Adam and Eve were unable to fulfill their God-given destiny of being like their Creator, there was (and is) a second Adam, Jesus, who shows us the way (and is the Way). The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:45 NLT: “The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam, that is Christ, is a life-giving Spirit.” Paul goes on to say, “Just as we are now like the earthly man (Adam 1), we will someday be like the heavenly man (Adam 2: Jesus).” (1 Corinthians 15:49 NLT)
So while we can learn some valuable lessons from Adam and Eve, our eyes should really be focused on the second and last Adam, Jesus.
But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift…For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:15, 17-19 NLT)
In the portrait of Adam and Eve in our Family Album, Volume 1, we see ourselves – sinners in a long line of sinners that stretches from Eden to Lynn Haven. But let’s not forget that we find another portrait in a later volume that shows us our ultimate destiny when we put our faith and trust in Jesus our Savior. Separated from God’s presence due to our sin like our ancestors were, Christ brings us the opportunity for a right relationship with God and new life in Him.