Romans 6:4 is the theme verse for our series. It says, "Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in the new way of life" (Romans 6:4). As a church we're going to spend the next 28 weeks exploring this one verse, really the second half of this one verse, where it says, "So we too may walk in the new way of life."
The great hope of the Gospel is that there is a new life available to us in Christ. The Gospel isn't just about getting your ticket punched to go to Heaven. That is a big benefit. That is a big thing. But the Gospel opens up a whole new way of living.
We're going to take quite a bit of time to figure out what this verse means. My hope is that at the end of our series we will all have a much better understanding of what it means to be a Christian and a much better understanding of what it means to walk in the new way of life.
This morning I want to focus most of our time on answering one question. The question is this, "Why is there so much pain in the world?" The reason this is an important question, there's a lot of reasons, but one of them is that we want to understand what the old life is all about.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is this, "A problem well defined is a problem half solved." Meaning the better and more clearly we understand the problem, the more clear the solution will be to the problem. I think if we understand what the problem is, if we understand what the old life is before Christ, Jesus being the solution will become so much more clear to us.
This is the question that he lays the foundation with. Here it is: Why is there so much pain in the world? This is a question that I think every culture from the beginning of human history has had to wrestle with. Pain is something that grabs our attention in a unique way. There's no way to avoid it. There's no culture in the world that is untouched by pain, real pain. It's experienced by everyone over the course of time. Everyone, every one of you, you're going to form some opinion on pain. There's going to be some way you're going to process and think about the pain you experience in your life and the pain that you see in the world. Your opinion on pain is really important. Some questions are not that important. Not all questions are created equal. The way you respond to some questions, it doesn't necessarily matter.
For example, last week I was with my kids. We were at the capitol. Drove by the capitol a couple of times, and we're looking at a few different things. My son Titan, he's five, he was memorized by the capitol. He asked me, he said, "Dad, is that real gold on the top of the capitol?" I said, "Yeah, that's real gold on top of the capital." Then he pondered for a few more minutes, and then he asked me this question, he said, "Do you think Bear Grylls could steal all the gold from the top of the capitol?" I didn't know exactly what to say to that. So I just asked my kids. I said, "I don't know, what do you guys think?"
I'm going to show you the responses of my kids. So here's Titan. He went first. He's five years old. His answer was about as confident as you could ever be. He said, "Easy peasy, he would just fly over with his helicopter and steal it all." Then Myla, she's seven, this is what she said, "Of course he could, but he wouldn't because he's a Christian and Christians don't steal gold from the top of the capitol." Then Jett, my three year old, he said, "Dad, why is a clean house a happy house?" He wasn't necessarily tracking with the question.
But the point is how you respond to this question, "Could Bear Grylls steal all the gold from the top of the capitol," it really doesn't matter. It's not going to really impact your life. It's not going to have a big impact on the condition of your soul. But this question, "Why is there so much pain in the world?" is a very important question. In fact, how you answer this question is going to shape every important opinion you have in your life. It's not the only factor in determining how you view the world, but it is a very important factor because it's going to influence the way you view problems in your life. It's going to influence the way you view problems in society. It's going to influence how you think problems should be solved, and what the solutions are to the problems. This is such a big question for us. I think the best place to look is to the Bible, what the Word of God has to say. How does the Bible answer the question, "Why is there so much pain in the world?" This is what we're going to be looking at here this morning.
1. The Temptation of Adam and Eve
2. The Fall of Adam and Eve
3. The Fruit of Sin
Genesis 3:1-19, there are three major components to the text: the first is the temptation of Adam and Eve; the second is the fall of Adam and Eve; and the third is the fruit of sin. So the temptation, the fall, and the fruit. Let's start with the temptation of Adam and Eve.
1. The Temptation of Adam and Eve
Genesis 3:1-6, "Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say you can't eat from any tree in the garden?' The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden, but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said you must not eat it or touch it or you will die.' 'No, you will not die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you'll be like God knowing good and evil.' Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it."
What the Bible teaches is that God created the universe, that He simply spoke and He created everything that's ever been created. That's how powerful God is. The last thing He created was human beings. He creates Adam and Eve, male and female, in His image He created them (Genesis 1:27). It's an amazing reality because that teaches that human beings are different. We're unique in creation. We have been created to have a relationship with God, to worship God, to know God, to glorify God in a unique way. He makes Adam and Eve in His very image. Then He puts them in the Garden of Eden. To some degree, the Garden of Eden is a little slice of Heaven. It was a perfect place. The universe was perfect, and the garden was perfect. There was no sin. There was no dying. There was no pain. There was no chaos. There was nothing, it was just perfect. We see from the Scriptures that God had an original plan for the Garden of Eden, an original plan for Adam and Eve. I want to show you God's design, His original design. There's four aspects of His design that we see in the Word of God.
God's Design in the Garden
A. Perfect relationship with God
B. Perfect relationship with nature
C. Perfect relationship with each other
D. Perfect relationship with themselves
The first part for Adam and Eve was this, it was to have a perfect relationship with God. God created Adam and Eve to have a perfect relationship with Him. They were innocent. They had not sinned. They were able to walk with God and know God without any barrier. Because God is a holy God, He can't have a relationship with sinful people. But they weren't sinful. They were innocent. They were not sinful. They were able to walk with God, that was by God's design.
The second part of God's design was a perfect relationship with nature, where Adam and Eve were not in conflict at all with the creation. They were not at odds at all with the creation. That means there were no earthquakes and no cancer and no dying. There was peace and unity with nature.
The third part of God's design was a perfect relationship with each other. That Adam and Eve would have a perfect relationship with each other and then that would be passed down to their children, and to their children, and all the way down. Human relationships would be perfect. There would be total transparency. It says that Adam and Eve were both naked, and they felt no shame. There was total transparency. There was total openness. There were no secrets. Nothing was hidden. They weren't covering anything up. They weren't ashamed of anything. There was just total unity.
The fourth part of God's original design was perfect relationship with themselves. So no depression, no anxiety, no self-hate–none of that. That in their inner world, on the inside, there wasn't confusion, frustration, but there was peace on the inside. This is how God designed the garden. This is how God designed Adam and Eve to function within the garden in their relationship with God.
But there was a problem in the garden, and the problem was that Satan had rebelled against God. That Satan convinced a third of the angels to follow him and to rebel against God. Now what we see in the garden is that Satan is tempting Adam and Eve to join his rebellion against God. I love this passage because we get insight into the way temptation happens. Don't you face temptation? Don't you experience temptation all the time? Aren't you tempted to do what is wrong? Even though you know what is right, you're tempted to do what is wrong. Well, right here we're going to get a template for temptation. We're going to see how temptation works in the world. I think there are times when it's more complicated then this, but here are the basics for temptation.
Two Parts of the Temptation
Genesis 3:1 says, "Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals the Lord God had made." This means that when we see the temptation, it's not an accident. It's on purpose. What he does is calculated. He said to the woman, "Did God really say you can't eat from any tree in the garden?" The first part of the strategy is suspicion, that Satan is raising suspicion about the character of God. "Is that what God said? Did God say you can't eat from any tree in the garden? Doesn't that seem pretty restrictive? I mean, look at all the trees. I mean, look at the banana trees and the orange trees and the apple trees. I mean, they look really good. God says you can't eat from any of them, is that true? Is that what I heard? Did I hear that right?"
He's raising suspicion. He's twisting the Word of God. He's taking what God had said, and he's twisting it. He's making it say something that God never said at all. The actual command is this, "The Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree of the garden.'" So any of the trees, look at all the trees, you can eat from any of these trees. "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it you will certainly die." So what happens from the very beginning is God says you can eat from all the trees, any of the trees you want. But there's just one right in the middle you can't eat from. Satan begins by twisting the Scriptures, trying to make God seem far more restrictive than what He is. He's raising suspicion about the character of God: "Does God really have your best interest in mind, Adam and Eve?"
Two Parts of the Temptation
The second part of the temptation is deception. It's just outright deception. It's a lie in verse 2. It says, "The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said 'You must not eat it or touch it or you will die'" (Genesis 3:2). Eve responds knowing what God says for the most part. She has it right for the most part. She says, "No we can eat from all the trees, all the trees except for this one. There's just one we cannot eat from, or we will die" (Genesis 3:2-3).
Now here comes the deception. Genesis 3:4, "'No, you will not die' the serpent said to the woman." This verse has really stood out to me this week because the thing that dawned on me was this reality that it is the first doctrine denied in the Bible by Satan. What is it? What is the first doctrine denied in the Bible by Satan? It is the doctrine of divine judgment. It is the doctrine of divine judgment: "No, you will not die. You won't die. There are no consequences for your disobedience. There aren't. If you violate God's Word, it is not a big deal. If you violate your conscience that God has given you, it is not a big deal. There are no consequences to your decisions because everyone's doing it, or whatever it is in the world today, that's how the world works." But during this time, this is what he denies. He says, "Listen, Adam and Eve, you won't die. It's okay to disobey." Satan is lying about the character of God. He's lying about the very Word of God. He's denying the Word of God.
Now if you're Adam and Eve, and you hear this, you probably would've asked the question, "Okay, then why did God tell me that I'm going to die? Why did He give me this command? If this isn't true, then why did He say this? Why is He pretending that this is true?" Well, Satan gives that reason in verse 5, "God knows that when you eat it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). So what's the reason God lied to you? "Well, here it is: God is withholding good for you. There is something good for you outside of the commands of God. God has given you this restriction to keep you from what is good. He just wants to be in control, that's the issue." This is the way God is painted. This is the way Satan talks about God. That God is withholding good from you, Adam and Eve. There is good outside of the commands of God. There is good outside the life of God.
Basically what I do with my life is I just spend time talking to people. That's what I do, just day after day I talk with people, have conversations, people from a variety of stages of life. I mean, just all over the board. I don't know where you are at this morning. I know no one's perfect, but I think where we want to be as Christians is, we want to be at a place where we can say before God, "Lord, we're following you wholeheartedly. We're not perfect, but man we want to follow You. We see the priority of obeying Your Word." But I would say the number one reason people don't get there is because of this lie. It's this lie. Now what's the lie?
LIE: If I follow Jesus, I will miss out on too much of life.
This is the lie in the garden. Satan is saying to Adam and Eve, "If you keep listening to these commands, you're going to miss out on life. There's good outside of the commands of God. There's good in store for you. You're missing out on the good that exists outside the commands of God." There's three parts to the logic.
Part 1: The commands of Jesus will restrict me.
Part 2: If I am restricted, I will miss out on life.
Part 3: Therefore, I must avoid the commands of Jesus.
This is the way it works. This is the way it works in our culture. The reason people don't obey is because we think, "If I actually obeyed God, it will make my life more difficult. If I actually obey God, it's too stressful. If I actually obey God, it's too hard. If I actually obey God, I can't do what I want anymore. If I can't do what I want anymore, and I'm restricted, I'm gonna miss out on life. I need to be a good person, go to church, but I'm not really going to buckle down and do what He says. Because if I do what He says, it's too hard. I'm going to miss out on life." This is the lie. It's a lie. See, restrictions don't equal loss of life. That is just a lie. If you are restricted, that does not mean you're missing out on life.
There are so many things in the world that are designed to restrict you, but the goal of the restriction is either protecting or enhancing your life. What would be some examples? Well, there's so many. I could tell you 100 really quickly. Instinctively we know restrictions don't mean that my life is being taken away from me. What are some examples? One would be a bungee cord. A bungee cord restricts you from falling to your death. That's what it does. With a bungee cord, you go down and then you come back up. It restricts you.
Or you think about a parachute, jumping out of a plane. A parachute restricts how fast you can fall to the Earth. I've never one time heard of someone jumping out of an airplane with a parachute saying, "Man, I could've really had a good time if it wasn't for this stupid parachute." Right? No one says that. "I would've gone so much faster," no one says that. We understand that the parachute is restricting how fast you can fall to the ground, but the aim is to protect and enhance your life.
You think about marriage for a second. Marriage is the most restrictive relationship on planet Earth, or at least humanly speaking. When I got married, I looked at Meg and I said, "I'll be with you and no other for the rest of my life," and that's what she said to me. But let's just say for example, "You know what, no more restrictions in marriage. None, no more restrictions at all. Whatever we want to do in marriage is totally fine." Just think about your marriage for a second. You can just be with whoever you want to be with. We're still married, but there is no more restriction there. Would that protect your life, or would it hurt your life? I mean, it would destroy the very fabric of any culture where that was valued. What we see, just inherently, is that is a lie. Restrictions don't equal loss of life.
TRUTH: All of God's commands aim to produce life.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that everything God commands you to do is aimed to produce life in you? It's designed for your good. If you believe that, it will change your life. You will be a different person. If you're convinced in your soul that–God is all knowing, and He's all good, and He's considered every contingency, and when He tells me to do something in His word, it is in my best interest–if you believe that, it will change you. It will change you. All of God's commands are aimed to produce life. Satan goes after this. He raises suspicion about the character of God, "Is God really good?" He raises suspicion about the Word of God, "Can God's Word really be trusted?" Then he lies to them. That is the temptation of Adam and Eve.
2. The Fall of Adam and Eve
Now we're going to watch them fall. We're going to watch them give into the temptation, and sin is going to enter the world. This is what it says. It says, "Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it" (Genesis 3:6-8).
This is amazing to me. The thing that has stood out to me this week, I've never noticed before, is Eve's attitude toward the tree before the temptation, and then Eve's attitude toward the tree after the temptation. What was her attitude like before the temptation, before the lie entered in? Well, here it is in verse 2, "The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said you must not eat it or touch it or you will die.'" So what's her attitude like? Her attitude is, "That tree in the middle, that one, we can't eat from it. If we eat it or touch it, we die. So we're not even going to mess with that one. We're going to eat from the banana tree. We like bananas around here. We like pomegranates. Kiwis are delicious. We're going to eat from all these different trees. It's going to be wonderful. But this one in the middle, we're not going to touch it. We're not going to mess with it." That was her altitude.
But what about after the temptation? Well, after Satan lies to her in verse 6, it says, "Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom." So what happens after the deception is that a desire has been produced. Now there is a desire. I don't think she had a desire to eat from the tree. Maybe she did, but it was restrained by the reality of death. It was restrained by the reality that God says don't do this. But now that the lie has been absorbed in her soul and the hook has been set, it changed the way she viewed the tree. Now she's looking at the tree and she's saying, "Wow, that is a good looking tree. That fruit looks real good and looks mighty fine to eat. I might go over there and have to eat some of this." This is what is happening in her mind.
Now why the change? Well, because she's believed the lie. She doesn't know that it's a lie. Isn't that true? If she would've recognized this to be a lie, she would've rejected it. This is the very nature of deception. You don't know you're being deceived, otherwise you wouldn't be deceived, right? What's happening in her soul is the lie is being absorbed, and it's changing the way she's viewing the tree. It's creating a desire in her soul for something that is forbidden, something that has at one point, or had at one point, been not attractive to her. As soon as the lie sets in, it's game over.
This is the same thing that's true in your life. I don't know if you ever think about this, but did you know that in your soul there are lies that have been rooted in your heart? Did you know that? There are all kinds of lies in your soul. See, people think, "Well, I don't recognize them to be lies in my soul, therefore they are not lies in my soul." But the reality is if you could recognize them as lies in your soul, then you'd get rid of them, and you wouldn't have them. The very nature of deception is that you don't know that you're being deceived. In order to be deceived, you have to think you're not deceived. Just by default because we're human beings, and we live in a world filled with lies, the natural consequence is that our souls are going to be saturated with things that are not true. Those lies are the things that are generating all kinds of desires that are so destructive to our lives and to society.
This past week I came across a few advertisements from a long time ago. I'm going to show them to you because I think you'll recognize the silliness of them.
Advertisement 1: "Viceroys–As your dentist I would recommend Viceroys."
Now these are cigarettes. Think about this. As your dentist, I would recommend smoking these cigarettes.
Advertisement 2: "Face the facts, when tempted to over indulge, reach for a Lucky instead. It's toasted."
I don't know what that means, but it's probably good, I guess, during that time period. It says your throat will be protected against irritation, against cough. So if you want to lose weight and protect your throat, smoke a Lucky.
Advertisment 3: "20,679 physicians say Luckies are less irritating. Your throat protection against irritation, against cough. It's toasted."
There it is again, I don't know what it means. So these were advertisements everywhere. Now, obviously, we recognize this, and we say this isn't true, this is not legitimate. When you see this advertisement, there's nothing inside of you that says, "You know what, I want to go smoke a Lucky. I need a Lucky. Give me a Lucky or whatever it is." That doesn't happen to you. Do you know why you don't have that desire? Because you know what's true. Even in our country not that long ago, people were walking around smoking a cigarette saying, "I don't cough as much anymore. This is protecting my throat. Man, this is helping me get really nice teeth."
Do you see what I'm saying? The lie, as it sinks in, it motivates and creates desire in your soul for something. I think this is the nature of deception. This is how Satan works. This is how he works today. He markets evil. He tells the lie about sin and about all kinds of things so then people want the thing that is forbidden. They take the fruit, and they eat it. It says that, "Eve saw that it was good for obtaining wisdom, so she took it and gave it to her husband who was there" (Genesis 3:6). That's how they fell.
3. The Fruit of Sin
Now, what are the consequences of sin? There are so many, but I want you to just notice a couple of them here in verses 7-8. "After eating it, then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked. So they sowed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves" (Genesis 3:7-8). Now what is the first and most immediate consequence of sin? What is the first fruit of sin? So when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, creation fell, human beings fell. I know that sin was in the world because Satan was there. There was evil in the world in the garden, but humanity hadn't fallen. Creation hadn't fallen. But this is the time when it falls. This is when the creation falls. This is when humanity falls. When Adam and Eve take the fruit, this is when sin enters the world. In verse 7 what is the first and most immediate consequence, or fruit of sin? Well, here it is, are you ready?
The Fruit of Sin
1. They hid from each other.
Where do we see that? "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sowed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves" (Genesis 3:7). This is amazing to me. This is amazing because you think to yourself, "Why did you cover up? Why? Were you cold?" They were not cold. They did not cover up because they were cold. Did they feel like their bodies weren't attractive? No, they had the most perfect bodies on planet Earth. There's only two of them at this time. They had perfect DNA. They were beautiful, the most beautiful people who have ever lived. So that's not why they covered up. It wasn't like there were a bunch of strangers walking around all over the place looking at them, "Why are those two naked?" That's not it at all. It wasn't like they needed to hide from the animals. "Okay, the giraffes are over there. We have to cover up. I hear the hippos are judgmental these days. We better put some clothing on. They're going to judge our bodies." That's not what's going on here.
Why in the world do they cover up? Well, because they have sinned. They covered up because now they knew something was wrong. Sin has entered the world, and what was lost? At least what is recorded here, the first thing that was lost was transparency. The very first thing that was lost was relational transparency. Instead of acceptance, love, openness, and no more secrets, now there's cover up and hide. Now what rules is insecurity, "Will you accept me?" This is the first thing that is lost.
The Fruit of Sin
1. They hid from each other.
2. They hid from God.
Now what's the second thing that is lost? The first one was that they hid from each other, and the second fruit is that they hid from God. Verse 10 says, "He said, 'I heard you in the garden and I afraid because I was naked so I hid.'" Adam and Eve, they're like, "We cover up in front of each other, then we cover up before God. We have to hide from God." Verse 11 says, "Then He asked, 'Who told you that you were naked?'"
I've learned that when God asks questions, He's not looking for answers or information. That's not why. He knows the answer. There's a point to this. Then He asks another question, "Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Genesis 3:11). What we're about ready to get is a pretty incredible insight into human nature. This is what we're about ready to see. Think about this for a second. The first and most immediate consequence of sin is that they needed to cover up in front of each other. So now transparency as the norm, it's gone. I'm not saying it can't be restored, at least to some degree, but I'm saying it's gone as the norm. Now we're always wondering, "Okay, are you going to accept me?" There's insecurity that dominates our lives. So they physically cover themselves up in front of each other. But the real question is this: how do you cover up before God? Think about that for a second. We know how we cover up in front of each other, but how do you cover up before God? How do you hide from God? How does that actually happen?
Well, we are about ready to find out how people hide from God. Here it is in verse 12. Remember the question in verse 11? "Then he asked, 'Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?'" Then verse 12, "Then the man replied, 'The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.' So how do you cover up before God? You pull out your finger, and you blame someone else. You make an excuse. You pull out your magic finger, and you say it's their fault. It's their fault. It's their fault. It's their fault. That's how you deal with irresponsibility naturally. When you don't meet the standard, you blame someone else. You make an excuse. This is human nature. This is how we are wired.
"Then the man replied, 'The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it'" (Genesis 3:12). If you look at the original Hebrew, what you see in the text is that at this point, there's a bus coming down the road. Adam takes Eve and throws her in front of the bus, and the bus tramples her and crushes her. Do you see that? "The woman you gave, the woman you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit" (Genesis 3:12). It's her fault.
Not only does Adam blame Eve, this is amazing, he blames God, too. Do you see that? "The woman you gave to be with me" (Genesis 3:12). He is saying, "God, I don't remember asking for a woman. I just don't. I mean, I was happy playing with the zebras and running around with the monkeys or whatever. I was naming them. We were wrestling. It was like the tigers and I we were having fun. Then all of a sudden this woman shows up. Then she gave me the fruit. I didn't even ask for this." This is what he's doing. He's skirting his responsibility. He's saying, "No, I'm not going to take responsibility."
If you're Adam, what should he have said? When God asked this question, "Did you eat from the tree I commanded you not to eat from," what should he have said? What is it? Yes. Why doesn't he just say yes? Well, I can tell you why because of what follows. If Adam says, "Yes I disobeyed you," what follows? "In the day that you eat from the tree you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17). You know what comes next? Death. See, if he actually says, "Yes, I did it, I'm guilty," then he should die. If you have that on your head, it doesn't feel good. The sense of I legitimately should be executed and put to death, that doesn't feel good. We have to blame. "It's your fault, God. It's her fault, God. This is not my fault." This is what Adam does. So then God goes to Eve and says, "What have you done, Eve?" What does Eve say? "The devil made me do it. The devil tricked me. The devil made me do it." So she pushes the blame down stream as well.
When this happened, creation fell. When they ate from the tree, creation fell, and then everything moves from a place of order and peace to a place of chaos and craziness. Now Adam and Eve, because of what happened in the garden, now human beings are born with what's called the flesh or the sinful nature. Can I give you a description, not a definition, but a description of what the flesh is?
Every one of us, we're born with it. Let me give you a description of what the flesh is. The flesh, the way we are naturally, is that we know what is right but we desire what is wrong. We know what it right, but we desire what is wrong. This is the way we're born. You're born, from the time you're little, you know. Don't you have a pretty strong moral impulse inside of you, like you know? If we could take a test, all of us, if we just took a test, and we looked at a bunch of situations, even semi-complicated situations, we would know what is right in those situations. Should this man rob this person? No. Yes or no, check a box. No. We instinctively know. Should this man sleep with this man's wife? Check a box, no. We know, we know what's right, but we want what is wrong. We want what is forbidden. We want what is going to destroy our lives.
What happens because of the flesh is that the dominant and most powerful urge we have is self-gratification. That's the way we're born. Did you know that we come out of the womb saying, "Me, me, me, me." That's how we come out of the womb. We don't come out of the womb saying, "You know what mom and dad? I went number one and number two, maybe even number three in my pants. When you get a minute, after you've gotten some sleep, can you change me?" That's not what happens. We come out of the womb saying, "Change me right now. There will be no sleep and no peace in the home until you change me or you feed me." Isn't that the way it works? That's the way it works. We're all born that way. Everyone is born that way, and we don't grow out of it. We just become more sophisticated. It's me, me, me, me, me.
The true nature of sin is that sin breaks relationships.
Remember God's design? His design in the garden for perfect relationships? Well, that is all gone. It's all gone. A perfect relationship with God has been destroyed because of sin. A perfect relationship with nature has been destroyed because of sin. I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to take care of the Earth. We should try to take care of the Earth as far as it makes sense. But listen, we are at odds with planet Earth, we are. There will be tsunamis. There will be tornadoes. There will be earthquakes. There will be different kinds of diseases that take over parts of the world. This will happen. I'm not saying we don't try to fight against it or understand it, that's not what my point is. I'm just saying we're not at peace with creation. Bears are going to eat people. Sharks are going to eat people. Bees are going to sting people. We're not at peace. There's no peace here with creation. We can enjoy it and respect it. We see it's beautiful. Creation is beautiful, but cancer is going to happen. It's going to happen because of the fall. Our relationship with nature has been destroyed.
Our relationship with each other, person to person, has been destroyed because of the fall, because we have the flesh. Remember what the flesh cries out? Me, me, me. This is the way it works. I want sexual pleasure more than I want my family, so I go after sexual pleasure. I want money or possessions more than I want your well being, so I will sell you things you don't need or steal from you. I want physical pleasure more than sobriety, so I drink or use drugs. I want revenge more than I want reconciliation, so I kill you or I hurt you. I want control more than I want to serve, so I give orders. I want fame more than I want integrity, so I compromise. I want my reputation, so I lie to you. This is the way it works. It's about me.
You look at all the relational chaos in the world, it's because someone says, "Me first, me first. Life's about me, you have to take care of number one. You have to take care of yourself. You have to love yourself more, and more, and more, and more." That's the message of the world. What's the message of world? You need to love yourself more. "You know what your problem is? You don't love yourself enough." When I hear that, I think to myself, "It's the exact opposite." The issue is self-love governs our world. It's the elevation of me. It's the elevation of my wants. If I don't get it, my life's miserable. I think to myself, "It's just the flesh."
Then relationship with ourselves was lost at the fall. So now the norm is depression, guilt, shame, insecurity, anxiety and the list goes on and on and on. This is because of the fall. This is because of the flesh. I would suggest that 100% of the pain in the world today is the result of these four broken relationships. All of it. Why is there pain in the world? Because Adam and Eve sinned, and sin entered the world.
In America every hour a 100 marriages end in divorce. That's one every 36 seconds. Every day a 150,000 people die. That's about 6,000 an hour. Every year 55 million people die. You think about just over the course of our service here, probably about roughly 8-9,000 people will die in the world during our time. Most people who die today did not wake up saying, "I'm going to die today." Most people don't die when they're old. Most people don't die in their sleep. Even right now there are thousands of people in excruciating pain waiting to die.
The reason I say this isn't to be a Debbie Downer. I say it because we live in a world where reality, what is really happening in the world, is pushed off to the side. We don't think about what's really happening in our city. We don't think about what's happening in the world. We don't think about the big picture. The only thing we think about is entertainment and pleasure right now. The reality is that the world is broken because of sin. When God said to Adam and Eve, "Obey me about the tree or you will die," He meant it. He meant it.
Now is there any hope? Well, the answer is, there is amazing hope. We're going to spent the next 27 weeks looking at the hope, the good side of what's going on. Why is there so much pain? Why is there so much chaos? Well, it's because of sin. It's sin. It's in us. It's the flesh, but there is amazing hope. There's amazing hope for our lives. There's amazing hope for the world. Now we don't have too much time. I'm just going to spend a couple minutes to highlight two aspects of the hope that we have. What is the hope? Next week is all the hope, okay. So hopefully you'll come back next week. It's just all hope next week. There's going to be flowers and fireworks going off. It's going to be good. It's going to be a good service.
Just to close, two aspects of this hope. The first aspect is this: Jesus. What is our hope? It's Jesus. Even in Genesis 3 there are two things that point to Jesus. Two things that point to Christ, even in the fall. In Genesis 3, let me show them to you. Genesis 3:15, this is the consequence to Satan, "I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head." Now, if you strike a serpent's head, what happens to the serpent? Trouble, dead. You will strike his heel. He, the seed of the woman, will strike your head. It's a picture of stomping a head. You will strike his heel. This is talking about Jesus. The seed of the woman is going to crush Satan, the works of Satan. This is what the Scriptures teach. He's going to crush the head of Satan. That's what he did, but he didn't do it without a cost. Satan got his heel. Just a temporary pain, three days of death in a grave.
The second picture we see in Genesis 3 is in verse 21, which is even more amazing to me. It says, "The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife and he clothed them." Now, if you've been reading the Bible, this maybe is not a big deal to you. Maybe you haven't seen this before, but this is amazing in verse 21. The Lord made clothing out skins. You think, "Why did He do that? They're clothed, aren't they, fig leaves? They have a loincloth, and whatever it is. They're clothed." But God looks at their clothing, and He says they can't wear that. Can't wear those figs, and you think, "Why? Does He not like figs. Who cares?"
I think this is just an amazing picture of Jesus. Now, how do we get there? Well, here it is. Figs, this is a set of clothing that Adam and Eve made by themselves. God said if you're going to stand before me wearing that, that's not acceptable. Remember what God says, "In the day that you eat from the tree you will surely die." So what should've happened to Adam and Eve? Their souls died. Their relationship with God died. Physically they were going to die. But physically they did not die that day. God says if you're going to stand with me, this is just a picture of the reconciliation. He says, "Listen, you're going to have to be covered a different way."
The way they need to be covered is that God says He's going to go take an innocent animal. See, this word skins, it means animal hide. It says the Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and Eve. The Lord God went and took an innocent animal–no sin, not guilty of eating from the tree in the middle of the garden. Do you see that? Not guilty, the animal didn't do that. You know what God did? How do you get animal skins? You have to kill the animal. Even at the very beginning, what happens is that God takes an innocent animal, and that innocent animal dies in the place of Adam and Eve. He takes those skins. He says, "Wear this. This is what you are to wear in front of me. Someone died so our relationship could continue."
This is just a picture of what Jesus would do for us. It's a picture of how Jesus, who is the lamb of God, came to the world. He came to the world, and He was innocent of our sin. Then He voluntarily died to pay for our sin. Because if you were to be judged right now, you die, and God says, "Did you disobey me?" If you were honest, what would you say? "Yes, thousands of times over." So what should happen to you? You should go to Hell. See, sin is chaotic and horrible in every way, wreaks havoc in this life. Let me tell you why sin is ultimately a problem. Sin is ultimately a problem because it makes you worthy of Hell. It makes you fit for Hell. The punishment for your sin is death, physical death and eternal death. But what God did through his Son Jesus is that all the hatred that God has for sin and all the punishment God is going to pour out on sin, He poured out on Christ. Christ being that lamb of God said, "I will take their death. I will die their death so they can be forgiven." Even in Genesis 3 we get this picture of how Jesus was going to reconcile us back to the Father through the death of an innocent lamb, which is Jesus.
The second aspect of our hope is Heaven. It's Heaven. When many people think about Heaven, they think about clouds. They think about fat babies in diapers playing the harp. That's not that exciting to me. But you know what the Bible promises? It promises that God's going to take this world, which is beautiful. Don't we live in a beautiful world? I mean it's beautiful. Our universe is out of control. It's amazing. But it's been corrupted by sin.
What God is going to do is at the end of all things, Heaven is going to come out of Heaven and come down and touch Earth. God is going to recreate the Heavens and the Earth. So He's going to take this broken creation, and He's going to remake it, recreate it. Then you and I, we're going to be walking on a recreated planet Earth, where Heaven and Earth meet, where Jesus rules and reigns, and the glory of God fills up the universe. It's going to be a beautiful thing. That's what has been given to us because of Christ. I think to myself when I see the world is broken, the physical planet is broken, I think that's sad. It's bad, but we're going to live eternally on a perfect planet, in a perfect universe, where Jesus is king. Where there's no more dying. There's no more pain. There's no more hiding, total transparency, really forever and ever. That's our hope. I'm just thinking we have a lot. We have a lot to look forward to as Christians. There's a lot to be thankful for. That Jesus would die in our place so we can know him. So our sins can be forgiven. So we can spend an eternity with Him in Heaven.
I'll just ask you this morning, if you died right now, are you going to Heaven or Hell? Where you going? I'm not asking if you have gone to church before, or if you believe in God. I'm asking, have your eyes, the eyes of your heart, turned to the cross and said, "That is where all my sin has been paid for. I'm worthy of Hell. The only way to be forgiven is by turning my eyes to Christ." Have you done that before? If the answer is, no, I would invite you to do that today. Give your life to the Lord Jesus. He'll change your life.
I'll just go ahead and pray:
"Lord, we just thank you for the hope that we have. Lord, that regardless of what happens in this life, I mean this life is so uncertain. There's so much pain. We live in a world that has been corrupted by sin. I thank you, Lord, that through your Son Jesus, we can be reconciled. We can be forgiven. I pray for us, just even as we go down this journey as a church, to understand what it means to walk in the new life that we have in Christ. I just pray, Lord, you'd give us a lot of grace. I pray by the end of our time that all of us would just be overwhelming with gratitude, just overflowing, just overflowing with gratitude. Lord, understanding that we have been forgiven. Lord, that should be our sense. We should be overwhelmed. We should be overflowing. Lord, help us to put our eyes on you. Help us to understand that you want us to be agents of change in the world, people who are in tune with reality. We need your help. So help us. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen."