Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Deception, Disobedience, and Destruction from the Mouth of a Serpent’
© September 15, 2019, by Steve Mickelson
Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on April 21, 2013, and April 12, 2015
Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Responsive Reading #640 (Redemption in Christ – from Romans 5)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Deception, disobedience, and destruction from the mouth of a serpent’
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. For today’s lesson, we will take a look at both the reasons for, and the importance of, God’s Salvation Plan through Christ Jesus. And in our lesson, we shall see how His plan of salvation will restore access to Paradise to all who believe. “Paradise” is an Old Iranian term for a “walled garden”. It is a higher or better place than our current existence.
In order to better understand salvation, let us talk about sin in general, but specifically what is often described as the ‘original sin’.
When people talk about committing a sin, it is usually some reference to a violation of the Mosaic Laws, which we commonly call ‘The Ten Commandments’. These were the Laws God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai to the people of Israel. Jesus later simplified the ten to two, loving God with all your heart, mind and soul; and loving your neighbor as yourself. But the ‘original sin’ happened back in the Garden of Eden and is described in the Book of Genesis.
We begin in Genesis 1:26-29 (ESV), with the creation, and how Adam was created and given dominion or charge over all creatures on the land, sea, and air:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
Footnotes: Genesis 1:26 The Hebrew word for man (Adam) is the generic term for mankind and becomes the proper name Adam
So with the responsibility for the flora and fauna, God gave Adam one caveat; one item to beware of, which we might say one rule or law. We see this in Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV):
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”
Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:17 Or when you eat
Because Adam’s descendants today know, or should understand what is good, from what is evil, or right from wrong, we could understand how a rule might be broken. If you doubt what I am saying, just put a ‘Wet Paint Do Not Touch Sign’ on a door or wall and watch how many people will touch it to see if it is actually wet. But, when God gave the commandment, Adam and Eve were innocent of this type of thought and had to be tricked or fooled into challenging the authority of God. That is where Lucifer, also known as Satan or the devil, the original rebel who fell from God’s Grace, by challenging His authority enters the picture, as we read in Genesis 3:1-13,19,22 (ESV), entitled appropriately, The Fall:
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
Satan had enticed Eve and Adam to break God’s rule, and in doing so challenging the Creator’s authority by telling Eve, as well as Adam who was with her, see verse 6, that by eating the fruit, they would become like God in understanding good from evil and by assuring them that they would not suffer death as God had warned. Because of the alluring appearance of the fruit and possibly because of a naive belief that being similar to God would bring them closer to God when just the opposite is true. Having eaten the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve, being fully aware of the significance of breaking God’s rule, and likely now realize how Satan, disguised as a serpent, desires to have them to challenge God’s authority.
This is the crux, or central point, of the ‘original sin’ not so much the act of breaking God’s rule, but more the challenge to His authority. This sin causes a rift between Adam and Eve. And because God’s concern that this pair of rebels might eat from the ‘tree of life’ giving the power of eternal life to those who have already chosen to follow the directions of Satan to challenge God’s authority, Adam and Eve are evicted from Paradise.
But God loves his creation and desires that the human race has an opportunity to be reconciled to God’s Grace. Consuming the forbidden fruit lead to our fall from God’s Grace, and the knowledge of the difference between good from evil only brought pain and guilt for such actions.
God’s simple solution was to remove the judgment of sin, through Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, taking upon Himself the judgment and punishment of death, and providing through the resurrection, the assurance that God’s death penalty eliminated. And so believers, who confess their sins and decide to follow Jesus, are forgiven their sins and granted the promise of salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, as well as the assurance of their own resurrection from the grave, as we see in Romans 6:20-23 (ESV):
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We see that Jesus’ resurrection assures us of Jesus’ power over death, but what about the sinner and our return to Paradise. Some scholars argue that Paradise or the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis is just a parable for the state of grace and not an actual physical place. I would argue that Moses, who most Biblical scholars agree, authored Genesis did not use parables in his writings. And we do see an example in the scriptures, not only asking for and receiving forgiveness but being given the assurance of the resurrection, the company of the Lord in Paradise, in Luke 23:39-43 (ESV):
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
And like God, we must forgive those who trespass against us, Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV):
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Remember that the foundation of our faith in the power of God, and both trust and belief in His promises and abilities. To unbelievers, all this seems to be just nonsense, as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) entitled: Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
And if we choose not to turn away from Satan’s promptings to ignore God’s authority, we remain locked in to sin and doomed to suffering and death. Being beings, capable of knowing right from wrong, and therefore having the ability to choose the good, righteous path for ourselves, God has given us control or dominion over our destinies. We may choose to continue along Satan’s way of rebellion and with Satan suffer judgment and death. Or, we may choose the way of Jesus, confessing our sins, admitting to our sinful nature, accepting the gift and leadership of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to lead us on the righteous path, which we see in Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV):
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
So by following Christ, we renounce the desire to be equal with God or to forsake His authority. We must choose to serve God as His servant, humbled, as Jesus had taught when he washed the disciples’ feet just before Christ’s crucifixion. We must pledge our obedience to God. As believers, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us keep our faith to the Lord on the right track and to keep us on the righteous path to Paradise and avoid the consequences of sin.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #350: Open My Eyes, That I May See
Benediction (1 Corinthians 15:20-22):
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.