Did God Say?
[Sermon summary from 4/2/17’s Sunday Service]
Link to Sermon audio: 4/2/17 Sermon
1 Now 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’?”
Live. ⟳. eviL.
Evil looks like assuming the position of knowledge and assuming the worst about the other person.
In another words evil appeals to and exaggerates your emotions that turn your life upside down. That’s what evil does. When you think that you know better and the other person is against you, you can’t pay attention to what that person says or be present to feel what the other person feels. As a result, life is hard, terrible, unbearable, disappointing, frustrating, and depressing existence. You continue to exist but you don’t really live.
First, let’s look at what assuming the position of knowledge looks like.
1. More Wise
Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”
Contextually and situationally, there is evil in Adam’s lack of action in allowing the turning the order of dominion upside down. The beast that God made and under man’s dominion is roaming freely and allowed to initiate a conversation with the woman in the garden.
• Any other beasts
The narrator says that the serpent was more crafty than other beasts like lion, tiger or bears. Evil is not in the difference of quality or diversity of kind, but in corrupting the quality or the design of diversity. People have no problem paying more for a burger at a fine restaurant than at a McDonald’s. There is a difference in quality but it is not evil that there is difference. But it becomes evil if the burger contains ingredient that is harmful to your health or if you toss the burger on a street just because you feel like it.
That’s what Adam and the serpent did. Their wisdom became worldly and toxic when they assumed the position of knowledge. Adam remained passive and silent. Serpent usurped and assumed authority over Adam and the woman.
• The Lord God made
The serpent is created by God and owes its existence from God. Also, the serpent is under the dominion of man as Adam named every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens according to Genesis 2:19. When the story unfolds in Genesis 3, we see the absence of Adam’s active presence and protection of the garden. God commanded Adam to work and keep the garden. It’s like having a brand new car and parking it in your driveway with the key inside. The car is still there and no one has stolen it, but it’s unprotected because the key is left inside the vehicle. You might call it carelessness or negligence instead of evil, but you will definitely feel and call it evil if someone steals it from your driveway.
What we call carelessness and negligence are all part of assuming the position of knowledge.
Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
I don’t know how many trees but it sounds like many trees. Every tree is pleasant to the sight and good for food. Adam and the woman did not have to wonder from which tree they can eat.It doesn’t make sense why Adam and the woman would eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Except the possibility that Adam thought he is more crafty than the serpent or that Adam felt he is more wise than God in allowing the serpent to roam freely in the garden and engage the woman in a conversation.
Now we turn to the question that assumes the worst about the other person. Evil looks like assuming the position of knowledge and
assuming the worst about the other person.
2. “Nothing to Eat”
Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” The serpent assumed the worst about God and created a false sense of injustice and insecurity. Have you ever opened the refrigerator or pantry and thought to yourself, “There’s nothing to eat”? Then you go out to eat at a fast food restaurant and rationalize your unhealthy diet. Maybe with the ladies in the room, your closet might make you feel like, “There’s nothing to wear!” Then you go on a shopping spree to buy clothes you cannot afford?
The serpent appealed to and exaggerated the emotions Adam and the woman felt by falsely creating a sense of scarcity. Evil develops from the sense of scarcity and thrives in the soil of insecurity. All of a sudden, the whole creation looked like a very mean place where Adam and the woman do not have freedom to eat from any tree in the garden. Is that really true? Is God so mean and cruel to do such a thing?
Genesis 2:9, 16 “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.”
This is what God actually said. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.” God commanded, not recommended, to eat from every tree. God created abundance, freedom, and security.
What is evil in the Garden of Eden is that in the midst of all the trees that are pleasant to the sight and good for food, Adam and the woman felt like there’s nothing to eat. The serpent’s question assumes the worst about the Creator. Then he creates an opportunity for Adam and the woman to act for themselves and be their own god. Instead of participating in the story God and being part of the story of creation, Adam and the woman willfully chose not to know good because they assumed the position of knowledge or “more wise” and proceeded to create their own story.
In Genesis 3, Adam and the woman are about to participate in the story of assuming to be more wise and assuming the worst about God’s plan. You are faced with the same choice today. Turn. Turn from evil of assuming the position of knowledge and assuming the worst about God. But turn to Jesus. Survey the cross of Christ where he was punished for the evil of ignoring, rebelling, and defying God. See how Jesus dies and rises again to prove the good intention and plan of God the Father. When you turn to Jesus, this is what you find out. Jesus participated in the creation of the universe. Jesus participated in the Father’s plan to save and seek the lost. Jesus appealed to the Father’s will and word when he was tempted by the devil in the desert. Jesus invites you to come to know the Father so that you may live.
Isaiah 55:1-3 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”
Jesus invites you to come to him to buy and eat without money and live in this world as God’s children enjoying his creation, presence, and purpose for your life.
Instead of assuming the worst about God, ask God what his perfect and good plan for you is and respond to his calling through obedience.
Community Group Questions
We make everyday followers of Jesus by meet ups throughout the week. Currently we meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. For more info, visit Community Groups.
1. What is evil?
2. How does evil manifest in small to big things in your life?
3. What does it look like for you to repent of evil and respond to Jesus in faith?
We learn to pray as a family of God and encourage a culture of dependence and delight in God’s presence throughout the week.
- Pray for the Good Friday Gathering and Easter Celebration. Pray that the focus remains centered as a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Pray for baptisms.
Reading the Bible
We follow the story of God in the midst of everyday episodes of making followers of Jesus.
- Read “Preparing Our Hearts for Easter” reading plan by Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Visit www.bible.com for a free Bible and the reading plans.
– Good Friday Gathering (April 14, 7 pm) @ Choi home
– Easter Celebration (April 16, 4 pm) @ Center Church
– Acts 29 West Conference, May 1-3, @ Livingstones Church in Reno For more info: http://acts29uswest.com/
– Irvine National Day of Prayer (6 pm), May 4, @ Irvine City Hall
– 2nd Annual Sanctuary Church Conference (9-4 pm), May 20th @ Bethel English Church (for more info: https://sanctuarychurch.eventbrite.com)