The sin here is that “I will” has replaced “God’s will”
How much “D Factor” do you have?
I read an article recently titled “Scientists Have Identified The Driving Force Behind Your Darkest Impulses”. The article starts out, “behind …. all our worst inclinations on the surface, a central, common core of human darkness lies. It explains that the nasty behaviors like narcissism, sadism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and more all emerge out of something deeper and darker within human beings.
They call it the “D” factor. Ingo Zettler, a psychologist from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark said, “the dark aspects of human personality also have a common denominator, which means that – similar to intelligence – one can say that they are all an expression of the same dispositional tendency”. Zettler goes on to say “In a given person, the D factor can mostly manifest itself as narcissism, psychopathy or one of the other dark traits, or a combination of these,”
Now all this is important because if you know a person has a high measure of D Factor then you are able to be more certain of their willingness to engage in such dark behaviors. In other words, science may not only be able to improve our ability to predict human behaviors, but, now it can make us more able to give preemptive warning “how dark” some people really are, and who is “more likely to engage in those dark behaviors”.
Imagine next time a church calls a pastor they ask to see his “D” factor. Or imagine being required to give your D factor before acceptance into membership? Or imagine going for a job and on the application you have to give your D factor. Or, imagine on your license or your vaccine passport also being required to have your “D Factor” measure as well. In other words: What’s your D Factor?
Well science is behind the Bible here. And they’ve mislabeled the D Factor because the Bible has already given that dark impulse in all human beings a name. It’s not the D Factor, its the “S” factor. S stands for sin. “Jesus did not entrust Himself to men because He knew what was in men” John 2 says. What did Jesus know was in a man? He knew sin was in all men. “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves.” 1 John says. Proverbs 20:9 says “Who can say I have kept my heart pure. I am clean and without sin”?” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23 declares. “There is not a righteous man on earth” and “No one is righteous” Ecc 7 and Rom 3 proclaim. “The heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17 says. We are in sin and sin is in us. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” Paul says in Romans 7.
The Bible has been preaching the D Factor all along. Sin has entered the world, it has entered the human condition, it has corrupted us, alienated us from God, and now because of sin we are condemned by God’s holy judgment. Each of us are a polluted spring out of which comes a constant stream of contaminated water.
Now if science really would like an education on the D factor it would turn to Genesis 3 with us today. Here we see the origin of the D factor. Here we find the explanation of how the D factor infected us. So let us turn to Genesis 3 again.
Review: Last time we saw the Serpent and did a brief survey of who Satan is. After that we began to study his Strategy. I have broken down his strategy into 4 stages: 1) Dialogue, 2) Doubt, 3) Deny, 4) Disobedience.
He begins by getting you into dialogue with him. Making you feel comfortable in his company. One thing I don’t think I brought out from this point last time was the way in which Satan likes to get us into proximity to sin. Remember again they seem to be standing next to the tree. The forbidden tree. I find a good application here: stay out of sin’s proximity. Standing next to the tree gazing at it is not sin. But in doing so you position yourself in such a way that you are more vulnerable to sin than you would be if you weren’t “hanging around” where sin happens.
- When Potipher’s wife tried to take Joseph to bed with her he fled. Does it say he stuck around and tried to reason with her? “Hey, lady, listen, settle down, this isn’t right. I’m not that kind of guy. Go take a cold shower.” No. He high-tailed it out of there to get away from a situation where sin could happen.
- Or how about the youthful idiot in Proverbs 7. You remember, the guy who walked down the street past the house of the adulterous woman? The woman whom he knew would come out of her house to entice him? Yeah, walking down the street isn’t a sin. But it put him in a position to be tempted in a way that he wouldn’t have been tempted had he not been down her street in the first place.
- Get off the internet at night. Get off your phone at night when you’re alone! Quit going out with the same people who are going to want you to drink and drug and sleep around. Get out of proximity to sin.
So last week we talked at length about Dialogue. That Satan wants to get into dialogue about God’s Word. That’s the first step in his strategy.
The goal of “dialogue” is to get to the next stage: Doubt. How does Satan do that? Questions: “Did God really say?” Notice His question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?’”
Now, questions are good when they are used to discover and confirm truth. But the devil knows that questions are great ways to undermine truth and lead people from it also.
He starts with a question. The power of questions. It is my belief, and my practice in teaching, to use questions. Questions do 3 things:
- They crystalize the issue and make your mind focus on the topic. Satan has them focusing on the forbidden tree. All sin starts with inappropriate focus.
- A question also makes you WANT an answer.
What does a question make you want? (let the silence sit). An answer! A good question, well put and well timed can make someone desire an answer that maybe they didn’t really think much about before.
Satan is going to use this question to stir up a desire within them to know something that Satan was going to offer.
- A question does something else too: when the person gives an answer to the question they “own” that answer much much more than if they were simply told the answer. Questions are great pedagogical tools to help teach. Providing the answer yourself means the answer is “yours”, and you have more “conviction”, and the answer means more to you.
Now this is profound in this text because Satan wants Eve thinking. He wants her to start thinking about God’s command in a new way. He wants her to open up to thinking about it in a different way. He wants her to start thinking that maybe there’s more to it than what God said. He wants her not only opened up, but he wants her to want to open up. Satan wants her to want more. Then once she starts answering Satan’s questions with the answers he wants her to have, she will “own” those answers much much more. In other words, her desire to take the fruit will indeed be her own desire.
Moving into verse 2 and 3 we see her answer to his question, “…..”
She knows the command. She recites what the Lord said in 2:16-17.
Now notice there is one difference between what God said and what Eve recited: “…or touch it…” She knows the positive in the command “You can eat from any tree in the garden”. She knows the negative, “You cannot eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. And she knows there is a consequence attached to disobeying that rule, “or you will die.”
Theologians have a hay-day at this verse where everyone thinks she “adds” to God’s word. Maybe she does folks. Maybe she doesn’t though. Let me go to bat for Eve here and fend off all those anti-legalists out there.
The issue here is that people say that God did not prohibit “touching” the fruit of the tree. She added that. Maybe she did. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe God actually said it but it wasn’t recorded in chapter 2. The Scriptures do that all time. The Scriptures do this thing where not EVERYTHING about a topic is said in one passage. Sometimes to get everything on a topic you have to collect multiple passages. For instance, in Genesis 1 there all kinds of details that arent’ given about the creation of man that are given in chapter 2. We could go through dozens and dozens of passages throughout the Bible where this happens. This is why in Bible study you “add up” all the passages that talk about a particular topic and then let them all together form the whole picture.
However, maybe God didn’t say it. I don’t think God did by the way. I think Adam told her that. Remember that God told the command to Adam prior to the creation of Eve. After creating and presenting Eve to Adam there is no doubt that Adam passed on the one all important rule about life in the garden. “Look, babe, God said we can eat from any tree in this whole place. But, you see that one right there? Yeah, that one we are not allowed to eat the fruit on it.”
“He said we would die.”
“What is die?”
“I don’t know, but it sounds bad. Lets not screw this up, we’ve got a good thing going here. Look, just make sure you don’t eat from it. As a matter of fact, don’t even touch it. God said don’t eat it, for goodness sake don’t even touch it. Let’s just stay away from it.”
In other words its conceivable to me that it was Adam who told her not to touch it as an added safeguard to make sure they didn’t even come close to violating the command. This is how all legalism starts actually. It starts out really good. It starts out with thoughtful, careful, guidelines that help people be faithful to God’s commands.
But what happens is that over time those man-made rules get elevated to the same authority as God’s word. Eventually what man has “added” to God’s word begins to crowd out God’s word. In time God’s actual commands get demoted while the rules of men keep getting promoted. Ironically, by adding to God’s word man ends up taking away from God’s word.
Application: Really make sure that it is God’s word you are following and not the rules of men. Really make sure if you have your own “rules” to help you follow God’s word that you don’t start burdening others with having to follow your rules because you think that your rules should have the same weight in their lives as God’s word. Think about that.
The progression that Satan’s strategy takes arrives at Denial. Denial of God’s Word. Notice verse 4, “‘You will not surely die’, the serpent said to the woman.” You. Will. Not. Die.
What in fact did God say? Looking back at 2:17 God said, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Looking closely at what Satan said you notice he does not deny God gave the command. He agrees that God did in fact give the command. He doesn’t deny that God warned about death. Instead, you will notice specifically that Satan says God is lying about the consequences. God is not telling the truth about what will happen if they do eat from the forbidden tree.
Key to Satan’s strategy is to make you think that God will not judge sin. Judgment is a scare-tactic. Its not real. “They turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality” Jude says. Do you know what Jude called such men in that very same verse? “Men whose condemnation was written about long ago.” Their judgment is coming. Make no mistake about it: God judges sin. And it will be terrible on the Day He finally does it. “For God will judge the world with righteousness and he has given proof of this to all men by raising Jesus from the dead” (Act 17). God is the Judge of all the earth and He will judge sin. Let no one mistake that.
Notice how Satan begins to explain what God’s secret motives are. He says in verse 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.” How often I have heard this explained as a lie when its not. Satan’s lie is more subtle, more “crafty” here. What I mean is that he is not lying about the results of eating of the tree. They will become “like God knowing good and evil.” Before you scoff look at 3:22 [Read]. Satan said that’s what would happen and God Himself confirms that that is exactly what happened after they disobeyed.
What does this mean? Does it mean that God is evil? No, not at all. And “knowing good and evil” therefore cannot by itself be wrong since God says he knows good and evil. And Satan was also not lying about the fact that God withheld that information from Adam and Eve. God did in fact refrain from telling them that the tree would make them like Him and know good and evil. So Satan did not lie in that regard either.
It actually crystallizes more clearly for us what sin really is. Sin is not merely something that will “hurt” you. Sometimes people think God forbids certain things because its harmful for us. That is not why sin is “sin”. Sin is “sin” because God says it is sin. Sin is sin because it defies and disobeys God. Sin is sin because it is evil activity that the creature engages in as an act of independence from the Creator, it is evil activity that the creature engages in as an act of defiance against the authority the Creator has over the creature.
The nature of the sin here in the Garden is not “Well it will hurt you and God doesn’t want to see you in pain or brokenness.” God is more than willing to bring pain in your life and break you and not lose sleep over it. (In case the pedants are rankled I know God doesn’t sleep – its an expression). Nor is the sin here merely that they wanted knowledge apart from God, although that is part of it.
No, the core, the essence, the atom of this sin in the Garden has to do with authority. Adam and Eve struck against the authority God has over them. They reached for autonomy, to author right and wrong for themselves independent of God. God would not have the ultimate word in what is right. They would. The sin here is that “I will” has replaced “God’s will”. Who else was it that so notoriously and arrogantly boasted those six “I wills”? Satan! Isaiah 14 records Satan’s words, “I WILL ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”
Yes Adam and Eve were injured by sin in the Garden. Yes they found knowledge apart from God’s will. But that’s not their sin. Their sin is that in the Garden they divorced themselves from God’s authority. They Renounced His right to morally govern them. They shoved aside His will to assert their own will. Satan said “I will ascend to the place of the Most High” and standing their looking at that forbidden tree Adam and Eve had the same ambition.
Much much later Jesus would say in a garden, with bloody sweat dripping off him, “Father, not my will, but your will be done.” Here in this Garden man said, “Not your will God, but my will be done.” At the Fall man denied God’s authority. But in Redemption the God-Man, Jesus, declared God’s authority….