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6. What went wrong? (Fall)

July 16, 2017

This is the sixth small group study for the Christianity series (by Marty Gee).

Theme: The fall of humanity
Genesis begins with Adam and Eve as priests in a sacred garden, and Revelation concludes with the garden-city, the New Jerusalem, being established on earth: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with people and He will live with them’. The purpose of creation is to be the place of God dwelling with us.

Adam and Eve were given spiritual authority over a domain (the garden) where they were to host God’s ruling and reigning presence. This is the way creation is brought to completion, as it is filled with God’s glory. However, their spiritual authority depended upon intimacy, trust and obedience towards God. They needed to see God without distortions, receive His love and wise instruction, and then release this into their domain in obedience.

(This study follows on from the Creation study).

This is long-but you can choose your own adventure. You might do this in two sessions, or just work out which section you want to focus on. However, whichever route you take, it is worth doing questions 7 and 8 since these are about practical implications for us.

Part 1: Read Genesis 3.1-13

1. What does the text show us about this ‘’crafty serpent”? Compare Genesis 1.1-3, Genesis 2.16 with Genesis 3.1.

You might consider...

  • Genesis 1 shows God existing before creation, and creation coming from Him. He creates by speaking. In Genesis 2.16 He speaks again, this time in a command which tells Adam and Eve how to live according to His design.
  • Genesis 3.1 is an antithesis, or opposite to Genesis 1. Here, before things go wrong, there is the serpent. He does not create, like God creates. He does not authoritatively command-but instead he perverts what God has done.
  • He questions God’s command.

2. Consider the flow of authority God has established in Genesis 1 and 2...
God creates Adam and gives him authority over the garden and the animals. He creates Eve to help Adam. You could also look at the order and nature of the punishments from 3.14 on.

How does the serpent strategically attack Adam and Eve in the way he tempts them?

You might consider...

  • According to the account establishes a line of authority from Him to Adam, Eve and then to the animals. In the serpent attacking Eve, then Eve giving the fruit to Adam, there is a reversal of this order.
  • The serpent uses Eve against Adam. Eve is supposed to help Adam, but she is tempted and leads Adam to sin in turn. Adam is given a commission by God, but is passive.
  • God had intended man and woman to work together to fulfill their commission as priestly king/queen but the enemy attacks their relationship an subverts it.

3. Thinking of the broader biblical account, what is the final result of the serpent tempting Adam and Eve to sin? You could look at John 12.32, Ephesians 2.2 and 6.10-17, Revelation 12.

You might consider...

  • The NT speaks about ‘this evil age’ where the enemy has established his dominion on this earth.
  • This will be finally resolved when Christ comes again.
  • Christ has won the victory on the cross, but the life of a Christian involves participation in a cosmic battle where we need to bring to bear the triumph of Christ in our situations.
  • We will also be attacked and tempted by the enemy in this life (Ephesians 6).

Based on what we have explored you might consider the biblical perspective that we are in a cosmic battle with an enemy who uses sin against us to keep us from our sacred calling (as the serpent tempted and gained victory over Adam and Eve).


Part 2: Tracing the progress of sin:

The idea in this section is that sin has a destructive effect upon a person as a priest or image- bearer. As you work through these questions you could try to write down how you see the sin progressively affecting Eve and Adam. (for example, from distrust and doubt, to pride and idolatry....)

1. What does the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represent?
(Think about what the serpent is tempting Eve to do).

2. How does the serpent tempt Eve? At what point does Eve begin sinning?

You might consider...

  • The serpent first calls into question what God has said (‘Did God really say...’).
  • He tempts her by offering her something which seems to be better than her current situation (She will become like God)
  • The serpent is tempting her to distrust God because he is implying that God is with- holding something good from Eve
  • The serpent is tempting Eve to become independent of God-essentially to be able to make up her own mind without submitting to God.
  • Eve sins by distrusting God before she actually breaks His command. This actually leads her to question her relationship to Him and consider that it would be better to know good and evil for herself rather than trusting and submitting to God. She considers what it would be like to actually take God’s place (pride).

3. Think about western culture in the light of the serpent’s temptation. In what ways is it natural for Australians to want what Eve wants?

4. Read verse 6. How does Eve’s perceptions of the situation change as she listens to the serpent?

You might consider...

  • She becomes affected as an image-bearer. Her ability to discern truthfully is affected.
  • She believes the serpent’s lie about God and about herself
  • Now she decides wisdom is more important than her current knowledge of God (which depends upon submitting to him in trust). This is idolatry.
  • Her reasoning is affected and she thinks that this poisonous fruit is actually good to eat/
  • Her desires are affected and she finds the fruit beautiful.

5. How does Eve’s sin affect her as an image-bearer who influences her context.

(Consider her original role and compare that to what she ends up doing.)

6. Read verses 7 and 8. How does Adam and Eve’s sin affect the way they see themselves and the way they see God?

You might consider...

  • They were originally naked and unashamed. This is a picture of perfect community.
  • They become guilty and feel deep shame
  • They both make inadequate attempts to cover their guilt and shame-effectively creating barriers between each other.
  • These barriers are not enough to protect them from God
  • Now they fear God. When he comes to them, they hide from him. They have become blind to him.

The final result of Adam and Eve’s sin are described in the far-reaching consequenses in Genesis 3.14. There will always be conflict between the woman’s offspring and the serpent (probably meaning spiritual battle), there will be conflict between man and woman, Eve will be fruitful only through great pain, likewise Adam will experience great frustration since the ground itself is cursed and will produce thorns and thistles until both of them return to the ground in death.

7. Go back over the ways in which sin corrupts Adam and Eve as image-bearers

(those who see God without distortion, receive His love and wise instruction, and release His influence into their context in life-giving ways). Eve is meant to be a priestess, who values God’s Presence, and helps keep the garden as the place of encounter with God. She is tempted to reach out for wisdom-and this decision ultimately jeopardizes her knowledge of God-since she and Adam are cast out from His Presence.

a. Name things that can be idols for Australian Christians (those things which we reach out for, rather than the intimate knowledge of God Himself).

You might consider...

  • financial security
  • material possessions
  • meaningful work
  • family
  • comfort and entertainment
  • relationships and friendships
  • knowledge about God (correct theology and wisdom about life) rather than direct encounter
  • having a role in church or ministry competence, rather than intimacy with Jesus Himself

b. Identify the things which are issues for you personally. (This can be indicated by what you spend time on. What would you rather spend time doing, than pursuing God’s Presence with you?)

c. What need is behind this counterfeit passion? (Eve wanted the fruit, but for her, it represented wisdom. I might be working too hard-and this might indicate that I am doing this to gain a sense of identity; or it might be because I long to establish financial security)

d. Identity the ways in which God is meant to fulfill this need. (For example, if I long for a sense of identity, I know that His Spirit is the one who shows me that He is my Father and I am his son or daughter.

8. Pray together.
Confess (to God) the ways in which you have tried to gain things that only He can give. Acknowledge that you cannot liberate yourself. Ask Jesus to fill this area of your life through His Spirit.