The Word of God – through which the Holy Spirit will be guiding our hearts and minds today – is recorded in our reading from Genesis. (3:8-15)
It is a familiar story to all of us, as it speaks to the origin of mankind. In this story, the only fruit in the Garden of Eden that is forbidden is that which hangs from the tree in the midst of the garden, but Adam and Eve eat from it anyway. So, God first approaches man and asks if he has eaten the forbidden fruit and man responds, “well, the woman gave it to me.” In other words, “it’s not my fault.” God then turns to the woman and asks, “what have you done?” And woman responds, “well, the serpent deceived me.” And again she was saying, “it’s not my fault.”
King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new under the sun,” but many in the modern world may disagree. They consider the modern world more advanced, more sophisticated. We have devices and technology un-imagined years ago. But has the world – or the people in it – really changed? Are people innately different now than years ago? Has human nature fundamentally changed because we have cars and space shuttles, televisions and computers? Have we learned anything about ourselves from those who lived long ago?
Motivational speaker Travis Robertson writes: consider the statements below and see if any of them resonate with you:
- It’s not my fault that I’m overweight. My parents were overweight and it runs in the family.
- It’s not my fault that I have anger issues. My dad physically abused me when I was a kid.
- It’s not my fault that I lie a lot. I had to in order to survive growing up.
- It’s not my fault that I lost my job. My company was mismanaged and went out of business.
- It’s not my fault that I’m addicted to pain pills. I am in constant pain after the accident.
- It’s not my fault that I..
…well you get the idea.
He goes on to say that all of these things may in fact be true. Many things that happen to us may not be our fault. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where things happen to us that are outside of our control. Kids are abused and abandoned. They grow up in terrible environments with terrible parents. People are permanently injured in accidents that weren’t their fault. Lives are altered sometimes through no fault of our own.
But here’s the reality: just because something isn’t our fault, that doesn’t mean it’s not our responsibility.
We may be overweight and it may run in our family. But it’s our responsibility to manage it.
Through no fault of our own, we may have been abused by someone we trusted. But how we live from today forward is our responsibility.
We may have grown up in a world where we had to lie to survive. But it’s now our responsibility as an adult to live differently.
Our company may have collapsed through no fault of our own. But it’s now our responsibility to provide for our self and our family.
The accident that injured us may not have been our fault. But it’s now our responsibility to seek treatment for our addiction.
There have been times in my life when I wanted to cry out, “It’s not my fault!” In those moments, what I really wanted to do was shift responsibility away from myself.
You see, I knew that something wasn’t my fault and that I had to live with the consequences of another person’s choice – and that angered me. Part of me wanted to be a victim because, as long as I was a victim, I didn’t have to do anything. I could pity myself. I could use my victim status to excuse just about anything. I knew, however, that victims are never happy. They never find joy. They never find peace. They are usually miserable people to be around. They find their identity in being a victim rather than in taking 100% responsibility for their lives and choosing to live differently.
This scenario I just shared with you sounds much like the story from Genesis 3,which teaches us about our fallen nature; something that has apparently not changed in thousands of years. But there is something else the Genesis story teaches. It teaches us about the Lord’s love – his unchanging, constant love. The Lord’s love that was at work to seek and to save Adam and Eve – and is still at work to seek and to save you and me.
But what does the Lord’s love do as he works to seek and to save us sinners? Well, first of all the Lord’s love crushes. Now, crushing isn’t usually considered a loving act. But whether it is loving or not depends on what is being crushed. Crushing a bee in your hand, for instance, before it stings your child – who is deathly allergic to it – is an act of love. Likewise, the Lord’s love crushes our excuses that we use to try and hide our guilt – and the Lord’s love crushes our enemy who wants to destroy us. Sometimes we refer to this love as grace.
Our text actually begins in the middle of the record of how sin came into God’s perfect world. Remember what has happened up until this point? God created a perfect world in six days. On day six he created Adam and Eve from whom we’ve all descended. He created them in His image, that is, they were holy and sinless like God, and He gave them dominion over all that He had created – with one exception.
He gave them the Tree of the Knowledge or Good and Evil and told them not to eat from it. Each day as Adam and Eve gladly obeyed God’s command, they would be worshiping him with thankfulness. So we see the perfect relationship of love, thanks, and joy between God and our first parents – who were living in God’s perfect world. Or was it?
What about Satan? He was originally created as a good angel. But he and his followers rebelled against God and were thrown out of heaven. And as Adam and Eve make the scene, Satan and his minions were already occupying the earth. The word “Satan”, means enemy. He is the Devil, the father of lies.
In this garden story, Satan takes on the image of a snake to speak to Eve. “Did God really say, you must not eat from the tree that is in the midst of the garden,” He slithered. So, here Satan is injecting doubt into God’s Word and his love. Eve said that God commanded them not to eat so that they wouldn’t die.
But the serpent responded, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”.
So, Eve no longer believes God’s Word. Who would? Who wouldn’t want to be like God? So, she turns her back on God’s love. She eats. She gives some to Adam, who had stood there and failed to intervene. He, too, eats. They both lose God’s image. No longer were they holy like God. They were filled with sinful desires. They tried to cover their nakedness – for in their sin they felt shame. Then they heard the Lord God walking in the garden. Fear fills them. They scurry around like cockroaches caught in the light, trying to hide themselves. But hey, it’s not our fault.
We inherited Adam and Eve’s sinful nature. We can’t get away from sin, so why worry about it? Yet, the natural reaction of any sinner is to scurry away and hide before God crushes us like cockroaches.
But it’s impossible to hide from God, isn’t it? Sin makes us think we can get away with it, but we can’t. God – in his holy justice – has every right to crush us because of our sins, just as he had every right to crush Adam and Eve. But the Lord’s love didn’t crush them. Instead, His love crushed the excuses they made to hide their guilt.
The Lord’s love seeks out Adam, calling “Where are you?” The Lord God knows what is happening, but he wants Adam to see that he can not hide. Adam tries to hide behind the excuse that he was afraid because he was naked. “It’s not my fault,” he says. But the Lord’s love crushes this excuse with two more questions. “Who told you that you were naked and have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam tries to hide behind other excuses by blaming Eve – and God – who gave Eve to him. “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it”.
Yet those last words, “I ate it” were a confession. Yes, Adam admits his sinful act; he knows he deserves death and can’t hide from it. But he doesn’t rely on the Lord’s mercy. At this point he can’t, for the Lord hasn’t yet spoken his promise of mercy. Before the Lord comforts sinners with his promise, he must first crush the excuses that blind us sinners so we see how helpless we are because of our sin. But by his questions God’s love has crushed his excuses and now God turns to Eve.
Ever use the excuse, “I can’t help myself,” or “that’s the way I am.” That’s blaming God. After all, He’s the one who made us. “So and so makes me so mad,” is an excuse that blames others. How easy is it for us to fall into that cycle of blaming each other, hiding behind excuses. Yet, with his holy Law the Lord crushes our excuses. He holds you and me accountable. We cannot hide. But thanks be to God that he does do this; otherwise, we would die in our sin, since we would not believe his promise.
We would rely on our excuses instead of trusting in him.
All who keep on hiding and refuse to let their excuses be crushed by God will only hear: “Cursed are you,” as the snake heard. They will eat the dust of hell forever. When you see a snake crawling on its belly, remember the sin that corrupts us; remember the punishment we deserve. But also, when you see the snake’s punishment, remember the victory God gives us over the enemy, who once used a snake to overcome us. For God’s love crushes our excuses so that He can bring us the Good News that his love has crushed our enemy who tried to destroy us.
The Lord’s love does crush our enemy who wants to destroy us. You see, the words God speaks to the snake are not really meant for the snake. They are addressed to Satan. His words to Satan carry a wonderful promise – for Satan, for Adam and Eve, and for you and me. God said to Satan , “I will put enmity between you and the woman.” Satan had gotten Eve to trust him, so that she and Adam turned into God’s enemies. But the Lord God would end that relationship. He would put enmity, that is hatred, between Eve and Satan.
But this promise is not for Eve alone. The Lord continues, “and between your offspring and hers.” Now, the offspring being spoken of here doesn’t refer to her physical offspring, rather her spiritual offspring, for we know that the world has many who follow Satan, that is, those who do not trust in God. So Eve’s offspring referred to the descendants who trust Lord’s promise of the Savior – those who trust in God. And God places enmity between us and Satan’s slaves.
But how would this all be brought about? The Lord makes that clear by speaking to the first promise of a Savior. Referring to the ultimate offspring of the woman, the Lord says to Satan: “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. So, someone born from a woman would destroy Satan’s power, just like crushing a snake’s head destroys it’s power.
But in so doing this person would be wounded. Through this person the Lord’s love would crush the enemy who wants to destroy us.
And we all know who this person is. He is the eternal, almighty Son of God. He was born of a virgin and through His death and resurrection He crushed Satan’s power. Satan’s power rests in sin and Jesus paid for all sins. He paid the full price of his holy, precious blood to ransom us and set us free from Satan’s power. But in so doing, it cost him the suffering of the god-forsaken cross. It cost him his life, but on the third day He did truly did crush Satan’s head. He destroyed the devil’s power. Jesus descended into hell to show that even in Satan’s domain, Jesus had the conquering power. Jesus’ glorious resurrection appearances prove that he is the Victor. He is the Crusher. And he gives us the victory through faith in his blood. Through faith in Jesus, we can tell Satan to, “Eat dust.”
The Lord made his promise to Adam and Eve. He kept that promise. And as offspring that promise still holds true for us today. Believe it. Trust it. For you see, the Lord will not go back on his promise. He is the Lord. If you have a bible in your lap, notice that the word translated Lord is all upper case letters in these passages. In Hebrew the word translated LORD is the name for the true God, which teaches us that he is the eternal “I AM.” He does not change. He freely makes his promise. He faithfully keeps his promise. He promised that Jesus would crush Satan’s power by his death and resurrection. Believe it. Trust it. The Lord’s love crushes Satan, our enemy.
Adam and Eve trusted that He, the coming Savior, would come and do as the great I AM promised. Jesus came. He is the eternal, almighty Son of God.
He was born of a virgin and as the God-man He crushed Satan’s power.
So yea, some things may have happened to us that we had no control over, and we may have done some things in our lives that we are not too proud of, but from today forward what we choose, what we believe, what we feel, what we do with our life, is our responsibility. We can’t change the past. We can’t change what happened to us. We can’t change how we grew up. We can’t change the fact that we got laid off.
We can, however, choose to live differently in spite of our past. It’s not easy but it is possible. People do it all the time. So, fine, it may not be our fault – but that doesn’t mean it’s not our responsibility.
And besides, we have a Lord and Savior that expresses His love through unending grace.