Every child who’s been to sunday school, and many adults even today will be able to tell you that the first sin was when Eve took the apple and ate it! Simple … but, er, wrong!
The eating of the apple was in fact the third sin committed in God’s perfect creation.
And so the thunderous clamour of the multitudes cries out “What then, pray tell, were the first two?”, followed by a collective “hmmmm?”
Ok, since you all asked so nicely, I’ll tell you!
The account of the fall of mankind is found in Genesis 3. But before we get there we need to just remind ourselves of what leads us to the story of the fall. Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 is the story of the creation of the universe from a BIG scale perspective. It includes stories of the creation of light and darkness, stars, sun moon and plents, the oceans and so on. It’s big stuff.
Then in Genesis 2:5 and onwards we read about creation again, but this time from a human perspective.
Genesis 2:7 says “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” NKJV
Man is the only part of God’s creation in into which we see God breath the breath of life. It sets man apart from everything else, and goes along with the factoid that we are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27).
We are special. We are not animals. We are not just evolved organic matter. We are purposefully and wonderfully made, and set apart from all other parts of God’s created wonder by virtue of the fact that we are made in His image and we carry within us the ‘breath of life’. Just what the ‘breath of life’ is will have to wait for another day – suffice it to say, it’s special!
God takes this special creation, this man and this woman, and he places them in the Garden of Eden. Actually, to be politically incorrect but Biblically accurate – He doesn’t take the man and the woman to the garden of Eden, He in fact just takes the man, for He still hasn’t created the woman. It’s a minor point but one I would like those who wish to write gender differences out of the Bible to remember. They seem to be important to God for some reason, and I think we forget them at our peril.
Anyway, in the Garden of Eden we now find Adam, alone, and God says this to him:
Gen 2:!5-17 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” (HCSB)
Notice those first words (at least how they’re written in the Holman Christian Standard Bible) …YOU ARE FREE…
“You are free” God says to the man He has made special and unique. “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden”. That’s our God right there – the God of abundant blessing and love, the God of permission to live and enjoy life, the God of freedom and excitement, the God of sending us out on an adventure into the wonderful land He’s created. But … God calls out to the man and says ” Hang on! There’s one thing you need to know – the trees in the middle of the garden aren’t for eating. Please don’t touch their fruit because if you do you’ll die. Trust me – look at the awesome creation I’ve made for you to enjoy freely and joyously. Just be careful not to take the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I love you, don’t do it!”
So the world’s first man is content with God’s word and stays well away from the tree, enjoying instead the fullness of everything else God has made for him. And God then makes a companion for the man from the man’s side, not the dirt of the ground this time. And together they will enjoy this adventure of discovery and freedom to live life to the full in a perfect relationship with each other and with God their creator.
But along comes the serpent who cuts their adventuring into God’s freedom somewhat short!. There is of course a whole debate to be had over the nature of the serpent. Is it Satan? Is it just some part of God’s creation? Did God make this creature originally in a state of sinfulness? For now, let’s just say that this creature, the serpent, is indeed the Satan of the rest of the Bible.
Remember that God has told Adam that he is free to eat from ANY tree in the garden … except the tree that is in the middle of the garden. Following this instruction from God teh serpent comes forward and says to the woman:
Gen 3:1 “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden”
To which the answer is of course “no!”. The answer is ‘no’ because the question is formed as a lie. The serpent has asked a question, but has done so by making a statement about God, a statement which says “God told you you can’t eat ANYTHING!”. The total opposite of the truth. God really said “You can eat EVERYTHING … but this one thing!”.
The first sin, ladies and geneltmen, was not the taking of the fruit … but the lies the serpant told about God. You can look at it from different angles and explain it in different ways:
- The Serpant cast doubt about God’s truth into Eve’s mind
- The Serpant told a straight forward lie
- The Serpant led Adam and Eve away from God
- The Serpant blasphemed by talking about God in a negative way
Anyway you look at it, the first sin is all down to the Serpant.
Unless of course you want to say that the first sin should be the first human sin. If you want to say that, which would be fair enough, then you need to still look to what happened before the apple is ever taken from the tree.
As the Serpant speaks, Eve listens. She listens to the lies the Serpant tells about God. She might be somewhat confused by the odd question she’s confronted with “Did God say you can’t eat from ANY tree?”, and she scratches her head thinking that’s the opposite of what she knows about God, but she responds politely correcting the Serpants mistake. But then the Serpant continues with his lies and Eve continues to listen. At some point she makes a choice. She makes a choice to believe the Serpant’s lies over God’s truth. It’s that choice which is the first human sin – a choice to disbelieve God. That sin has consequences, and in this case the consequences are that she reaches out her hand and picks the fruit she’s been told by God not to eat. The third sin (or second if you’re only counting human sins).
And from there on in … it’s all down hill!
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