Saturday, March 13, 2010

Genesis 3:6's the anatomy of sin(s)

Genesis 3:6—another huge verse!

1.) God permitted the temptation and free will for human beings (revisited)

Dallas Willard says "We alone can stand in opposition to God—in order that we may also choose to stand with God."

Yet, individuals are also defined by their limits—and here, Eve looks to go beyond those limits. Abraham Lincoln once quipped: "If we say a tail is a leg, how many legs would a horse have? Five. No, four. No matter how many times we say a tail is a leg, it isn't..."

The applications of this to public policy—particularly those involving “paternalism”—are interesting. Although this analogy does not hold fully, it is nonetheless provocative. Here’s Rob Bass on “apple prohibition”: “the most famous story of substance abuse in the Bible. The substance was mind-altering. There was a pusher. The people involved were warned of its dangers. There were disastrous consequences for others as well. Their situation was under the direct control of God. If there was a case for prohibition, this was it. Infinite Wisdom could determine what to prohibit; Infinite Power could provide enforcement. Yet, God refrained. It is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Every argument from within the Judeo-Christian tradition for legal prohibition runs up against this rock: that it is an attempt to second-guess Infinite Wisdom. It is not just an attempt to substitute our judgment for our neighbor’s, but an attempt to substitute our judgment for God’s”

2.) Eve's steps: looked (saw), took, ate, gave some to Adam

a.) "seeing": Eve sees that it’s “good for food” (necessity); “pleasing to the eye” (aesthetics); and “desirable for gaining wisdom” (enlightenment). All of these are good in their proper context and timing. It’s just that pesky prohibition which gets in the way. As Leon Kass puts it: “The woman’s desire grows on its own, partially enticed by the serpent’s promise of wisdom, mostly fueled by her own newly empowered imagination…” (See: I Jn 2:16, Jas 1:13-15.)

b.) “taking” the fruit: Ironically, this is a violation of 3:3’s legalism about not “touching”! And it’s an 8th Commandment-to-be violation of God’s property rights. You’re stealing God’s stuff?! Not smart!

c.) “eating” the fruit: This ratifies the choice—an everyday activity that usually sustains, but here, destroys.

d.) implicating Adam: Sin is not usually satisfied to remain alone. It’s also interesting that God’s presence is not enough for either of them; we are built for communion with God and others.

3.) How to avoid this:

-realize temptation is not sin (I Cor 10:13)

-define sin properly (3:3)

-question assumptions of the World

-recognize that sin occurs when we exaggerate benefits and downplay costs; look for all the costs and honestly evaluate benefits

-focus on innumerable blessings vs. forbidden fruit

-know God well; don't believe doubts about God's goodness

-know God’s word well (Mt 4 vs. Gen 3)

-go to God and others; ask for input/help in “handling the snake”

-flee when necessary (incl. "don't look")

-"just say no" (Jas 4:7)...and yes (Gal 5:16, II Tim 2:22, Heb 12:1-3)

4.) who committed the first sin—and what was it?

Adam is typically blamed for “original sin”. (See: Rom 5:12-19, I Cor 15:22; and who does God come looking for in Gen 3:9? I Tim 2:11-14 is a possible counter-example, but there, Paul points to “deception” [rather than sin] and the context seems to narrow the application quite a bit.)

One possibility is Adam’s bad teaching—by omission or commission (Gen 3:3). Or perhaps it’s Adam eating the apple at all—given his greater knowledge, accountability, and call to leadership. Eve yielded to a supernatural being; Adam merely gives in to peer pressure.

The strongest explanation is Adam’s sin of omission: he was just standing there in Gen 3:6. Specifically, his silence with the serpent and with Eve was deadly. More broadly, this speaks to his failure to provide proper leadership within the home (Eph 5:25). In Gen 1, God speaks and turns darkness and chaos into light, order, and beauty. In Gen 3, Adam is silent and the events reverse.


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