The whole of the Bible rests on this chapter; if the events in it had not happened, there would not be any need for people to be redeemed; and God’s redemption plan is the subject of the remainder of the Bible.
This is the first we hear about the devil. All biblical references to the devil are clear that the devil is a spiritual being, he is not an evil force but is a real creature (as untrendy as that belief is), the Bible is quite clear. To not accept that the devil is real lays a person wide open to deception – if you don’t believe he’s real you won’t be watchful and won’t see him coming! It’s the ultimate disguise, by making those who accept the existence of the devil seem ridiculous, and by promoting a widespread rejection of the biblical doctrine, the devil gets free rein to cause as much havoc as he can.
One of the devil’s favoured weapons is truth; not pure truth, but truth with lies mixed in. That’s why in Ephesians 6 Paul talks about the necessity of putting on spiritual armour. We need to be prepared. We also need to know and remember what God has told us (that’s what the Bible’s for). When the devil was tempting Eve he was successful because she only knew ‘roughly’ what God said and so the devil was able to twist God’s words without her noticing. Because this is so highly successful, the devil does exactly the same today, to tremendous effect. We need to be so careful! If we don’t know God’s word, it is very easy to misquote it, change it, add to it or subtract from it (serious stuff according to Deuteronomy 4:2 as it can lead to us and others going astray), it can also lead to us doubting God.
It’s interesting that the devil got at Eve when she was alone. Just as lions and other predators will single out the weakest member in a bunch to prey on, so does the devil. In fact the Bible tells us as much: ‘Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,’ (I Peter 5:8 NASB). That’s exactly how it works. Adam is equally at fault here; God told him about the different trees in the garden, he needed to ensure that Eve understood, and he should have protected her, but instead of that, he blamed her when they got into trouble. This is what the church is for. If we meet together as they did in the New Testament, we will know each other, support each, and disciple each other, ensuring that no one falls away. In larger churches where it’s easy to be anonymous, this is impossible.
What the devil promised Eve was that she and her husband could become like gods if they ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is something people have fallen for throughout the ages, whether through Mormonism, the New Age, or even some of the pagan and Gnostic religions. People like to think they are above others, in today’s celebrity culture young people are growing up in the belief that the worst possible fate is to be ordinary.
By knowing God’s word we won’t be fooled. Jesus warned: ‘For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold I have told you in advance,’ (Matthew 24:24-5 NASB). In days like these when very few mainstream churches take seriously their responsibility to disciple believers, it must fall on believers to ensure they are not led astray by erroneous teachings or wilful deception.
So why was Adam blamed for introducing sin into the world? Not only did he allow his wife to be deceived, but also, when he ate the fruit he did so in full knowledge that he was wilfully disobeying God. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the devil, but the devil can’t force us to do anything, he can only try to persuade us. The choice ultimately is our own.
The presence of sin destroys our relationship with God. Instead of the previous companionship Adam enjoyed with God, he becomes terrified of him and even tries to hide.
That Adam and Eve perceive their nakedness is interesting. Nakedness is connected in the Bible with drunkenness (Genesis 9:20-23) idolatry (Exodus 32:35) and demon possession (Luke 8:26-39). The opposite is to be clothed with righteousness which is still to be fulfilled and is mentioned in Revelation 3:4-5.
Adam and Eve attempt to cover their nakedness with fig leaves (which is laughable given the shape of fig leaves). However, God deals with their nakedness in an interesting way. He could have knocked out a couple of heavenly dressing gowns, but instead he challenges Adam asking where he is. God knows where Adam is, but wants Adam to face up to what he’s done. He later made clothes for them to cover their nakedness; he made them out of animal skins. What’s the significance? As Paul says later (Romans 6:23). The wages of sin is death. The first sin is followed by the first death. An animal is killed (could be a lamb) to cover the nakedness caused by human sin. Later Jesus came and died for all sins for all time so that all who accept it can be saved. The Garden of Eden then saw the first sacrifice which was to foreshadow one which would occur millennia later but which had been planned before the beginning of time. This sacrifice would change the world forever.
God cursed the devil and he cursed the earth. This is the chapter which contains what is known as the protevangelium, the first gospel, which promises a redeemer that will save humanity and conquer the devil (3:15). This was significant for Eve because she was forgiven, the redeemer would be descended from her, a woman would have a significant role in bringing forth the redeemer, even though now she would be subject to her husband, and childbirth would be a lot harder and more painful.
Adam would now have to work for survival. Work would now be hard labour, not the pleasant activity in Eden. Sweat is a symbol of earthly labour. For this reason when garments were made for God’s priests no wool was to be used in case this made the priest sweat while he was about his duties, as this would be unclean.
Adam and Eve were driven away from Eden. The way to the Tree of Life was now closed to them. This way will be reopened by Jesus Christ (Revelation 22:1-2, 14).
With thanks to my spiritual uncles: Uncle Warren Wiersbe, Uncle Chuck Missler, Uncle Matthew Henry, Uncle Jacob Prasch and Uncle Arnold Fruchtenbaum.