The Consequences

Adam and Eve are now tainted with sin. They cannot live in paradise any longer. They are banished. There are consequences to our actions, but God has also set out a plan of redemption. His name is Jesus.

The Consequences ~ July 28, 2019 ~ Genesis 3:20-24

So, He cries out “What have you done?” Did they own up to it? No. Adam replies, “She gave it to me!” Points the finger. Eve replies, “The serpent gave it to me!” Everybody’s pointing fingers, nobody’s accepting responsibility. God’s reaction? In Genesis 3, beginning in verse 14, He begins to hand out the consequences of their decision making. He says to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild.”

And this is interesting. Listen to this. He says to the serpent:

“You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live.”

Now if that is a consequence, that is a punishment. That means you are giving to this creature something he didn’t have before. So, if his punishment is to crawl and grovel in the dust, that means prior to the punishment, he wasn’t crawling or groveling in the dust. So, all the paintings are really inaccurate. It’s not a snake that’s in the tree; it’s some sort of being with feet, because if you’re already groveling in the dust, punishment to grovel in the dust doesn’t make any sense. It’s like taking one of these young ones up here and saying, “From now on, you can’t eat any Brussels sprouts!” That’s not a punishment! They weren’t planning on that anyway! Neither was I.

Anyway: “You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live.” So, his punishment is he loses his feet, he’s got to slither now. It says in verse 15:

“And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

I’m going to come back to that later on in the message this morning. Remember that one.

The punishment, the consequences to the woman:

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth.”

To which Ashley can attest. But think about that. If that’s the punishment, if those are the consequences, that means prior to their decision, it wasn’t going to be painful. Birth was just going to be like, “Ah. Done! Hi! Nice to meet you!” No pain. The punishment is pain. That wasn’t the original plan. The punishment is pain.

He goes on to say:

“You will desire to control your husband…”

That’s a punishment. I’m trying not to look at anybody specifically! But think about it, if the punishment, if the consequences is a desire to control your husband, that means prior to the decision, there wasn’t a desire to control your husband. Wasn’t God’s plan. It was God’s punishment.

“…but he will rule over you.”

That’s a punishment. That wasn’t God’s plan. Originally, man and woman, husband and wife were supposed to work together, an egalitarian relationship, complimenting one another as a team. Because of the fall, there is intersquabbling – ruling over, controlling – that’s the punishment.

And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.”

So apparently, prior to the fall, prior to that decision, it was going to be pretty easy to eat. You just walk over to whatever tree – except that one! ­– and pick off it whatever you want. Very little effort.

“By the sweat of your brow, Adam, man, will you have food to eat now…”

You’re going to have to farm, you’re going to have to sow, you’re going to have to cultivate, you’re going to have to harvest. You’re going to have to work, and it’s not going to be easy. Prior to, all you had to do was harvest. God did the rest. You pick the bananas off the trees, and the pomegranates off the trees (or bushes, I don’t know what they grow on), and you just enjoyed the fruit of God’s labor. Now, you’re going to have to labor, and then here’s the big one:

“…until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
(Genesis 3:14-19)

In Pastor Adam’s language: you gonna die.

Prior to the fall, prior to that decision, Adam and Eve were meant, by God, to live forever. The consequences of their decision: Now you’re gonna die. You’re going to go back into the ground – that’s why I say at funerals, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” We return to the ground from which we came.

So, God hands out the consequences of their decision, and God’s not done. There’s more. Please join me in the unison prayer as we prepare to study the Word of God. Let us pray together the prayer.

Lord, upon the pages of this book is Your story. It is also our story. Open our eyes that we may see, our ears that we may hear, our minds that we may understand, and our hearts that they may be transformed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Then the man – Adam – named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:20-24)

So, not only do they receive all of those consequences, something else is going on. Notice in verse 21: The Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and Eve. Up to now, Adam and Eve were using fig leaves to cover their shame, to cover their skin. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to take a leaf, good-sized leaf – a maple leaf, or whatever kind of good-sized leaf you picked in the forest – have you ever tried to sew through it? I mean, it breaks. The effort, the ability to sew enough fig leaves to cover those spots that your bathing suit covers is going to take a lot of work, and it’s not going to be very efficient. But they did the best they can. They used fig leaves, which should tell us, our efforts to cover our sin will always fall short.

God, we read, made clothing from animal skins. Think about it. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it really does bear repeating. Think about that just for a moment. An animal can lay an egg (some). A chicken can lay an egg and live. A sheep can give you its wool and live. A cow can give you its milk and live. No animal can give you its hide and live. To take the skin of an animal requires the death of the animal.

So, in a place where there had never been death before – Adam and Eve had never experienced it, they’d never seen it – now all of a sudden, they pick up some animal skins. And I’m convinced, when they picked up these animal skins that God had made for them, not too far off in the distance lay the animals who gave their lives up to provide the skins so the skins could cover their sin. So, right here, in the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 3, we learn that only a blood sacrifice can fully cover sin.

Did you get that? Only a blood sacrifice can cover sin. He’s telling us this right at the beginning.

For us to deal with sin – it’s not about how hard you work at being good, because you can work all day long to try and sew some fig leaves – our efforts will always fall short. Only a blood sacrifice can cover our sin. There are those out there who just feel like, “I’ve just got to do more good things than bad!” Listen to me: Our efforts will always fall short. I’m not saying don’t do good deeds. Of course, we are supposed to do good deeds! But do not think it is connected to your salvation. It is not. Only a blood sacrifice can cover our sins.

So, that’s the first thing we learn: animal skins, a blood sacrifice covers sins. And then, Adam and Eve are banished. They’re kicked out of the house. They have to leave the Garden of Eden. Why? Because there are always consequences for our actions. Yes, there is mercy and there is grace available to us all through Jesus Christ; but that does not eliminate consequences.

A person is driving home from work one day, they’re going through their neighborhood not far from their house and decide to text. A little child’s ball rolls out into the street in between two parked cars, followed by a little child chasing it. The driver didn’t mean it. I know they didn’t mean it. God knows that too. That doesn’t change what happened. The driver made a decision and chose to text; and every decision has consequences.

There are lots of people – some people we know – in prison for good reason, because they chose to make bad decisions, because of things they have done. Let me tell you one thing about prison: In prison, there is nothing but time. Time to think. Time to meditate and consider what you have done. There’s not a lot else to do. but we have heard, have we not, of jailhouse conversions. Why? Because guys are sitting around with nothing to do, and some begin to contemplate their actions. They have nothing but time to think. On top of that, they often go to chapel. Why? Sometimes just for something to do, something to break up the monotony. That’s okay! God doesn’t care why or how you got here; He’s simply glad that you came. He’ll work with that.

In fact, you may not even know why you are here this morning. You knew it was going to be hot. You still chose, made a decision, to come. You may not have any idea. He does. There was something you needed to hear this morning. It might have been in one of the praise songs that we offered to the Lord. Maybe it was in our hymn, our summer hymn sing song, “I’ll Fly Away.” Maybe it was in the prayer that Phil offered up. Maybe it was in the Scripture reading that Caroline shared. Maybe it’s in this message, I don’t know. Maybe there is someone here this morning you were supposed to meet. I have no idea. God does. He doesn’t care why you came. He is just thrilled that you are here.

A convict doesn’t necessarily know why they showed up at chapel that particular day – break up the monotony, something to do, get out of a work detail – I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. God doesn’t care why you’re here. He’s just glad you’re here.

And it’s not just inmates who have the time to sit around and think about what they’ve done. See, on the outside, they’re always looking for that next score. They’re always planning that next job. They’re always going to that next party. There’s activity 24/7. In prison, nothing but time. We’re not all that different. Oftentimes we don’t pause long enough to consider the full ramifications of what we have thought or done. And as long as we can stay busy, we don’t tend to deal with it either.

Well, many inmates find themselves with nothing to do, nothing but time, rehashing their mistakes again and again; they understand they have messed up – that’s why they’re there in the first place. In fact, sometimes it’s overwhelming. Maybe sometimes you feel overwhelmed. Someone once said that one of the worst sensations anyone can experience is the feeling of drowning, which is why we use waterboarding for enhanced interrogation. Because although this does not permanently damage anyone, our soldiers go through this in their training so if they’re ever captured by the enemy, that they’re used to it. There’s no permanent damage done, but with the towel over the face, and the water being poured, it gives the person a sensation that they’re drowning, and it breaks them. They begin to spill their guts.

Well, lots of guys in prison, they’re there with nothing but time to relive their failures again and again. They feel kind of like they’re in this giant bathtub and the water’s rising. And it’s going past their chin, and now it’s up to their lips, and they begin to tread water to stay above it all. They are slowly drowning in their mistakes, in their choices, in their decisions. It’s not until they are in chapel that they hear – sometimes for the very first time – about a drain plug named Jesus. And when they believe in Jesus, it’s as if they have pulled the drain plug at the bottom of the tub, and all of the dirty water, all of the sin just drains away. That’s amazing. They are left exhausted from treading water, from this overwhelming burden of what I have done. But the sensation of drowning is gone, replaced by overwhelming peace. That is a jailhouse conversion. That is when an inmate has truly found Jesus and is born again. And that is incredible.

In fact, it’s the manifestation of the prodigal son story. You know the prodigal son story, where the older brother who obeyed his father and stayed out of prison was always going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He was always going to get there. But the younger brother goes off and ruins his life with a series of horrible decisions. But he realizes his error, and he returns, and what does he experience when he gets back? A father with open arms, ready and willing to welcome him, and to celebrate that he once was lost, but now he’s found. Forgiveness is his, and he too will now be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven as well. Likewise, when an inmate has truly found Jesus and is born again, there is reason to celebrate. Someone who was lost is now found. Nonetheless, this does not mean we open up the doors to the cells and let everybody out. No. There remains consequences for actions. I shared some, Caroline shared some. No matter how sorry the driver is about that child who ran into the street, consequences remain. The child is still dead.

Adam and Eve may feel remorse as well, truly. That doesn’t change the fact that they have to face the consequences of their decision. They cannot live in paradise, in heaven, any longer. They can’t. Why? Because God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all. Sin is darkness – that’s why Satan is called the Prince of Darkness. Paradise, Eden, heaven is the land of light and of joy. Darkness and sin cannot exist there. It’s not possible. When you walk into a darkened room and you turn on the light switch, what happens? Darkness flees! There’s not darkness in one part of the room and lightness in another part of the room. It’s one or the other. Darkness and light cannot exist in the same space. Righteousness and sin cannot exist in the same space. It’s not possible. So, sinners like Adam and Eve have to leave, and they are banished.

The Lord banished them from the Garden of Eden. Sinners are not allowed in heaven.

Psalm 51 clearly says that we are all born sinners from the moment our mothers conceived us. That’s a fact. What hope do we have of heaven?

Well, we are blessed. We are blessed that God loves His children. And that does not change when we sin. God disciplines us, sure, because He loves us. Any good parent does discipline their children. If you ever meet parents that do not discipline their children, I guarantee you, you will never want to babysit their children! Every good parent disciplines their children.

Yes, there are consequences for sin, but He doesn’t stop loving us. That’s why, at the very same time He is disciplining Adam and Eve, He is already setting into place a plan of redemption. His name is Jesus. Back to verse 15, when God says: “I will cause hostility between you (Satan/serpent) and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring.” Who is Satan’s offspring? Demons – people who reject the Lord. Who is Eve’s offspring? Jesus. “You will strike his heel; He will strike your head.” No one ever dies from getting struck in the heel (except for Achilles, and that was a fake story, but anyway). You will never die by getting bitten in the heel. There’s a very good likelihood you’re going to die if somebody stomps on your head. “He will strike your head.” He is Jesus. Jesus is going to overcome evil. He’s going to crush Satan’s plan. That’s who God is talking about.

In John 10, we read that Satan’s plan is to steal, kill, and destroy, and that’s what he has been doing from the beginning, and he has not stopped. He is still trying to steal your joy. He is still trying to destroy your peace. He is still trying to kill your faith. He diminishes the big things so that you will overlook them and allow them the fester, and he magnifies the little things so you will be distracted from what’s important. Satan’s been doing it since the Garden. His approach has not changed. That’s why Paul tells us to put on the armor of God, to be prepared for the attack. In order to be prepared for the attack, he writes in Ephesians 6:13:

… put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle…

– after he attacks you –

you will still be standing firm.

What’s the armor?

Stand your ground…

Stand on the ground. Don’t flee.

…putting on the belt of truth…

– tell the truth, even when it’s hard. Stand your ground, tell the truth.

… put on the body armor of God’s righteousness.

Don’t try to fight Satan with your righteousness. You’re going to lose. Fight it with God’s righteousness.

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:13-17)

This is how you defend attacks from the evil one. If we do not put on God’s armor, there are consequences. We tend to fall for Satan’s lies and his tricks and his deception. Go ahead, eat from the tree, you won’t die! Liar.

On the other hand, there are consequences as well for signing on to God’s plan. As the worship team comes back up to get ready to lead us in our final song this morning, I want to tell you about the consequences of signing onto God’s plan. If we sign onto God’s plan, the consequences are forgiveness, mercy, and life everlasting. So, if you feel like you are in your own prison of foreboding, of reliving your mistakes, you can’t get past the things you have done, this sense of drowning – your chains can be broken. Your sins can be drained away. How? Jesus told us the plan.

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.
(John 3:16)

Just believe. That’s all we’ve got to do. Believe. That is the one most important question you will ever be asked. Do you believe? Romans 10:9 says:

If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9)

Salvation for believing in Jesus and what He did for me on the cross? Yeah. And those, I believe, are consequences we can all live with forever. Let’s give God thanks and praise.