11 Aug Quarter One Lesson Three
What is sin?
We have studied the first two chapters of the Bible together, learning Who God is and who man is. We saw that God made the first man and the first woman (who were named Adam and Eve) and put them in the garden to work it. We then saw that God told them that they could eat from any tree in the garden except one. This was the only commandment He gave them.
Let’s continue our study today as we turn the page to Genesis chapter 3. Please read the passage below and answer the questions:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)
Question 1. According to Genesis 3:6 what did the woman think of the tree? How did she see it?
Yes, Eve saw that the tree was “good for food”, a “delight to the eyes”, and “desirable to make one wise.” This was the same tree about which God had said, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17 (ESV)
This is actually a very familiar story, to which anyone with children can attest. I remember an experience I had with my first child. She was four at the time, and she saw some Oreo cookies sitting on the counter. She asked me if she could have one and I said, “No, wait until after dinner and then you can have one.” I went upstairs to do some work for a few minutes, and when I came back downstairs I saw my daughter hiding behind a chair, her face covered with Oreo cookie crumbs. Apparently the sight of those cookies sitting there on the counter was too much for her to handle.
The same was true of Eve. As she listened to the serpent and looked at the beautiful fruit, she disregarded God’s command and chose to eat of the forbidden tree. The Bible has assigned a name to this behavior of disobedience, calling it “sin.”
Question 2. Do you currently view yourself as someone who has sinned? Please explain:
In answering the above question many people might say, “No, I have not sinned, I am not a sinner.” Most of the time they are comparing themselves to other people—people who have committed murder or theft, or who have in some way hurt other people through wrong actions.
But the Bible has a broader definition of sin, one that actually makes every human ever born a sinner. This is because every human has broken God’s law. Just like Adam and Eve, each one of us has disobeyed God.
We must understand that God made a law. He gave that Law to a man by the name of Moses on a mountain called “Mt. Sinai” (Exodus 20), and that Law could be summarized like this:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (ESV)
All of God’s commandments to His people can be summarized by the above two statements. Love God and love our neighbor. That is the summary of all of God’s requirements for us.
But nobody has loved God perfectly, without one slip, nor has anyone ever loved his neighbor perfectly, without one slip.
The reality is, maybe we have not even believed in God up until now, so how could we love Him, since we do not know Him? And yet that is what He requires of every person He has created. We must love Him perfectly, and we must love our fellow humans perfectly, or we have sinned.
So this means then that we all have sinned. This is indeed what the Bible teaches:
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. Romans 3:9-11 (ESV)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (ESV)
Question 3. Given this biblical definition of sin can you see why all people are sinners and have fallen short of God’s requirements for His people? What are your thoughts?
Sin is not merely failing to love God and love people. We have to understand that all human beings are actually sinners from birth, according to the Bible. This is true because we have inherited a sin nature from our parents, who got it from their parents, who got it from their parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve. In other words, sin came into this world through one man, Adam, and every human being born since Adam is now a sinner from birth, since we have the same sin nature that Adam had.
Notice how the Bible teaches this truth:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— Romans 5:12 (ESV)
Question 4. According to Romans 5:12 above, how did sin come into this world? What punishment does sin bring with it?
Do you remember when we read that Adam had a son that was born in his image, in his own likeness? (Genesis 5:3). This “image” and “likeness” means more than just that Seth, Adam’s son, looked like Adam. It means that he also had Adam’s nature.
Likewise, we too are born with Adam’s sin nature. This means that we are born with the desire to do wrong, with a nature that is attracted to sin. We are born sinners.
When my twin girls were very young one of them did something to prove this point. I was holding her on my lap at the table and she was pulling at my watch, like she wanted it. She kept pulling at it, very focused on getting it. Finally, when she had tried and tried but couldn’t get it, she slapped my arm and began to cry. That was cute because she was under two years old, but that’s the same behavior that would make an adult hit me in the chin to knock me out, then take my watch and walk away. It’s this sin nature that we are all born with that evidences itself in all kinds of selfish behavior.
David understood this truth, and he wrote: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5 (NIV)
It’s hard to comprehend that the sweet little newborn baby, being rocked in its mother’s arms, is a little sinner. They are so sweet and precious, so endearing to the heart of parents. Yet the truth is that the little baby is born selfish, putting its needs ahead of the parents or siblings, and demanding to be cared for on its own time frame.
Let’s return now to Genesis chapter 3, and let’s notice what else happened when our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned:
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:7-10 (NIV)
Question 5. According to Genesis 3:7-10 above, what did Adam and Eve try to do when they realized God had found them out?
We can see that this situation is the first attempt at a “cover up”. Adam and Eve realized they were naked; that is, they were exposed to God and the punishment He had promised if they sinned, so they tried to cover up their nakedness by sewing fig leaves together. Sin brings with it a feeling of exposure, as if we were completely naked and exposed to judgment and to punishment.
And this is the actual condition of all mankind. Notice what another writer of the New Testament said about this:
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)
Notice what Adam and Eve did next: Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 (NIV)
Question 6. According to Genesis 3:8, what did Adam and Eve try to do when they heard God walking in the garden?
Now Adam and Eve are not only trying to cover up but also trying to hide from God. Sin causes us to want to run and hide, to cover up our wrongs, to pretend like it didn’t happen.
And notice one more effect of sin: But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV)
Question 7. According to Genesis 3:9-10, what one word did Adam repeat over and over?
Yes, Adam repeated the word “I” over and over. This is the first time Adam used that word, and he used it four times in one sentence. “I, I, I, I”. Sin and disobedience cause us to be self-centered, self-protective, self-absorbed.
Let’s notice the next result of sin: And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:11-13 (NIV)
Question 8. According to Genesis 3:11-13, how do both Adam and Eve respond when God asked them if they had done wrong? Can you think of a word that we use today to describe this kind of behavior?
We notice that Adam blamed Eve (and God), and Eve blamed the serpent. And yet Adam and Eve are the ones that disobeyed. This is called blame shifting. This passage of Scripture is where we get the famous saying “the devil made me do it”.
Blame shifting is when we refuse to acknowledge any wrong on our parts, refuse to admit that we are sinners, but instead shift the blame to someone else—the devil, our spouse, God. Or maybe we do admit that we did wrong, but we still blame someone else for it. For example, “If you had not made me mad then I would not have hit you.” Blame shifting is not an effective defense.
And so let’s make a summary of this lesson and what we’ve seen so far:
God gave Adam and Eve the right to eat from any tree in the garden except one. God said that when they ate of the forbidden tree then they would die. Adam and Eve did eat of the forbidden tree, and their act of disobedience is called “sin.” Adam and Eve then tried to cover themselves up as they felt naked and exposed to God’s judgment and the punishment He promised if they ate of the forbidden tree.
We also saw that their disobedience caused them to react in specific ways: they tried to cover up, they ran and hid from God, and they blame-shifted.
We also saw that we are all born sinners. We inherited a sin-nature so that we, too, are attracted to doing wrong, and to choosing our own path rather than obeying God.
Question 9. What was the punishment that God said would happen to Adam and Eve if they ate from the tree about which God commanded them not to eat?
Yes, let’s remind ourselves of what God said about what would happen if they ate of the forbidden tree:
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)
So at this point in the story it is no wonder that Adam and Eve tried to cover up and hide and blame shift. They were fully aware of what their actions meant: they were as good as dead. They must have been quaking in their fig leaves, totally afraid of God.
And this is the exact condition of all mankind today. We are all sinners, by birth and by practice, and we are all under the death sentence, as God has already told us “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We are in the exact same situation as Adam and Eve.
But wait! Something amazing is about to happen!
God began telling Adam and Eve (and the serpent) of things that would happen to them because of their sin. The serpent would crawl instead of fly (Genesis 3:14-15); Eve and all women would have pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16); the earth would be cursed and bring forth thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17-18); Adam would now have to work by the sweat of His face (Genesis 3:19); and they would have to leave the garden (Genesis 3:22-24).
But what about their death? Just look at this next verse:
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 (NIV)
Dear friend, this is called grace. Adam and Eve deserved death, yet God did not put them to death; instead, He clothed them, covered them with garments of skin.
Our next lessons are going to explain what good news this must have been to Adam and Eve, how amazing this must have been for them. And then we will discover that God did something similar, only far better, for you and me. It’s called the gospel, and it is absolutely amazing and life-changing.
Question 10. Please share your thoughts about God clothing Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal, instead of putting them to death. Do you have any other thoughts or questions about this lesson?