Fall- 3 PARADISE LOST SERIES MESSAGE # 3 “THE FOUR SPIRITUAL FLAWS”
This morning each of us present in this room is fallen. That means we live with the tragic results of the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Look with me into the garden, Eden’s delight, where death, pain, sorrow and decay all find their corrupt and slimy birth from the whisper of a dragon, the devil of old, our adversary, Satan. • God pronounced the curse that would stalk the covenant for all time: • Eve was tempted and Adam fell, but the seed was promised to crush the serpent. • Abel was murdered, Cain was marked and the race was drowned because it was beyond hope, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. • The world united in religion against God so at Babel he confounded the languages, but He chose Abraham and the struggle intensified. • The 12 tribes were corrupted and the true worship apostatized and God was silent for 400 years. • The Promised Seed was born and the babies were murdered. • The Christ was tempted in person by the dragon slanderer and murderous liar, but Jesus was triumphant. • His ministry was dogged with false accusations and death threats, but He did not look away. • Gethsemane was like a second Garden of Eden. The snake dripped venom again and the Savior sweat blood. But, he didn’t turn back.
And then, on Calvary’s Hill, He died…at last did Satan, the murderer, win? Was the Promised Seed done, the covenant over?
NO, HE’S ALIVE!
A few years back a segment of television’s “60 Minutes” aired in which host Mike Wallace interviewed Auschwitz survivor Yehiel Dinur, who had been a principal witness at the Nuremberg war-crime trials. During the interview, a film clip from Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial was viewed which showed Dinur enter the courtroom and come face to face with Eichmann for the first time since being sent to Auschwitz almost twenty years earlier. Stopped cold, Dinur began to sob uncontrollably and then fainted while the presiding judge pounded his gavel for order. “Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories?” asked Wallace. Dinur answers:
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No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “I saw that I am capable to do this. I am … exactly like he.” Wallace’s subsequent summation of Dinur’s terrible discovery—“Eichmann is in all of us”—is a horrifying statement; but it indeed captures the central truth about man’s nature. For as a result of the fall, sin is in each of us—not just the susceptibility to sin, but sin itself.
It was not the horror of the man Eichmann that smote Dinur, but the horrible revelation of self and the predicament of mankind that made him faint. Eichmann is in all of us, because all of us are in Adam. This is proven by our susceptibility to temptation. ü We are tempted by theft because we are thieves, even though we may not in fact steal. ü We are tempted to kill because we are murderers, even if we do not literally slay our brother. ü We are tempted to adultery because we are adulterers, even though we may not commit adultery.
James says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13, 14). The fact that we are tempted proves that we are prone to evil—and it is terrible. Eichmann is in1 all of us. A better way to say that would be our father the devil is showing up in every person born on this planet.
In a very real way each of us have within us the four basic spiritual flaws that Satan caused to come upon Adam and Eve. Jesus explained it this way in John 8:44 (NAS) “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.
Each of us are born into this world just like our father the devil. That is the terrible reality of our depravity. We are sinners by nature, by choice and by divine decree. Only Jesus and the divine transformation of the new birth can change all that.
SATAN DOESN’T WANT YOU 1 Hughes, R. Kent, Preaching the Word: Mark—Jesus, Servant and Savior, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books) 1997
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TO LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD TODAY
Satan is in an all out attack to make you and me doubt, reject and become deafened to the voice of Jesus. We are not listening to the voice of Jesus when we think wrongly about God! Will you listen to that voice? Adam and Eve chose to not listen to God.
Instead of following God obediently in Paradise, Adam and Eve disobeyed, fell into sin, and Paradise was lost. As a side note for you American History buffs, an amazing fact is that the first words printed in America were in the New England Primer. The first page opens with “In Adams Fall We Sinned All”.
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;3 “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” NKJV
Remember last week we saw that Isaiah 14:12–14 confirms that it was indeed pride that caused Satan’s downfall:
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Acting idependently from God is pride. Living our way is pride. Doing things the way I want to is pride. Why? Because the first sin was pride, and every sin after that has been in some way an extension of pride. Pride led the angel Lucifer to exalt himself above his Creator and Lord. Because the bright “star of the morning” continually said, “I will, I will, I will” in opposition to God’s will, he was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12–23). Because he said, “I am a god,” the Lord cast him “from the mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:11–19).
So the original sin of Adam and Eve was pride, trusting in their own understanding above God’s (Gen. 3:6–7). The writer of Proverbs warns, “When pride comes, then comes dishonor” (11:2), “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (16:18), and again “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin” (21:4).
Every day we face pride. It is the supreme temptation from Satan, because pride is at the heart of his own evil nature. Consequently, Satan makes sure that the Christian is never entirely free from the temptation of pride. We will always be in
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a battle with pride until the Lord takes us to be with Himself. Our only protection against pride, and our only source of humility, is a proper view of God.
Pride is the sin of competing with God, and humility is the virtue of submitting to His supreme glory.
Satan has disguised his wicked way of pride quite well. Pride comes dressed in many wrappers. ü We may be tempted to be self-centered in our feelings. This comes in the actions of being hurt, aloof, divisive, arrogant, resentful, bitter. ü We may be self-seeking in our living. This comes in the attitudes of: pride in our abilities, pride in our possessions, pride in our education, pride in our social status, pride in our appearance, pride in our power, and even our biblical knowledge or religious accomplishments.
But throughout Scripture the Lord calls His people to humility. “Before honor comes humility” (Prov. 15:33); “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (22:4); “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (27:2).
THE KEY TO GOD’S BLESSING: HUMILITY
God has designed humility as the ingredient in all spiritual blessing. Just as God warns that every sin has its roots in pride, God exhorts that every virtue has its roots in humility. Humility is liberating because in it we can see ourselves as we are, because it shows us our life in the sight of God as He is.
Pride always provokes every conflict we have with other people. Pride breaks our communion and hinders our fellowship with the Lord.
Humility promotes every harmonious human relationship, humility nurtures every spiritual success, and humility produces every moment of joyous fellowship with the Lord.
Now back to Genesis 3. This is the crash site. As we sift through these verses and piece together the remains of the fall we can see just what lies Satan told. And, we can see if those lies or spiritual flaws are present and harming us today. SATAN’S FOUR LIES GENESIS 3
ü DOUBT GOD’S WORD v. 1a “Has God indeed said”. What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Word. Satan wants us to believe that God’s Word is just like any other
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book. It is nice, helpful, but not absolute. He wants us to question God’s Word, avoid God’s Word, neglect God’s Word or whatever else it takes to get us out of regular contact with the Lord. ü DOUBT GOD’S GOODNESS v. 1b “‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Goodness. Satan wants us to believe is that God is trying to hold out on us, He is robbing us of some good times, He is out of touch with our needs, He missed that disaster we just went through, He messed up on how He made us, He means well but doesn’t quite have everything under control. This is a direct attack on the character of God. One of the great truths about our God is the moral attribute of God we know as His GOODNESS. ü DOUBT GOD’S AUTHORITY v. 4 “You will not surely die”. What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Authority. Satan wants us to believe is that God is not in charge – we are in charge; God isn’t interested in our choices – are in charge; God will not make us accountable for our deeds – we are in charge. ü DOUBT GOD’S PLAN v. 5 “your eyes will be opened” What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Plan. Satan wants us to believe is that there is a better way to immortality, an easier way to glory, a quicker way to happiness. Again this is an attack upon the very Word of God. God’s Word is sufficient. That is one of the characteristics God has given us about His Word. What the sufficiency of the Word means is “that everything God wants to tell us about how we should think about a particular doctrinal issue or to do in a particular situation is to be found in Scripture.”2 So God has a wonderful and perfect plan revealed in His Word. Every time we open His Word we can hear His plan. The question is not does God speak, it is do we listen?
Now, lets examine each of these lies closely. Each one, as all sin, is a direct attack upon the character of God. 1. DOUBT GOD’S WORD v. 1a “Has God indeed said”. What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Word. Satan wants us to believe that God’s Word is just like any other book. It is nice, helpful, but not absolute. He wants us to: ü QUESTION God’s Word, ü AVOID God’s Word, ü NEGLECT God’s Word or whatever else it takes to get us out of regular contact with the Lord.
Let me ask you this morning, is Satan’s flaw showing up in your life this week? Are you doubting that God’s Word is more important than even eating? Jeremiah said in 15:16 Thy words were found and I ate them, And
2 Grudem, p. 130-31.
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Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
2. DOUBT GOD’S GOODNESS v. 1b “‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Goodness. Satan wants us to believe is that God is trying to hold out on us, He is robbing us of some good times, He is out of touch with our needs, He missed that disaster we just went through, He messed up on how He made us, He means well but doesn’t quite have everything under control. This is a direct attack on the character of God. One of the great truths about our God is the moral attribute of God we know as His GOODNESS. Let me define that for you. “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and all that God is and does is worthy of approval.”3
ü Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! ü Psalm 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. ü Psalm 119:68 Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes. ü Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! ü Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? ü 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ü Hebrews 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. ü James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.
Thus in theological terms we can say: God’s mercy is His goodness toward those in distress; God’s grace is His goodness toward those who deserve only punishment; and God’s patience is His goodness toward those who continue to sin over a period of time.
So we all have an Adam-solidarity. We all are in the same boat. John Donne, a great poetic mind and a Biblical mind, spoke of our solidarity this way: 3 Grudem, Systematic, p. 197.
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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.4
Our Response5? Appreciate the goodness of God. Count your blessings. Learn not to take natural benefits, endowments and pleasures for granted; learn to thank God for them all. Do not slight the Bible, or the gospel of Jesus Christ, by an attitude of casualness toward either. The Bible shows you a Savior who suffered and died in order that we sinners might be reconciled to God; Calvary is the measure of the goodness of God; lay it to heart. Ask yourself the psalmist’s question—“How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?” Seek grace to give his answer—“I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. . . . O LORD, truly I am your servant; . . . I will fulfill my vows to the LORD” (Ps 116:12–18).
3. DOUBT GOD’S AUTHORITY v. 4 “You will not surely die”. What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Authority. Satan wants us to believe is that God is not in charge – we are in charge; God isn’t interested in our choices – are in charge; God will not make us accountable for our deeds – we are in charge.
The religion of works righteousness was begun with Satan’s rebellion against God. As Lucifer, the highest of the angels, he attempted to usurp God’s throne and glory by his own creaturely efforts (see Isa. 14:12-15; Luke 10:18). It was with the lure of self-effort that he tempted Eve, and indirectly Adam, to eat the forbidden fruit, deceiving them into thinking that by self-willed disobedience they could wrest divinity for themselves (Gen. 3:1-7). It was the same lure of self-willed effort that prompted Cain to offer his own kind of sacrifice to the Lord and to offer it in presumption rather than faith (4:3-7). In each case God rejected and condemned the selfwilled efforts of His creatures. He cast Satan out of heaven, cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden, and refused to accept the faithless sacrifice of Cain.
ALL RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD APPEAL TO SELF-EFFORT
ü If one carefully studies the various religions and cults of the world, he will soon discover that, without exception, they are founded on some form of human effort and works righteousness. And without exception, all religions 4 Hughes, R. Kent, Preaching the Word: Romans—Righteousness From Heaven, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books) 1997. 5 J. I. Packer, Knowing God—20th Anniversary Edition, (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press) 1993.
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and cults that deal with the supernatural trace their origins to angels, extraterrestrial creatures, or other spirit beings. For example, the angel Moroni is said to have presented the Book of Mormon on golden plates to Joseph Smith; the angel Gabriel supposedly dictated the Koran to Muhammad; and it was on supposed angelic revelations to Mrs. Herbert Armstrong that Armstrongism (the Worldwide Church of God) was founded. In addition to that, every human religion and cult denies the Trinity, denies the sole divinity of Jesus among men, and denies His unique and complete sacrificial atonement for6 man’s sin.
4. DOUBT GOD’S PLAN v. 5 “your eyes will be opened” What Satan wants is for us to DOUBT GOD. We doubt God when we doubt His Plan. Satan wants us to believe is that there is a better way to immortality, an easier way to glory, a quicker way to happiness. Again this is an attack upon the very Word of God. God’s Word is sufficient. That is one of the characteristics God has given us about His Word. What the sufficiency of the Word means is “that everything God wants to tell us about how we should think about a particular doctrinal issue or to do in a particular situation is to be found in Scripture.”7 So God has a wonderful and perfect plan revealed in His Word. Every time we open His Word we can hear His plan. The question is not does God speak, it is do we listen?
WE MUST LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD
GOD has FOUR truths that destroy Satan’s 4 lies. We would do well to heed God’s Word:
1. TRUST His Word. Psalm 119:89 Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. NKJV 2. REST in His Goodness Psalm 73:1Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. NKJV 3. SUBMIT to His Authority. James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. NKJV 4. FOLLOW His Plan Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. NKJV
6 MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983. 7 Grudem, p. 130-31.