Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 5 2019 - Genesis 3:1-7 – The anatomy of sin

The man and the woman had been given a paradise garden to live in and to enjoy. There were countless varieties of fruits to eat and sights to see. There was just one thing that was forbidden them; they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We do not really know why they were told not to eat this fruit, though many have suggested that this was to act as a test of their obedience. Were they prepared to enter gladly into the enjoyment of what God had given or would they be dissatisfied and want the one thing he had withheld?

The man and the woman had been given dominion over every living thing. Yet the Tempter appeared to them in the form of a serpent, one of the creatures over whom they were to exercise god-like rule. But now everything is turned upside down; the serpent exerts his dominion over the woman and the woman leads the man in disobedience to God.

The Tempter suggests that God had been unreasonable and ungenerous. Why should this particular fruit be forbidden them? See how good it appears. Why don't you just pick it and feel it and smell it. Why not take a bite, surely a little taste would do no harm. Indeed, it will do you good; you will know what it is like and you will demonstrate that you are capable of making your own decisions rather than taking orders from someone else. Go on, give it a try. And while you're at it, give some to your husband – you don't want to take this step on your own.

Did you notice the Tempter's lie? "You will be like God", he says. Yet they have been created in the image of God; God has already made them to be like him. Turning their backs on him cannot secure this privilege, it can only lead to loss.

So effective is this toxic seed of discontent that it is sown again and again by the Tempter. It is vital that we are not ignorant of his tactics. He comes often to us with the suggestion that God has treated us badly: he has deprived us of the things that should have been ours; he has forbidden things that would bring us pleasure. We need to cut the apron strings of dependency and grow up. It's about time we set our own course in life – humanity needs to "come of age". Reach out and grab the things you want and to hell with the consequences.

James the Lord's brother talks of the way that sin gains its foothold within us: "Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15). You can see this happening in the passage that we have read this morning and, sadly, you can see it happening in our own lives and the lives of people around us today.

We need to learn to recognise the voice of the Tempter who uses his age-old tactics to stir up discontentment with God. We need to refuse to listen to his deadly lies.

Loving Father, help me to see clearly the wealth of good things that you in love have lavished upon me. Help me to recognise the source of resentful and angry feelings and refuse to entertain them. Enable me to send them and the Tempter packing. You gave your Son for us; will you not with him freely give us all things? May I always trust you and never doubt your unfailing goodness. Teach me the happy secret of contentment.

Peter Misselbrook