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When Everything Went Horribly Wrong

December 3, 2023

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: Genesis 3


Cornelius Plantinga’s Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (1995), he opens a chapter talking talking about the movie The Grand Canyon. He writes (p. 7)...

Danny Glover to Kevin Kline, “The world ain’t supposed to work like this...”

But it does, doesn’t it?

  • Our bodies “ain’t supposed to work like this”—genetic and viral sickness
  • Our mind “ain’t supposed to work like this”—evil thoughts, the feeling of uncontrollable thoughts...
  • Our relationships “ain’t supposed to work like this”—marriages, siblings, parents and children, friends—we “bite and devour” where we should love and serve.
  • Our governments “ain’t supposed to work like this”—Governments make running a Christian organization hard and they make abortions easy.

Everywhere we turn, we’re struck with this. That feeling. And that feeling is 100% true.

This morning we’ll look at the source of the problem. And the ultimate solution.

Our series in Genesis: Right from the Start. We’ve talked about things being right at the start, until they went horribly wrong. Today is when we talk about that moment when everything went horribly wrong.


  1. The Covenant of Works
  2. The Fall
  3. The Results.

I. The Covenant of Works (Gen 2:16–17)

Before we turn to chapter 3, we need to set the stage a bit. We need to look at a couple verses in Genesis 2 we haven’t talked about much.

Here is where we find what’s called “the covenant of works.”

Look at Genesis 2:16–17:

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.” (Gen 2:16-17)

  • God says a lot here in a few words.
  • God defines here how the man is torelate to God: God is entering into a new relationship with Adam. Adam and God are the two parties in this agreement. God is speaking as the King with absolute authority. And Adam is being obligated to obey. God here is the King and Judge and Lawgiver.
  • God defines here what will lead tocursing: Disobedience will bring disaster. Disobedience will bring death: “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
  • By assumption, God also defines what will lead to blessing: In obedience the man will find blessing. One tree in the garden he can’t eat from. “Every tree of the garden” EXCEPT that tree is his to eat from. But “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” He can eat from the Tree of Life! Blessing is in obedience.

This act of God that brings new definition to a relationship is is called a COVENANT. Let me give you a definition of a covenant:

A Divine Covenant: A divine covenant is when God defines a specific, new relationship with his people. In these covenants there are conditions; promises and warnings; and blessings and curses.

In Genesis this “specific, new relationship with Adam” has “conditions” (don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). And blessings (Gen 1:28). And implied promises (the tree of life).

This covenant isn’t called a covenant here in Genesis, but in Hosea 6:7 it is:

But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. (Hos 6:7)

In the Reformed tradition we call this “the covenant of works” because “works of obedience” are required to receive the blessings promised.

In TCOF 8.2 we inserted this paragraph from the Westminster Confession of Faith[1]:

The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam and in him to his posterity, upon the condition of perfect and personal obedience.
Trinity Confession of Faith 8.2

Your works determine what you receive: works of obedience are given life; works of disobedience are given death.

We’ll see later that this “covenant of works” is why we NEED to be saved. And this covenant of works is HOW we’re saved.

Covenants are the backbone of the Bible’s storyline and the Bible itself. At every moment of human history—and in eternity past before human history—there are divine covenants that govern how we are to relate to God—what he asks of us, how to receive blessings, what will cause us to receive curses.

Over the next several weeks we’ll be hearing about several of the major covenants:

  • Here The Covenant of Works—the Covenant with Adam.
  • Next week the Covenant of Grace—the first gospel promise in our Bibles.
  • In January the Covenant with Noah—the covenant of preservation.
  • And then the Covenant with Abraham—the covenant of election.

Each time God makes one of these covenants, there’s a distinctly new way that he relates with his people. Sometimes there are new promises and conditions.

Another fact about these covenants is that even though God makes the covenant with a specific person, it’s always a whole people that are included in the covenant. In the covenant of works, God makes the covenant with Adam, but an entire race of humanity is included in it. In fact, all of humanity is included in it.

But now let’s look at the fall itself.

II. The Fall (Gen 3:1–7)

Read Genesis 3:1–7.

The first figure mentioned is “the serpent,” who was a created being but “more crafty” than all the other creatures. “The Serpent” isn’t named here, but we know from later Scripture that the serpent is Satan. The clearest place is in Revelation 12:

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:9)

Satan somehow possessed the snake in such a way that it spoke to Eve. The craftiness of this serpent was in the way that it deceived Eve. At first Satan does this with hints and suggestions, not saying anything direct.

But the whole conversation has to do with God’s word—what he said and what he meant by it.

Satan asks a simple question – Genesis 3:1 – “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

This isn’t the devil asking a factual question. This is the devil questioning God’s goodness. As if God was a Scrooge and holding back from the people.

God said the very opposite:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.” (Gen 2:16)

There was only ONE tree they could not eat from.

The woman speaks in Genesis 3:2–3. She is BASICALLY right. But she changed God’s word, too. And her change isn’t encouraging. Her change makes it sound like she is beginning to wonder about God’s goodness—“neither shall you touch it.”

This could be Adam failing to teach his wife correctly. Maybe Adam felt like he should make doubly sure they never eat from the tree, so he added that little extra protection.

But ADDING TO GOD’S LAW IS NEVER AN ADDITION—IT’S ALWAYS A SUBTRACTION. The reason is, when you add your own laws to God’s law, you take away from the significance and seriousness of God’s law.

You treat God’s divine law as if it wasn’t quite good enough and needs some of your human effort to improve it.

Like you walking around an art museum with paints and a brush and finding classic masterpieces that need a little more color here and there. Your addition is only a subtraction.

After the woman’s comment, Satan saw his opening and spoke more directly—Genesis 3:4–5. Now it’s a direct assault on the truthfulness of God’s word. What God threatened won’t happen. In fact, the opposite will happen, you’ll get wisdom! You’ll know good and evil.

For whatever reason, the woman believes Satan and then she eats the fruit. But notice how Moses describes her action. It’s an act of her whole being. And this is true of all sin:

  • Genesis 3:6: “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...”
  • ONLY THEN did she eat.

Do you see how her HEART and her MIND were captured before the ACTION occurred?

  • Her HEART wanted things—good food, things good to look at, wisdom. She was living in these desires. These are good things. They aren’t sinful in themselves.
  • But her MIND had to be captured. Ultimately, it was captured by the idea that she could get these things apart from God. In her own way. On her own terms. She could get what she wanted without any bad consequences.
  • Only then did she commit the ACT of sin.

That’s how sin always works in our lives.

  • Our HEART and MIND get captured first. And THEN we commit the ACT.
  • That’s why there’s such an accent in the Bible on the mind:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8)

As the narrative progresses we realize she wasn’t alone—Genesis 3:6.

  • Adam’s failure was a failure as a husband.
  • Adam’s calling was to “work and protect” what was entrusted to him (Gen 2:15). Above all, he was to protect his wife and children.
  • In the first moment of testing, he failed.
  • But then he added to this failure an act of direct sin against God.
  • He, too, broke the commandment given to him by God.

We don’t know his thought process like we do the woman’s. But somehow he, too, we captured in his MIND and HEART and HE ATE.

In Genesis 3:7 we get the first sign that their sins had an immediate affect. They felt shame. They wanted to be hidden from each other. Fig leaves[2] were their solution.

APPLICATION: How sin works. To battle sin, you have to address it at the level of your MIND and HEART, not just your behavior.

III. The Results (Gen 3:8–24)

Read Genesis 3:8–13.

We’ve already seen the first sign of change. Adam and Eve covering themselves.

But in verse 8, God shows up. The Lawgiver is now coming as the Judge. We typically read this verse as if it’s a reminder of God’s daily afternoon stroll with Adam and Eve.

But it’s also possible that the Hebrew is pointing to a more sobering moment. Like at Mt. Sinai when God appears to Israel in thunder and wind. Here’s a translation that might be what is meant here:

Then the man and his wife heard the thunder of Yahweh God as he was going back and forth in the garden in the wind of the storm and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.
Jeffrey Niehaus[3]

Either the Lord is coming to Judge. Adam and Eve have broken his law, and now comes the interrogation and judgment.

He addresses the man first, because the covenant of works was made with Adam and not Eve. Adam had a responsibility for all people that Eve did not have.

When God asks, “Where are you?” and Adam answers, God asks two questions he already knows the answers to (Gen 3:11).

But notice man’s response. He’s the first blameshifter in history. No one had to teach him to do it. His heart was now a sinful heart and blameshifting came as natural as can be.

God asks him two questions, and he doesn’t answer either one. His first words are, “The woman whom you gave to be with me...” (Gen 3:12).

So then God turns to the woman, and she proves she’s learned how to blameshift also: “The serpent...” (Gen 3:13).

The LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) doesn’t ask Satan what he’s done. He turns straight to the first curse.

In the covenant of works, God promised death. But now we’ll see that more than just death happens with the first sin.

Read Genesis 3:14–15.

The first curse is against the SERPENT. Whatever the serpent looked like before, now the body and motion of snakes is a permanent reminder of his curse.

But then in Genesis 3:15 is a curse that contains a blessing for us. We’ll give a whole sermon to this verse next week. But for now, the promise is for a new “enmity.”

In the fall, Eve and the serpent worked together against God. God here introduces an “enmity”—hostility, division—so that this alliance won’t go too far.

Then God promises that the woman would have a son who will one day crush the head of the serpent. Her “offspring” would be in a war with the “offspring” of the devil, and her “offspring” will eventually be triumphant.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Rom 16:20)

Satan is crushed under OUR feet, because we are the body of Christ. We are in Christ. Christ is the offspring of the woman that will crush the head of the serpent.

Then God addresses the woman— Read Genesis 3:16.

Adam and Eve are cursed according to what they were created to do. Eve was created to be Adam’s “helper fit” (Gen 2:18). She was made from the man and made for the man (Gen 2:21). She was made to carry and bear children (Gen 3:20). Now those two aspects of her calling are cursed.

“Pain” is promised in just these areas of her life—pain in childbirth, division in her marriage.

What was to be a normal and easy order in marriage with the husband as head, now becomes difficult. He is still the head (“he shall rule”), but now she will strive to be the head herself: “your desire shall be contrary to your husband.”

Then speaks to Adam. Read Genesis 3:17–19.

The longest curse belongs to the man, because he is the most responsible. God had spoken his law directly to Adam, and Adam broke it.

Just like with the woman, the man is cursed according to what he was created to do. He was created to “work and keep” the Garden (Gen 2:15). His name means “ground.” He was created from dust.

And so the ground is cursed. What was to be satisfying and rewarding work that saw great fruitfulness is now cursed.

“Pain” is promised (Gen 3:17). “Thorns and thistles” (Gen 3:18). Eventually, “to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). He was made for glory. Instead he will end up as dust. Worm food.

The consequences of the fall continue. Read 3:20–24.

  • “Garments of skins” (Gen 3:21)—not fig leaves.
  • Way is barred to the Tree of Life—at least, for now. Immortality as fallen sinners is hell, not heaven. This grace on the part of God.
  • Adam and Eve sent East of Eden, away from the Garden. With Cherubim guarding the entrance (Gen 3:24).

Now we need to back up a bit and see what Adam’s sin has done.

Notice that everything changes when HE ATE. Not when SHE ATE. When HE ATE, things begin to unravel immediately. Both of them sinned—but they each had a different part to play.

Remember above we said the COVENANT OF WORKS was made with Adam. And that Adam represented the whole race of humanity. What he did would impact not just himself but everyone.

12 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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Rom 5:12-14)

With Adam’s sin, there is a loss of original righteousness. Now there is in each of us original sin. A sinful disposition from conception. We don’t need to learn how to sin. It’s just in there.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Ps 51:5)

This is not David talking about being an illegitimate child. He wasn’t. This is David saying that his sin of murder and adultery flowed out of his sinful heart which was there from his conception.

As we grow, that sinful tendency in each of us becomes actual sin. We fight and kill and destroy and lust and envy and steal and worship ourselves instead of God. We tear down things we are supposed to build. We build things we are supposed to destroy.

We replay in our own lives exactly what we find in the Garden of Eden—twisting God’s word, doubting God’s character, and then breaking God’s law because we think it will be pleasurable to us and lead to a better life.

Instead, it leads to pain, destroys relationships, and takes us farther from God.

Sin is the most obvious part of Christianity to prove to a skeptical world. No one doubts whether sin exists. They might miss that they are a sinner, but everyone knows that this world is “not what it’s supposed to be.”


But the solution to the sad reality of sin in the Garden of Eden is the promise spoken right there in the Garden.

The offspring of the woman who will be the Serpent Crusher—that’s our hope! The offspring of the woman is what we celebrate every Christmas.

When Joseph is told Mary is pregnant, he intends to divorce her. They’re not yet married, but at that time to break an engagement required a divorce.

But then...

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matt 1:20-23)

“Jesus” = “Joshua” = Yahweh saves! Jesus Immanuel will “save his people from their sins.”

How? He will submit to Satan “bruising his heel.” He will submit to the Father’s will in dying on a cross for those sinners.

Right there in the Christmas event is Good Friday and Easter Sunday already in view. To save us, the infant in the manger must become our substitute killed on a cross.

Prayer and Closing Song

[1] The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith has this paragraph, but the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith does not. The 1689 does teach in other places a covenant of works, though. We felt it helpful to go back to the WCF at this point.

[2] To see the size of what fig leaves can be, see

[3] See John Sailhamer (EBC) and Douglas Stuart (Bibliotheca Sacra 171, no 683, July 2014).

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