Genesis 2:17-3:9 & Romans 1:18-21 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:58 mins 24 secs

Confrontation and Consequences


We now see God's uncovering of the sin and disclosure of that sin in verse 8. "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." At this point we see God coming to confront Adam and Isha. The term "in the cool of the day" is not accurate. In fact, it is an extremely odd Hebrew idiom which is used this one time only in the Scriptures and literally it has the idea "in trhe spirit of the day" and it is an idiom for the afternoon time. And it is a reminder that God had warned the man that if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in that day he would surely die. The emphasis that the author wants us to see here is that it is in the afternoon of the very day where they have disobeyed God and eaten from the fruit of the tree. The term "walking" is not really an anthropomorphism at this point. This would be the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ who clearly has certain appearances in the Old Testament where He has a pre-incarnate form, and this form is that of a man. We call these theophanies. A theophany is an appearance of God. We know that God the Father never appears to anyone in the Old Testament—John 1:17, that is the role of the second person of the Trinity, God the Son. As the man and the woman hear the sound of Him coming they hide. We are not told at this point why they hide. There is a drama, a certain tension that is being built in the narrative. This should leave the reader asking the question as to why they are hiding.


What we see here is a physical demonstration of what takes place in every single human being in Romans chapter one. This is the confrontation of a holy and righteous God and what happens when a holy and righteous God confronts mankind who is –R. When Adam was created he was created as a perfect image and likeness of God. He is a representative of God, thus he possessed at creation perfect righteousness and there is perfect rapport between God and man. The instant he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually. He lost that perfect righteousness and his relationship with God was severed. This is the thrust of Genesis 2:17. There are a number of Christians who do not make this distinction clear enough in their understanding of what happens. They think that physical death is the penalty for sin. We have to read the text very carefully here to notice that physical death is not the judgment for sin. There is a judicial penalty that is outlined in Genesis 2:17, and that judicial penalty takes place at the instant that they disobey God. They don't die physically at that instant. The penalty of sin went instantly into effect and we see its consequences here, that the sinner has an orientation of arrogance and of autonomy of asserting his own independence from God. Autonomy means self-law [a)utoj = self; nomoj = law]. So he has this double facet to his nature and the result of that is that he is constitutionally oriented toward rebellion.


The New Testament describes this in Romans chapter one. Verses 18ff is a section where Paul begins to outline the historical outworking of God's condemnation of the human race. It is focusing on a judicial aspect. This is the key to understanding all of Romans. Romans is talking about righteousness, about man's lack of righteousness and about how God's solves the problem of man's righteousness by imputing righteousness. But at the very beginning Paul sets up Romans is a very logical order. He first lays down the case that man fails to come up with God's righteousness and all of the human race, Gentile and Jew alike, are under the condemnation of God's justice because man has failed to live up to God's righteous standards. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." There is a certain amount of discussion among theologians as to the nature of the verb "suppress." There are those who are in the Calvinisitic and hyper-Calvinistic camp who take that as a gnomic tense—a universal truth that applies at all times in all ways to everybody. If that is true, then who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness means that all mankind always suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. But if you take this as a historical situation, and we think it is—it is a summary of mankind's rejection of God and God's judgment on them, and what happened is that God revealed His judgment against unrighteousness and ungodliness in the Old Testament in either this period before the flood or after the flood and it was against the men who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. Then the phrase "who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness" is an adjectival participle describing the men. What kind of men does God reveal His wrath against? It is men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. But nevertheless, this is the tendency or the trend of fallen man, to suppress the truth. This is their action. We see this from day one with Adam. As soon as God begins to walk in the garden, what does Adam do? He suppresses the truth about himself. He wants to hide the truth, he wants to cover up the truth, he doesn't want to expose himself—now that he realizes he is naked and vulnerable and exposed morally before a righteous God—he wants to hide. So the way that suppression reveals itself in Adam is he wants to hide from God and, as we will see, he wants to come up with his own solution to cover up the problem. So Romans 1:18 describes the action of Genesis 3:9. Man is trying to construct his own understanding of reality. This is the orientation of the human fallen mind. It tries to reconstruct reality according to its own fallen standards. So that when Adam sins he now lives in a fallen world. The instant he sinned the entire universe changed because there is this ripple effect from his spiritual decision.


As a result of that ripple effect he is now living in a different world than he was two seconds earlier. It is now a fallen world and rather than being under the authority of God and interpreting the world under the authority of God and the revelation of God, Adam now wants to reinterpret the world on his own terms, not listening to God but determining everything and its relationship to him on its own terms. That is the orientation of arrogance. 


" … among the trees of the garden." Every time the author repeats that phrase what he is doing is bringing back to out minds that this is where the problem occurred. They violated God's commandment in relationship to one tree in the garden.


Verse 9, the confrontation. "And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Notice that God doesn't call to the woman. The prohibition is originally given to the man, the man is the one who is responsible as the head of the race. This is where we are going to build our doctrine of what is called the federal headship of Adam. Adam is our federal head because he is the designated responsible party and his decision is viewed as our decision. Some think this to be unfair, but the omniscience of God knew that if we were placed in that garden we would have made the same decision that Adam made. When Adam falls the entire human race also falls. He is not simply related to the race federally, he is also related to the human race seminally. The word seminal has to do with seed. He is biologically related to everyone.


Now God is not ignorant of where Adam is. God is omniscient and knows exactly where Adam is. He is really asking the question along the lines of, Where are you and why are you where you are? He is emphasizing the "where?" God wants Adam to focus on his position hiding out there in the trees. So the emphasis here is not to find out where he is but why he is where he is. This is clear from the way Adam answers. What Adam does in his answer in verse 10 is to explain why he is where he is. "And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." There is a lot in that verse. What Adam realizes as soon as he hears God is that he is afraid. The response of fallen man to God is fear, and that fear is related to condemnation. He knows at the very core of his person that he is condemned. Romans chapter one elucidates this: vv. 18, 19,  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them." In other words, there is an eternal knowledge of God. God has revealed to every human being the reality of His existence. Verse 20, 21, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." This is exactly what happens to Adam. He becomes futile, empty in his thinking. He is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. He knows God exists but he is trying to act as if God doesn't exist. He is hiding from God, but how can he hide from an omniscient God. So he is afraid, and this fear is related to condemnation. He knows he is under condemnation and he is guilty of violating God's prohibition. He is afraid because he is naked, arum. The nakedness indicates he is vulnerable and he is exposed. What has exposed him is that he is –R, he lack righteousness, and he is afraid of condemnation.


1 John 4:17, 18, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." The context of 1 John 4 goes back to an understanding of the warning in 1 John 2:28. What happens at the coming of Christ? Judgment, the judgment seat of Christ for believers. So the context is talking about being prepared for that evaluation judgment. In 1 John 4 the writer is contrasting fear and love. What is the fear here? The fear is the sort of existential fear that every human being has when confronted with the perfect righteousness of God. As a result of the unrighteous fallen man being confronted with the perfect righteousness of God there is terror, fear deep in the core of the soul. So man is trying to run around and cover this up and camouflage it with everything he can so that he doesn't have to face the fact that on a day to day basis God has condemned him. This is why man works so strenuously to come up with alternative explanations of creation, of origins, of who and what man is, to cover up this deep existential terror in the soul because he knows God exists and he knows he is condemned. The only thing that is going to get rid of that is for the believer to mature in love. That starts at the cross and extends through spiritual growth. The believer who has matured in love knows that when he stands before the judgment seat of Christ there will be no need to be afraid because there will be no sense of shame. He has grown and matured as a believer and produced gold, silver, and precious stones under the filling of God the Holy Spirit.


Genesis 3:11, God's response. "And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" In the Hebrew the word order is switched around for emphasis. The emphasis comes at the beginning of the sentence, "from the tree that I commanded you that you should not eat, have you eaten?" That is the question. The focus is on the tree and on the act of disobedience. God doesn't dance around the issue, He just comes right out and confronts the man. There is mention of the verb to eat in verse 11, and it is there twice. Then again in verse 12 the man is going to answer and utilize the verb "ate." The woman is going to use the verb "ate" in v. 13, and then in v. 14 when God announces the judgment on the serpent, the serpent is going to be told that he will eat dust. So there is this repetition at least four of five times of the verb which means to eat to remind us of the fact that the sin was eating. So the sin that plunged the whole human race into condemnation and judgment was just a simple little act, but it was an act of disobedience.


The man's response is the first indication of how mankind wants to handle his responsibility and accountability to God when it comes to sin. Verse 12, "And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." His answer is very short and to the point but he manages to blame both the woman and God. He is developing a skill right off the bat. Notice how he didn't have to learn this. It is the natural inclination of the fallen creature to shift blame and to avoid responsibility. This is a violation of the first divine institution—human responsibility and accountability. As a result of that fallen man has a natural orientation to avoid accountability and responsibility.


Verse 13, "And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." The question does not suggest that God didn't know what the woman had done. What He is really saying is, What in the world have you done? Do you realize the significance of what you have done? Then the woman answers and she is already learning from the man that you don't take responsibility, you just blame someone else, so she blames the serpent. Both of them have admitted that they ate but they want to ignore any kind of responsibility for this. This shows that there is a difference in the culpability of the woman and the culpability of the man. She is deceived but he went into it with his eyes open. This is picked up by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy. The New Testament treats this as something that literally happened, it isn't some mythology or something developed to explain then origin of man and the origin of evil. 1 Timothy 2:8-15 gives Paul's instructions as to how males and females are to function in the corporate worship of the local church. This is an extremely controversial passage but it is only controversial if you don't like what it says. In v. 12 Paul says, "But I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over the man, but to be in silence." There is all kinds of gymnastics going on today to try to explain this away. Actually, the way it is constructed in the Greek is that the two infinitives, to teach and to have authority, are separated at different ends of the sentence. That means you can't mix them up, you can't say that one modifies the other. What Paul actually says is, "To teach, I do not permit a woman or to have authority." So the emphasis is on the first infinitive of the verb which is on reaching. He makes it very clear that he doesn't allow a woman to teach the Scripture. The "over a man" modifies the second infinitive authority. The way it comes across in the English is as if teaching and authority both relate to "over a man." But the way it is structured in the Greek is teaching is one thing and authority over a man is a second thing. What about Titus? It doesn't say in Titus that older women teach younger women. It says older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands, to be good workers in the home, to love their children. In other words, the context of the teaching is a one-on-one mentoring of older women to younger women to teach them how to be good wives and mothers and how to take care of the house. But the focus, the content of the teaching, in Titus one is teaching related to domestic responsibilities. So Paul goes on to give his reason, his rationale, for why he doesn't allow women to teach or to have authority over a man. V. 13, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve." He goes right back to creation and the order of creation. Then he says, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression." The idea in the deception is not just the fact that the serpent sort of pulled the wool over her eyes and said she wasn't going to really die and she was going to be like God, but the woman came out from under her God-ordained authority and made the decision independently of the man. By removing herself from his authority she was putting herself in a position of vulnerability and deception. Verses 8-13, then, describe the confrontation from God and God's exposure of the fact that man is a sinner and has fallen.


In verse 14 we come to the next section where God outlines the consequences of the fall. This section is commonly referred to as the curse, and because we get sloppy in our terminology we talk about this as the curse as if there were three stages to the curse: the first stage being to the serpent, the second to the woman, and the third to the man. But the word "curse" is only used in relationship to the serpent. This is really more of a sense of a divine oracle. What God is doing here is giving the consequences of their action. He is outlining how the universe has changed as a result of man's decision to disobey Him. The reason this point is made is that there is a difference between the judicial penalty of sin and the consequences of sin. Physical birth is not mentioned until verse 19. There are a number of other consequences that are listed in this section. One of those is that the woman will have pain in childbirth. That is not a penalty for sin. Jesus did not pay that penalty on the cross; He did not go into labor. We are told in v.17 that the ground is cursed (second mention of the word "curse"), " … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." So there is going to be toil. The penalty for sin is what was outlined in Genesis 2:17, and that was "in the day that you eat from it you shall certainly die." So we have a judicial penalty there and these are consequences, and that has tremendous implications for what happened on the cross. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, between twelve noon and 3pm there is darkness on the face of the earth, and it is during that time that Jesus Christ is judged for the sins of the world. He pays that spiritual death penalty. But physical death is a consequence, the greatest consequence of sin, and the reason we go through so much pain when a loved one dies is because we were not designed to go through that. That is a result of the fall. Every time somebody dies and we go through that pain it is a reminder of the fact that this is not the way God intended it.


The first thing that we see when we look at the outline of this curse is that the animal kingdom is addressed. But it is not just the animal kingdom. Romans 8:18, 19, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Here Paul is talking about creation as a whole, what we would call nature—the created world, geology, biology, all the stars, everythjng in creation. Then he explains what he means by that in v. 20. "For creation was subjected to futility" – not just mankind. The consequences of sin reverberate through the impersonal creation; "not willingly [i.e. it doesn't have its own volition], but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." God brought consequences on creation in hope, that is, looking forward to what would eventually take place in reversing that judgment. V. 21, "Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." If it is going to be delivered from the bondage of corruption that means it is already corrupted. So all of creation, the physical universe, is corrupted.  "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Adam's sin did not affect just Adam or just Adam and Isha, just the human race, it affects the entire universe. It changed the laws of physics. Everything is moving from a state of order to disorder.


We see in Genesis 3:14 that biology is affected. "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." The serpent is cursed more so than the other animals, so that means the other animals are cursed also. That means that there is judgment there and therefore consequences. There is a change and animals that were grass eaters now become meat eaters. There was development through three or four generations, not instantly, and what that shows us is that God built into the DNA structure of all the plants and animals a certain flexibility to handle the chaos that is going to come from sin. So there is not a rigidity there, there is a framework or boundary line—animals still stay in their kind—but now there is chaos, a disruption and deterioration. So there are consequences to the animals, but specifically upon the serpent. "…upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." This is not a literal statement, although we think of it that way because the serpent crawls along the ground and whatever he kills he eats right there on the ground, but actually the phrase "eat dust" is a metaphor for defeat in Scripture. It is used in Psalm 72:9, for example. "They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust." Isaiah 49:23, "And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet." Other passages like Micah 7:17; Isaiah 65:25 also indicate some of these ideas as eating dust as being symbolic of judgment.


Verse 15, the first mention of the gospel. There is the conflict here between the serpent's seed and the woman's seed. It is very unusual to talk about seed, Heb. Zere, and this has to do with physical seed which is normally produced by the male. Here we have a conflict between the serpent's seed and we know that in eschatology and prophecy this is fulfilled in the Antichrist, the son of perdition, versus the woman's seed which is Jesus Christ. And in this concept of the woman's seed there is just a hint of the virgin birth. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head [fatal wound], and thou shalt bruise his heel." This indicates some sort of wound on Jesus Christ which is conquered by His physical resurrection, but it would not be a fatal wound. The wound to the Antichrist would be a fatal wound. Ultimately in history evil will be resolved. The evil that starts in the human race as a result of the serpent's temptation is ultimately going to be judged and isolated in the lake of fire.