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The Fall

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2023 12:01 am

The Fall

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 24, 2023 12:01 am

Tempted by Satan to reject the authority of God's Word, Adam and Eve sinned and plunged a perfect creation into ruin. Today, R.C. Sproul investigates humanity's fall into sin and points us toward our only hope of reconciliation with our holy Creator.

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Satan says, you will not die. Satan is saying you may disobey God and get away with it. You may transgress the law of God and face no consequences. You can commit cosmic treason against your Creator, and there is no death penalty because God loves everybody unconditionally. That's the message I hear, not from the secular world, but I hear from the church. It's the same message.

You will not die, so go ahead and eat. After the incredible creation account in Genesis 1, we read that God saw everything that He made, and behold, it was very good. Now, although you and I experience many good things in this life, we still go through suffering. We sin, others sin against us, so what happened? Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. What happened next begins with the ominous words of Genesis 3, now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field. This week R.C. Sproul is taking us through the book of Genesis, messages from his complete overview of the Bible, and today he's in Genesis 3 and that history-changing moment of the fall of man.

Here's Dr. Sproul. I once was speaking at a university campus, and after I had lectured I was invited to go into one of the dormitories and have a freewheeling question and answer period that we called a gab fest with the students, and somebody asked me a question about the Bible, and I didn't have my Bible with me, and so I turned around and I said, does anybody here have a Bible? And one of the students threw me a book, and I caught it and I looked down at it and I saw that it was the New Testament, and so I pitched it right back and I said, I asked for a Bible, and people didn't know what I was getting at. They said, well, this is a Bible. I said, no, this is only part of the Bible. This is the New Testament. But in that scenario I experienced something that I find widespread in our culture, that people today seem to think that the only portion of the Bible that really matters for the Christian life is the New Testament, as if the Old Testament were not only archaic, but it's passé, it's out of date, it is no longer relevant to the life of the Christian.

Well, before we go on any further in our study of this overview of the Bible from dust to glory, I'm going to ask you that question. What is the significance of the Old Testament? If we look at the Old Testament, we see there's all kinds of information in the Old Testament about creation, about people, about history, about human conflict, wars, migration, slavery, and all kinds of things are taking place in this dramatic history. But the Old Testament is not simply a history book, because above all things what the Old Testament accomplishes, beloved, is the self-disclosure of God. The chief character in the Old Testament is God, and it is in the pages of the Old Testament as God reveals His law, as He reveals His promises, as He interacts with His covenant people in everything that He says, in everything that He does, every event that is recorded in the Old Testament serves to some degree to remove the veil from the face of God and disclose His pure character to us. So how in the world could a Christian ever come to think that the Old Testament was irrelevant?

To be irrelevant would mean that the character of God is irrelevant, and He is the chief character. In a very real sense, the Old Testament is the autobiography of God, God as He relates to the world that He makes and the world that is fallen. And now as we come to the next stage of this record in the Old Testament, keeping that in mind, remember that in the first two chapters of Genesis virtually everything that is recorded there is followed by a benediction except for one thing. The first malediction in Scripture is uttered when there is something that God says is not good, when after creating the world and saying that it was good, when He created Adam, He looked at Adam and He said, there's something not good here. It is not good that man should be alone. And so that the first malediction of sacred Scripture was pronounced by God against the situation of human loneliness. And it's out of that background that God then makes the special creation of woman, and the man and the woman are then united together as co-regents with God over the created sphere.

And so far, so good. Even though there was this malediction over loneliness, God rectifies that situation. He redeems that situation by creating woman. But as soon as we come to the third chapter of Genesis, all of a sudden the atmosphere, the ambiance, the tenor, the very sound of Scripture undergoes a subtle change.

The late E. J. Young wrote an entire book on the third chapter of Genesis, and he began that book decades ago by saying the opening words of Genesis 3 sound a note that is ominous, it's foreboding. There's a kind of foreshadowing that's preparing the reader for an intrusion, an interruption in the flow of this majestic story of the goodness of creation. And it begins with these haunting words, Now the serpent was more cunning than any of the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made. See, we haven't encountered the idea of something sly or beguiling or clever or cunning up until this point.

I mean, the very word suggests the intrusion of something malevolent, something evil, something wicked, something dark. Do you remember Jesus in the New Testament when He announced the approaching presence of Nathanael, whom He called to be one of His earliest disciples? What did Jesus say of Nathanael? Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile, nothing slippery, nothing hidden, nothing crafty or sinister about this man. With Nathanael, what you see is what you get, an Israelite in whom there was no guile. Well, here in chapter 3 of Genesis, we are introduced to a creature in whom there is nothing but guile, who is the quintessence of guile. The serpent was more cunning than any of the beasts of the field, and the guilefulness, the sinister cleverness of the serpent is seen in the very first words that he speaks to God's creatures. I've lectured on this many times and tried to draw the parallels between the circumstances that unfold here in paradise with those circumstances that took place in the Judean wilderness when the same serpent came to the second Adam with the same seductive plan, and he comes basically with the same question. The serpent comes to Eve, and the serpent asks this question, has God said? Has God said? Did God say to you that you cannot eat of any of the trees of the garden? That's the question. Well, what's so guileful about that question?

It's patently false. It should have been evident instantly, and it was evident instantly to Eve that the question that was being raised by the serpent was bathed in error and communicates misinformation, if not disinformation, because it was perfectly plain that God had not said that. And with this question being raised by the serpent, Eve is the first one to act as the defense serfide of the faith. She defends the truth of God.

She defends the integrity of God from this slanderous suggestion. She said, of course God didn't say that we weren't allowed to eat of any of the trees of the garden. In fact, God said, of all of the trees of the garden, you may freely eat. He just put one tree out of bounds. He said of one tree that you can't touch that tree, and if you touch it the day that you eat of that tree, you shall surely die. But of all the rest of the trees, make yourself at home.

Eat freely. But here in this subtlety is that the serpent's thinly veiled suggestion is if God places one thing out of bounds, if God says no to any point to your liberty, if God gives laws, if God presumes to exercise His sovereignty over you, if God says, thou shalt or thou shalt not, then He might as well take away all of your liberty, because He's reduced you to the status of a slave or a puppet or a tool in His hands. But I want us to understand here that the point of attack of the serpent against our primordial parents was at the Word of God. When the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness and Satan approached Him after forty days and forty nights, he said to Jesus, first of all, if you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. Now why didn't He just come to Jesus and say, Jesus, turn these stones into bread? Then the whole terms of the temptation would have been radically altered.

Why is that? Notice that the temptation, the seductive request to turn the stones into bread, all of that was prefaced by a conditional statement, an if-then premise. If you are the Son of God, then turn these stones into bread. Now think back in your memory of what happened at the baptism of Jesus, that after Jesus entered into the River Jordan to be baptized by John and had the water poured upon Him, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. And only one of three occurrences of the New Testament to tell us of God speaking audibly is then recorded where Jesus at His baptism hears the voice of God announcing audibly, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And it's immediately after He hears these words that the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Now notice Satan doesn't come to Jesus and say, since you are the Son of God, turn the stones into bread. But rather, if you are the Son of God. Sometimes when we're not sure about a solution or how things might turn out, we say that the circumstances are somewhat, what, iffy.

That is doubtful. We don't have any assurance or certainty that such and such a thing is going to take place or that such and such a thing corresponds to reality. Do you see the subtlety that Satan is coming to Jesus and saying, well if you can really trust the Word of God, let's put it to the test. Turn the stones into bread, jump from the pinnacle of the temple, and so on. The whole encounter between Jesus and Satan focused on the trustworthiness of the Word of God.

Don't ever forget that. Because if you are safely within the fold of the Good Shepherd, if you are a Christian and are in the bosom of the church of Jesus Christ, that is no sanctuary completely from the same assault. Because that assault is made every day in this world to every Christian. Can you really live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God? There is no greater controversy in the church today than the question of the trustworthiness, the reliability of this book of the Word of God. So that the serpent didn't just raise this suggestion on two occasions in world history.

It is one that is his favorite M.O. But meanwhile back in the garden, he comes to Eve and says, did God say that you can't eat of any of the trees of the garden? She says, of course not. And she defends the truth of God. The woman said, we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, 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. Then the serpent said to the woman, you will not surely die, 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. Now the subtlety drops and a direct assault on the truth of God is launched by the serpent who flatly contradicts what God had said.

God said, if A, B will certainly follow, if you eat of that tree you shall surely die. Satan says, you will not die. Satan says, you will not die. Satan says, you will not die. Satan is saying, you may disobey God and get away with it. You may transgress the law of God and face no consequences. You can commit cosmic treason against your Creator and there is no death penalty because God loves everybody unconditionally. That's the message I hear, not from the secular world but I hear it from the church.

It's the same message. You will not die. You will not die.

You will not die, so go ahead and eat. Again the subtlety comes to bear. God knows that the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.

Oh, what did she say to that? What do you mean? I will be like God. I'm already like God. Didn't God create me in His image? Did not God create me in His likeness? I'm already God-like in that sense. Oh yes, the serpent says, in a large, long-distance, broad-brush view of likeness, but I'm talking about being really like God, being divine, a likeness Eve that will obliterate the distinction between creature and Creator. Not will you simply be mortal and finite and limited, but will go to the next level. You will be able to have the kind of knowledge that God has.

You shall be as God. Now the theologians look at that in history and they say that what is going on here in this enticement is an invitation to autonomy, an invitation to the Creator or to the creature to grasp for self-rule. Autonomy means to be a law unto oneself. Again, what's the dynamic here in the history of the fall? What is the conflict?

What is the basic point of collision? The collision occurs at the point of impact between the will of God and the will of man, and it is a battle for sovereignty. It is a battle for authority.

Whose world is it? Whose word shall prevail? Satan says, if you just taste that fruit you will throw off the yoke of the bondage that the Creator has put you under. He will no longer be sovereign because on that tree right there is the fruit of sovereignty, of autonomy. Who is this speaking? The one who is described in various ways and means throughout sacred Scripture, who is represented chiefly in the New Testament by the man of lawlessness, who is always the enemy of the law of God. He says to Eve, Eve, do you want to live out your days under law when I can give you freedom from the law?

This is your ticket to sovereignty. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and she ate. And she also gave to her husband with her and he ate. And then, voila, the eyes of them both were opened. And suddenly they knew good and evil. But they didn't escape from the sovereignty of God. Their eyes were opened, but what did they see? They saw their shame. They suddenly became aware of their nakedness, of their bankruptcy, of their impoverishment, and they fled to hide from the presence of God.

Think of this. You were made to rush to the presence of God, to delight in the presence of God, to enjoy the presence of God as He moves in the cool of the evening. But here, something happens that puts a barrier, a chasm, a wall, however you want to describe it, between the sweetness of communion that was the purpose of God for you in your very human existence. And now, instead of rushing to embrace their Creator when He comes into the garden, these first creatures run for their lives and they hide. They become fugitives from the gaze of God.

And beloved, we have been on that course from that very day. And the rest of the history of this book, From Dust to Glory, is not about Eve and Adam's pursuit to find God. It is not about Eve and Adam's resolve to come out from behind the bushes and embrace afresh the sweetness and the holiness of God. But the whole rest of this book is the story of God pursuing His creatures, stooping to clothe their nakedness, dealing with their embarrassment, covering their guilt, and restoring them to their position as the image bearers of God.

And aren't we thankful that God did and does pursue us and clothe us in the righteousness of Christ? You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, and what you heard today was one of 57 messages in R.C. Sproul's Dust to Glory series. This is an overview of the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, and can be yours for your donation of any amount. When you give your gift at, we'll send you this 8-DVD set and give you digital access to all 57 messages as well as the study guide. So give your gift today at or by calling us at 800-435-4343. Your generosity today helps keep Renewing Your Mind freely available to countless people around the world every single day. So thank you for your support. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that Christians are sons of Abraham. Tomorrow R.C. Sproul will consider Abraham and the promise that God made to him here on Renewing Your Mind. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-24 06:49:52 / 2023-05-24 06:57:32 / 8

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