For the six weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ll be surveying the Old Testament. From creation and the fall of man to the prophets anticipation, the entire Old Testament points to the coming of Christ. The rest of this year we will accomplish two things: 1) Teach a very brief history of the Old Testament and 2) demonstrate how every stage of the Old Testament is leading us to Bethlehem.
To understand the importance of the birth of Christ, you have to understand the need for His coming. Genesis 3 explains how sin entered into the world and the devastation it brought. But first, let us look at a key command that God gave Adam and Eve in Genesis 2.
The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:15-17
It is worth noting that there is no confusion on this command. God says they can eat from any of the abundance of trees in the garden except for a singular tree. And the consequences are equally clear: if Adam eats from this particular tree, he will die.
With the background of this command in Genesis 2, let’s look at Genesis 3:1-19.
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
“No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?”
And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.”
Then the Lord God said to the serpent:
Because you have done this,
you are cursed more than any livestock
and more than any wild animal.
You will move on your belly
and eat dust all the days of your life.
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.
He said to the woman:
I will intensify your labor pains;
you will bear children in anguish.
Your desire will be for your husband,
yet he will rule over you.
And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’:
The ground is cursed because of you.
You will eat from it by means of painful labor
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow
until you return to the ground,
since you were taken from it.
For you are dust,
and you will return to dust.”
Let’s look at four truths we find in this chapter and four applications from these truths.
1. God created perfection. Because God is perfect, everything He makes must be perfect. That is why in Genesis 1:31, when God completes His creation He ways it is “very good.” We have to understand that to a perfect God, nothing can be good unless it is perfect. This includes humanity. Adam and Eve looked perfect, acted perfect, felt perfect, and related to each other perfectly. They were, quite literally, perfect human beings.
2. Any imperfection ruins perfection, no matter how small. This is important to grasp. When the smallest imperfection occurs to something otherwise perfect, perfection is lost. Imagine the perfect pan of brownies. Imagine the smell of them being baked. Imagine the warmth of pulling them fresh out of the oven. Imagine their moist texture. Imagine their perfect taste. Now imagine mixing just the tiniest pinch of dog poop in the batter before baking them. If you grimaced, you realize that a tiny bit of dog poop ruins the who pan of brownies. Likewise, the smallest of sins ruins what was created to be perfect.
3. When perfection is lost, it cannot be regained. I once had an autographed David Robinson rookie card in mint condition. Until by toddler brother got a hold of it and folded it in half. No matter how hard I tried, I could not uncrease the card. When perfection is lost, it cannot be regained. Adam and Eve tried to correct their situation. They tried to cover themselves when they noticed they were naked. They tried to hide from God when they heard Him approaching. They tried to duck responsibility by planing the blame game. But Adam and Eve learned that once sin occurs – once imperfection is lost – there is nothing you can do to get it back.
4. The cost of imperfection is sever and eternal. Why is the cost so high? Because sin, even little sin, completely ruins the perfection. Adam and Eve knew the cost of their disobedience was certain death. The consequences of their sin included physical death, spiritual death and separation from god, and the passing of sin on to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The duration of the punishment is equal to the severity of the crime. Because imperfection is eternal, so is the punishment.
As we look ahead to the coming Messiah, we have to realize why He came. Our spiritual state was bleak. God had created perfection, but a simple act of disobedience ruined that perfection. Try as we might, there is no way to regain that perfection and the cost is more than we can imagine. As we look ahead to Bethlehem, let us find a few points of application from Genesis this morning.
Admit the Problem. We have inherited sin nature and we must be willing to see our perfection.1 John 1:8 says, “If we say ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” We must be willing to see sin in our lives and correct it.
Recognize the Severity. Too often we brush sin off as too small to be important. We tell a “little white lie” or decide to act on a “necessary evil.” But all sin separates us from God, even sin as small as taking a bite of forbidden fruit. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death….” Death. Not a temporary prison. Eternal death.
Accept the Futility. American values say, “never give up” and “keep on fighting.” These are good life principles but they just don’t work with sin. The worst thing we can do is try to fight a battle we cannot win. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” What can a dead person do? Nothing. Like Adam and Eve, we try to get out of sin by covering ourselves, hiding, or blaming others. The best thing we can do is accept that we can do nothing to help ourselves in our sin.
Trust the Solution. In Bethlehem we find the solution. Jesus Christ came to take care of our sin problem. The most basic explanation of the solution to your sin is this: God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. While the rest of humanity is imperfect, sinful, and deserving of death, Jesus was perfect, righteous, and deserving of honor. Although you deserved to die and Jesus did not, He wiling died in your place. The only hope in having your perfect relationship with God restored is accepting this exchange and allowing God to guide your life.
Ephesians 2:1 told us that we are dead in our sins. Verses 4-5 say, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace.”
The reason for the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was to bring a solution to our sin. The journey to Bethlehem begins with a broken relationship. It will end with a restoration for all those who trust in Jesus Christ.