June 10, 2018

Pastor Mark F. Bartels



Gospel Lesson; Mark 3:20-25        

Epistle Lesson; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Sermon Text; Genesis 3:8-15


The text we will look at for today is taken from one of the most pivotal chapters in all of the Bible, which is Genesis chapter three, which explains why we are in the condition we are in today.  It talks about the fall into sin.  We will read a section of that taken from verses 8 through 15.  This takes place after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin.  This is in our Savior's name.


They heard the voice of the LORD God, who was walking around in the garden during the cooler part of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

The LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

The man said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
God said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman you gave to be with me – she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 

The LORD God said to the woman, “What have you done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all the livestock, and more than every wild animal. 

You shall crawl on your belly, and you shall 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 crush your head, and you will crush His heel.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Sanctify us by your truth.  Your Word is truth. 



I enjoyed watching the show, Parts Unknown, with Anthony Bourdain.  So, I was really sad, when I heard the other day that Anthony Bourdain had hanged himself, committed suicide.  Your heart has to go to somebody who is in that much pain, that much internal distress and hopelessness that they would do something like that. 

I want to read this headline to you. 

“Suicide claims more American lives

than car accidents, or opioids.” 

That is staggering to me.  More people die from suicide than car accidents, or opioid overdoses.

On Friday, I happened to be talking with a friend, Kevin Randall, from Holy Cross, who happens to operate The Center for Christian Counseling .  We were talking about Anthony Bourdain's suicide.  So, I asked Kevin, “Why do you think there is such an epidemic of suicides?” 

Here is what Kevin said.  (Now, I am going to paraphrase and I am not going to go into all of the details, but basically he said this.) 

“I believe God created us as human beings to be in relationships.  God created us to be in three relationships.  The first relationship is we are to have a relationship with God.  That is a spiritual relationship with God.  The second relationship is we have a relationship with ourselves.  It is an emotional relationship with ourselves.  The third relationship is we are in relationship with others. 

“When those relationships begin to go wrong, whether it is an inappropriate relationship with God, a wrong emotional relationship with myself, or a relationship with others that is not going well, we begin to try to solve the problem of those relationships.  Sometimes we can try to solve them in ways that are very unhealthy, and ultimately it can even result in things like suicide, which try to solve those problems.”

As Kevin was telling me all of that, my heart and mind darted to Genesis chapter three, the section we just read.  Genesis chapter three really explains how this world got into the condition we are in.  It really talks about this devastated relationship we have with God, with ourselves, and with others, and where it came from.  This chapter really shows us what we call “The Anatomy of Sin”.  It shows us, when Adam and Eve fell into sin.

Sometimes we think, “Oh yeah, they ate a piece of fruit.  It was one act, and that was it.  How could that one piece of fruit change God's heart toward us?” 

But, what happened was they disobeyed God.  They sinned.  They didn't trust God.  He had told them what would happen, if they ate the fruit.  They didn't trust, and it was an act of unbelief. 

Now, I want you to see what happens next.  What happened by that one act shattered, and I mean it shattered the basic, foundational structure of life, as God had created it.  It was like poison just went through the whole body, heart, and soul of Adam and Eve.  Just look at how vicious sin is, when they committed that one, first sin.  Now, I want you to see what happened, immediately after they fell into sin.  This is the description of every one of us, by nature. 

The first thing that happened after they fell into sin, is… what did they try to do?  The Bible says the LORD God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.  They heard the voice of the LORD God.  Before they fell into sin, they were in perfect harmony with God.  They could look God face to face.  They could look right at Him, be happy as they talk with Him, and hold their heads high.  They had a perfect relationship with Him.  And they were in perfect relationship with each other, perfect relationship with each other, and they had no fears.  They had no emotional trouble in their hearts.  But, now look at what happened.  Immediately after they fell into sin, the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve hid from God amongst the trees of the garden.  Sin is so vicious that one of the root affects of sin is sin does not run toward God.  Sin's root affect is it is going to try to get away from God.  That is what we see immediately happen with Adam and Eve.  They tried to get away from God.  They tried to hide from God.  That is our nature. 

When we sin,

we are going to try to get away,

and hide from God. 

I once heard this really, really interesting man who is called,  an apologist.  He would defend the Christian faith, using rational arguments.  He went to a college campus where he interviewed all of these college students.  He would ask them, “What do you think about God?” 

A whole bunch of them said, “I am an atheist.  I don't believe there is a God.”  

He asked them, “What if I could give you a really rational reason to believe there is a God?  Would you believe in God, then?” 

They answered, “Yeah, probably so”. 

So, he used this argument.  “Let's look at this newspaper, for example.  I believe that all of these words, all of these pictures, and all of these colors just came down randomly.  Voomp, and they landed on the page.”  Then, he looked at the college students, and asked, “Do you believe that?”  

They would go, “Of course not.” 

So, he asked them, “Well, why not?” 

They said, “That does not just happen randomly like that.  Somebody put a lot of thought in to it.  There is design, and there is intelligence involved.” 

So he said, “You believe this newspaper was created by somebody by design, and intelligence, and it took a lot of thought?” 


The next step was he told them, “You know the “book of life,” DNA, is a lot more complicated than this newspaper, far more complicated.  To say that happened just by accident, or chance, through evolution, takes a lot more faith than to say this newspaper happened by accident.”

He would take them through this whole argument, and when he was done, he would look at each one of them, and say, “So, you don't believe this newspaper happened by accident.  And, I have just given you really good reason to believe your human body didn't happen by accident.  So, have I given you good reason to believe there is a God?” 

To which they responded, “Yes.”  Every one of them said, “Yes you have given me a good reason to believe there is a God.” 

His next question was, “Do you believe in Him?” 

And, their answer was, “No.” 

They had good reason to believe there is a God, but they said “I don't believe.”

So, he pushed them a little further.  “You know, if there is a God, that means you are answerable to Him.  It means that if you do something wrong, a good, just God is going to punish you.  So, what do you think about yourself?  Do you think you are in a good relationship with God?” 

“Yeah, I think I am pretty good with God.” 

And then, he started pursuing some very pointed questions.  He asked them very personal questions, particularly about their sex lives.  It became very obvious to them, and to the interviewer that they were involved in some pretty deep sins.  Then, he looked at them, and said, “I am going to tell you something.  I gave you good reason to believe there is a God.  You agreed with that, but you told me you don't believe there is a God.  I am going to tell you why.  You are trying to hide from Him.  You are trying to hide from Him, because if you admit He exists, then you are going to have to change some things about your life.”
It is our natural reaction as human beings to do what Adam and Eve did, and try to hide from God.  We all have a tendency to want to hide from God.  But, it also shows how ignorant, and vicious sin is.  It makes us ignorant to think we could hide from God, when it is impossible to hide from God.  There is a Psalm that says this.  Psalm 139 says,

“O Lord, you have searched me. 

You have known me. 

You know, when I sit down. 

You know, when I rise up. 

You discern my thoughts from afar. 

You search out my path.  My lying down. 

You are acquainted with all of my ways. 

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold O Lord, you know it all together.”

And so, sin is so vicious that it tries to push us away from God, and get us to hide from God, and act as if, “Maybe if I am involved in some sin, if I stop coming to church, if I just ignore it all, it will all go away.”

The second thing we see about how devastating sin is, and how vicious it is, is this.  Martin Luther once said, “The experts tell you, if you get accused of a crime, you should do one of two things.  First of all, the experts tell you if you are accused of a crime, deny it.  Secondly, if you can't deny it, then defend yourself as if you had a legal right to do it.” 

That is what we find Adam and Eve doing next.  That is the vicious nature of sin.  It does not want to call itself sin. 

Sin does not want to be called sin.  

It wants to avoid that name, altogether. 

And so, as the LORD goes looking for Adam and Eve in the garden, He says to Adam, “Where are you?” 

Now, this is God putting Adam on trial.  Instead of just admitting to God, “God, I blew it.  I sinned.  I disobeyed you.  I didn't trust you.  I am sorry,” that is not what Adam tried to do.  Adam tried to deny the fact he had done anything wrong.  He said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” 

There is no confession of sin there.  There is no admitting of sin.  It is this denial that he did anything wrong, at all. 

That is the vicious nature of sin in our lives, too.  Our sinful nature is going to try to get us to deny we have even done anything wrong.  King David is a perfect example of that.  King David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then murdered Bathsheba's husband, the Bible tells us in essence denied that sin for a long time.  He just avoided it.  But, it ate away at his conscience. 

Even Adam had to know he was lying to God.  His conscious, (his relationship with himself), he had to know, “I am trying to deceive God.” 

The Bible says,

“If we say we have no sin,

we deceive ourselves,

and the truth is not in us.” 

It becomes this self deception, when we try to deny sin.  For example, I could drive down the road, speeding way beyond the speed limit, acting like it does not even exist.  Like it is not a sin.  We can do that, and that is our sinful nature's tendency.

The third thing that, after Adam and Eve got caught, God said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded you not to eat?”  So, now they are convicted.  God said, “I know you did it, Adam.  I know you did it, Eve.” 

Now we see how vicious sin is.  Here is what it does next.  Instead of admitting guilt, the next thing it does is try to defend itself by saying, “What I did, I had a legal right to do.” 

It’s a little rich, when Adam says to God, “Well, the woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit, and I ate from it.”  It is as if he is blaming Eve, and God for his sin.  “God, you gave her to me, and she is the one who tempted me.  So, it's your fault, and her fault.” 

Eve says, “The serpent, he gave me the fruit.”  And so, she blames the serpent. 

But, here is what is deeply going on here.  Adam and Eve are both giving logical, rational defenses on why they did what they did.  Therefore that makes them not guilty.  In essence, Adam is saying to God, “God, you created this woman for me.  She is a beautiful, wonderful woman.  She is my wife.  You gave her to me as my wife.  You gave her to me.  And your intent is that we be one, husband and wife be one.  We are united.  We are together.  We support one another.  God, you know she ate from the fruit.  What was I supposed to do?  We are supposed to be one.  So, I ate from the fruit.  What would have happened if I had not eaten from the fruit?  Could we have ever had a proper relationship with each other?”  So, he tries to defend his sin. 

It happens to all of us.  “I have a grudge against so and so, because they are such creeps to me.  So, I have a right to have that grudge.”  We try to defend our self.  “Yeah, I am living with somebody out of marriage, but I cannot afford to do it any other way”, trying to rationalize sin.  “Yeah, I don't come to church, because the pastor is boring, and I don't like the way the hymns sound”, trying to rationalize our sin.  That is our sinful tendency.

We try to defend and rationalize our sins.

Emotionally, we can try to avoid it, or get angry, or jealous, or all of those things.  And, because of that, it has destroyed our relationship with God, and our relationship with ourselves.  It also destroys our relationship with others.

Satan must have been rubbing his hands in delight, after all of this transpired.  Can you imagine?  He got Adam and Eve to fall into sin, and now he sees how that shatters the entire relationship God had created them for.   Now, they begin to avoid God, deny sin, and rationalize their sin.  It has infected them to their heart and core. 

-The Bible tells us Satan is the prince of this world. 

-The Bible tells us we are held captive by Satan to death.  He has his claws in us. 

-The Bible tells us our fight is not against earthly powers, but against principalities, powers, and authorities. 

Satan has this power, and authority.  He now rules over humanity.  Martin Luther says the world is like an inn, and the devil is like the inn keeper.  That is why we are in this situation we are in.  That is why the world is so messed up.  That is why so many bad things happen. 

As God looked at this, He could have had every right to just let Adam and Eve go their own sinful way, eat themselves up, and destroy everything.  But, we see in Genesis, chapter three, a part of God we had not seen before this, in the book of Genesis.  In the book of Genesis, as God creates the world, we see God is incredibly wise.  We see He is amazingly powerful, all powerful, as He creates the world.  But now, we see the heart of God.  God, in His essence, is a merciful, gracious, loving, kind God.  And instead of destroying Adam and Eve, He looks at them, and says, “There is no way, no way you can get out of your situation.  You cannot restore your relationship with me.  You can't restore your relationship with yourself.  And, you cannot restore your relationship with others.  It is too deeply damaged.” 

And so, God in His heart says, “I am going to restore those things for you.  In my mercy I am going to restore those.” 

So, He curses Satan.  This is the best curse you will ever hear in your life.  Usually, we don't consider curses a good thing, but this is the best curse you could possibly hear.  He says to Satan, “Satan, now you are going to crawl on your belly for the rest of your life”  (So, we assume the serpent must have walked on legs at one time.)  He said, “You are going to crawl on your belly, and you are going to eat dust.”  That is a humiliating position. 

Then, He says this (which is what we call the first Gospel promise, the first promise in scripture that God is going to send His Son.  And, His Son is going to free us from the power of Satan.).  He pronounces to the devil this curse,

“I will put hostility between you and the woman.,..” 

So, now there is going to be hostility between Satan and Eve. 

“...and between your seed (offspring) and her seed,” 

Now, what is the offspring of Satan? 

Satan's offspring is

sin, death, and the devil. 

Those three things go hand in hand, and they stand, or fall together.  So, He says “I am going to put hostility between you (Satan), death, and sin, and her offspring”, particularly, one offspring.  Then He says,

“He will crush your head, and you will crush His heel.” 

So, this is one offspring of the woman.  Every other place in scripture, when it says 'so and so' came from 'so and so', it always talks about how they came from a male, the male descent.  But, here it is the seed of a woman.  Jesus had no human father.  That is what scripture is now foretelling.  He is going to have a human mother, who is Mary.  This is going to be God, now in the flesh, the strong One who comes to take on human flesh, to defeat Satan for us.  The Bible says Jesus will crush Satan's head, and Satan will strike His heel, or crush Christ's heel. 

If a snake was coming by, and you stomped on the snake's head, with your bare feet, who would get hurt?  You would, and the snake would.  Your heel would get hurt, if you really stomped on its head, as hard as you could, but he would get hurt worse, because you would strike a mortal blow to him. 

When Jesus died on the cross, who got hurt?  Jesus got hurt.  He died.  But, it was an injury he recovered from.  He rose from the dead, having paid for the sins of the world. 

But, what happened to Satan?  He was struck a mortal blow from which he can never recover. 

Jesus once said, when He was being accused of driving out demons by Beelzebub, “A house divided against itself can't stand.” 

Let's say I wanted to go into a strong man's house, and loot his house, how would I do it?  Jesus said, “If somebody wants to overcome a strong man, that can't happen unless a stronger man goes in, and ties him up.  Once that stronger man has tied him up, then the stronger man can take all of the loot he wants to.”  That is exactly what Jesus did.  Jesus has tied up Satan.  He has bound him.  Jesus is the stronger One. 

Now, Jesus has taken the loot. What is the loot?  It is you, and it is me.  He has rescued us from the grasp of Satan.  We have been delivered.  That is the Gospel.  That is the mercy of God. 

The Bible says the accuser accuses God's people day and night before God, but he has been cast down.  Think about that.  The accuser, the devil, can accuse you day, and night before God.  He can speak sin, after sin, after sin you have committed.  Every one of them true.  It says the accuser accuses God's people day, and night before God, but he has been cast down, and they have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.  That is because Jesus stands there in front of the Father.  The Bible says He intercedes for us.  He says to His Father, “That is true.  Every sin that Satan is accusing against that person, it is true.  But, Father, I took all of those sins.  I took those sins to the cross.  I paid for them.  I died for them.  They are washed away, and they are gone.  They are forgiven.  The guilt is gone, because I have taken the punishment.” 

God, the Father, then declares us not guilty, and forgiven.  That is the Gospel. 

-We have been freed from the power of Satan. 

-We have been freed from sin. 

-We have been freed from guilt. 


I want to go back to those three relationships Kevin talked about.  Knowing that, when you sin,

-you don't have to run away from God. 

-You don't have to hide from God. 

-You don't have to deny it before God. 

You can run to Him, as a loving Father and say, “Father, I have sinned.  Please forgive me.” 

That loving Father wraps His arms around you, and forgives you for Jesus' sake. 

Relationship restored perfectly with God.

You can look at yourself and say, “God, thank you I can be filled, not with anger, resentment, envy, all kinds of bad emotions, but I can be filled with peace, the peace of God that passes all understanding.  I can have the joy of salvation!” 

Relationship restored with myself. 

Therefore, I can have relationship with others, based on the Gospel, based on love and forgiveness, mercy, kindness, long suffering, and gentleness. 

Relationship restored with others.

And so, Jesus and the Gospel is the answer to every problem that exists today.  He is the answer to every single problem that exists today.  You know the answer.  You know the answer. 

There are a lot of hurting people out there, big time hurting people out there.  Invite them to church, and let them meet Jesus.  Let them meet the solution to the problems.  For Jesus' sake, and for their sake.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  World without end.