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The most tragic chapters of our lives are filled with stories of things that remove us from God. The simple word for this tragedy is sin.

But there is a word that precedes that sin: temptation. If we are to return to intimacy with God and the invaluable joy of His presence, we must understand how this occurs.

The origin of sin is fascinating and incredibly revealing. Genesis 3 is one of the most instructive passages about humanity in the whole Bible, as it describes the anatomy of Satan’s work and man’s failures. It describes us.

OUR FIRST TEMPTATION AND SIN

The four players in the story are God, Adam, Eve, and Satan himself. Satan comes, true to his nature, to deceive and destroy. Notice his plan.

Temptation begins with a suggestion.

“Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (v. 1).

It wasn’t a frontal attack, but a seemingly innocent suggestion. Listen to Satan’s temptations to you, and you will see that this is almost always the case. He whispers. And he does it incessantly.

This is why it is so important to be quiet before God. Without God’s help, you cannot discern these whispers. They will seem like simple “thoughts” that you alone are having.

It proceeds with an exaggeration.

“God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die’” (v. 3).

As far as we know from what’s recorded, this is not what God said. He only instructed them not to eat of it. “Or touch it” appears to be an addition by Eve, implying that God was stricter than He actually is.

The idea is subtle: a nagging thought in Eve’s mind that God’s way might be too strict, too rigid … that she might be more liberated if she left the confines of His will.

It matures with a full-blown lie.

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vv. 4-5).

Satan then played his full hand—what he was intending all along. He tempted Eve to doubt God’s Word, enticing her to fulfill a legitimate desire (to be like God) in an illegitimate way (by disobeying God’s clear, simple command).

Satan knew full well that this act of disobedience would make them unlike God in purity, love, and holiness. They would actually become like him (Satan) in deceit and disobedience.

Any attack on the legitimacy of God’s Word—anything that causes us to doubt what God has said—has a singular source. Be wary. If you take the bait, you will be taken places you cannot afford to go.

It is enhanced with the deceptive prospects of everything desirable, an appeal through the baser appetites of man.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise … (v. 6).

Satan tempted them to believe that this was very desirable—that it would give them everything they needed and wanted, and that it would be enjoyable in the process. There was some truth here, as there is in every heresy. It would be momentarily enjoyable to their appetites. Stolen water is sweet (Proverbs 9:17).

The reality was that they were already surrounded by every good thing God had provided that would satisfy their needs in an extraordinary way. But the forbidden fruit—falsely described by the tempter—seemed to be the most valuable and enticing to their senses.

It culminates in a choice.

She took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate (v. 6).

Adam and Eve bear the ultimate responsibility because it was their choice. We always have a choice.

THE TRAGIC RESULT

This single act of sin changed forever our orientation toward God. Something new and deadly had now entered the Garden of Eden, the place where the couple had walked with God in the cool of the day.

Sin brings shame.

They knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (v. 7).

Sin causes us to hide from God’s presence.

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God (v. 8).

Sin creates fear.

“I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (v. 10).

Sin promotes self-defense and blaming others.

The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” … The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (vv. 12-13).

Notice that Adam blamed both Eve and God. No one else left on the scene, Eve blamed Satan. There is always a fruitless attempt to lay the responsibility for our choices at someone else’s feet.

Sin separates us from all that is good and from God (Eden itself).

“Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life….” Therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken (vv. 17-21).

Sin demands the necessity of a Savior.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (v. 15).

Spoken to the serpent, this is the first foreshadowing of the coming Christ, the Savior who would come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

OUR DESPERATE NEED

Our greatest, most urgent need is to return to God—to Eden. And He has graciously provided a way, through the advent of a Savior! As we come in faith to Him, we gain entrance again. We can have peace when facing God, as Christ introduces us “by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1-2).

But, until we are fully home, we are dogged by Satan’s suggestions, our exaggerations, his full-blown lies, and the pull of our appetites. We must understand this as fully as possible and fight this tooth and nail by all the weapons God has given us.

We must realize that everything the Enemy suggests is a lie, but everything God promises is glorious, satisfying truth. The more we win this battle, the more of Eden we will experience.

And, we must pursue Him with all that is in us, until Eden is one day restored.