Dire Consequences and Divine Compassion
February 25, 2024

Dire Consequences and Divine Compassion

Passage: Genesis 3:7-24

The Compassion of the Creator

At the beginning of the new year, we went back to the beginning of the Bible – to the book of Genesis. And for the past two months, we’ve given some thought to who God is. We’ve seen that He’s infinite in power, infinite in wisdom, and overflowing with kindness. God gives life to the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve. He gives them all they could ever need. He shows them unique tenderness and compassion. And he initiates a special relationship with them.

And God tells them there’s just one thing that could spoil their happiness. He warns them – if they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they will lose everlasting life. They will lose paradise, and access to His presence. They will die. But last week, in Genesis 3, we saw that Adam and Eve didn’t take God’s warning all that seriously. Instead, the first parents of the whole human race turned their back on God. They desecrated the land by sinning – by reviling God’s Word. Ever since then the world has become subject to death, and disease, and decay. And today our hearts know that everything isn’t the way it should be! The world is no longer right, because the world isn’t right with God.

But even though corruption has been around ever since then, the story doesn’t end there. So if you have your Bible, please follow along as I keep reading in Genesis, Chapter 3. I’ll start in verse 7 and read through the end of the chapter, but before I do, please pray with me.


As we work through the text tonight, I’d like to highlight three points: First, How Man Responds to Sin. Second, How God Responds to Sin. And Third, in light of the first two points, I’d like to point out How Man Should Respond to God.

How Man Responds to Sin

So first, how Man responds to sin. Specifically, I want to point out how Adam and Eve respond to sin, which is how many people tend to respond to sin today. We see how Adam and Eve handle their sin in verses 7 through 13. First, they respond to their sin by feeling shame. They become self-aware that their wrongdoing is unerasable. They are totally incapable of stripping away their disgrace – so they try to cover it up.

We see this same impulse in verse 8. The man and the woman hear the presence of the LORD approaching, and they hide themselves – they try to deal with their shame and unworthiness by concealing it – by covering themselves.

But the man and woman respond to their sin, not only with shame, but also with fear. In verse 10, after God comes calling for Adam and Eve, Adam responds, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I Was naked, and hid myself.” As soon as they hear the Presence of the Lord coming near, it suddenly dawns on them that the person they’ve provoked – the person that they’ve offended – is none other than Almighty God. And remember, this is the God who’s able to create universes we’re talking about. Even if you could imagine the strongest military, or the most sinister Mafia ring, with an arsenal of ten million explosives and war machines – I would be terrified to have these walk into my garden. But God’s power is greater – infinitely so. And this God is the one Adam and Eve have postured themselves against! They’ve they violated their contract with him. They’ve opposed him. It’s no wonder they’re terrified. It’s no wonder they want to run away from God. They're convinced that there's no chance God will show them compassion.

But when the man and woman are finally confronted – when they realize they can’t run, or hide – there’s a third way they respond to their sin. They try to downplay it, and make excuses for it. In verse 11, God calls Adam out and says, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Now, Adam knows here he’s been caught. Adam knows there’s no point in denying that he’s eaten from the tree. But Adam doesn’t give an open, humble confession. Instead, look at verse 12: “The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit, and I ate.” You’ll notice, Adam attempts to make an excuse for why he did what he did. He tries to diminish the evil of his disobedience against God by claiming that there’s a reasonable explanation for his sin.

And one of the most common ways we try to explain away our guilt is by shifting blame to other people. Adam is doing that here. Without any sort of compassion for his wife, He blames Eve – “SHE gave me the fruit, and I ate.” And Adam is also – and this is pretty astonishing – He even blames GOD HIMSELF! Adam tells God, “The woman whom you gave to be with me” – that’s the problem. In other words, Adam is saying, “God, if you wouldn’t have stuck me together with that woman, I would have been okay. It’s God’s fault!” And, of course, in verse 13, the woman proceeds to shift the blame to the serpent.

When Adam and Eve are confronted with their wickedness, they don’t want to take responsibility for it. They want to hide from it. They want to run from it. They want to explain it away, or shift the blame to someone else. Does this sound familiar?

Wanting to run from God, to hide, and to make excuses – there’s a reason we want to do these things. It’s because we instinctively know that if we really are sinners, we can’t clean ourselves up. We can’t undo the wrongs that we’ve done. It’s easier to downplay the significance of our sin than it is to carry around a load of shame, fear, and guilt.

How God Responds to Sin

But is the right way to respond to our sin? In order to understand the seriousness of sin, we should pay careful attention to the way God responds to it. This is my second point – How God Responds to Sin.

You’ll notice that God does nothing to soften or minimize the seriousness of sin. Instead, He responds to it by bringing severe consequences. In verses 16-19, we see that women will have pain in childbirth, and conflict in relationships. Fields will now produce thorns and briars that choke out the crop and that make work tedious and difficult. And later, in verses 22-24, the man and woman are banished from the presence of God and his garden paradise. As a result, humanity is separated from God. Beyond this, just as God said would happen – Adam and Eve are subjected to death. They’re cut off from life with God, and from the Tree of Life. And as God tells Adam in verse 19, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” God confirms that the man will return to dust – that he will, in fact, die.

As the Creator of the World, God is also the world’s lawgiver and judge. As the essence of all moral perfection and rightness, He knows what real goodness looks like much better than we do. And this God wants you and I to know that sin is serious. Here in Genesis 3, the serious consequences of sin show us how serious sin really is. One single sin is all it takes to receive the death sentence. One single sin is all it takes to disqualify ourselves from God’s presence, and to lose paradise. By sinning against the God of infinite goodness, we are committing an act of infinite badness. God responds to sin with serious consequences because sin – our sin – really is that bad.

But I want you to notice in our text here – God doesn’t just respond to sin with severe consequences. He also responds to sin with saving compassion - with saving compassion! There are at least three ways this shows up in the text. First, in verses 8 and 9 God comes to the garden to seek Adam and Eve in the midst of their sin. Notice that the man and woman aren’t running to God, asking to be reconciled, or asking for compassion. Instead, God initiates – He comes to them. He draws the man and woman out of their hiding places. God goes hunting for lost sinners, and as we’ll see soon, at least part of the reason he does this is so that he can restore them. This has implications for how we should respond to sin, too.

Second, we see God’s saving compassion in the promise he makes in Genesis 3:15. God punishes the serpent – who, you may remember, is actually the devil. And God promises Him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God is promising, way back here in Genesis 3:15, that a man descended from Adam and Eve’s family line will oppose the devil. And though that man will suffer – the text says the snake will bruise his heel (or crush his heel would be another acceptable translation) – yet this man will gain the upper hand. He will bruise or crush the head of the serpent. He will give the devil a fatal blow. And this promised offspring is none other than Jesus Christ.

And I want you to appreciate how incredible it is that God would promise this here. Certainly, it points to the incredible knowledge of God, knowing the end from the beginning. But this promise is especially incredible because of the circumstances in which God gives it. It comes immediately after Adam and Eve’s cosmic treason! They’ve just denied the trustworthiness of God’s Word. They’ve attempted to raise themselves up to be God’s equals. The one command God gave them, Adam and Eve have despised and violated. They really haven’t done anything that deserves special treatment from God. There’s really no obvious reason why God would respond to human sin with a promise of divine salvation. But he did. He does!

But there’s a third way here that God displays his saving compassion. He covers their shame. He covers their nakedness. In verse 7, the man and woman initially try to cover up their sin with some sort of flimsy loin cloths that they tied together out of fig leaves. But if you look down in verse 21, notice what God does. He provides a covering. And notice how he does it: “The LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Notice here – God clothes them with animal skins. God takes an animal, and presumably kills this animal – rather than killing Adam and Eve – and this is how he covers Adam and Eve’s shame. In order for Adam and Eve’s sin to be covered, a death must take place on their behalf – that’s what we see here. And so even here, in Genesis 3 – we catch glimpses of God’s coming salvation. We learn that God will pursue lost sinners. He’ll win a victory over evil by raising up a man descended from Eve – and God will cover over their sins and shame by providing a substitute who will die on their behalf.

How Man Should Respond to God

So in light of these things, I want to wrap up our time together simply by asking – How should we live, now that we know how God responds to our sin? – how should we respond to God?

I have two brief thoughts.

First, we should respond with reverence for God’s righteousness. We aren’t righteous as God is righteous. We have issues with lust, laziness, greed, more self-indulgence, and various forms of ungodliness that deviate from God’s standard. But when it comes to inward rightness and integrity, God is truly, genuinely the real deal. And we should respect that when God judges the world, he won’t do it on the basis of our whimsical manmade standards or opinions. God will hold the line steady, and judge the world in righteousness – just as he maintains justice here in Genesis 3.

But second, we should respond with confidence in God’s grace. Though God is committed to perfect justice, that doesn’t mean that all humanity is doomed, even though that’s what we’d expect. But here in Genesis 3, God displays his graciousness – meaning that God is willing to give good things to people who don’t deserve it. He’s has grace for people like Adam and Eve – for people like you and me. And we know this because even when humanity was spoiled and stained by sin, God stepped in and promised rescue.

Trust in God's Compassion

And notice in verse 20, it seems that Adam trusts in God’s compassion. After he hears about the promise of the offspring who will come and crush the serpent's head, he give his wife a name that indicates he has believed God's Word. After the fiasco of Genesis 3, you’d expect him to name his wife something like, “failure” or “death.” But he names her Eve, why? Because it means, “Mother of the living.” Adam grasps on to the promise that one of Eve’s children – one of her descendants – will bring life. Adam trusted in God’s compassion, and found life in the promised coming of Jesus. Won’t you?