I want to talk about rationalizations. A rationalization is an excuse or reason why we do something, in particular, something that we shouldn’t do. A common rationalization that we use is the “ends justify the means.” Using that one rationalization alone we can easily justify any sin, whether it be stealing, lying, or even murder.
Genesis 3:1-13 is full of rationalizations. We’ll break it down into roughly two parts: the rationalizations that lead us to sin and the rationalizations we use after we sin.
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:1–13)
THE RATIONALIZATIONS THAT LEAD US TO SIN
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The word “subtil” means clever or crafty. The Hebrew originally meant “shining” or “upright,” and some suggest that the serpent originally walked upright. But this is more than just a simple serpent. This is Satan, presumably indwelling the serpent for the purpose of communicating with Eve. By the way, Satan is called a serpent several times in the Bible (cf. Revelation 12:9, 20:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3).
Satan’s discussion with the woman reveals several rationalizations that lead us to sin.
1) We Assume That We Have The Right To Question God
Satan begins by asking, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” — Satan’s question assumes that the created beings (of which he is one) have the right to question God. As sinners, we believe that we have the right to stand in judgment of what God has said. That is the essence of sin.
Satan’s comment here is completely wrong. Go back to Genesis 2 and look at what God actually said:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16–17).
God said that they could eat of every tree but one. He not did not say that they could not eat of every tree of the garden. It’s the type of word-flipping that catches people off-guard. But, in this case, it doesn’t trip up Eve. She knows better:
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: Genesis 3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
She doesn’t quite get the quote right…God didn’t say anything about touching it, at least not in Genesis 2:16-17. Whereas Satan questioned God by completely flipping God’s statement around, the woman might be questioning God by implying that He didn’t say enough. That’s legalism. Legalists add to God’s law things that they think God left out.
When we allow ourselves to question God, any sin can be rationalized. Here’s one example: if we really love one another, is a loving God going to care if we’re not married, or not both Christians, or not even the opposite sex? Yes, He does!
Another rationalization leading to sin that we see here is…
2) We Deny That God Will Actually Judge Us
Satan was not impressed with Eve’s defense of God. Sensing a weakness, he pushes harder and directly challenges God’s word.
Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
The very first doctrine denied in the Bible is the doctrine of judgment. It’s one that humans still work to deny. If judgment can be removed, then we can do whatever we want.
Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers recently said:
“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell,” [Aaron] Rodgers continued. “What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?” (https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/aaron-rodgers-family-dismayed-religious-comments-danica-patrick-podcast-report)
I have to say that Aaron Rodgers is wrong on a very crucial part—God does not WANT to condemn anyone. God, Peter says,
…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The ball is in our court. We must come to God for salvation. Admitting that our sin deserves punishment is the first step of salvation. You have to come to the point where you can say, “I will surely die…and that’s fair…I deserve Hell.”
Once you can say that, then you will see your need for a Savior. There are many people who say they believe in the Savior, but they don’t believe He saves them from anything! They believe that they are good enough for Heaven as they are. That’s just not true. God’s judgment is real—you will surely die unless you trust the Savior, Jesus Christ.
A third rationalization leading to sin that we see here is that…
3) We Believe God Is Holding Back On Us
Satan continues to press the issue with the woman:
Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan caused Eve to doubt God’s goodness. God was holding back on her! This is a special temptation for those of us who live in a materialistic society. We feel that we are owed everything. So when we can’t have it, we are tempted to think that God doesn’t love us.
Satan wanted Eve to believe that disobedience to God would result in blessings for her. She would become a little god, with knowledge and wisdom previously unknown to her.
Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Eve looked at this fruit and reasoned—it was good for food, it was nice to look at, and—BONUS—it would make her wise! Why would God hold back these good things from her?
So we might say this: God wants me to be happy, right? After you decide that He does, even if it means breaking His law, you can start writing off anything that God has said that makes you unhappy.
Those are some rationalizations that lead us to sin, but in the second half of the passage, we see…
THE RATIONALIZATIONS WE USE AFTER WE SIN
Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Satan was right—they would know more. The problem was that the new knowledge was about sin, not some great mysteries of the universe. The first indication of their new knowledge of sin was that “they knew that they were naked.” This is a key word in the next few verses. Notice the contrast with the end of Genesis 2:
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25)
Before, being naked didn’t matter. They were innocent. It did not cause impure thoughts. But now they had lost innocence. They understood that their bodies could be used in an evil way, that they could lust. They sensed shame, so they made themselves “aprons,” which were just simple fig leaf coverings (the fig leaf is a fairly large leaf).
Genesis 3:8a And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:
Apparently the Lord God had a regular appointment with Adam and Eve. God, in the form of a human (the second person of the Trinity, Christ [John 1:18]), would come and meet and fellowship with them. That seems to be one reason why the Bible notes that this was “in the cool of the day.” — it makes it seem like it was their regular meeting time.
How do Adam and Eve respond?
Genesis 3:8b …and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
They feared that God would carry out the death sentence He had declared would happen if they ate of the tree. So they try to hide themselves from “the presence of the Lord God.” That’s silly, we know. But we all hide from God in some way or another.
We hide from God by ignoring Him or dismissing Him from our lives. We hide from God by putting other values (even good ones) higher than Him. We hide from God when we don’t allow Him to scan the deepest recesses of our hearts for sin (cf. Psalm 139:23-24).
Unbelievers hide from God by making their own god after their own image—“I believe in a god who is loving and good…he lets good people into Heaven.” Unbelievers also hide from God by declaring that there is no god.
How are you hiding from God? If you are living in sin. If you are not trusting in Jesus Christ. You are hiding from God. Just admit it. Someone has said, “The only way to successfully flee from God is to run to God.”
Genesis 3:9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Did God not know where they were? Of course He knew. But the Lord wanted them to own up to what they did themselves. God’s GRACE is on display here. He gives them an opportunity to confess, to ask how they can make things right. But they don’t. Instead, Adam says…
Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Adam confesses that he was afraid. Of whom? Of God. Why? Because he “was naked.” That’s stupid, Adam. You’ve been naked since God made you! Why is this suddenly an issue for you?
Genesis 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
Again, the Lord knows the answer to the question He is asking, but He wants Adam to admit it. This is the first step in dealing with all sin, is to admit that we have sinned. But Adam doesn’t. He plays the blame game:
Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Adam blames the woman and God; “…the woman, whom thou gavest.” Who do you blame for your sins? Your spouse? Your genetics? Your parents? Your financial situation?
But worse, Adam blames God. YOU gave this woman to me. God becomes the bad guy! It’s God’s fault. Sinners declare that the God of the Bible is too judgmental. Like Aaron Rodgers, they say that they can’t believe in a God Who would do this or that thing that they don’t like.
Does Eve do any better?
Genesis 3:13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
She also blames someone else—the “serpent.” Yes, Satan bears part of the blame, but do you see what is Eve is doing here? She is playing the victim card—she’s the victim! How do we play the victim card? We cry out “I’m the victim…he publicly embarrassed me…I should sue him. I have the right to yell and slander his name.”
Why are we so keen on rationalizing our sin? Because we know that we are naked. We know that we’ve done wrong. But our sinful nature will not allow us to own up to our sin.
How should we deal with our sin? If we are a Christian, we should confess it to our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Don’t rationalize your sin. Don’t blame someone else. Instead, receive the cleansing that comes from confession. Be clean through the blood of Jesus Christ.
If you are not a Christian, the best way to deal with your sin is to admit that you are sinning. Then run to Christ and to the power of the Cross. Put your faith in Jesus. Let Jesus forgive your sins.
Levi Durfey—LDM-01-Genesis 3:1-13-GEB#01-20200126FBCAM-SERMON