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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Our Plunge Into Sin
Text:LD 3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-07-19
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Genesis 3

Lesson: Lord’s Day 3

 

OUR PLUNGE INTO SIN

  1. Our Creation

  2. Our Cost

  3. Our Confidence

 

  1. Psalm 24: 1, 2

  2. Psalm 90: 1, 2

  3. Hymn 36:1-4

  4. Hymn 2 

  5. Hymn 70: 1, 2

  6. Hymn 70: 3, 4

 

Words to Listen For: bystanders, tigers, package, door, dirt

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Is evil BORN or MADE?

  2. What’s the difference between righteousness and holiness?

  3. Why “Plunge” instead of “Fall” ?

  4. What 3 things was the fruit really about?

  5. How did Christ take on the curse? (Adam’s curse, Eve’s curse, Curse of death)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ,

     Evil isn’t BORN…it’s MADE.

     Evil isn’t BORN…it’s MADE.

This is the theme of so many movies and books in the last 20 years.

Previously, classic books had good and evil clearly defined.  Light vs. Darkness, and light must prevail.

But, as society has moved on, and blurred the lines between good and evil, the BACKSTORY of villains has been more focussed on.

Nobody is BORN EVIL, they say.  Evil is caused from the OUTSIDE.  Evil is something that happens TO YOU.

The wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz got her own book and musical, about how she was bullied for being green, about how she was misunderstood, and how everyone else decided she was a villain, and eventually she just embraced it.

And there are so many stories like this.  Think of a villain, and more than likely, you can find a tragic backstory that has been written for them.

And this is all well and good for fictional stories…but what about REALITY?

Does the Bible teach that evil isn’t BORN it’s MADE?

Mostly no…and partially yes.

 

Evil IS BORN in us - Our nature became so corrupt that we are all conceived and born in sin.

All of humanity, apart from two people…were BORN EVIL.

And those two people - Adam and Eve…it is VITALLY IMPORTANT that they were the exact opposite of us in this.

Adam and Eve weren’t BORN evil…they were created good - like all of creation, and in God’s image - unique for human beings.

Adam and Eve were MADE EVIL.  But we shouldn’t feel TOO BAD for them…they weren’t bullied into evil, they weren’t forced into it, sin suggested…and they gave in.  First Eve, and then Adam.

And though theologically, we call it the FALL INTO SIN, as the catechism student could tell you…I prefer different terminology.  I prefer to talk about

 

OUR PLUNGE INTO SIN.  This afternoon, we will examine

  1. Our Creation

  2. Our Cost, and finally

  3. Our Confidence


 

Our Plunge Into Sin.  Our Creation.

In order to see how far we have fallen, we need to compare where we started to where we are now.  And, unfortunately, it’s a pretty deep plunge.

And, further, even more unfortunate…there’s nobody to blame but ourselves.

And we see that the catechism speaks our language…the catechism asks OUR QUESTIONS.

     Hey, umm, I’m not too keen on being responsible for my sins and  evil…could we, maybe, put it on God?

After all, if, as Lord’s Day 2 says, we’re inclined by NATURE to hate both God and our neighbour…that’s not really OUR FAULT…is it?  Not only are we BORN like this…but we must be CREATED like this!

It must be God’s fault - the CREATOR of our NATURE.

Did God, then, create man so wicked and perverse?

And we HOPE BEYOND HOPE that the answer is “yes.”

If it’s God’s fault, then surely it has to be God who fixes it.  We’re just innocent bystanders in this whole thing.  Just victims of circumstance, and victims of a God who made a cosmic mistake and sent us into our mother’s wombs with the switch flipped to EVIL instead of to GOOD.

Did God, then, created man so wicked and perverse?

No, on the contrary, God created man good and in His image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness.

It’s not God’s fault.  HE made us GOOD.  HE made us to be JUST LIKE HIM.

 

Imagine how that would have been.  Imagine for a moment what it was like to be truly righteous and truly holy.

Now, we might think RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS are identical terms.  After all, righteousness is doing what is right, and holiness is also doing what is right…right?

But that’s not exactly how we should view it.

Righteousness and holiness obviously go together, it’s impossible for someone to be RIGHTEOUS and NOT HOLY, and it’s impossible for someone to be HOLY and NOT RIGHTEOUS.

And yet, there are differences here.

Righteousness has the flavor of a LEGAL STATUS that we have before God.  If we are RIGHTEOUS, it means that we are judged as having done what is right in the courtroom of God.  If we are RIGHTEOUS, it means that we are in a right relationship with God.  God says “do not sin” and we do not sin.  Everything is right.  Everything is GOOD.

Holiness on the other hand goes deeper.  Holiness is a separation, holiness is a devotion, holiness is worth, beauty, purity, value, and excellence.  A separation from what is common.

Holiness is moral BEAUTY and GLORY, holiness is INTERNAL, and righteousness, we could say, is the outpouring of that holiness.  Holiness is in your HEART, righteousness is in your HANDS.

And this is what we were.  This is who we were created to be.  Imagine that.

Imagine waking up in the morning, in the perfect Garden of Eden, and being filled with light and joy in your inner being.  Knowing that you are HOLY.  You are morally pure of heart.  No negative thoughts about your spouse, no negative thoughts about your God, no negative thoughts about yourself.  You wake up as truly holy.  There is a lightness in your heart and a joy just from being alive.

And then you go and explore the Garden, working it and keeping it.  You see the flowers and the trees, you appreciate their beauty, but even more, you appreciate the beauty of the One who created them, the beauty of the One who created YOU.

And then, in the cool of the day, God would come and walk with you and talk with you.  You would excitedly show Him what you did with the trees and the flowers, you would tell him how you named the creatures, you would be perfectly satisfied in Him, content with that RIGHT RELATIONSHIP.

It was beautiful.  It was VERY GOOD.

This, beloved, in HOW WE WERE CREATED.  We were created to be image-bearers of God.  Created good and in His image.  Created with intrinsic value and worth.  Created to be like God.  Created to reflect His beauty back to Him.

This was our IDENTITY.

And our PURPOSE?  We were created that we might, as the catechism says

Know God (our) Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness to praise and glorify Him.

We were created as sons and daughters who trust and love our Father.  We were created as a perfect family, for us to show each other and to show God that we have that amazing family resemblance.  To praise and glorify our God by enjoying His gifts.  By taking pleasure in His creation, and taking ultimate pleasure in Him!  We were going to be with Him…forever!

And God, for His part, would be a Father who takes delight in His children.  A Father who delights in teaching and instructing and guiding.

A Father who receives praise and glory and who gives out love and blessings.  We were created as a perfect family.

This shows God’s love for us.  The Creator’s love for His creation.  But more than that.  Because God loved us, and still loves us, though we plunged ourselves into sin, God loves us more than any other thing He created.  To which of the angels did God vow to be FATHER?  To which of the mountains did He say, “you are my image bearer,” to which of the waterfalls or lions, or tigers, or bears, did God choose to pursue even in their sin, choosing to DIE to get back into that proper relationship?

ONLY US.  ONLY HUMAN BEINGS.  We were created with the greatest potential to glorify God, and the greatest potential to hurt Him.  And we chose the second.  We plunged ourselves into sin and received the due penalty for our rebellion.  We had to pay the cost for our sins.  Our second point.

After our creation, after Adam and Eve spending days, weeks, months or years in the Garden - we really don’t know - there came something popularly known as THE FALL.

And this is a good term for it…we FELL from true righteousness and holiness, we FELL from a free and full relationship with God, we fell…and we fell far!

But I prefer to call it THE PLUNGE.

Because a FALL can be accidental.  A FALL can simply be tripping, or stumbling.  Something that happened ACCIDENTALLY.

And we will hear more on that in Lord’s Day 4, when the catechism says the following: Man, at the instigation of the Devil, IN DELIBERATE DISOBEDIENCE.

This is what we heard in our reading as well.

Genesis 3 - Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Eve CHOSE to eat the fruit when she was offered it by the serpent.  She was lied to, she was deceived…sin suggested, she willingly chose.  The woman fell to the wiles of the master tempter.

And then Adam CHOSE to eat the fruit when he was offered it by his wife.  It’s very unlikely that Eve lied to Adam, unlikely that she tempted him…the clear meaning of the text is that Adam fell to the suggestion and offer of his wife.

This was no accidental TRIP, this was a deliberate PLUNGE into sin.

Eve wasn’t UNAWARE of what the fruit would do.  She TOLD the devil what the consequences were, even embellishing them a little, adding that TOUCHING the fruit would lead to death.

As for Adam, there is nothing in all of Scripture to suggest that he was ignorant of what the fruit was.  Even as he pointed the finger at his wife, he doesn’t claim ignorance.  All that he says is that Eve started it.

THE WOMAN WHOM YOU GAVE TO BE WITH ME (blaming God), SHE GAVE ME THE FRUIT (blaming Eve), AND I ATE.

Both Adam and Eve were responsible.  Both Adam and Eve deliberately rebelled against God.

Because that’s what it was, wasn’t it?

It wasn’t about the sin of eating a particular piece of fruit.  Eating a fruit isn’t enough to damn anyone, much less the whole human race.

The fruit wasn’t about the fruit.

Instead, the fruit was about OBEDIENCE

  • Will you OBEY GOD or not?  He said NO, are you going to say NO too?  Are you going to be RIGHTEOUS, with your will in line with His law?  In the Garden there was only one law.  Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree!  God said NO…and Adam and Eve said YES.

The fruit was about OBEDIENCE, and the fruit was about TRUST.

  • Will you TRUST GOD or not?  He said this will lead to death.  It doesn’t matter how pleasing it is to the eye…if something leads to death, if something is dangerous and destructive, who cares what package it comes in?  Do you TRUST GOD?  Adam and Eve said no.  They trusted themselves instead.

The fruit was about obedience, trust, and the fruit was about DEPENDENCY.

  • Do you believe that God has given you everything that is good and necessary?  Or you do believe He is holding out on you?  This was Satan’s accusation!  You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.  The bad that God promises won’t happen, and, in fact, there will be a blessing for you!

And really, when we think about it…these three things: obedience, trust, and dependency…they cover the full spectrum of motivations to sin, don’t they?

Obedience is fairly obvious, so we won’t go into it too deeply…but simply put - God has given us a comprehensive list of rules and commandments by which we are to live our lives.  Whether your EXACT SITUATION is addressed in Scripture or not, 99 times out of 100, there is an obvious way forwards.  The way of obedience is clear.  Whether we are willing to walk that way or not…that is the question.

But our motivation for sin can also be a lack of trust in God.

God…this thing that I’m doing…it’s not really so bad.  You wouldn’t ACTUALLY condemn me to hell for committing this little sin…that’s cruel and unusual punishment!  My sins aren’t really so bad…your justice isn’t really so particular…plus, look at this particular sin…it’s so nice, it’s so shiny and perfect…how can something that LOOKS THIS GOOD, how can something that FEELS THIS GOOD be bad?  I don’t really trust you God…I’m going to go my own way here.  I’ll trust my 5 senses instead, thank you!

And our motivation for sin can be a lack of dependency on God.

God…this thing that I’m doing…I’m only doing it because you haven’t provided for me.  You haven’t given me the pleasure that I need…so I will seek it out myself in sex, drugs and alcohol.

You haven’t give me the justice I need, so I will slander someone’s good name, assassinate his character, seek evil for him, and maybe even murder him.  You haven’t given me the possessions I need, so I will covet what my neighbour has, and then steal what my neighbour has.  You’re holding out on me, and I DESERVE the best things in life, in MY TIMING, and so I’ll be dependent on myself, on the strength of my arm to get me what I deserve.

But all these things came crashing down for Adam and Eve, didn’t they?

Adam and Eve received the curse of death…and they passed it on to all of us, their descendants.

There is the curse of PHYSICAL DEATH.  Because of Adam and Eve…we will all physically die.  Our bodies slow down due to old age, and eventually stop working.  Adam and Eve died…and so will we.

There is the curse of SPIRITUAL DEATH.  Because of Adam and Eve…we are separated from God.  No longer do we have that relationship in the same way, where we can see God face to face, where He walks with us and talks with us in the cool of the day.  We are frightened to be open and honest and vulnerable with God, because our sins necessarily separate us from Him!

And there is the curse of ETERNAL DEATH.  Because of Adam and Eve…because of THEIR SIN and because of OUR SIN…we have stored up for ourselves eternal punishment.  Our sins have to be paid for, if not by another, then by us, eternally, in Hell.

This was the death that Adam and Eve brought into the world.  This was the death that our first parents passed down to us.  We inherited their corruption, as we would have inherited their righteousness.  It has been passed down in our spiritual DNA as it were.

We fell so far…didn’t we…

From life in abundance, life in blessing, life in righteousness and holiness…into a cursed existence.

From hearing God’s voice in your ear to hearing the death bell continually toll - DEATH!  DEATH!  DEATH!

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for YOU!

It’s not just Adam and Eve who died…it’s not just Adam and Eve who were cursed…it was each and every one of us!

AND YET.  This always comes up in my sermons because this always comes up in the Bible.  There is a bleak and dim view of things.  Our sins loom before us, we are cursed, we are under the grip of the Devil…BUT GOD.  BUT THE GOSPEL.  But there is hope!  Even with this dismal reality, we can yet have confidence.  Our final point.

Believe it or not, there IS HOPE, there IS CONFIDENCE in Lord’s Day 3 of the catechism.  I don’t have to import it from elsewhere as I did in Lord’s Day 2…it’s here in answer 8.

QUESTION 8 just makes things worse…I guess it’s always darkest before the dawn…

But are we SO CORRUPT that we are TOTALLY UNABLE to do ANY GOOD and inclined to ALL EVIL?

The authors of the catechism pulled out all the stops on that one, didn’t they?

Look at all those absolutes: TOTALLY UNABLE, ANY GOOD, ALL EVIL.

And again, just like we saw in point one, we are HOPING and PLEADING for another answer than the one we are given.

We are HOPING AND PLEADING that God would be to blame and not us.

We are HOPING AND PLEADING that our corruption wouldn’t go quite so deep.

But it ISN’T God’s fault, and our corruption IS that deep.  The answer begins with the word YES.  It’s an UNPLEASANT reality, but it’s reality.  And this is where we must live.  We must live in reality.  If you fight reality, you may have limited success for a time, but reality always wins.  If you refuse to live in reality, reality will come knocking on your door anyways.

This is the reality of our situation.  And it’s depressing.

But there’s another reality here too.

There is the reality of our problem, and the reality of God’s solution.

And this is shown in that wonderful little word after the devastating YES.

Yes…it’s all true.  It’s all true that we are TOTALLY UNABLE to do ANY GOOD and inclined to ALL EVIL.  It’s true.  This is the depths to where we have plunged.

But.

However.

Unless.

Yes…UNLESS.

And that word “unless” is beautiful.  That word “unless” is hope.  That word “unless” is the gospel.

Yes…unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Now, here the authors of the catechism are focusing on one aspect of salvation - that of REGENERATION.  Or SANCTIFICATION.   When the Holy Spirit makes us more and more holy.

When He begins to regenerate our wills so that we may be more and more righteous, following the standards of God’s most holy law in all we do.

And I understand why this is the aspect that is focussed on - we WERE CORRUPTED, this is how we are CLEANED.

We WERE DEAD, this is how we are MADE ALIVE.

But here’s what we must remember - JUST BEING REGENERATED…as amazing a miracle as it is, as absolutely necessary as it is, CANNOT SAVE US.  Regeneration is about our future.  By the power of the Spirit we will not always be totally unable to do any good.  We will begin to live, with earnest purpose, not only according to some, but to all the commandments of God.

This is an amazing, bright, shining FUTURE.

But what about our past?  What about the many sins that we have ALREADY COMMITTED?

A murderer promising not to murder again, even if he keeps his promise, still must face justice for the crime he already committed.

So…what about us?

While the “unless” in the catechism points to one aspect of our hope, our future hope of being remade, being restore in true righteousness and holiness…

Our reading shows us another aspect of our salvation, another aspect of our hope.  Our hope of someone who DID take our curse upon Himself.

Genesis 3:15 - 

And I will put enmity

    between you and the woman,

    and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

    and you will strike his heel.

 

Our Saviour took Adam’s curse upon Himself

 

The thorns that Adam would grow in the ground

They would be made into a crown on the Second Adam’s brow.

 

The sweat Adam would have pouring down his face as he worked

This would turn into drops of blood running down the face of our Lord,

as He was in agony in the Garden, about to do the mighty work of

salvation.

 

And our Saviour transformed Eve’s curse

 

The pain in childbirth

    There would be a child born whose perfect life and atoning death

     would mean an end to all mourning, crying and pain

 

Being ruled over by her husband and having an adversarial desire over him

    This would be transformed by Jesus Christ who showed both servant

     leadership, LEADING…not RULING…and servant submission…not

     desiring to topple him, neither grovelling in the dirt beneath him

 

And the death.  The three kinds of death as the result of sin?

Well our Saviour would take those on too.

 

Physical Death

Though we still die, our death has be transformed into an entryway into eternal life.  Jesus tasted death, and its true horrors, so that when we pass away, it won’t REALLY be death.  It will be a transition from one degree of glory to another.  A transition from one kind of life to another.

 

Spiritual Death

Because of the work of Christ, even though we do not walk and talk with our God in the Garden in the cool of the day…not yet at least…we are filled with His Holy Spirit.  There isn’t a gap there, there isn’t a rift between us, but God lives WITHIN US!

 

Eternal Death

Jesus Christ experienced Hell for us so that we don’t have to experience a single moment of it.  Jesus Christ, throughout His life, but especially on the cross, experienced the true hellishness of hell - forsakenness by God.

 

All of these, all of these curses…they are, unfortunately, what we deserve.

Evil…whether for Adam and Eve as something MADE..

Evil…for us as something BORN…

Here’s the hope, here’s the light in the darkness.

For Adam and Eve…the evil that was MADE INSIDE THEM…it could be UNMADE.  Just as evil and corruption happened to them, just as they were filled with sin…they were then filled with the Spirit.  That deep and sudden PLUNGE…it was slowly but powerfully reversed, as God the Holy Spirit remade them and reworked them to be righteous and holy.

And for us…the evil that we were BORN WITH…well…here’s the good news - as Christians, we are BORN AGAIN!  We were born into Adam, into a cursed life filled with misery and death…but God caused us to be born again!  We have been born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!  We have been born again, not of the perishable seed of Adam, but of the imperishable seed of the Word of God!

And so, beloved…however you were BORN, however you were MADE…God is greater!

However great your sins and your corruption, however great the evil inside of your heart…God is greater!

However hopeless you might feel, however strong a hold sin has on your heart…there IS HOPE.  There is Hope in the UNLESS of the Gospel.  There is hope in the BUT GOD of the Gospel.

There is hope, and in this hope we live and we trust.  The God who made us VERY GOOD has spent EVERYTHING to remake us after His image.  His infinite love meets with His infinite power and grants us eternal salvation.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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