At the end of Genesis 1 it says: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” As John Piper says: “God did not create anything evil. It was all very good.” Then chapter 3 of Genesis starts and we find this serpent who is calling God’s word into question. This serpent is clearly evil. So, who is this serpent and how did he fall? Revelation 12:9 tells us that: “The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” So, clearly the ‘ancient serpent’ referenced here is the serpent in Genesis 3. So, this is the devil in Genesis 3. Ezekiel 28 tells us a little bit more about Satan before he fell:
“You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground;”
So, Satan was a high ranking angel. He was a ‘guardian cherub.’ What was his sin? Verse 17 tells us that the first sin, was the sin of pride: “Your heart was proud because of your beauty;” God created millions and millions of angels. Perhaps billions. Satan sins against God and he takes 1/3 of the angels with him. As Revelation 12 says: “Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth.”
We come then to Genesis 3 which starts out saying: “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’?” The word that the ESV translates as crafty is often translated with the word prudent or wise. So, the devil is very wise, but wisdom alone does not guarantee positive results. Many people today think that a lack of education is what is wrong with the world. If we could just get everyone educated we would not have the problems that we do now. However as Ravi Zacharias says: “If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track.”
Mark said that pain and suffering as well as wealth and power only ever magnify who we really are. Satan’s wisdom and power magnify the evil within him. The same is true for the man stealing the nuts and bolts then he gains wisdom and steals the whole track. The evil in this man is magnified. I thought I would include a more positive example of this. In this example pain and suffering magnify true Christian character. John and Betty Stam were missionaries with China Inland Mission during the 1930’s. They were serving in a small town in China called Tsingteh (today called Jingde). They were both in their late 20’s and they had a 3 month old daughter named Helen. In December 1934 Communist soldiers come to the town of Tsingteh where the Stam’s are and they take them captive. They demand $20,000 in ransom money for their release. John Stam writes the following letter to his mission board:
My wife, baby, and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.
All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage, and peace of heart. He is able and a wonderful Friend in such a time.
Things happened so quickly this a.m. They were in the city just a few hours after the ever-present rumors really became alarming, so that we could not prepare to leave in time. We were just too late.
The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, may God be glorified whether by life or by death.”
So, this suffering that has come upon John, Betty, and Helen Stam has only magnified who they really are. Tim Challies says this referring to John Stam’s letter: “Here is a man captured by ruthless bandits, in prison with his wife and baby daughter. And his concern is not for life or for death, but only for the glory of God.” A couple of days after being taken captive by the Communist soldiers the following happens:
“It was the next day, a Saturday morning, that the soldiers came into John and Betty’s room and told them to take off their clothes, to walk out of the house in just their long underwear. They tightly tied their hands behind their backs and led them out. John walked barefoot, having given his socks to his wife to protect her feet. They left the baby behind; Betty had tucked her into her little sleeping bag and then nestled her into a big pile of bedding. The soldiers forgot all about little Helen.
The soldiers marched John and Betty through the town and told all the people to come out and to watch them die. They would witness what China thought of foreigners, people who would come to their nation to teach people about God. There was only one man in the entire town who was brave enough to object. A man named Chang spoke up for the couple. He fell on his knees before the soldiers and begged them to let the missionaries go. The soldiers grabbed him and tied him up, too, accusing him of being in league with the foreigners. They searched his home and there they found a Bible and a hymn book—now they knew that he was a Christian too.
They dragged John and Betty to the end of the main street, a little place called Eagle Hill. They ordered John to kneel, but before he did so, he said just a few words to the soldiers nearby. No witnesses were close enough to hear the words, but I think we know what he told them, don’t we? What would he have said to them except to speak the gospel to them? He knelt on the ground, a big knife flashed, and John fell to the ground. Then they pushed Betty down beside him and she, too, was killed. Neither one showed any great fear; neither one cried out; both were praying to the Lord at the moment they went to meet the Lord. They went from being on their knees on the cold, hard ground, to being on their knees before their Savior.”
John and Betty are both martyred for their faith. Their little girl Helen miraculously survives. If you want to read more I would encourage you to read this wonderful little biography on them. The last thing I want to include is the letters that John and Betty’s parents wrote after hearing about their deaths. This again is a great example of suffering magnifying who they really are. Peter Stam, John’s father wrote:
“Deeply appreciate your consolation. Sacrifice seems great, but not too great for Him Who gave Himself for us. Experiencing God’s grace. Believe wholeheartedly (Romans 8:28)…Our dear children, John C. Stam and Elisabeth Scott Stam, have gone to be with the Lord. They loved Him, they served Him, and now they are with Him. What could be more glorious? It is true, the manner in which they were sent out of this world was a shock to us all, but whatever of suffering they may have endured is now past, and they are both infinitely blessed with the joys of Heaven.”
Betty’s mother wrote this:
“When the telegram came Thursday evening saying that Betty and John were with the Lord we did not mourn as those who have no hope, but could not but feel that a great blessing might come to the cause of Christ here in China and also wherever their martyrdom might be known. We cannot but rejoice that they have been counted worthy to suffer for His sake, and we cannot be sorry for them that thus early they have been released from all earthly trials and have entered into the glory provided for those who belong wholly to Him.”
John and Betty’s picture is below:
In Revelation 12 it says that Satan is the accuser. “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth–the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” Matthew Henry says: “Satan, as he is the accuser of the brethren before God, so he accuses God before the brethren thus he sows discord, and is the father of those that do so.” As Mark powerfully reminded us this past Sunday, when we partake in gossip we are actually taking part in something that is Satanic. We are sowing discord among the brethren. Jerry Bridges says: “If I gossip, I both tear down another person and corrupt the mind of my listener…In this way, my sin “metastasizes” into the heart of another person.”
The first words that the devil speaks to Eve are: “Did God actually say,…” Four words that are quite possibly his four favorite words. Satan wants to undermine the word of God. Charles Spurgeon says that Satan “said to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” He whispered and insinuated a doubt, “Did God really say?” as much as to say, “Are you quite sure he said that?” It was by means of unbelief–that thin part of the wedge–that the other sin entered; curiosity and the rest followed;” If Satan can gets us to doubt God’s word, and to begin to question God’s word then he has us. Matthew Henry says: “See here, that it is the subtlety of Satan to blemish the reputation of the divine law as uncertain or unreasonable, and so to draw people to sin and that it is therefore our wisdom to keep up a firm belief of, and a high respect for, the command of God.” He goes on to say that the devil will say: “Has God said, “You shall not lie, nor take his name in vain, nor be drunk,” The devil will ask us if God has said that Jesus is really the only way and on and on. Matthew Henry says when these questions come we can answer: “Yes, I am sure he has, and it is well said, and by his grace I will abide by it, whatever the tempter suggests to the contrary.”
Eve answers Satan in verses 2&3: “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 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.’” R.C. Sproul points out how Eve is the first person who defends God’s word. She does add to God’s word when she says that God said not to touch the tree, lest you die. God never said that. Then Satan boldly lies straight to Eve when he says: “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Matthew Henry says: “This was a lie, a downright lie for, [1.] It was contrary to the word of God, which we are sure is true…It was such a lie as gave the lie to God himself.” Of course Jesus tells us about Satan in John 8 that: “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” This first lie from Satan in Genesis 3 is that God will not punish sin. This is one of the first things that people attack about the Bible in our day. They attack the wrath of God.
The Fall Followed By The Promise
In verses 6&7 Adam and Eve fall into sin. “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. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” The first thing that happens after they partake of the fruit, is that they both feel shame. The end of Genesis 2 says: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Now after they sin they are ashamed and cover their nakedness.
Charles Spurgeon gives this warning: “You may go and pluck the fruit that He forbids you to touch and then you may go and hide yourself among the thick trees in the forest and think that you have concealed yourself—but you will have to come face to face with your Maker at some time or other! It may not be today, or tomorrow. It may not be until “the cool of the day” of time. No, it may not be till time, itself, shall be no more—but, at last, you will have to confront your Maker!”
Then the saddest verse of this 3rd chapter of Genesis: “And 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 among the trees of the garden.” Charles Spurgeon says: “They heard His voice speaking as He walked in the garden in the cool of the day. And when He called to Adam, albeit that there was righteous anger in the tone of His voice, yet His words were very calm and dignified and, as far as they could be, even tender, for, while you may read the words thus, “Adam, where are you?” You may also read them thus, “Where are you, poor Adam, where are you?” You may put a tone of pity into the words and yet not misread them. So the Lord comes thus in gentleness in the cool of the day and calls them to account. He patiently listens to their wicked excuses and then pronounces upon them a sentence, which, heavy though it is towards the serpent and heavy though it is towards all who are not saved by the woman’s wondrous Seed, yet has much mercy mingled with it in the promise that the Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent—a promise which must have shone in their sad and sinful souls as some bright particular star shines in the darkness of the night!”
In Genesis 3:15 with get the first glimpse of the gospel in the Bible, in acorn form: “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.” Matthew Henry says: “Here was the dawning of the gospel day. No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed. Here, in the head of the book, as the word is (Hebrews 10:7), in the beginning of the Bible, it is written of Christ, that he should do the will of God…Satan had now trampled upon the woman, and insulted over her but the seed of the woman should be raised up in the fulness of time to avenge her quarrel, and to trample upon him, to spoil him, to lead him captive, and to triumph over him, Colossians 2:15. He shall bruise his head, that is, he shall destroy all his politics and all his powers, and give a total overthrow to his kingdom and interest. Christ baffled Satan’s temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of people, dispossessed the strong man armed, and divided his spoil: by his death, he gave a fatal and incurable blow to the devil’s kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast, that can never be healed.”
Thankfully, gloriously, Jesus came and fulfilled this promise in Genesis 3:15. Jesus crushed Satan’s head and took our sin and shame. Hebrews 12 says that Jesus despised the shame of the cross. Charles Spurgeon reminds us again of the beauty of the gospel: “Jesus wore my dress, nay, rather, he wore my nakedness when he died upon the cross; I wear his robes, the royal robes of the King of kings.”
Spurgeon powerfully writes:
“I remember well when the Lord brought me to my knees…and emptied out all my self-righteousness and self-trust until I felt that the hottest place in Hell was my due desert—and that if He saved everybody else, but did not save me—yet He would still be just and righteous, for I had no right to be saved!…There was the Lord coming to me, laying bare my sin, revealing to me my lost condition and making me shiver and tremble while I feared that the next thing He would say to me would be, “Depart from Me, accursed one, into everlasting fire in Hell!” Instead, He said to me in tones of wondrous love and graciousness, “I have put you among My children. ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.’” Blessed be the name of the Lord, forever and ever, for such amazing treatment as this meted out to the guilty and the lost!”