O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Gen. 3:8-15
Preached on June 10, 2012
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Fellow baptized saints, how often do you think the Evil One manipulates you? How often does he 'get' you? Trick you into dishonoring God's name, or doubting what God really wants? How often is his kingdom more prevalent in your life, than the kingdom of God? To spare all of the blushing faces, let's agree that for each of us, it is far more often than we would like. The Evil One is much more powerful than us. He knows how to prey on our weaknesses. And based on our text, it would appear he has been a master of it for quite a long time.
Isn't it sad how our text begins? It is the aftermath of the fall. It says, "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." Here comes their loving God who formed them, breathed life into them and has made them the crown of His creation, and they do not want to be around Him. Instead they hide from Him. They avoid His presence. If this doesn't illustrate the power of sin, nothing can. Sin causes us to hide from God. It causes us to avoid the source of life. We flee from life itself because of our sin. Today we might look around and ask why so many people don't go to church. Yet we know the answer. We even feel and experience the answer. Haven't you ever hesitated in going to church because of something you had done? Sin keeps us away, and it doesn't even make sense. Adam and Eve know that God can see them no matter where they go, they know He is fully aware of what they have done, yet they still try to hide. And we are the same. Sin is so powerful it causes us to do things that don't make sense, it drives us into even more sin.
Put yourself in Adam's shoes for a minute. You did the one thing God told you not to do. It has ruined His entire creation, most importantly, His dearest possession, you, and here He comes to find you. Adam must have been dreading the moment he would face God. He would never have gone to find Him.
In our sin, we cannot seek God, but we are not totally lost, for God comes to us. He called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" Not because He did not know where Adam was. Not because He wanted to track Him down and get Him, but because He loved him. God wanted Adam to know that He still wanted to be with him. He wanted to be in sinful Adam's presence, even though Adam was fleeing from His. He was not angry with Adam. Yes, things would be different for him for awhile. But God was not going to leave Adam in the death he had brought upon himself. God came to Adam.
The same is true for us. God is calling us saying, "Where are you?" Despite our sin, He still wants to be with us. He still wants to be our God. He still wants to have the top place in our lives. And that is why He comes to us in the Divine Service. Sunday morning is a special time He comes to us. It is a special time He serves us, calls us, reassures us that we do belong with Him, we do belong in His presence, that He will not leave us in our sin and death. God comes to us, for He is a God of mercy.
Where are you? Adam's response is so honest. "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." The infection of sin had already spread. Fear. Nakedness. Shame. Adam's sin is all out in the open. There is no way for him to cover up what he has done. He worries that it will all be seen, afraid of what will happen. Gone is the peace he was made for. Gone is the certainty he had known. Gone is his perfect paradise. Adam did not yet know that God would work to cover his mistake, and that He would do so with His own precious blood. Adam had not yet heard this Word from God, so he was full of fear and shame and guilt, and wouldn't you know it, it is here that the Evil One is manifesting his own kingdom. Listen to the words the Evil One was able to manipulate Adam into uttering.
God said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Adam blames God for his sin. It's your fault, you put her here. And if it's not your fault, then it's her fault, she gave it to me. Adam takes no responsibility for his own evil heart. The manipulation of the Evil One continues. "Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Passing the buck again. It seems to be the name of the game, blame someone else, as if any of these redirections excuse anyone of what they have actually done. "The devil made me do it" means you still did it Adam, but what it more pointedly shows is that the devil's kingdom had come.
The devil had got Adam and Eve to blame someone else for their sin. He was ruling over them as their head, their king, and they didn't even know it. His kingdom had such a firm hold on them, that even though they had been in Paradise only moments before, they were so very far away from it now. They were blaming everyone else for their problems, as we often do. Oh, my boss. My teacher. The government. That guy in front of me. The world is out to get me, listen to how everyone else is letting me down. I'm sure there is even someone right now who is thinking, yeah pastor that sounds exactly like so and so. And without realizing it, the blaming continues. The devil slips up onto the throne to assert his reign, and we don't even know it. He rouses his kingdom within us and we just let him rule with no regard for what God wants. We don't even realize we are doing what the devil wants us to do. That we are acting like his servants, like Adam and Eve, sinning and blaming and sinning some more.
What a mess! What is God supposed to do with all of this blame? What can God do to restore His kingdom and bring an end to this newfound kingdom of evil that has enslaved His creation? How will the heavenly Father respond to all of this evil? Our text says, The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 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." What shall become of the kingdom of the devil, this kingdom of sin and death? God has declared it from the beginning, an offspring of Eve shall crush it beneath His feet. The day would come when a man born of woman would overcome the Evil One and restore the kingdom of God for His children. But it would be costly, for as his kingdom came to an end, the Evil One would strike this man's heel. Blood would have to be shed. How would the heavenly Father respond to all of this evil? He would send His Son, born of a woman, born as a new Adam, born to be blamed for all of the evil in the world. Born to be punished for it. Born to bleed for it.
May the whole world hear these words: All the blame rests on Christ. Christ takes the blame that you have unjustly given to Him. He has taken it without protest and suffered its punishment on the cross. He has let you sentence Him to death in order that He might turn around and give you eternal life. His blood has covered your nakedness. His blood has covered your shame. His blood has hidden all that you have done. Christ has defeated the death in you. It cannot have you. Christ has paid for the sin in you. It cannot claim you. Christ has overcome the works of the devil. He cannot take you.
Rise up, therefore, in confidence before the Lord who has brought you up out of the kingdom of darkness and into His marvellous light. For in Christ you are at peace with God. The devil may 'get' you more than you'd like, but in you lives one more powerful than he. Call on Him. Call on Christ in faith, for He is the only One who can overcome your tempter. He is the only One who can bring you strength. So ask Him for it - pray that His kingdom would come and crush the kingdom of the Evil One - beg that He would save you from temptation - that He would guard you from yourself - that He would curb your blaming ways. Ask Him to create a new mind within you, the mind of Christ, one that will even take the blame when you know you are innocent.
This promise God made in the garden gave Adam and Eve great hope. Hope for their lives. Hope for their children, and hope that Paradise would be restored. And that same promise gives us hope, for we have seen God fulfill it in the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son. Christ has taken the blame you deserve. And in return He offers you life in His blood. Humble yourselves therefore under His great mercy, that He may feed you the fruit that flows from the tree of His cross.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr