Today we begin a new series, entitled, “Did God Really Say?” We are going to examine the foundations God designed for human flourishing, the brokenness and confusion that exists in areas such as authority, life’s sanctity, race, gender, sexuality, responsibility, and justice, and then God’s path for restoration. As created beings, we simply won’t flourish unless we yield to what our Creator really did say.
Imagine a perfect world designed by a perfect architect—a world without guilt or shame, anxiety or pain, strife or sickness, fear or funerals—where everything functioned in harmony. This was the world that God created. For a time, there was perfect peace, unbroken love, satisfying work, and appreciated differences. Man and woman enjoyed God and each other. Within the clear boundaries that God communicated for their protection, boundaries that aligned with His justice, they knew peace. This was God’s design. Then, after a failed attempt to usurp God’s throne, Satan was cast out in heaven. He came into this perfect world in the form of a snake with intent to dishonor God and destroy those created in His image.
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” (Genesis 3:1-6).
Jesus said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because 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” (Jn. 8:44). Satan’s motive was to kill. As image bearers of God, Satan wants to kill our body, our mind, our soul, our love, our joy, our purity, our peace, our family, our church, and our culture. Jesus again exposed Satan’s motives, saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10).
Satan’s method was to lie. Adding just enough truth to be plausible, Satan’s lies are often believable. He is the ‘Deceiver of the whole world,’ but his lies first target God. Leaning on A.W. Tozer, what comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us, for nobody rises above their understanding of God. We were created by God. He is the source of righteousness, truth, and justice. We live in His world and will stand before His throne. To be wrong in thought about God irreparably distorts our sense of direction, morality, and justice until we begin to think rightly about Him.
In Genesis 3, I want to show you three spiritual faultlines, breaking points that divided human flourishing from human brokenness. Not surprisingly, each faultline relates to God. The divide tends to show itself visibly in areas such as politics, abortion, racism, sexuality, economics, justice, religion, and philosophy, but the deeper faultlines lie in our understanding and relationship with God.
1. THE FAULTLINE OF GOD’S GOODNESS (GENESIS 3:1)
Is God good to knit us in a womb, give us diverse shades of skin, and make us male or female? Is God good to restrict sex to a husband and wife? Is God good in all He gives and restricts? Is God good to send just one Savior? Is God good? Satan would have us say, ‘No!’ “The serpent was more crafty…He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1) When we read what God said, we can’t mistake His generosity. “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:17). It’s like a chef leading us to a room filled with foods, saying, “It’s all for you…every table, dish, and dessert…just avoid the table in the corner with the Hershey Kiss. It will kill you.” This is why the Psalmist wrote, “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” In spite of the evidence, Satan maligns God’s goodness. The first divide between flourishing and brokenness is how we answer the question: Is God good to me?
2. THE FAULTLINE OF GOD’S TRUTHFULNESS (GENESIS 3:2-5)
Is God telling the truth about life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell? Satan would have us say, ‘No!’ Eve set the record straight, “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.’” Then came Satan’s denial. “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:2-4). Satan would make a skeptic of God’s truthfulness out of all of us. “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). In other words, “You can’t trust Him. You don’t know for yourself. Your eyes are shut. All you have is His word on it. How do you know it’s bad?”
The temptation is always to experiment instead of trust. “You need to test and see if you’re gay, male, or female. You need to test and see if mob-rule is destructive to society. You need to test and see if judicial deference to the rich or poor will intensify lawlessness.” This leads to pain. “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Truth is not what we feel. Truth is not what works. Truth is not our experience. Truth is not what we agree with. Truth is what God’s says. “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Like it, hate it, deny it, or believe it, His Word is truth. The second divide between flourishing and brokenness is how we answer the question: Is God truthful and trustworthy in what He has said?
3. THE FAULTLINE OF GOD’S JUSTICE (GENESIS 3:4)
Is God just? Does He see my life? Will he hold me accountable? Satan would have us say, ‘No!’ When Satan said, “You will not surely die,” (Gen. 3:4) he was saying, “You don’t need to factor accountability into your decision. Live for today under your watching eye, not His.” Satan’s gospel says that God will not punish sin. Like any false gospel, the degree to which we trust it will be the degree to which we reject our ability to flourish. God is holy, so He always does what is right. God is patient, but He never subverts justice. God is the source of justice. When God said, “You will die,” He wasn’t giving advice. He was setting law that the wage of sin is death. God is righteous. He will punish sin. The fact that judgment, heaven, and hell all shake the sensibilities of our culture doesn’t mean they are make-believe. It means that people are unprepared. The third divide between flourishing and brokenness is how we answer the question: Will the Judge of all the earth, who sees and knows me, do what is right and just?
“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” (Gen. 3:6). The devastation that came proved God’s goodness, truthfulness, and justice. The consequences were staggering. They died spiritually. They knew guilt and felt naked, so they hid alone. We have been hiding from God and each another ever since!
They were driven from the Garden into a hard world tangled with thorns and thistles. They experienced strife as each vied for prominence and used their strength to exploit. Their children, who would be born in pain, inherited a sin nature that would be predisposed to rebel and passed to every future generation. In the end, man would die and face separation from God. Do you know who didn’t grieve? Satan. He delighted and then determined to keep the world broken by recycling his schemes and efforts upon us.
In the bleakness of this moment, God promised a rescue! One day, a son would be born of woman. He would live without sin. His heel would be bruised, but He would bruise (crush) the head of Satan. The Bible removes all doubt in declaring that Jesus Christ was this son. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5). Jesus, the Son of God came into this world to seek us, save us, and rescue His design from our sin. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). Jesus lived a sinless life. He died for our sin. On the third day Jesus rose from dead. Satan’s power was broken. For all who believe in Christ and confess Him as Lord, God forgives, justifies, and gives eternal life.
The world is clearly broken. We see evidence in our hearts, homes, and culture, but we often mistake the symptomatic divisions in society as the primary cause of the brokenness instead of the deeper faultlines in our understanding and relationship with God. Whenever we confuse the symptom as the source, we make fixing the societal divisions our ultimate hope, but this has no lasting power to save. Therefore…
First, let me invite you to put your faith in Jesus. He did the hard work to make reconciliation with God and lasting peace with one another possible by living without sin, dying in our place, and rising from the dead. In Jesus, God’s goodness is displayed in giving His best. In Jesus, God’s truthfulness is displayed in keeping His promise. In Jesus, God’s justice is displayed because the wage of sin is death. For God to acquit the guilty and remain just, He sent His Son as a propitiation for our sin. In Revelation we find how Satan is overcome. “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:9). Those who put their faith in Jesus’ blood are forgiven, justified, and empowered to flourish!
Second, let me urge you to trust God’s Word. There is no need to experiment when we can trust. Do you recall the name Ivan Pavlov? One of his experiments illustrates the confusion in our culture. He trained his dogs to distinguish between circles and ovals. When they pointed at a circle, they received a reward. But when they selected an oval, they suffered a penalty. Once they knew the difference, Pavlov gradually made the oval more and more round until it was difficult to discern if it was an oval or a circle. The dogs became confused, erratic, and showed signs of distress. Similarly, as our culture reshapes moral values without regard for God’s law, each generation is increasing confused, distressed, and anxious. As created beings, we won’t flourish unless we yield to what our Creator really did say.
Third, let me urge you to recognize Satan’s schemes. Even today, his pattern is the same. He questions. “Did God really say?” He twists. “You shall not eat of any tree.” He denies. “You will not surely die.” He entices. “You will be like God.” Satan will lean on anything with a shred of goodness that has the potential to replace the gospel of Jesus as our chief hope. Popular options include wealth accumulation, athletic idolatry, political idolatry, Christian nationalism, and corrupt philosophy. In recent years, critical theory and its derivatives have gained much attention. (I recently wrote and posted an article entitled “Critical Theory and the Gospel.”) While I believe critical theory serves to sensitize us to the real unjust pains of mistreated people, it presents itself as a competing worldview and establishes the dismantling of unjust societal systems as a gospel in itself. To the degree that we absorb the inaccurate assumptions of any false hope, we will find ourselves rejecting God’s designs for society.
Fourth, let me ask you to be charitable. In coming weeks, we will look at sanctity of life, race, gender, sexuality, responsibility, justice, and salvation. When it comes to cultural issues, not everyone uses terms in the same way. Be slow to learn what people mean. Speak the truth in love. In an increasingly broken culture, we should be known for graciousness toward those with whom we disagree, particularly with our brothers and sisters who profess faith in Christ.
Fifth, let me remind you to be sharing Christ. In this broken world, there is only one true gospel. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the hope of the world. He is only answer to our brokenness, the only capable Healer, Reconciler, and Peace-maker. He alone defeated sin. He alone can bring us to heaven. Billions of broken people woke up today without knowledge of Him. We must go and tell them!
 Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:9
 Revelation 12:9
 Tozer, A.W. (1992) The Knowledge of the Holy.
 Isaiah 45:19; John 14:6; Deuteronomy 32:4
 Psalm 84:11
 Romans 1:21-22
 Psalm 119:160
 Romans 6:23
 Genesis 3:8-19
 Romans 5:12,18
 Genesis 3:15
 Ephesians 2:14-19
 Galatians 1:6-8; Colossians 2:8
 Ephesians 4:15