The story of the Bible is the story of the sovereign God, the salvation of man and the spoiling of Satan and his helpers. Genesis chapter three is the beginning of that story. In that chapter, there are three major areas of biblical study that continue throughout the Scriptures; theology, anthropology, and demonology.
In the first two chapters of Genesis, Moses gives us a little background to the story. There we read of God as Creator and of man as God’s perfect creation in a perfect environment—it was all “very good.” This is important information if we are to understand chapter three and the fall of man.
In chapter three God’s sovereignty over His creation is not apparent at first. God is silent while Satan enters the garden and tempts the woman. God does not speak until everything that Satan wanted has been accomplished, and humanity has been destroyed. Why did God not stop Adam and the woman? Why did God not destroy the serpent before the serpent destroyed mankind? The answer to these questions is that God is sovereign. Anything and everything that Satan does is within the control of and with the permission of God. Satan is God’s Devil (Erwin Lutzer, 2015). We will see this as we continue through the chapter.
A sovereign God does not fear sin. There is no threat to God’s essential glory. Indeed, everything that Satan does, while it appears to be an interruption of God’s purpose and a threat to His glory, turns out to show forth His glory.
Furthermore, God gives humanity the freedom to choose. Adam could choose to do evil or he could choose to obey. He had the power to do both. Here, we see how liberal God is. We were created as rational beings with the ability to make choices. God created us like this and he gives us the credit for thinking—sometimes wrong thinking but thinking nonetheless.
Satan enters the Garden in the form of a serpent—the subtlest of all the beasts of the field. Dutch theologian, Professor G.C. Berkouwer said, “there can be no sound theology, without a sound demonology” (Lutzer 2015, 10). We cannot understand the nature of salvation or the struggle of sanctification without a proper understanding of Satan and his work. Scripture is clear and references are plentiful regarding the work of Satan and his myriads of helpers, known as demons or evil spirits (Luke 10:17, 20).
Satan is God’s arch-enemy, he reigns over the kingdom of darkness (Matthew 12:26). We are to be aware of his activity (2 Corinthians 2:11), of his subtle and ruthless motives towards us (1 Peter 5:8). But we are to remember that Satan is a defeated enemy.
Follow the story of Satan’s hostility toward God throughout the Scriptures. It was crystallized in his temptation of humanity and the fall in Genesis three. It was cursed in the first gospel promise, in verse fifteen of Genesis three. Satan was crushed at Calvary and his hostility will culminate in the eternal lake of fire (Colossians 2:15). This is the story of the Bible; what has been often called, “the conflict of the ages.”
Adam, as the first created human being, is the representative head of the human race. Paul makes it clear that we were all there in Adam, and as Paul says, we “all sinned”(Romans 5:12).
We all carry the marks and guilt of Adam’s sin. It is not that Adam sinned and God is still angry so everyone after Adam is going to pay the penalty. Paul’s language clearly implies the involvement of every human being in the sin of Adam. It is true that all have come into condemnation as Paul says in another place, but we should not forget that we were one with Adam, we are all personally implicated in some way with Adam’s sin, for Paul says, in Adam “all sinned.” As the leaves of the tree bear the same nature as the root, so we bear the same nature as Adam. Three outcomes of the garden event that humanity must deal with, the reality of sin, the consciousness of guilt, and the certainty of punishment.
In Adam and his wife, we recognize ourselves. We may sit in judgment of them, and in so doing we sit in judgment of ourselves. Adam and his wife, “the woman” represent all of humanity, and in the story of Genesis three provide a picture of the human struggle with sin. One of the problems that humanity has wrestled with since the beginning of time is the nature of humanity. What is man? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Only when we know ourselves will we understand our need for a Saviour. Only when we understand Salvation in God’s remedy for sin, will know what it is to overcome the world, as Adam and Eve did.
My name is Aaron Dunlop. I am married to Grace and we have five children. I grew up in Northern Ireland and after seminary in Greenville, SC, I church planted in Victoria BC, Canada, and pastored there for ten years. In 2018 my family moved to Kenya where I worked among rural pastors.
Early in 2020, we returned to Ireland from where I am the director of The Krapf Project and associated missionary with UFM Worldwide, helping to prepare ministry resources for pastors in rural East Africa. In this blog, I write devotional, pastoral, and theological articles. I also write on the history of evangelicalism (especially 20th century) Church History and issues related to Missiology.