The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” [Genesis 3:1-5, NLT]
I have been reflecting on the ravages of sin, in the light of revelations of child molestation by a football coach at Penn State University. I am at once both horrified and humbled. No, I did not sin, and the extent of the sin and the cover up cause me great disgust. But I am also a sinner, and a member of a race of the fallen. I am humbled at how depraved we as human sinner can be.
One thing I learned after becoming a Christian and leaving a certain denomination was that there are not levels of sin: like oh my little lie could not cause such great harm as this despicable act. I am one who has been a victim of a similar circumstance, and will forever be affected by this broken trust and contemptible acts. But as an adult, and as a Christian, I have had to learn to own my own sin, and cannot simply blame another for the introduction of evil at an early age. And as an adult, and as a Christian, I have had to learn that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” When Jesus was confronted by a woman caught in adultery, and the crowd that accused her, He drew the ire of the mob by addressing the issue of sin in each of the accusers, telling them that, “he who is without sin (can) cast the first stone” in judgment (John 8). I am equally a sinner. This does not justify the act; but it does justify my response – I forgive.
The passage from Genesis grabbed my attention this morning in light of these circumstances. How unique that Satan in the form of a serpent told Eve the very truth which we are missing in all of this: when our eyes are opened to our sinful nature, we have a choice before us – repentance and forgiveness, from God and through us to others; or we can hide from the truth and have our minds darkened (Romans 1:21) our eyes blinded (John 12:40) and our consciences corrupted (Titus 1:15). All the while the Lord by His spirit wants to purify and cleanse our consciences (Hebrews 9:14 and 10:22) so that we realize that God created us in His image, to enjoy freedom, liberty and everlasting joy in His presence.
We have all eaten of the fruit; we have all disobeyed the law; we have all violated the trust given in the garden and walked out in darkness. We now know that we are naked. There are still some areas in all of our lives in which we try to compensate for the fact that this area needs to be redeemed fully and completely by God. Let us surrender fully to His great mercy, and pray for those among us who remain fully deceived by their sin, that they can know good and evil; and that they would seek the One who has ransomed them out of darkness into His marvelous light!