Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

Christianity – The Basics: The Root of Evil


Genesis 2:16–17; 3:1–9

In 1961 Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi who masterminded the death camps, went on trial. When a certain Jewish death camp  survivor was brought in to testify, he collapsed to the floor, sobbing. When asked, “What was going through your mind?  Why did you collapse? Were you overwhelmed with hatred or fear in the presence of your former persecutor?”, his startling  reply was: “No, no, no. As I looked at Eichmann, I realized, ‘He’s not a demon. He’s not a superman. He is a man just  like me. And if he’s capable of doing this, then so am I!’ ” This man who’d suffered at the hands of the Nazis realized  “Eichmann is in all of us.” Have you faced the potential for evil within you? Do you know what’s in your heart? Do you know  what you’re capable of? But more importantly, what are you going to do about the evil in our hearts? Genesis 2-3 tell us  about the root of sin, the essence of sin, the results of sin, and the solution for sin. 

[1] The root of sin. In Genesis 2:16-17 God gave the first humans one simple command. God doesn’t give a reason  for his prohibition; He just said, “Don’t eat from that tree.” Had God given them a reason they might have abstained simply  because they perceived it to be to their advantage. But that’s not obedience; that’s self-interested compliance. God  wanted them to refrain just because he asked them to, because they loved him and trusted him. And that is what the  Serpent (Satan) went after: he engaged in character assassination (3:4-5). The Serpent is saying: “If you submit to God,  you’ll miss out. You won’t be all that you could be.” That lie has passed down to us. We really don’t believe that God has  our best interests at heart. We work ourselves to death, we tear others down to bolster our own sense of self-worth. Why?  Because we don’t trust God and his love. 

[2] The essence of sin. Genesis 3:6 reveals the essence of sin. There was one law and they violated it. Sin is  lawlessness (1 John 3:4). But even the motives of our heart can be sinful (Matthew 5:27-28). In her heart, Eve wanted to  be like God (Genesis 3:5). That is what we are after too. We try to make everything orbit around our comfort, our glory, our  worth, and our acclaim. But God should be at the center, not us. Sin is putting ourselves in the place of God. Human nature  is “curved in on itself.” We often think only cruel egomaniacs are self-centered, but we all are inclined to bend everything  toward our own advantage. Self-centeredness can become main motivation for being moral and generous! We use people  for our own sakes. Religion often is fueled by self-centeredness. We attend worship and do religiously expected stuff, so  that when we ask God for things—he will grant our requests. People will often say, “What use is it to be a Christian, if God  never answers my prayers?” Did you catch that? “What use is it?” Whenever we say to God, “Lord, I’ll obey you if, or as  long as…”, whatever lies on the other side of the “if,” or of the “as long as,” is our real god. It is what we ultimately worship.  Ever since Adam, none of us simply loves God. We always have an angle. We all use him. Sin isn’t just breaking the rules.  It is living for our own glory, being our own rescuers. Self-centeredness expresses itself just as much through being moral  and religious, as it does by being immoral and irreligious.  

[3] The results of sin. Sin is a cancer of self-centeredness which destroys all relationships. As soon as Adam and  Eve sinned, they felt shame (Genesis 2:25 cf. 3:7, 10). They were afraid of anyone who had perfect knowledge of who they  really were, and of what they had actually done. In sewing fig leaves they were trying to be their own savior, to patch up a  righteousness, an identity, a self-worth of their own. We can’t bear for others to have an unfiltered view of who we really are,  so self-centeredness destroys our relationships with people and with God. If we get too near a holy God, we’re going to see  how very flawed we are, how absolutely weak and helpless we are, how selfish we are—and that’s tough to admit. Most of us  base our lives on the idea that we’re competent, that we’re not all that bad. Then we get near God and that illusion is smashed! 

[4] The solution for sin. In v. 9 God asks, “Where are you?”—and since he knows everything, it really means, “Why  are you hiding from me?” Our answer should be: “Because I sinned.” But the answer God gets is: “I’m hiding because  I’m ashamed.” So God says, “All right, then, why are you ashamed? Did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?”  The right answer is: “Yes we did.” But that’s not the answer God gets. The man says, “The woman made me do it,” and  the woman says, “The Serpent made me do it.” God is counseling them! Just moments into the fall and he’s already our  Wonderful Counselor! God doesn’t descend in fire and judgment. Instead, he seeks them out in love, like a shepherd does  a lost sheep. He tenderly tries to wake them up, to redeem them, not simply to judge them. If you had only read the Bible  up to this point in the book of Genesis, you would have no idea of the lengths to which God would go to not judge us, but to  seek us out in love. In Genesis 3:15 we have the first prophecy of the Messiah. We are told that some future descendant  of the woman would be bruised on our behalf. He would shed his blood, but he would destroy the works of the Devil. Jesus  came to reverse the work of the Serpent and to restore paradise. How? The Serpent put a lie in your heart through a tree,  and Jesus Christ is going to take the lie out of your heart through a tree. Do you see it? Sin is us putting ourselves in God’s  place; salvation is God putting himself in our place. Sin is man assuming prerogatives that belong to God alone; salvation  is God taking on guilt that belongs to man alone. 


Sin is us putting ourselves in God’s place; salvation is God  putting himself in our place. Sin is man assuming prerogatives  that belong to God alone; salvation is God taking on guilt  that belongs to man alone. Come to Christ today in faith.


Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)

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