Genesis 3:23
Therefore the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
Sermons
The Word of God in the Moral ChaosR.A. Redford Genesis 3:9-24


God's chief promises generally accompanied by visible signs or symbolical acts; e.g., bow in the cloud, furnace and lamp (Genesis 15:17), passover, &c. The time here spoken of specially called for such a sign. Man had fallen; a Deliverer was promised; it was the beginning of a state of grace for sinners. Notice four facts: -

1. Man unfallen required no covering.

2. Man fallen became conscious of need, especially towards God.

3. He attempted himself to provide clothing.

4. God provided it.

Spiritual meaning of clothing (Revelation 3:18; Revelation 7:14; 2 Corinthians 5:3). And note that the root of "atonement" in Hebrew is "to cover." Thus the covering is a type of justification; God's gift to convicted sinners (cf. Zechariah 3:4, 5; Luke 15:22; and the want of this covering, Matthew 22:11). With Adam's attempt and God's gift compare the sacrifices of Cain and Abel. Abel's sacrifice of life accepted through faith (Hebrews 11:4), i.e. because he believed and acted upon God's direction. Thus atonement, covering, through the sacrifice of life (cf. Leviticus 17:11), typical of Christ's sacrifice, must have been ordained of God. And thus, though not expressly stated, we may conclude that Adam was instructed to sacrifice, and that the skins from the animals thus slain were a type of the covering of sin through the one great sacrifice (Romans 4:7). We mark then -

I. THE HELPLESSNESS OF MAN TO SAVE HIMSELF FROM SIN. The natural thought of a heart convicted is, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all." Vain endeavor. The "law of sin" (Romans 7:21, 24) is too strong; earnest striving only makes this more clear (cf. Job 9:30; Isaiah 64:6). History is full of man's efforts to cover sins. Hence have come sacrifices, austerities, pilgrimages, &c. But on all merely human effort is stamped failure (Romans 3:20).

II. THE LOVE OF GOD FOR SINNERS (Romans 5:8). A common mistake that if we love God he will love us. Whereas the truth is, 1 John 4:10-19. We must believe his free gift before we can serve him truly. The want of this belief leads to service in the spirit of bondage.

III. THE PROVISION MADE BY GOD (John 3:14-17). That we might be not merely forgiven, but renewed (2 Corinthians 5:21). The consciousness that "Christ hath redeemed us" is the power that constrains to willing service (1 John 3:3). - M.







Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil.
I. Consider SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF THE FALL, as they are suggested in the statements of this narrative. You have here, then, four facts. We shall adopt the order of their logical relation rather than that of the history.

1. The first is man's moral condition resulting from the Fall. "Man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil."

2. The second is the prime original elements of the moral development of the race. "Unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." That is the beginning of social life. Humanity naked is humanity without the possibility of improvement. Clothe man, and he enters upon the road of progress. Here is the germ of all the arts of culture, of science, and of social growth.

3. The third is the profound hope, the inextinguishable hope, that springs within the human heart. "Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." The fulness, the multitudinousness of life everywhere affords the hope, without which human restoration were not possible.

4. The fourth is the condition of human perfecting which is to be found in the unalterable past, "He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." These are the results of the Fall according to Scripture. They are of course connected with, though different from, the guilt which followed sin. That I do not propose to consider particularly, though the thought of it must underlie all our discussion.

II. Consider the Word of God in which He declares that "The man has now become like one of Us." THE EFFECT OF THE FALL UPON MAN'S MORAL NATURE IS TO MAKE MAN LIKE GOD. These are striking words. In the moment of a Divine judgment there is also a Divine declaration of great significance concerning man. "Behold, the man is become as one of Us." The sneer of the serpent first of all introduces us to this likeness of man to God. "Has God said, You shall surely die?" "Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." They listened to Satan, and all they gained was the knowledge of their nakedness. That is all the serpent can give you. His promise of godlikeness ends in the discovery of your shame. And yet God takes these words first used by Satan and gives them a profound meaning. In Satan's mouth they were a lie. In God's they are an awful and yet a gracious truth. Some hold that God used these words ironically, "They have become like Us." The sneer of earth was answered by a sneer from heaven. I cannot believe it. I cannot believe that in an hour like this God would reproach. What then is God's knowledge of good and evil? It must be perfect. He would not be God if He did not completely know what good and evil were in nature, in all their results, in all their issues and relations. He knows the moral consequence of evil. He knows the degradation of the soul that sins. He knows the wild troop of mischiefs that follow in the train of iniquity. He sees the end from the beginning, and thus He knows. But in all this knowledge God has certain elements in His nature which must be remembered when we speak of God's knowing. While He knows the good and evil, and knows them completely, He is at the same time absolutely set for righteousness. Though knowing good and evil God remains forever God. But God is not only in Himself free from any attack of evil, He also has complete power over it. He can restrain it, so limiting its scope and so bending it to the purposes of His holy will, that out of it He can bring good; and however deep may be the mystery to us, still evolve a higher good to the universe than it would have known had there been no evil. Then in all this it must be further noted there is no loss of the Divine power and vitality. God possesses every fulness of resource and every fulness of life. These in Him are not affected by the evil which He knows. Indeed, though we cannot say that He becomes more mighty, more vital by reason of evil, because that would be to deny the perfection of being to Him in His original and absolute nature, yet its presence produces a higher manifestation of Divine power and life than an innocent and unfallen world would otherwise have known. Such is God's knowledge of good and evil with some of its relations to other attributes of the Divine Being. When we turn to that knowledge which man has gained of the dark and dreary subject, we find that, in a sense, he too knows evil as God knows it. Sin in itself is an experience, a teaching. Without it man had never known conditions which now become clear and distinct to him. Think of the course of temptation, the allurements and enticings of sin, the hints and suggestions of the tempter! Through what a series of self-revelations does not the soul tempted to falling pass! How in temptation the unfolding of the wily nature comes into the clear perception of the tempted one! And then, when the temptation's force has fully issued in the sin, what a further knowledge is gained! What spheres of action, closed to the innocent, are then opened! What experiences of inner life and circumstances of outward condition the sin displays! This is the knowledge which sin brings. It is Divine in its awfulness, its infinite reach. Now are they like gods, knowing good and evil. But man, like God, is further related to the object of his terrible knowing. The contrast, however, is noteworthy. The light, lurid and alarming, has burst upon his mind, and the mephitic vapours which arise from the horrible pit poison and overcome him. And besides this man's power is limited. By his sin he has opened the sluice gates of the flood, and nothing that he can do can close them, or stay the mad stream that rushes forth and on. This is the power of every sin. "Like God," a word of terrible doom! being like God in the knowledge we have gained; but we who have gained it, how helpless we stand before the evils which we ourselves have produced! Another terrible result of sin in its relation to us, as contrasted with God's knowledge of it, is that the continuance of evil is out of all proportion to the continuance of that life during which alone we can cope with it. God knowing sin, has eternity in which to deal with it. We knowing it by our sin, even if we attempt to undo it, are often cut off long before we have begun to stay its mischievous effects: "The evil that men do lives after them." Think of it: your sin overwhelms thousands yet unborn. It may work out its dread succession of evil long after you have been forgotten. But remember it is your sin; you called it up, you set it going. But you are powerless to deal with it. "Like Us." Yes, in knowledge. But, oh! how bitter the thought of the contrast when we still find ourselves to be Divine in knowledge, but in all else human, and even less than human, by our sin. And is this our final learning from these words? Must this dark message be the end of our meditation? It is indeed all that philosophy can give us. The historian can furnish us no other teaching, the poet sing no other song than this tragedy of human loss. But, blessed be God! there is another light to shine upon this awful fact. It is the Son of God who can give to this terrible dignity into which we rise its true significance, and change it from its original doom to a blessed evangel. If we have nothing but the record of what this Word of God has uttered, all we gain is to became like God in knowledge, and in the rest to be smitten in the very essence of our life. But Christ by His word, and life, and death, made it possible for us to know the evil and the good, and to share in the Divine nature in its triumph over the evil, even as in its knowledge.

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

"God made man in His own image." But the deepest power, the free power, was yet latent. By a dark act of rebellion he developed it; and the Lord God testifies that he had thereby become something which the words "as one of Us" alone describe. And yet that act was deadly. Man, aiming at the height of God, fell perilously on the very edge of the abyss. No more awful condition of life, in point of grandeur and power can be conceived than the words "become as one of Us" set forth; and yet the penalty of aiming at it was death. It was a step out, a step on for man in the unfolding of the latent powers and possibilities of his being as an embodied spirit; but it brought him within peril and under the hand of woes and evils, which have made his history one long wail, and his life one long night. Adam, the child of Eden, made in God's image, could find the completeness of his life in Eden. The mould of his being was perfect as an image; the compass of his powers presented him as the likeness of God in this material world. Adam, the child of the wilderness, having become by the act of freedom that which our text describes — having by the actual experiment of what power might be in him, by the actual unfolding of a life whose character and ends were expressly self-determined, grown into something which, if grander on the one hand than the estate in which he was created in the garden, was most terrible and sorrowful on the other — could find the completeness of his life alone in Christ and heaven. "God made man in His own image," is the original description of the constitution of man. Then follows the dread history which the third chapter of the Book of Genesis records; and then it is stated, "Man is as one of Us, knowing good and evil." The words imply, though they do not express, a growth. Man is said to have grown to something which is in one sense nearer to God, nearer to the Divine level — and the last clauses of the verse seem to imply that he was within reach of that which would bring him still nearer to the level; but, on the other hand, there was a now spot of weakness where he had become vulnerable to foes, whom in his innocence he might safely have despised; there was a new element of disorder, which would bring discord and dire confusion into the harmonious sphere of his powers; there was a new taint of decay and death which, grand as he might seem to have grown by his experiment of freedom, would eat like a canker into his godlike constitution, and unless from Him who made him at the first some renewing, restoring influence should descend, must lay its proud structure in ruins in the dust. "Ye shall be as gods," was the devil's promise, "knowing good and evil." The text affirms that there was a truth in it. "Behold, the man is become as one of Us." And yet it was a lie to the heart's core. None but God could stand on that Divine level. Man should stand there one day, partaker of the Divine nature. But for the man who in native, naked, human strength should stand there, there could be no issue but death. The devil was right as to the development. Man brought himself into the sphere of higher and more Divine experiences than his life in paradise could have afforded him. But the devil said nothing about the death. The devil said to the prodigal, "Wander freely, spend, enjoy; that is life." The prodigal found it, as every sinner finds it, to be death. What life has come out of it has been born, not of it, but of the strength, the tenderness, the quickening power of the Father's redeeming love. Man seems to be so organized inwardly that his purest joys spring out of his sorrows, his riches grow by his losses, his laurels bloom in the sphere of his sternest conflicts, his fullest development is the fruit of his hardest toils, and his noblest becomings of his most utter sacrifices — while God completes the cycle, and ordains that his immortal life shall spring out of his death. Thus man is organized. The question then arises, Is this condition of things the accident of sin? Is this the full account of it — that man being in a sinful state, God has thus adapted his mental and moral organization, as the best expedient which the case allows, with a view to his restoration? Or was this contemplated in his first constitution and endowment? Was man made, were all his powers ordained, with a view to this life of toil, struggle, suffering, sacrifice, and Divine experience? Was man made for it? Was the world made for it? Was heaven made for it? Is this the one way through which we are bound to believe that the highest end of God in the constitution of man and of all things is to be gained? And the answer must be, Yes. Man was made for it. Had he remained in Eden the highest interest of heaven in man's career would have been lost; and more would have been lost, the highest, fullest, most absolute manifestation of God. Him, redemption alone could fully declare. If man comes forth into full manhood through that perverse exercise of his freedom, which leaves human nature suppliant for redemption under peril of imminent death, God, in redeeming man from the penalties and fruits of that perverseness, reveals Himself most fully as God. The whole system of things around us seems to me to be constituted with a view to redemption — which comprehends the discipline and education of souls. The wilderness was there waiting, and all the physical order of the world. That was before man, and was made for man. And it is all set to the same keynote of struggle, toil, and suffering. There is not a bit of rock or a blade of grass, there has not been from the creation, which is not a mute memorial of struggle, wounds, and death. All things travail, not simply because man has sinned, but because the redemption of the sinner is the work for which "the all" has been prepared by the Lord. Redemption is no accident. The need of being a Redeemer lies deep in the nature of God; and not only was man's sin foreseen, but all things were ordered with a view to the great drama of redemption from before the foundation of the world. But was sin preordained? The sun was ordained to shine, the moon to embosom and radiate his tempered beams. The flowers were ordained to bloom, the rain to fertilize, the lightning to scathe, the whirlwind to uproot and to destroy. Is it part of the Divine plan of creation, that as the sun shines and the rain descends, some men should blaspheme, and some rob, hate, and murder? Are these dark shadows of life but the inevitable attendants of its virtues, brought out into sharpest outline where the light is clearest — and their necessary foil; or else the stages through which God leads the development of nascent virtues, purifying them in the crucible of each as they pass through? To this question the answer of the Bible and of the Church is "No! a thousand times no!" God has set His witness against this in the picture of Eden and the history of the Fall, and to this witness the history of sin adds an emphatic Amen. Man has never been able in the long run to shake off the horror which sin inspires, as his own hateful and accursed work. Responsibility, in the fullest sense which that word will bear, is the broadest, strongest, most insoluble fact in the spiritual history of our race. "God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions," and nothing can deliver man from the consciousness that the "I" which has sought them out represents something which, whatever it may be, distinctly is not God. "Father, I have sinned," is the only confession which reaches the depths of the human consciousness; and the gospel which demands the confession, and begins its ministry by deepening the conviction of sin, alone seems to him to be able to undertake the cure. As a matter of history it is palpably true that the convincing of sin, the inspiring a horror of sin — a horror which took many grotesque and ghastly forms in the early Christian centuries — was the first Work of that gospel which was God's message to all mankind. The history of conscience, then, I hold to be conclusive — the profound, universal, unalterable conviction of the moral consciousness in man, that his sin springs out of an "I" which is not God; that his sin is his own, his creature, for which he is as responsible as God is for the order of the world. Sin then is, and is not God's creature. The being capable of sinning is God's creature. For making him capable of sinning God is responsible, and there His responsibility, as concerns Adam's transgression, ends. For making me as I am, capable of sin, for bringing me into a sinful world in a body of sinful flesh, God is responsible; not for my sin, that grows up of myself in me. There are but two solutions possible. Either man must lie where his sin must sink him, in a deeper depth of shame and anguish than even a fiend can fathom, or man must rise through Redemption to a higher, Diviner manhood, and eating of the tree of life in Christ, live before the face of God forever. The first Adam is by grace abolished; the elder glory is done away by reason of the glory that excelleth.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

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