Whole Life Whole Bible Day 07

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Genesis 3:6 (NASB)

6 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.


6: How could they?

However we interpret the first three chapters of Genesis, they are fundamental to an understanding of our faith, the shaping of our worldview, and our lives as disciples of Christ.

The core sin of Adam and Eve was their disobedience to God’s explicit command, ‘You must not eat from the tree…’ (Genesis 2:17). It was a transgression (the crossing of a forbidden frontier) and thus, inevitably, a revolt against God. The prohibition represented a limitation on the behavior of the man and the woman, who were otherwise given extra-ordinary freedom to explore and harness God’s creation; and it was an assertion, in the exercise of that freedom, of the ultimate authority of God.

There’s a widespread belief outside the church that Christianity is a highly negative religion — with our freedom being curtailed at every turn by a ‘thou shalt not’. But, perhaps surprisingly, negative commands give more freedom than positive ones. Thus, rather than giving Adam and Eve handbooks on rearing cattle or pruning trees or making love (‘Now this is exactly what to do’), God gave them the liberty to find out for themselves how to do things, and the joy of making their own discoveries.

This included, of course, the liberty to make mistakes. The transgression, however, was more than a mistake: they could hardly have turned to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, so sorry, we forgot.’ They thought they knew better than God and made a conscious choice to go against his clear will.

It seems almost incredible that Adam and Eve, living among the lavish gifts of the creation (yet to be explored), their wills not yet corrupted by sin, should have succumbed to the seductions of one of the very creatures over whom they had been given dominion. But succumb they did — and that ‘original sin’, committed by the parents of the human race, was passed on, like a hereditary disease, throughout that race. Humanity, as Psalm 51 reminds us, has borne its stain ever since: ‘sinful from the time my mother conceived me’ (Psalm 51:5).

And yet, as crucial as this chapter is for the unfolding of the plot that follows, the great story of the Bible doesn’t begin or end here. It begins with an unspoiled creation and ends, by way of the resurrection, with a restored new creation — with the nations walking in the light of God’s glory (Revelation 21:24).


For further reflection and action

  1. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve through their God-given faculties of taste, sight and aspiration. In what areas of life, and by what means, are you most vulnerable to temptation?

  2. Read Romans 5:12–21, noting how the biblical story of sin and salvation underlines Paul’s contrast between Adam and Christ.

  3. How far does it matter to you whether there was a real Adam and Eve, actual trees with fruit, and a talking snake, and how far are you happy to accept them as ‘word pictures’ to describe deeper realities of human experience of temptation, failure and a sense of shame and guilt? Why do you hold the opinion you do?

Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.