I just can’t watch horror movies. I get too frustrated. You see, it bugs me that they always go through that door.
Do you know what I’m talking about? There’s blood all over the place, remnants of massive trauma, maybe a few severed limbs over on the side here, or just something really doesn’t seem right. People in the theater are screaming at the screen — "Don’t go in there!" But they always do.
Why? It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what happens in horror movies. I guess not many people would pay to see the characters use their better judgment and avoid the danger.
And truth be told, that’s not how we’re wired, either. I think there are times we all would open that door just out of sheer curiosity. We do it when it comes to the curiosity of sin.
That’s really what our text is about today — the history of our doing what we knew better than to do. Open up your Bible and read Genesis 3:1-15. And as you think about it, I’d like for us to "See Sin for What It Is," because it doesn’t always make sense. And, all too often, we are the ones falling for it — opening up the doors and inviting the massacre.
First of all, let’s see Satan’s scheme for what it is. Now, God had already created Adam and Eve and given them everything. And then he gave them that one command: "Don’t eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." And they didn’t, at first.
Scene 2, chapter 3: Enter the villain. Our text starts right in introducing the devil — in the form of a serpent. And notice what he does. Use this behind-the-scenes third-person vantage point we’re given here of temptation to understand it a little bit. You see, when we’re in the midst of it, we can’t always see it.
We don’t know what’s behind the door. So take advantage of this view. Listen to Satan’s first line: "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?" Notice what he is doing. His first play is to just introduce the idea of doubt. Maybe he doesn’t get her to doubt, but just introduces the idea, just floats it — "Did he really say it?"
But, of course she corrects him: "No, we can eat from the trees, just not that one. In fact, if we eat of that one, or touch it, we’ll die." Maybe she’s overcorrecting a little bit, adding a bit to what God had said. So even if she hasn’t doubted, Satan has at least caused some movement.
So he goes to phase 2, downright denying God’s Word. Verse 4: "You will not surely die." Wait a second, God said they would; the devil was calling God a liar. And then he keeps going, accusing God of not having their best interests in mind, verse 5: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Do you ever read this chapter like the viewer of the horror movie shouting at the screen? "Don’t do it, Eve! He’s lying!"
But look at what was happening in her head: "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."
"It looks good. It seems good. Peer pressure says it will be good for me…." "Noooo, don’t do it!" But she did. How foolish! You had everything, Eve, and you ruined it.
It’s so easy to beat her up, isn’t it? But now realize the scenes you’ve been living. Satan hasn’t adjusted his script much. He uses the very same temptations with us.
First – "Did God really say?" Think of how hard Satan has been battling to cause doubt about God’s Word, whether it is the "scholars" trying to explain away the miracle of inspiration and tell us that the Bible is just a human product or that common misconception that the Bible has changed so much over time.
It doesn’t matter that neither accusation holds up to any honest assessment. In fact, they are both blatantly false. But Satan just throws it out there to get people wondering – to try to just introduce the concept of doubt. Eve knew what God really said. She heard it. That didn’t stop the devil from trying to attack it.
And then, what’s next? He blatantly contradicts God’s Word. "You will not surely die." "God won’t mind if you have sex before marriage. Look at how everyone else is, so it will surely be OK. And besides, it’s how you can show her love." Have you heard that hissing?
Or how about this? "God didn’t mean you when he said not to get divorced. You have to do what will make you happy." It doesn’t matter that the truth is that rebelling against God WILL NOT make you happy, at all. But Satan doesn’t bother with the truth; he just throws out his lies and gets your head spinning.
"No, if you forgive that person that hurt you, you’ll never be vindicated," Satan hisses as he tries to keep you from all the good God has for you in love and forgiveness and peace of heart and conscience.
In all of these, if you were watching these scenes as a movie, you’d be screaming at the screen, "Don’t go in there! Don’t do it!" But Satan is so sneaky, and we always think we’re the ones who will get away. For us the popularity or wealth or fun we hope to get out of the sin will actually pan out — even though anyone watching what’s going on would be yelling at the screen.
Take advantage of this scene God has given us to see sin for what it really is. Do you see its danger?
I’ve run out of room for the week, so next week, check it out to see sin’s damage and its defeat as well. Let me give you a preview: Jesus wins.
Jonathan E. Scharf
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday at 8 & 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.