The Rejected Man: Part 2

Genesis 3  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Eve was not content. Now the enemy of out souls may not be met by the simplicity of truth, because of the want of simplicity of our minds.1 Her reply was truth, but it was truth not held in communion with God. She thought God had kept back something that was competent to make her happy. It was not a settled thing with her, that God knew and had provided all that was needed for her happiness. And have we no desires for anything not actually given to us? There was distrust that God had power in Himself to make her happy, and therefore she was desiring and seeking it somewhere else. This was the beginning of it all. This led to man's willingly subjecting himself to the dominion of Satan. And now we see the world bent on providing itself with pleasures apart from God.
And how is it with you, dear friends? Let me ask, Is this your case? Are you wanting something that God will not allow you to have? Man naturally does not believe that God is competent to make him happy, and therefore he desires the things of the world, supposing that they can add to his happiness. This to the end is the subtle state of the flesh, even in God's children; not trusting God to make one happy. It is a mercy, in a certain sense, that man must earn his bread with the sweat of his face (for God is not mocked; and when He said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground,” &c., what a store of accompanying sorrow and toil came in as the result of man's disobedience!) since that prevents the giving up of our poor race to the unbounded gratification of their desires away from God.
When the soul is distressed or cast down, this is not in itself sin. But sin comes in when there is distrust of God. Satan gets entrance for his full power in the soul, the moment there is a shade of distrust of God. God will be trusted in the confidence of His love. Eve had the highest place in the world; she was surrounded by blessing, and possessed of actual happiness (man's state in Eden was one of actual happiness, though not of spiritual power such as the saints now have); but the very moment she felt distrust in God's competency to make her happy, it was all gone. Distrust in God is the positive condition of every natural man: all such seek their happiness in something or other, if they are not trusting in God to make them happy. It is a solemn thought that one half of the world is employed in providing the means of pleasure for the other half.
Satan was trusted by Eve. If God is not trusted, Satan most certainly will be. Man, standing alone in his independence, is not independent, but the slave of every man,2 the slave of sin and Satan. Like Eve he trusts Satan rather than God. She hoped on his authority that there was a doubt about the fulfillment of God's threatenings. God had said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (chap. 2:17). Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die,” impugning the truth of God's word. And so he says now. Men say in their hearts that sin will not bear the consequences God has said it will— “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)). No man could go on if he believed what God said, instead of believing Satan. The happiness of man is faith in Satan's lie in this respect. They are proceeding in the same course, listening to that old detected lie of Satan. But God has said, “Ye shall surely die,” and there is an end of all pleasure. So that all the devil can do is to hide the consequences of sin. He could not keep men going on if he did not keep out of their sight that truth, “Ye shall surely die.” It is not that the terror of it would change their heart; but if they did really believe it, they would not have one happy day here. Where is the earthly happiness these words will not blast— “Ye shall surely die?” But men believe what Satan says, and disbelieve what God says. “The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” have present enjoyment connected with them. Man rushes to take the bait, willingly selling himself to Satan, though in so doing he is morally conscious that he is not acting according to the commandments of God. Observe, I am not here speaking of gross sin, but of disbelief in God Himself.
Let us see the next step. God has lost His character in the heart of man; all man's confidence in God is gone; and Satan the liar and arch-deceiver is believed. Now the devil can say whatever he likes, he having the confidence of the heart instead of God. “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” (ver. 5). He began by insinuating that God knew the fruit would make her happy, but grudged to give it; then he questioned the truthfulness of God; now he adds, “ye shall be as gods,” tempting man to assume the privilege of God Himself.3
How entirely had Eve forgotten every thought of God! Her soul should have recoiled with horror from the proposition. “What, I account myself as God! I take this glory to myself, and cast off God! Am I to set about being a thief—to take from God His glory, and become like him—I, a creature, and indebted to Him for everything?” How different the way of Him who, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant!” (Phil. 2:66Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (Philippians 2:6)). But when we are once away from God, we have no spiritual sense of sin at all. Eve had no sense of the sin of leaving God out, and making herself the center. And this is ever the result of exalting man, of looking at God's ways through man's telescope. Dependence is true exaltation in a creature, when the object of it is right. It looks up, and is exalted above itself. See David (Psa. 8), the truest philosopher. But Eve was so willing to get rid of God that she sought by robbery to make herself equal with God. She may not have known the extent of the presumption of her confidence in Satan's lie: but the secret of it all was this, that she had forgotten God, and thought only of herself. She had got self as a center, and God was not in all her thoughts. When God is not our center, all that by which we can exalt ourselves becomes the motive and principle of our hearts.
“The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” This is God's account of fallen man: Satan does not deceive by a mere abstract lie. But supposing Eve could have known that it was the truth, it would have been only added deception, because it would not have been the truth in power in the conscience. Her heart having departed from God, her then seeing it to be truth would only have added to her darkness. I am doubly blind if the truth does not lead my heart towards God and put me under God.
Eve goes on in the way of sin. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” In positive and known disobedience to God's command, she acts on the present enjoyment, without any regard to consequences. And now she becomes the active instrument of sin, “and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (ver. 6). The man was not deceived (1 Tim. 2:1414And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)); but more shame to him in following the woman (who was deceived), contrary to the will of God, Natural affection often becomes the means of drawing the heart away from God.
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew they were naked: and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (ver. 7). Here we find conscience at work, not conscience toward God, but fruit of shame, the conscience that drove out the accusers of the adulterous woman (John 8). The guilty pair have the sense of the shame of their nakedness, and they seek to hide it the one from the other. The divine work in enlightening the conscience gives a man to see the guilt of sin, the exceeding sinfulness of sin; but sin has its shame as well as its guilt, and the natural conscience always seeks to hide the shame of its sin with some fig-leaf covering.
This is no proof of conversion; it is only the main proof that man has got into a bad conscience, and cannot get out of it. Adam and Eve dare not look at each other, nor yet at God. They cannot bear the condition they have got into, and they cannot change it; therefore they hide it. But do not mistake this for repentance. Shame merely drives them to hide from God, and excuse themselves to Him. And so with ourselves: as long as the shame of sin continues, we try to hide it, to get away from it; but it only drives us farther and farther from God It is not a divinely-taught conscience, because we are more concerned about the shame before men than the sinfulness before God. Until God has the place which man now occupies in our hearts, there is no conversion: the soul is not looking to God. We may be able to reason about the tender love and grace of God; but our sense of the guilt of sin should ever be deeper than that of its shame. When the conscience is before God, guilt brings sorrow; and yet we can as sinners reckon upon the love and the kindness of God.
And now the dreadful moment arrives when they hear the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. “And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden” (ver. 8).
It is not with a fiery sword in judgment as yet,4 but still the Lord comes as an “adversary” in some wise.
Thus Jesus came seeking an account of the fruit produced. “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him.” He was then saying, “I am yet in the way with you.” “This is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation.” The ax was laid to the root of the tree (Luke 3:99And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Luke 3:9)). Therefore the only thing to be done was to agree with Him who had the right against them, “lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
“And Jehovah God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (ver. 9). How came you not to be with me? As “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:2222And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: (Genesis 5:22)), God had no occasion to say to him, “Where art thou?”
“And he [Adam] said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (ver. 10). If the Lord were here, those who are ignorant of His grace would go out one by one, like the accusers of the poor adulterous woman. When Christ spoke to their conscience in those words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” they walked out from His presence one by one (not all together, lest it should be noticed that they were sinners). They were careful of their character before men, but not before God. Had they been willing to confess their sin and to submit themselves to God's righteousness, they would have stayed. It was not that the Lord used any reproach to those Pharisees, but He fixed the sin on their consciences. So God merely says here to Adam, How comes it that you are not with Me?
And how comes it, dear friends, that you have found bitterness and sorrow in the world? You will say, perhaps, it is because sin is in the world; but it is sin you have got into. You talk of a good conscience: the best conscience of a sinner only leads him to get as far away as he can from the presence of God. Do you call it a good conscience here in Adam, getting away from God and then judging for himself about his state? “I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And it is thus even with the saint if he gets into sin; there is darkness in the sin, and fear in the conscience after the sin: and when he is convinced he must get back again into the presence of God, and where is not unreserved confession, he seeks to excuse himself. You will always find conscience, where the heart is Wrong, tends to the invention of deceit. What did Adam say? “I am guilty; pardon me, O Lord?” No, he practices deceit.
“And he [Jehovah God] said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me [not “my wife:” in seeking to excuse himself, he cast the blame in reality upon God]. It was thou who gavest me this woman, [and] she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (vers 11, 12).
God takes no notice of this, but turns to the woman. “And Jehovah God said, What is this that thou hast done?” Eve now learns her lesson from Adam, as Adam had learned his of her before: “And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (ver. 13).
All this is true enough; but conscience is not before God.
God, when He comes to deal with them about their sin, at once takes them up on the ground of their own excuses. “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which. I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,” &c. (vers. 17-19). The very excuse he gave was just the height of his sin, and the very thing by which God condemned him. So also with the woman. Out of their own mouths were they judged. The plea of temptation was only in fact saying that they preferred their own lusts to God; that they listened to the devil's word more than to God's commandments.5
Still God says nothing about this at first. But what does He? He brings in grace. When He does take up the question, the man had already departed from Him, as a sinner he had departed from Him before God came to judge him for the sin; and the effect of conscience is to drive away from God. Why does the infidel delight in infidelity? Because he dislikes God. God therefore takes up man in grace, and brings in promise. But He pronounces judgment upon what they have done. He does not take grace and pass lightly over sin. Man always begins with what he will do, but God begins with what He has done. The truth always looks at what I am in the sight of God.
Having traced up the evil to its source, God goes at once to the serpent as the author of it; but in pronouncing sentence He deals with Adam as lost (already the condition of man was that he was lost: God comes to no question about goodness; and there is no promise made to Adam as in the flesh), and sets up the Second Man. “And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (vers. 14, 15).
Here is where grace comes in; for it is the root of the evil, and there is the sole remedy to set aside what man and the devil had done. He sets up the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, “the Seed of the woman,” as the bruiser of the serpent's head. What is the meaning of the term “probation,” as applied to our present state? “To save the lost” settles that. Grace brings out man's misery and sin in the presence of God, and brings Christ in. Man is under the power of Satan, decent or indecent. The decent, moral, unconverted man is only the more deceived, but the decent slave of Satan. God takes up the full power of the evil, and sets up His power for remedy in the Lord Jesus Christ. Man is not mended in his condition. God deals with him as already set aside and lost, and, without any proposition of mending the evil, brings in and sets up the Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Adam, as the destroyer of the works of the devil (1 John 3:88He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)).
And where was He to be found? Where does God bring in His glory? The grand fact is that it is “the seed of the woman.” The spring of the evil was in the woman, and out of her was to come the deliverer. There is the glory of divine grace. Out of the eater cometh forth meat, and out of the strong sweetness (Judg. 14:1414And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle. (Judges 14:14)). The poor wretched woman was to give birth to the Savior of the world. God does not slur over sin, but brings out all its vileness, and sets up Christ as the Last Adam in the very place of sin—His birthplace was in the death that sin had brought into the world. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin had reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:20, 2120Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20‑21)).
And mark the perfect contrast of the obedience of Christ! Not as the first Adam (from the place of the creature exalting himself to be as God), He from a high place takes a low. “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:6-86Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:6‑8)). He lays not the burden on the weak one, but bears her sin. Instead of saying, “The woman that thou gavest me,” &c. (ver. 12), He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; took her ruin upon Himself, and came into the depth of her sins. “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all things,” &c. (Eph. 4:1010He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:10)), that in His blessed grace the greatest, the chief, of sinners, might be able to find a resting-place, not in man's own wretched excuses but in His divine love.