God Will Have His Glory
Text: Genesis 3:1-6
We are in a series called Go & Tell, where we are developing a biblical theology of mission and evangelism. Missions is going to the unreached of the nations, while evangelism is sharing our faith with those in our spheres. We want to be a church, and individual Christians, who are committed to sharing our faith with others. Last week we started with the topic of the glory of God. We spent the entire sermon defining and talking about the what the Glory of God is and means. We described it as the radiance, beauty, splendor, and magnificence of God shining out. We are made to see it, savor it, and live for the displaying of that glory.
Today's topic takes us into some of the deeper questions of how God gets His glory in His world, even a world filled with sin and suffering. Let me say a few words up front. We are going to be exploring and thinking about challenging things. We are going to stretch ourselves. For some of you this is not going to be anything new or earth-shattering. For others, this will confront with you things you've never heard before and may take time to wrestle through and settle with. And that's okay.
STORY -- Kyra's question about why God didn't make the world at the beginning the way He's going to make at the return of Jesus. Why not make the world at the beginning in such a way that humans couldn't sin, rebel, and hurt each other? Why not make the world where suffering, death, and heart-ache wouldn't be possible?...just like it's going to be one day?
My only answer I could give, and I believe it is the only true biblical answer: there is something about how God created our world, where even sin, pain, and death, show how wonderful He is (that shows His glory)—in a way that wouldn’t be seen without those things. Or to say it more succinctly: for His glory. We're going to wade into those waters together this morning. May God give us eyes to see and hearts to believe.
Exegesis: Genesis 3:1-6
vs 1 - Who is this serpent? Well, he is not named here, but we know this is Satan. The Devil. This is the enemy and adversary of God. Up until this point, Genesis 1 and 2 contains nothing but the creative works and acts of God. God forms the heavens and the earth, the spiritual realm and the physical realm. He fashions the universe, the earth, mankind, and even the first marriage. Then we get to chapter 3 and a massive disruption in the story takes place. We see a creature defying God and His Word. Let's examine.
Satan questions the woman about the particulars of God's words to Adam (and as a result, to her as well). "Did God actually say" is one of the most wicked statements you can make, especially when it is said as Satan is doing here, challenging God's Words and authority, seeking to lead someone to stray from God's revealed will. Satan twists God's actual words and questions Eve concerning God didn't say. And he's still doing it today!
vs 2-3 - The woman catches the unmatched comparisons of God's Words and Satan's words, and corrects the record. We should do the same.
vs 4-5 - When this tactic didn't work, Satan then denied God's Word. He completely defied God's Word to the woman. He promised her something he couldn't fulfill. He promised her choice wouldn't bring the consequence God promised, but he had no power or authority to make or keep that promise. Again, this is Satan's M.O., he denies the consequences of disobeying God's Word, promises you happiness and contentment through another pathway, only to fail as providing what he offers, and enjoying leading you into rebellion against God. He is wicked. He does this with Jesus too, but Jesus doesn't entertain him (Matthew 4).
vs 6 - After examining Satan's words, and then looking at how enjoyable and delightful the fruit did look, and after considering how wonderful this potential wisdom and new insight may be, she ate. And Adam ate with her.
This, friends, is a catastrophic event. The most catastrophic event in human history. Do you want to know why the world is the way it is today, with it's brokenness, rebellion, suffering, wars, betrayals, and the like? This event. This moment in time brought mankind's downfall. This is known as "the fall of man." The consequence from this action has rippled through human history ever since the first bite. This is why death exists. This is why cancer, addiction, even tsunamis exist. This is why drug treatment facilities exist. This is why marriage counseling exists. This is why we have bulging discs. This is why we twist our ankles. This is why we have bad breath when we wake up. This is why adult diapers exist.
Throughout the rest of the Bible, we see this event referenced as the problem with the world, and mankind.
Romans 5:12 -- Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
1 Corinthians 15:22 -- For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Romans 8:18-22 -- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Romans 3:23 -- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
So Adam and Eve's rebellion brings all of humankind into rebellion. Through the one man, Adam, all become sinners. So we inherent, not only a sin nature, but a guilty verdict. Ephesians 2 says about the Ephesian Christians that they were once children of wrath like the rest of mankind (John 3:36 - Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.). Meaning, all of mankind apart from redemption are children of wrath. We are born into this condition. Now, before you talk about how unfair that is, just remember that 1. we are individually sinful and guilty by our own actions too (so we can't just rage at Adam), 2. while we may not like inheriting guilt from Adam and being condemned in Adam, we must remember that salvation and grace come by one man as well, Jesus. You and I cannot commend ourselves to God as righteous or save ourselves, so we need the righteousness of the perfect man to count in our place (Romans 5:17 -- For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that
one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.) Death and sin entered by one man (Adam), but righteousness and salvation comes by one man too (Jesus). You are either in Adam or in Christ this morning. Every person is found with one of those two men representing you before God. Who is representing you? You were born into Adam, so it's a guarantee that some people here are in Adam (and all in Adam die in their sins eternally). But the offer to you today, with faith, is you can be transferred from Adam to Christ. By calling upon the name of the Lord, you can have Jesus Christ represent you before God.
I want to circle back to our passage in Genesis 3 and consider this question: how did Satan get in the Garden? (Will create an apolgetic resource on this). Satan, also known as Lucifer, was once a part of the angelic host. Satan rebelled against God, and a third of the angels with him. They are cast to the earth and out of their exalted status. He is not equal to God, he himself is a created thing. Several places in Scripture that allude to his fall, that predates his arrival in the Garden in Genesis 3 (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14, Revelation 12, and Luke 10). So this is the origins of Satan, the adversary, in Genesis 3. But here are some questions for you to ponder, if you've never pondered them before: Why did God even create Satan if He knew he'd rebel? Why not destroy Satan upon his rebellion? Why let Satan enter the Garden to tempt Adam and Eve? Why put a tree with restrictions in the Garden to begin with? Why not destroy Satan now - why let him roam?
And to plumb even deeper into the waters: Did God know Satan would fall and that mankind would rebel? The answer is either Yes or No. If you say No, you are guilty of what is called Open Theism, which is a heresy that says God learns as things unfold. Friends, you simply cannot read the Bible and conclude that. God is never learning. God is never without perfect knowledge (omniscience). If you say Yes, you have to answer how He knows it. He either knows it because He planned it, meaning it is a part of His ultimate will. Or He knows because He knows of every possible scenario that could happen if He created the world He did, and so He knows in the sense of having that infinite knowledge. But even in that scenario, He permits it to unfold that way instead of forbidding it to unfold that way. So this is what you're left with: God either planned or permitted the rebellion of Satan and the fall of man, which means that it is ultimately a part of His will. It doesn’t matter which way you slice it, whether He planned it or permitted it, He willed that it happened.
Now, nothing I've said is outside the Bible's teaching. But what you have to guard against is drawing conclusions from outside the Bible's teachings. If you say; therefore, that man is not responsible for his actions and sins, you are wrong. We are. God has created the world in such a way, that not only can He be sovereign over it, but man is a volitional creature who makes real decisions that he's accountable for. If you say; therefore God is responsible for evil and suffering, you are wrong. Satan and Mankind are responsible for evil and suffering, but God is sovereign over it in such a way that even evil and suffering are under His authority and serves His purposes and will. You see, we must stay within the Bible's teachings.
And if God willed a world in which Satan rebelled and mankind fell into ruin, and He purposed that the world indeed be this way, you must ask the question: WHY? This goes back to Kyra's question: why didn't God make the world, from the beginning, the way it is going to ultimately be one day at the end? We cannot answer that because He didn't know the world was going to go sideways. We cannot answer that He was unable to create a world that way. There are no satisfactory answers to a question like that other than: God could have, but He didn't, so we must trust that He has purposes for making the world as He did. And we can say for certain that one of those purposes, indeed the chief purpose: is for the maximizing of His own glory. You already know these things, even if you never been able to articulate them or had anyone else articulate them. You know that God could wipe Satan out right now, and could with a single word, eradicate cancer, sin, death, divorce, and every other ill that pervades the world. But He doesn't. Not because He doesn't care. And not because He can't. But because He is at work to bring about His purposes, even in a world like this, and He promises when that work is complete, He will make all things new.
I mean, even in Genesis 3, we see the promised hope of the world and defeat of Satan mentioned right there in the Garden. Right there in the Garden is the gospel. (Genesis 3:15 -- I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”)
The woman's offspring will crush Satan. Notice it doesn't say Adam's offspring. Why? Because Jesus would not be born of Adam ("conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary). He couldn't be born of Adam's seed or he'd be like the rest of us: born into and under the curse of sin, under wrath. No, he would be the offspring of the woman, and his mission would bring the crushing of Satan's head. He would defeat Satan through His finished work at the cross. Paul alludes to this crushing in Colossians 2.
Colossians 2:13-16 -- And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Jesus crushes Satan, and sets us free from his tyranny. But notice this: God promises this redeemer and redemption from the very beginning. Do you think God made this plan up on the spot? Do you think this was some spontaneous word from God? No. This was the plan from the foundation of the world, and the New Testament reiterates that point over and over. (Revelation 3:18 - And all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain).
1 Peter 1:18-21 — knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you
21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Ephesians 3:9-11 — and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Again, why would God create a world (like this) that needed a Savior? Because through sin and suffering, He will demonstrate and showcase His glory in ways that without it would not be seen, would not be treasured, and would not be adored! The magnificence, radiance, beauty, and brilliance (of all that God is) will shine in the ultimate defeat of Satan, sin, and death! The power of God in crushing sin will be on display. The mercy, grace, and compassion of God will be on display in the saving of sinners. The justice of God and His wrath will be marveled at at the crushing of rebellion and sin, and the punishment of the wicked. God's faithfulness and goodness will be seen through His benevolence to us and His sustaining us in trials. In all these things, we behold God in all His greatness and wonder, and He is glorified. God will have His glory!
These truths I've just unpacked are meant to comfort us, not confuse us or scare us. They are meant to ground us with hope, not stir up arguments or debates. Trust me when I say: you want to live in a world completely governed and sustained by God. You don't want a God who merely watches things unfold. You don't want a God that crosses his fingers that He can make it all better in the end. In Romans 9, the Apostle Paul speaks about this reality, and He anticipates an objection from people that would say, “but if God created the world this way, or willed that the world be this way, then that’s not fair!” And his answer to that isn’t some elaborate explanation. He says, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:20-23). Who are we to contend with the Almighty? When Job started to get too big for his britches, and tried to put God on the witness stand to give an account, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (Job 40:2).
This is the 30,000 foot view of why the world is the way it is. But let's bring it back to the ground, and back on our front porch for a moment. You and I were made to see, savor, and display the glory of God. But we don't. The glory of God is supposed to be the greatest aim of our lives. And it’s not. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God's glory is His highest priority, and it is supposed to be ours. And we are personally guilty--as all of mankind--for it not being so.
The story of Esau trading his birth right and position of honor to his brother, Jacob, for a bowl of soup in Genesis 25 is a great analogy of what we've done. We've traded our birth right, our honored and exalted place as image bearers of God, created to display His glory in the earth, for lesser glories. We've traded pursuing the glory of God and exchanged it for lesser glories.
John Piper says this: “This [falling short of God’s glory] is high treason against the king of glory and we deserve to hang by our thumbs until the crows eat us dead. We deserve to go to hell for the way we have treated the glory of God. Every human being has scorned and trampled the glory of God by giving it two seconds worth of attention in their lives and that as a kind of passing weekend hobby, while they really get back to what they love to do on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon with the television or something else. Yes, I will put
in my time to give my token little amen to the glory of God and then I do what I really want to do the rest of the time and the glory of God everybody in heaven knows is not our treasure.”
We have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That's the problem with the world. Our response to God’s glory was to reject it. And that is why Jesus came to save sinners, to demonstrate God's glory in salvation, and to redeem us to a place to live for His glory. Judgment on the Last Day will bring glory to God in the punishment of the wicked and the granting of the eternal inheritance for the adopted children of God. But it should wake us up to realize our rebellion, and to feel the weight of our treason against God.
1. Acknowledge you're accountability before God. God's being over the fall of man does not exempt or exclude man from accountability for our lives, our words, or our actions. Every person on the planet will spend eternity somewhere, including everyone in this room. One of the ways you can glorify God today is by turning to Jesus. He offers Himself to you today. Weak and weary sinners are welcomed by Him. Sufferers and sorrowful are invited to come and find their soul’s rest and comfort in Him today. Lay those burdens on Him—it brings Him glory.
2. Fight sin. We glorify God in our obedience and our putting off of sin. We don't live in sin, but constantly confess and repent. Pursing a life of holiness is one way we can give God glory and live for His glory (join community, D Groups). We trade eternal things for temporary pleasures.
3. Trust the Lord. Suffering and pain are ultimately under the sovereign hand of God. Our trials are purposed for God to sanctify us, and glorify Him. Don’t put God on the witness stand, or turn inwardly to a “woe is me” mentality. Trust in the hand of the Shepherd who guides your days and sustains your life. The things we've talked about today don't all have to be understood to trust God. That is what He requires. He doesn't require comprehension, but trust.
4. Embrace the mission of proclaiming Christ. The world is in desperate need of Jesus, and they come to know Jesus as they hear and accept the gospel. They put their trust in Jesus' finished work on the cross and his resurrection. Friends, we not only need to embrace this mission of proclaiming the excellencies of Christ, we need to love this message ourselves. Jesus must be our treasure. We must recognize the grace of God in our lives in such a way that we want others to hear and know. We want to love the glory of God, and be so zealous for Him to have it from the nations, and from our neighbors, that we cannot help be open our mouths.
God has created a world that needs a Savior. And He redeems a bride for Himself that exists to bring Him glory, and He sends that bride out to proclaim His excellencies, so that more sheep come into the fold. That’s why missions and evangelism exists. It is a means by which God gets His glory. And He will be glorified.