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September 30 lesson: God Creates; Humans Sin

September 17, 2018
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God Creates; Humans Sin

Fall Quarter: God’s World and God’s People
Unit 1: God Created the World

Sunday school lesson for the week of September 30, 2018
By Dr. Nita Crump

Lesson Scripture: Genesis 3:8-17, 20-24
Key Verse: Genesis 3:23

Purpose: To be heartbroken that human sin has violated God’s intentions for creation.

The following definitions come from dictionary.com. Sin: 1) transgression of divine law; 2) any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle; and 3) any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense. Mistake: 1) an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.; and 2) a misunderstanding or misconception.

When we read the story told in Genesis 3, it’s easy to point at Eve and think about the terrible sin she committed. Countless people have spent innumerable hours debating the nature of her sin.  Was it pride in that she wanted to be like God? Was it the desire to be in charge of her own destiny instead of following God’s command? Or was it, perhaps, just a mistake? The kind of mistake that can happen when one doesn’t know God’s Word well?

Does any answer to the above questions change the fact that Eve sinned, Adam followed suit, and both refused to take responsibility for their actions? No. And because of their actions sin became a part of every human life and fear entered the world. Humans were put out of the garden, away from the tree of eternal life, and more importantly, away from time spent walking in the cool of the evening in the presence of God. 

Just in case you’re wondering, sin is still present in the world today. If you’ve spent any time interacting with the news lately, you have watched, heard, and read news that demonstrates that sin is real. So, too, is the human desire to make someone or something else responsible for our sin or to find some way to lesson our sin in the eyes of others. We freely talk about our mistakes but seldom acknowledge that many of those mistakes are truly sins. It makes us feel less guilty to say that we were careless, or made an error, instead of saying that we willfully transgressed God’s divine law. Reducing sin to the level of a mistake allows us to no longer feel shame about our sins. We rationalize our behavior and create excuses for our actions without acknowledging that our sinful behavior dishonors the holy and almighty God who created us. When we sin, we show that we are citizens of a fallen world. The war between good and evil continues with us on the wrong side. There are serpent’s teeth marks all over our increasingly volatile world. This is not what God intended for us.

In “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis wrote that we all have an inner sense of fair play. St. Augustine wrote that because we were made for God, our hearts are restless until they rest in him. We were created in God’s image to live in relationship with God and with other humans. We long for those relationships to be restored. Such restoration can only happen when we admit that we sin and acknowledge that we cannot do anything to save ourselves from ourselves. We don’t need to be saved from our mistakes, we need to be saved from our sins. 

Sin prevents the blessings of the relationships in which we were created to live from being fully realized in our lives. We hide from God rather than admit that we need him desperately. We fear his ability to see the sin in our lives. When you fear God’s reaction to your sin, read verses 14 – 17. Even in this story of the first sinful actions, we find grace. God cursed the ground and the snake, but not the humans. Oh, there were consequences that they had to live with and through.  We live with those same consequences today. But Adam and Eve were not cursed. The blessing of a close relationship with God remains possible if we’re willing to acknowledge our sinfulness and our need for a restored relationship with God.

The good news is that the God of all creation is also the God of grace, salvation, and redemption.  Grace is God’s commitment to love us despite our sins. Salvation is offered to all who admit to being sinners in need of God’s grace. Redemption leads to a restored relationship with God. I pray that God will allow the sins in my life to break my heart into so many pieces that only he can bring healing and restoration. Will you join me in that prayer for your life also?

(Information in this article was drawn from The New Application Commentary, Genesis, From biblical text…to contemporary life, John H. Walton, p 222-258 and from the Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Bible Studies, Uniform Series, International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching.)

Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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