Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

P-2/Ordinary 5

"Choosing Evil"

Genesis 3:8-15

June 7, 2015

Evil is a fact of life. Why is there evil? The Bible tells us the origins of evil are found in the hearts, desires and ambitions of mankind. The very sad fact of life is that people are continually choosing evil. It all began innocuously with a conversation in Eden.

The serpent asks a seemingly innocent question. "Did God really say . . ?" It isn't looking for a yes or no answer. As we read the account, we note that the commandment about the tree is given only to Adam. He will instruct his wife. Although she had not heard the commandment directly, she understands they are not to eat fruit from that tree. When asked about the commandment, Eve paraphrases it and adds a hedge that they are not to touch it either.

Jewish tradition states that the serpent shook the tree causing fruit to drop. When it doesn't die, the woman begins to doubt the veracity of the commandment. By touching the tree and continuing to live, God's credibility is undermined in the woman's mind.

The serpent's argument against the commandment is that God is really a petty, jealous being who wants to keep the aspirations of the human couple in check. It is this personal ambition that will now be their downfall. Both of them willingly eat the fruit. Then, the blame game begins. By choosing evil they set the course for the future of all human history.

Genesis 3:8-15. In the cool of the evening, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking around in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. 9 The Lord God called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?"  He answered, "I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid."

God asked, "Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat fruit from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?"

The man answered, "That woman, the one you gave me, gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

Then the Lord God asked the woman, "What have you done?" "The snake deceived me, and I ate," the woman answered.

So the Lord God said to the snake, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all the wild or domestic animals.  You will crawl on your belly. You will be the lowest of animals as long as you live. I will make you and the woman hostile toward each other. I will make your descendants and her descendant hostile toward each other. He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel."

Just as the serpent predicted, their eyes were opened. Sadly, all that was revealed was their nakedness. Their nakedness and the fig leafs symbolize their encompassing sense of guilt. They are now aware of their estrangement from God because they hide themselves from His presence.

When confronted with their sin, the man tries to blame the woman and God. The woman more credibly blames the serpent. God punishes them in reverse order beginning with the serpent, then the woman and the man.

Sin entered the world by choosing evil. How is eating a piece of fruit evil. It demonstrates the rebellion of the creation against its Creator. Choosing evil may have the appearance of goodness or innocence. Choosing evil may not seem like a big deal. Eating the forbidden fruit certainly didn't seem like such a big deal. Yet, they had been warned. By choosing to ignore the commandment in order to do their own thing, this simple act brought on the promised consequences: alienation from God and death.

We see just how fast choosing evil takes root. When confronted with his sin, Adam not only blamed his wife but he pointed his finger of accusation against God. It's your fault because you gave her to me. At least Eve has a little more credibility when she blames the serpent. Neither of them chooses to own up to what they've done and take responsibility for their actions.

We live in a world that is continually choosing evil. Since the fall, we have been choosing evil either actively or passively.  History is filled with the sad consequences of people choosing evil. Human greed and ambition have led to wars, persecution, and all sorts of manmade catastrophes. While it only takes a moment to destroy, recovering from the disastrous results of evil take a much longer time.

Today, Islamic terrorists are choosing evil when they detonate their suicide bombs killing those around them. Those participating in abortions and euthanasia are choosing evil. When you share in malicious gossip, you are choosing evil. The kids who cyber-bully are choosing evil. Is it any wonder than evil surrounds us?

Sometimes we wonder if there really are any consequences. Those who choose evil often seem to get away without any punishment. Do those who do evil suffer no consequences? The wages of sin is death. Although many choose not to believe it, each one of us will have to give an accounting to God. No one is ever as good as they want everyone else to think they are. All of us will find that we're lacking.

The question is how will the debt be paid? In the end it is only bad news for those who reject Christ and continue choosing evil. Hell will be the eternal horror story version of debtor prison. There will be no way to work your way out. This is why we proclaim the love of Christ today. Today is the day of salvation. Now is your opportunity to repent of the evil in your life. God is here for you now. He is calling you to receive His love and forgiveness.

In spite of the fact that we are continually choosing evil, there is hope. In the first curse of God on the serpent, He also gave the first promise of redemption. Here is the original promise of a Savior. Only God could restore what was lost in Eden. Only God can help us resist the temptation of choosing evil. Only God can fill us with His Spirit so that our lives produce the fruits of the Spirit. All of this is possible only because of the Cross of Christ.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise given to Adam and Eve. He came into the world to perfectly live all of the requirements of the Law. Jesus alone would choose good over evil every time. He offered His life on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. By His dying on the cross, He crushed the head of Satan. Ironically, our Lord's death was in reality only a bruising. Because His was only a bruising wound, Jesus rose again for our salvation. Only in Jesus Christ do we have the victory over the powers of sin, death and the devil. In Christ alone do we have new hope for rejecting evil and embracing good.

Because we have been called by God in our baptism to be His children, we know the continuing struggle we have in choosing good rather than evil. By God's grace, we will overcome our selfish desires to heed the temptations of the devil. With God's help we will recognize temptation for what it is. Because God kept His promise to send a Savior, we know that in our contrition and repentance we will find hope, peace and comfort. As we resist choosing evil, the Lord will enable us to seek to do those things that are good.

In this world we will always have to deal with evil. With God's help we will become His vessels of goodness. As His love and goodness flow to us, in us and through us, the world will be blessed. As the result, evil will not always prevail. Thanks be to God for keeping His promise of a Savior who crushed Satan's head that His victory is ours. Amen.


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