Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin cloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The following is the transcript of the message:
If I could direct your attention to the screen, I wish to give you a little window into my everyday life. I have here the snap shot of my desk. You will see that on my wall I have a post it note. I’ve had that note on my desk for a bout 4 maybe 5 years and the header reads The Reality of Your Problems. This note is 4 highlighted truths I read a while ago from Paul David Tripp. So on this post it note is part our outline today. I want to talk about The Reality of Your Problems.
You see why I have this up at work is because I deal with problems all day. I work in the service department. I identify problems. I correct mistakes, I make solutions happen for both my co-workers and our customers. There isn’t a day that I don’t have someone coming to clarify procedures and how to handle a rough email or if they have computer trouble- including my supervisor. And I go to them for the same things its very much a cooperative effort.
But I wanted to gauge with this list if the everyday problems of real work life filter down to these 4 realities. So as the years have gone by and I look at this list it helps me gain a perspective of both the temporal and eternal value of problems, but its also helped me grow up in the Lord and to sanctify me as I stride smoothly some days and even on the days or even weeks that I stumble humbly.
So if you want to cheat and get the notes off of this post it note go right ahead. Or you could grab the notes in your bulletin to help follow the main thoughts and think through with me what God says about your problems. And I’ve actually added two more realities to this original list. So let’s talk about todays passage of Scripture
The Fall Genesis 3
Genesis 3 is the very first mention of problems in all of Scripture. And in the reading… I left it at the cliff hanger moment where God confronts Adam, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the devil. Suddenly there is trouble in paradise because now there is sin in the camp and no one is owning up to it.
Our good God created a good world and a good human race who reflected his goodness. Suffering and evil, pain and problems were not a part of God’s original design. We understand that problems we have today and that make up a big part of our lives, is a by product of sin.
Here in Genesis 3 it shows us 6 realities of the problems we face. And at the core of the mystery of problems many question God’s providence: Why does a good and big sovereign God run the universe the way he does? Why does such a loving heavenly Father cause or allow suffering and problems to be used in his universe that he originally did not create that way?
More personally, why do some seem to live in relative ease while others are consistently pounded with heavy blows? And why does this particular circumstance happen to this person—or worse, to me or my family?
Those are all good probing questions, ones that undoubtedly you may have asked. I will sketch along the edges of those questions and we will have some insights about problems I will conclude our time asking the practical question How do we live with problems?
Let’s consider 6 realities of your problems.
- We live in a broken world
- In the Genesis 3 account of history and then subsequently through the rest of biblical commentary of it we understand that God says that Adam’s sin brought consequences of a curse, a condemnation and a corruption, into this world
- Consequences includes—estrangement from God, shame, alienation from others, suffering, banishment, lost identity and death.
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you;
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— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law Romans 5:12,13
For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, Romans 5:16b
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:20-22
- The present condition of creation is not it final one. It is like a mother groaning in labor pains. There is something better coming.
Time today does not allow a fuller discourse on the suffering and the presence of evil in world that God created good. It is a massive subject. To talk about disorder on every level, disability physical and mental, disease, depression death and disasters natural or consequential all these a massive subject. All these mentioned and to remind us, we live in a broken world.
I like it when Pastor Matt Chandler talks about it- he says the world is “busted” and if you don’t believe that- shadow a week in the life of a social worker for families. Follow a day with a undercover police officer. Intern with an Oncologist—the ones who diagnose and treat tumors. Consequently, they watch people either survive or die under their care. These are rough jobs They are dialed in to how busted the world is.
Yet we can gain a Biblical perspective on problems by understanding that the some problems we face is because we live in a fallen world where everything and everyone is currently decay and is not as God originally intended.
When we have Problems as a result of a broken world, it screams “Confusion” Problems of suffering and evil confuse us:
- “its not supposed to work this way” “This isn’t the way I was taught life goes” “as we get older it supposed to get better”
- “I’ve already faced this problem before.” “ I’m only supposed to have this happen once in a lifetime and then I learn my lessons and graduate and move on”
- “ Why does life seem so unfair” “Why does this always happen to me”
So the first reality of our problems is that we live in a broken world that doesn’t always run the way we think it should.
- We have a real enemy
- In Genesis 3 we clearly see and understand the serpent here is Satan a real enemy who hates God and who hates you.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”” (Gen 3:1)
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8,9
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. “
- The Bible has many Scriptural Accounts of Spiritual activity and involvement in our world that creates problems. We see that even Satan’s action are an attack on God himself and realizing he will never win, he goes after the Father through his children. And what he is after is to steal God’s glory.
- It is so important for a believer to live our lives for the glory of God that is something bigger than ourselves. If Satan can get us to live a life of mediocrity that we don’t reflect the glory of God, than he has accomplished his purpose. One way he does this is by making us preoccupied with possessions of this world. The 2nd is to be preoccupied w/ problems of this world.
There are times we have problems in life because we have a real enemy who hates us and when those troubles come -the devil with also be screaming “Condemnations” and lies to us the whole time. Our Savior himself names the devil the Father of Lies. In Revelation 12:10 we hear that he is called the accuser of the brothers.
- “this always happens to me.” “God doesn’t love me” “If God Loves me why does he allow these problems?”
- “I am such a loser and this is what always happens to losers” I’ve failed again” “I must have sinned again “ “Am I that bad of a sinner that God has to discipline me”” what’s wrong with me”
So the second reality of our problems is that we have an enemy who hates us.
Now let me say, that not all of our problems come from the devil.
There are Christians in certain circles that all they do is look for Satan behind every bush and behind every meaning of trouble. That is not always true. Because the 3rd reality of our problems doesn’t have us looking around every bush. But instead, it has us looking straight into the mirror
- We are not perfect.
The Genesis 3 account shows us the Origin of the Fall of Mankind and introduces sin into the world. What we have here is the biblical narrative of the origin of sin, but not an explanation for that origin. The origin of evil is… one of the greatest riddles of life.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6
- This riddle centers on the question: why would Adam and Eve sin? Augustine helpfully taught that Adam was able not to sin and able to sin, so that there was an inherent possibility to sin in him. But how this possibility became actuality is a mystery that we shall never be able to understand. In other words…we will never know how doubt first arose in Eve’s mind caused discontentment and ultimately birthed disobedience.. We shall never understand how a person who had been created in a state of morally correct behavior and thinking, in a state of sinlessness, could begin to sin.
- And as a result we find that we ourselves are not perfect either We are not sinless or blameless, we are mistake prone and so are others around us… We are not perfect
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Proverbs 16:2
“The heart is more deceitful than anything. It is incurable— who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8
There is a balance we need to discern and recognize between the condemnation that devil brings into our lives and the “Confounding” we add to our problems by not admitting the role we have in our problems and admitting that we are not perfect .In Genesis 3 we see it manifest its self in the blame game between Adam and Eve.
Pastor Dan has done a good job in the previous weeks talking about the heart of your problems being the problem of the heart. The book of James series has been insightful to say the least.
Remember earlier I showed you a picture of my office. Well on the adjoining wall I have one of my favorite quotes on attitudes from Chuck Swindoll.
“We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”
- If this is true that… life is 90% how I react to it… Than I need to ask.. In my reactions, am I creating more problems? (pause)
- When this says we can’t change people or our past- we need to recognize that ourselves and others never live and act perfectly. The attitude I need to adapt here is a Christ-like one. A gospel orientated one.
- Gospel See we know the bad news- we are not perfect we make mistakes and on a grander scale we sin against God… we understand that our sin separates us from a relationship God. There is no amount of any goodness or perfect living will ever get us across that great divide between us and God.
- But we also understand the good news- that imperfect people can only be brought close to God because Jesus was perfect. He lived the perfect life, to be the perfect sacrifice that satisfied God’s wrath- and bridges – that is… he makes the only way to God- He bridges the divide between us and God.
- And when we trust Him to save us from the consequences of our sin instead of trusting in our morality- …we recognize that is grace- that is unmerited favor from a Holy and loving God.
- Have you put your trust in Jesus to save you by grace.
- Does the gospel of grace humble your pride?
- Has the grace of God made you a more gracious person to other imperfect people?
- Or are the problems of your heart still being judgmental and prideful?
The 3rd reality of our problems is that we as humans are not perfect.
- God’s plan is probably different than yours.
The 4th reality of your problems is that perhaps God is working in your life in such a way that it is different than the way you want. The problem you are going through may be because God’s plan is different than yours. And you’re fighting it. You may not realize it because you are too busy reasoning it all out. To you– all of this makes sense to you this way, but God continues to sovereignly direct you this way.
- He closes doors. He says no to your prayer. He put people in your life who say silly things to you about God’s ways not being your ways. Or they give you obviously wrong advise that doesn’t match what you want.
In Genesis 3 we see that God’s plans are different than our plans. We see that God’s ways are not the same as our ways. He openly rejects Adam and Eve’s solution to their problem.
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin cloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:7, 8
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
- PREACH: So here the problem of sin enters mankind and the very solution man tries to employ God rejects. He says “No! Your sin will not be solved this way.” And the Lord begins–right here –to unveil the large redemptive plan in Scripture – a bigger plan that is from the all knowing all powerful eternal and everlasting and loving heavenly Father! He sees our lives outside of time. Who know the hairs on our head, who knows the thoughts deep in our heart and know the last day you’ll take your breath and the very moment he will come again to judge the living and the dead and establish a new heaven and a new earth.
- The Lord foreshadows the shame of our sin to be covered by a sacrifice of God’s choosing. Not our good works.
God also shows them his plans are different than their plans in their casting out of the garden.
“ therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:23,24
Sarcasm: Talk about your problems! Instead of living in a beautiful protected and all supplying garden with one tree of temptation– they are forever banished from it. What kind of plan is that? Doesn’t God want what’s best for me? Where am I supposed settle in this vast uncomfortable land? And what’s the deal with the angel with that sword? Talk about over kill. God trusted me to name all the animals, I obeyed all of his laws except one and now he kicks me out of the garden with a guard at the door… Doesn’t he trust me?
God had a different plan than just having our lives live out in paradise.
When we are fighting God’s plans and not submitting to his ways we are going to perceive problems on every turn. When we have problems because of this reality, “Complaints” will be the loudest voice in our hearts.
So that’s the 4th reality of your problems: That God’s plan is probably different than your own.
But take heart…
The next two realities about your problems should lift your spirits…
- When things don’t go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good.
Among all the realities about problems in this passage in Genesis, the Lord gives us hope.
“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.” Genesis 3:15
- Of course the off spring here is the prophesied coming of Jesus to save the world from sin and defeat Satan. It is the earliest prophesy mentioned in the Bible.
I enjoy the rhyming of this point as it has been shared from John Piper the way he learned it from his Dad and then he when he pastored helped the Children in his church learn this truth. I pray that would be the same for us. It is a rephrasing of Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
- When God’s word says all things he means ALL things. All things “good” he works for good. All things “bad” he works for good.
Let me give you an example…Look with me an account
“As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” John 9:1-3
- Jesus is saying to the disciples: Yes we understand that sin introduced suffering into the world. But turn away from your fixation on causality as the decisive explanation of problems and suffering. That is only but one explanation. And turn away from any ridiculous thoughts of futility, or absurdity, or chaos, or meaninglessness. And turn to the purposes and plans of God. There is no child and no suffering outside God’s purposes.
This passage is not a whole explanation of why problems come. About 9 years ago I preached on When Problems Come and outlined five ways God uses your problems.
- He uses problems in our lives to direct He uses problems to detect the condition of your heart. He uses problems to discipline you. He uses problems to defend you from unknown danger. He uses problems to develop maturity in your life.
- And with this account , I’d say He uses problems, to display His glory- which is the bottom line purpose in all the ways God uses problems, pain and suffering.
Recommend Reading: A good theological treaties is Walt Kaiser article “8 kinds of suffering in the Old Testament.”
Find hope in this reality: When things don’t go as they should, God always makes them turn for good.
The last reality:
- God has granted us all we need for life and godliness.
This reality is actually found in Genesis 4- so sorry about that.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” Genesis 4:1
- After losing paradise in the Garden of Eden and now living in the broken world and living through the new found pain of hard labor and child bearing, Eve attests that life with problems, is not a life without God and his help.
- And as the rest of Scripture fleshes out in commands, exhortations and testimonies, our help is found first and foremost in Christ and then secondly, it is found in the community that is the family of God, the bride of Christ- the church.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” 2 Peter 1:3
- When God’s word says all things he means ALL things. We have never been created to be alone, independent and self-reliant. We never get beyond needing God or needing others. At least one biblical characteristic of maturity is to garner coping skills in problem solving or enduring problems by welcoming input, help and wise counsel. Both from God and from those God puts around you.
Let me end by telling you a couple of stories First by sharing the testimony of Krista Horning.
Krista Horning gave a testimony in 2012 at Desiring God’s conference on God’s Good Design in Disabilities. We don’t have time to listen to it. it is only just under 10 minutes. She has Apert Syndrome with a facial difference and legs and arms that don’t work right. And she answered the question “how do I live with disability?” She is transparent enough to say that living with a disability says ugly things to her about rejection, worthless, weak and loneliness. She’s real enough to admit she doesn’t want to live with the problems and the pains of a disability. And that sometimes those ugly things it says about her are easy to believe. But then she answers the question by saying God says beautiful things about her and then –by memory — quotes 14 passages of the Bible for seven solid minutes. Its impressive
Then in her conclusion she says this:
“But God has so many beautiful things to say.
And so I’m filled with hope.
God’s words grow louder and louder in my life.
The glory of his grace and mercy grow stronger and stronger.
I need to listen to his words.
I want to listen to his words.”
How do we live with problems?
What God says about your problems must become louder than the Confusion and Condemnation and the Confounding and the Complaining you allow into your heart in stressful problematic moments.
In God’s sovereignty my family and I have found the stress of temporal problems the last 2 weeks. I see it no coincident that the very first reading of our new Top 52 Chapter Bible reading plan, that week was Psalm 91 where God assures me that He will be with me in trouble.
When things got progressively worse with another vehicle going down and in the shop and only 1 car with 5 drivers all working. I was upstairs working when I heard music from the main floor. And I hear Melanie worshipping. Later I found out that she was crying a bit and just casting her cares to God because worship for her helps God’s word grow louder and louder in her life.
You are to move through the reality of your problems by living in light of what God says about them.
What about you? Do you let God’s word get louder and louder in your life when you go through trials and problems? Maybe you don’t put on worship to level 11 but do you have at least one verse of comfort? One promise of hope from Jesus? Do you remind yourself that when things don’t go the way they should that God will always make them turn for good? Do you remind yourself that God has given you everything you need for life and godliness? He’s given himself and this church body and HisSpirit… The promises of God that say I will never leave you or forsake you… or that he will never let the righteous fall.
Do you have Isaiah 41:10 at least:
Fear not, for I am with you;be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God!!
You move through problems by living in light of what God’s word says.