TEXT: Genesis 3:1-10; Romans 5:12-14
The students will be able to explain how the consequences of Adam's disobedience extend to all mankind-that all are born with sin in their hearts.
Sin continues to be a prevalent force within individuals and society. We cannot eliminate the sins of the heart—love for this world, jealousy, envy, anger, unclean thoughts, etc.—by restraint, even though restraint will provide us with a much improved life here. The Adamic nature will still be felt, and at times will assert itself despite our best efforts, without Christ to suppress and conquer it. As in Proverbs 20:9, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" Before his conversion, Paul the Apostle was a Pharisee of the strictest sort, trying zealously to keep all the Law. However, in Romans 7:19,24 he confesses, ". . . the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do . . . O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
In order for there to be salvation from sin there must be a recognition of one's need. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). The thrust of this lesson is to cause each of us to see our exceeding sinfulness in the sight of God when we are outside His plan of redemption. Both our inherited sinfulness and our actual willfully committed sins stand between us and God. We were born in sin because of the fall of man, and we willfully choose sin-until we choose the Savior. We are agents of our free will, for so God created even Adam and Eve. The choice between sin and the Savior is mandatory. We cannot escape it. If we say we will not choose, because we were born in sin and are sinners by nature, we find ourselves slaves to sin-we have chosen sin!
Even though crimes of a violent nature may seem unlikely and far removed from your way of living, each of us has done things we later regretted. Why is this so? How does it happen that none of us, just by trying, can totally eliminate doing wrong things or thinking angry or evil thoughts? People who wish to find excuses for their sins often blame God for the sinful state of things, but by searching the Scriptures we find that man has a sinful nature because of the original transgression in the Garden of Eden. This can only be changed through salvation.
- Why has man had the choice to obey or disobey, even from the beginning? What does man have that enables him to obey or disobey?
Response: Allow time for your students to express their thoughts. They should conclude that from Genesis through Revelation, the Bible makes clear that God created man with a free will. Point out to them that we are not puppets, but people who love God because we want to love Him. You might wish to discuss with your class the following examples of choices: Exodus 32:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Joshua 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21; Mark 10:21; John 6:67; Revelation 3:20.
- God does not compel us to love Him, even though He is our Creator. If you think on this subject you will conclude that there is no such thing as unwilling love. So, we can see there will not be one person in Heaven who did not really want to go there—who did not really want to love God and serve Him! God, through Christ, has provided the way. Every person must choose! The Bible evidence is indisputable. Contrast the choices made by Cain and Abel in chapter 4 of Genesis. Give three other scriptural examples of contrasting choices.
Response: Examples offered may include: Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Saul and David, Elijah and Ahab, Jeremiah and Jehoiakim, the twelve disciples of Christ, and the rich young ruler. Help your students to conclude through analysis of the examples cited that in each case man's free will was exercised. As a preliminary to the next question, conclude your discussion of the examples offered by discussing the choice of Adam and Eve which is recorded in our text.
- Identify what the serpent's first words to Eve were designed to do. How did this relate to the choice she eventually made?
Response: Your students should be aware that the serpent's subtle approach was designed to create doubt as to what God has said and His providence—in other words, to cause Eve to wonder why God would say it. The doubt which he planted in her mind eventually led to the fatal choice she made. In the course of this discussion, ask to what extent the tactics Satan uses today parallel the approach he used with Eve. Your students should conclude that doubt is still one of the most powerful tools of Satan in influencing the choices people make.
- Satan knew that as long as Adam and Eve depended upon God, they could not be ruined. He therefore endeavored to seduce them from this dependence, using doubt and lies, saying, "Ye shall not surely die." What were some of the effects of their yielding?
Response: As your students discuss the questions, they should bring out that Adam and Eve's eyes were opened, they saw they were naked, and they hid themselves from God. They should see that conviction for their wrongdoing came upon them in that moment, and they felt their estrangement from God. They had known only good to this moment, and now they knew evil. Discuss with the class how this evil still affects the human race.
- Eve's statement proves her detailed knowledge of God's instructions. She knew that God had decreed the death penalty for disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit. Why did Eve decide to follow the serpent's suggestion instead of God's instructions? Note several mistakes she made which may help us avoid Satan's trap.
Response: She listened to the serpent's reasoning. By this we learn that we should give the devil a deaf ear. She conversed extensively with the serpent. James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." She decided to trust her own reasoning rather than God's command. She did not call on God for help in this crucial decision. As your students offer their thoughts as to where Eve went wrong in this situation, help them understand how they can avoid making the same mistakes in regard to sinful temptations which confront each of them.
- Explain the meaning of our key verse.
Response: Allow time for your students to discuss their explanations of this verse. Help them realize that the events recorded in Genesis are verified through Paul's statement to the Romans. You may wish to point out that David also was aware of the fact that he was born with a sinful nature, as evidenced by his cry in Psalm 51:5.
- What proof do you see that the sinful Adamic nature in man is at work in the world today? List three or more specific items. If you wish, bring clippings to class from newspapers or magazines to illustrate your points.
Response: Some of the proofs suggested may include: crime, violence, spiraling divorce rate, discrediting of God as Creator, and the rejection of Jesus Christ and the moral principles He established.
THOUGHT PROVOKER: Though we are, or were, all guilty in the sight of God—"all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"—God in His mercy provided a remedy. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Prepare a large bulletin board for your class. Ask the students to bring newspaper and magazine articles which illustrate man's sinful nature. Have each student comment on the articles he brought as you collect them and post them on the board.
Bring a picture of a small child having a temper tantrum illustrating how the inclination to do wrong is even in the very small child.
Discuss with your class that if you are told not to touch a hot stove because it will burn you, and you disobey, it could leave a scar. Tell them this is what happened to Adam and Eve. They were told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or they would be punished. They did and the results are with us to this day.
Divide the class into two equal sections. One section is to give examples of right choices made by Biblical characters. The other section is to give examples of wrong choices made by Biblical characters. Allow each section approximately five minutes to give as many examples as they can think of. Compare the amounts given by each section.
Bring some objects to class which illustrate effects of the curse: a rose with thorns; a wormy apple; a weed; something to indicate sickness, such as a thermometer or a Band-Aid; etc.
Have your class do a skit on Adam and Eve, but have them show what Eve could have done or said under the circumstances, and what Adam could have done to stay true to what God had commanded him.