The Hebrew writer, after speaking about all the great examples of faith in chapter eleven, says this, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Sin has a way of getting us all tangled up and has a habit of taking us further than we ever wanted to go. We have to look no further than the beginning chapters of Genesis to see how quickly sin entangles people.
The First Sin:
We begin in Genesis 3:1-7 with the fall of Adam and Eve. Man and Woman had everything they ever could want or need in the garden. However, we read in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?'” Satan slightly adjusts what God said to Eve. I think that Satan knew that Eve knew better, so he asks her a leading question to set up his moment to plant doubt in her mind.
We see in the following verses that Eve answers correctly (vv.2-3). This tree in the middle of the garden is the only one they are not to eat from. Satan seizes on this, “You surely will not die!” he responds, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vv.4-5). Satan cast his doubt, and now that about has been sown in Eve’s mind, she begins to question God’s only command (Gen. 3:2-3). So, when she was near the tree of good and evil, she saw that the tree “was good for food, and it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” She believed her reasons why she should disobey God, and “she took from the tree and ate; she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
What Satan had neglected to tell her was the consequences of this action. Quickly man and woman go from living in peace with God to (1) fear and shame before God Genesis 3:10. (2) pride in self Genesis 3:12. (3) cast out from the presence of God Genesis 3:22-24.
The First Murder:
Unfortunately, we are not done yet. We quickly go from the world’s first sin to the first murder. We read in Genesis 4:1-15 of Cain murdering his brother Abel. The brothers come to offer a sacrifice to God, and we are told that Abel’s was acceptable and Cains’s was not. Cain took issue with this and harbored resentment toward his brother. The text tells us that Cain “became very angry and his countenance fell” (4:5). We would do well to remember at this point that such an attitude is sinful and, when left unchecked, sets us on a terrible path (cf. Matthew 5:21-24).
In response to Cain’s anger, God gives him a warning. “The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must mater it'” (4:6-7). God warns Cain here that he better put this attitude in check lest it leads to sin. But Cain does not listen. We read next that, “Cain told his brother. And it came about when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Able his brother and killed him.” Cain instead plotted to kill his brother. Leading him out into the field where no one could hear or see what was happening.
Cain, like his parents, also wasn’t prepared for the consequences of his actions. God curses Cain (Genesis 4:11) because he shed innocent blood. The ground would no longer yield its strength for him (4:12). To which Cain cried out, “My punishment is too great to bear!” (4:13). This was not all the consequences of his sin. We read further that Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord” (4:16). Again, we see how quickly sin can entangle a person.
In chapter five, we read of the descendants of Adam through the line of Seth (the child who replaced Abel). Starting chapter six, we find that the sons of God (righteous men) married the daughters of men (unrighteous women). Generations of no spiritual discernment resulted in a world where “the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God mourned over mankind because of this state (6:6), and the consequences of this wickedness were unlike anything God had done before. God would “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth… for I am sorry that I have made them” (6:7).
But not all is lost, and the world is not all dark. Amid this wickedness, we find a man named Noah and his family. Who were not like the people of that day, and they found favor with God (Genesis 6:8). Because Noah and his family were found faithful, God spared them from the judgment of the flood.
It is incredible to see how quickly things spiraled out of control for humanity. We go from disobeying God’s only rule in the garden to the corruption of all humanity in six short chapters. In each case we looked at, sin quickly made a mess of things and took those involved further than they probably thought possible. It brought consequences they had not conceived.
Hope From the Beginning:
After the flood, we find out that Noah had his faults and sins (just like any human). We also see man in an act of arrogance and pride try and build something to rival God. And so, just as things seem to be getting dark again in the narrative of Genesis, we are introduced to a man named Abram (later Abraham) in Genesis 12:1. And we begin to see that God has a plan to remedy the sin problem that plagues humanity. We read in Genesis 12:3, “and in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” This promise God gave to Abram would ultimately be fulfilled through Christ (Galatians 3:16, 26-29). Through Jesus, God rendered powerless sin and death and provided the hope of eternity with Him.