God uses a number of methods to communicate with us:
- He speaks through His Word,
- the Holy Spirit,
- as well as through people and circumstances.
God has specific purposes for imparting His thoughts to us. Namely, He desires that we comprehend His truth so that it can shape our life and so that we can share His good news with others. But if God has a particular intention for communicating with us, we have to ask, what happens when we fail to listen?
We can find the answer at the beginning of the Bible, in the account of Adam and Eve. We know that God spoke very clearly to the fist man (Genesis 2:16-17), instructing him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
This issue is that the first man and woman understood perfectly (Genesis 3:2-3) but did not obey. Their disobedience marks the beginning of man’s sin problem which has plagued the human race throughout all history. Every person born thereafter – with the single exception of the Lord Jesus Christ – came into this world with a sinful nature originating from Adam. That means that you and I have never met a perfect person. All sin, suffering, heartache, problems, war bloodshed and violence can be traced back to its origin in the Garden of Eden.
Unfortunately, what occurred in the first family centuries ago has been happening in some form with every family since. As with Adam and Eve, once we have received God’s instructions, we, too, are accountable for what we have heard or read. We can avoid much heartache and trouble by heeding the Lord’s communication; failure to listen results in severe repercussions.
By studying the account in Genesis 3, we can identify eight consequences of ignoring the Lord’s instructions:
We End up Listening to the Wrong Voices (verses 1-2)
Eve had unmistakably heard God correctly. But, even having understood, she began to listen to another voice. The serpent spoke and inserted a question mark into her recollection of the Lord’s words: “Indeed, has God said…?” The woman allowed herself to be drawn into conversation with him. The voice she listened to was unfamiliar – it was the voice of neither her Creator not her husband, yet she paid attention and allowed it to supersede God’s clear instruction. As a result, she fell into sin – just like anyone today who stops listening to God and offers an ear to Satan.
Consider how many voices we hear in a given day. What we read and hear continually bombards our minds, hearts, souls and spirits. Between the television, the radio, the newspaper and magazines – not to mention the opinions of friends and coworkers – we are barraged with vain, erroneous, non-biblical, ungodly philosophy. And we have to choose whether or not to listen to it. When we fail to heed God’s words or to continually remind ourselves of scriptural principles, we begin to listen to wrong voices and then we drift away from God.
We are Easily Deceived (verse 4)
Notice how Satan takes what God says and distorts it. The Lord told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Satan uses just enough truth to sound credible, but then embellishes ever so slightly: “You surely will not die!” It is Satan’s nature to lie and deceive, “because there is not truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan deceives with what he knows will appeal, not the truth. He says, “You need this,” and “you ought to have that” and “this is exactly what you have been looking for.” He probably said, “Now, Eve, you need to get the full picture: God does not want you to know what He knows, because the day you eat of that tree’s fruit, you are going to be just like God.” It so happens that Eve did learn some things when she partook. How many of have learned some things we wish we never knew?
We are Expressing Pride and Independence
The ultimate root of all sin is pride – it is the equivalent of our saying that we know better than God and can handle the situation our own way. This is in reality an act of rebellion, because it is impossible to know better than an omniscient, all-wise God. His commands are not given to make life dull; every single “though shalt not” in the Bible is an expression of His love and protection for His children.
We Make Decisions that Appeal to the Flesh (verse 6)
Satan never tempts us by offering spiritual growth, improved prayer life or more effective ways to share our faith. No, Satan always appeals to the flesh, not to the spirit. There is nothing wrong with our God-given desires; but Satan takes these legitimate longings and, with our cooperation, gets them out of balance. As he did with Eve, the Devil appeals to three yearnings we all have – human appetites, beauty and knowledge. The he twists them so that instead of simply desiring and enjoying them, we begin to lust after them and be controlled by them. So what God gave in freedom ends up enslaving us. By relying on the Holy Spirit, however, we can have the wisdom and direction to keep yearnings within the parameters God designed for us.
We Excuse our Wrongs and Blame Other People (verses 12-13)
When God asked Adam why he was hiding, he immediately pointed the finger at Eve. In fact, there is even a sense of his blaming God for having given him the woman! In turn, Eve blamed the serpent. Neither one could rightly pass the blame because they both new the command and were therefore responsible. Besides, the Devil cannot make a believer do anything; we may consent to give in to his temptation, but we are ultimately accountable for that decision. People today blame everyone from parents and coworkers to society itself. But we must recognize that “passing the buck” does not solve anything and that we ourselves are responsible before God for our choices and behaviour.
We Suffer the Consequences (verses 14-19)
All three parties involved had to face the results of their disobedience. Satan was sentenced to eventual condemnation. God announced that woman would be ruled by man and would experience pain in childbirth. He also declared that man would have to leave the garden and toil laboriously to earn a living. Furthermore, humans would from here on experience death.
At this point, some people look at the penalties and see only harshness. However, what God did amidst His justice – amidst His judgment of their sin – was to make a way for the man and woman to be forgiven and cleansed. If he did not provide a remedy for the situation, mankind would now be eternally and hopelessly separated from Him. So, “…the Lord God made garment of skin.” In the very first book of the Bible, we see not only the justice of God but also His grace, doing for Adam and Eve what they absolutely could never have done for themselves. They would not have known what to do, now would they have known how to do it.
And if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are just as helpless as Adam and Eve were. The only possible way your sins are going to be forgiven is for you to come to the Cross, where Jesus Christ died. The covering of our sin is strictly by the grace of Almighty God, and it is symbolized in the shedding of the blood and providing of the skins.
We Cause Others Around us to Suffer (verses 6, 17-19)
We have seen how sin and its resulting misery extended from the first woman to the first man where she gave him the forbidden fruit. Anguish continued to spread as sin further poisoned their family: the Bible records that Adam and Eve’s firstborn son Cain murdered his younger brother Abel. So in the earth’s very first family, we witness murder, jealousy and strife. Down through the centuries, Satan has in one way or another had his impact of discord, turmoil or bloodshed in all families. Everyone is affected because sin is not something that we can isolate. In other words, if you and I sin against God, we are going to hurt somebody else.
We Miss out on God’s Best
When God created Adam and Eve, He intended that they live in the Garden of Eden with all of its absolute perfection. There, God had provided for their every possible need, and in addition, they felt no guilt of shame (Genesis 2:25). Yet they chose to disobey, and as a result, the first family suffered horrible consequences, including being cast out of their flawless environment.
The Good News
Although sin has spread to the entire human race, there is good news: You can be forgiven of your sin. But there is only one way, and that is by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Keep God’s words and doctrines ever before you – by frequently and regularly spending time in the Bible, by participating in corporate worship, by building your knowledge and applying it to your life, principle by principle. If you constantly refresh your heart and mind with God’s truth, you will be able to resist the lure of competing voices.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen.