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All about sin. What is it, how does it work, what does it do—whatever your questions are

What caused Adam and Eve to sin?

Postby Dandy Andy » Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:15 pm

I'm reading Genesis 3.1-7. What is it that caused Adam and Eve to sin?
Dandy Andy

Re: What caused Adam and Eve to sin?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:30 am

"Cause" is a tough thing to track down in this case. We could go with the stock cliché answers, but let's try for a little deeper. Obviously the original stimulus came from a being other than herself, but that doesn't answer the question of cause. We also know that it was conversation and temptation about spiritual things. We're really looking too shallow if we think she ate it because she was hungry, or that it had anything to do with "She wanted to have sex" (as if the tree was about sexuality). Ridiculous.

And I know the part about the serpent deceiving her, causing doubt, calling God's goodness and reliability into question, and that's legitimate, but it still doesn't get down to cause. We have to go for the cause that she allowed herself to be so duped.

The keys, without a doubt, are in vv. 5-6. What makes sense to me is the idea of "you will be like God" from v. 5. The text tells us about their mortality (2.7, made from dust), and we know about the tree of life (both 2.9 and esp. 3.22). In parallel ancient Near Eastern texts, "being like the gods" was viewed in terms of immortality. Even the punishment for eating from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil was mortality. Life and death play into the entire story. In the Bible, though, "being like God" is more often viewed in terms of wisdom. Both play themselves out here.

The woman saw the physical benefits of the fruit ("Hey, there's nothing wrong with this. It's not poisonous or anything."), but what really seems to have struck her is the "desirable for gaining wisdom." In Scripture, wisdom is a moral as well as intellectual quality.

In my opinion, then, she was acutely aware of her mortality and wanted to change that ("You will not surely die," said the serpent.). She wanted immortality like her God. I think that's what caused her to sin. She was after a moral and godly goal (God also wanted her wise and to live eternally with him), but she was deceived into being disobedient to achieve it. Her intent may have been good, but her means was tragic.

And so it goes with us. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." We may desire lots of good things, but we go about them in ways that are destructive and wrong. We seek to achieve godly stature by ungodly means. Our desires may be noble, but our tactics miss the mark. The key distinction is not just desires that are God-oriented (as Eve's may have been), but the whole JOURNEY has to be God-oriented: cause, motive, intent, goal, strategy, and result.

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