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Greg Laurie - Trouble In Paradise

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    Greg Laurie - Trouble In Paradise

So, I heard about a pastor who was taking over at church. He didn't really know anybody there yet. So, on the Saturday before that Sunday he decided to go meet people in the congregation. So, he met a few folks and he came to one home of one of his congregants and he knocked on the door and there was no answer. He could see someone was inside. He knocked again. Again, still no answer. Knocked on one more time, and so he left his business card with his name on it and then he wrote down Revelation 3:20, which of course says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in". So, the next day was Sunday and someone took that card the pastor gave to them and gave it to an usher to give back to the pastor. And the pastor looked at the card and they, too, had written a scripture reference.

They wrote down Genesis 3:10, which says, "I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself," so. So, we'll actually get to that verse in this message today, among others. So, we've looked at the Creation of all things. Now we're looking at the story of Adam and Eve's sin against God in the Garden of Eden. We're reading about the creation of men and women. And in Genesis 2 Moses zooms in from the cosmos to the Garden of Eden. This new section of Genesis deals with the relationship between God and man. Here's an interesting little point. The name that God has used of himself up to this point is Elohim, but it shifts in chapter 2 to Yahweh.

So, we might say the name of God, Elohim, would be the name describing him as Majestic Creator and Yahweh is dealing more in a personal way with us. For instance, my son calls me "Dad," my grandchildren call me "Papa," you know, so it's a different terminology. You call me Greg or maybe Pastor Greg or "Hey, bald guy," or whatever you say to me, I'll answer to almost anything, but the difference is relationship. So, when Jesus taught us to pray, he did not say, "After this manner therefore pray: our Creator who art in heaven," though he is that. But he said, "After this manner therefore pray: our Father who art in heaven". That's a privilege, that's access, that's relationship. And we all have that access to God. So, I wanted to point that out, that he changes the use of his name from Elohim to Yahweh.

So let's read together Genesis 2, verse 7. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". So, if you're taking notes, here's point number one. God created man and breathed life into him. This word breathed is interesting in verse 7. It's warmly personal. God was face to face with man and with the intimacy of a kiss or a little puff of air, God brings man to life.

And now drop down to verse 15. "Then the Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat of it you will surely die.'" We'll stop there. Eden, the Garden of Eden. By the way, the word Eden means delight. The very name Eden is used synonymously with names and phrases like, oh, it's like Camelot or Atlantis or utopia or Shangri-la. So, we might think of Eden as a fictitious place, but it was a real place that God placed Adam in, in this garden of absolute delight. It was a paradise beyond anything you could imagine. I mean, think of the most beautiful places you've ever been to in this world.

San Bernardino, I didn't mean that as a joke. Why did you laugh at it? No, but think tropical paradise or some incredible island or some other place or maybe something you've seen in a movie or on television and that looks like paradise or the Garden of Eden. Eden was that and much more, hand-made by God himself, untouched by sin. It was literally perfect. And Adam had the coolest job of all time. He was the gardener in the Garden of Eden. His job was to discover what the Lord had made, to enjoy what God had created, and to tend to this garden. So, someone might walk up to him, although there wasn't anyone to walk up to him at this point, but later, "Hey man, what's your job"? "I'm a gardener in the Garden of Eden". Pretty great opportunity the Lord gave and he had carte blanche, "Enjoy everything in the garden, Adam, there's just one tree I want you to avoid: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil".

That was the one thing to stay away from. And now Adam is given the task of naming the animals. Look at verse 20. "Adam gave names to all cattle, birds," and so forth. So, I mean, he must have run out of names after a while, right? I mean, he's looking at these incredible creatures, "Woah, look at this thing. Elephant. Oh, look at this stubby little dude with a big mouth. Hippo. Well, what's going on with this horse? Never seen a horse like that? I'm gonna call him a zebra. Oh, this one, that bird, that's a peacock for sure". I mean, after the 100th, 1000th animal, he's just getting tired of naming them and he's just making up stuff. Like, when he came to this fish, "Oh, this fish. I'm sick of talking about, or naming animals. I'm gonna call him the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, go swimming by".

That is the actual fish, the official state fish of Hawaii. That's actually the name of the fish. And so, something was missing in Adam's life. And more specifically, it wasn't a something, it was a someone. But Adam didn't know that yet because he had not yet met the someone, but here she comes. Genesis 2, verse 18. "The Lord God said, 'It's not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper comparable to him.'" Drop down to verse 21. "And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and as he slept; He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and the wife, and they were not ashamed".

So, my next point. God created woman and brought her to the man. It's worth noting at this point in Genesis, after God created each successive thing, he said, "It was good, it is good, this is good". Then he looks at the aloneness of Adam and he says, "This is not good," this is not good. "I'm gonna make," verse 18, "a helper comparable to him". In the Hebrew that can be translated to "someone who assists another to reach fulfillment". Another way you can translate it is someone who comes to rescue another. Eve would provide what was missing in Adam's life. Adam would provide what was missing in Eve's life. And by the word, this word, helper, "God will create a helper," in no way does it imply that Eve was somehow inferior to Adam.

In fact, it's the same word God uses to describe himself as a helper to his people. But he's bringing them together. And this just reminds us, we are built for relationship with one another. We're not meant to do life alone. So, Adam is put into a deep sleep and Eve is produced from his side. Adam's enthusiastic response is verse 23. "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, she was taken out of Man". It comes from the Hebrew word stoketo. We get our English word stoked from it. I made that all up. Okay. But the idea is implied here that Adam was astonished. He was blown away. He was thrilled.

So, God is now establishing the family. Long before there was a government or there were schools or any other social structures, God establishes the family and a home. This is God's order, a man and a woman together in marriage. Not a man and a man, not a woman and a woman, not a man who wants to become a woman or a woman who wants to become a man. A man and a woman. This is the only order that God will bless. That's true. We have strayed from God's order and we're reaping the consequences of it in our nation today. Almost every social ill that is happening in America today can be directly traced to the breakdown of the family and specifically the absence of fathers. I could speak for 45 minutes just giving you stats to prove what I just said. It's an undeniable fact. And we've tampered with this. We want to eliminate the family. We want to redefine the family.

And as we've done this it's like we're striking at the very foundation of our nation. You know, it's been said a family can survive without a nation but a nation cannot survive without a family. So here are Adam and Eve in perfect paradise. Living the dream, man. You can't get any better than this. Surrounded by beauty, surrounded by the most amazing wildlife. All the animals are docile and tame, and the greatest food to eat, and it's so good. Well, there was trouble in paradise. Enter the devil. Go to Genesis 3, verse 1. "Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God indeed said, "You will not eat of every tree of the garden"?'" And he probably said it like this, "Has God indeed said," right? He's a serpent.

"And the woman said to the serpent, 'Well, we may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat it, nor touch it, lest you die".' Then the serpent said to the woman, 'Oh, you will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' And when the woman saw the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and she ate. And she gave it to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' Adam said, 'I heard your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.'"

So, here now we see how the devil seeks to attack and undermine us. We see his four waves of attack that he uses over and over again. Interesting, he comes as a snake, a talking snake. Did other animals talk at this time before the Fall? I don't know. That'd be kind of cool, having conversations with different animals. But he comes as a snake. You know, snakes are interesting creatures. When I was a young boy, I was, really, an avid collector of snakes. I had boas and pythons and king snakes and gopher snakes, and then I went out and caught snakes and, you know, snakes are not expressive creatures. They're cold blooded. Snakes don't show affection like a dog.

You know, dogs are so affectionate, they want to be with you. You know when a dog's happy, you know when a dog's sad. Cats, they're more mysterious, filled with murderous thoughts. They might occasionally lick you with their little weird sandpaper tongue but, even with a cat, you can read them to a certain degree, though they're a bit more mysterious than dogs. But reptiles, snakes in particular, you don't know if they're just kind of looking around or they're gonna strike at you. It's hard to tell. And so, they're very clever, they're very sly, and the devil is compared in the Bible to a snake. Point number seven, he questioned the Word of God. "Hey, did God really say what you thought he said"?

Interesting, now coming back to something I mentioned earlier, Satan uses the name in the first chapter of Genesis for God, Elohim. "Did Elohim really say", but remember the Lord introduced himself as Yahweh, a more personal name. "Hey, did Elohim really say what you thought he said"? The devil's primary objective is to separate you from God through sin. He'll always be looking for ways to do that. And once he succeeds, once you take the bait that he offers, then he'll come and condemn you. That's why he's called the accuser of the brothers, the brethren in King James. But he will tempt you and then condemn you for giving in to his temptation. And he'll say things to you like, "Oh, man, don't read the Bible. No, that would be hypocritical. Don't you dare go to church".

I mean, when we've sinned we think, well, I can't go to church after what I did this week. What do you think the church is? Think of the church like a hospital, think of the church like a place that you go to get better. As I've often said, the church is not a hospital, excuse me, it's not a museum for saints, it's a hospital for sinners, right? But the devil will try to keep you from church, keep you from God's people, keep you from opening the Bible, keep you from praying. Don't listen to him. But that's what the devil does. "Did God really say what you thought he said"? And he introduces the assumption that God's Word is subject to our judgment. "You know what? I don't know. I mean, do we really wanna listen to what God said in his Word"?

And people do this all the time. They'll say things like, "Well, I'm a Christian and I love the Lord, but I don't know if I agree with this part of the Bible, because my God would never send a person to hell for living in rebellion against him and outside of his plan," or, "My God thinks thus". And so, well, listen, I don't know who your God is, but he's not the God of the Bible. Someone once asked me, "What do you do when you come to a verse in the Bible you don't agree with"? My response was, "Change your opinion because you're wrong".

Now, you wanna make sure you've correctly interpreted that verse in context and so forth, but having said that, the Bible is the source of all truth. And so, we believe this, but the devil attacks the Word of God. Really, what he is implying is God is holding you away from something good. "Man, if God really loved you, he'd let you do whatever you want. Why would he restrict you? Why would he say you can't eat of this tree? God's holding you back from this thing, because in the day you eat of it, you will be like a God yourself. You'll be a goddess, knowing good and evil". He's a liar. If God tells you not to do something that's for your own good. Is it really that bad? God gives his commandments. You shall not lie, you shall not steal, you shall not take the Lord's name in vain, you shall honor your mother and father. Live in these standards and by these principles because these are walls of protection keeping evil out.

The Bible says, "No good thing will he withhold from those that walk up rightly". And Satan also questioned the love of God. "If God really loved you, he'd let you do whatever you want". No, he love you too much to not let you do whatever you want. And then, the devil denied the Word of God. You know, it's a short step from questioning the Word of God to denying the Word of God. So, what do we learn? Well, don't get into conversations with the devil. The Bible says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you". And then the devil substitutes his own lie. "Hey, man, you'll become like a god, knowing good and evil".

That was a complete lie. Listen, command central of your life is your mind. You are the air traffic controller of your own mind. The air traffic controller tells one pilot he can take off. He tells another they can land. He tells another to change their altitude. He tells even another to change their attitude. Probably not, but. But he's there directing, directing people, and you decide what thoughts come into this mind of yours and what thoughts stay out. "The eyes of them both were opened," verse 7. Their eyes were open to earth and closed to heaven. Then guess who shows up in the garden? The Lord. Verse 8, Genesis 3, the Lord comes walking through the garden, "They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day". Interesting, the word for God is Yahweh.

So, we're back to Yahweh again. So, Yahweh comes walking through the garden. It would appear, perhaps, that the Lord showed up in the garden every day as the sun was setting. In the cool of the day everything would be bathed in a golden light and Adam would normally tell the Lord what he had discovered that day. Maybe he had some questions for God. So, here comes the Lord as he would come, walking in the garden. But now Adam is not running to see the Lord, he's hiding from the Lord because of his sin. And what a sad thing that is. And now the thrill of sin is gone, and sin doesn't always have a thrill, but sometimes it does and is short lived at best. And then the repercussions come, then the guilt kicks in and that dead, cold feeling that comes from sin is there.

And the Lord says, "Adam, where are you"? Does the Lord say that because he literally didn't know where Adam is? "Adam. Adam, I can't find you". The Lord knew exactly where Adam was. The Lord knew everything that was happening. He was aware of it from the very beginning. God wasn't looking for the location of Adam, he was looking for confession from Adam. "Adam," the Lord says, "where are you"? Adam, of course, covers things up. But I wonder if God is asking that question of some of us right now. Where are you? Not literally where are you, he knows where you are. We're in church. But where are you spiritually? Are you in the place you should be in right now or are you separated from God because of sin?

I don't think this is a spoiler alert when I tell you that, of course, Jesus came to die on the cross to reconcile us with God and to restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden. And we'll look at that first Messianic passage next time in Genesis chapter 3, verse 15 when God speaks of one who would come to deliver us, but we'll stop short of that today and just deal with that question, where are you? Are you where you need to be? Are you right with God? If you died today, would you go to heaven or have you done something you know has separated you from God?

And there might be someone I'm talking to that was walking with the Lord, but you've allowed sin to get into your life and to compromise you and you've eaten of that forbidden fruit. Well, the good news is God can forgive you. The Bible says, "If we will confess our sin, He's faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

You have to admit your sin. Stop making excuses for it, stop blaming others for it, and just say, "I am guilty. I'm sorry. Forgive me," and he will, because Jesus died on that cross for your sin. He paid the price for every wrong you've done. You don't have to atone for your own sin. You don't have to do X amount of good works to get God to forgive. You just come and say, "God, I'm a sinner. I failed, but you're our Savior and you love me and I need your forgiveness right now". God longs for relationship with you. Isn't it interesting that the story says, "The Lord came calling". It should have been Adam, saying, "God, where are you? God, come to me. God, help me". Instead, it's the Lord calling.
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