April 8, 2018 – Discerning Deception
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Genesis 1-4
Genesis 3:1-13 (ESV)
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
We are considering three ways that the essential task of trusting God will be challenged in your life.
I) An easy contradiction
- v4 “you will not surely die”
- the only confident assertion made is on what can only be known through trust
II) A misleading half truth
- v5 “your eyes will be opened”
- their eyes were open, but they would see something that would change how they see everything
II) A cynical accusation
- v5 “For God knows… you will be like God”
- the impression is given that God is withholding something good
Questions for Reflection
- Do you find it hard to believe in God? To live a life according to what is laid out in the Bible? In what ways?
- When do you most question God’s goodness, power or care? Under what circumstances? What are unhelpful responses to these thoughts? What are helpful responses?
- How do we learn to truly trust God, and not simply develop a superstitious positive attitude? What grounds us in the truth? What expressions of faith are really naïve, wishful thinking?
- What can we only know if God reveals it to us? What things do human beings have no access to? What does the Bible teach that cannot otherwise be known?
- How can you grow spiritually so that you are less susceptible to religious half-truths? How can you grow in discernment without growing in cynicism? How can you tell which is actually operating in you (discernment or cynicism)?
- What does it look like to doubt your doubts? What does it look like to live by faith in a season of confusion or questioning?
- Jesus invites us to follow him, claiming to be the way, the truth, and the life. What makes Jesus trustworthy?
- How can you root yourself in God’s grace and generosity and reshape your life by it? What does it look like to see the world through the eyes of faith? What things do you look for, what do you notice? How can you be intentional about making your outlook grounded in trust and rooted in hope?
Prayer of Confession
Our God and Father, who alone is trustworthy. We confess our confusion, doubt and cynicism. We acknowledge our lack of discernment. Forgive us for calling what is evil good, and for calling what is good evil, and for being drawn to the wrong things. We have not held firmly to the simple truth that you are good. We have believed what is untrue. Through the power of forgiveness release us from our cynicism, cleanse us from the sin that distorts how we see and experience all of life, and show mercy to us, who have betrayed you. Show us again the way, the truth and the life. Amen.