Genesis 014 – Marriage Difficulty

Genesis 014 – Marriage Difficulty
Genesis 3:16-19 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 15, 2020 • Genesis


Genesis 014 – Marriage

Genesis 3:16-19

Dr. Andrew Woods

Well, good morning, everybody.  Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the book of Genesis 3.  Taking a look, Lord willing, this morning at Genesis 3:16-19.  The title of our message this morning is “Marriage Difficulty.” ‘Gee, I wish the pastor would preach on something more relevant.  Marriage difficulty.  Where does that even come from?’  Well, you get an answer here in Genesis 3.

Just to remind you, we have begun and are continuing to move through the book of Genesis, verse-by-verse, having entered the first major section of the book, which is the beginning of the human race, chapters 1-11, and that section has four sub-parts, the first of which we’ve already covered, Creation itself.

Genesis 1 was an overview of the whole creation week.  Genesis 2 was kind of a drilling down on day 6 of the creation week, giving more details on it that you don’t find in chapter 1, because that’s the creation of humanity—man and woman, the pinnacle of God’s created order.  And everything seems to be humming along just fine. So what in the world went wrong?   Well, Genesis 3 went wrong.   So we we moved into Genesis 3-5, where chapters 4 and 5 really describe the aftermath of what happened in chapter 3.  But chapter 3 is that pivotal chapter because it is describing the fall of the human race.  I like to ,and I have used this quote from W.H. Griffith Thomas, who said, “This chapter is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.“

You really can’t make sense of our world.  You can’t make sense of what’s wrong with us.  And you really can’t make sense of why we need a Savior without understanding Genesis 3.  This is why I think Satan has worked so hard to remove early Genesis, particularly Genesis 3 from the thinking of modern man.  And yet, if Genesis 3 is understood and absorbed the way God would have us to absorb it, suddenly everything that God says in the rest of the Bible concerning our redemption falls into place.

Genesis 3, as we have talked about, has different parts to it.  We’ve already discovered 3:1-5, the temptation by the serpent.  I like to call him the ‘ssssserpent.’  We saw his tactics, and we saw Adam and Eve’s mistakes in spiritual warfare.  Genesis 3:6 is the actual sin of Adam and Eve.  That’s where they both ate from the forbidden tree.  And there we learn lessons about the three avenues of temptation and the destruction of the hierarchy of headship that God had established in the prior chapters.

And then we move to 3:7-13 where we discovered that consequences follow sin the way night follows the day.  You can pick your sin, but you can’t pick the consequences.  And there were four:

  1. Man became religious (3:7),
  2. Fellowship between God and man was broken (3:8-10),
  3. Everybody’s blaming everybody else except themselves. I’m glad that never happens today (3:11-13),
  4. What God established in terms of a hierarchy and authority structure is now perverted, and Satan has become the prince and power of the air (3:11-13).

And at this point, the creator speaks, and He begins to impose judgments not just on Adam and Eve but on humanity as a whole.  He deals with the “sssserpent“ first because the serpent sinned first.  He deals with the woman second because the woman sinned second, and He deals with the man third, because the man sinned third.

And He says two things to the serpent in 3:14-15, two things to the woman in 3:16 and two things to the man in 3:17-19.  Now, last time we saw what He said to the serpent. Immediately the serpent’s body was changed, 3:14.  And then in 3:15, a prophecy was given to him.  Perhaps it’s the most important prophecy you can understand in order to make sense of the rest of the Bible.  There’s a prophecy that there’s coming One from the seed of the woman Eve, who is going to take the serpent’s head and crush it.  It’s interesting that Paul, in the 16th chapter of the book of Romans, makes reference to this at the very end of the book.  He says ‘the time will come when Satan will soon be crushed beneath your feet.’

The rest of Scripture is an outworking of that prophecy.  It’s a prediction, not so much how, because the details aren’t given until you begin to move through the Bible.  But it’s a description of what is going to happen.  It’s a description that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, are on the winning side of history because Satan’s days are numbered.  He is a defeated foe.  His days have been numbered ever since that prophecy was given in Genesis 3:15.  There we read, ”And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”  ‘Satan, along the way, you’re going to be able to cause a lot of trouble.  But ultimately, your head will be crushed.’  The rest of the Scripture unpacks how Satan would cause trouble, and yet how he ultimately would be a defeated foe.

You know, with everything going on in our world today, it’s so important to have the mindset of God where we know that we’re on the winning side.  Amen?  You know how things are going to turn out and that God has not lost control of things.  The victory not only has been procured, but there’s more victory coming.

So we analyze what He said to the serpent.  And now we move to 3:16, where He begins to speak to the woman, and He will say two things to the woman.  The first thing He says to her is in the first part of 3:16.  The second thing He says to her is in the second part of 3:16.  So notice, if you will, Genesis 3, and what He says to the woman, Genesis 3:16:  “To the woman…” [So He’s no longer dealing with the serpent.  He’s now dealing with the woman who sins second, this would be Eve].  To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth.  In pain, you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.“

What the Lord now says to the woman, is this:  the process of childbearing is going to become painful.  Now, this is very important to understand—childbearing, procreation is not the curse.  Many people, because of the ramifications that have been introduced, think it’s the curse, but procreation and the bearing of children is not the curse, because you see procreation and childbearing being established by God Himself in Genesis 1 before the fall.  You remember what God said there? Genesis 1:28,Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it…”  Having children is not a curse.  That’s something that God desires.  It’s something that God designed.  And of course, there are always exceptions to the rule of couples that can’t bear children for whatever reason.  And he’s not dealing with every single exception here.

But in general, it is the plan and the program of God for man and woman to come together, male and female, within the bonds of matrimony or marriage, and procreate and have children.  In fact, Psalm 127:3-5 puts it this way, and it’s interesting as this is on our very, very back wall; as you go through our hallway, you’ll see these verses there. It says, ”Behold, children are a gift of the LORD.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man that whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

So don’t get this idea that somehow children are the enemy.  Some of us may think that if they’re out of control.  That never happens in society today, right?  But in general, they are not.  They are a blessing of the Lord.  I mean, the Lord established the human race to procreate.  It’s one of the unique features of humanity that even the angels themselves do not share in this capacity and in this quality.

So if procreation is something that God established prior to the fall, what is He saying here in 3:16 when He says to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain, you will bring forth children.”

He’s not saying that procreation is the curse.  What He is saying is the curse is the process; it is now going to become painful.  The process itself is going to become difficult.  Procreation is not the problem, but the curse introduced a pain, if you will, in the process.  And it is a reality in world history of many women that have died in the process of childbearing.  In fact, even in Genesis 35:6-18 (NKJV), it says, “Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. “…when she was in severe labor, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear; you will have this son also.” And it came about as her soul was departing (for she had died). And then the biblical text says “for she died” that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.”

Even Rachel, as we will discover, died in the process of bearing one of her children.  We live in a wonderful time period of an advanced culture, advanced medicine, where this can be corrected through a lot of different things.  But most people in world history haven’t had these technological advancements that we have today, and many, many women have died in the process of bearing children.  Exactly what the Lord said here at the beginning.

He may not use the words, death or dying, but He uses the words pain or difficulty.  I remember when my wife became pregnant with my daughter, let’s put it that way.  And of course, Sarah was so large, you know, she wasn’t coming out properly.  And so with Anne, they had to perform an immediate or an emergency C-section.  And in the process of all of that, the doctor says to me there sitting nervously in the waiting room, ‘Oh, by the way, if this had happened 100 years ago, 150 years ago, 200 years ago, your wife and your daughter would have died.’ And I was like ‘Any other encouraging words you want to share with me?‘  But he was a fellow Christian, and I think he thought I could take it.  But that is just a sort of a sad reality of life.  And I think when Genesis 3:16 talks about this pain in childbirth, I think it’s actually going beyond simply the immediate process of birth.  I think it’s also talking about the process of raising or rearing children, which can be a very, very difficult, very, very painful process, something that God never designed it to be.

It’s interesting that when you go through the various prayer requests that are shared here at Sugar Land Bible Church, and as one of the elders, I have a chance to look at all of those prayer requests so that we can pray for them, so many people are praying for their children.  They’re heartbroken about their children.  They’re heartbroken about the fact that their children have drifted away, or they’re not behaving as Christians or this has happened to them or that has happened to them, and so many of the prayers have to do with this issue.  And I think it’s largely an outworking or a manifestation of what God says here in Genesis 3:16.  There is something painful in this whole process.

Now, the pain of the process was never the design of God.  But sin brings consequences. You get to pick your sin.  Adam and Eve picked their sin.  They ate freely from the tree of knowledge, but they didn’t have an opportunity to pick this consequence:  the pain of child-bearing and even child-rearing.  And then God says something else to the woman. And this is why we have entitled this message marriage difficulty.  I mean, why is marriage so difficult?  Why is it that the statistics indicate that half of marriages end in divorce?  Why is that statistic almost the same within the Christian community as it is outside the Christian community?  Well, there’s actually a reason for this given at the very beginning of the Bible.  It says this, second part of 3:16, as the Lord is speaking to Eve, “…Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

Now, let me explain how this verse, I believe, is misinterpreted by most people.  They take that word, desire, and there it is in Hebrew, in brackets. “Yet your desire [TESHUQAH] will be for your husband…” [as the Lord is speaking to the woman] “And He will rule over you.”  And they typically run to the Song of Solomon, where you find that same Hebrew word, desire.  Song of Solomon 7:10 says, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire [TESHUQAH] is for me.” And they turn this into some sort of teaching about how the woman is going to be filled with desire for her husband.  I don’t know how that’s necessarily a curse.  And she is going to be in this—I’ve heard it taught this way—in this sort of relationship with her husband, where she is going to volitionally submit to him and be fulfilled with desire for him.  And the problem is to get that interpretation to work, you have to leave the book of Genesis, leave the author Moses, and you have to travel about four centuries into the future, into a different time, a different book, a different author, Solomon, and you have to take the Song of Solomon 7:10, and read it back into Genesis 3:16.  And that becomes the basis for people misunderstanding, or mishandling this passage.  So if that is the wrong way of handling this passage, what then would be the correct way?   It’s much simpler than that.

You don’t have to run off to a different author in a different time period using the same word to understand this.  All you have to do is take your Bible and turn one page to the right.  Very simple.  And as you turn one page to the right, you will read these words in Genesis 4:7 as God is speaking to Cain, who is contemplating murdering his brother. Genesis 4:7 says this: “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door;... [Now watch this, second part of 4:7], “and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 

Now there is a scholar named Susan Foh back in the 1970s in the Westminster Theological Journal that showed that the grammatical layout in Hebrew of Genesis 3:16 is identical to the grammatical layout of Genesis 4:7.  In other words, I don’t have to run off to the Song of Solomon to get an interpretation of this.  All I have to do is pay attention to how Moses uses the identical sentence structure. Now there’s a few cosmetic changes with the pronouns and things like that, but it’s basically the same sentence structure. How Moses, the author of Genesis, uses the same sentence structure, literally one chapter to the right.  And what is happening in Genesis 4:7 is a power struggle.  And it’s the same sort of power struggle that’s described in Genesis 3:16.  And when you understand the power struggle, you’ll understand why marriage becomes so difficult.

What God is saying to Cain in Genesis 4:7 is ‘right now, as you’re contemplating murdering your brother Abel, you’re in a power struggle because sin is personified as crouching at the door, and it is literally trying to overpower you.  It’s desire [same Hebrew word, desire] is for you, and if you don’t want it to control you, you have to control it, and you better start fighting back.’ 

It’s actually a wonderful word of exhortation to all of us as we’re tempted to do things that we shouldn’t do.  That power struggle goes on.  Sin wants to control you, but you better control it before it controls you.  Now, that is the same sentence structure that you have in Genesis 3:16.  And looking at that observation, what you quickly see is what is being described in Genesis 3:16 as a consequence of the fall has nothing to do with the Song of Solomon or romance or anything like that.  That’s not how the word desire is being used.  What it’s saying is the fall has happened.  And the woman’s natural proclivity will be to desire, in other words, dominate, or control, the marriage, just like sin is crouching at the door and wants to dominate Cain in the same way the woman, (and this is not the design of God, this is the ramification of the fall)—the woman is desiring to control the man.  And guess what?  The man is not going to like it, and the man is going to start fighting back, and he’s going to start trying to control her so she doesn’t control him.

And that’s exactly what God is saying to Cain: ’sin is trying to control you, but you better control it before it controls you.‘  And so the natural tendency within marriage is this:  the woman will try to usurp the authority or the headship of the man, and the man is going to resent it, and he’s going to fight back.  And thus you see the beginning of the battle of the sexes in marriage. You see the beginning of feminism: the woman trying to dominate the marriage.  And you see the beginning of chauvinism where the man’s basic tendency in the fall is going to run roughshod over the woman.  Not treat her like as 1 Peter 3:7 says, the fragile vase that she is.  She is weaker than you.  She is the weaker vessel. She’s not less important, she’s not less intelligent. But given her composition and her makeup, she will be reduced to tears faster than a man.  And if I had an all men’s football team and an all women’s football team playing each other, I’m going to bet on the men because men are physically stronger than women in most cases.  Now, just turn off the World Wrestling Federation for a minute where you’ve got these Amazon women beating the daylights out of people. That’s the exception to the rule and not what’s normative.  He’s not dealing with every exception.

And what is being described here is a power struggle that goes on in every single marriage.  It’s not what God wants.  It’s not what God designed.  But it’s how things are.  It’s not what things were like originally before the fall.  But it’s what they’re like now. And one of the things to understand about the fall is the fall of man did not just negatively impact our vertical relationship with God.  That’s obviously a big part of it. We saw that in Genesis 3:8-10 where the fellowship between God and man is broken.

But it also had an impact on our horizontal relationships with each other right down to the most significant relationship that you can have with another human being:  marriage itself. You know, couples oftentimes come to us and say, ‘We’re having difficulties in our marriage.‘ And my response is, ‘Well, of course, you’re having difficulties in your marriage. That’s what God said would happen.’ And you start to see this and understand why marriage is so difficult.  Because there’s an ongoing power struggle between the man and the woman. You know, marriage is to be honored.  I’m not disparaging marriage.  Jesus certainly didn’t disparage marriage.  He performed His first sign at a wedding ceremony in Cana of Galilee.  Marriage is to be honored.  But, you know, Paul, who was pro-marriage, said this in 1 Corinthians 7:28 about people contemplating marriage.  He talks about marrying and giving in marriage.  And then in the second part of the verse, he says, “…Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I’m trying to spare you.”

Wow. I mean, why would a book that’s so pro-marriage say something like that? Because of Genesis 3:16, that’s why.  Genesis 3:16 contaminated or corrupted God’s original design for marriage.

Why would Solomon say things like this?  Proverbs 21:9, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman…“  Proverbs 21:19, ”It’s better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman…”  Proverbs 25:24, “It is better to live in a corner of the roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”  Now the women are saying, ‘Now wait a minute, you’re putting all the blame on the women.’  Well, that’s because Solomon was a man, and he could write what he wanted, I guess.  But the problem goes the other way, too.  I believe this—that marriage can be as close as you can get to heaven on earth if you follow God’s principles.  And I believe this—marriage is as close as you’ll ever get to hell itself…when God’s principles are not honored.

So how do you escape this?  How do you escape this tension that every marriage is locked into?  The woman’s desire is to dominate the man; the man resenting it and trampling down the woman.  How do you escape a natural conflict between man and woman within the institution of marriage?  A conflict that God never designed, but now it’s there because of sin.  How do you escape?  Well, when you understand this, then Ephesians 5:22-33 start making a lot of sense.  So many people teach Ephesians 5:22-33, which is our commandments that we are to follow as Christians within marriage without adequately explaining to people why we need that chapter.  The reason we need that chapter is because of a problem that God explains is now happening via a power struggle in Genesis 3:16.   Genesis 3:16 is the problem.  Ephesians 5:22-33 is the answer.  And what does Ephesians 5:22-33 say?  It says, “A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church.”  Now that is completely counter to the natural inclination of man.  He doesn’t act that way.  He doesn’t want to act that way.  What he wants to do is he wants to run roughshod over her.  And actually do damage to her as the weaker vessel, and the only escape from that natural proclivity, which we all have as men, is to follow that exhortation.  Because when I’m loving my wife as Christ loves me, I am countering my essential chauvinistic tendencies which are ingrained in me because of original sin.

And what is the solution for the woman who is trying to control the marriage and trying to control the man?  She is to respect her husband, and submit to his authority.  As she respects and submits to her husband as unto the Lord, she will find that she has now a manual for countering what is inside of her, which is to control and dominate.  Her basic feminist impulses will be curtailed and controlled through the guidance of the Holy Spirit via the written Word of God.

The man’s basic chauvinistic impulses will be curtailed and controlled by following Ephesians 5:22-33.

I’ll just be completely honest with you. I’ve been married 20 years, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.  I love being married.  I love my wife, but when we have problems, and we’ve had our share of problems just like anybody else.  When we have problems, not if, but when, nine times out of ten, and maybe that number is too low, it has to do with the fact that one of us or both of us have stepped outside the Ephesians 5 model.  And we will very quickly step outside the Ephesians 5 model because it’s contrary to who we are in original sin.  It’s contrary to our basic impulses in original sin.  And so there’s this fight going on, this argument going on.

And usually with these types of arguments within marriage, the issue is never the issue.  The issue actually is selfishness.  And I’ll be honest, usually it’s myself.  Because I’m really not doing what God said, and when I’ll just sort of catch my breath, have a cooling off period, acknowledge my sin to the Lord, it’s interesting how things start to work again.  And whatever issue it was we were upset about, a week or two passes, we can’t even remember what we were arguing about.  Because the issue is really not the issue.  The issue is Ephesians 5 and stepping outside of that design, and consequently going back to my natural tendencies—chauvinistically running roughshod over her because I resent being controlled.  See that?

See, the fact of the matter is your best marriage advice,  you’re not going to get it from Dr. Phil.  You’re going to get it right here from the Bible.  And in fact, rather than lining everybody up and going for hours and hours of marriage counseling, and people coming in telling the pastoral staff their problems, a sermon like this will fix 99% of these issues—if we really understand what the problem is, if we understand what our natural proclivity is, and we understand God’s solution to the problem.

You know, and this becomes the issue with a young man or a young woman who wants to marry a non-Christian.  This is the disaster in it.  A young woman will go into courtship with a young man who is not a Christian or not a believer, and she needs to understand what she’s putting herself in.  She is putting herself into a situation where he does not have the ability to love her the way God designed her to be loved because he doesn’t know Jesus.  If he doesn’t know Jesus, what sense could he make with Ephesians 5?

See, my whole basis for treating my wife comes from how the Lord treats me.  How I treat her is supposed to be how the Lord treats me.   Now, how would I even know how to treat her if I have no relationship with the Lord and have never received His grace? Unless your marriage is such that the two of you together, because it takes two to tango, are committed, both of you, to walking out the principles of Ephesians 5 moment by moment, resisting the natural inclination for the power struggle—unless you are yoked to a person who is committed to that process, let me tell you something:  it’s going to be a power struggle until your dying day.  And what God has designed for heavenly purposes will turn into hell itself.

And so may the Lord help us to understand this.  And it’s not just the idea of getting married to an unbeliever, because within the realm of believers, there are all kinds of different believers, aren’t there?  I mean, Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3  about the infants and Christ, the babes in Christ, the carnal in Christ.   I mean, you need to be in a situation, only the Lord can put it together, where you are yoked to a person that is a growing Christian.  He or she needs to not just be a Christian, but a growing Christian committed to the process of discipleship.  Because if you are yoked to someone who does not share that commitment, then the power struggle and the battle of the sexes and feminism and chauvinism, which is our basic inclination, will dominate that relationship until the Lord comes back.

And may God help us to understand this.  May God help us to give people accurate, adequate marital advice.  Not from a bunch of psychobabble that you hear on the talk shows.  But from the principles of the Word of God.  And so God now has spoken to the woman, and He says, ’Here are two things that are happening because of the fall:

  1. The process of childbearing is going to be difficult, not childbearing itself, but the process is hard.
  2. And you’ve got a fight. You’ve got anarchy in your own house.  You’ve got a civil war in your own house with the person that you’re committed to in holy matrimony.  And that’s the problem.’

Paul will come along later in biblical history and give us the solution.  Unless you understand this from the lens of God, from the vantage point of God, you don’t really understand why marriage is so difficult, what the problems are and why can’t people get along?   I mean, marriage advice is pretty easy when you’ve got two warring people in a marriage, it’s very easy.  ‘You stop being selfish and you stop being selfish.’  End of counseling session. ‘Yeah, but  this, that, this, that.  You know, she did this, he did that.’  ‘Quit being selfish.  Both of you.  Quit being selfish, start being sacrificial.’  ‘Well, I need a model for that.’  ‘Well, isn’t the Lord sacrificial to you?  Start treating her the way the Lord treats you. And she should stop trying to control him, but submit to him as unto the Lord.  And you watch marital bliss take place right there in your house.’  A civil war will become one of the greatest harmonious relationships a human being can experience, I believe, this side of eternity.

Well, gee, Pastor, you’ve been pretty hard on the women.’  Well, cheer up, ladies.  Look at this.  Now he speaks to the man in Genesis 3:17-19, the man sinned third.  And so the Lord addresses the man third and says two things to the man.  The first thing he says is ‘painful labor’. You have to go to work Monday morning, in other words.

Genesis 3:17. Then to Adam, He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ’You shall not eat from it‘… [Now let me just interrupt myself.  ‘You’ve listened to the voice of your wife.  You stepped out of the hierarchy of leadership that I’ve established.  You’re to lead your wife in the things of God.   But now you’re listening to your wife in rebellion against the things of God.’

You know, I’ve been here ten years, and we’ve seen a lot of people come and go in that time.   I’ve seen a lot of people leave Sugar Land Bible Church, and I can’t tell you how many examples there are of the woman leading the man in the wrong direction.  I’m not saying that Sugar Land Bible Church is a perfect church.  If you find the perfect church, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it.  But the fact of the matter is, there have been countless cases that I’ve observed for the woman who’s talking the man out of something that God wants him to be involved in and to receive truth from.

Then to Adam, he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you saying you shall not eat from it;’ Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.Genesis 3:18, “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field;”… 3:19, first part of it, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread...”  Now watch this very carefully.

Labor is not the problem.  Industry productivity; energy—is not the curse.  Why do I say that?  Because before the fall of man, God designed the man to be productive.  He said in Genesis 2:15 before the fall, “God took the man and put him in the garden to dress it and to keep it.” That requires activity. That requires productivity. That requires energy. The Bible never endorses laziness in any way, shape or form.  It never endorses sloth.  It actually forms a perfect biblical balance where it condemns workaholism.  That’s why He says to rest on the seventh day.  It condemns workaholism, but at the same time, it does not promote laziness or sloth because man was productive before the fall.  In fact, when all is said and done, and there is a remaking of our world in the new heavens and the new Earth, what are we going to be doing in Revelation 22:3, just sitting around? No, it says in Revelation 22:3, “…and His bond-servants will serve Him;”…That’s activity.  That’s energy, that’s industry.  Those are things that are good.  Those are things that God made.  Those are things that God designed.

Well, if that’s true, then what is the curse?  The curse is now you have to work to survive.  Now you have to work by the sweat of your brow.  You know, there are so many projects in life that you just wish you could do.  You want to be an author.  You want to be an artist.  You want to be a musician.  And isn’t it interesting that there’s just not enough time in the day to become skilled in any of those areas.  Why?  Because you’ve got to go out and work a job that you kind of like and really don’t like—to survive.  That’s the curse.  Working by the sweat of your brow is the curse.

So it’s very similar to Genesis 3:16 in the sense that childbearing wasn’t the curse, but the process is now painful.  That’s the curse.  It’s the same idea here in 3:17-19 industry work, creativity, productivity, industriousness is not the curse, but doing it to survive.  That’s the curse.  That’s how sin affected our world.  Because when Adam and Eve were strolling in the cool of the garden with the Lord, they were free to devote themselves to whatever was in their hearts; channel their energies wherever they could be channeled.  That’s not the case anymore.  Now you’re working just to make it.  Now you’re working just to survive.

And we’re blessed to live in a country with a high level of economics where some of these ideas are sort of foreign to us.  But I’ll tell you, you go around the world, and you see people working the ground just to have a meal; just to have provision, really not knowing if the crop is going to come up or not.  And that is not the design of God. That’s not the plan of God.  That’s not the program of God. That’s not how God set up things.  And when God sets up things in the future eternal state, it’s not going to be that way.  But that’s the way it is today.  That’s the way it is from Genesis 3 onward, because the ground itself is going to rebel against you.  The process of eking out a living is going to become difficult.

Now, I hope you see sarcasm in this.  God is very sarcastic.  I have mentioned many times about how the different plagues that hit Egypt by the Lord were designed to mock different phases or aspects of the Egyptian polytheistic pantheon.  ‘You like frogs?  I’ll multiply them all over the Egypt.  You’ll have so many frogs you won’t know what to do with them all.  Oh, you want to worship the Nile?  It just turned to blood red, etc.’  And this is very sarcastic. What God is saying here is, ‘You want to rebel against me?  The ground itself is now in rebellion against you.  And eking out a living now is becoming difficult for you.  Your marriage is difficult.  Your career is difficult.  The process of bringing children into the world is difficult.’  You say, ‘Well, is this a New Testament teaching?’  You bet your bottom dollar it is.  Paul the Apostle in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

One of the things to understand about sin is it’s not just a spiritual thing.  It’s a physical thing that went wrong with our world, and our world per Romans 8:19-22 is in a state of travail and groaning because of it.  And the groaning started right here.  As the ground itself was now in rebellion against our forebears, the world is in a state of bondage right now, physically.  Creation itself is personified as groaning. And according to Romans 8:19-20, it just can’t wait for the return of Jesus Christ, along with His angels, to liberate creation from the bondage it’s been in ever since Genesis 3.  It’s exactly the same physical consequence that we saw in 3:14, where the serpent’s body just got changed.  And there’s a lot of debate about, well, what did the serpent look like before it got changed?   I don’t know if I know all of that.  I just know it was changed. And it was changed because I believe that God was showing humanity that there is a physical price tag to what just happened in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:19 says, “By the sweat of your face, you will eat bread…“  You want to survive?  You work.  And what the United States of America is being sold today, and I think with this current election situation, if things don’t go right, this is going to get a lot worse real fast—is the doctrine of socialism.  The doctrine of socialism doesn’t say you eat by the sweat of your own face.   What it says is that you eat by the sweat of someone else’s face.  And this is what the youth are being sold.  Because, my goodness, “If this candidate wins or that candidate wins, he or she has promised to erase all my student debts.’  I call socialism a siren song.  It is a song that’s so attractive to people because if you listen to it, what it allows is an escape from the curse—is really what it’s promising.  ‘You don’t have to work by the sweat of your own brow.  You can enjoy and receive and eat by the work of someone else.’  

Socialism.  It always, on paper, sounds so good.  And the reason it sounds so good is it’s a circumvention of the curse.  And let me tell you something.  It sounds wonderful.  But there’s not an example anywhere in human history where it’s ever worked.  This is why the left hates America.  I mean, why is there this irrational hatred in the part of actors and actresses, politicians, academics always trashing America?  Always.  Why do they hate America so badly?  Why is it that if you lifted the borders around this country, the world would come here, and yet the left hates America?  Why is that?  Because America is an example, going back to Bradford, in the colonies, of a free market system, capitalistic in nature, that has worked.  The socialists and the communists don’t have a system like that.  And so what do you do when their system is working and your system isn’t?  You tear down the existing one.  You follow? And socialism itself is a rebellion against what God said.  God was very clear.  ‘You will work by the sweat of your own brow.’  Socialism says ‘No, you can enjoy through the labor of another’…, which really, when you think about it, is the definition of slavery itself.   If I eat because you work, then you have become my slave.  And in university and university across this country, the youth are swept into this.  Because they don’t understand the Bible.  They don’t understand the impositions of the Creator.  And the whole thing makes sense to them on paper.  Sounds good in a classroom.  The problem is you don’t have any examples of it working anywhere.

I think it was Margaret Thatcher that put it this way. ‘The problem with socialism and socialism typically leads in the direction of communism.’  Well, why is that?   Because at some point, people get tired of working to support someone else.  And so the Marxists come to power and says, ‘Well, you’re going to work whether you want to or not’ through the barrel of a gun.  Socialism will eventually give way to communism.  And the problem, as Margaret Thatcher said, with all of these experiments, is you run out of opm.  OPM, which stands for other people’s money.  Eventually the system starts to go under strain.  The system starts to run a massive deficit or debt.  The system starts to convulse.  The system starts to fragment.  Inflation kicks in.  You know why?  You know, the folks on TV will give all of their opinions.  To me, it’s just very simple.  It is a rebellion against 3:19.  That’s why it fragments.

And so may God help us understand this time period that we’re living in now.  Pardon me for a little political humor.  You guys look like you could use a little.  This is a Bernie Sanders sign.  And at the bottom, it says socialism is a great idea until it shows up in your front yard and there’s a half of a Bernie Sanders sign.  And the other half says, ‘I took half of your sign because you had one and I didn’t. I’m sure you understand.’ Forgive me for that indulgence.

So labor is going to become difficult, and the last thing he says to the man is death, 3:19.By the sweat of your face, you will eat bread Till you return to the ground. Because from it you were taken; For you are dust And to dust, you shall return.“  You’re going to die.  Why are they going to die?  Why is it they’re going to go back right back to the dirt from which they came because of sin?  Why does it say ‘Because from it you were taken for you are dust and to dust your return?’  Because that’s what God told him would happen.  God was very clear.  Prior to the fall, He said. “‘3:17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (muwth).’”  This Hebrew word, die is used 791 times in Hebrew Bible from this point on.  And you know what it means every single time?   It means die.  It means death.  Oh, and we’re going to get a lesson on that in Genesis 5.  Because you know what all of those guys in Genesis 5 have in common?  They’re all dead.

Genesis 5:5, “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.

Genesis 5:8, ”So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.”

Genesis 5:11, “So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.Genesis 5:14,So all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.“  Boy, I’m seeing a pattern here.

Genesis 5:20, “So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.” But then there’s Enoch who escaped death.  Maybe we’re that generation that will escape death via the rapture.   I sure hope so.

Genesis 5:27, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.”

Genesis 5:31, ”So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy seven years, and he died.“

Why does everybody keep dying?  Because that’s what God said would happen.  That’s why. And by the way, if the Lord tarries, you’re going to die.  And I’m going to die. Hebrews 9:27 says, ”And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once…”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death…“

Is this a New Testament teaching?  Well, sure it is.  Paul is just rehearsing what the Old Testament says, 1 Corinthians 15:21,22, “For since by a man came death,…For as in Adam, all die,…”

Romans 5:12, ”Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—.”

Someone dies in our midst, and we’re just shocked.  I can’t believe that happened.  I can’t believe a church member died.  I can’t believe a family member died.

In fact, one of my colleagues with the Pre-Trib Research Center, Dr. Bill Watson, who wrote wonderful books about dispensationalism before Darby…in fact, next month I was scheduled to speak at the exact same conference when he was a presenter.  It’s still on the brochure.  Wednesday night, he died in his sleep.  ‘I can’t believe that would happen.’  Why?  This is what God said.  This is the reality of living in a world in the post-fall.  And in fact, right now, you are dying.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.  But the process of you returning to the dirt has already started.  If you don’t believe me, go home today and look at your high school yearbook.  2 Corinthians 4:16 says, ”Therefore we do not lose heart,…”  ‘Oh, no, I’m losing my youth. I’m dying.’  Paul says, ‘But don’t lose heart’— ”but though our outer man is decaying,…” And you’re decaying, and so am I.  Your 40-year high school reunion will show you that. “Yet our inner self is being renewed day by day.”  I don’t have to live a life of defeat and pessimism because this is a reality if I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in fact, the day is coming in human history where God is going to recreate the world, and death is going to be pulled out of it.  Isn’t that amazing?  Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes;…”

Think of all of the the tears that are shed throughout human history because of the death of friends and loved ones, God forbid, children.  Parents.  And one day, those tears are gone.  Why?  Because there’s no more death. There’s no more mourning, there’s no more crying.  There’s no more pain.  For the first things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Do you know that we are the only people that can live with any degree of optimism and hope in the midst of this fallen world marked by death?  Do you think the Eastern religions have any answer to this?  The best they can come up with is reincarnation, where I get recycled to die again.  And then it happens through infinite progression. What kind of hope is that?  Evolution says death is part of the natural order of things. It’s how progress happens.  Survival of the fittest.  You know, we wonder why the young people are slashing their wrists and taking drugs.  Ideas have consequences because when you teach such doctrines, you take away hope.  There was a world at one time with no death in it.  And if I’m understanding the prophetic Scriptures accurately, there’s a new world coming where death is a bygone thing of the past.  In 1 Cor 15:54-57 Paul says, “Death, where is your sting?”  It’s the last enemy to be abolished.

Hebrews 2:14-15. You know, this is where most people are.  Look at how people are reacting with this COVID craziness that we’ve been in for the last several months.  Look at the lockdowns, and go into the stores, look at the fear in people; sit next to people on planes.  Absolute fear.  Why are they all afraid?  Because they could die!  The reality of the situation is they’re already dying.  And people live their lives, particularly in this insanity in which we find ourselves, where the fear of death is hanging over their heads, and they’re afraid.  You know, if I didn’t know anything about the Bible, I’d be afraid, too.

But Jesus came into the world to remove the fear of death, which kept men in bondage all their lives.  Why are they in bondage?  Why are they fearful?   Because they can see it all around them.  Why can they see it all around them?  Because of what went haywire here in Genesis 3.

But how wonderful it is to know Christ personally and not have the fear of death.  In fact, if you die and someone kills you, let’s say, or they sneeze on you, or they take their mask off and blow their nose next to you, and you get a virus and die, they might actually have done you a favor.  Because Paul says “Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  Paul says, “For me to live as Christ, to die is gain.” And he actually talks there about how it’s far better to die.

But Jesus came into the world to rescue us from this fear of death. Hebrews 2:14, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and he might free.… [You think people in this state of fear that we’re in, need freedom?]… those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

I mean, being a Christian is just an amazing thing.  Because not only does your Bible explain what the problem is, it gives you the answer.  You don’t have to live in this perpetual fear constantly.  As the media is pumping it into your mind day after day after day, you can live above and beyond that by simply resting in the promises of God.

But let me tell you something.  These promises aren’t going to help you if you don’t know the One through whom the promises come.  These promises only come through the person of Jesus Christ, who stepped into the line of fire.  He absorbed the wrath of a holy God in our place.  He tasted death in our place.  He experienced death in our place so that I could know, if we’re not the Rapture generation, should the Lord tarry and I die, I know exactly where I’m going.

And our basic question for you at Sugar Land Bible Church is, do you understand that, and  have you responded to it by way of faith, which means trust?  You trust in that message and what Jesus has done for you.  And as you embrace that message by way of faith, you’re transferred into the promises of Almighty God Himself. And now your only job is to learn what He has promised you and believe it.  And rest in it.  And you don’t have to be pulled into a culture that’s so fearful.  We can live above and beyond that as Christians.  So that’s the gospel.

We encourage people to receive it now, even as I’m speaking, if it’s something that people need more explanation on, I’m available after the service.

So, two things to the serpent:  Genesis 3:14-15

  1. Your body is changed.
  2. Your head is going to get crushed one day by the Savior.

Two things, to the woman:    Genesis 3:16

  1. Pregnancy is difficult.
  2. Marriage is difficult.

Two things to the man:           Genesis 3:17-19

  1. You have to work to survive.
  2. You’re going to die.

Have a nice afternoon.  But as you go through the pages of the New Testament, you’ll find that Jesus has answers to our problems.  Shall we pray?

Father, we’re grateful for Genesis 3.  We’re grateful for the foundation that it lays in our lives so that we can understand what we need and appreciate it once we receive it.  We pray that You’ll do this great work in our midst.  We ask these things in Jesus‘ name, and God’s people said, Amen.