Genesis 1:26-28 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God BLESSED them and said to them, “BE FRUITFUL and INCREASE in number; FILL the earth and SUBDUE it. RULE over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
It is clear to me as the Creation account details that when they were created, Adam and Eve were blessed by God. Both of them were blessed by God. The original design for God’s people was blessing. Both were given mandates to be fruitful and increase in number. Both were given responsibilities to subdue the earth and to rule over it. Both were given tasks by God and received information to assist them in carrying out those tasks. The blessing came with authority and position, but it also came with rules and responsibility. That all sounded good until Adam and Eve heard that there was a limit to the authority and position.
You see, at some point, as God dealt with Adam and Eve, He told them there was an off-limits section to the Garden. There was a no-touch and no-taste zone. Well, really there was A tree, just one, in the midst of hundreds, no thousands of trees, that was reserved for God alone. That off-limits tree created a distinction between God and His creation. Because He was God, He got to establish the boundaries, the rules. It served as a reminder that God was God. He got to be in charge of the people He created, and the way His authority was established was with one off-limits tree. But what we will see this morning is that Adam and Eve got more focused on the one thing they couldn’t have instead of all of the incredible blessings God had freely given them.
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
Eve believed she had a right to disobey God and a right to enjoy what seemed good to her. She had a right to taste what was pleasing to her eyes. She also believed she had a right to gain the same wisdom God possessed, and she believed, falsely, that she could possess it if she ate from the forbidden tree. At the root of all sin is a false belief that says “I have a right to do as I please.”
Well, misery loves company and sinners love to drag other people into the sin game with them, so they won’t feel alone in their shame. Listen, people who say that they can live as they please and they aren’t hurting anyone else are super naïve because sin, by its very nature is full of greed, deceit and corruption, and has an outreach property that drags other people down with them. Whether she would have just sinned on her own or encouraged her husband to join in the disobedience, it wouldn’t have mattered. There would have been a negative impact on Adam and Eve’s marital relationship either way. A person’s willful choice to violate God’s boundaries in their lives will always cost them big and will always cause heartache for other people.
Well, verse six and seven tell us She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
They hadn’t needed coverings before the sin. There was no recognition of nakedness or need to cover shameful feelings. Their bodies didn’t change in that moment to the point where they looked at each other and said, “You are disgusting. Cover it up.” No, there was an internal brokenness, a sense of betrayal and shame that they would never be able to cover or fix. Their fig leaf clothing line was an attempt to deal with what had happened in their hearts. They had been blessed by God before they sinned, but now they were broken. Isn’t that interesting? You can go from blessed to broken by sin with just one wrong decision. That is how dangerous it is.
Now things were awkward with God and also between the two of them. They actually tried to hide from God, something quite laughable considering God knows where we are at all times. Instead of letting them hide in shame, God called them out. I mean, if you are hiding you aren’t being fruitful. They were supposed to be fruitful. If you are hiding you aren’t exercising authority. They were supposed to be exercising authority. If you are hiding you aren’t ruling. They were supposed to have dominion over the things of earth. Do you see how sin immediately and negatively impacts your effectiveness? How it keeps you from doing what you were made to do? What you were blessed to do? So, God came looking for them.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
And so, we see the first game ever played was played by the first people who ever breathed, and it was The Blame Game. Adam blamed God for putting him with Eve in the Garden, and then he blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. Eve blamed the serpent. When God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” why couldn’t Adam and Eve simply have said, “Yes, we did.” Why do we often wrestle with taking responsibility for our actions? From our earliest failures this propensity can be seen. Watch this:
This kid was so good at the blame game that he blamed his mom who wasn’t even present. How could she have been the culprit? And by the end he turned the whole thing on the dad and announced that he forgave his dad as if the dad was at fault for confronting the bad behavior. Listen, some people are so good at blaming others for their shortcomings that by the end of the conversation, the other person is taking responsibility for the guilty person’s actions. Unfortunately, this quick-thinking, self-preserving measure we take when we are caught and we know it, this shifting of the blame is all too common. God asked Adam and Eve the question because He wanted to give them an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions.
We’ve become good at the “song and dance routine” known as “passing the buck” which means placing blame on others. Wiggling out of consequences, dragging others down to save ourselves, minimizing what we do by finger pointing, is the oldest trick in the book. What is it that causes us to dig in our heels and look for everyone else to blame when we could just take responsibility for our bad choice, be forgiven and move on?
Here are some real-life examples of the lengths that people will go in order to escape taking responsibility for their actions:
An FBI agent embezzled $2000 from the government and then he lost it all in an afternoon of gambling in Atlantic City. He was fired but he won reinstatement after a court ruled that his affinity for gambling with other people’s money is “a handicap” and thus, as a handicap, it is protected under Federal law.
Fired for consistently showing up late at work, a former school district employee sued his former employers arguing that he was the victim of what his lawyer called “Chronic Lateness Syndrome.”
In Framingham, Massachusetts a young man stole a car from a parking lot and was killed while driving it. His family then sued the proprietor of the parking lot for failing to take steps to prevent such thefts.
Notice that even God and the devil were blamed for Adam and Eve’s sin. Isn’t that interesting? Are we ever guilty of the same? Do we blame God for bad decisions we make because we are trying to escape some painful life circumstance, that if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have been tempted to do something stupid? And if God really loved us, why couldn’t He just make our lives all unicorns and rainbows so that we didn’t have to ever feel sad or mad or depressed or have anything tough to overcome or whatever? And so, we get mad at God.
I remember when I was a little girl, there was a TV show called the Flip Wilson Show. He made the phrase, “The devil made me do it,” a popular phrase. Believe it or not, that has been a defense used in many a murder trial since 1981 when Arne Johnson claimed demonic possession and denial of any personal responsibility for killing a man.
I hope we can all agree that Satan is evil. John 8:44b tells us he was a murderer from the beginning. We know he is the tempter from Matthew 4:3 and I Thessalonians 3:5, but we do not have to give in to the Satan’s temptations. When Ananias and Saphira lied to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5, Peter held them accountable. He did acknowledge that Satan had tempted them, but he said to them, “What made you think of doing such a thing. You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” The truth is that there is no power except our own that can force us to sin. We cannot blame God. We cannot blame the devil. We cannot blame each other. Our choices are our choices.
We’re probably all guilty of shifting the blame at one time or another. We blame the teacher for our bad grade because in our opinion he didn’t prepare us well enough for the test. We blame our co-worker for the reason we couldn’t meet our deadline. We blame the officer for giving us a ticket instead of a warning because we didn’t see the sign that said the speed limit had changed. Our ignorance should have absolved us of any consequences. We blame the person who tells on us for the mess we are now in because if they would have just kept their mouth shut, we wouldn’t have gotten into trouble. We blame McDonald’s for our coffee being hot when we spill it on ourselves in the drive-thru and suffer burns. Y’all know that actually happened? You know that’s why your coffee cup says, “Caution, hot coffee” right? In 1994 a woman in New Mexico spilled hot coffee on herself in the McDonald’s drive-thru, got burned and sued McDonald’s and WON 2.86 million dollars.
Notice something with me about Adam and Eve’s responses to God when He asked them if they had eaten from the tree. They were truthful, weren’t they? They didn’t lie. They didn’t have to lie to shift the blame from themselves. Perhaps we see shifting the blame as less offensive to God than lying? Like blaming someone else or blaming our circumstances is more of a moral high road to take than outright lying?
Adam and Eve couldn’t say the other person had been more favored by God and that the playing field was somehow unfair. They both had been equally blessed by God. They also couldn’t say they didn’t know what God expected. They couldn’t say they didn’t know the speed limit, so to speak. God had been clear. He told them in Genesis 2:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you MUST NOT eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
He didn’t say, you must not eat from the tree unless you think it looks too good to pass up. He didn’t say, you must not eat from the tree unless someone else suggests you could. He didn’t say, you must not eat from the tree unless someone else does it first and gives it to you. He said, you MUST NOT, under any circumstances, eat from the tree. Violating the rule would come with a stiff consequence. Death. Now, spiritual death was immediate as there was a separation, a change in their relationship with God, and physical death would come at God’s appointed time, but nonetheless, it was a stiff penalty. So, neither could say they didn’t know what the consequence would be for violating God’s law. The rule and the consequence were clear.
So to recap, Adam and Eve were both favored. Adam and Eve both knew the rules. They also had more than they ever could consume or appreciate to enjoy in the Garden. Their life was free. One off-limits tree didn’t make for a restricted life. They were living large. There was so much for them to do and to have fun doing in the process. God had given them authority and His blessing to rule on the earth. He simply established that He was God and that obeying Him and enjoying His blessings while obeying Him was the best way to live.
People who say that the Christian life is boring don’t understand the blessing of God. People who say that the Christian life is limiting don’t understand the power of living life inside of the blessing lines. Listen, when you step outside of where God says it is safe, you have just moved away from your blessing. Perhaps I am treading on another sermon, so allow me to try to reign myself back in.
God had blessed Adam and Eve. God had given them free reign except for the restriction of one tree. AND God gave Adam and Eve both free will and the choice to obey or disobey God. Did Satan introduce untrue thoughts and dangle temptation in front of Eve? Yes. Did Eve allow what she saw when the fruit looked good and what she heard when Satan lied to her to become more appealing than what God had clearly said? Yes. Did she influence Adam to do the wrong thing? Most certainly. But at the end of the day, the choice was theirs to do what they did, and they blew it.
You would think the blessing of God that they had already experienced would have convinced them that heeding His words was the best way to live. They knew what they were getting when they were blessed of God. Happiness and joy and contentment was a sure thing. But they chose to disobey, and when they did, they chose the consequences.
It wouldn’t work to blame the serpent or blame God or blame Eve. God will never suspend His Word or the consequences for violating it just because we claim something isn’t our fault.
Now let me preach the message I came to share this morning:
- Shifting the blame never changes the facts. Adam and Eve sinned. There was no way to sugar coat it or excuse it. God knew what they had done. They knew what they had done. Satan knew what they did. Nothing was accomplished by blaming anyone.
- Shifting the blame will harm our relationships. When we don’t accept personal responsibility for our actions before God, we will harm our spiritual health, our spiritual relationship with God. We need a relationship with God that is based on truth and transparency in our inner being. The Psalmist says in Psalm 51, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts.” When we can’t acknowledge our sin, our prayers go unanswered. (Psalm 66:18) Listen, I couldn’t make it without knowing that God is hearing and answering my prayers. I want to be right with God so that I can be a steward of the blessings He has given to me. I want to have the authority, the dominion, and the fruitfulness that He has proclaimed I can have. God is not to blame for my sin and blaming Him impairs our relationship. I can’t be as close to Him as I would otherwise want to be because I want to hold Him responsible for why I am suffering from my own bad choices.
And in our human relationships, when we wrongly point fingers at other people, we destroy trust between us. We downgrade people to pawns to be used. Who wants to be in fellowship with someone who tries to cast false blame on them? I don’t want to be the scapegoat for someone else’s bad behavior, what about you? Adam and Eve had a great marriage until they started blaming each other for their own personal choices. Have you ever considered that when they made the fig leaf coverings, they were in essence also closing themselves off from one another? Or at least they were no longer able to view each other in the same light? And I’m not just referring to the way they saw each other physically. Their sin and the fallout from it through the blame game caused them to see things differently, to see each other differently. The Bible says their eyes were opened. Oh, they were opened alright! They were opened to the reality of what happens when you violate God’s law, when you choose evil, when you choose your own will. They experienced it firsthand. Their eyes were opened to the destructive power of evil, something only God had understood previously, and as a result they could no longer look at each other the same way. Genesis 3:16 even talks about how conflict came into the marital relationship as a result of their sin. No doubt the blame they had cast on each other played a role in that conflict.
Adam and Eve also saw God differently. They didn’t view Him as the Source of Blessing, as the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift, as the Friend to walk and talk and fellowship with, but as one to be feared, and so they hid. When Adam sinned, he actually viewed God as part of the problem, as part of the reason that he sinned. What? God can never tempt us to sin. (James 1:13)
- Blaming God will keep us from growing into the people He desires for us to be.
Hear me this morning: We have an incredible opportunity and personal responsibility to be a steward of the blessings of God, and when we won’t accept responsibility for our actions, we will stifle our ability to be effective and fruitful. Personal progress and the progress of a community, a country and a world are stifled when people refuse to be accountable for their actions. God’s blessings won’t keep flowing in our lives if we won’t own what we need to own. We all have different life stories and different life circumstances to deal with, and I don’t personally know anyone over 30 who has said their life has been a breeze. We all have challenges and moments that try our faith. But in Christ Jesus, each of us has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph 1:3) And in Christ, we have the power to overcome any temptation. (I Cor. 10:13)
Blaming others and blaming God is a lame attempt to excuse why we aren’t having the dominion, why we aren’t being fruitful, why we aren’t exercising the authority we have been given, why we can’t assume the responsibilities God has gifted us to assume and why we can’t follow the rules God has put in place FOR OUR BENEFIT.
It’s time to quit blaming everyone else, including God, for our bad choices, for our lack of initiative, poor planning, and miss-steps along the way. And here’s the thing, we have nothing to fear when we admit we have done something wrong. God says He will forgive anything we confess. (I John 1:9) Don’t destroy your relationship with God and others by trying to shift the blame. Just confess your sin, receive healing, and go on to exercise authority and to have dominion. Be a steward of the blessings God has given you. Live the blessed life and reject a life of shifting the blame to others.