First Sunday of Lent: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Created by God, Created for God
Genesis 2:7 “the breath of life”
Everything changes when the Lord breathes His breath of life into us.
* Until God comes to us in power, our situation is desperate – “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2).
Genesis 2:8 “garden”
To those who put their trust in Him, the Lord gives His very precious promises – “You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11); “They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more” (Jeremiah 31:12). Looking to the Lord as we move towards the great future He has planned for us, we look beyond the Old Testament prophets. We look forward to the glorious fulfilment of God’s wonderful purpose of eternal salvation – “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”(Revelation 22:1-2; Revelation 21:2-4).

Genesis 2:9  “Out of the ground the Lord God made every tree to grow”
If we are to make progress in spiritual growth, we must be grounded in Christ – “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). It was the Lord God who made every tree to grow. It is the Lord God who gives us the strength that we need to grow in Christ. Spiritual growth is not our achievement. It is the work of God’s grace. “To Him be glory both now and forever” (2 Peter 3;18).

Tempted and Defeated
Genesis 3
From the majestic perfection of God and the privileged responsibility of humanity, we now move to the evil subtlety of Satan. An intruder has sneaked into the privileged place between God, the Creator, and mankind, His creation. Chapter 2 ends with the absence of shame. Chapter 3 begins with the presence of Satan. The work of Satan, successfully executed, ensures that chapter ends rather differently from chapter 2 – “the Lord God sent the man out of the Garden of Eden” (v. 23). This was “Paradise Lost”. Was there a way to “Paradise Regained”? There are two answers to this question: “No” and “Yes”. Taking ourselves as the starting-point, the answer is “No”. God will not permit us to take salvation into our own hands (v. 24). Starting with God, the answer is “Yes”. This is the answer of verse 15: Christ (the woman’s descendant will be crucified (the bruising of His heel), but the outcome of this will be the defeat of Satan (the crushing of his head).
Genesis 3:1   –  “The serpent” (Satan) raises doubts – “Has God said?
Genesis 3:2-3   –  The woman tells Satan what “God has said.”  
Genesis 3:4   –  Satan contradicts God’s Word. Note the progression from questioning God’s Word to contradicting His Word.
Genesis 3:5   –  “Your eyes will be opened.” You will see everything in a different way. You will know “good” as something you’ve lost. All you’ll have left is “evil.” That’s not exactly how Satan said it would turn out. What can you expect from someone who contradicts God’s Word? – Nothing but lies!
Genesis 3:6   –  This is the beginning of sin. We listen to Satan. We do what he says – instead of listening to God and doing what He says.
Genesis 3:7   –  “Their eyes were opened.” They saw what they had become through their disobedience to God’s Word. 

Sin and Salvation
Salvation has come to us “through the kindness of Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15). There is only one Saviour – Jesus. There are not many saviours – each one saving himself of herself. Left to ourselves, we repeat the sinful and tragic story of Adam. Beyond the failure of Adam, there are “many failures” (Romans 5:16) – as each and every one of us chooses to walk in the way of Adam, going our own way rather than walking in God’s way. We follow the pathway of the sinful creature rather than the holy God.  Who can bring us back to God? – There is only One who can do this for us – “Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

Tempted and Victorious
God the Father has declared Jesus to be His Son  (Matthew 3:17). Now, the devil challenges God’s Word: ‘If you are the Son of God…’ (Matthew 4:3). The Spirit has descended upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16). Now, the devil uses his power in an attempt to defeat Jesus. The devil sows seeds of doubt; the ‘if you are…’ approach is just the same as his ‘Did God really say?’ method used in Genesis 3:1. The devil is ‘crafty’  (Genesis 3:1). He comes to Jesus, quoting from the Bible (Matthew 4:6; Psalm 91:11-12). His real goal becomes clear in verse 9 – he wants Jesus to ‘bow down and worship’ him. In Jesus’ victory over the devil, we see the importance of Scripture – ‘It is written’ (Matthew 4:4,7,10). We learn that true life comes from God (Matthew 4:4), true safety is found in God (Matthew 4:7); and true worship is given to God (Matthew 4:10). When the tempter comes, we must stand on God’s Word: ‘every Word that comes from… God’ (Matthew 4:4).

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