New Beginnings (Part 2)

It was a bright Sunday morning in 18th century London, but Robert Robinson’s mood was anything but sunny. All along the street there were people hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd Robinson was a lonely man. The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life. It had been years since he set foot in a church—years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved. That love for God—once fiery and passionate—had slowly burned out within him, leaving him dark and cold inside. Robinson heard the clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him. Turning, he lifted his hand to hail the driver. But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman dressed in finery for the Lord’s Day. He waved the driver on, but the woman ordered the carriage to be stopped.

“Sir, I’d be happy to share this carriage with you,” she said to Robinson. “Are you going to church?” Robinson was about to decline, but was so enchanted by her that he heard himself saying, “Yes, I am going to church.” He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman. As the carriage rolled forward Robert and the woman exchanged introductions and there was a flash of recognition in her eyes when he stated his name. “That’s an interesting coincidence,” she said, reaching into her purse. She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse, opened it to a ribbon-bookmark, and handed the book to him. “I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Are you…?”

He took the book, nodding. “Yes, I wrote these words years ago.” “Oh, how wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Imagine! I’m sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!” But Robinson barely heard her. He was absorbed in the words he wrote:


Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace’

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.


His eyes slipped to the last verse where he read:


Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.


He could barely read the last few lines through the tears that brimmed in his eyes. “I wrote these words—and I’ve lived these words. ‘Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.’”

Maybe you’ve lived those words yourself. We’re all prone to wander. Maybe you’re here today feeling much the same way as Robert Robinson. But you’re not alone. In fact, the very first people God created, who shared perhaps a more intimate relationship with him than anyone since, were also prone to wander and prone to leave the God they loved. Their story is told in Genesis 3. It’s a sad story. A story about sin. But it’s not just their story. It’s your story and mine.

Everything was perfect. Last week we read Genesis 1. God created the heavens, the earth, the sky, the sea, the land and everything that lives on it. Then he looked at his creation and saw that it was very good. Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were created in God’s image. They lived a fairytale life in the Garden of Eden. They enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God and had only one rule—don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Everything was perfect. That is, until a serpent slivered into the Garden. That’s when their story turns from a fairytale, to a nightmare.

Together Adam and Eve break the only rule God gave them, and in so doing splinter the loving relationship they once shared. I’d like to examine this story in search of some answers. What led them away from God? What happened as a result? And what hope is there for those who, like Adam and Eve, are prone to wander and leave the God they love? The answer to that first question is—the deceptive character of sin.




Open your Bibles to Genesis 3 and let’s read the first six verses together:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. (Genesis 3:1-6 NLT)

A lot of people wonder about this talking serpent. Did Satan turn into a snake? Or did he possess and speak through some innocent garden snake? Or is the serpent just a metaphor for Satan’s snake-like character. I don’t know. But either way, what Satan looks like isn’t nearly as important as what he is like and how he works.

The way Satan works is through deception. Millennia later, Jesus says of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). That’s what Satan does. That’s what he’s all about. Lying. Satan makes sin look sexy. He makes it attractive, appealing, and appetizing. He made that single piece of fruit look like the most delicious, desirous delicacy on the planet. And he does the same thing with the sin hanging in front of you.

God hasn’t planted a tree in your garden and labeled it off limits, but he might as well have. What sin is Satan dangling in front of you? Is it anger, or maybe addiction? It could be pride or pornography, lustful eyes or a lying tongue. Maybe it’s selfishness or sexual immorality. The Bible identifies a slew of sins that tempt and entice us: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” (Galatians 5:19-20 NLT).

Maybe the sin deceiving you is somewhere on that list or maybe it’s one of the “other sins like these.” Either way, sin and Satan are deceptive. Satan knows the best lies are half-truths. He told Eve she wouldn’t die; she didn’t, not right away at least. He told her that she would be like God, knowing good and evil; that was true… sort of. Don’t fall for his lies. Sin may look desirable, but in reality it’s destructive. As we continue in this story that’s what we see—the destructive consequences of sin.




One day, a mother explained to her five-year-old daughter that if she chose to disobey her, she would have to live with the consequences. “Oh, Mommy!” the little girl said with a terrified look on her face. “Please don’t make me live with the Consequences. I want to live here with you!”

Well, unbeknownst to that little girl, we all live with the consequences, don’t we? So did Adam and Eve. The Bible says, “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. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it… 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. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:6-10 NIV).

The moment after they gratified their sinful desire, Adam and Eve’s conscience is awakend and instantly flooded with shame and fear. These two people who use to walk with God are now hiding from him. And you know the rest of the story, Adam and Eve are banished from the garden, humanity and the earth itself cursed because of their sin. When Satan whispers in your ear, he never describes the destructive consequences of sin, but we all live with them.

Some of us have lost friends, family, jobs, and our reputation as a consequence of sin. But all of us have lost eternal life because of it. Paul summarized the consequences of sin, saying, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV). In the next chapter he concludes, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Few college football coaches have made a point against drugs as effectively as Erk Russell of Georgia Southern College. He arranged for a couple of good ol’ country boys to burst into a routine team meeting and throw a writhing, hissing, six-foot-long rattlesnake onto a table in front of the squad. “Everyone screamed and scattered,” Russell recalls. “I told them, ‘When cocaine comes into a room, you’re not nearly as apt to leave as when that rattlesnake comes in. But they’ll both kill you!’”

The same is true of all sin.

What really makes me mad about this story is Adam. Adam had one job—protect the garden and everything in it, including his wife. Be when he hears that snake whispering lies into her ear, he just sits back, waiting to see what happens. When she eats the fruit, she doesn’t die. There’s no lightning bolt from heaven. There are no dark clouds rolling in. Just the satisfied look on her face as bits in. So Adam joins her.

The rattlesnake will kill you quickly. Cocaine, drugs, alcohol; it’s a slower process. It takes a while, years even. But they’ll kill you. It’s the same with any sin. The wages of sin is death; not just physical death. Jesus put it this way: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NIV). Sin comes with very destructive consequences.




Fortunately, God provided a divine covering for sin. The Bible says the first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned was attempt to cover themselves: “At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” (Genesis 3:7 NLT). Can you picture these two scampering through the forest, trying to keep their private parts private while twisting together a pair of fig-leaf underpants?

These two remind of a mouse I read about this week. A man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the unsuspecting mouse into the snake’s glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with a brilliant plan. What did the terrified creature do? He quickly got to work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. The solution, however, came from outside. The man took pity on the silly little mouse and removed him from the cage.

No matter how hard we try to cover or deny our sinful nature, it’s fool’s work. Sin will eventually awake from sleep and shake off its cover. Were it not for the saving grace of the Master’s hand, sin would eat us alive. God did for us what the man did for the mouse. He took mercy on Adam and Eve. The Bible says, “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (Genesis 3:21 NLT).

In providing them with clothing, God made the first animal sacrifice. The first blood was shed, atoning for their sins. Of course, this too was just a temporary solution to the problem of sin, but God promised Eve that one of her descendants would provide the final solution; crushing the serpent’s head in the process. We’ll talk more about that promise next week on Easter Sunday. But for now, God had provided Adam and Eve with a fresh start and new beginning.

It wasn’t going to be easy. They would have to carve out a life for themselves by the sweat of their brows and populate the earth through great pains. But they had each other and they had the grace of God. And for the first time, they understood what that meant.




When Robert Robinson quoted the portion of his hymn, “prone to wander… prone to leave the God I love,” the woman in the carriage suddenly understood. Then she reminded him, “You also wrote, ‘Here’s my heart, O take and seal it.’ You can offer your heart to God again, Mr. Robinson. It’s not too late.” Right there in that carriage, with tear-filled eyes, he turned his heart back to God, started fresh, and walked with him the rest of his days.




If you’re struggling with the deceptive character of sin or living with the destructive consequences of sin, I want to invite you to experience the divine covering for sin. It wasn’t too late for Robert Robinson. And it’s not too late for you. Like him, like Adam and Eve, you can offer your heart to God again, and experience a new beginning.




Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.