C. Man’s Fall from Grace and Jesus’ Lessons from the Desert
God planned to provide abundantly for Adam’s needs and entrust him with the care of His work. In turn, Adam was to relate to God with humility, faith, and gratitude. We know this plan was altered after the sin of Genesis 3, but what specific changes occurred? We know that God stayed the same, so what changed within the heart of man?
As a result of the fall, all descendants of Adam now enter the world with a corrupt nature. Inclinations and passions which were once directed toward God are now directed away from and even against Him.
Thoughts which were once pure and God-focused are now wicked and unsettled.
Hearts which were once filled with gratitude and contentment are now touched by guilt, fear, and shame.
Willful obedience has given way to blatant rebellion and all humankind is now by nature dead in transgressions and sins, and our only hope lies within the redemption that is offered through the last Adam, who will become our “life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
As we study the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, we gain insight into the strategies of Satan and the tendencies of our own corrupt nature. Sinful behavior can be traced back to its roots in three expressions of the fall: self-reliance, selfishness, and self-condemnation.
The Pain of Self-Reliance: Humility Replaced with Self-Reliance
After the fall, rather than exhibit a humble dependence upon God and His provision, man became prone to prideful self-reliance. Instead of approaching God with humility, many of us now may deny our needs or even claim to be able to meet all our needs on our own. Just as Christ was tempted to meet His own needs in the desert (Matthew 4:1–4), many of us are tempted to rely upon our own strength, abilities, or determination as we try to meet the God-designed needs of the human body, soul, and spirit.
The Pain of Selfishness: Faith Replaced with Selfishness
Secondly, the fall resulted in man’s tendency toward selfishness and “fearful taking.” Rather than exercising faith in God to meet our needs, man is now tempted to selfishly take from others. Instead of trusting God to abundantly provide, many of us now demand, manipulate, or self-gratify because of a fear that our needs will go unmet, rather than receiving God’s grace by faith. We may even seek to take from God, demanding His blessings based on our own “good works.” Just as Christ was tempted to take from God and demand His protection in the desert (vv. 5–7), many of us are tempted to selfishly take from God and other people. For some of us, our fallenness is most often expressed in behaviors that gratify ourselves.
The Pain of Self-Condemnation: Gratitude Replaced with Self-Condemnation
Finally, the fall rendered man vulnerable to self-condemnation. Instead of expressing thanksgiving and gratitude for the gracious provision of God and acknowledging God’s inherent declaration of our worth (worth the gift of His Son), man is now prone to question his worth and live in doubt about the validity of his needs. This tendency may leave us vulnerable to feelings of discontentment, a sense of unworthiness, or the loss of our joy and hope. Just as Christ was tempted to surrender His true identity in the desert (vv. 8–10), many of us are tempted to question our own identity as the beloved of God. Rather than expressing thankfulness for God’s provision, we are often tempted to question our worth and deny our inherent value as declared by God.
Walking in the Light of God’s Word (John 12:35, Psalm 119:105) Through Frequent Experiences of Scripture
As you reflect on each of these results of the fall of man, ask yourself the following question:
To which of these three tendencies am I most prone? Selfishness? Self-reliance? Self-condemnation?
I have a tendency to be ___________________________ (selfish, self-reliant, or self-condemning).
This tendency may result in _______________________________________
Pause now to pray, claiming the power of His Word to remove this tendency from you. Ask for His sanctifying work regarding this area of fallenness. Ask that the Spirit might bring forth humility, causing self-reliance to give way to total dependence. Ask that the Spirit might bring forth faith, causing selfishness to give way to confident trust. Ask that the Spirit might bring forth praise-filled gratitude, causing self-condemnation to give way to the wonder of God’s love. “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
It is true that a relationship with God is to be primary in each of our lives. We are to trust Christ as Savior, yield to His Spirit, and obey His words. But we must also recognize that, in Jesus’ eyes, our relationships with our neighbors (literally our “near ones”) are just as significant as our relationship with God.
It is clear throughout Scripture that God, for reasons known only to Him, has opted to fill our longings for oneness through love relationships with both Him and other human beings.