The Problem is sin (Genesis 3)

Children are dismissed to Junior Church.

We are going to be reading from Genesis 3 in a minute.

Chuck Colson shares the following:

What does the face of evil look like? A few years ago when I visited a South Carolina women’s prison, I learned that Susan Smith had signed up to hear me speak. Smith is the woman who drowned her two small sons by letting her car slide into a lake with the children still strapped in their car seats. Her reason? She felt that the man she was dating had hinted that the children were obstacles to marrying her.

As I prepared to speak that day, I scanned the audience, wondering what this unnatural mother would look like. I imagined some kind of female Dorian Gray, her face marked by the soul-struggle she had waged with evil. Recalling photos from the newspaper, I searched for her face, but I couldn’t pick her out.

After the meeting, I asked the local Prison Fellowship director whether Smith had even attended.

“Oh, sure,” he replied. “She was in the front row, staring at you the whole time.”

The face of evil is frighteningly ordinary.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, an eleven- and a thirteen-year-old pull the school fire alarm, assume sniper positions, and then shoot at students and teachers as they file out of the school. They kill four students and one teacher, wounding eleven others.

In Oakland, California, a teenager with a knife chases a woman down the street, while a crowd gathers and chants, “Kill her! Kill her!” like spectators at a sporting event. Someone in the crowd finally trips the frightened woman, giving her assailant a chance to stab her to death.  In Dartmouth, Massachusetts, three boys surround a ninth-grade classmate and stab him to death. Afterward they laugh and trade high fives, like basketball players celebrating after a slam dunk. In New Jersey, Brian Peterson takes his girlfriend, Amy Grossberg, across the state line to a Delaware hotel room, where she gives birth. They kill the newborn and dump him in the trash. Killers with freckled faces. Killers on the playground. Killers who do it for sport.[1]

Chuck Colson is writing about those cases in a section of his book writing about the sin problem. Of course, those are dramatic examples. Do we not see evidence of sin all around us?

What do we think of these cities with riots? What do we think of a police officer who murders someone they are trying to arrest? At the same time, was the victim of the police officer innocent? What is the right response? Do we not need the police?  

Why do we need government? On August 12, 1986 President Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”

How much government do we need? What is the primary job of the government? I believe from a Biblical worldview, that means, if we get our worldview, our view of the world, from the Bible, that means the primary job of the government is protecting the people.

We are in a sermon series about having a Biblical worldview. Last week we talked about how God created everything good. Today, and next week, I will talk about how sin has impacted the world creating total depravity, sometimes called fallenness.

  1. I want to submit to you that we need government, police, and the military to keep us safe. We need these groups because of sin.
  2. I also want to submit to you that we cannot fix ourselves. There is no utopian ideal government, or non-profit group that can fix humanity. We need Divine intervention.

People have tried and they continue to think that government, or non-profits, or psychology, or science can fix humanity. They think the problem is the lack of education, or poverty, or men, or something else. But the problem is far deeper. Colson shares:

…the denial of sin and responsibility is couched in therapeutic terms, such as the need to “understand” even the worst crimes as a result of a dysfunctional childhood or other circumstances. Symptoms of family breakdown—such as divorce, adultery, and abortion—are defended as expressions of the individual’s freedom of choice. Social engineering schemes are dressed up as public compassion. But these are all window dressings, for beneath these explanations lies the same false utopian… It is the same worldview that gave rise to modern totalitarianism. As Glenn Tinder writes, “Much of the tragic folly of our times, not only on the part of extremists such as Lenin but also on the part of middle-of-the-road liberals and conservatives, would never have arisen had we not, in our technological and ideological pride, forgotten original sin.”[2]


Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine [of original sin], and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves.[3]

 The first and most fundamental element of any worldview is the way it answers the questions of origins—where the universe came from and how human life began. The second element is the way it explains the human dilemma. Why is there war and suffering, disease and death?[4]

Let’s Read Genesis 3:17-24 (This is after Adam and Eve sinned)

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’;

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
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.”

20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

Now let’s read Romans 8:22:

 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 

Today, my theme is:

We live in a fallen world and fallen humans cannot fix the problem.

  1. The world is totally depraved, and we cannot fix ourselves. Look at Genesis 3.
    • In Genesis 3 we see that sin entered the world. Again, in the past this has been called total depravity.
    • In Genesis 3:1-7 Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    • We often think, why did God place it there to begin with?
    • Realize that God told them they could eat from any other tree in the garden.
    • Also, realize that God wanted to give us free will. Adam and Eve have free will and they exercised that free will.
    • We all see the effects of sin.
    • We see what God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Adam will work by the sweat of his brow.
    • They are cast out of the Garden of Eden.
    • There has been death, and disease, and murder, and theft, and so much more ever since. I believe the world is actually getting worse not bertter.
    • Yet, we are in a world that denies sin and that is a great problem. We are in a world that thinks we can fix the problems on our own.
    • Colson shares:
    • But if the source of disorder and suffering is not sin, then where do these problems come from? Enlightenment thinkers concluded that they must be the product of the environment: of ignorance, poverty, or other undesirable social conditions; and that all it takes to create an ideal society is to create a better environment: improve education, enhance economic conditions, and reengineer social structures. Given the right conditions, human perfectibility has no limits. And so was born the modern utopian impulse.[5]
    • Someone once quipped that the doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by thirty-five centuries of recorded human history.[6]
    • By contrast, the “enlightened” worldview has proven to be utterly irrational and unlivable. The denial of our sinful nature, and the utopian myth it breeds, leads not to beneficial social experiments but to tyranny.[7]
    • The triumph of the Enlightenment worldview, with its fundamental change in presuppositions about human nature, was in many ways the defining event of the twentieth century, which explains why the history of this era is so tragically written in blood. As William Buckley trenchantly observes: Utopianism “inevitably . . . brings on the death of liberty.”[8]
    • Glenn Tinder writes, if one acknowledges “no great, unconquerable evils in human nature,” then it seems possible to create a heaven right here on earth.[9]
    • So, we as Christians must recognize that the world does not recognize our values. The world does not think the problem is original sin. They may think we sin, but they may not realize that it all goes back to Genesis 3. They think we can fix the problem on our own.
    • These utopian ideas continue.
    • Realize that when we think that humanity can fix the problem, that is humanism. That is thinking we have to make the world a better place for humans and we can do it on our own.
    • This has led to Marxist teaching and socialist teaching. Again, I am not saying these teachings are all wrong. Maybe I believe that, I will keep that opinion to myself. What I am saying is that it does not address the fundamental real problem.
    • Again, Colson shares:
    • The fatal flaw in Marxism’s utopian view of the state is once again the denial of the basic Christian teaching of the Fall. If one is to believe there is such a thing as sin, one must believe there is a God who is the basis of a transcendent and universal standard of goodness. All this Marx denied. For him, religion and morality were nothing but ideologies used to rationalize the economic interests of one class over another. Small wonder that the totalitarian states created by Marxism acknowledged no universal moral principles, no transcendent justice, and no moral limits on their murderous brutality. The party, like the General Will, was always right.[10]
    • So, the problems in humanity all go back to original sin. They all go back to the fall. These sin problems effect all of us. I am going to talk about that more next week. They affect our thinking, which leads to the effect on our media, our government, our schools, our churches, and every other institution or group. Nothing is untouched by sin.
    • Again, Chuck Colson shares:
    • Ideas do not arise from the intellect alone. They reflect our whole personality, our hopes and fears, our longings and regrets. People who follow a particular course of action are inevitably subject to intellectual pressure to find a rationale for it. Theologians call this the “noetic” effect of sin, meaning that sin affects our minds, our thinking processes.[11]
    • The Reformers coined the phrase “total depravity,” meaning that our sinful choices distort all aspects of our being, including our theoretical ideas.[12]
    • As an example of the complete effect of sin on institutions Colson shares:
    • One of the results of this utopian thinking was a shift in education. Classical education had always aimed at the pursuit of truth and the training of moral character. But if human nature was nothing more than a reactive mechanism, then it could be manipulated and shaped by the laws that science discovered. Thus, education became a means of conditioning, with the child being treated as essentially passive rather than as an active moral agent.[13]
    • Again, the problem is original sin and we need Divine intervention, humanity cannot fix the problem.
    • The church is actually unique in a place to fix the problem because Jesus is working in us, so we have the Divine intervention needed. However, things will not be made right until Jesus sets up His reign (Revelation 21-22).
  2. God stepped in to fix us.
    • Utopian ideas won’t fix the problem and we have talked about that.
    • Let’s read Romans 5:12-15:
  3. Romans 5:12-15:
    • 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— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
    • 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
    • I am not going to really take apart this passage today. My point is that only Jesus could fix the sin problem and He did.
    • Adam’s sin was passed down through all the generations and now Jesus has reset things, or at least is resetting things. We can be redeemed in Jesus, but the world is not restored yet. We will get to that in a few weeks.
    • So, what is problem? Sin.
    • What is the solution? We need Divine intervention—Jesus.
    • Jesus changes us and then we change society. Without Jesus we have not repaired the heart. We have to be born again (John 3).
    • It is interesting how Christian love confounds the atheist.
    • J.D. Greear: Years ago, I read a book about the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens. During the last years of his life, he toured university campuses, debating a Christian scholar named Larry Taunton, the author of the book. Taunton describes how very few of his intellectual rebuttals made any deep impression on Hitchens. However, during his last months, Hitchens began to question things in his conversations with Taunton, and it was mainly because of Taunton’s decision to adopt his daughter, who is HIV-positive. Taunton said Hitchins kept asking him why he did it and marveled at Taunton’s calmness in the face of death. Taunton doesn’t claim that Hitchens became a believer before he died but that kindness and hope did something in Hitchens’ life that intellectual argument could not.[14]

So, why do we need government?

To review:

  1. I want to submit to you that we need government, police, and the military to keep us safe. We need these groups because of sin.
  2. I also want to submit to you that we cannot fix ourselves. There is no utopian ideal government, or non-profit group that can fix humanity. We need Divine intervention.

We need Jesus. The world needs Jesus. Next week we will continue to talk about how deep the effects of sin are on all of society.


[1] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (pp. 185-186). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid, 168-169

[3] Ibid, 147

[4] Ibid, 147

[5] Ibid, 148-150

[6] Ibid, 150

[7] Ibid, 150

[8] Ibid, 150

[9] Ibid, 167

[10] Ibid, 172.

[11] Ibid, 174

[12] Ibid, 174

[13] Ibid, 177


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