Introduction: Welcome to a new series of studies that will give us a
better “big picture” understanding of our God. Often, Christians
intensely debate relatively unimportant things like what they should
eat or wear, or some small point of doctrine. If your life span is
shortened by twenty years because of your diet, that is terrible, but
not as terrible as missing out on eternal life. While I think we
should measure everything we do by the teachings of the Bible, having
a clear understanding on the big picture is our first order of
business. No one would begin studying how the body worked by
critically examining a finger nail. Let’s start our examination of
the big picture by diving into our Bible and seeing what we can learn
about how sin entered our world!

  1. Eden

    1. Read Genesis 2:15-16. The fruit of this tree was not
      poison. Why would God create a tree that was off-limits to
      Adam? What difference would it make what tree was the
      source of Adam’s food? (God was creating a test for

      1. Three questions: First, why create a test? Second, if
        you are going to create a test, why make it about
        trees and food? Why not structure a test about
        loving God, doing some great deed, or rescuing an

      2. A large number of people disbelieve the Eden story.
        If a human were making this up, is this the test a
        human would create? (No. If you have ever read
        fiction about humans being tested, it always involves
        some grand challenge of human strength, intelligence
        or skill. It is never about eating choices, unless
        the fictional story is intended to parallel the
        Biblical account.)

      3. Third question: When it comes to God’s commands, is
        it ever safe to say, “That doesn’t make any sense?
        Why would God care?”

    2. Read Genesis 3:1-3. How does the serpent (who is Satan,
      see Revelation 12:9) know about the test?

      1. God set up the test, but Satan is participating in
        the tree/fruit test. What does this tell us about
        whether Satan thought the test was valid? (He seems
        to have agreed that it is valid.)

      2. What do you think would have happened if Satan
        disagreed with the validity of this test? (He would
        not have used it. He would have argued that the test
        did not give a fair opportunity for humans to choose
        Satan over God.)

      3. What does Satan’s knowledge of the test, the unusual
        nature of this test, and the fact that Satan
        apparently agreed that the test was valid suggest?
        (It seems likely that if both agreed that this was
        the way to test the loyalty of humans, that either
        God set up a test that Satan thought was fair, or
        Satan and God had extensive negotiations over the
        nature of the test.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:4. What is the nature of Satan’s
      temptation? (This temptation is about trusting God.
      Consider how a “what difference does it make?” test raises
      the trust issue.)

      1. Look at this from Satan’s point of view. What
        disadvantages do you have with this test? (It is a
        limited time, place, and subject test. Plus, the
        humans have been specifically warned.)

        1. Why can’t Satan approach the humans at any
          time, in any place, and with any temptation?

      2. Notice that Satan both stated the command and asked
        Eve to repeat what God said. Why would he do that if
        he wanted Eve to eat the fruit? (Eating the fruit was
        not the goal, showing that humans knowingly
        distrusted and disobeyed God was the goal.)

      3. What does this test, and the way that Satan
        approached this test, tell us about the nature of
        temptation in our life? (God and Satan are in a
        contest for our loyalty. They both care about the
        outcome. God makes the final rules about the contest,
        but they are subject to some sort of boundaries (see
        Job 2:3-6). Satan is limited in the way that he can
        bring temptation to us.)

  2. Heaven

    1. Read Revelation 12:7-8. Where did the dispute between God
      and Satan begin? (In heaven.)

      1. In that dispute, did God have unfettered control over
        Satan? (No. It was a contest. It was war, a pitched

        1. The creation account says in Genesis chapter 1
          that God created the world and the heavens by
          simply speaking. Since God has such
          overwhelming power, how do you account for a
          contested battle with Satan and his angels?
          (Either Satan and his angels are that powerful,
          or God limited the nature of the battle.)

        2. Let’s imagine that China invaded the Republic
          of Taiwan, because China takes the position
          that Taiwan is part of China. The U.S.,
          according to one web site I consulted, has
          about 5,000 nuclear warheads and China has
          about 240. Would the United States launch a
          full-scale atomic weapons attack on China? Or,
          would it more likely engage in a conventional
          war to protect its ally? (The world would be
          horrified if the U.S. destroyed China, killed
          its people and made its land uninhabitable. In
          addition, in such an exchange China might do
          great damage to the U.S. This shows that even
          humans would voluntarily limit the scope of a
          battle. It seems logical that is what God did
          in the heavenly battle against Satan and his

    2. Read Revelation 12:9. What penalty did God impose on Satan
      and the rebelling angels? (Defeat and banishment.)

  3. The Aftermath

    1. Read Revelation 12:10-12. Both Satan, fallen angels and
      humans have rebelled against God. How are the parties
      aligned after this? (God and humans are aligned.)

      1. What is the bad news for humans? (Satan is in the
        neighborhood, he is angry, on a deadline and he is
        accusing and threatening us. We could lose our life
        in the process.)

      2. What is the good news for humans? (We are not only
        aligned with the winner of the battle, but we can
        overcome Satan by the “blood of the Lamb” and the
        word of our testimony.)

        1. Notice that Satan is described as “the accuser
          of our brothers,” and he does this constantly.
          What accusation is he making? (I’ll bet it has
          to do with the fact that he and we have

        2. What is our defense against this accusation?
          (The “blood of the Lamb!” This refers to Jesus’
          life, death and resurrection on our behalf. It
          refers to grace.)

        3. Notice that both the blood of the Lamb and the
          “word of our testimony” are our weapons. What
          does the “word of our testimony” mean?
          (Remember that we are being accused and
          threatened by Satan. The text reports that the
          righteous did not make living their ultimate
          goal. Our testimony must deal with these
          issues: grace and self-denial.)

    2. Now that we have added important big picture information
      from Revelation, let’s go back to Genesis and look more
      carefully at some of the details. Read Genesis 3:11-13. If
      we are right about God negotiating with Satan the nature
      of the test, how would you have reacted to the results if
      you were God? (I would have been stunned that humans could
      so easily be defeated by Satan. I would have been angry
      with their pitiful defenses.)

      1. Was the test too hard? Are humans too stupid?

      2. God banished Satan and his angels. Did God treat Adam
        and Eve differently?

        1. If so, why? (Adam and Eve did not attack God.
          They failed God. They failed to trust Him.)

    3. Read Genesis 3:14-15. Now that humans have failed Him,
      what is God’s battle plan? Is it to give humans another
      test? (It is more of a gift than a test. However, we do
      have to choose.)

      1. Has God’s battle plan anything to do with how easily
        Satan defeated humans? (I think so. God says that in
        the new conflict between humans and Satan, humans
        will suffer, but Satan will die.)

      2. What does this teach us about God’s attitude toward
        us? (He has shown us great mercy! He places limits on
        the attacks by Satan and his angels. Jesus did what
        we could not do. He gives eternal life as a gift.)

    4. Friend, what is your testimony in light of this study
      about how sin entered the world and what God did about it?
      If you have not chosen a side in this controversy, will
      you do it now? Will you be a winner or a loser?

  4. Next week: Revelation, and the God revealed in it.
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