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First Sunday in Lent: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Created by God and for God, we have sinned against Him.
We noted, in Genesis 1:1-3, the importance of getting our priorities right - God, God’s Word, God’s Spirit. Here, we emphasize the importance of these priorities.
We are under God. We must remember that He is God (Genesis 2:15). We are to obey God’s Word (Genesis 2:16-17).
Here, we learn that the act of obedience is an act of freedom. In Christ, we are set free to obey God.
God says, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden’. He does not then say, ‘You are free to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. He says, ‘You must not’.
The act of disobedience is not an act of freedom. By choosing the way of sin, we show that we are in bondage. We are not free. We are the captives of sin, and we need to be set free - by Christ (John 8:32, 36).
We come to know God, choosing good rather than evil, as we follow the way of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 5:14).
The creation of woman is bound up with the creation of man. She is created from man’s ‘rib’ (Genesis 2:21-22).
The ‘rib’ is taken from his side, emphasizing that man and woman are to be together, side-by-side, not one in front of the other. The ‘rib’, rather than the head or the feet, emphasizes this togetherness rather than any superiority-inferiority relationship. The ‘rib’ is close to the heart. Woman is close to the heart of man. Both are close to the heart of God.
The contrast between humanity and the animals is again clear. Among the animals, there was ‘no suitable helper’ for the man (Genesis 2:20). The animals had been ‘formed out of the ground’ (Genesis 2:19). Humanity has come from ‘the breath of life’ (Genesis 2:7). Like the animals, we come from ‘the dust of the ground’, but there is more: the Breath of God, created in His image to glorify Him!
We have read about the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:1). Now, in Genesis 3,  we come to the beginning of sin.
Sin begins with temptation. We must, however, note that temptation is not sin. It only becomes sin when we do what the tempter suggests (Genesis 3:6).
Temptation comes from ‘that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan’ (Revelation 12:9). Satan reverses the priorities of God, God’s Word and God’s Spirit.
God is ‘our Father’ (Matthew 6:9). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
Satan quotes and questions God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). He not only questions God’s Word. He contradicts it (Genesis 3:4).
Satan is spiritual, an evil spirit. We must be aware of his schemes, and, in Christ, we must take our stand against his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11).
When Satan says, ‘Did God really say?’ (Genesis 3:1), we must wage war for God, filled with His Word and Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Once we were innocent. Now we are guilty. The story of Adam and Eve is repeated over and over again. This is our story as well as Adam and Eve’s story.
Even in the face of sin, we see something else. We see the God of love, seeking to restore the fallen to Himself. In His words, ‘Where are you?’, we catch an early glimpse of the Gospel of salvation: ‘the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10).
Adam and Eve had lost their way. Now, God was looking for them to bring them back to Himself. In the question, ‘Where are you?’, there is the searching question, ‘What have you done?’, but there is also the passionate appeal, ‘Will you not return to me?’ This is the call of mercy: ‘Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, “O sinner, come home”’ (Sacred Songs & Solos, 414). Our loving Father is waiting patiently to welcome the returning prodigal (Luke 15:20).

Receiving God’s gift – the forgiveness of all our sins.
The forgiveness of sins - what a tremendous blessing this is (Psalm 32:1-2).
We receive God’s forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him.
This is the Psalmist’s testimony: ‘I made my sins known to You, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to You, O Lord. Then You forgave all my sins’ (Psalm 32:5).
This is the promise of God: ‘If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’(1 John 1:9).
Knowing that our sins have been forgiven by God, we can face our many trying times with confidence in Him: ‘You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid. I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, “I am strong in the strength of my God”’ (Psalm 32:7; Mission Praise, 793).
The forgiveness of our sins: it’s just the beginning of all that God will do for us.

God has great things in store for His people!
(a) ‘Much more’ (Romans 5:9-10): ‘Justified by Christ’s blood’, ‘reconciled to God’, ‘We shall be saved by Christ from the wrath of God’, ‘saved by His life’.
(b) ‘Much more’ (Romans 5:15, 17): ‘The grace of God’ has ‘abounded for many’. In Christ, we have ‘received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness’. Through Him, we shall ‘reign in life’.
(c) ‘More than that’ (Romans 5:3): Our pathway to eternal glory will not be easy. There will be ‘suffering’. God has given us a glimpse of our eternal destiny: ‘grace reigning through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 5:21). ‘We rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God’ (Romans 5:2). Having caught sight of the heavenly and eternal glory, we see our ‘suffering’ in a new light, the light of ‘God’s love’ (Romans 5:3-5).
When we are tempted, we must follow Christ, taking our stand on God’s Word.
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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