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Definition of Guilt: the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: — Accompanied by a sense of shame and regret and the experiencing of the consequences

Guilt is like the red warning light on the dashboard of the car (the engine warning light). You can either stop and deal with the trouble, or ignore the light by disabling it or putting tape over it.

As we get back into the early chapters of Genesis and study the consequences of the Fall … it is amazing how dramatic are the changes reflected in our text.

– Changes in man’s emotions and intellect and will

– Changes in man’s environment

– Changes in man’s relationships – on both a vertical and horizontal plane

One of the most famous Scripture passages regarding Guilt is the tragic sin of Saul recorded in

1 Samuel 15 – led to the Lord rejecting Saul as king over the nation of Israel.

– Clear command of God (:3)

– Clear disobedience of that command (:8-9)

– Guilty conscience leading to false protestations of innocence (:13)

– Clear indictment (:14)

– Blame shifting (:15ff)

– Tragic Consequences of Sin and Guilt

– Forced Admission of Guilt (:24)

Think of how this sequence of events plays itself out in how we confront our young children with their acts of disobedience.

Parunak: Note the chiastic order with the subsequent monologue in 3:14-19, man  woman  serpent  woman  man.

Deffinbaugh: While God questioned in the order of authority (Adam, Eve, snake), He sentenced in the order of the fall (snake, Eve, Adam). The fall was, in part, the result of the reversal of God’s order.

Throughout this passage which highlights the guilt of mankind, we also will be struck with the thread of God’s sovereign grace that is woven throughout and the initiative God takes to seek man’s redemption.


A. (:8) Feeble Attempt to Hide From the Presence of God

1. God Draws Near – Gracious Seeking

“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,”

What does it sound like for God to be walking in the Garden of Eden?

Parunak: Strictly, one could translate “voice” here as “sound,” referring to the sound of his footsteps, but this would have to modify the entire prepositional phrase, “the Lord God walking,” while Adam’s reference to this detail in v.9 refers solely to “your voice,” not “the sound of your walking.”

Application: Our Lord intends for us to have an interaction with himself that goes beyond service. Service is important, but too often we let it press out the enjoyment of God’s presence. There are times when we must march with him to the battle, but it is also important that we stroll about with him in the garden, in a time of pleasant relaxation. Sometimes we see even our “daily devotions” as a duty rather than a refreshing joy. Many of us have not yet discovered what the song writer meant in the words, “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.” “Be still, and know that I am God.” Take check of your interactions with the Lord. Do you enjoy the quiet restful times as well as the vigor of service?

Note: one correspondence of mankind being made in the image of God: We prefer the “cool of the day” / “the wind of the day”

God takes the initiative to seek out sinful man

Ray Stedman: It is most striking to me that all religions, apart from Christianity, begin on the note of man seeking after God. Only the Bible starts with the view of God seeking after man. That highlights an essential difference between our Christian faith and the other great religions of the world.

2. Guilty Adam and Eve Hide

“and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

Guilt leads to separation from God

Ps. 139:7-8 “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

Cf. Jonah trying to hop on a ship and flee to Tarshish – Jonah 1:3

Steven Cole: Someone has defined the conscience as a faults alarm. It goes off to tell us our faults. Of course it’s possible, through repeated sin, to sear your conscience to the point where it no longer functions. But this first couple’s conscience was operating just as God intended–it told them that they had sinned. When that alarm goes off, the fallen human tendency is to deal with it just as Adam and Eve did: Cover it up as quickly as possible. But that inner voice keeps nagging, “Guilty! Guilty!”

Application: most of the world today is making some form of a feeble attempt to hide from the Presence and Accountability of their Creator

B. (:9-10) Fearful Exposure Before the Penetrating Inquisition of God

1. (:9) God Calls Out

“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”

Jack Arnold: When a man is lost the most important question he can ask is, “Where am I?” Only when man sees his lost condition in relation to God will he be saved.

2. (:10) Guilty Adam Seeks to Justify His Actions

“And he said, ‘I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’”

Not confessing here; no repentance here

Leupold: Man’s explanation of what it was that caused such fear is not frank and honest. For while his conscience thunders in his breast that this fear is the outgrowth of his disobedience, his mouth utters the half-truth that it is because of his being naked. One cannot but marvel at what a wreck of his former good self man has become. The damage wrought by sin is almost incomprehensibly great.


“And He said,”

A. (:11) Divine Inquiry – 2 Pointed Questions – Gracious Confrontation

1. Question #1 – How Do You Know You Are Guilty?

“Who told you that you were naked?”

2. Question #2 – Have You Disobeyed My Direct Command?

“Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Let’s strip away all the excuses and the smokescreens … let’s reduce the discussion to whether or not you violated God’s clear command

B. (:12) Blame Shifting by Guilty Adam – Lame Excuse

“And the man said, ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’”

Guilt leads to fractured human relationships

Parunak: People blame one another for their own failings, and when that fails, they complain that it is a consequence of the way that God has configured the world. This passage shows us that such attempts carry no weight in the court of divine judgment.

R. Kent Hughes: Victimhood. If you read Adam’s sin through the lens of today’s world, you see the language of victimhood – Adam as the poor victim of the woman and of the God who gave her to him. The modern version goes like this: “God, you’re responsible for my situation that has left me so susceptible to sin – my upbringing, my abuse, my inept parents and teachings.” And it plays in our culture in therapeutic exculpation like that of the Menendez brothers who murdered their parents and then asked the court for mercy on the grounds that they were orphans! Given this thinking, only God is responsible for sin – if there is a God.

Leupold: It is a reply that offers further evidence of the complete corruption and contamination of all of man’s nature by his sin. It is a reply that in cowardly fashion refuses to admit plain guilt and in an entirely loveless fashion lays the blame for it all first on this wife and then by a wicked charge upon God Himself.

Now God turns His attention to Eve:

C. (:13) Blame Shifting by Guilty Eve — Lame Excuse

1. God Calls Out

“Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’”

Again, concentrating on the action that was committed … the infraction … the transgression … the violation of God’s holy law

2. Guilty Eve Seeks to Justify Her Actions

“And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”

No confession here; no repentance


A. (:14) Pronouncement of Cursing

“And the LORD God said to the serpent,”

1. General Curse

“Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle,

And more than every beast of the field;”

2. Specific Curse

“On your belly shall you go,

And dust shall you eat All the days of your life;”

(cf. Psalm 44:25;Psalm 72:9; Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 65:25; Micah 7:17).

Parunak: Eating dust is elsewhere in the OT the place of a defeated enemy: Mic 7:17;. Isa 49:23. Note that even when the earth is returned to its edenic state, the effect of this curse will remain (Isa 65:25). This reflects the distinction between the curses of the earth and of the serpent, above. Man’s sin is forgiven, and the curse resulting from it is removed, but the serpent’s sin is not forgiven.

R Kent Hughes: Does this suggest a new way of travel for the serpent, say, from an upright posture to its belly? Possibly, but probably not. Derek Kidner argues “that the crawling is henceforth symbolic (cf. Isaiah 65:25) – just as in 9:13 a new significance, not a new existence will be decreed for the rainbow.” Thus through God’s curse, a ne significance was given to the serpent’s distinctive posture.

B. (:15) Pronouncement of Condemnation

1. General Threat

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,

And between your seed and her seed;”

Unbelievers are described as a “generation of vipers” (John the Baptist in Matt 3:7; confirmed by our Lord in 12:34; 23:33).

Constable: the seed of the serpent refers to natural humanity whom he has led into rebellion against God. Humanity is now divided into two communities: the elect, who love God, and the reprobate, who love self ( John 8:31-32; John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). Each of the characters of Genesis will be either of the seed of the woman that reproduces her spiritual propensity, or of the seed of the Serpent that reproduces his unbelief.

2. Specific Threat

“He shall bruise you on the head,

And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Protoevangelium – the first gospel proclamation

Understood in increasing clarity via Progressive Revelation

Parunak: Classically, this is understood as a prophecy of the Messiah. It is highly unusual to identify offspring with the woman rather than with the man. We read of the seed of Aaron (Lev 21:21), David (1 Kings 11:39), Abraham (Ps 105:6), Israel (2 Kings 17:20), Jacob (Isa 45:25), Ephraim (Jer 7:15), or Zadok (Ezek 43:19), but it is rare to identify the seed with the woman. (Even in 1 Sam 1:20, the seed is the man’s, identified only by which wife produces it.) Thus it has long been understood that this passage alludes to the virgin birth of the final seed, which is Christ (cf. Paul’s emphasis on the singular/plural ambiguity in Gal 3:16).

Steven Cole: But God goes on to say that He (singular, a particular seed of the woman) shall bruise Satan on the head, and Satan would bruise Him on the heel. This refers to Christ, born of a woman (Gal. 4:4), the last Adam, who would redeem the fallen race. It is a remarkable verse in that it refers to the seed of the woman, not the man. Elsewhere in the Bible descent is determined through the male. But here it is the seed of the woman, not the man, who will bruise Satan’s head. It is a prophecy, veiled at the time, but evident now, of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

R Kent Hughes: We dare not miss the importance of the gaze of faith. Numbers 21:9 says, “If a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” The command to look to that uplifted serpent was a gracious foreshadowing of looking to the crucified Christ for our salvation. No wonder our Lord said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Moses raised that serpent up high in the camp and all the dying Israelites had to do was look to that pole and be saved. No matter how horribly they were bitten, no matter how many times they had been bitten or how sick they were, the opportunity for salvation was there.


  • We need to listen to our conscience and respond.

  • We need to allow the goodness of God to lead us to repentance.

  • We can’t live in denial as if the red engine light never came on.

  • We can’t try to shift the blame to others or to our environment.

  • We must take responsibility for what we do and say.

  • We need to turn to the Lord Jesus and the redemption that He has provided to deal with the guilt and the consequences of our sin.

  • Make no mistake … Guilt changes everything … and Sin has consequences.