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Lesson 1: The Provocation and Provision *

Introduction: Have you ever stopped to consider the "big question" of the world of good and evil? If God exists, why does sin exist? Is there a supernatural conflict between the forces of good and evil? How did evil arise? Are we players in that conflict? If God is in charge, why are we even allowed to sin? Let's dive into our study and see what the Bible has to say about these topics!

  1. God's Image


    1. Read Genesis 1:26. Our text brings us to the last part of the Creation week. It reports God speaking. To whom is God talking? What does God mean when He says, "Let us make man...?" (This shows that the creation of man was a matter of discussion, therefore planning, in heaven. The reference to "us" is an early indication of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Compare John 1:1-4.)


      1. When God says in Genesis 1:26 that He is making people in "His image, in our likeness," what do you think this means?


        1. Why would God say "image" and then say "likeness?" Is He just repeating for emphasis? Or, does God mean two different things?


        2. Read Colossians 1:15-16. What does this reference to Jesus suggest is meant by "image?"


          1. Note the logical problem of being in the "image" of someone who is "invisible." Doesn't this limit our options in defining "image?"


        3. Read Hebrews 1:3. What does this suggest is meant in Genesis 1:26? (These texts in Colossians and Hebrews suggest that the primary meaning of Genesis 1:26 is not actual appearance. Jesus was not a glorious, radiant being while here on earth. And, it is difficult to be in the image of someone who is invisible. Instead, Genesis seems to say that we reflect God in our thinking. We are more like God than, say, the animals.)


    2. Read Isaiah 55:8. If we reflect God in our thinking, how do we explain this statement by God?


    3. Read Genesis 8:21. How can we claim we reflect God in our thinking when God makes statements like this?


    4. Let's get back to our story by reading Genesis 1:27-28. What does this suggest about how humans are like God? (This gets us to the heart of our likeness. Even though our thoughts are below those of God, even though our inclination is evil ( Genesis 8:21), nevertheless, God has given us a "ruler" role on this earth. We get to make decisions about what happens around us.)


    5. Read Genesis 2:8-9 and Genesis 2:15-17. What is a critical part of the "ruler role" of humans? (Free choice. That role as ruler is centered on our ability to decide how we "rule" our life.)


      1. Notice that humans were not allowed to eat of the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." Assume you are Adam or Eve, and you are sitting on a hill in the garden from which you can see this tree of the knowledge and good and evil. You put on your philosopher's hats and ask yourselves the question: "How much free choice do we have if we do not even have knowledge of some of our choices?" How would you answer that question? (If I were Adam, the simple answer would be, "I'm dead if I eat. If I'm dead, how much choice will I have then? I'm not eating.)


        1. Do you think Adam and Eve had a discussion like this?


  2. God's Image Under Fire


    1. Read Genesis 3:1. Is this a memory test? What kind of choice is Eve asked to make here?


    2. Read Genesis 3:2-3. Why was it in Satan's best interest to have Eve recite God's command? Can you imagine being late to an appointment, asking the driver to exceed the speed limit to get there on time, and at the same time say to the driver, "You know fines are doubled in this area - the fine is twenty dollars for each mile you go over the speed limit?" (I suspect Satan did not want any argument about whether Eve understood the nature of her actions.)


    3. Read Genesis 3:4. How is being made in the image of God under the most extreme test right now? (The rulership of humans, their free choice, is now being put to the test. Will these rulers remain loyal to God? Will they honor the trust God has given them? The test gets back to my imagined discussion between Adam and Eve about the tree. The most practical basis to avoid eating is that you will die. Satan specifically attacks God's statement on that issue. The question become one of trust - does Eve trust God?)


      1. What other issue is involved for Eve? (Does Eve desire to "become like God?")


    4. Read John 15:9-11. Did the test end with Eve? (No.)


      1. How are you employing your ruler role? How is free-will working out in your life? Does your life reveal that you trust God?


  3. Satan


    1. In Genesis we see that the "serpent" encourages Eve to disbelieve God. In John 15 we find Jesus encouraging us to obey God. From where did the serpent, Satan, come? What is the source of this desire to do evil - in the face of God's instruction to do right?


    2. Read Revelation 12:7-9. What is the goal of "that ancient serpent, called the devil, or Satan?" (To fight God by leading us astray.)


    3. Read Revelation 12:10. What other activity does Satan engage in that involves us? (No only does Satan attempt to lead us into sin, but he then he goes to God and accuses us of betraying God!)


    4. The Bible gives us some hints at how it came to be that Satan, a heavenly being, ended up fighting against God and being hurled to earth. Read Isaiah 14:12-14. What caused Satan's break with God? (Pride. A desire to be like God.)


      1. Consider again Satan's statement to Eve in Genesis 3:5. Why is this a strong temptation? (It was Satan's weakness.)


    5. How many supernatural allies work with Satan? (Read Revelation 12:4. The Bible does not give us a detailed account about Satan. However, the picture that emerges from these texts is that Satan was an exalted angel in heaven who entered into sin because he wanted to be like God. In his rebellion, he convinced one-third of the angelic host to follow him. War resulted in heaven and Satan and his angels were thrown to earth. Satan then began his project of persuading humans to be disloyal to God.)


      1. Given this background, why would Satan want to "accuse" us ( Revelation 12:10) before God? How does this make any sense? (If Satan were involved in a continuing war with God that he could win, this would make no sense. Satan would brag about his increasing number of "soldiers." However, if the war has been lost (a major subject of our new series of lessons), then Satan is reduced to adding more victims. Since God is the Victor, Satan's "best" is to try to embarrass God by accusing us of being disloyal to God.)


  4. The Future


    1. Summarize what we have learned about the nature of the conflict between good and evil and our role in it? (In heaven, one of the most exalted angels made the decision to become like God. This rebellious plan spread to other angels until God had a full-blown rebellion on His hands. War began in heaven, and this exalted angel, together with a third of the rest of the angels, were defeated and exiled to earth. In the meantime, God created humans in His image - meaning that God gave them free choice and authority over the earth. The exalted angel, known as Satan, the "serpent" or the "dragon," embarked on a mission to spread the rebellion to humans. This succeeded when Eve and Adam disbelieved, distrusted and disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit so they would become like God. Thus, the conflict, the rebellion, spread to humans.)


    2. Read Genesis 3:8-9. Was God asking about geographic location or spiritual location?


    3. Friend, where are you? In the conflict between good and evil, God wants to know where you stand. Why not give Him a positive answer today?


  5. Next week: His Glorious Purpose Foreshadowed in Types.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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