The Anatomy of Transgression
Question: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. (Westminster Shorter Catechism)
The essence of sin is that it is a deliberate violation of the known will of the Lord. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).
Eve consciously and witfully ate of the forbidden fruit. She did so because she was deceived, but her deception was her own fault for she placed herself in the way of temptation by making provision for the flesh.
Centuries later the apostle Paul would write, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).
There are many ways to make provisions for the flesh, all the while trying to justify in the mind that which is unjustifiable.
Perhaps Eve thought that a continued conversation with the Serpent was not harmful, even after the serpent questioned God’s Word. Instead of fleeing in that moment, Eve engaged the subtle creature, continued to talk, and was ensnared. Eve crossed a very real, though invisible line when she willed to remain and talk to a lying entity. Had Eve not lingered to be deceived, all would have been well.
The first step to physical transgression is a willful mental violation of the known will of God. Because she continued to engage the serpent, Eve felt an initial stirring of lust, or intense desire in her body. “She saw that the tree was good for food.” It was her lingering look at the forbidden fruit which led to Eve’s growing passion to possess it for we read the fruit was “to be desired” (Gen. 3:6).
When passions are aroused, there is a conscious thought that comes to the mind. “I will pay any price to have this moment of pleasure. I do not care about exposure. I do not care about public shame. I do not care that my relationship with God is broken. I do not care I cannot be useful in the work of the ministry. I want this moment.”
Quickly those thoughts have to be suppressed, and more often than not, they are. Eve suppressed her voice of conscience, as did her husband. You and I do it too when we violate the known will of the Lord. Whatever the sin, nothing will prevent possessing the low hanging fruit when passions are stirred. Restraining reason is abandoned, and the will to power replaces submission to the Sovereign.
Because the mind is engaged, because the passions are stirred, because the will is determined to do what it wants at all costs, physical transgression is inevitable. “Eve took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.”
Eve’s deception was no defense against immediate judgment, and the impending punishment soon to fall on her. Her deception was no excuse because it could have been prevented.
Eve knew what God had said. “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Gen. 3:3). Eve should not have been within touching distance of the Tree in the Midst of the Garden. But she was. There she lingered to engage in a conversion with someone who questioned God’s Word.
Then, when her passions were aroused, Eve did not suppress them, but allowed the passions to course through her body, all the while enjoying the sensation of the dangerous situation. In Scriptural terms, “her belly became her god” (Phil. 3:19). The belly, or the stomach was considered the seat of emotion.
Today, medical science would explain what Eve felt in terms of tiny neurochemicals released by the body, called endorphins. Endorphins can produce pleasure when a person eats dark chocolate, exercises, engages in any form of sexual activity, dances, drinks a glass of wine, laughs, watches their favorite TV drama, or eats something spicy—or forbidden.
The word endorphin comes from two words, “endogenous,” meaning, “from within the body”, and “morphine,” which is an opiate pain reliever. In other words, endorphins are a natural pain relievers” (Jacquelyn Cafasso, Healthline).
Knowing the prohibitive will of God, and expressing it verbally, and in a conscious manner, created tension in Eve. The chemicals in her body engaged, and released endorphins when she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6). The chemical in her body were released because of the drama of the moment.
With her conscience violated, defiled, and seared, Eve “gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” In the moment that each ate, “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Gen. 3:7).
In the moment their eyes were opened, the truth was made aware to them, they were dead people walking. Something deeply profound had changed in their relationship to God, to one another, and to the world in which they lived. The change was not good. It was in a downward direction from their exalted state, which is why theologians refer to this moment as The Fall. Adam and Eve fell from fellowship with the Lord.
The story might have ended there, if it were not for the goodness, and integrity of God, and His willingness to manifest a facet of His own character called, grace. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20).
Therefore, we read that Adam and Eve, “heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8-9).
“Where are you?” That is not a call of the Majestic Sovereign seeking information from moral creatures, not fallen and fearful. That is the call of grace demanding self-analysis, repentance, and a return to fellowship after judgment on sin.
“Where are you?” That can be asked of every person. Some people are in bondage to a particular addictive behavior. It may be the sin of sexual lust, uncontrollable anger, or the sin of covetousness. The heart is never satisfied, and always wants more, or what others have.
One day the apostle Peter met a man named Simon, a covetous man, and said to him, “Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23).
That is what the Lord would have every person do whose eyes are opened to spiritual realities of being sinful in His sight, and in need of grace, and forgiveness.
There is hope for every soul that sin has deceived and led astray. There is mercy with the Lord based upon gospel repentance, which includes forsaking sin, and returning to a place of submissive obedience to the Savior.
“Come, every soul by sin oppressed;
There’s mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.
Only trust Him, only trust Him,
Only trust Him now;
He will save you, He will save you,
He will save you now.”
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13, ESV).
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8, KJV).
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB).