Genesis 3 and 4 are amazing studies in passing the buck. Consider:
- Adam, when confronted by God on eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, replied, “The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree and I ate.” It’s not Adam’s fault—no, it’s the woman’s fault and God’s fault (“…the woman you gave to be with me…). It’s as if Adam is saying, “You see, if you hadn’t given me this woman, all would be well.”
- Eve, when confronted, replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” It’s the serpent’s fault and since you, O Lord, created him, it’s kind of your fault too.
- (Notice that God does confront the serpent in Genesis 3. God knows Satan’s nature and knows that this is just in conformity with that nature.)
- Cain, in chapter 4, when confronted over killing Abel, deflected the question with a question, “…am I my brother’s keeper?”
Before Cain kills Abel, God warns him, “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” In all of the examples listed above, sin rules over all of them. Sin is victorious with Eve, Adam and Cain.
Not so with us, living on this side of the cross and the resurrection. Jesus, “himself partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”1
Though there many be some fear of physical death, I believe that the writer of Hebrews is speaking about spiritual death. Spiritual death is what Adam and Eve suffered. They were already going to die a physical death. Note at the end of Genesis 3 that God kicks them out of Eden “…lest he…take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Adam and Eve were going to die at some point. Physical death is not what entered their world. They lost their communion with God; they lost their right standing before God; they lost their innocence—they suffered spiritual death. So the writer of Hebrews is describing how Jesus defeated the power of this spiritual death over us by paying the penalty for our sins and rising victorious from the grave! Hallelujah!
So, when we sin we don’t have to pass the buck—it’s our fault, but when we “hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” we need not hide ourselves. We are covered by the righteousness of Jesus and that’s enough. In modern terms, we need to “man-up,” take responsibility for our sins and run to Jesus.
1 Hebrews 2:14b–15