The Big Questions

Ryan Romeo
Series: Origins of Innocence

Genesis 3 (ESV)

Two weeks ago David started a series called Origins of Innocence. The heart behind it is this: we were praying for our church. We just went through a season where a lot of us went out. 300 of us went out on the foreign mission field. Over 250 of us went out into Phoenix to impact Phoenix. That is beautiful. That’s what God wants us to be doing as a church.  

But if you know David, he is all about rhythm—proper, healthy rhythm in our lives. In our church life there is a proper, healthy rhythm too. He came to us in the executive team and he said, “You know we just had this season where we’re pouring out.” And he said, “I just feel like it’s when you’re exhaling and we need a moment in our church where we can inhale a little bit. We need a moment where we can kind of breathe in what God has for us. Set aside some things that were okay in the previous season and now, in the next season they’re not going to be okay.” And he said, “We’re going to be consecrating ourselves, setting ourselves apart for what God has for us the next time that we’re going out.”

That doesn’t mean that this year we aren’t going out—we are definitely going to be going out. But as a church, the heart behind Origins of Innocence is for us to understand that righteousness and holiness is not just a “muster it up, try your best not to sin;” But it really starts with understanding that first innocence that was seen in Genesis 1 and 2. 

And David is saying that, if we could just paint a portrait of what that looks like, and understand that that was so beautiful, but that when Jesus died on the cross, he gave us access to that original innocence again. We can go back to Genesis 1 and 2—not because we’re denying our past; not because we’re just burying things. We can, in a healthy way, go back to that innocence because of the sacrifice of Jesus. But to understand that, to understand the heights in which Jesus is bringing us, we have to understand the depths in which we were. And that’s where we are in Genesis 3.  

The best place to start with Genesis 3 is with Genesis 2:25 (ESV). 

25  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

They were both naked and not ashamed. I loved that Eden kind of intimated at the end of the worship set. And really, that word ashamed in the original language, in Hebrew, is this word bosh which means “to be utterly dejected” especially in front of somebody else. That’s why, when you’re ashamed, and later on in Genesis chapter 3 they cover up. But they were naked and they were not ashamed. They were working the garden, they were working with their hands and the tools while they were naked (which would probably uncomfortable for most of us in this room) but they were not ashamed. 

This word bosh also has another ingredient added, almost like you’re making a stew and you add a dash of this ingredient. The ingredient is this word confusion. When you look at the definition, it’s like the idea that, “Everything has unraveled in my life. I’m so confused. It feels like I got hit by a freight train. I didn’t see it coming. How did I find myself here? How did I get to this place where I am so low?” That is that word ashamed in the original Hebrew.  

Shame is the word that we’re going to dive into. But they had never felt that. They had never felt somebody sinning against them and violating them. They had never felt what it felt like to sin themselves and see their lives unravel. They never felt any of that at all. They were unashamed. That’s the original innocence that they were in.  

Now let’s dive into Genesis 3 (ESV).  

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

This question in the beginning, “Did God actually say..?” Satan knows what he’s doing. It says that he’s more crafty than any other creature that God had created. He is the master manipulator. If you think politicians and lawyers are manipulators, they’ve just learned it from the best here in Genesis 3.  

When you dive into it, everything that Satan says is on purpose. He handcrafted everything that he said. He really only gets the floor twice. He really only says three sentences and he doesn’t over-talk it with Eve. He doesn’t try to convince her of how great sin is. What he’s doing here at the very outset is on purpose. An he said, “Did God actually say..?” Did God really say? 

It’s the thing that society is asking right now. Did God really say that Jesus is the only way to heaven? Did God really say proper relationship is between a man and a woman. Did God really say these things? And what you have to understand is that Satan is not attacking the rule. We tend to get into that, where we’re attacking the rule and going, “That rule is not good.” Or “that rule is good.” Or “why is that rule good?” 

What Satan is doing is, he’s not attacking the rule or the validity of the rule, he’s attacking the character of the Rule Giver. What he’s really doing is saying, “Did God really say that to you? This God that you walk with every day, Eve. Did he really tell you that?” And he’s laying this foundation of doubt. The undertone of that question is this: God is not trustworthy, What God says doesn’t matter. He’s not looking out for the best for you. He’s not a good Father. Satan is laying a foundation of doubt, of saying, “You need to second guess the character of this God that you walk with.” Satan knows that if he can plant this seed, if he can get Eve to second-guess that her Father is good and has good plans for her, then he can take her to the next level.  

A lot of us focus on sin. We look at this over here and say, “Man, I want to stop doing that.” But Satan lays a foundation before you even sin, before you’re even tempted, what he’s trying to bring is doubt in the character of God. It’s his first thing, and he hasn’t changed his tactics since Genesis 3. He says this line:  

 “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

Again, he knows exactly what he’s saying. What he’s saying is this, he knows that God has said, “You just shall not eat of that one tree.” But what he’s doing is planting in Eve’s mind this idea that “God doesn’t want the abundance of this garden for you. He wants you to say no to every tree.” And it’s the lie that we hear all the time, that following Jesus and being in God means you have less freedom, that you can’t do anything.  

But that is not the case. God is saying, “I’ve given you this entire garden.” You have so much freedom. There is way more yes in God than there is no. But what he’s saying is that there’s one thing. God says, “There’s just this one thing that I don’t want you to do. And it’s not because I hate you and it’s not because I have bad plans for you. It’s because I know will hurt you so bad. I want you to say no to it.” 

And Satan is trying to deceive Eve by saying, “Shackle yourself to that one tree. That’s real freedom. Shackle yourself to that one tree. That’s the real freedom that God brings.” And again, Satan is trying to get you to second-guess the character of God. 

When I was a kid my dad started his own business. And if you know my dad, he is actually a bit of a mad scientist. He didn’t start a business like a CPA group, or a coffee shop, or something normal. No, my dad started this company in our back yard with a bunch of equipment to make carbon fiber mirrors and structures for imaging systems. And if that sounds complicated—it’s very complicated. 

The thing is, he started in our back yard. Our house was small. What the house lacked in interior square footage, it made up for with exterior square footage. Our back yard was really big. My dad had laid this giant pad of concrete in the back that ran the whole length of our house, and I loved that. Growing up in Tucson, I had no pool. I had nothing fun. I had a dirt yard. And I would play on the concrete, and that was like my favorite thing in the world. I would skate on it. I would break rocks on it. And anything that a little boy likes to do in the back yard, that was my place to do it. And as my dad started his company, he started buying equipment. Now, it’s not like drills and saws. No. My dad had these big chambers and these crazy transformers out there. And it was nuts. And slowly but surely he started to take up my beloved patio with his own equipment. 

I remember one day I was out playing on my swing set—because I  couldn’t play on the patio—and my dad came out. He said, “Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” I said, “Hey, dad.” And he said, “You see that machine that’s running over there?” I said, “Yeah, I see it.” He said, “You see there are wires coming out of the side of it?” Which again, if you know my dad and the mad science and there’s always wires. It’s like this Medusa head of wires coming out of the side. He said, “You see those wires?” And I said, “Yeah, I see those wires.” He said, “Just so you know, buddy, those are really high current, and if you touch those, you will die.” And he said, “Just thought I would let you know. I’m going to head inside, I’ll see you later,” 

Now, I’m the dad of a son, a ten year old little boy. And if I told my son, “Don’t touch that thing.” If you know little boys, that is the invitation for them to go, “Oh, I wonder if it would kill me.” I mean, my son gets Dennis the Menace hands when he’s staring at something I tell him not to do, especially if I tell him it’s dangerous because all little boys can be idiots sometimes. 

But there was something about this that was different. Now my dad is Italian, so he is prone to be a bit of an exaggerator; but he is not prone to exaggerate in this area. He can be a little bit dramatic, but he is not an exaggerator or a liar. And when I was staring at those wires, I remember going, just for a split second, “I wonder if they will kill me.” And then I knew, “No, they will kill me. My dad is not the kind of dad that will tell me something like that just to be dramatic. He probably literally means it’s going to kill me.” 

And I knew—and not a lot of people in this room have this—but I had a good dad that had good intentions for me. And I knew I could trust his character in this. I knew if I touched those wires it would kill me. It wouldn’t just hurt me, but it would kill me. And I was not tempted very much to touch those wires because I knew the character of my dad. And that is the foundation that statement is trying to hit right here. He’s trying to say, “Your Dad is not trustworthy.” 

And even those of us in this room who didn’t have a dad, maybe they were gone or maybe they violated everything, I really believe that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can remind us and bring healing and show us that he is a good, trustworthy Father.  And our attention starts to get less on trying to really hard white-knuckle following the rules. And it gets a lot more on the heart and the character of the Rule Giver. It starts to diminish the power of what we’re looking at over here because we see the power of God and beauty of God and the love of God over here. That is where Satan is trying to distract Eve.  

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  

Everything that Satan says is a lie. He has a little bit of a lie sandwich right here. He says, “If you eat of it, your eyes will be opened,” That is true. Adam and Eve’s are going to be opened. They don’t understand what that means, but their eyes are going to be opened.  

“And you will be like God.” Not true. Eve does not know that what she is going to open she cannot handle. She is not equipped to handle what she’s about to open.  

And then he says, “…knowing good and evil.” Eve already was very familiar with good. She walked with God every day. Eve was very familiar with good, but what she was about to be shown was evil. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

If you are a filler-outer type person and you’re looking at your outline going, “Ryan, what should I write here?” The first question is Did God Really Say? It’s the big question that Satan is asking us—Did God really say this? Attacking the character of God.  And the enemy’s strategy, we see it happen here and it happens really quick. The first foundation of sin is doubt, doubting the character of God, doubting that God is a good, good father to us. Doubting all of that.

Then we move into temptation, sin and shame. Doubt, temptation, sin, shame.  See, when doubt comes in, that step between doubt and temptation is long. Eve has to thing about this. She has to really think, “Okay. Do I trust the character of God? Do I trust what he’s been telling me?” But the minute it moves into temptation, she sees the fruit, and she thinks, “Actually, that looks really good.” Then it goes from temptation to sin to shame so fast they don’t even know what hits them. It’s that bosh. That confusion of “What just happened?”  

And Eve and Adam, when they’re sitting there, and they eat the fruit, they themselves cover up. Because that’s what shame wants us to do. Shame wants us to cover up. Shame—That utter embarrassment and shame in front of someone else. It’s not just, “I did something wrong.” Because she ate the fruit and then she covered herself up. They don’t even seem like they connect with each other. But when the sin came, the shame came and said, “Cover all of it up. Cover up the bad. Cover up the good. Cover up everything.” 

Shame is the perversion of conviction. Conviction says, “I did something wrong. I need to fix that.” Conviction gives you hope and says, “I can change this through the power of the Holy Spirit, I know God is going to bring me into greener pastures.” 

But shame tells you, “This is not just something that you did. This is who you are. You are now defined by the sin in your life and you will never, ever change.” There is no hope in shame. And it brings us to this very heartbreaking moment. If we really put ourselves in Genesis Chapter 3, this truly is a dark and heartbreaking moment in our history and in Adam’s and Eve’s lives.  

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,  

The same thing they used to do every day with God.

and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 

I love this. Only a man can blame two people in one sentence. “The woman that you gave me, God.” (It’s really your fault that you gave me this woman.)  And if you think Millennials are the first generation to feel entitled or pass the buck, it’s not true. It goes all the way back to Genesis 3. The immediate thing that they start doing is blaming each other. 

But the true heartbreaking part of Genesis 3 is this question. And this is the second question in your outline: Where are you? 

Now, God spoke creation into being. He said words and the entire universe was created like that. God was not confused on where Adam and Eve were. He was not going, “I can’t see you. Share your location, you know, on your iPhone with me.” That was not his question. His question was, “Where are you?” Where are you, Adam and Eve? Where is this person that I created, that I created on purpose? I didn’t make any mistakes when I created you. Where are you? Where is this person that I made, and hand knit in your mother’s womb, this person that I have called you to be, Where are you?  

You see, shame didn’t just cover up the sin. Shame starts as this lie of, “I’ll just cover up this sin.” But what happens is that shame covers up the good and the bad. Shame covers up everything in you. And you can’t have any of the good things that God has planned for you come out of you because you are so in prison to shame. Shame is a really big deal and we need to be praying and going after the heart of it. There’s a woman named Colleen McMahon in our church that does prayer sessions, that’s a great place to start to dive into the heart of shame that you might be dealing with in your life. 

But God is saying this. “I have this original you that I created. This original purpose that I had for you when I created you.” This innocence that maybe you felt as a child, this sense that, “I was drawn toward something big” as a child—God is saying, “I still have that for your life. You have made a lot of mistakes. You may be covering it up. But I still have that for your life.” 

Self-help books and Oprah Winfrey didn’t invent this, making the best you possible. God invented that. And what God wants for you is for you to emerge as the person he created you to be, You are unlike any person that ever lived in history. You—right now—were handcrafted and created to be unlike any other person right now or in history. If you really grasp that—if you really take a moment and say, “Okay, God, I’m not defined by my sin. I am who you say that I am, God. I have an original design that you created me to walk in before I even walked the earth…” If you really believe that God has good plans for you and you trust the character of God, then you will desire and yearn to go back to that Genesis 1 and 2 existence. That is where we are at home.

In Genesis 3, if we took this all by itself, we are all in trouble. And the Bible says the heart is wicked beyond repair. It’s completely wicked. Everything about it is dark. And later on there’s a prophecy that says, “I’m going to give you a new heart. Not a heart of stone, but a heart of flesh.” That is the good news of what Jesus has done for us. We don’t have to be shackled to that one tree in the garden anymore. Wee can walk in a lot of confidence in what God has for us because it’s what he has for us. We can be confident in our Father and that’s going to create confidence in ourselves and that’s going to bring out the best in us. 

A couple of months in the year I do a thing called Outcry, And I go on tour and we do a lot of arenas and a lot of big things like that. When we first started Outcry I thought we needed some type of logo. And we created this logo out of this little boy shouting into a big megaphone, this crazy megaphone. And it became the logo for our tour. I needed somebody that I could trace their face and I went to my son. I said, “Hey, Toby, can you do this?” And he did that. We took a picture and we traced it out and put it as part of the logo. So my son’s face is on the logo of Outcry and it goes to his head. Because we print thousands of shirts and he comes up and he says, “Oh, look, my face is another shirt” or a hat or something. And it really goes to his head. 

So we go out on tour. And we go out in all these cities and Toby owns those cities. He gets on his skate board. He gets like five backstage passes for some reason. And he just starts skating all around the area, All the security people go, “Hey, Toby.” Everybody gets to know Toby. And he does this thing he calls shopping. Now, it’s not shopping at all, it’s completely free. He shows up at our merch table and he says “Hey, can I get some merch? I want a hat or a shirt,” you know.  

And we have this guy that travels with us. He puts all of this together. And in one of these cities, I wasn’t present, but Toby rolls up with his backstage passes and his skateboard, comes to the merch table, and instead of our normal merch guy being there, there are two college students that are very kindly volunteering for us, selling merch. And Toby rolls up like normal and says, “Hey, I’ll get a shirt and a hat and all this.” And the girls go, “Hey, little boy, I’m sorry but we cant give that to you.” And the merch guy told me later that Toby got this indignant look on his face and he said, “Hey, you know whose face is on that tee shirt? That’s actually me on that shirt. And you see that book over there that says ‘Outcry’? My dad wrote that book. He basically runs this place. So could you please give me a shirt and a hat?” And they give it to hi. 

This little boy, he’s nine years old at the time, and he’s manipulating these college students to give him free stuff. And I, on the inside, I’m going, “Ah, Toby, no buddy! The last will be first and the first will be last.” I was thinking “I’ve got to tell him this is not okay. We don’t throw our weight around like that, buddy,”  

I came home, and I was telling Nick, who runs our production. And if you know Nick, he’s amazingly sharp, and he has these moments of profound insight. I told him that story and he said, “Man, can you imagine if we all walked around with that confidence in our God? Can you imagine what it would be like if we walked around with confidence knowing who our Father is like that.”  

That is what God is asking us to do. God is not telling us to bury who we are in shame. Our job is not to continually look at sin an go “I need to stop that. I need to stop that.” It’s to look at God and to say, “God, you want to turn me into something that I’m not right now, and I am going to say yes to it.”  

I love when David was talking about Gideon last week. He said the enemies knew what Gideon’s real identity was before Gideon even knew his true identity. The enemies knew “Oh that’s got to be Gideon.” When the angel said, “Gideon, you mighty man of valor,” and he’s hiding. God knows who you are before you start acting like it. He knows who you are before you start acting like it, and he’s not giving up on you.  

That brings us to question number 3. It’s the most important asked in Scripture. In Matthew 16, Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, “Who do people say that I am?” And they say, “Some say you’re Elijah. Some say you’re a prophet.” And you can almost sense Jesus’ purpose as he’s staring all of them in the eye and he says, “No, who do you say that I am?” Peter says, “You’re the Christ. You’re the Messiah. You’re the Son of the Living God.” 

That is the question that God is asking us all the time. Even after we accept Jesus, he’s looking at us saying, “Who am I in your life? Who do you say that I am? If you think I’m a grumpy God that never wants to give you anything, that wants you to be shackled to one tree your entire life, then you’re going to act like it. But if you believe that I’m a good Father to you; if you believe that I gave everything for you because I count you infinitely worth it; if that’s what you truly believe in your heart; everything changes.” 

It’s not like sin goes away. It’s not like shame goes away. You’re still going to be dealing with those when you follow Jesus, but you look at it through a wholly different lens. Who do you say that I am? 

In Psalm 139, David is talking to God. It’s a prayer, it’s a song, it’s a poem, it’s worshipful. Everything about it is shifting his mindset off of all of his imperfections into what God has done for him, how purposefully God has made him. And it’s for you and me.  

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. I’m going to read it to you. I want you to internalize it and shift it back to God as your own prayer:  

Psalm 139 (TPT) 

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.

You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
    and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.

3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
    You read my heart like an open book
    and you know all the words I’m about to speak
    before I even start a sentence!
    You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
    and in kindness you follow behind me
    to spare me from the harm of my past.
    With your hand of love upon my life,
    you impart a blessing to me.

This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible
    Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.

Where could I go from your Spirit?
    Where could I run and hide from your face?

If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
    If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there
    If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

10 Wherever I go, your hand will guide me
    your strength will empower me.

11 It’s impossible to disappear from you
    or to ask the darkness to hide me,
    for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night.

12 There is no such thing as darkness with you.
    The night, to you, is as bright as the day;
    there’s no difference between the two.

13 You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside
    and my intricate outside,
    and wove them all together in my mother’s womb.

14 I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
    Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
    It simply amazes me to think about it!
    How thoroughly you know me, Lord!

15 You even formed every bone in my body
    when you created me in the secret place,
    carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.

16 You saw who you created me to be before I became me!
    Before I’d ever seen the light of day,
    the number of days you planned for me
    were already recorded in your book.

This is what God says about you. This is the purposefulness in which God created you. And maybe some of you are feeling lonely. Maybe some of you are feeling like you’re alone in a crowded room. That feeling can be a marker of something beautiful. All of us, at times, feel alone in a crowded room. Because there’s only one person who truly understand us, and that’s Jesus. You can grow up in a family with all the same experiences and they turn out completely different. Because God has something completely different for you. And I do believe that there are some people in this room who have never said yes to Jesus. That question of “Who do you say that I am?” Maybe that’s a question that’s burning inside of you now. If you’re feeling this burning in your heart and you need to say yes to Jesus, not just yes to Jesus in salvation, but yes to his kingdom, yes to everything he has for me … repeat this prayer: 

Lord Jesus, I love you. I thank you that you paid a great sacrifice for me. I confess that I have fallen way short. Today I say yes to you. I believe you died for me and rose from the grave to bring me freedom.  Today I say yes to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

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Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.