What Does Genesis 3:17 Mean?

Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.

Genesis 3:17(NASB)

Verse of the Day

Moses painted the beautiful picture of the seven days of creation in Genesis 1 with broad sweeps of colour and extravagant detail. The glorious tapestry of God's perfect creation was completed on the sixth day, when the Lord formed man in His own image from the dust of the earth and gave him dominion over every living thing. Everything the Lord created was good, very good, and then He rested from all His work.

It is as we progress through the book, that we discover the travesty that happened to God's perfect workmanship, due to sin. Chapter 2 retells the creation story, giving intimate details of the man in Eden. We hear God instructing to Adam to freely eat from all the trees in the garden: "But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

We read of the beautiful helpmeet God lovingly took from Adam's side and joyfully presented to the man. This is not a separate account of creation, as some suggest, but a section that adds fine details to the broad brushstrokes of God's vast creative composition.

Adam was placed in the garden to tend and care for all that God had made, and was His supreme regent on earth. But as we turn the page to the third chapter, we are greeted by the crooked serpent who was more crafty than any beast of the field. It is most probable that Satan indwelt this creature who planted seeds of doubt in the woman's mind, and she began to question the goodness of God.

It was the woman that Satan targeted. His scheming words twisted the truth which caused Eve to doubt God's goodness and resulted in the woman adding to God's Word, distorting the truth, and disobeying His instruction. Satan's deception had caused Eve to conclude that the Lord was withholding something that would enrich her life: i.e. the knowledge of good and evil which was obtained by eating of the forbidden tree. Satanic deception results when God's Word is not accepted, understood, or applied.

Too soon, she discovered she had been tricked, and realised that she knew what was good without the ability to do good, and she knew what was evil without the ability to avoid it. Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but chose to join his wife in her sinful disobedience. One sin was sufficient to render the deceived woman and her complicit husband corrupt sinners who found they were dead in their sin, expelled from the garden, and estranged from the Lord.

They had utilised their free-will and enlivened their God-given consciences, and both knew they were sinners. Both were admonished for their sin, and all three transgressors, including the serpent, were informed of their respective punishments. Both the man and woman were equally guilty, and both stood in need of redemption, but as the federal head of humanity, it was Adam who shouldered the ultimate responsibility: For by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin - for the wages of sin is death - and so death passed upon all his descendants: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

To Adam, God said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life, both thorns and thistles shall grow, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from the ground you were taken, and to dust you shall return."

Although death was the fruit of Adam's sin, it was by God's grace that His curse did not fall upon Adam. It was the ground that was cursed due to Adam's sin so that he had to toil by the sweat of his brow throughout this earthly life to provide what was originally bestowed in plentiful supply. 

Although Adam started the process of dying when he sinned, he and his wife experienced an immediate spiritual death, for 'death' in the Bible means 'separation'. God cannot look on sin, and spiritual death immediately fractured their communion with the Lord, which meant separation from God. Adam's one sin resulted in immediate spiritual death, a physical body that marched towards physical death, and a twisted and distorted sin nature, a human soul that had no possibility of reversing the condition within himself.

God, in His omniscient wisdom, knew in advance Adam would sin and that death would pass onto all men: "For as in Adam all die." However, in His unfathomable grace, He designed a plan of redemption before the foundation of the world: "In Christ, all will be made alive." Broken fellowship with God could be restored if a perfect Man were to die a sacrificial death to pay the price for sin. No man is without sin and so God gave His Son to become part of His own creation, a Kinsman-Redeemer and the sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Death is imputed to all Adam's descendants because of sin, but eternal life is imputed to all who believe on God's perfect Kinsman-Redeemer, His only begotten Son Who came to earth to live a sinless life and die a sacrificial death. It was by grace that God sent His beloved Son to pay the ransom price for Adam's sin, your sin, my sin, and the sin of the whole world. And whosoever believes in Him will not be eternally separated from God and perish, but receive the free gift of eternal life. Praise His holy name!

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that in Your grace You designed Your perfect plan of salvation, that all who are born of Adam into the original creation that was cursed, may be born-again into Your new creation where death is defeated and fellowship with You is restored for all who believe in the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for being willing to send Your dearly beloved Son to be the propitiation for sin and that Jesus was willing to die on my account. Praise Your holy name that death is swallowed up in victory and I am restored into fellowship with You. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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