Until 1991 I don’t think I ever heard the words “Terms and Conditions”, at least not together, and then I installed my first software package and I had to “Click here”.
And over the past 27 years, I’ve probably clicked on a million Terms and Conditions boxes, I just made up that number. And you probably have as well.
So, what are terms and conditions? Well, here is the definition that we will be using over the next several weeks: Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.
And the service might be software that you are installing, or a website you are visiting, or content you are downloading.
But regardless of what the service might be, there are rules that you’re expected to follow if you avail yourself of that service.
But have you ever stopped and read the Terms and Conditions that you are agreeing to? Probably not, after all not only are they daunting but they are quite voluminous as well. That means long.
When you clicked to agree to your iTunes account you were saying that you had read the 19,972 words of the contract and that you agreed with them. The iTunes terms and conditions are longer than Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
But that pales in contrast to what you agreed to if you are a PayPal user. The PayPal terms and conditions, that you said you read and agreed to, are 36,275 words long, that’s the equivalent of 10 of my sermons and longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
But those who wrote the PayPal terms must not have read Hamlet and if they did they must have missed the line from Polonius when he says, “Since brevity is the soul of wit / And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief…”
This summer, as I was about to click and agree to a new set of Terms and Conditions I realized that it’s not just with software, iPhones and websites where we are required to play by the rules. The Bible is full of examples of terms and conditions.
This morning we are starting at the beginning, which is usually a good place to start. The scripture that was read for us earlier today, lays out the Terms and Conditions that God laid down for the first couple in the Garden of Eden.
Let’s pick up the story in Genesis 2:15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.
Remember the definition we started with, Terms and Conditions: are rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.
So let’s start with The Service
What was the expected here? Well, if you know the story, God had created the first man and first woman, Adam and Eve. And they were placed into a perfect world to live and to have fellowship with God. God placed them in a perfect world and it would appear that in that perfect world God had provided everything the couple needed.
They lived in a beautiful garden in fellowship with their creator. We don’t know exactly where the Garden of Eden is or was, although some have tried to guess
First of all the Garden was situated in an area called Eden, so the Garden was not all of Eden, It was just a part of Eden.
The garden we are told was filled with trees and not just any trees we are told they were beautiful, and they produced delicious fruit, which tells us that God wasn’t just concerned with the practical but also with the aesthetics.
And if we pull down a map here, we are also told that the Garden was watered by a river that eventually became four rivers, today we know about the Pishon and the Tigris and the Euphrates, we don’t know where the Gihon may have flowed but with the other three we can guess that Eden may have been about here.
However, with the changes that would have happened to the geography after the great flood, we really don’t know. We’re not even a hundred percent sure what the climate was like, but considering we are told in Genesis 2:25 Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame. We have to assume that it wasn’t Nova Scotia weather.
As a matter of fact, we have a photo of what many people feel is the entrance to paradise. (show pic of Grand Manan)
And after God had created them he had given them pretty explicit instructions of what he wanted them to do he said in Genesis 1:28 we read Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. . .”
Which considering they were running around the Garden naked that probably wasn’t that much of a stretch.
But there was more to the story, God also told them what they weren’t supposed to do Genesis 2:16-17 But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
These were The Terms and Conditions
So, they are supposed to make babies and fill the earth, but they aren’t supposed to eat the fruit from just one tree out of all the trees in the garden. Good work if you can find it. I mean that seems like a pretty good gig to me. The only condition is that they couldn’t eat the fruit from one tree.
32 words, that was it. Not 32,000 words, not 3,200 words, not even 320 words. Just 32 words.
And you know what came next, right?
Everything is going good and the devil crashes the party. Adam and Eve are in the process of doing what they supposed to do and not doing what they weren’t supposed to do.
And Satan arrives and says “Yo kids, what’s happening?” And they say “Not much we’re just hanging around the garden working at making babies and not eating from that tree.”
And Satan says “Excuse me if I’m being nosy but how come you aren’t eating from that tree? That’s a great tree, as a matter of fact, it’s probably got the best fruit of any tree in the garden.”
“Well,” says Eve, “God told us not to eat from that tree because he said we would die if we did.” “That’s a crock” replies Satan, “The only reason He won’t let you eat from it is because it’s the best fruit in the garden and he knows that if you eat from it you’ll be just like him. Besides a loving God wouldn’t let you die just because you ate one little tiny piece of fruit, go ahead, Bon Appetit.”
You know the story, Eve took the fruit took a big bite and said, “This is delicious Adam, you should really try it.” And he did.
And those two bites signalled the end of the world as they knew it. Their innocence was shattered, and mankind was steered unto the path of sin.
I read once that the trouble wasn’t the apple in the tree it was the pair on the ground. And yes, I know that it doesn’t say apple anywhere in the bible and the climate wasn’t cold enough to grow apples, enough already. It was just a joke.
So where were we in the story?
Oh yes, Eve has been tempted by the devil to disobey God and she, in turn, tempts Adam and it is literally the bite that changes the world.
With that bite, their eyes were indeed opened and they were overcome with shame and tried to cover their nakedness. Up to that point, there had been no shame, no sense of right and wrong. I don’t know if there was any magical power in the tree of knowledge of Good and evil or if it was the simple act of disobedience that made them realize the difference between doing what they should do and what they shouldn’t do.
Regardless of what caused it to happen their innocence was no more because of The Violation
The directions that God gave were very simple, don’t eat from that tree, you see that tree over there? Don’t eat from it, get it? And I’m sure that they nodded and said, “Got it.”
It wasn’t rocket science; there was no ambiguity about the command. “Did he mean we shouldn’t eat from it on Saturday or we shouldn’t eat from it on Sunday?” “Did he mean we shouldn’t eat from it at all or that we could eat from it as long as we didn’t eat from it to excess?” or “Maybe he meant that we could eat the fruit that was rated ‘g” but not the fruit that was rated ‘AA’ or ‘R’ and we’d have to exercise our own judgment on the fruit that was rated ‘PG 14’.”
God has given us a book that tells us what he wants us to do as well as what he doesn’t want us to do. In its simplest form, it is the Ten Commandments but there is more than that.
Throughout the book you discover verses like Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
It’s not like God has a whole list of unwritten rules that he is expecting us to follow listen to what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
And so regardless of what some people want you to think there are things that are right and things that are wrong in this life.
When Satan showed up and began his temptation he asked Eve “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” and listen to what Eve said “Of course we may eat it, it’s only the fruit from the tree at the centre of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it,”
It would appear that she had a pretty firm grip on what they weren’t supposed to do, now notice what else she adds “or even touch it or we will die.” God hadn’t commanded them not to touch it, he just told them not to eat the fruit. For that matter, they could have cut the tree down chopped it up and used it for firewood and been done with temptation.
In our lives how much of the wrong that we do is done in ignorance? How often can we honestly say, “I didn’t know that was wrong.”? “You mean I shouldn’t have cheated on my wife, stole from my employer and lied to my parents.” “Who would have thought that was wrong?” Duh. You.
Parents, did you ever have a situation where one of your children did something they knew was wrong and then they hid from you? Because they knew that they had done wrong. I’m not sure if they thought they could hide forever or just until you got over being mad. That’s what happened with Adam and Eve.
God came looking for them and they hid, broke fellowship with God. Up to this point Adam and Eve enjoyed being in the presence of God but all of a sudden, his Holiness revealed their disobedience.
But why did they hide? Because they were afraid. But afraid of what? Genesis 3:9-10 Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Was it being physically naked that made Adam afraid, it would appear so because the first thing they did was to cover themselves. But these two had been walking around buck naked since day one and it hadn’t bothered them, why now? I think that Adam and Eve were overcome with shame and they covered themselves physically because they couldn’t cover themselves spiritually.
Have you ever noticed that little kids have no qualms about running around starkers?
Indeed, they seem to enjoy it. But there comes a time when their innocence disappears, and they feel compelled to cover up. You say that’s cultural Denn, well to a certain degree yes. But even in cultures in much warmer climates where in the past they wore considerably less than would be considered acceptable by western standards most still wore something.
As a believer have you ever been ashamed to be in the presence of God because of disobedience in your life? Maybe during your own quiet time, or during a worship service or maybe during communion.
Adam and Eve knew that what they did was wrong, and it caused a tear in their relationship.
Even though they did what was wrong, and they knew it was wrong they refused to accept responsibility for what they had done.
Let’s go back to the story, Genesis 3:11-12 “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Boy does that sound familiar. How often when confronted with doing something they shouldn’t be doing have you heard your kids say in response “Yes but.”?
As a matter of fact, how often when confronted with doing something that you shouldn’t be doing have you heard yourself say “Yes but.”?
Adam was frantically looking for a way out. It was Ashleigh Brilliant who said, “If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.”
And Adam and Eve seemed to embrace that because they started by Blaming Each Other
Lady Nancy Astor said, “In passing, also, I would like to say that the first time Adam had a chance he laid the blame on a woman.”
But it wasn’t so much Eve that Adam blamed, let’s go back to Genesis 3:11-12 “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
It wasn’t just “The woman”, it was “The woman you gave me.” Adam was blaming God.
And what was Eve’s response to Adam’s charge? Genesis 3:13 Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
She blamed the devil.
It was the classic “The Devil made me do it.” Defence and the poor Devil didn’t have a leg to stand on.
Yes, the Devil will tempt us to do wrong, yes he wants you to fail as a Christian. But you don’t have to.
One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
The bible never says that we won’t be tempted, but it does say we don’t have to give in to temptation. There isn’t anything that you will be tempted to do that somebody else hasn’t already been tempted to do and yes some did give in to that temptation, but many didn’t.
All Adam and Eve had to do was whistle and God would have been there and turfed the Devil out on his ear. But no they were enjoying the conversation.
And you know and I know that when we are being tempted, that if we actually stopped and prayed about the situation things would probably go in a different direction, but then again maybe that’s what we are afraid of.
It was Margaret Oliphant who said, “Temptations come, as a general rule, when they are sought.”
How often in our lives do we seek to blame our behaviour and our failures on others? “It was because of my parents or my teachers or my friends. They led me astray.”
Or “God, if you hadn’t made me this way.” Or “God if you hadn’t brought that person into my life.”
Motivational speaker Dr. Robert Anthony claims “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
And so, you don’t need to change if it was someone else’s fault that you sinned.
Very seldom do you hear someone say, “I sinned, it was my choice, nobody forced me tempted me or enticed me, I did it because I wanted to.”
I’m not sure what would happen if you didn’t live up to the terms and conditions of PayPal, I do know that technically they can take your music away if you don’t live up to the terms and conditions of iTunes.
In this case, the relationship between God and man was severed. God had asked them to not do one thing and trusted them to not do it, and they did it.
But you know the story could have had a different ending.
If we went back to Genesis 3:11-12 “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
“Yes,” Adam admitted, and then if instead of trying to shift the blame I wonder what would have happened if he had of said, “I was wrong and we are so sorry, next time we will call out to you and we’ll resist temptation.”
Do you think God would have forgiven Adam and Eve? I do. And while that might be a hypothetical question what happens when we sin isn’t, the word of God promises us in 1 John 1:8-9 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
So where are you at? Let’s see if we have all of the story straight. In the beginning, God created Man and Woman and they lived in fellowship with him and when sin came into the world it separated us from God. And it continues to separate us from God. Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. And ever since that first sin we have tried to bridge the gap with our own efforts, with religion, giving, good deeds but they are never enough. The consequences for Adam and Eve was spiritual death, and that holds true today, Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The gap can only be bridged with the cross of Christ, and that’s why we are told in Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
So, where are you?
If you’ve never experienced that forgiveness if you are still on the other side of the separation, then today would be a great time to move across. It’s as simple as asking, here’s a suggested prayer.