The Genesis of Marriage – Part 4: Corrupted by Sin

In this series on the beginning of marriage and our study from the book of Genesis, we’ve seen that God created us with a need for companionship with Him…and with each other.  God designed marriage to meet that need.

We also looked at how God created us to be His representatives here on earth. His design for marriage allows us to do this by illustrating to the world the relationship He wants to have with us.

But sin messes things up. It corrupts God’s perfect plan for marriage. So, this week, we want to look further into the first marriage—Adam and Eve—and see when sin began. And the consequences it brings.

We begin in Genesis 3:1-7:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’ 4 ‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

Adam and Eve sinned when they did not follow God’s truth. The same is true for us today in our lives and marriage. Our sin leads to terrible consequences, far from what God desires for us.

The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23a: “For the wages of sin is death.” This is true both physically and spiritually. We are told in Hebrews 9:27: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Because of our sin, we will “face judgment,” and be found guilty.  This is because as we are told in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Our eternal destiny after death will be in hell, instead of the paradise God originally intended for us.

We see this consequence of sin almost immediately in Adam and Eve’s life. We read in Genesis 3:23-24: So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Adam and Eve sinned for the same reason we do today. We desire something other than what God has given us. And so we do not obey God’s truth found in His Word. And just as sin devastates our lives, it also devastates our marriage when we do not follow His purpose and design for it.

When we read about Adam and Eve’s sin, we find what happens in our marriage when we as husband and wife do not follow God’s plan. A plan that was implemented by God from creation. A plan that was affirmed by Jesus and throughout the New Testament (see Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:21-33).

God instructs men to lead their families spiritually. He tells husbands they are “the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). He tells them “to love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

When Eve approached him about eating the fruit, Adam did not love her by seeking “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26).  Instead, he allowed Eve to lead. And He followed her enticement to do what God had specifically instructed them not to do.

When God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin, Adam once again fails to fulfill His role as leader. We read his response to God in Genesis 3:12: “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” He blames Eve instead of seeking to help her and confess his own sin.

We will never know what our gracious God and Father might have done had Adam fulfilled his role. We do know that God is all-knowing and knew that we would sin. He knew we would be separated from Him and each other by our sin. And so He graciously had a plan in place, from the beginning, to deal with that problem.

The immediate solution is found in Genesis 3. First, God “made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” He made sure their physical needs were taken care of.

God then provided for their immediate spiritual need. He banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken” (Genesis 3:23). He wanted to make sure the couple clearly understood the devastating consequences of sin.

We must also understand the devastating consequences in order to accept God’s gracious solution to our sin problem. We are told in Acts 3:9-10: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.”

We must realize and acknowledge our sin so that we may confess, repent, and turn to Christ. It is only then that we will be forgiven of our sins, be saved from spiritual death, and spend eternity in heaven.

God did not allow Adam and Eve to return to the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:24). He knew if they did that they would “reach out [their] hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” in their miserable state—separated from God for all eternity. Instead of paradise, Eden would become like hell. God did not want that for us and would not allow it to happen, so he put His plan of grace in place.

We begin reading about this plan in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”

We are then told of God’s solution in Romans 5:15: “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”

God’s love and grace led Him to offer His Son, Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. We are told in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” When we place our faith in Jesus, those cherubim at the gates of Eden allow us to pass through, eat of the Tree of Life, and live eternally with Him in Heaven.

The grace of God was the only hope for Adam and Eve. And His grace is the only hope for us and our marriage. We are told in Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

If we have committed our lives and marriage to Jesus, they are also a gift from Him. A gift to bring His joy—and all the other fruit of the Spirit—to us as we help each other live for Him. A gift that gives us the purpose and meaning of serving Him together.


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♦  Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss what God spoke to you about your marriage.

♦  As we learned in this teaching, sin has brought separation from God. The first step to overcoming this is to follow God’s plan for restoring our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Go here to find out more about how to do this: Meet Jesus.

♦   Another of the truths we learned is that sin harms our marriage. This is because it harms our relationship with God and each other. God gives us instructions in His Word on how to keep sin from doing more damage in our relationship with Him and each other.

◊  The first thing to do is to confess it to God and to one another.

          Leviticus 5:5: “When anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.” 

          Proverbs 28:13: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

          James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

◊   Second we must accept that God forgives us when we confess, and we must forgive our spouse when he or she confesses to us.

           1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 

           Luke 17:3-4: “So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

◊   Third, when we do not forgive, we hurt our relationship with God and each other.

           Matthew 6:14-15: “‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.'”

With this truth in mind, is there anything you need to ask your husband or wife—and God—for forgiveness about right now? If so, then do not wait. It will not get easier. It will further harm your relationship with God and each other the longer you wait.

♦   Are you both living your lives and marriage according to the truths God reveals to us from creation? Are you living according to the things we mentioned in this week’s lesson? If not, what do you need to change?

♦   Close your time together in prayer. Ask God to show you any sins you need to confess. Ask Him to help you forgive any sins against you. Ask Him to help you both show Him and each other that you are truly repentant by living by the truth found in His Word.

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Next week we will begin looking at how our sin and God’s grace impact our marriage by looking at another early marriage in the book of Genesis—Abraham and Sarah.

Until then, may God bless you and your marriages in all His wonderful ways,

Other posts in THE GENESIS OF MARRIAGE series:

Part 1: In the Beginning…
Part 2: God Created It for Companionship
Part 3: An Earthly Illustration of His Love
Part 5: Seek and Follow God Together
Part 6: Always Remain Faithful
Part 7: A Love that Grows

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Austin Wehrwein on Unsplash  (CC0), cropped/text added.



About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.