In this chapter Carson continues in the book of Genesis. He explains how the Fall took place, how it tarnished human relationships, and what God promised to do about it.
First, Carson tackles the issue of God’s ontological status compared to Satan’s. Too often people mistakenly equate God and Satan as mirror images of each other (one good, the other bad), thus making him equivalent to God. But Genesis reveals that Satan is a rebellious, contingent, dependent, “smart-mouth” creature, not on par with God at all.
According to Carson, Satan’s craftiness started out in prudence but ended in craftiness. That is, he was crowned with more prudence than any of the other creatures but in his rebellion it turned into craftiness. This virtue became a vice, the blessing became a curse (Prov. 12:23; 14:18):
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly. The naive inherit foolishness, But the sensible are crowned with knowledge.
This craftiness is revealed in the question the serpent asks Eve where the pinnacle of evil is seen by assaulting God’s goodness. Implied is that God’s out to keep you from having any fun. The creature is telling the Creator (implicitly) “I know better”. Moreover, it smuggles in the assumption that we have the ability and the right to stand in judgment of what God has said.
Secondly, he considers the tragedy and meaning of eating the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3. Our children, like our first parents want to become independent of mom and dad. Eve also thought that she wanted to become “independent from God” but she bought into the lie that the doctrine of judgment is not true. Satan sold the lie:
“4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Carson argues that there’s a vast difference between God knowing good and evil and Eve knowing it. On the one hand, God omnisciently knows both good and evil, but He is not evil. On the other hand, Eve will become evil experientialy through her disobedience, and she’ll know it.
God alone has the prerogative to call something good or evil and is in fact what He does after completing all of creation, “it is very good.” Here, the image bearer desires to possess the ability to call what they want “good or evil”. By doing this, the image bearer stands over against God. This is what our present relativistic culture is all about. Carson calls this the—de-goding of God (so that “I” may be my own god). Herein lays idolatry and thus the tragedy—the creature’s value is exalted above the Creators’.
Thirdly, he explains how defying God resulted in broken human relationships. Carson points out that in the Christian tradition death has varied views. Augustine, for example, held that both physical, spiritual death, the second death (i.e., lake of fire), and their nakedness before God is a display of His promise of judgment. Thus, they traded the knowledge of God for guilt and shame which no leaf can ever cover.
We have here the loss of innocence which can’t be undone. Fortunately, the Bible goes forward to the cross. Carson argues that broken relationships with God are akin to adultery. Human broken relationships result from the vertical relationship that’s tattered, where blame shifting is manifest with Adam (Eve is my problem) and Eve (the serpent is my problem).
We also have the blueprint for self-justification which results when people cover up residing shame and guilt. That is, denial is king! Everything we do wrong is someone else’s fault, “I’m the victim,” its’ one more evidence of idolatry. What resulted was that Eve wanted to control (rule) her husband, and Adam would rule her with brute strength. This is all too familiar describing the 21st century American cultural milieu. The marriage relationship is destroyed.
Fourthly, he explains that God promised in the gospel to remedy the alienation. Genesis 3:15 is sometimes called the “protevangelium,” which means the first announcement of the gospel (that is, the “Good News” about Jesus). For it foretells the redemption Jesus’ life death and resurrection would secure. This first promise of hope comes immediately after this cataclysmic treason takes place. Essentially, one will rise from the human race (the woman’s seed) that will crush the serpents head. This occurs in a sense, when Christians are reconciled to God because of the gospel (Rom. 16:20). Satan along with his work, in this sense, is being destroyed.
Lastly, Carson accentuates what humanity needs most. Through idolatry, death came into the world. That is, by the evil that belittles and defies God’s glory, death resulted. This is the anti-thesis to God’s shalom—for it resists the peace, good order, well-being, human flourishing, and integrity that were part of God’s design for the created order. Thus, our greatest need is to be saved from God’s wrath who has pronounced death on us because of our idolatry. We need to be reconciled to God! When things went awry, we tried to diminish God and thus we became impoverished.