So, what was the one consequence God promised to Adam and Eve if they ate from the forbidden tree?

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

And what did Satan say to Eve about that?

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. (Genesis 3:4)

Translation: “God is a liar. He just wants to spoil your fun. You’ll be just fine.”

But so far, though there have been severe consequences for their disobedience, Adam and Eve (and their children, except for the one who was murdered by his older brother) are still physically alive.

Until Genesis 5, which testifies to the sad reality that sin does result in death. Read it. Practically every verse ends with the phrase, “…and he died.”

There is one bright spot in Genesis 5, Enoch:

Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)
But besides Enoch and Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11, every man, woman or child who has ever lived has also died eventually. As I hope you have seen, the gospel is made clear early in the Bible. It’s not just a New Testament thing. Jesus is in Genesis. Apparently, Enoch and Elijah placed their trust in the promised Redeemer, and God chose to usher them into his presence without experiencing physical death. But for the rest of us, death is a certainty.
So, sin brings with it both immediate spiritual death and eventual physical death. But abundant life on earth and eternal life after death is promised to those who trust Christ.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
I am not a “hellfire and brimstone” guy. I’ve never used the reality of a literal hell (which I do believe in) to try to coax someone into becoming a Christian. Like saying, “Well, you can either trust Christ or you can burn in hell. Your choice.” 😉 However, there is a spiritual reality of future judgment that cannot be ignored here. You and I will die someday, unless the Lord returns before that day. We don’t know the day of our death. It could be today – or it could be years in the future. Most people live as if they have many more years of life guaranteed. But that is not necessarily true. The youngest person I’ve ever buried was 18 and lived right down the street from me. I held Graham’s ashes in my hand and helped his mom and dad and sister put them in the ground. That was a sobering day – to hold in my hands the ashes that only days before made up a human body of someone I loved and cared about, a neighbor, a kid who used to stay at our house when his parents were out of town. Life is short. I believe that Graham knew the Lord (from some conversations we had), but only Graham and the Lord truly know. But I do know this, when he got ejected from that car and gave up his life at the age of 18, he stepped into a very real eternity. He either entered an eternity with God, or an eternity without God. But there is no crossing over from one to the other at that point. Jesus made that clear in this parable from Luke 16:
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)

“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

I think what the rich man asks in this parable is something with which many would nod in agreement. “…but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” (Luke 16:30) But this actually just shows how wicked, proud and hard our hearts are. We have been given God’s Word, and His ultimate revelation of Himself – Christ in the flesh, who did rise from the dead. Still, there are many who do not and will not trust Him. Those who do trust Christ before they die will live eternally with God in heaven. Those who do not, will face eternal separation from God in hell.

My dad died when I was 12, and I have preached some funerals in my life. Because of those events, I believe that I am more aware of my own mortality than a lot of other people. I know that I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I hope that the Lord lets me grow old with my wife, and watch my kids grow up and serve Jesus. That’s my prayer. But I may die tonight. That’s not morbid, that’s just the truth. The certainty of death awaits us all. Some, like the rich man in the parable above, enjoy the pleasures of this world and die with regrets. Some, live like Jonathan Edwards, a pastor and former president of Princeton University, who wrote the following resolution for his life when he was 19 years old: “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” If you knew it was the last hour of your life, what would you do? I guess that depends on what you believe happens after life. If you believe in the eternity that I believe in, I think your priorities would be a bit different. It doesn’t mean, as I think you believe, that life would be boring or dull. Just different. I think you know that one of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis. Lewis wrote this in his book Mere Christianity:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

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