Genesis 3 is a great hinge in the biblical story. It provides the answers to the questions:
What’s wrong with the world?
Why do things never seem to go as they ought?
Why does there always seem to be a problem?
The author of Genesis, guided under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given us an incredibly rich account of what went wrong in the good world God made. Here are three resources that have helped me understand and appreciate just a bit more the richness of Genesis 3.
Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
What would have happened if Adam and Eve had resisted the evil one instead of joining him? This is what Lewis explores in the second book of his science-fiction space trilogy.
In it Lewis imagines a human from Earth visiting a planet—Perelandra—that has not fallen into sin. Perelandra is still a new world in which there are only one man and one woman, the king and queen. But evil is seeking to invade this world too, and soon this human visitor is caught in an epic struggle to keep the queen of Perelandra from believing the lies of the evil one. Every time I read it, Lewis awakens in me a deep longing for the world as it ought to be and revives in me great hope for the world as it will one day be again.
With the exception of Till We Have Faces, Perelandra is probably my favorite of all of C. S. Lewis’ fiction writing. Even though it is the second book in a series, you can read it as a standalone story. But I highly recommend reading all three!
Bonus: The Screwtape Letters is also a fantastic fiction work by Lewis that explores how the evil one seeks to tempt, distract, and destroy humans.
Spiritual Beings by The Bible Project
Another incredibly helpful resource for understanding Genesis 3 is the video series Spiritual Beings. This series of short, animated videos explores what the Bible teaches about the spiritual creatures that God made. The videos are especially helpful in understanding the origins of the evil one who enters the garden in the form of a snake.
Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
…even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is the destruction of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting a number of intertwined ways. Sinful life, as Geoffrey Bromiley observes, is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life.
He then goes on to trace out those intertwined ways in which sin has infected us and our world, vividly reminding us that this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
Yet, he also offers deep hope for the triumph over sin. For example, he concludes:
“Creation is stronger than sin and grace stronger still. Grace and creation are anvils that have worn out a lot of our hammers…. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way.”
In spending time reflecting deeply on the nature and results of sin, you will find yourself with a new deeper joy and gratitude for the rescue you have in and through Jesus!
Bonus: Another great resource on how sin affects us as human beings is Curt Thompson’s book The Soul of Shame. Bringing together insights from neurobiology and the biblical story, Thompson shows us how shame is the primary weapon of the enemy in our lives.
While these books and videos are not a substitute for deep reflection and meditation on the text of Genesis 3, hopefully, they will give you fresh insight and a new appreciation for this critical passage of Scripture.