THE COVENANT OF GRACE
"I AM YOUR GOD, YOU ARE MY PEOPLE"
Sermon #6 - God's Covenant of Grace with Adam - Genesis 3
INTRODUCTION - We have dealt with the Covenant which God formed with Man in the Garden of Eden. God was to be seen as separate from Creation, for He is the Lord and Creator of all things. Man was called to worship God in this fashion, and yet to also realize that God was intimately involved with every area of life in the world. Man was called to live under the principles of the Covenant and was given a test involving two trees. One would bring forth life while the other would bring forth death and judgment from God. The devil comes to Man with the intention of overthrowing the covenant of God. He comes offering life, authority and fulfillment, when in reality all he could offer was death and emptiness. Unfortunately, Man sided with the devil, thus plunging the entire human race into enmity against God. Yet, despite this rebellion, we see how quickly God comes to Man with grace, mercy and forgiveness. Another covenant is formed, though it is very much the same covenant in the Garden. God intends on bringing Man back to his state of holiness. God intends on reversing the curses from the fall. Thus, we see the addition of the redemption principle where God promises to save Man. Christ will be sent to redeem a people for the Lord. This is why the covenant is called the "Covenant of Grace." It has also been called the Adamic Covenant, since God speaks His first words of grace to Adam. It has also been called the "Commencement Covenant," for it is here that God commences His work of grace on behalf of Man. The Covenant is described in the conversation which God has with the devil, the woman, and man after the fall.
1) GOD'S MESSAGE OF CURSE TO THE DEVIL - Genesis 3:14,15 - God first addresses the devil for it is he who has attacked the glory and sovereignty of God in Creation. It is he who has drawn mankind into this rebellion. To begin with, God curses the form of the serpent, making the snake crawl to show that Satan's position is a humiliated one from the beginning. Here we have a physical portrayal of Satan's humiliation before the Lord. Then, God declares war on the devil by setting up three battlefronts.
A) THE ENMITY BETWEEN SATAN AND THE WOMAN - Eve was the tool which the devil used to bring down Man. Now God would take that same tool and bring down the devil. The woman will bear a child, and then further children will be born. The human race will be brought into existence. It will be through the woman's giving birth that one Child will come who will conquer the devil and crush his head. The woman of Genesis 3:15 begins with Eve, but she is much greater than this. She is the line of God's people, the line which will eventually bring forth the Messiah. This is the same theme which we saw in Revelation 12:1-5, the war between the devil, the woman and her child. Here is the first line of battle against the devil. The woman will bring the devil down through childbirth.
B) ENMITY BETWEEN SATAN'S SEED AND THE WOMAN'S SEED - The "seed of the woman" is the offspring of mankind. Normally, the race of mankind should have simply given birth to children of the devil - the devil's seed. Yet here we see the intervention of God. When Adam chose to disobey God, an enmity rose in the heart of Man against God. Man allied himself with the devil. This is the way all children are born into this world. They are born in alliance with the devil. Therefore, one would think that only one seed should come forth from humanity - the seed of the devil. Yet here we see in Genesis 3:15, the sovereignty of God in our salvation. We hate God and never seek after Him (Romans 3). Yet God will not allow this enmity to continue. He is promising in Genesis 3:15 that He will divide the race of mankind between those who will be born children of the devil and those who will become children of the woman, or children of God. The Lord Himself will put an enmity back into the hearts of men. Not an enmity for God, for this already exists, but an enmity for the devil and sin. God will plant in man's heart a love for Himself. How does God do this? He does not wait around looking for volunteers, for everyone has already decided for the side of the devil. Instead, He supernaturally imposes His love upon the hearts of those He chooses. This is the new birth. In Adam we all died and became enemies of God. Yet here we see God saving a people for Himself by taking out that love for evil and replacing it with a love for God. The Lord does this sovereignly, according to His own purposes. He doesn't beg for people to join His side, nor does He wait for someone to volunteer. If this were the case, the whole race would plunge gladly into hell. Instead, it is God who saves us, not ourselves (John 1:13). Thus, we see that the "seed of the woman" is not the physical descendants of Eve. Cain and Abel were both physical descendants, yet Cain was of the seed of the serpent (I John 3:12). God takes from among the depraved humanity those whom He will call His people. Two lines in the world are established at the beginning of time. The seed of the devil who will live in continual rebellion against God (John 8:44; Luke 3:7; Ephesians 2:1-3) and the seed of the woman who are Christ's.
C) ENMITY BETWEEN SATAN AND CHRIST - The third level of battle takes place directly between the devil and the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan represents his seed and Christ represents His. These great forces are waged against each other, but it will be Christ who triumphs as he bruises the head of the serpent. Note from the text that both sides are determined to crush and destroy the other, yet it will be Christ who triumphs. All the devil can do, as a serpent, is bruise the heel of Christ. The cross becomes this place of final battle, where Christ crushes the head of the devil (John 12:31; Hebrews 2:14; I John 3:8; Romans 16:20).
Here is the enmity and war which God declares on the devil. It is fought on three fronts and the devil receives only curses for his work in the overthrow of Man in the Garden.
2) GOD'S MESSAGE OF CURSE AND BLESSING TO THE WOMAN - Genesis 3:16 - First, we are told that woman will be cursed with the pain of childbirth. There will be sorrow in bringing forth children, yet we must not just assume that this is physical pain and sorrow. There will also be emotional pain as the woman brings forth sinners and must deal with her children who are now born in sin. There is also a curse pronounced on the marriage relationship. Usually this verse is thought to simply be saying that the woman will become a help to her husband and serve his desires. Yet the structure of the verse parallels Genesis 4:7 where sin "desires to master Cain, but Cain is told to rule over it." The same is true of the woman. Her desire will be to "dominate" her husband, just as sin desires to dominate Cain. This is certainly the sin of womankind which is seen so often today in our homes, workplaces and marriages. Woman constantly tries to overthrow the leadership of man, taking that leadership for herself. The sad response is that men often become overbearing and dominate the woman in a sinful fashion. This too is part of the curse which woman must deal with. Yet, within the curse there is a great blessing. It will be through childbirth that the woman will find the grace of God. One day a Redeemer will be born through woman. The woman will also see her children being redeemed and formed into new creatures in Christ Jesus.
3) GOD'S MESSAGE OF CURSE AND BLESSING TO THE MAN - Genesis 3:17-19 - The curse upon man is not work, for this had been established at Creation before the fall. Instead, the curse will be incessant labor in order to enjoy the fruits of the ground. An excessive amount of work will be required in order to bring forth his bread. Also, we see that Man will die. Adam was made to rule the earth, but now the earth will rule over Adam. The blessing found here is that even though Adam must work and will eventually die, God has promised to sustain life. Food will come forth from the ground. Man should have immediately been cast into hell. Instead, he is given physical life, for God desires to show grace and mercy to Man.
Here is the Covenant of Grace which God made with Adam after the fall. Man is still bound by God's sovereignty in the Sabbath, marriage, and labor. Yet we also see the beginning of the history of redemption. All other forthcoming covenants will find themselves going back to this first one after the fall. The promise is that a Child will come one day who will reverse the fall of Man and will defeat the devil. God will turn the hearts of men to himself, thus producing a "seed of the woman" for His own glory. This is the Covenant of Grace. It is a bond, because God comes again to Man to form a relationship. It is a bond in blood, for Christ has now been introduced and He will be the payment for man's broken covenant. It is a bond in blood, sovereignly administered, for God comes, not waiting for Man's approval or acknowledgement, but God works sovereignly to save a people for Himself from fallen mankind. It is also a covenant with Adam and his posterity. It is not just a covenant with one man, but with him and those who come forth from him. Such us the grace and mercy of our Covenant making God!