following is a transcript of a sermon delivered on August 25,
2002 to Covenant of Grace Church in Elk,WA.
Christians we shall never plumb all the depths of God’s
covenant relationship to us in Christ, and for us this is exceedingly
good news. Yet, we like to speak of God’s gracious covenant
in terms of ourselves, and leave it at that. But God’s covenants
have a universal impact on not only individuals, but also families,
nations, and epochs. When we fail to acknowledge the broad impact
of His covenants, we fail to laud His Love, Mercy, and Holiness
in the proper Biblical perspective. When we own up to the covenants
by God’s grace in Christ, we see overwhelming victory rather
than defeat; hope and life, rather than despair and death. Likewise,
we envy not the wicked and their passing pleasures, knowing full
well their fiery end.
THE COVENANT THEME OF SCRIPTURE
a “Covenant,” Biblically speaking?
speaking, a covenant is a solemn oath and promise that God sovereignly
administers and sees through to the end. What’s more, God’s
covenant can also be seen as a kind of friendship, though not
a friendship of equals, rather, as a friendship between Lord and
humble servant. And finally, God’s covenant has sanctions:
blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience.
Covenants are in the Bible?
pop up in the Bible everywhere. We can speak of two covenants
made with Adam and Eve, one made with Noah, one with Abraham,
one with Moses and the children of Israel, one with David, and
one with Christ.
all of these covenants we see one theme, one covenant, reasserted
through them all: “I will be your God and you will be my
people.” In this sense, we can speak of one covenant-the
covenant whereby God creates a people for Himself whether it be
from dust, a deluge, an old man and barren woman, an enslaved
people, a humble shepherd, or the incarnate Son of God.
all of these covenants, however, we see multiple administrations
of the one covenant just mentioned. For example, some emphasize
the necessity of works (the covenant of creation and the Mosaic
covenant), while others emphasize sheer, undeserved, unmerited
grace (Noah, Abraham, David, Christ). This does not mean that
the covenants are ultimately opposed to each other, but it does
mean that God is trying to get our attention through emphasis.
So, in the end, we can speak of one covenant being administered
in various but harmonious ways.
the covenants of the Old Testament often seem to be ones of defeat
for God’s people and victory for Satan, whereas victory
only appears in the New Testament. This is not the best way to
view the covenants, though. Instead, we should view the Old Testament
covenants as the arena in which God graciously worked out His
purposes according to His timetable. Then, in the fullness of
His timing, God sent His son to die an atoning and victorious
death on the Cross. In this way, we learn patience and dependence
upon God in the older covenants, and the full sweetness of the
should not think of God’s covenants as simply sporadic,
spur-of-the moment ideas. Rather, God builds off of His covenants
and culminates them in the final covenant made with Christ Jesus,
Made with Adam and Eve after the Fall
Today we will
be focusing on the covenant made with Adam and Eve at the Fall,
through the perspective of Genesis 3:15. When we pay attention
to what the Bible demonstrates a covenant to be, and when we pay
attention multiple yet harmonious nature of the covenants in the
Bible, we being to understand the covenant made with Adam and
Eve at the Fall. This, in turn, helps understand that this covenant
is also with us and our children.
ENMITY: EVE, THE SERPENT, THE SEEDS,
AND VICTORY THROUGH BRUISING (Genesis 3:14-15)
the text, we might be tempted to say that the cursing of the serpent
has nothing to do with us in covenant with Christ. But this is
not true. We miss the covenantal purposes of God if we do not
see His covenantal curses and blessings in twin perspective. Thus,
we will focus on the curse of the serpent and link the cursing
of and promises to Adam and Eve through this text. In this way,
we will see the full picture of the covenant made here after the
Fall. We will also see that God’s curses ultimately bring
about blessing for His people and that these blessings have a
between the Serpent and the Woman
For Eve, to
be at enmity with the serpent was also to announce the coming
of a savior. For Satan, to be at enmity with the woman was to
announce his defeat. We need both the good news and the bad to
make sense of the good news and the bad news.
interpreted the enmity between the woman and the serpent to refer
solely to the hatred women generally have of snakes. While this
certainly is one aspect of the text, we cannot be so shallow as
to leave the text at this elementary understanding. We must go
further. God is not talking about snakes alone, he is talking
about Satan-the great dragon of old. You women, when you feel
contempt for snakes, should immediately think of contempt for
When we see
a snake slithering in the dust, we should think of how God has
cursed Satan. We should think of how Satan’s grand schemes
end in dirt and grime. Shall we then listen when confronted by
the smooth and sweet-sounding words of Satan’s blasphemous
tongue? We shall certainly not do so. For between his crooked
tongue lies the venom of death.
creation teaches us such. Who denies the wariness of a horse when
confronted by a snake or the watchfulness of a mouse when it senses
its foe is near? Shall we prove more foolish than dumb animals?
Shall we carelessly stumble close to Satan? Eve listened and she
fell. Adam stood by and watched it all happen. Let us learn from
the creation and our first parents-Satan is cursed and woe to
those women who do not honor this curse with enmity. Have your
wits about you, for Satan is a snake.
Men, you should
have learned this lesson from your mothers. And if you did not,
you should be discerning enough to learn now and keep in mind
how you might instruct your wives and daughters.
Now, to illustrate
the point further, let us turn to Judges 4:14-21.
At this point you may recall the story of Deborah who hated the
minions of Satan with a godly hatred. As a godly daughter of Eve,
Deborah lived out enmity against Satan. You might also recall
that Deborah charged the weak but godly man Barak to assemble
Israel against her enemies. Thus, Deborah both acknowledged that
men must stand on the front line against Satan but also that women
shirk not from their enmity against Satan as well. But we have
probably forgotten or never noticed how Jael, the wife of Hebor,
was a Genesis 3:15 kind of woman too.
against Satan does not always mean tucking tail and running. It
more precisely means to foil Satan’s plans with the means
God has provided. In this account of Jael, we notice how she triumphs
in a dangerous situation over God’s enemy. We notice how
she drives the peg through Sisera’s temple and how Sisera
goes into the dust to join his captain-Satan. She gives no foothold
for God’s enemy and so illustrates the enmity put between
the woman and the Serpent at the Fall.
learn the importance of enmity even from our own culture. Recently,
some sociologists have realized that when women lose their virtue-their
enmity against evil-society as a whole suffers greatly. Women
who give everything (and therefore nothing) to the evil desires
of ungodly men, successively lower the bar of righteousness in
a society. Thus, society becomes more and more depraved because
women lack enmity against Satan. We care nothing for the wisdom
of the world, but these sociologists-whether known to them or
not-are operating under the auspices of Genesis 3:15. For as we
own up to the curses in the Fall, we actually promote the promise
of the Redeemer. We will see this point clarified as we continue
through Genesis 3:15.
the point thus far, let us remember the principle of God’s
covenant. We cannot escape God’s covenant in Genesis 3:15.
All of us participate in it. We either are of the Serpent or of
the Woman. We either are bruised or crushed. It is one or the
other, and we cannot have it any other way. Thus, Genesis 3:15
plays itself out throughout Scripture and throughout our lives.
Furthermore, God builds off of this covenant through Scripture,
and we must be attentive to the details here to make sense of
the unpacking that God does later. When we pay attention to Genesis
3:15 covenantally, we will make sense of our own struggles with
Satan and know what to do. This is especially demonstrated by
the enmity that the woman has against the Serpent.
between the Serpent’s Seed and the Woman’s
between the woman and the Serpent also plays out in the seed of
the woman and the Serpent. Hence, we men cannot escape and say
this doesn’t apply to us. Our children and our children’s
children cannot say this doesn’t apply to them, for it does.
If we are of the woman, then we have victory. If we are of Satan,
we have crushing defeat.
the Bible, we see the two seeds warring against each other: the
godly versus the ungodly, Cain against Abel, Moses against Pharaoh,
Jael against Sisera, the prophets against the wanton Israelites,
Mary and Joseph against Herod, Jesus against the Pharisees-a brood
of vipers indeed. What’s more, we see that even in their
various trials and sufferings, the godly are always in the process
of triumphing over sin and the wicked.
At this point,
we rightly ask the question: “How can I tell the difference
between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent? Didn’t
David fall into tremendous sin, and isn’t he part of the
godly seed? Was not Judas numbered among Jesus’ hand-picked
disciples, and didn’t he turn out to be a snake himself?”
Difficulties like these, in the end, reveal not the difficulties
with Genesis 3:15 and the principle of covenant; rather, they
reveal our shortcomings in being biblically literate.
So, we must look closer at what our passage is saying and how
this should influence our understanding of the two seeds throughout
must notice that God is the one setting up and bringing to pass
this covenant in both blessing and cursing. You recall the emphasis
we previously laid on our having enmity with the Serpent; but
you might not have noticed that you were being set up. Look again
at the first part of Genesis 3:15 and see that God is the One
who sovereignly puts enmity between Eve and the serpent, and between
her seed and his. This means the division between ungodly and
godly is His work and operates according to His rules and His
timetable. Cain, for instance, is placed among the serpent’s
seed by God (not man) after killing his brother. Seth,
on the other hand, is appointed to Eve by God (not man)
and counted among the godly seed.
remember that enmity characterizes the division between godly
and ungodly seed. The godly seed demonstrates enmity against unrighteousness-even
when found in his or her own members-while the ungodly seed exhibits
enmity against righteousness even while God is using the ungodly
to bring about His purposes. This means that Moses, while still
sinning in the wilderness, is to be counted among the godly because
he saw unrighteousness in himself and in Israel and thus repented.
This also means that Pharaoh, while being used by God to demonstrate
His redemptive power towards His people, is to be counted among
the unrighteous because he rejected God.
understand that the natural offspring of the godly is to be counted
among the righteous until otherwise proven. We rest our case for
this not upon a human decision or work performed, but simply upon
the promise of God. Of course, this does not mean that we can
say all of our children are justified by the necessity of being
our children; yet, this does not mean that we can say that our
children are anything other than holy before God (1 Corinthians
7:14). Between these two boundaries, we find that we must trust
God with our children and teach our children to do likewise. We,
like Eve, must exclaim at the birth and during the upbringing
of a covenant child “the Lord has appointed another seed
for me…” We count no covenant child outside the church
until formally put there by God’s discipline-even then hoping
for restoration (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).
sinners are certainly responsible for their own sin, and so simply
being in the lineage of sinners does not alleviate personal guilt.
Nonetheless, we must say at the same time that we stand in united
rebellion with our Fathers and Mothers, and thus are privy to
their bequeathing sin to us. God has designed His creation to
operate along these lines, and thus it is so.
justification-the setting right of individuals with God by the
atoning work of Christ-is something done on an individual basis,
and does not depend upon being brought up in a Christian home.
Nonetheless, we must say at the same time that the children of
believers stand in covenant with their parents and that covenant
children are called holy with their parents. God has designed
His creation to operate along these lines, and thus it is so.
this point of the seeds, let me say that the imputation of sin
and righteousness are bound up with the warp and woof of the family.
This is so because God says so, and not because any of us are
extra holy or somehow merit divine favor apart from Christ for
our children. We trust what God says and we do not try to shove
our words into God’s mouth.
Now, let us
draw our attention to the bruising between the woman and her seed
and Satan and his seed. Here God confounds our sentimental, feel-good
piety by proclaiming that neither the godly or the ungodly can
escape from bruising. As the godly seed, we know full well what
the Lord has promised both times of ease and difficulty. Suffering,
for the godly, however, is temporary and gives way to great gain
and joy. We also know the Lord sends times of ease and prosperity
to the ungodly but that this season of rest for the ungodly is
for the sake of building up his condemnation and ultimate punishment.
So, in the end, the godly triumph and the ungodly descend into
the dust-despite what might appear to be contrary in the way things
are going for the ungodly and the godly at the moment.
the Serpent, and their respective descendents are all covenantally
tied to suffering in Genesis 3. The serpent is made to go upon
his belly to lick the dust, Eve is cursed with great pain in giving
birth and a tendency toward unruliness with her husband, Adam
is cursed with great pain in toiling and tilling the earth, and
the earth is cursed to bring forth thorns and thistles for Adam’s
sake. But for Adam, Eve, and the earth, there is hope-hope which
is covenantally tied to the enmity between the Serpent and the
woman. For the Serpent, there is despair-despair which is covenantally
tied to the enmity between the Serpent and the woman.
and all those around us are tied to this covenant made after the
Fall. The snake still goes upon his belly, women and men still
incur pain in their labors, women still attempt to usurp their
husbands’ authority, and the earth still troubles us with
thorns and thistles. With such clear evidence of the curse surrounding
us daily, we ought to be reminded of the covenant in Genesis 3:15
daily. The curses that we daily experience, however, have a point-the
curses serve as big, neon signs pointing us to the center of the
covenant, that is, the promise of a bruised head and a bruised
That the godly
suffer bruises should not shy us away from doing things that causes
us to be bruised. In doing good, we are often mocked by the world.
In proclaiming the gospel, we are told of the supposed foolishness
of our religion. Christians truly suffer at the hands of the ungodly
because the ungodly know that their heads are being bruised. The
more Satan thrashes about and persecutes the church, the more
he extends his neck and places his head on the chopping block.
Even in suffering
from the curses of the Fall, the godly witness a happy providence
from the Lord. The pain of childbearing gives way to the joy of
nurturing souls and insight as to how God delights in us as His
children. The struggle toil and sweat that men put into their
vocations gives way to the joy of watching the curse be rolled
back as thorns and thistles get thrown into the fire in order
to make way for fertile pastures and pristine gardens. And the
sting of death gives way to a happy reunion in heaven with all
of God’s hosts in the warm splendor or the Almighty’s
his seed, have no such happy providence. Instead, everything that
happens to the ungodly is a tragedy. Times of wealth only give
way to eternal poverty. The vocations and seed of the ungodly
amount to nothing. They have no legacy, and their lives are really
nothing more than a walking tomb. They and their descendents are
food for the fiery worm that will consume them in unspeakable
terror for all time. For reasons like these, the ungodly strike
at the heel of the godly and cause bruises.
When the ungodly
and godly feel the bruise of enmity, Paul’s words from 2
Corinthians 1:3-6 should spring to mind: “Blessed
be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father
of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our
tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted
by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation
also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for
your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring
the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted,
it is for your consolation and salvation.” Suffering, in
the godly, brings consolation in Jesus Christ, and this consolation
brings praise unto Jesus Christ. Suffering, in the ungodly, brings
about despair because they do not have Christ, and since they
do not have Christ they are promised death.
Some of you
may have been nodding your heads in consent up to this point,
but perhaps others of you have noticed something missing thus
far. For those that have noticed something missing, be of good
cheer, for here it comes. For those of you who have been content
and not at every point been asking, “When is he going to
speak of the Cross?” then you must pay attention closely
to the following application of this sermon.
STANDING AT THE
HEEL OF THE CROSS ON GOLGOTHA
Like all of
God’s covenants, the covenant made with Adam and Eve in
Genesis 3 finds it fullest and deepest expression in the final
covenant with Christ. We who are in Christ covenantally are the
true descendents of Eve and heirs of God’s promises; however,
we have the responsibility to live on this side of the Cross.
This means that through the finished work of Christ on the Cross,
Satan has been defeated and God’s people redeemed from bondage.
Our calling is to announce this good news to the world through
our work and family-taking all captive to Christ-until all of
our neighbors know the Lord Jesus (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
established in Genesis 3 cannot be divorced from Jesus Christ’s
death for the godly on the Cross. If the curses and underlying
promises of the Genesis 3:15 are not seen through Jesus Christ’s
atoning death, then we have no hope and are of the Serpent. The
enmity and bruising that we have been examining find their ultimate
meaning in Christ. If we are not in Christ, then we cannot apply
the covenant to ourselves as the godly.
Those of you
who were not brought up in the covenant from birth, know
that at one time you were enemies of God. You were a descendent
of the Serpent, and you were far off from God’s mercy. But
if Jesus has saved you from the condemnation of the Serpent and
his seed, then you have been brought near to the heel of the Cross
and stand in victory over the Serpent. God has adopted you and
you now belong to Him. As such, the promises enumerated to the
godly seed in Genesis 3:15 belong to your children, if you have
been blessed with children.
Those of you
who were or are being brought up in the covenant know that your
placement in the covenant and the promise of bruising and blessing
are yours because of Christ and not simply because of your parents
godliness-which was also a gift from God. In this way, all the
glory belongs to Christ and none of it belongs to you. If we have
always been in covenant with Christ, it has always been because
of His mercy and grace and not our works. As such, we have the
responsibility to teach these things to our children and our children’s
have been adopted into the covenant from the Serpent’s seed
or whether you have grown up in a covenant home, you have the
high and wonderful responsibility of telling about the Lord’s
great works in your life. Tell your children of how the Lord sustains
you and blesses you from week to week. Speak to your neighbors
the gospel in the hope that some might be saved. Look for every
opportunity to place your heel upon the head of Satan-wherever
he may be rearing his scaly head. As you incur bruises from fighting
the evil powers and principalities, proclaim all the more the
consolation you have in Christ. On your death bed, exhort those
present to follow Christ and forsake not His Word-the Bible-which
fully satisfies the soul. When persecuted-even to death-echo the
words of Polycarp, a second century martyr: “Eighty and
six years have I served Him, and He never did me injury: how then
can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” Let no opportunity
pass from you in which you might sing the praises of the Lord
your God. In this way you will confound your adversaries by being
always filled with faith in Christ, always hoping in Christ, and
always loving Christ.
Be not beguiled
by the dying gasps of an old snake. The enmity between Eve and
the Satan, between Eve’s seed and the serpent’s, between
the Son of God and the prince of darkness has not relented. Yet,
the victory has been sealed, and Satan’s power has been
crushed by the Cross. Let us not cease to route the enemies of
God with the gospel of Christ until all of His foes have been