In Whose Footsteps

A beautiful garden, perfect weather, wonderful companionship, and an intimate meeting with God daily--yet, it was not enough for Adam and Eve. In this idyllic setting, sin took the human race captive. With countless choices and opportunities available to the first couple, they chose the only thing God had forbidden them.

"‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die'" (Genesis 2:16–17). [1]

Having heard God's voice so often, why did Eve listen to the voice of the enemy?

Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and they follow Him; "they will never follow a stranger" (John 10:3-5, 14–16). However, Adam and Eve heeded the enemy's suggestion and ignored God's warning. God had blessed them with life, health, beauty, joy, and the personal pleasure of His presence, but they traded it all away for the empty promise of God's enemy. In doing so, they condemned every human being to a life of pain, disappointment, hardship, sin, and separation from God.

Did Adam and Eve realize the full extent of the consequences of their actions? Probably not right away. Once they had followed in God's footsteps, but now He banished them from the garden and told them their lives would be very different from that time on. The ground would produce thorns and thistles, Adam would have to work hard, and only through painful toil would he obtain food (Genesis 3:17–20). Eve would experience great pain in childbirth, and her husband would rule over her (Genesis 3:16).

Adam and Eve had to live the remainder of their lives with the knowledge of their sin and its effect on themselves and on their world. Eve gave birth to Cain, and then to Abel. Adam and Eve certainly must have imparted some knowledge of God and of sin's consequences to their two sons. They tried to set a good example for their sons, worshipping God and offering sacrifices to Him.

When Abel grew up, he kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. "Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flocks" (Genesis 4:3–4).

Abel, with the right heart attitude, brought his best to the Lord. God accepted his offering and looked with favor upon Abel. Hebrews 11:4 states that Abel was a righteous man (cf. Matthew 23:35). Cain, however, did not have the right heart attitude, and God was not pleased with his sacrifice. Because of this, Cain became angry.

God warned Cain, "‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it'" (Genesis 4:7).

Just as God had warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of good and evil, and they had disobeyed, so Cain also disobeyed God's warning. Aware of the high price of his parents' disobedience, Cain nonetheless murdered his brother and sinned against God. First John 3:12 says that Cain murdered his brother "because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous." Cain "belonged to the evil one" and followed in his footsteps.

Adam and Eve, ultimately, were not responsible for their sons' decisions. They shared the truth, exerted their influence, and tried to set a good example, but they could not control their sons' choices. Each son freely chose his own course.

Each of us must choose whom we will follow.

Will we serve and honor God and walk in the footsteps of Jesus, even if His way leads to the cross? Or will we choose to listen to the deceiver's beautiful lies and walk in his footsteps to eternal destruction?

© by Howard W. Stevens

[1] All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.