Genesis Bible Study

Spiritual Struggle in Life
Genesis 3-5

Free Sunday School Lessons

Note to the teacher: Before preparing this Genesis Bible study lesson, Spiritual Struggle in Life please read our approach to planning a Sunday School lesson.

This Genesis Bible study lesson has the same format as our lesson planning sheet.

In preparing your lesson, we suggest that you:

1. Print the lesson planning sheet.
2. Read the Bible passage.
3. Fill in your lesson planning sheet.

You will find it helpful to have a printed copy of the lesson planning sheet along side as you read the Genesis Bible Study lesson. The progression will make more sense.

Genesis Bible Study - Spiritual Struggle in Life

Bible Passage: Genesis 3-5

The human need this Genesis Bible study passage meets is: Everyone has a spiritual struggle in life. The solution is to find God and trust in Him.

Learning Goals: By the end of this session, each learner should be able to. . .

(Know) Understand that because of Adam and Eve's sin, all are born spiritually dead with a tendency to doubt God.

(Feel) Feel the hopelessness of living in a fallen world without God.

(Do) Commit to finding God by trusting Him and His plan.


Give each group of 6-8 people a newspaper - each newspaper from a different day.

Ask them to find in their newspapers two incidents of the following:

a natural catastrophe
a consequence of sin

After 5-6 minutes, ask the groups to share their findings.


We start our Genesis Bible study with the first two chapters. They teach us two clear truths:

    God created all things.
    At one time, the world was morally perfect - no sin and no problems.

The obvious questions: What happened to the human race? What happened to the world?

To learn more about the answers to the questions raised by this Genesis Bible study, read What's Missing Inside You?

In our Genesis Bible study we begin to discover what happened in the lives of the earliest people who walked the earth.

From Genesis 3-5 we'll examine the lives of 4 people:

  • Adam and Eve - the first two humans
  • Cain - the first-born son of Adam and Eve
  • Enoch - the 7th generation grandson of Adam through His son Seth

I want us to see how these four people dealt with the same spiritual struggles in life that we do.

Bible Input and Life Application

The first spiritual struggle in life centers on the story of Adam and Eve.

Let's read Genesis 3:1-13.

1. UNBELIEF - The First Spiritual Struggle in life

Genesis 3 is the Genesis Bible study account of how the entire human race (Adam and Eve) was converted from believers into unbelievers.

Satan's goal was to turn their hearts away from believing God and give them a reason to follow Satan. Satan's strategy was based on his belief that if God looked bad, sin would look good.

Let's take a closer look at how Satan accomplished his goal:

He began with Doubt

  • 3:1 Did God really say, "you must not eat from any tree in the garden?"

He moved to Deception

  • 3:4 You will not surely die. . .you will be like God, knowing good from evil

He appealed to her Desires

  • 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom. . .

Finally, Satan triumphed with their Disobedience

  • 3:6 She took some and ate it. . .and he ate it

Satan could step back and laugh as he watched Adam and Eve deal with the consequences.


  • 3:10 I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid


  • 3:12 The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree

  • 3:13 The serpent deceived me, and I ate


  • 3:16 I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth
  • 3:16 Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you
  • 3:17 Through painful toil and the sweat of your brow you will eat your food

Death (physical)

  • 3:19 For dust you are and to dust you will return

Death (spiritual)

  • 3:23 The Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden. . .and drove him out.
    (This is symbolic of the loss of God's presence.)

What we learn from this part of this Genesis Bible study:

Genesis 5:1 describes man as God intended -- When God created man, he created him in the likeness of God Genesis 5:3 describes man as he is today -- When Adam had lived 130 years he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image

The Bible teaches us the meaning of spiritual death and how that death happens. Physical death happens when the human spirit leaves the body. (James 2:26 - the body without the spirit is dead)
Spiritual death happens when the Holy Spirit leaves the human spirit. (Genesis 2:17 - when you eat of it you will surely die)

When God breathed into Adam His breath, Adam became spiritually alive. Adam didn't have to worry about finding God. God was there when he was created.
When God withdrew His Holy Spirit from Adam's human spirit, Adam died.

Now Adam was spiritually uninhabited; destitute; separated from the life of God.

Ephesians 4:18 - You must not live like the Gentiles; they are alienated from the life of God - uninhabited
And in that spiritual condition, Adam had a son - and the human race began to reproduce without the indwelling Spirit of God.

So, now that man is uninhabited and sin has entered the world, how would you describe the human race?

Many still maintain that man is fundamentally good. Others, maintain that man is fundamentally bad - pointing to the sin of Genesis 3. But, the best answer is that man is fundamentally dead in trespasses and sin.

Man is born with a sinful nature.
Man is born without the Spirit of God.

That explains why the promise of the gospel centers not only on giving man God's forgiveness, but also restoring to man God's Spirit.

This Genesis Bible study introduces the person of the Holy Spirit and His indispensable role. For further study of the Holy Spirit, listen to Paul's four sermon series. Here's the first sermon:
Christ in You - His Presence
This Genesis Bible study story not only teaches us about the origin of sin into the world, it also helps us see the root cause of it all.

What is the maximum speed limit? Do you truly accept that this speed limit is the best for you? Do you believe that the people who set that limit have the safety of all at heart? If you believed that, you'd never go over the limit. Every time we disobey, we are saying, "I know better than you. I know what's best for me." In the same way, Adam and Eve doubted God's goodness and believed Satan's lie. Man became an unbeliever.

At the heart of every sin is the thought that "I know better than God."

The essence of their thoughts could be summarized like this:

"God - you are holding out on us. We want to be like you. We want what you have. We thought you could be trusted. Satan is our friend; you are our enemy. We don't believe you anymore, and you aren't worthy of our trust."

When Satan made God look bad, he had no trouble making sin look good. Adam and Eve doubted God and became unbelievers.

A sinful, uninhabited, doubting heart has been passed on to every generation. A heart that must set about finding God.

2. Survival - The Second Spiritual Struggle in Life

Let's continue our Genesis Bible study by reading Genesis 4:1-12 and 17-24.

Every person since Adam and Eve has had to learn how to cope in a fallen world full of pain.

Cain was born into this kind of world with the same doubting, uninhabited, unbelieving heart of his parents. Cain represents the majority of the human race, because instead of turning to and thereby finding God, Cain determined that he didn't need God to survive. Cain thought he could make life work on his own. He wasn't interested in finding God.

One of the most painful days of Cain's life was the day God accepted Abel's sacrifice, but not his. He was so angry that he felt justified in killing his brother Abel.

That behavior horrified God so much, that He placed Cain under a curse:

  • Genesis 4:12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops to you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

But, Cain resolved to not let that happen. He tried to build a comfortable life for himself by starting a family and building a city.

  • Genesis 4:17 Cain lay with his wife and she gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city and he named it after his son Enoch.

The Genesis Bible study reveals that Cain's descendants continued his self-centered determination to make life work in order to survive without God.

It is best illustrated by Lamech (7th generation from Adam through Cain). He didn't come to God for anything and made up his own rules as he went along. He felt no need for finding God.

He disregarded God's design for marriage by becoming the first polygamist in history.

  • Genesis 4:19 Lamech married two women, one named Adah and the other Zillah.

His commitment to getting his own way (like Cain) illustrated in the way he bragged to his wives.

  • Genesis 4:23 I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.

We all enjoy stories and movies of survival. For the younger generation it may the TV show, Survivor. For me, it's the 1960 Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson. This movie depicts a family that is shipwrecked on a deserted island. They have to find creative ways to provide their food, water, fire, and shelter. Perhaps you've read the novel by the same name or Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

What is really necessary for survival? Doctors say that people can generally live totally without food for 4-6 weeks, even though some have gone longer. However, people can only live without water for 10 days - under ideal circumstances. We know that there are often physical consequences from the lack of food and water. But, what about surviving without God? Is finding God necessary for survival? What does this Genesis Bible study teach?

In Jude 11, the Bible says to watch out for godless men who have taken the way of Cain.

The way of Cain is to:

  • deceive yourself into thinking you can survive this life without ever finding God
  • be more concerned about fixing your problems than finding God
  • have no higher priority than arranging for your own comfort here and now
  • make for yourself a happy life -- on your own

Today the world is full of survivors like Cain.

  • Their whole focus is making life work.
  • Their problem is that they are trying to feel alive, in a world that has no life to give.
  • They simply pretend that life is not as bad as it is.

If we don't want to go through life merely surviving on our own, what other option is there?

The only other option is to set about finding God. That requires faith, and today, everyone is born a "doubter."

3. Faith
- The Third Spiritual Struggle in Life

The world was so bad; human hearts were so sinful that people began to wonder what's missing.

Of course, what was missing was God.

Let's continue with our Genesis Bible study.

  • Genesis 4:26 At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord
But what men learned was that in finding God we must come to God on His terms.

  • Hebrews 11:6 Anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him
The bottom line is that most people do not earnestly set about finding God until they are convinced that they cannot make it on their own.

Enoch was such a man. After 65 years of living life on his own terms, he decided to seek God. The good news is that he found God, trusted God, and walked with God for 300 years.

  • Genesis 5:21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years
  • Genesis 5:24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took Him
  • Hebrews 11:5 Enoch was commended as one who pleased God

Enoch first decided he couldn't make it any longer on his own, He

  • sought God
  • found God
  • walked with God
  • was taken home to God

The point is that until he began to walk with God, he never really lived, he just existed.

Genesis 5:4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 26, 30 underscore that each man merely "lived" and then "died".

Only Enoch walked with God.

The difference between merely existing and really living is finding God.

When you walk with God:

  • you find God's grace
  • you find God's guidance
  • you know that's a better home waiting for you.

Ray Stedman tells the story of a husband and wife who were professional counselors. After they became followers of Jesus they realized that there was a difference between secular counseling (solving problems using the world's approach) and spiritual counseling (solving problems by looking to God). Based on their new understanding, they changed the way they offered their services to clients. One day a new client came into their office. Before the session began the counselors said, "In our practice, we offer two types of counseling. We offer secular counseling and spiritual counseling- which would you prefer?" The client said, "Well, I have never been a religious person - so, if it's just the same to you I'd like to have the secular counseling." The counselors said, "No problem, just sit down, relax and tell us all about your situation." For the next two hours the man poured out his heart. He revealed every secret, every struggle and every fear. He told them what he hoped would happen and how unsuccessful he felt up to this point. He totally bared his soul in hopes of finding a solution. At the end of the session he was exhausted. He quietly waited for some professional insight and a ray of hope.

The counselors casually leaned forward and looked the man straight in the eye. They said, "We believe we know the solution for your problems." "Really?" the client responded. "After listening to my story one time, you know exactly what I should do?" The counselors said, "Yes, what we want you to do is try harder." The client couldn't believe his ears. "Try harder," he scowled, "What kind of advice is that?" The counselors repeated themselves. "You heard us! Given your situation you must try hard! Bear down! Focus! Put out more effort! We're telling you - YOU MUST TRY HARDER!"

The client was outraged. He demanded an explanation. "What kind of answer is that?" The counselors quietly replied, "You told us that you wanted secular counseling, didn't you? Well, that's the secular answer - you must try harder." The client thought for a few seconds and then asked, "What if I had told you I wanted spiritual counseling?" "Well then," smiled the counselors, "If you had told us you wanted spiritual counseling we would have told you to trust Christ. Given your set of problems the only two options we can suggest are: try harder or trust Christ. You can continue to use your own will power, or you can turn to Jesus and learn to depend on His divine power. There are only two sources of power available in the world today: yours and His. The one you depend on is up to you."

How about your life today?
  • Are you merely existing?
  • Are you walking with God?

Are you

  • building a city here. . .or trusting God for a better home later?
  • focused on your plan for making life work. . .or focused on God's plan for your life?
  • doubting. . .or finding God?

Want more stories like the ones in this Genesis Bible study?
Read What's Missing Inside You?
A thirteen lesson study of Christian beliefs with practical application and real-life stories.

Discussion Questions for this Genesis Bible study:

1. Why is doubting God's goodness the foundation of our unbelief? How did Adam and Eve doubt God's goodness in this Genesis Bible study?

2. Will a person ever start finding God unless they recognize God is good enough to trust?

3. If a person is determined to make it on his own, will he be interested in finding God? Why or why not? What has to happen in a person's life to cause them to quit depending on themselves and begin finding God?

4. What part of this Genesis Bible study applied to you?

5. Why does the fact that Enoch didn't begin to trust God until he was 65 give you hope?

6. Why is putting your absolute faith in God the only way to survive in this fallen world?

7. How will you know you are sincerely committed to finding God?

Author:Paul Schlieker

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