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Man's First Sin and Why it Matters- Genesis 3:1-7

I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

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Introduction: The Central Teaching of the Fall

In his book 'Living for Eternity', the author David Breese writes this about the fall of mankind into sin:

"Had Adam and Eve retained their original state, they never would have died. But Eve and then Adam yielded to the serpent's temptation, and death came into the world. Before that moment, they were in a beautiful, pristine state. They existed on a level far above the present condition of the human race. It is difficult to imagine what man was like then by viewing him as he is now. It would require something like trying to reconstruct the original version of an aircraft from its wreckage. If we knew nothing of flying, we would hardly suspect that it had once soared above the earth. The material would be the same; the capability of flight, however, would be lost."

The true account of Adam and Eve is one of the central teachings in Scripture and is the basis for the need for our Savior, Jesus Christ, to come to this earth to die on behalf of all humanity. Though there be some who may call themselves Christian who regard this story as little more than a myth, that is certainly not what Jesus himself taught. In Matthew 19:4-6 when Jesus was asked about divorce, He gives an interesting answer. These verses tell us this:

"And he answered and said, have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh." (See also Mark 10:6-9).

Also, as we look at other New Testament Scriptures, we see that the Apostle Paul calls Jesus Christ the Second or last Adam and pictures Him as the one who would live a righteous life, die on our behalf, then rise from the dead to become the first of a whole new righteous humanity who are the sons of the living God.

In a passage on Jesus' resurrection, we see this in I Corinthians 15:45-49 when Paul says:

"And so, it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."

So, we can see that the creation and fall of mankind is not just some fringe teaching that can be jettisoned without doing grave damage to the theology of the biblical record. It is a vital part of our understanding of our salvation and eternal state after we die.

Because of this, let us look at the biblical account a little more closely in order to find out what the Bible has to say about this universe-altering event call the fall. But before we do let's take a quick look at how many in the scientific community are being moved by their studies to a more biblical understanding of mankind.

I. Adam and Eve According to Modern Science

Interestingly, though Scientific research is still far from the teaching of the biblical account of the origin of the universe and of man, it has grown closer in theory to what the Bible tells us by the fact that scientists now are admitting that all of humanity can be traced back to one man and one woman. Here is the view as stated by one scientist. He says this:

"Although there may not have been a literal Adam and Eve, our species has a "genetic Adam" and a "mitochondrial Eve." Our genetic Adam was a man whose Y-chromosome has been passed down in an unbroken chain starting in Africa, approximately 125,000 to 156,000 years ago. Although some other studies offer different time frames, the results are the same."

Once again, this is far from the biblical record which teaches a literal Adam and Ever created by God directly and in a short period of time, not over centuries. However, it is moving in the right direction to what the Bible has been telling us all along. And with all due respect to the scientists, I will still go along with the biblical record and what Jesus has told us, since He was there, and they were not. Jesus not only was there to observe history, but He caused it to happen in the first place, being the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

Further, despite what these men and women may say, their evolutionary beliefs take more faith than I have. This is true because, without a Creator and Designer of everything, their belief must include life coming from non-life, which is impossible according to science itself.

Also, true Science must be based upon measurable and reproducible data. This makes evolutionary theory, including the beginnings of the universe and the origins of life more about faith than science since these things are singular unreproducible historic events, at least in a laboratory by men. Although some have tried to reproduce the beginning of life from non-living matter in a lab without any success.

Now let us turn to the biblical account of the creation and the fall of mankind to see how it affects our lives and our eternal future today.

II. Adam and Eve's Creation and Fall

According to the Genesis account, Adam and Eve were the special creation of a holy God who were made in His image at the end of six days of creative activity. Gotquestions.org has this to say about this special event:

"Scripture indicates that humans are set apart from all other creatures:
Humans are made in the image of God. Unlike the plants, trees, aquatic animals, birds, and land animals, God set mankind apart as unique by creating humans “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). Being made in God’s likeness does not mean that humans physically look like God, since He is spirit (John 4:24). Rather, men and women reflect God in their ability to love (1 John 4:19), reason (Isaiah 1:18), and make intelligent decisions (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Mankind was uniquely and intimately formed by God (Genesis 2:7; Isaiah 45:12). After forming man, the Lord personally breathed life into Adam to give him life. Significantly, God also personally formed Eve, using a part of Adam (Genesis 2:21–22).
Man was given dominion over the earth. After creating the first man and woman, God blessed them, gave them dominion over all the animals, and instructed them to multiply (Genesis 1:28). Everything in creation was originally perfect and “good” as God intended (verse 31)."

In this perfect environment, God gave only one rule that Adam and Eve were to obey. In Genesis 2:16 and 17 it tells us:

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

The words "surely" and "die" are actually the same word in Hebrew which is "mut". It means to have a person executed. To have the word "mut" repeated twice shows the severity of the consequence. Indeed, the severity of the consequence was shown clearly when Adam and his wife broke this one and only commandment of God. Because the death penalty did not just come upon both of them but also their descendants.

Obeying this rule represented giving God his rightful place as creator and sovereign of the universe. Disobedience was a showing of pride and an attempt to be their own god. It was a test of loyalty and faithfulness to God's rule. And obedience demonstrated their belief that God always knows what is best for us. Unfortunately, they failed the test miserably.

We see what happens in Genesis 3 when Satan, here called the serpent, tempted Eve. He was himself a fallen angel who had rebelled against the holy God. And his coercion leads the first couple to disobey the Lord as well. Here is how Scripture describes the scene in Genesis 3:1-7. It says:

"Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree, which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves waist coverings."

It is interesting that Eve was the first to partake of the forbidden fruit but if we read through all of Scripture, then Adam is held responsible for falling into sin. Some suggest that the reason for this is that Eve was deceived, and Adam was not. Indeed, there are some New Testament verses that are used for evidence of this. For instance, there is I Timothy 2:13,14 which says:

"For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."

Also, Paul tells the Corinthians:

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (II Corinthians 11:3).

However, I believe that there is a different reason that Adam was held accountable for sin entering the world. That is the fact that he was the spiritual head of the family and he failed in his duties. Here is how an article from the website Answersingenesis.org puts it. It says:

"Adam was created first from the dust of the ground, and Eve was created from a rib taken from Adam’s side (Genesis 2:7, 21–22). From these verses and others in Genesis 1–3 it is clear that the husband was created to be the leader in the marital relationship and that the wife was created to be the helper (Genesis 2:18). As the leader it was Adam’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family. This leadership role was clearly demonstrated when God talked with Adam and Eve following their sin. Even though Eve sinned before Adam, God questioned Adam first (Genesis 3:9). This was because of the leadership role God ordained for husbands in marriage. Adam, as the leader of the family, was held responsible, not only for his own sin of eating from the tree, but also because he did not provide adequate protection for his wife, allowing her to sin.

Because of this, the Apostle Paul could say centuries later that:

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12).

Now that we have seen the Scriptural account of the fall, let's look quickly at the consequences of that first sin and how they affect us to this day.

III. The Consequences of the Fall of Adam and Eve

As we can see from Romans 5:12, which we just quoted, Adam's sin had consequences that are dire for all of mankind. One of the most devastating of these is the appearance of physical death. After Adam disobeyed the command not to eat of the forbidden tree, this is what the Lord told the first couple:

"By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).

Another major repercussion is that mankind, originally created good, now is born with a sin nature. In Genesis 4:1-15, this sinful nature is played out when Cain, who is one of the sons of Adam and Eve, kills Abel, another son. Mankind now has a sinful disposition of their heart. In other words, we now have a sin nature. It has been said that: "We are not sinners because we sin but sin because we are sinners."

Paul calls that sinful nature, 'the flesh' in his writings. In Galatians 5:19-21, for example, he says:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

But perhaps the worst effect of the fall of Adam and Eve is the separation of mankind from a holy God. In the garden, the first couple enjoyed walking with the Lord in fellowship. After the fall they hid themselves from the God in fear. Rather than a Father to be loved, God now becomes a judge to be feared. Mankind is now alienated and in a hostile relationship with God as His enemies.

Also, now because of this first sin of Adam and Eve, instead of being children of God, we became children of wrath, disobedience, and the devil (Ephesians 2:1–3; Romans 11:32; 1 John 3:10).

On top of all of these things there are also some other consequences of the first sin that we continue to experience today. Adam and Eve, due to the fall, began to experience a more strained relationship with one another. Now we also have problems with all of our other fellow men as well. For instance, there are quarrels, fights and wars due to that first act of disobedience. And not only this but creation itself has been affected by the fall. Earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters would not happen apart from that one first sin.

Further, sin doesn't just affect this life but life beyond the grave as well. Sadly, if we were to continue along this sinful path, apart from putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins, it will lead us to an eternal separation from the holy God in hell. But thanks be to God, He has provided a way of escape.

Conclusion

In concluding our study, it might be good to note that the term 'gospel means 'good news'. But we can never really fully appreciate what makes the good news so good, until we know how bad things were before Jesus Christ came to earth to die for our sins. And unless we have a biblical understanding of the fall of mankind into sin, we won't truly believe the good that our Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross of calvary by becoming sin for us.

Adam's sin totally destroyed the hope of mankind to ever come to God and have a relationship with our creator on our own merits. But Jesus, God the Son, became man. He lived the perfect life that Adam, or any of us for that matter, could never live. And the Bible says that He took our place by taking our sins upon Himself. Paul tells us about Jesus that:

"He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus has overcome all of the effects of the fall. Death was conquered by His resurrection from the grave. Mankind has the privilege now by faith of being sons and daughters of the living God. And we can live in Jesus Kingdom forever.

Today believers are placed in a group called the Church, the Body of Christ and whether you are male or female of any ethnic group you are accepted into this Church. Be you red, yellow, black or white and in any part of the world, you can become brothers and sisters who are forever united in Christ by faith in His name.

The fall of Adam and Eve was real and destructive. But the grace of God that brought into this world the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ is real as well. Let us praise God that where sin abounded, grace superabounded and brought to us the gift of eternal life. May we spend eternity praising our God and Savior who has made all these things possible.

© 2022 Jeff Shirley

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