Humans are lost, fallen, and hostile toward God. That’s a rough way to introduce a blog post, but in my opinion it’s what the Bible teaches and what orthodox Christianity has believed for thousands of years. In this blog post we are going to look at the Fall of Adam in Genesis and how that one event negatively affects the entire human race throughout biblical times and now.
The Fall of Adam and How We Are in Union with Him
I. THE STATUS OF ALL HUMANS 1
Because of the fall “Humankind no longer lives in the beginning; instead it has lost the beginning. Now it finds itself in the middle, knowing neither the end nor the beginning, and yet knowing that it is in the middle” (Boehnhoffer, Creation and Fall, 28). Let’s look at the event often called the “Fall” which occurs in Genesis 3.
A. Adam’s Sin
If you have not read the Bible and are not familiar with Christianity, you need to know about Adam’s 2 sin in the third chapter of Genesis. This chapter is so important and so vital to the Christian life that I am not going to shorten it, cut out parts, or even portray it for you in a summary form. I’m just going to copy and paste it into this blog post. I’ve inserted some footnotes to help explain some areas that might be obscure or confusing.
The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ ” “You won’t die!” 3 the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 4 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” 5 Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:1-19, NLT) 6
There are some things I want to point out in this passage. First, Satan approached the woman (Gen 3:1). You might ask, “How do we know that this ‘serpent’ is Satan?” The Bible tells us that the serpent is Satan in John 8:44; Rom 16:20; 2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 2:14; Rev 12:9; 20:2. Second, the woman eats the “fruit” (Gen 3:3). It’s not an apple, the text says “fruit.” Third, Satan questions God’s Word (Gen 3:4-5). This questioned God’s character and goodness. Fourth, shame of their nakedness was what happened as a result of their eyes being opened (Gen 3:7). Fifth, Adam blamed Eve (Gen 3:12) and Eve blamed the Serpent (Gen 3:13). “Both Adam and Eve were quick to point the finger of blame away from themselves, and all their descendants have been quick to do the same” (Leon Wood, Genesis: A Study Guide, [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976], p. 34). Sixth, God gives a curse on the serpent (Gen 3:14), to the woman (Gen 3:16), and to the man (Gen 3:17-19). These three curses still exist today.
B. Adam’s Sin Brought Death to Every Single Person
The sin of Adam and Eve did not just affect them. Adam and Eve’s sin has affected every single human. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he explained,
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 7 (Rom 5:12)
It’s a simple equation. Adam’s sin + a world of sin = death to everyone. Or another way to use math to explain this is that A = B and B = C therefore A = C. A is that Adam sinned. B is that sin and death entered into the world because of Adam’s sin. C is that death spread to everyone because of Adam’s sin. “Men do not die because of their own acts of sin; otherwise babies would not die (Rom 9:11). Men die because they are united racially to Adam” (Wiersbe, Be Right [Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1977), 65.[/ref]
Paul further clarified,
For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. . . For Adam’s sin led to condemnation . . . we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone. (Rom 5:15-18)
Seems pretty clear to me!
C. Before Confessing Christ, All Humans Are Slaves to Sin
Further evidence that we are fallen and sinful because of Adam is seen in how humans are slaves to sin,
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. (Rom 6:6-7)
Humans were slave to sin because of Adam’s sin. As slaves to sin, we can do nothing but sin! Also see Rom 7:14.
II. FURTHER EVIDENCE OF LOSTNESS
“Scripture teaches that Adam’s sin affected not only himself but all of his offspring” (Bruce DeMarest, The Cross and Salvation [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997], p. 73).
A. The Mind
Paul told the believers in Ephesus,
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. (Eph 4:17-18, emphasis added)
The mind-intellectually-seems to be lost and distant to God. What humans think, left alone without God, is evil and dark. “The unsaved man’s thinking is futile because it is darkened. He thinks he is enlightened because he rejects the Bible and believes the latest philosophies, when in reality he is in the dark” (Wiersbe, Be Right, p. 120). Also see Rom 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14; Col 1:21.
B. The Heart
Earlier in Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus he told them,
You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (Eph 2:2, emphasis added)
In addition to the mind (intellectual), it appears that the heart (morals and emotions) are also lost.
Paul told Titus,
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. (Tit 3:3)
Also see John 8:34; Eph 4:18-19.
C. Man and Death
Every man will die unless he accepts the free gift which God has given him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
Basically, each man is sentenced to die unless he accepts the free gift of God.
D. Spiritually 8
Every man will die physically. But when we obey Christ we get eternal life spiritually.
And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36)
Also see Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13; 1 John 5:11-12.
E. Physically 9
The death I mentioned above is described in Genesis 3.
By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Gen 3:19)
This is no secret. Even atheists have to admit that all human die physically. Henry Thiessen writes in his excellent work, Systematic Theology “Physical and mental sickness are a result of Adam’s sin” (p. 183). Also see Heb 2:14-15.
F. Eternally 10
During the Great White Throne Judgment the unbelievers are judged. That’s described here,
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:14-15)
People who don’t know and follow Christ do not have their names written in the book of life and they suffer forever. This is a physical punishment that is eternal. Also see 2 Thess 1:8-9.
G. Satan’s Control over Man 11
Further evidence of man’s spiritual confusion is described in Paul’s second letter to the Christians in Corinth.
If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Cor 4:3-4, NLT, emphasis added)
If there are two verses I quote more often than others, I think these are them. They describe Satan’s work here on earth and what he is doing. Also see John 8:4; Eph 2:1-2; Heb 2:14-15; 1 John 3:7-10.
III. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A. I’m fallen and I can’t get up.
If there is one thing I hope you take away from this blog post is that humankind is distant from God unless there is a faith in Christ to bridge the gap. As humans we are lost and broken. We cannot be righteous without God’s help.
B. Jesus is my savior because I cannot save myself.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ provides a way we can escape eternal death. One theology book I was reading recently put it like this, “I’m not a sinner because I sin. I sin because I’m a sinner. And because I’m a sinner who sins, I need a Savior who didn’t, doesn’t, and can’t.” 12 It is Christ that provides a way we can be saved from the punishment of our since that we rightly deserve.
- Much of this post has been adapted from J. Scott Horrell’s class notes from my time studying under him at Dallas Theological Seminary. Consider purchasing Dr. Horrell’s book, From the Ground Up, as a way to support him and his ministry. ↩
- “Adam is the father of the whole human race. We all descended from him and through natural generation. It is on the basis of this that all men have been born sinners.” (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979], 168 ↩
- Satan deceived Eve. Humans would die, just not immediately. ↩
- When you read the the New Testament, Adam is blamed for the sin and the fall, not Eve. See Rom 5:12, 14-18; 1 Cor 15:22. ↩
- This is the first revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A Messiah would come through the seed of the woman and will strike a death blow to Satan’s head after Satan’s seed had struck the heel of Jesus. ↩
- Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation ↩
- The phrase, “for everyone sinned” has been debated. The NET translation notes describes this debate, “(1) the phrase can be taken as a relative clause in which the pronoun refers to Adam, ‘death spread to all people in whom [Adam] all sinned.’ (2) The phrase can be taken with consecutive (resultative) force, meaning ‘death spread to all people with the result that all sinned.’ (3) Others take the phrase as causal in force: ‘death spread to all people because all sinned.’ (Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; [Biblical Studies Press, 2005]). ↩
- “Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. The penalty proclaimed in Eden which has fallen upon the race is primarily the death of the soul (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:21; Eph. 2:1, 5). By it man lost the presence and favor of God as well as the knowledge of and desire for God. Because of this, he needs to be made alive from death (Luke 15:32; John 5:24; 8:51; Eph. 2:5” (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 195). ↩
- “Physical death is the separation of soul and body. It is represented in the Scriptures as a part of the penalty of sin. . . For the Christian, however, death is no longer a penalty, since Christ has endured death as the penalty of sin (Ps. 17:15; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 4:13f.). For him the body sleeps, awaiting the glories of the resurrection, and the soul, absent from the body, enters conciously into the presence of the Lord Jesus (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 194-195). ↩
- “Eternal death is simply the culmination and completion of spiritual death. It is the eternal separation of the soul from God, together with the accompanying remorse and outward punishiment (Matt. 10:28; 25:41; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 10:31; Rev. 14:11).” (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 195) ↩
- Still not convinced that humans are lost and seperated from God? Take a look at Gen 6:5; Pss 14:2-3; Ecc 7:20; 9:3; Isa 53:6; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Rom 8:7-8; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3. ↩
- Exploring Christian Theology, edited by Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2015), p. 71). ↩