This lesson will look at the fall of man or the original sin. I will break this down into three parts: what led up to the fall, the temptation, and the results of the fall. I hope to give you some ammunition so that you might stand in the day of temptation and also understand the atonement better through examining the results of the fall.
Most people start at the 3 parts of the temptation described in Genesis 3:6 when talking about the fall, temptation, and resisting the devil. Although we will do that in this study, it will be part 2. The first part of this lesson is to examine what prepared Adam and Eve to fall.
Let’s first look at God’s words concerning the trees of the garden and then compare them to Eve’s. In Genesis 2:16, 17, the scriptures say, “16 and the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Genesis 3:2, 3 contain Eve’s words. The scripture says, “2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest ye die.”
When we compare God’s words and Eve’s words, we see that Eve subtracted from God’s words by removing the word freely and she also added to God’s words by adding neither shall you touch it. Both the subtraction and the addition are about calling God’s goodness into question.
The word freely speaks of God’s wonderful grace. God was saying with that one word; look at all the blessings I have given you. He wanted Adam and Eve to look at the rich variety of His creation, to see the many fruits and flowers and to see the wonder of His love for them. He was saying you did nothing to earn this, I am giving this to you because I am good and enjoy sharing my goodness with you. By adding the phrase, “neither shall you touch it”, Eve was taking a step towards portraying God as a tyrant. Eve began the walk toward the cliffs of sin by simply failing to be thankful. Thanksgiving for God’s goodness is the greatest protection from sin that has ever existed. Part of faith, your shield in the day of temptation, is simply believing that God is good. Each doubt that we allow to enter our minds about God’s goodness is like lowering our shield in the day of battle. Everywhere in the Bible where man is unthankful (look at Romans 1 for example) it leads him down the path of sin.
Before we move to section 2 of this lesson, the actual temptation, I would like to consider the tree that was the source of the fall. Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What was at question right from the beginning of time was how human beings would acquire knowledge. It was about education and discipleship. God’s way of discipleship and education was and still is in the context of relationship. From Genesis 3:8, we see that God’s pattern was to walk through the garden in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve. God’s pattern was one of walk along, talk along, relationship based education. God’s type of education develops character and context to the knowledge and allows the student to see the world through God’s eyes.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented the other choice in education which is efficiency without character and Godly context. God’s method of discipleship and education is reaffirmed in Deuteronomy 6 where it is fathers (and grandfathers) walking with and talking with their children. Deuteronomy 6 also contains a warning to not forget to be thankful after the Lord blesses you. Our educational systems today both in the world and in the church are firmly aligned with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We should not be surprised when our children go the way of sin as Adam and Eve when we reject God’s good ways.
In part 2, I want to look at the serpent’s temptation of Eve. The devil’s way of operating is to call God’s goodness into question. When someone begins down the dirt road of unthankfulness, the devil is there to quickly pave it and turn it into a four lane superhighway.
There are three types of temptation which are listed in 1 John 2:16. All three are used against Eve. They are: the lust of the flesh (the tree was good for food), the lust of the eyes (it was pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (and a tree to be desired to make one wise). Another 3 fold way that temptations are described in the Bible are the flesh (body), the world (soul), and the devil (spirit). All temptations fall into these categories. After Christ was baptized and led into the wilderness, His temptations also fell into these three categories. He was tempted in all ways that we are and yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
The second part of the temptation that I want the reader to notice is who the devil is directly tempting. The devil is tempting Eve and working through her to get Adam to sin. The devil works to upset God’s authority structure. He is rebellious by nature. Rebellion to God’s authority order is always part of sin. Godly submission is a big factor in resisting the devil and temptation. Even today, the fleshy natural response of men is to abdicate their responsibility and of women is to usurp authority and take responsibility that is not theirs.
The scripture, while recognizing that Eve was deceived, places the responsibility for sin and death entering the world firmly on Adam’s shoulders (see Romans 5). When we look at the account of the fall in Genesis 3:6, it appears that Adam was right next to Eve and she simply handed the fruit to him and he ate too.
One of my daughters during one of our family devotions asked one of those questions that really makes you think, search, and pray. The question was, “Daddy what would have happened if Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit but Adam had refused and remained faithful.” I confess that I did not have an immediate answer but my answer basically was developed by going to Numbers 30. Yes, I know this chapter is specifically about foolish vows which are forgiven but I believe the principle in this chapter is the father is the authority (one who has ultimate responsibility in the household) in the household and has the ability to make the foolish vow of none effect. I considered the response of Adam which was to join in the sin and the response of Jesus which was to say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” My answer to my daughter was if Adam had said Father forgive her for she was deceived, I believe the sin would have been made of none effect and the Lord would have forgiven her. In two words, no fall.
The third and final part of this lesson is to consider the results of the fall. The first consequence of the fall before God even pronounced His judgement was Adam and Eve felt shame at their nakedness and felt the need to hide from the presence of God. This is still the case today. Their is not shame in marriage but those in the world who show their nakedness for the world to see are not getting back to the garden but have what the Bible describes as a seared conscience. You should also notice that they covered themselves in fig leaves. The fig tree is always used in the Bible as a type of self righteousness (as in Israel and the cursed fig tree).
The first part of the judgement is pronounced against the serpent. It may be here that God cursed all snakes by changing their form and making them repugnant to man. A study that I may post in the future is of the cherubims and seraphims. It seems that these living creatures in heaven are the representatives of all of nature around the throne of God. The covering cherub who was Lucifer fell and now is described as the dragon. When you look at the 4 beasts or cherubims around the throne of God in Revelation 4, you will find that there is not a representative of the reptile class of creatures. This seems to be a result of the fall. The seed of the woman (virgin birth) will bruise the serpent’s head and the serpent will bruise Christ’s heel.
The judgement against the woman comes in the form of her monthly cycle. The judgement seems to imply here that it was not a monthly cycle before the fall. Her judgement here also seems to imply that this was the beginning of PMS (her sorrow was multiplied). One last part of the judgement against Eve and all women was their natural inclination would be to rule over their husband or to usurp authority but that he would rule over her. To submit as God calls wives in Ephesians 5 takes the power of the Spirit of God. It should be noted that when women do usurp the authority of men and take on the role of men they also take on the burden of the curse against the man and bear a double burden. Hopefully, I will never see the day when men begin to bear the burden of the curse in childbearing. Women’s lib is not freeing; it is the heaping of extra burdens on the shoulders of our daughters.
Man is cursed in the new form that work takes. Before the fall man was to dress and keep the garden. After the fall, the earth itself was cursed and work became very hard. Thorns and thistles came up and man now worked by the sweat of his brow. It seems also that man became more animal like when his fellowship with God was broken. This can be seen by comparing man’s diet before the fall (Genesis 1:29) and his diet after the fall. Man eats the herb of the field after the fall which is the same as the animals in Genesis 1:30. The more sin affects a man, the more a man becomes like an animal. It is devolution that is the common experience of mankind apart from God not evolution.
The final consequence of the original sin is death. Adam lost his access to the tree of life and lost his fellowship with God. He experienced both physical and spiritual death. By spiritual death, I mean separation from the life giving Holy Spirit. Spiritual death is not annihilation; it is separation. All men are born estranged (Psalm 58) or separated from God. This is what leads all men to sin.
In lesson 4, we will take a look at God’s solution to the fall, sin, and death: redemption.