THE FALL OF MAN
A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME
Since the historical facts concerning Adam and Eve’s disobedience are
basic to a sound understanding of how sin and suffering entered into
the world and the need for a Savior, the pertinent facts are carefully
recorded in the book of Genesis.
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
The first two chapters of Genesis tell us that Adam
and Eve were both created in God’s own image (righteous and free of
sin), and placed in a garden that God had prepared for them. In that
garden they were free to eat of all the trees except one, the tree of
the Knowledge of Good and Evil. [Genesis 1:26,27,31, Genesis 2:15-17,
Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10, Ecclesiastes 7:29.]
The third chapter then tells us that Satan (working
through a serpent) led Eve, and through Eve Adam, to disobey God. The
serpent began by asking Eve if she was allowed to eat from every tree
in the garden. When she told him that God had forbidden her to eat of
the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil lest she die, he
contradicted God by telling her that she would not die but instead
would be as God, knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:1-5). Then,
seeing that the fruit of the tree was good to eat and looked delicious,
she ate of it and convinced her husband to do likewise (Genesis 3:6,7).
That disobedience on the part of Adam and Eve was
the first sin committed by man (Romans 5:12), After committing it
Adam and Eve both became conscious of their own nakedness, and were
ashamed, so they wove fig leaves together to make aprons.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE HISTORICAL
Although the Bible does not tell us why Satan chose
to use a snake rather than a parrot or some other animal when he
deceived Eve, it suggests that his aim was subtlety (Genesis
3:1). He may have also planned to carry out his deception in a
way that some would later find hard to believe. However, we know that
he did use a snake to deceive Eve, and just as his deception was subtle
then, we can expect it to be subtle today. He wants us to regard our
impure thoughts and desires as our will, not his will. He wants women
to believe that abortion is their choice, not his choice. We are more
likely to hear his voice coming from our own wishes and desires, than
from confrontation with anti-Christian bigots (Jeremiah 17:9, James
1:13-15). Nevertheless, it is important to realize that God did not
create the sinful desires which we experience. Adam was not created
with a heart “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”
Instead, sin has corrupted our nature, and, because of that corruption,
we are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). [1John 5:17,
Romans 3:23, Genesis 5:3, Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:7,
Due to the limitation placed upon man's life span by
the fall, God’s command to be fruitful and multiply mandated an
increase in the rate of reproduction, which resulted in an increase in
the sex drive (Genesis 3:16, Romans 5:23). That increase, coupled with
the corruption of our nature wrought by sin, turned male-female
relationships (outside God's ordinance of marriage) into a continual
reenactment of the first temptation (or first sin). For, apart from
marriage a woman's body is a forbidden fruit that provides a continual
source of enticement and temptation to men. At the same time, men have
become a source of enticement to women, and the widespread
identification of the serpent as a phallic symbol reveals the spiritual
significance of that enticement.
If the Biblical record of creation and the fall
lacked any symbolism, the enemies of the Gospel would belittle it as
simplistic. However, since that is not the case, they go to the
opposite extreme and try to pass it off as entirely symbolic and
nothing more. However, their opinions are of little consequence (Luke
7:32-34), for the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth of His Word.
No man-made story even comes close to revealing the depth of insight
into nature and the world around us that is found in the Book of
Genesis (1Corinthians 3:19).
As a consequence of Adam’s sin, Satan was able to
gain dominion over him, his descendants, and the physical universe
which God had placed under his authority (2Corinthians 4:4). In other
words, because he chose to sin, we are born in the bondage of sin
(Romans 5:14,17). Just as we are citizens of this country because of a
decision by our ancestors, Adam’s decision to sin brought us, and all
that was under his authority, under Satan’s dominion (Romans 5:12,14,
Ephesians 2:3, Romans 6:16). Thus, God's curse came upon the entire
visible creation through the sin of Adam. As a result decay,
corruption, and the tendency toward destruction became a part of the
very nature of things (Hebrews 1:10-12). The entire universe is now
growing old, the rotation of the earth is slowing down, the moon is
getting farther from the earth, and the sun will eventually grow dark
and cold. Likewise, in our own lives we see conflict, corruption,
sickness, pain, and decay. However, all of these consequences should be
recognized as a testimony to the fact that we are all sinners in need
of a Savior (Luke 13:1-5).
If it sometimes seems like the innocent suffer, that
suffering should be recognized as a testimony to the fact that in the
eyes of God “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). If
anyone were truly innocent, they would never die (Romans 5:12,18,
Romans 6:23). Therefore, the consequences of sin are themselves an
expression of God’s call to repentance, for it is only because sin
brings suffering that we are able to recognize the true nature of sin
and our need to be delivered from it. In other words, if sin had no
consequences, it is doubtful that anyone would ever repent.
Nevertheless, we need to distinguish between the consequences of sin
and its punishment. The punishment of sin is hell, and if God gave us
what we really deserve, we would all be instantly plunged into hell
(Lamentations 3:22). As it is written, “He hath not dealt with us after
our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
The historical record of the fall is basic to our
understanding of why it was necessary for Christ to come into the
world, and why we need a Savior (Romans 5:12,19). To put it briefly,
because all men have a fallen nature, all men are by their very nature
sinners in need of a Savior (Ephesians 2:3). Furthermore, since no man
can change his own nature, no man can save himself (Jeremiah 13:23).
One cannot understand God’s law aright until one understands that fact,
for the purpose of the law is to show us why we need Christ.
1- What was the first sin committed by man?
2- Why did Satan use a snake to deceive Eve?
3- Is Satan always open and obvious?
4- What do Jeremiah 17:9 and James 1:13-15 tell us about human nature?
5- Was man originally created with a sinful nature?
6- What was the result of Adam's decision to yield obedience to Satan?
7- What is the presence of sickness, pain, suffering, and death a
8- Why do those who seem innocent and righteous suffer?
9- If there was no pain or trouble in the world, would we ever realize
that we were sinners?
10- Why should we be thankful that God has not dealt with us according
to our iniquities?