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9. Consequences of Sin

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When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” And the Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field! On your belly you will crawl and dust you will eat all the days of your life. And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” But to Adam he said, “Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:6-19 (NET)

What are the consequences of sin? We’ve considered some of them throughout our study, such as humanity experiencing Adam’s guilt and therefore death (Rom 5:12, 17), and also humanity receiving Adam’s sin nature (Psalm 51:5, Gal 5:17-20)—a propensity to sin; however, these consequences and more were first introduced by God after the fall.

Right after Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, God prophesied numerous, severe consequences from their failure, which would affect not only them but also their children and all of creation. Many of these consequences get worse as people continue to practice sin. As we study these, it shows us why the world is the way it is, but it also warns us against continuing in our parents’ disregard for God and his Word.

Humanity Has the Capacity to Do Great Evil

When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Genesis 3:6-7

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (3:6), immediately their eyes were “opened,” and they knew they were naked (v. 7). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil gave them knowledge to do both great good and great evil (Gen 2:17). Humans have the capacity to create wonderful architecture, artwork, and make great discoveries in science, including cures for diseases. But, they also have the capacity to create great evil, including harmful drugs and weapons of mass destruction. Before the fall, humans only had the capacity to do great good, and only by depending upon God. But now, both good and evil can be done independent of God. In fact, “good” can even be done in defiance of God. For example, all the good works the Pharisees did—their giving, fasting, and teaching—were done to bring glory to themselves, as they sought the praise and affection of people instead of God (cf. Matt 6:1-5). Humanity’s good works are the same—when done apart from God, they are just a veil for vanity or an effort to achieve some self-oriented benefit, including salvation. Therefore, even humanity’s so called “good works” are evil to God. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight.”

Because of the fall, humanity has a sin nature and a tremendous capacity to do great evil. Galatians 5:19-21 describes the works of the flesh, which are innate, within every person:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

Some of these works seem mundane, like “envying,” while others are tremendously evil, like “murder” and “sexual immorality,” which include things like suicide, manslaughter, genocide, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia, and rape. However, it must be realized that all of these are inside every person because we all have a flesh. Some are more prone to certain sins because of family history, abuse, or other types of exposure. Because of our parents’ eating of the forbidden tree, we now have a flesh and a tremendous capacity for evil.

Humanity Lacks Transparency and Intimacy with One Another

… they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Genesis 3:6

When Adam and Eve knew they were naked, they hid from one another and clothed themselves with fig leaves. Previously, Adam and Eve lived in a perfectly transparent relationship with no secrets, but after the fall, that was lost. Likewise, today, people struggle with transparency. They live in fear of what people will think or say about them; therefore, they hide in shame—keeping secrets from one another. Even families often don’t share everything with one another. Shame is also a more dominant characteristic in certain cultures and with certain individuals. This is a result of the fall. Because of fear and shame, people lack transparency and therefore the genuine intimate relationships with one another we are meant to have.

Humanity Lacks Transparency and Intimacy with God

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.

Genesis 3:8

When Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden, they hid from him. As mentioned previously, Adam and Eve died, in a sense, immediately after they ate from the tree. Death simply means separation. After the fall, Adam and Eve were separated from God. They began to hide from him because of their sin, and so do humans today. Scripture is not the story of people seeking God; it is the story of God seeking after people who have turned away from God. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path.” Also, Romans 3:11 says, “No one seeks God.” Certainly, people go on spiritual journeys where they attempt to seek God, but their natures, apart from God’s grace, don’t seek the true God. Instead, they seek, create, and worship idols. Romans 1:22-23 says, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” Humans, because of their sin natures, are idol factories. Apart from God’s grace removing their blindness (2 Cor 4:4-6), they create and worship gods of their imagination instead of the true God. In fact, Romans 8:7 says “the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.” Our flesh, referring to our sinful nature, is hostile to God, won’t submit to him, and can’t do so. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” People don’t seek God, can’t understand him, and won’t submit to him. Adam’s rebellious nature was passed on to his seed, which is why we need God to seek us, to draw us to himself (John 6:44), and even give us faith to be saved (Eph 2:8-9, Phil 1:29). At the fall, people lost intimacy and transparency with God. Instead, they hide from God, suppress the truth of his existence and righteous nature, and worship false gods, including themselves (Rom 1:18-22).

Humanity Struggles with Fear

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

Genesis 3:9-10

After the fall, Adam experienced a new emotion, which was fear. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had never been afraid. First John 4:18 says, “perfect love drives out fear.” Since they dwelled in perfect, loving relationships with God and one another, they never struggled with fear. However, when sin entered the world, humans, by nature, rejected God’s perfect love and became incapable of perfectly loving one another; therefore, fear became the norm. They would fear God, one another, the future, the past, disaster, animals, and many other things. Certainly, this all is true today. People live in fear. Fear is actually what drives the insurance industry. People are afraid of getting into a car accident or experiencing natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. They are afraid of dying. Sometimes, they are afraid of living too long and getting old. People are afraid. In fact, since God did not make humans to live in fear, it has devastating effects on our mind and body. When we are living in anxiety and fear, it often causes our bodies to turn on themselves; we start to struggle with sickness and depression, which come from fear and stress (cf. Prov 12:25, 17:22). As happened with Adam, fear also can make us irrational. Because of these irrational fears, we at times even turn away from those who love us most, like God, friends, and family, and at worst, even seek to hurt them. Because of the fall, people struggle with many phobias.

Humanity Blames Others Instead of Accepting Personal Responsibility

And the Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:11-13

When God asked Adam if he ate from the tree, he didn’t simply answer, “Yes.” He blamed the woman and by implication, God. He said, “The woman whom YOU gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it” (emphasis added). Then, God asked the woman, who also didn’t simply accept responsibility; she blamed the serpent. And this is now a normal characteristic of our sinful nature—avoiding responsibility and blaming others. Instead of accepting personal responsibility, people blame their parents, the school system, the government, God, Satan, and even sin itself. Commonly, especially in psychological circles, sin is looked at as a disease or orientation, instead of as one’s personal choice. For the drunk who beats his wife, he is at times told, “It’s not your fault! You have a disease!” However, unless people accept personal responsibility for their sin, they will never be set free from it. This is now the nature of humanity—avoiding or lessening responsibility by blaming others.

Humanity, and Specifically Women, Are in a Cosmic Battle with Evil Forces

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field! On your belly you will crawl and dust you will eat all the days of your life. And I will put hostility between you and the woman…

Genesis 3:14-15

After Adam and Eve accepted responsibility, God cursed the serpent and declared that he would slither on the ground all the days of his life (v. 14). Also, God declared that there would be enmity between the serpent and the woman (v. 15). These prophecies seem to have dual fulfillments. Apparently, snakes initially walked instead of slithering on the ground. God held the snake culpable for submitting to Satan (cf. Rev 12:9). But, the prophecy also was spoken to the spirit empowering the serpent, Satan. There would be an enduring enmity between the serpent and the woman.

How is the enmity between the serpent and the woman seen? No doubt, it is, in part, seen in the troubled history women have had. They have often been enslaved, trafficked, and sexually abused. They have also experienced a continual fight for equal rights with men—the right to vote, to have equal wages, and job opportunities. This fight, though having led to many good things, has also at times led to many evils, including women neglecting their call to be a wife and mother, as though these callings are oppressive. It has also led many to abort their children and champion abortion as a woman’s right. This enmity between Satan and the woman is also seen in how women’s bodies are often exploited. They are used to sell every product under the sun—cologne, beer, food, cars, and houses. This exploitation often creates great insecurities in women. They have to have the perfect body, skin, and smile. These insecurities often lead to all types of disorders—anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, and eating disorder, among others. It does not take much consideration of society to see how there is a great enmity between Satan and the woman.

Though the prophecy is focused on the enmity between Satan and the woman, it certainly includes, to some extent, all who would come from her—males and females. Satan and his demons are in a continual battle to steal, kill, and destroy people (cf. John 10:10)—keeping them away from God and their God-ordained callings. Satan and his demons are against all people, but they have a special enmity against women.

Humanity Is Antagonistic to Christ (and His Followers)

And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”

Genesis 3:15

When God spoke about Satan’s enmity against the woman’s offspring, he had one particular male offspring in mind—Christ who would eventually defeat Satan. Genesis 3:15 is often called the proto-gospel—the first gospel. Satan would attack the heel of Christ, a flesh wound, and Christ would attack Satan’s head—a mortal blow. This ultimately happened at the cross. When Christ died, it seemed like a victory for Satan, but it was short-lived. Ultimately, in the resurrection, Christ defeated the devil, and one day Christ will destroy all the works of the devil by restoring creation. First John 3:8 says, “…For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.”

Another aspect of this prophecy is how Satan’s offspring would have enmity with the messiah. Who is the offspring of Satan? Scripture actually says that everybody is born an offspring of Satan until they are born again into the family of God (cf. John 3:1-8). First John 3:10 says, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow Christian—is not of God.” Therefore, humanity has a natural enmity towards Christ, which was demonstrated when Israel and the Romans crucified him. In John 8:40-44, Jesus actually told the Pharisees that they were doing the deeds of their father, the devil, by trying to kill him. Their father was a murderer and so were they, as they eventually succeeded in killing him. This enmity was also seen in how the early church was persecuted for their belief in Christ—leading the church to spread throughout the ancient world (Acts 8:1, 11:19-20). Likewise, persecution towards believers has only increased since then. Jesus taught that in the end times his disciples would be hated by all nations for his name’s sake (Matt 24:9). History has born this out. There were more martyrs in this last century than all the previous centuries combined. Today, some statistics say that around 246 believers are martyred every day.1 Certainly, God’s original prophecy about enmity towards the promised seed has been fulfilled over and over again. The enmity towards Christ and his followers continues to grow, and no doubt, Christ’s prophecy will fully come true. Believers will be hated by every nation because of his name’s sake (Matt 24:9).

Humanity, and Specifically Women, Experience Great Pains in Childbirth

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children…

Genesis 3:16

When God described the woman’s pain in childbirth, this seems to refer to more than birth contractions. The woman would experience pain in the death of the child and sometimes her death from labor. There would be pain, at times, in not being able to bear children. There are many pains associated with childbearing.

In addition, it appears that these pains are still increasingly experienced when God judges a society because of their unrestrained sin. Consider what God said to Israel in Hosea 9:11-14:

Ephraim will be like a bird; what they value will fly away. They will not bear children— they will not enjoy pregnancy— they will not even conceive! Even if they raise their children, I will take away every last one of them. Woe to them! For I will turn away from them. Just as lion cubs are born predators, so Ephraim will bear his sons for slaughter. Give them, O Lord—what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry, and breasts that cannot nurse!

Because of Israel’s sin, they would struggle with getting pregnant (v. 11). When they did get pregnant, their children would be taken away from them (v. 12). Some would die in the womb from miscarriages; others would die after birth for various reasons. Hosea said they would bear sons for the “slaughter” (v. 13)—possibly as they die by accidents, street violence, or war.

No doubt, many of our societies are experiencing these same judgments because of our individual and national sins—difficulty in having children and the early death of children. Many of these premature deaths are at the hands of parents, doctors, and governments through abortions. Scripture teaches that pain in childbearing is a result of the fall, but it also increases because of individual and corporate sin.

Humanity Experiences Great Discord within Marriage (and Other Relationships)

You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.

Genesis 3:16b

God also told Eve that she would experience great discord within her marriage. Before the fall, there was perfect bliss in the marriage. The husband would love his wife, and the wife would respect and follow her husband (cf. Eph 5:22-33). However, after the fall, everything was switched. The wife, instead of submitting to her husband, would try to control him. She would often do this through manipulation—using sex. Or sometimes through her constant complaining. Solomon described how a nagging wife was like a constant dripping (Prov 27:15). He said it was better to live on a corner of the housetop than in a house with a quarrelsome wife (Prov 21:9). However, the curse doesn’t stop there; it also affected the husband. Instead of gently leading his wife, the husband would seek to dominate her. He would do this through his harsh words and sometimes through physical abuse, including sexual abuse. Because of sin, couples experience the battle of the sexes, instead of the joy of perfectly complementing each other, as God originally planned. In various societies, we see extremes on both ends. In some, the husband is the doormat—the wife makes all the decisions and rules the home. In others, the wife is the doormat—she is to be unseen and unheard.

This curse is even seen outside of marriage, amongst singles. It is seen in the predatorial woman who uses her beauty and manipulation to control men—making her way up the corporate ladder, or by luring financially successful men into relationships, or simply through prostitution. We also see this in the predatorial man who tries to conquer and sleep with as many women as possible—treating them as prey, instead of as humans with dignity and honor.

With all that said, this discord between husbands and wives is simply a picture of what would happen throughout society. There would be discord among siblings, co-workers, political parties, ethnic groups, and nations. Because of conflict, society experiences very little peace. Since the foundation of society—the home—is broken, every other facet of society is broken as well. This is all a result of the fall.

Humanity Experiences the Curse throughout the Earth

But to Adam he said, “Because you obeyed your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground thanks to you … It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field.

Genesis 3:17a, 18

Since Adam was originally placed as head over creation, his fall affected all of creation negatively. God cursed the ground (v. 17); instead of being fruitful, it would produce thorns and thistles (v. 18). Romans 8:20 says creation was subjected to “frustration” (NIV) because of Adam’s sin. These frustrations are seen in famines where there is no food, droughts with no water, earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and the like. Because of Adam’s sin, creation was cursed.

In fact, like with women’s childbearing, the earth is still affected by humanity’s continual sin. In Genesis 4, because Cain killed his brother, God made Cain a wanderer. He would be a wanderer because wherever he went, the ground would not consistently produce crops. Therefore, he would have to wander to eat. In Genesis 4:11-12, God said this to Cain:

So now, you are banished from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you try to cultivate the ground it will no longer yield its best for you. You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.

Also, when the world became corrupt in Genesis 7, God brought the flood, which destroyed all of mankind, except Noah’s family. Likewise, with Israel, God commanded them to not practice the sins of the Canaanites lest they defile the land and it vomit them up (Lev 18:27-28). Throughout Israel’s history, there were famines and droughts, sometimes for years (1 Kings 17-18), because of their rebellion against God. Our sins still affect the land negatively. In fact, Christ said that in the last days, humanity’s sin would be so bad, the land would react as if it were in birth pains. There will be great earthquakes, famines, pestilence, and cosmic disasters (Matt 24:7-8, 29).

Humanity Experiences the Curse, including Pain and Frustration, in Work

in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat food

Genesis 3:17b-19a

When Adam worked, he would experience “painful toil” (v. 17) and “sweat” (v. 19). In addition, his work would not always produce the expected outcome. Sometimes, instead of producing fruit, it produced “thorns and thistles” (v. 18)—creating great frustration. It must be remembered that God originally gave Adam and Eve work before the fall. They were to not only fill the earth but “subdue it” and “rule” over it (Gen 1:28). This means they were to be good stewards of the earth—studying it, mining its resources, using it to feed themselves and others, and helping it prosper. Work was meant to be a blessing and a way to imitate God who worked by creating the earth and who works in maintaining it (Col 1:17, Matt 6:26-30). However, after the fall, humanity would experience pain and frustration in work. This has been true throughout history. Though work is a great joy and the way we provide for ourselves, it is a constant pain and source of frustration. Studies show that most people are unsatisfied with their work and many hate it.2 No doubt, because of this reality, Solomon realized that when people find enjoyment in their labor, it is a gift from God. In Ecclesiastes 2:24, he said, “There is nothing better for people than to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in their work. I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment comes from God.” As a result of the curse, people struggle with great pain and frustration in their work, instead of the enjoyment and fruitfulness God originally intended.

Humanity Ultimately Experiences Death

By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 3:19

Finally, God told Adam that he would die, which was a fulfillment of God’s original warning to not eat of the forbidden tree lest they die (Gen 2:17). Death was going to happen to Adam and Eve and their children. When we get to Genesis 5, we find the first genealogy, which essentially repeatedly says, “So and so lived and then he died, so and so lived and then he died…” (paraphrase). Now, every person will die. Hebrews 9:27 says, “… people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment.”

It should be noted that in Genesis 3:22, God says this about Adam: “he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” God did not want people to live in this sinful condition forever; therefore, they were not allowed to eat of the tree of life. In that sense, death is a blessing, specifically for those who give their lives to Christ (John 3:16). One day, at death, God will free believers from our sinful nature and the consequences of it. And when Christ returns, he will resurrect believers, heal the land, and restore God’s creation (cf. Col 1:19-20, Rev 20, Rev 21:1). Until then, we must put our hope in Christ and follow him.

Conclusion

What are the consequences of sin, and thus the fall?

  1. Humanity Has the Capacity to Do Great Evil
  2. Humanity Lacks Transparency and Intimacy with One Another
  3. Humanity Lacks Transparency and Intimacy with God
  4. Humanity Struggles with Fear
  5. Humanity Blames Others Instead of Accepting Personal Responsibility
  6. Humanity, and Specifically Women, Are in a Cosmic Battle with Evil Forces
  7. Humanity Is Antagonistic to Christ (and His Followers)
  8. Humanity, and Specifically Women, Experience Great Pains in Childbirth
  9. Humanity Experiences Great Discord within Marriage (and Other Relationships)
  10. Humanity Experiences the Curse throughout the Earth
  11. Humanity Experiences the Curse, including Pain and Frustration, in Work
  12. Humanity, Ultimately, Experiences Death

Reflection

  1. Which consequence(s) of the fall stood out most and why?
  2. In what ways do we see the enmity between Satan and the woman in society?
  3. How does humanity’s continual practice of sin increase the experience of many of these consequences in society? Give examples.
  4. What other questions or applications did you take from the reading?

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the NET Bible ® copyright © 1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.

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1 Accessed 7/27/20 from https://www.foxnews.com/politics/christian-persecution-how-many-are-being-killed-where-they-are-being-killed

2 Accessed 4/7/20 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/06/20/most-americans-are-unhappy-at-work/#4e01599341a1

Related Topics: Christian Life, Hamartiology (Sin)

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