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The Fall of Man in God's Perfect Plan

Introduction

A few years ago, Delta Flight 191 crashed at Dallas-Fort Worth airport killing scores of people and injuring others. Pieces of wreckage were carefully removed and stored for further analysis. Since that time, the cause of the crash has been the focus of extended research, analysis, and even litigation. Understandably, the cause of such a tragedy is of great concern.

Few could deny that something seems desperately wrong with the world in which we live. This very day Kurdish people endure unimaginable suffering at the hands of the Iraqi army and even of nature itself. Innocent children starve to death. The Nazi regime cruelly slaughtered millions of Jews not so long ago, while the world knew better and chose to look away. Rampant crime, cruelty, corruption, and injustice exist side by side. Pollution, nuclear waste, disintegration of the ozone layer, acid rain, and a host of other maladies are bringing the earth itself to the brink of disaster. Among the informed, little optimism remains.

The desperate plight of our planet has convinced some that there is no God. Those who do believe in a God find God somehow responsible for all that is painful. They think God is either cruel or that He is not in control. But God is in control. His perfect plan does include the suffering and agony we see all about us. In answering “What in the world is going on?”, another question must be asked and then answered: “What in the world went wrong?” That question forms the basis of our lesson.

In this lesson we will trace sin and suffering to its earthly origins and causes. God’s Word clearly and emphatically tells us why the world is in such a pathetic plight: By divine permission Satan tempted Adam and Eve; they sinned, and God has graciously pronounced upon all creation a curse for which He has provided the cure.

We begin our study at the outset of human history as recorded in the first few chapters of Genesis. We will consider the biblical account of creation, the fall, and its consequences for mankind. We will show how the fall fits into God’s plan for man up to the present. Turning to the final chapters of the Bible where God concludes His plan for creation, we will see how the fall of man played a major role in the carrying out of God’s plan.

The Scene is Set: Genesis 1 and 2

The more I study the early chapters of Genesis the more convinced I have become of their purpose. Providing a scientific explanation of creation39 is not the purpose of chapters 1 and 2. Rather, their purpose is to set the scene for the fall of man, a major turning point in the history of creation.

Genesis 1 describes the creation of our world as it relates to God’s purpose for man. Man was created by God to rule over His creation:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-31).

Man’s purpose was to exercise dominion over all creation, in God’s image. Adam and his wife were to rule over the earth. They were to reproduce, to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” Every plant and tree was provided for their food.

Genesis 1 portrays the big picture, the role Adam and Eve were to play in relation to the entire creation. Genesis 2 narrows the focus to the garden of Eden. Adam was placed in the garden to cultivate or keep it. This was no ordinary orchard; God had planted various trees in the garden to provide for man’s needs. All the trees shared the common characteristics of being “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” The “fruit” of the two trees in the center of the garden would provide either “life” or “the knowledge of good and evil.”

The fruit of all but one tree was provided for Adam and Eve to eat. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” though pleasing to look at and good for food, was not good for man. Eating its fruit would give the partaker a knowledge of good and evil, but it would also certainly produce his or her death.

When God formed every creature from the dust of the ground, He caused each to pass before Adam for him to name. Each had its own mate, its counter-part. These pairs of creatures were able to procreate and fulfill the mandate to multiply and fill the earth. Not so with Adam. He too needed a counterpart--a wife. God wanted Adam to sense this need, and then joyfully receive the one whom He fashioned to meet his need.

After showing Adam his need for a helper, God created one. Rather than create the woman from the ground, God put Adam to sleep and fashioned her from a rib which He took from Adam’s side. Neither Adam nor Eve had parents. Eve was brought into being through Adam’s flesh. Eve had no tie to her parents, but only union with her husband. Because of the nature of this first relationship between Adam and Eve, Moses parenthetically interjects the principle that when a man and woman come together, the husband must subordinate the tie he once had with his parents to the tie he now has with his wife (verse 24).

Before studying the fall of man in Genesis 3, let us pause to reflect on the setting described in the first two chapters. Genesis 1 serves as a commentary on the fall of man in chapter 3. According to this account, all of creation came into existence in response to one thing: the spoken Word of God. God spoke creation into existence. The key words of chapter one are, “God said . . .” The spoken Word of God is precisely what Satan first questioned, and then denied. What basis did Adam have for believing God’s word? God’s Word brought all of creation into existence. The God who said, “. . . from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (2:17) is the God who had said, “Let there be . . .” and with these words brought the world into existence.

Genesis 2 likewise is most significant when read in light of chapter 3. In chapter 3, Satan convinced the woman that God was holding back something “good” from her by prohibiting her from eating of the forbidden tree. With Satan’s prompting, Eve becomes convinced of her need to “know good and evil” and feels compelled to eat of the fruit of that forbidden tree. But all of chapter 2 denies what Eve assumed about God. Chapter 2 has a prominent theme: God provides what is lacking and necessary. Chapter 2 describes the creation of the garden, of Adam, and of Eve--all pointing to God’s provision of what was lacking and necessary.

No shrubs or trees were yet on the earth in chapter 2 (verse 4). There was no rain to water the plants or a man present to cultivate the land. God therefore planted a garden with trees providing all that was needed, a river for irrigation, and a man to cultivate the land. There was also a need for a helper for Adam, and so God fashioned the perfect mate. At every point of legitimate need, God created what was needed. How, then, dare Satan suggest (or Eve believe) that God had withheld something from her which she needed?

The Fall of Man: Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And 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, lest you die.’ “ And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be 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 from its fruit and ate; and she gave also 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 loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said,” The serpent deceived me, and I ate. “

And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. “ To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”--therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-24).

This lesson seeks to view the fall of man in the light of the overall plan of God for creation. Therefore, although a more detailed exposition of the text would be most profitable, we must limit ourselves to a few observations and comments. Hopefully, they will serve as a stimulus for your additional study.

(1) The fall seems to take place early, quickly, with no resistance at all. Paul’s description of his struggle with sin in Romans 7 evidences a very real struggle. Genesis 3 appears to have no struggle at all. Neither Eve nor Adam raise so much as one word of protest or argument against Satan. They appear to be easy prey for his cunning attack. One would have expected Eve to at least have said something like, “Well, what do you know, a talking snake. Adam, come over here. You’ve got to see this!” It all happened so fast, so easily. Even in his unfallen state, man was no match for the wiles of Satan.

(2) Satan and Eve are prominent in the account of the fall; Adam is less prominent. Adam’s sin is more passive in nature, while that of the serpent and Eve is more aggressive. The leader followed, and the followers led.

(3) The fall reverses the divinely established order of authority. The “chain-of-command” is God: Adam, Eve, creature (which surely includes the serpent). The order of actions related to the fall are: serpent, Eve, Adam. When God confronts those responsible for the fall, the order is that of His chain-of-command: Adam (verse 9), Eve (verse 13), the serpent (verse 14).40 It is little wonder that the one who rebelled against God’s authority over him (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15) would seek to overturn God’s order of authority.

(4) Eve was deceived; Adam was not. Eve did not know what she was doing as Adam did. Adam’s sin was the more culpable, both because he was the one who was to lead and because he sinned knowingly rather than ignorantly.41

(5) None of the participants assumes responsibility for their actions, and no one repents of their sin. Rather than assume responsibility for their own actions, Adam and Even passed the responsibility on. From their actions in Genesis 3:7-8 and Job’s statement in Job 31:33, we know Adam tried to conceal rather than confess his sin.

(6) Satan’s deception greatly distorted Eve’s perspective. The God who generously provided all things for Adam and Eve to “richly enjoy” is quickly perceived as a tight-fisted tyrant because one fruit is forbidden. The forbidden fruit was now seen as desirable even though it was deadly. The tree of life was overshadowed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve saw only this one forbidden tree as “good for food” and as a “delight to the eyes,” when in reality every tree in the garden had these same qualities (see Genesis 2:9).

(7) Satan succeeded in persuading Adam and Eve to trust his words, while doubting and disobeying God’s Word. The Word of God which so recently brought the universe into existence (see 1:14) was first questioned and then denied once it forbade the fruit of the forbidden tree.

(8) Man’s disobedience in the garden is the fruit of unbelief, just as his obedience would have been the fruit of faith. Why was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil forbidden? Our text indicates a fascinating twist in Eve’s thinking. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil enabled one to know good and evil (see 3:22), which Eve deceptively believed was both necessary and beneficial.42 It was neither. Eve only needed to know that God had forbidden the fruit of this tree.

Had Eve trusted God, she would have found His Word sufficient. She needed only to know who had forbidden the fruit, not why the fruit was forbidden. Eve needed only to know what God had said--she did not need to understand why the fruit of that one tree was forbidden.

There is an important principle to be seen here: God desires from us the obedience of faith. Such obedience is not based upon our understanding of why we are to act as God requires, but simply because it is God who requires it.

The obedience of faith is based on our faith in God, not on our understanding of why God calls one thing good and another evil. Parents teach their children to obey on the same basis. You cannot explain to a young child why an electrical outlet is dangerous. You can only forbid them to touch it, because you said so, and because they trust your word.

How quickly we shake our heads and point our finger at Eve. “How foolish not to have trusted God and obeyed His clear command,” we say. Eve’s temptation is still with us, and her sin is routinely repeated without our even knowing it because of our warped perception. We say we desire to obey God, but we want to understand why we should obey Him before we do. We want to understand why God has commanded some things and prohibited others. When we fail to understand the reason, as quickly and easily as Eve, we reject God’s commandment.

One example relates directly to our text. Because of Eve’s part in the fall, women are now prohibited from places of preeminence and power in the church. Found in more than one text, Paul’s teaching is clear:

Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? (1 Corinthians 14:34-36).

Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Timothy 2:8-15).

Does anyone doubt the response Paul expected from his instruction here? Then why do churches all over the world place women in leadership positions in spite of the clear prohibition of Scripture? Because they find God’s reasons difficult to understand and even harder to accept. When God’s Word does not make sense to us, we disregard His teaching no matter how clear it may be. Just as Eve became convinced that God was holding back something good and desirable from her in the forbidden fruit, women wince at Paul’s words, believing he has restricted them from something which is both desirable and needed.

Following Eve’s footsteps is not limited to women. Like Adam, men find it easier to sit back and let the women take over rather than assume the leadership role God has given them.

In the Old Testament Law, distinctions between clean and unclean foods were made by God and imposed on the Israelites. After the coming of the Lord Jesus, these distinctions were set aside (see Mark 7:18-19; Acts 10-11). From a human point of view, I believe these distinctions were arbitrary. Some try to offer explanations for them, but I believe there are no explanations. God simply wanted His people to obey Him by observing these distinctions, even though they did not understand them. Understanding why God wants us to obey in a particular way requires leaning on our own understanding rather than simply trusting in Him. This is God’s way, as it has always been:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7).43

The fall of man occurred with unbelievable speed and ease. God’s response was prompt, pointed, and painful. In addition to the general curse of death, individual curses were pronounced on the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Each curse was particularly suited to the nature of the offense.

Satan’s curse was three-fold. First, all the days of his life, the serpent would eat dust and crawl on his belly. a humbling fate for one so proud and haughty. This one who desired to reign from on high was cut down to the earth (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Far from walking tall on the earth, the serpent must henceforth crawl in the dust.

Second, God put enmity between the woman and the serpent. Had Eve been more than willing to engage in conversation with the serpent? Never again, for she would now flee from him on sight. And third comes the most encouraging curse of all: Satan’s curse finally ends with his destruction. Did the serpent cause the woman to stumble and trip? One of her offspring will crush the serpent’s head with a fatal striking blow. In the process, Christ will suffer a bruised heel, an injury our Lord chooses to inflict upon Himself.44

Eve’s curse is two-fold. Her sin involved doubting and disobeying God, and also acting independently of her husband. Eve led when she should have been following. Her deliverance would be through her “seed,” who would crush the serpent’s head. The process through which her deliverance came would be painful to her seed (the bruised heel) and also to her. Child-bearing, the means of her deliverance, would be a painful event. Labor pains were a part of Eve’s curse, and for all women who follow in childbirth.

Eve’s second curse was to be ruled over by her husband. Had she taken charge in the fall? She would now be ruled by her husband. God created Eve to be her husband’s helper, not his leader. We must remember that Adam’s headship, even before the fall, was based on his prior existence and the fact that Eve was created from his flesh (see 1 Corinthians 11:3-12, especially verses 8-12). Even before the fall, Eve should have played a subordinate role to Adam, similar to the subordination of the Son to the Father. God’s words to Eve are: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16b).

At first glance it seems as though God is saying the woman will be attracted to her husband, and that he will rule over her. I believe the curse should be understood differently. The same expression which occurs in Genesis 3:16 is also found in Genesis 4 where God warns Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7b).

In this context, the sin crouching at Cain’s door desires to master him. God admonishes Cain that he must not let this happen. Cain must not let sin master him; instead, he must master sin. God’s words to Eve should therefore be understood in this way: “Your desire will be to dominate your husband, but your curse will be that he will rule over you.”

The woman’s curse brings for her the opposite of what she desires.45

Adam is cursed with labor pains of a different order. God identifies one of Adam’s sins as “listening to his wife.” “Listen” is synonymous with the term “obey.” Rather than lead, Adam followed, disobeying God. Rather than following God and her husband, Eve led. Because of this reversal of obedience, God pronounced two curses on Adam.

First, the ground was cursed and would rebel against Adam even as he had rebelled against God. Adam was to exercise dominion over the creation. His task was to cultivate the land. Before his disobedience, the land provided Adam with all he needed. Now, the land would be in rebellion against him, and he would have to fight for everything which the land only begrudgingly yielded to him. Thorns and thistles would now grow as willingly as food-producing plants once did. From this point on, nothing would come easy. Existence became a matter of survival by the sweat of his face.

Second, while Adam would spend his life fighting the ground for food for himself and his family, ultimately he would succumb to the ground. As he had come from the dust, in death he would return to the dust. The ground seems to win the life-long struggle which man’s curse destines him to wage with it.

The Curse Continues

The curses of Genesis 3:14-19 included not only Adam, Eve, and the serpent but also their offspring. It did not take long to see the consequences of these curses in the life of this man and his wife, as well as in their offspring.

Adam and Eve gained a knowledge of good and evil, one they would regret. Gone was the innocence they had once enjoyed. Their nakedness, which once caused them no shame (Genesis 2:25), now made them ashamed to stand before God. Hastily made loin coverings with fig leaves still made them feel naked and ashamed. The daily encounter with God to which they once looked forward they now sought to avoid. They were banned from the garden and from access to the tree of life (3:22-24). Their son Cain killed his brother Abel (4:1-11). Later, Lamech boasted to his wives about killing a young lad who had struck him (4:23-24). Genesis 5, a virtual graveyard, lists the life span and deaths of Adam and Eve’s offspring. When we reach the sixth chapter of Genesis, the whole earth has become corrupt, requiring the judgment of the flood.

When the world started afresh with Noah and the seven other members of his family, one might expect things to improve. They did not. Noah became drunk, resulting in the curse he pronounced on Canaan, his grandson (see Genesis 9:25-27). By Genesis 11, men join together to disobey the divine command to Noah and his descendants to disperse and populate the earth (9:1). When men banded together to build the city and the tower of Babel, God stopped them in their tracks by confusing their languages (11:1-9). Things went from bad to worse. Clearly, the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden was the fall of man.

The Curse and Its Consequences

Monumental consequences resulted from the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Those consequences were the result of the curses associated with the fall. God’s curses fell not only upon Adam and Eve but upon all of their offspring. Paul speaks in Romans and in 1 Corinthians of the on-going effects of Adam’s sin:

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--for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:12-21).

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

The history of man, and especially of God’s people, bears constant witness to the sinfulness of man. Their sins were the result of the sins of their forefathers and of their own waywardness as well:

“Your first forefather sinned, and your spokesmen have transgressed against Me” (Isaiah 43:27).

“Now it will come about when you tell this people all these words that they will say to you, ‘For what reason has the Lord declared all this great calamity against us? And what is our iniquity, or what is our sin which we have committed against the Lord our God?’ “Then you are to say to them, ‘It is because your forefathers have forsaken Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘and have followed other gods and served them and bowed down to them; but Me they have forsaken and have not kept My law. ‘You too have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me” (Jeremiah 16:10-12).

The biblical account of the fall of man recorded in Genesis 3 explains the mess we see within us and in the world without. Adam’s sin explains the sin nature within each of us. We sin because we are like Adam, our father. The sufferings of man and all of creation are the consequences of the fall of man:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it (Romans 8:18-25).

Good News for a Fallen World

Are you perplexed by the evil, suffering, and injustice of our world? You need look no further for the explanation. Man and creation are suffering and groaning due to the consequences of sin. Something is wrong with the world: Satan, sin, and sinners. This is the bad news. The good news is that God included sin and suffering in His plan for creation. How can this be? The explanation is found in the Bible, which speaks of God’s plan for man and creation. Let us consider several reasons why a good God has incorporated man’s fall and its consequences into His plan for creation.

(1) God’s response to the fall of man demonstrates His glory. God’s dealings with sinful men most effectively manifest His glory:

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:6-7).

God’s purpose is to demonstrate His glory. Since the way He deals with sin reveals His glory, the fall of man is included in God’s plan for creation. The fall of man is the context in which God’s glory is revealed.

(2) God’s plan, established before the foundation of the world, anticipated sin and the suffering it would bring. More than this, God’s plan made provision for sin by means of the suffering of the Son of God. Do we think God is harsh in allowing sin to enter the world to produce pain and suffering? No one has suffered more because of sin than the suffering Savior:

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him (Isaiah 53:3-6).

“This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:23-24).

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:18-21).

(3) In God’s plan the curse is a part of the cure. This is evident in the curses found in Genesis 3. The woman’s curse is pain in her childbearing, but her deliverance is in childbearing, for it is her seed who will crush the serpent’s head. Satan’s curse included his crushed head. That curse, when fully executed, spells deliverance from a sin ravaged world. Adam’s curse also points to our deliverance. The cursed soil means that Adam, though he labors hard, must look to God for his crops. And the curse of death pronounced on Adam is God’s means for our cure. It is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, on our behalf, which saves us from our sins and provides us with the assurance of eternal life.

Everywhere--within us and without--the curse is evident. The suffering, chaos, and tragedy of our world shouts for our attention, telling us something is desperately wrong. God is gracious to give us this indication of trouble. Those most affected by the curse are, in Jesus’ words, the most blessed. God may well use men’s affliction to turn them to Himself:

And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. “Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:20-26).

Suffering, the painful consequence of sin, is also the means by which God has chosen to produce our blessings. Suffering is not opposed to glory; it is the road to glory. So it was for our Lord, and so it is for us. The curse is a part of the process by which the cure is produced.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 1:20-25).

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:12-14).

(4) In God’s plan, sin and the curse made possible a cure with blessings better than those lost by Adam’s sin and the curse. Sin and condemnation are not the end of man’s hope, but the starting point. In His grace, God condemns men so that He might manifest His grace upon them: “For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all” (Romans 11:32).

Sin does not slam the door on God’s blessings; it opens the door for His grace. Jesus did not come to provide salvation for saints, but for sinners. He came to seek and to save those who are lost. Until sin and the fall, there was no occasion for God to deal with men graciously. After sin and the fall, He could only bless men by dealing graciously with them. “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20b).

Job’s experiences serve as an illustration. As described in chapter 1 of the Book of Job, Job is an ideal servant of God. God Himself says, “There is no one like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:8b). Job was not sinless, but he was an excellent example of a servant of God. In this state, Job was something like Adam and Eve before the fall.

Then Satan was allowed to afflict Job. Eventually, Job’s suffering got to him. While Job did not curse God, he surely acted in an unseemly way. He sinned. By the end of the book, we see a new Job, humbled by his suffering and by God’s rebuke but with a much deeper love and devotion for His God. He is now a man who more fully grasps the wisdom of God and who has experienced His grace. Job is not just more prosperous for the experience; He is nearer to God than he has ever been before. While Satan attempted to alienate Job from God, Job’s sin was the occasion for grace, bringing repentance, reconciliation, and a more intimate union with God. Job’s experience is the experience of all who receive God’s grace as a result of sin.

It is all too easy to think of God’s “cure” in Jesus Christ as a restoration, merely restoring everything to the condition in which it was found before the fall. This is simply not the case. The last state, as it were, is vastly better than the first, for all those who are the called according to His purpose.

If the first three chapters of the Bible explain the condition of mankind and the world due to the fall of man and the curse, the last two chapters of the Bible explain the depths of the cure made possible by God through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Here, as one radio commentator would say, is “the rest of the story:”

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true” (Revelation 21:1-5).

And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever (Revelation 22:1-5).

As one compares the description of the new heavens and earth in the final chapters of the Book of Revelation with the paradise of Eden, a very clear message emerges.

(1) The last paradise is like the first. The tree of life, which was in paradise lost is in the heavenly city.

(2) The paradise of Revelation is not identical with that of Eden. The paradise of Genesis had a sun, a sea, and a night. The paradise of Revelation has no sun, no sea, and no night.

(3) In the paradise of Revelation, the curses of Genesis are removed.

(4) The paradise of Revelation is vastly better than the paradise of Eden.

For your meditation, I submit the evident differences between “paradise lost” of Genesis 2 and “paradise gained” in Revelation 21 and 22. In every case, the “paradise” of Revelation is a better paradise than that forfeited by man at the fall. Consider the following contrasts:

The Old Paradise

The New Paradise

Genesis 2

Revelation 21-22

An earthly paradise

A heavenly paradise (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Came through the spoken Word

Came through the Living Word

Genesis 1

Heb. 1:1-3; 1 John 1:1-3

A garden

A glorious city

A place for unfallen man

A place for redeemed men

A marriage of Adam and Eve

A marriage of Christ and His bride

Man fellowships with God from time to time

God dwells among men, continually
Men are one with God, in Christ

Men reflect God’s image

Men fully conformed to Christ’s image

Satan present

Satan absent forever

A threatened curse

No more curse

An earthly light

God is the light

Some precious metal found

Precious metal abounds (streets of gold)

Day and night

No night

Sea and land

No sea

Worship unmentioned

Worship unceasing

Two people walk with God

Men of all nations, the angels, all creation worship God

Son of God not mentioned

Son of God prominent

Conclusion

God’s eternal plan for creation included the fall of man and all creation. While there were painful consequences for sin, the curses were divinely purposed to serve as a part of the cure. In dealing with the sins of men, God’s glory is revealed. In forgiving the sins of men, the grace of God is manifested. And in the end, the last state of the believer is far better than the first. God purposed the fall of man for His glory and for our good.

As we conclude this lesson, let us reflect on two transforming truths. First, God’s plan is one that turns ruin to redemption and a curse into a blessing. Adam and his wife failed to trust and obey God. They made a tragic mistake which brought sin and condemnation on themselves and their descendants. No one has ever made a more tragic mess of their lives.

God’s plan included this tragic failure, as well as its painful consequences. But it also included a cure, a cure which would provide a better paradise than that which was lost due to sin. Adam and Eve’s life seemed to be ruined by their sin, but God promised a cure and a better paradise waits them.

What is true for them is true for every person who has “ruined” their life by sin. An unmarried girl makes some wrong decisions and becomes pregnant. She thinks her life is ruined, that things can never be what they once were. A prisoner sits in his cell, wishing he could turn back the clock and change the course of his life. He fears that his life is ruined irreversibly.

Things will never be the same for those who have fallen and whose lives are in ruin. But they can be better than they ever were. That is the good news of the gospel. That is the wonder of God’s plan. God takes what we have ruined by sin and makes it far better, through His Son. You cannot ruin your life beyond God’s ability to redeem it. God’s grace is always greater than your sin.

There is the matter of the curse. The natural man is still in Adam and thus condemned by the curse of sin and death. Only one way is provided for men to be delivered from the curse and to experience the blessing of God’s cure. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ. He bore the curse. He suffered and died for sinners. Those who are “in Christ” by faith are delivered from the curse and delight in the cure. Those who reject Christ remain in Adam, under the curse.

There in the center of the garden before the eyes of Adam and Eve stood two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had a choice to make: either they could eat of the tree of life and live forever, or they could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and die. Strange though it may seem, they chose to eat of the forbidden fruit.

We are not like Adam and Eve in that we were born in sin and are doomed to die. We do have a choice, however. It is a similar choice to that which faced Adam and Eve. We may either cling to our identification with Adam, and die, or we may be given a new identify in Christ, and live. To reject Christ is to remain in our sins. To trust in Christ is to die to sin and its curse, in Him. The choice which confronted Adam and Eve is now before you. Will you choose life or death, Adam or Christ? I pray that you will renounce your identification with Adam and find God’s cure in Christ, by trusting Him in simple faith.

For Further Study and Meditation

(1) What evidence does the Bible provide to assure us that what is described in Genesis 1-3 was a real, historical event and not just a myth or story?

Adam and Eve are referred to elsewhere in the Bible as real persons who sinned as described in Genesis 3. Adam is listed in the genealogies. The obedience of Christ is said to have reversed the sin of Adam and its consequences, for all who believe. Eve also is referred to as a real person, whose sin has consequences for all women. (For Adam, see Genesis 5:1-5; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Job 31:33; Hosea 6:7; Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; Jude 1:14. For Eve, see 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13).

(2) What in the world is wrong with the world? Is God to blame? Is the fall a part of God’s plan and purpose? If God’s purpose for creation is the demonstration of His glory, in what way(s) does the fall contribute to this end?

There is something desperately wrong with the world which is evidenced by chaos, violence, and suffering. The cause of all the world’s woes is sin and its consequences. God did plan for man to fall and for Christ to suffer and die for sinners. He did not in any way encourage the fall, although Satan was permitted to tempt and to deceive Eve.

The demonstration of God’s glory is the purpose of His plan. God’s glory is manifested through the revelation of His attributes as seen by His dealing with man’s sin (see Exodus 33:17--34:9). Apart from the black backdrop of man’s sin, the holiness, justice, mercy, grace, compassion, and longsuffering of God would never have been evident. A perfect world would not demonstrate all that God is and thus reveal all His glory. An imperfect world enables God to display His full splendor and glory (see Exodus 33:17-23; 34:5-9; Psalm 78; Ezekiel 20).

(3) What did Adam and Eve know before the fall which should have affected their response to Satan’s temptation? What did they not know? How did what they did not know affect them? Why does God not tell us things we would like to know?

Adam and Eve knew (as can be seen in Genesis 1) that all of creation came into being because God spoke the Word. They knew that the fruit of the one tree was prohibited because God spoke the Word, He told them not to eat of it. God’s Word had been proven reliable. All creation witnessed to the power of God’s Word. Satan’s word, which they chose to believe, had not been proven.

In chapter 2, the creation of the garden, Adam, and Eve are all described as God providing what was lacking and needed. There were no trees or shrubs nor was there rain to water them, so God provided a mist, and He planted a garden by four rivers. There was no man to cultivate the soil, so God created Adam. There was no suitable mate for Adam, and so God created Eve. God did not fail to provide for every true need. And yet with just a little prompting by the serpent, Eve is convinced that she really needs what the forbidden fruit will provide but that God has withheld it from her.

Adam and Eve did not understand what “good” and “evil” were, nor did they really grasp what life or death were. These were all beyond their experience. They would have to trust God, His definitions, His distinctions, and His prohibitions.

Not knowing required Adam and Eve to trust God. While our desire is to know and understand all, God conceals much that we would wish to know from us, so that we have to trust in Him and not in our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

(4) What was the “fallout” of the fall? What changed as a result of the fall?

Because of the fall:

(a) He came under the curse of death.

(b) Men and women have curses associated with the roles played by Adam and Eve

  • His innocence
  • A hindered relationship with God
  • Damaged relationships with others
  • A changed (hostile) relationship with creation
  • Access to the garden and the tree of life
  • The joy of laboring
  • The dominion he once enjoyed
  • The privilege of reflecting as fully the image of God

Creation was thrown into chaos. There was a new relationship between the animals (they began to eat each other). Animals were now sacrificed. Man’s relationship with nature took on a more hostile quality.

From the time of the fall on, men inherit from Adam a sinful nature which is hostile toward God. If Adam were “neutral” toward God with respect to obedience, all of his offspring are born “negative” toward Him (see Romans 3:10-18; 5:12ff.; Ephesians 2:1-3).

(5) Compare Genesis 1:26--3:24 with Genesis 9:1-28.

Genesis 1-3 records God’s commissioning of Adam and Eve. The way they were to rule creation is similar to (though not identical with) the instructions God gave Noah in Genesis 9. Like Adam, Noah sinned, and this impacted his offspring. As there was a curse pronounced on Adam and his offspring in Genesis 3, there was a curse pronounced on Canaan, Noah’s (and his son Canaan’s) offspring. A pattern quickly develops. In the Genesis record, the sin and the curse only seem to grow as time passes.

(6) What role does the issue of authority play--in man’s call, in the fall, in the curse, and in the cure?

Adam was charged with two responsibilities concerning authority. He was to rule over creation, and he was to obey God. He failed in both these areas of authority. First, Adam listened to his wife instead of leading. Adam defaulted on his leadership responsibilities, allowing the serpent, a creature, and Eve to lead. In addition to failing to exercise his God-given authority, Adam failed to submit to God’s authority. God had commanded Adam not to partake of the fruit of that one tree, and Adam disobeyed. Adam failed to lead, and he failed to follow. Adam’s two failures were in the area of authority.

Eve failed to submit to her husband’s authority and to God’s authority, choosing to obey the serpent instead. Her curse was to be ruled over by her husband, even though her desire would be to rule him.

When our Lord came to suffer and die for our sins so that the curse of sin and death could be cured and sinners could be saved, He submitted to the authority of the Father rather than act independently. Our Lord’s submission to His Father is never more evident than when Satan sought to tempt Him (Matthew 4; Luke 4).

(7) What evidences of God’s grace are seen in Genesis 1-3?

God’s grace was evident in the prohibition to eat of the forbidden fruit. God forbade the fruit of that one tree because it would result in man’s death and loss of innocence. It was also evident in the provision of the skin coverings, in the sentence of death, in the curses imposed, and in the promise of Satan’s destruction and man’s deliverance through Eve’s seed.

(8) Why do you think God chose this one tree--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--rather than some other tree?

God had revealed to Adam and Eve what was good and what was evil. All of God’s creation was, by God’s testimony, good. The only evil in that garden was the eating of the fruit of that one tree. If man is incapable of reasoning out what is good and evil (and so he is, Romans 7:7), then the only way he could know evil, apart from divine revelation, is to experience it, by sin, with the penalty of death.

God wanted men to demonstrate their faith in Him by obeying a command they did not understand and which seemed to be to their loss. God wanted Adam and Eve to sacrifice, as it were, the benefit of this one tree, as good as it looked to them, simply because they trusted the One who forbade the eating of its fruit.

(9) What do we learn about the nature of sin from Genesis 1-3?

First, sin is defined by God and not naturally discerned or rationally grasped by the mind of men. This is why man must trust in God’s definition of sin as found in His Word. God’s law defines sin that we would not have otherwise recognized as such (Romans 7:7). Our senses cannot be trusted to discern sin. Often, that which is evil is also desirable, as was the fruit of the forbidden tree. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Sin looks good; it is tempting, but it is deadly. A seemingly insignificant sin can have wide-spread repercussions. Sin resists God’s purposes but never succeeds in overcoming them. Sin, like Satan, seeks to oppose God. Sin, in the plan of God, furthers His purposes.

(10) What do we learn about God’s commands from Genesis 1-3?

God’s commands define sin and provide the context for obedience. God’s commands are for our own good. God’s commands are to be obeyed, even when they do not make sense to us, simply because God gave them.

(11) If the cure for the curse were simply the reversal of the fall, what would the cure be like? From Genesis 3:8-24, what do we learn about God’s grace in providing a solution for sin?

Since the curse resulted from man’s disobedience to God’s command, the cure must involve obedience. In sin, man rebelled against God’s authority (His lordship); in the cure man must submit to His lordship. The fall was the fall of and by man. The cure must be a cure of and by man (the God-man, Jesus Christ). The fall resulted in death. The cure must result in life. The fall brought about chaos, confusion, and suffering. The cure must restore creation to peace, order, and blessing. The curse defaced man as a reflection of God’s image; the cure must restore man to the image of God.

(12) What cure does God promise or provide for man’s sin in Genesis 3:8-24?

The nakedness of man is covered by skins provided by God, so that men need not hide from His presence. Thus, there is a provision for sinners to have fellowship with God. The seed of the woman (though produced with pain) will bring about the destruction of Satan and the deliverance of man.

(13) What is the relationship between the curse (occasioned by the fall) and the cure (which overcomes or reverses the fall)?

There is a direct relationship between the curse and the cure. On the one hand, the cure reverses the curse. The curse promises pain for the woman and for the man (for the woman in child-bearing and the man in supporting himself and his family). The cure promises rest. The curse is death, the cure is life.

But the curse is a part of the cure. Death is a deliverer. How tragic for sinners to live eternally. Death is our escape from this life, this world, and this body. Beyond this, it is the death of our Lord bearing our curse on the cross which frees us from the curse. The woman’s pain in bearing children is a part of the process by which the promised seed will be born, through whom Satan will be destroyed, and sin and death defeated.

(14) What does the fall of man and its consequences, taught in Genesis 3, teach us about suffering? How does it help to explain the question raised in Psalm 44?

When Christians (and others) encounter suffering and trials in their lives they tend to ask, like Job and many others in the Bible, “Why me?” There are times when one’s suffering is directly the result of sin in his own life (as when David and Bathsheba suffered the loss of their first child, who was conceived in adultery). In Psalm 44, the psalmist admits that suffering is a just punishment for sin but maintains that the people have not sinned. Why the suffering then? Much of the suffering of this world is the result of sin’s entrance into the world (see, for example, Romans 8:18-25). God does not allow purposeless suffering. His plan incorporates suffering in a way that ultimately “works together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

(15) How does man’s fall and its consequences described in Genesis 3 fit into God’s plan?

The goal of God’s plan is to demonstrate His glory to men. His glory is best demonstrated by the way He deals with sin, both in judgment and in mercy (see Exodus 34:6-7). God’s plan included sin so that His glory could be displayed in its fullest dimensions.

God’s plan included sin and suffering and the loss of man’s garden paradise. His plan also provided for the coming of the Son of God, who would bear the curse in our place, and thus provide a paradise far better than the one which was lost.

God’s plan therefore included man’s fall and its consequences, for His glory and for the good of those who love Him.

(16) What is different between the sinless Adam in the presence of God in the garden and the sanctified saint in the presence of God in heaven?

The difference is that Adam was an unfallen man while we (who were fallen) stand before God as new creations in Christ. Adam was without sin; in Christ, we become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through God’s promises, we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Adam did not have Christ dwelling in him; we do. Adam was a man who had not sinned, but could. When we are delivered from our earthly bodies and are in heaven with God, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). We will be men who cannot sin, who have been made new, forever free from sin, in Christ. Adam was a man who was sinless only until temptation came his way. Believers are in Christ, Who did not fail when temptation came His way. Adam’s relationship to God was a kind of togetherness. Our relationship with God is oneness, unity. In Christ, we share the same union with God the Father which Christ has (see John 17:20-26).

Scripture Texts

The historicity of Adam and the fall

Genesis 5:1-3ff.; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Matthew 19:3-6; Luke 3:38; Jude 14

Before the fall

Genesis 1 and 2

The fall of man

Genesis 3

Consequences of the fall

Genesis 3:8ff; Isaiah 43:27; Jeremiah 16:10-15; Lamentations 5:7; Romans 1:18--3:20; 5:12-21; 7:7-25; 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 14:34-36; 1 Timothy 2:8-15

The fall of man and God’s plan

Acts 2:23-24; Romans 11:32; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:18-20 (Compare Israel’s fall in the plan of God, described in Romans 9-11)

Cure for the fall

Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 42-49

God’s better paradise

Revelation 21 and 22

Points to Ponder
Statements and Principles From our Lesson

A seemingly insignificant act (of disobedience) can have monumental results.

Just because something looks good, is desirable, and is available, is no proof that God wants us to partake of it. The existence of a desire does not demand its fulfilling (see also, 1 Corinthians 6:12-13).

When God gives us a command, we do not need to understand why God has given it to us, we need only to trust Him who gave the command, and obey it.

Suffering is not only the consequence of sin, but in the plan of God it is a part of the process for its cure. Christ’s suffering in our place is God’s means of saving us from the curse of sin. Even our own suffering has a purpose in the plan of God: “He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1; see also Luke 6:20-26; Psalm 73).

Sin affects more than just the sinner; it affects many others.

The same principle which allows the sin of one man (Adam) to corrupt the world also allows the righteousness of one man (Jesus Christ) to provide salvation for the world.

Satan seeks to change our perspective first and then our behavior. Sin begins with a rebellious attitude toward God, which leads to a rebellious act.

Sin is conceived as unbelief, and then grows into disobedience.

In our lives, as in the Bible, sin precedes redemption. We cannot and will not receive God’s grace until we recognize and repent of our sin. The problem with those who perish is that they reject God’s grace because they do not believe they need it. Only sinners need God’s grace and only God’s grace saves sinners. The self-righteous sinner denies his sin and despises God’s grace. The penitent sinner admits his sin, repents of it, and gratefully receives God’s saving grace.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil began to look better, more desirable, to Eve than any of the other trees. In reality, every tree in the garden was equally appealing and desirable (see Genesis 2:9).

The fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the knowledge of good and evil; why, then, did Eve see the tree as desirable to make one wise (Genesis 3:6)?

God’s plan for creation included the fall of man, the curse, and the cross of Calvary, whereby the curse could be defeated, God could be glorified, and the good of the saints accomplished.

The God who included sin and suffering in His plan was also the God who planned that the greatest suffering would be borne by His own Son, even though He was without sin.

Job serves as an illustration of the wisdom of God in allowing sin and suffering, through the instrumentality of Satan. Job was indeed wealthier for having suffered and sinned and repented, but more than this, Job’s relationship with God was much richer and deeper from his experience with suffering, sin, and the grace of God.

Why is it that Satan always seems to be standing beside or behind a question mark?

It was no great marvel that God would come to Adam and Eve to fellowship with them in their sinless state. What was marvelous was that the Son of God would come to the earth to seek and to save sinners.

What Adam and Eve had in the paradise of Eden was good. God said so. But good is not the same as perfect. What you and I will have in the heavenly paradise, the New Jerusalem, is perfect.

Prompted by the serpent, Adam and Eve aspired to attain a likeness to God, and in rebelling against His word, they fell into sin becoming like their father, the devil. Jesus Christ, in obedience to His Father’s will, attained likeness to man in His incarnation, and by faith in Him we become partakers of the divine nature.

Nothing can be ruined beyond God’s redemption.

“Why is the world so troubled, and why is there so much suffering and evil?” Because, by divine permission Satan tempted Adam and Eve; they sinned, and God has graciously pronounced upon all creation a curse for which He has provided the cure.

The more I study the early chapters of Genesis the more convinced I become of their purpose. Providing a scientific explanation of creation46 is not the purpose of chapters 1 and 2. Rather, their purpose is to set the scene for the fall of man, a major turning point in the history of creation.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, though pleasing to look at and good for food, was not good for man. The eating of its fruit would not only give the partaker a knowledge of good and evil, but would also produce his or her death.

According to the creation account in Genesis 1, all of creation came into existence in response to one thing: the spoken word of God. God spoke creation into existence.

At every point of legitimate need, God created what was needed. How, then, dare Satan suggest (or Eve believe) that God had forbidden something which was needed?

Adam’s sin is more passive in nature, while that of the serpent and Eve is more aggressive. The leader followed and the followers led.

Even in his unfallen state, man was no match for the wiles of Satan.

Man and creation are suffering and groaning due to the consequences of sin.

And the curse of death pronounced on Adam is the means of the cure. For it is the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, on our behalf, which saves us from our sins and provides us with the assurance of eternal life.

Suffering is not opposed to glory; it is the road to glory. So it was for our Lord, and so it is for us. The curse is a part of the process by which the cure is produced.

Sin and condemnation are not the end of man’s hope, but the starting point. In His grace, God condemns men so that He might manifest His grace upon them:

It is all too easy to think of God’s “cure” in Jesus Christ as a restoration, merely returning men and creation to the condition in which it was found before the fall. This is simply not the case. Saved man’s last (???) state, as it were, is vastly better than his first.

If the first three chapters of the Bible explain the condition of mankind and the world due to the fall of man and the curse, the last two chapters of the Bible explain the depths of the cure made possible by God through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

There in the center of the garden before the eyes of Adam and Eve stood two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had a choice to make: either they could eat of the tree of life and live forever, or they could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and die. Strange though it may seem, both chose to eat of the forbidden fruit.

We are not like Adam and Eve in that we were born in sin and are doomed to die. We do have a choice, however. It is a similar choice to that which faced Adam and Eve. We may either keep our identification with Adam, and die, or we may be given a new identify in Christ, and live. To reject Christ is to remain in our sins. To trust in Christ is to die to sin and its curse, in Him.

The choice which confronted Adam and Eve is now before you. Will you choose life or death, Adam or Christ? I pray you will renounce your identification with Adam and find God’s cure in Christ, by trusting Him in simple faith.


39 In no way am I suggesting that the creation account is less than a historical account. Adam and Eve were real people, created just as God’s Word records the event. Adam’s name is included in the genealogies (see 1 Chronicles 1:1; Luke 3:38, Jude 14). Job referred to Adam’s sin and even his attempt at a cover up (Job 31:33). Jesus referred to both Adam and Eve as real people whose union was the basis for the permanence of every marital union (Matthew 19:3-6). Paul links man’s sin and death to Adam, just as he links man’s salvation and eternal life to Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). To the degree that the Genesis account describes the creation of the world, it is completely accurate, scientifically and historically. Nevertheless, in the context of Genesis, the purpose of the creation account is to set the scene for the fall of man in chapter 3.

40 The order in which the curses are pronounced is the (reversed) order of the fall: serpent (verses 14-15), Eve (verse 16), Adam (verses 17-19).

41 See 1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3. Some have tried to make Adam into a kind of hero, who nobly chose to fall with his wife rather than let her fall alone. This explanation does not originate from the text, and it simply does not seem to explain matters satisfactorily. The words, “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:7), are troubling. Was Adam with Eve all the time this discussion was taking place with Satan? If so, then why did he not speak up? At least it would explain why Adam so quickly took of the fruit and ate.

42 In her deception, Eve actually supposed the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would give her more than the mere knowledge of good and evil. In verse 6, we are told that Eve thought the tree was desirable to “make one wise.” As she overstated the prohibition, she also seems to have overestimated the provision of the tree. Satan delights in distorting our perception.

43 A word of caution and clarification is needed here. God does not want mindless obedience, but a reasoned obedience. He wants us to obey, not because we understand all of God’s reasons, but because we have reasoned that God is worthy of our trust and obedience. Abraham provides an excellent example of reasoned faith and obedience:

In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform (Romans 4:18-21).

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise {men} even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Abraham did not understand how or why God was doing what He was, but he did reason that God was trustworthy. Thus Abraham obeyed, based on a reasoned faith.

44 I find the heel injury of the woman’s seed fascinating. One might expect the serpent to bite Him on the heel, but instead we read that the woman’s Seed will receive a bruise on the heel. This is not so much a wound inflicted by the serpent, as it is a self-imposed wound by our Lord, suffered by the Seed in the process of dealing the snake a death-blow. The prediction of our Lord’s injury is thus consistent with its fulfillment. Satan cannot really be credited with doing harm to our Lord; our Lord brought injury to Himself in order to destroy Satan.

45 We must see this not as just the tendency of women, but the tendency of every sinner placed under the authority of another. In our sinful state, none of us wants to be ruled. Our goal is to be in control of ourselves and others. The disciples of our Lord demonstrated this tendency in their attitude toward authority. Just as Satan resisted God’s authority and sought to assert his own authority, so every sinner, “like Satan,” wishes to throw off the authority over us and enhance our own authority over others.

46 In no way am I suggesting that the creation account is less than a historical account. Adam and Eve were real people, created just as God’s Word records the event. Adam’s name is included in the genealogies (see 1 Chronicles 1:1; Luke 3:38). Job referred to Adam’s sin and even his attempt at a cover up (Job 31:33). Jesus referred to both Adam and Eve as real people whose union was the basis for the permanence of every marital union (Matthew 19:3-6). Paul links man’s sin and death to Adam, just as he links man’s salvation and eternal life to Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). To the degree that the Genesis account describes man’s account, it is completely accurate, scientifically and historically. Nevertheless, in the context of Genesis, the purpose of the creation account is to set the scene for the fall of man in chapter 3.

Related Topics: Man (Anthropology), Hamartiology (Sin), Theology Proper (God)