On the Fall of Man

Andrew Paul on Fall of Man << download

Here are some of my thoughts on Genesis 3


The fall of man. Oh, what it would be like without the original sin of Adam and Eve. Is it even possible for us to imagine what the world would be like? The fact is, we as humans are separated from a pure and holy God. We are separated because of sin. Why would God allow us to be separated from Him? Why would He allow us to choose something that would lead to our own demise?


The serpent

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”                 – Genesis 3:1 ESV


The serpent was created by God as a physical creature that inhabited God’s garden. Here we see one of God’s own creatures undoing, or trying to undo God’s work. Along with this unnatural act, we also see the snake-like creature conversing in a way that the woman understood. Both acts seem largely unnatural and contradictory to the way in which God created the universe: in perfection. If God’s creation was perfect, then how could His creation word against Him? Better yer, if God’s plan from the very beginning was redemption, as mentioned in previous studies, was the serpent working against God or simply being used as a tool to initiate the redemptive process? If the serpent was only a tool to initiate the redemptive process, then God was either working against His own command (do not eat), or deceiving His creation, or a mixture of both. It seems illogical to think that God would work against His own command, because to break God’s command is to deny God and God cannot deny Himself. Considering that God is Himself the standard for truth, it would also be illogical to think that God could deceive His own creation. Taking into account all of these things we still are left with the same question: How could God’s perfect creation work against Him?

This is only explainable when we consider what type of external influence might have existed. It is popular to believe that the serpent was either Satan himself or influenced by Satan, and I would have to agree. Even considering God’s command in Genesis 2:17, evil was something that existed and could be known.

The serpent, influenced by an external force, said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” This is the very first time we see God’s enemy alter the words of God. When done successfully, this could create great division in the Church. People become confused as to what the message presented is about, and possibly hear something different all together. It is important for God’s people to be aware of the spiritual warfare raging around them, and how that spiritual warfare greatly influences the physical world.


The temptation

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’’”           –Genesis 3:2-3 ESV


There is a thought that Adam and Eve would have died physically even without eating the forbidden fruit. Implicitely stated with the condition of God’s command as referred to by the woman, is the notion of consistant unending life without the consumption of such fruit. Some only understand this to refer to a spiritual life and a spiritual death, with no physical meaning at all. If this were the case, then there would have been no need for the corresponding tree of life to have existed. This draws out an even greater understanding to the fact that redemption was God’s initial plan. Also, as we saw in the previous verse, the natural, or physical world, must be closely connected with the invisible, or spiritual world. This also helps to explail phenomena such as the strange corellation between the brain and the mind, between people and dreams, between mind and thought, and why, as people living in a fallen world, many seem to feel a strong connection with the supernatural world. This is why people felt a need to worship something, and helps us to know why people claim an association with witchcraft, ghost sightings, demon possession, and encouters with angels and demons. We can also feel confident, sense the physical and natural world are so interconnected, that when we pray to the God who is in control, unexplainable and powerful things happen.


“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”    – Genesis 3:4-5 ESV


Satan is a master of deception. He knows exactly how to use our own desires against us and how to lie about what we hear from God’s word, making humanity feel good about itself. Being made in God’s image, humanity naturally wanted to be like God. Considering this central desire, Satan planted a thought in the woman’s mind that she could fulfill that desire without God. That is the act of sin that leads to death: mankind relying on himself instead of entrusting himself to the King of kings.

I also believe something about God can be learned from Satan’s words. He, Satan, explicitly claimed that God knew both good and evil. I have heard, almost my entire life, that God cannot touch, or even look upon, evil. This is claimed by many to be the reason why the sky turned dark at the moment of Jesus’ death. Here is my question: What if it is possible for our omnibenevolent God to know evil? This knowledge would not make any part of God’s character evil, nor would it create a necessity for God to support evil. If good, or even perfection is to exist, then it can only exist in comparison to evil, or imperfection. God, being an omniscient being, would have to know both good and evil. This is a knowledge that God shielded from men until men chose to seek it out. Unfortunately for us, our quest for this knowledge required that we participate in it, and thus we have the greatest horror story ever told. Since this, secular mankind has worked to eliminate God from all areas of learning, making mankind feel good about itself and causing acts like cheating, homosexuality, adultery, and self-promotion seem profitable and universally acceptable. This knowledge, as contrasted with right knowledge, which was gained by the selfish pursuit of men, will ultimately be destroyed (1 Corinthians 13:8), and we will only be left with the knowledge of God, and more importantly, the opportunity to know God more.


The sin

“So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”                 – Genesis 3:6-7 ESV


The woman, who was influenced by the serpent, saw that the forbidden fruit was 1) good for food, 2) pleasing to the eye, and 3) desirable for gaining wisdom.

The fruit was good for food. It seems as though there was nothing intrinsically wrong with eating this particular fruit. If one is to believe that God did not create evil, then he or she must also believe that when God created this fruit, He created it good. The only thing wrong with eating this fruit, then, lies in the fact that God forbade it.

The fruit was pleasing to the eye. The fruit of knowledge was appealing in the way that it looked. Even today, we will look at God’s creation and admire its beauty in such a way that we are guilty of worshipping it instead of worshipping the God who created it. Paul refers to this idea in the very first chapter of his letter to the believers in Rome. As we see, sin did not conceive within the heart of the woman until she acted on her newfound desire. She did go beyond admiring the beauty of God’s creation. She did, in a sense, worship it.

The fruit was desirable for gaining wisdom. The woman saw that she could gain a wisdom she had not yet known. Before mankind took of the fruit and ate, he lived in perfect communion with God. Because God is omni-benevolent, or infinitely good, mankind had a pure wisdom and a pure knowledge. It is unreasonable to thing that the fruit actually provided wisdom or knowledge. Instead, we should consider that mankind recognized a knowledge and a wisdom that was other than God; located apart from God. How appealing it must have been to think that wisdom and knowledge could be gained without relying on something other than ourselves. This is the detrimental problem in most intellectual circles today. Man wants to eliminate God from the equation so that he can find answers for himself.

Both the woman and the man, who was standing beside her, ate the fruit. They chose to rely on themselves instead of on God. The gained a wisdom and a knowledge apart from God. They now knew what it was like to deny God, and they felt shameful. In fact, they covered up their nakedness, which also highlights the fact that they were no longer spiritually open before God. At the moment they chose to pursue wisdom on their own, mankind was spiritually cut off from God. They realized they were naked, and tried to cover themselves up.


The conviction

“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. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” –Genesis 3:8-9 ESV


The fact that both the man and the woman heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden meant that, when they each chose to deny God, God was not right there with them. This could either be because God stepped away from man, or because mankind stepped away from God. I am more apt to think that the man and woman go so focused on their encounter with the serpent and in their pursuit of self-earned wisdom that they simply lost sight of God, who had always been around. It was only after thy ‘separated themselves from God’, and ‘tried to cover up their own shame’ that they heard God walking through the garden.

Then God, as He is walking through the garden, calls out to the man, “Where are you?” At first, it might seem as though God is looking tor the man, not knowing where he was. If this was the case, then the God we know and love does not know everything, especially not what the future might hold. Of course, this ideology would contradict the very first verse in Genesis. If God abides outside of time, then it would be impossible for Him to lack any knowledge of what we perceive as the future.

Perhaps this passage grants us with another small picture of the Trinitarian character of God. Perhaps the portrayal of God walking through the garden was the “Word” (as referred to in John 1:1) or the Spirit of God. We have no trouble admitting that Jesus Christ (the Word of God born in the flesh) did not know everything that would happen in the future while He was on the earth (Matthew 24:36). It would not be so difficult to imagine that another member of the Trinity (Holy Spirit), because He operated within time, would also not know the future while the Godhead, or God the Father, still maintained absolute omniscience.

Regardless of each view on God’s foreknowledge, we can conclude confidently on the fact that God may have asked the man where he was so that the man would think about where he stood with God. God did not condemn the man, but caused the man to think about his own actions and thus be convicted. So, we are not to ignore our trespasses against God, or anyone else, because in our ignorance we increase the distance between our God and ourselves. Ignorance is not bliss.



The response

“And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’”      – Genesis 3:10-11 ESV


The man was not afraid of God until he realized that God was close. In the same way, if we choose to ignore God in our lives, we may not feel God’s conviction. If we do wrong, and are listening for God, we will always feel that conviction. And, even though God knows of our trespass, He desires not to force us into confession, but for us to willingly admit that we have done wrong. After all, God asked the man whether he had eaten from the tree or not. God did not readily accuse and condemn him.


The blame

“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’”     – Genesis 3:12 ESV


As we can see, the man did not immediately take responsibility for his actions. Because he sinned and blamed his wife, there would have undoubtedly been animosity between them. In the same way, when we choose to try and fulfill the desires we have on our own, we also put animosity between ourselves and other people. This is the only result that selfishness has to offer.


“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘ The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’ To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth 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, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’

– Genesis 3:13-19 ESV


We see basically the same scenario play out between the woman and the snake. Only instead of animosity alone existing between the two creatures, God actually declares them enemies. Because of their actions, man no longer had a perfect relationship with God, and though he had dominion over creation, was also now an enemy of creation, at least in part. In fact, our new relationship with the rest of creation stands as a representation of what we caused in our relationship with God. This is why we cannot live in peace with all other creatures on this earth.

God cursed the snake for inciting such a rebellion, but He also punished those who participated in the rebellion. Though he was coerced into acting against God, the responsibility for man’s actions rested solely on man. We are responsible for our action, no matter the influence. It is important that we take that responsibility seriously.

God increased the woman’s pain in childbearing. Every other description of mankind’s punishment simply outlined the natural outcome due to the “law of sin”, which could be compared to the “law of gravity” in many respects. If we jump off of a building, we will fall.


God’s initial sacrifice

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  – Genesis 3:20-21 ESV


Adam, or the man, names his wife Eve, which probably means living, only after they are both given a probationary period before the now inevitable death sentence is carried out. God made cloths for both the man and the woman, symbolizing that though the man and the woman were guilty of rebellion, or failed to honor their God, God was willing to cover up that guilt and that shame (that nakedness) until He would later correct the problem through His Son, Jesus Christ. In light of this, we can also see why God might have required animal sacrifices from humanity later on. It was necessary for man to remember his shame and to also honor God for covering that shame.


Man becomes his own god

Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever-‘” –Genesis 3:22 ESV


Verse 22 has always intrigued me. It is difficult for me to believe that 1)being like God is wrong (especially since we were created in God’s image), and 2) that man would be able to live forever even after falling away from life. We see again that God knows both good and evil. What makes man’s knowledge of evil so wrong is that man needed to participate in evil in order to know it. Some have postulated that, if mankind were to take from the tree of life, then he would live forever in a sinful state; however, this postulation contradicts the very punishment of sin declared by God Himself, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (2:17).

Just as there is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating fruit, other than the fact that God forbade it, there would not be anything eternally beneficial provided by fruit of a different tree. Fruit itself did not cause death or bring eternal life: only God has power of life and death.

Why, then, would God want to keep man from the tree of life? Just as the tree of knowledge symbolized man’s fall from God, the tree of life symbolized God granting such life to mankind. Life, in this sense, is a gift from God that mankind had before choosing something else. When mankind chose something else, God no longer allowed him to partake of the gift of life.

Over the course of the rest of the Biblical narrative, we see God working to return humanity to Himself. Humanity was created to be like God and to live forever in perfect unity with God. God no longer allowed man to eat from the tree of life. This symbolized man’s fall from life into death; from light into darkness; from perfect unity with God to painful reliance on self.


Mankind banished from garden

Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”                       – Genesis 3:23-24 ESV


Mankind was banished from the Garden of Eden, but more importantly from perfect unity with a pure, holy God. God drove man from a life of perfection and placed the cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life. Man was now separated from the life that God offers and could not find his way back without once again fully relying on God.


Final comments

It still amazes me that humanity is so limited in its ongoing discussion of time, especially as it relates to the Biblical narrative. Just as we cannot deduce from the Biblical story how much time passed in Chapter 1 before God began His creative work on the earth, it is also impossible for us to deduce with accuracy how long mankind lived in the Garden of Eden.

Time, in itself, is relative. One year on Earth is different than a year on any other planet. Sometimes time seems to be moving at a slower rate than at other times. We measure our age according to however long we have lived and in anticipation of old age and eventually death.

If mankind, in the Garden of Eden, knew only life and did not anticipate death, there would be no need for him to count the years of his life. A man does not grow older if he does not age. Though time existed and was measured, it did not bind men as it does now. It was only after the fall that men were subjected to aging and death brought by time.

Considering this, we can know that it is possible that man did not keep a record of his age until he was removed from the garden and subjected to the degradation effect of time. It is also possible that man, even in the Garden, recorded his years. We cannot know.

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