The Fall and Its Effects (Pt.2)

3.  The Temptation in Eden

Many Bible readers suppose that the serpent’s main objective was to get Eve to flatly disobey God by rejecting God’s authority in favor of his own.  Certainly this would have been desirable, but it was probably too much to expect.  In any case, Satan knew he did not have to be so persuasive as to get Eve (and Adam) to switch allegiances so radically.  All he needed to do was to convince our first parents to take up the apparently innocent and commonsensical notion that they could be the arbiters of their own fate.  The true essence of every sin is autonomy – the craving to decide ones own spiritual path; the freedom to choose God’s way or another.

The Devil knew that tempting Eve was a means to his end of bringing Adam to willful transgression (cf. 1 Tim. 2:14).  Just why Adam succumbed we are not told.  Was it for love of the fallen Eve?  But that supposes Eve was fallen prior to Adam’s first bite.  Something which I suggest is absent from Genesis 3.  Eve was not the Head of the race.  The prohibition had come to Adam, not her.  And even if, as seems probable, she had received from her husband the prohibition of Gen. 2:17 verbatim, the text encourages us to conclude that it was not until Adam ate the forbidden fruit that “their eyes were opened” – a phrase that surely describes the onset of sin and death (Rom. 5:12).

However we view the transaction at the tree, it is this naive yet seditious “freedom” which seems so natural to us believe in.  But when has wisdom ever given counsel against its Source?  When has man been safe pondering whether God is right?  The very conception of independence from a wholesale reliance upon God’s Word is as preposterous as it is rebellious.

Of course Eve, if she was thinking right, ought to have cottoned that animals don’t talk, nor would they usurp their inferior rank in the created order, nor would they call the Creator’s word or His motives into question.  Furthermore, as the Answers in Genesis apologist Jason Lisle points out, she should have reasoned that as her ability to think was given by the same Creator whose veracity and trustworthiness was now being questioned; if the serpent was correct, she had no good reason to trust her rational faculties – made as they were by a peevish and unreliable “God” who Himself came short of being perfectly rational!  And if God were not also perfectly holy and true, there could be no moral ground to stand on either!  

4.  The Consequences of the Fall

One of the most distasteful doctrines in the entire Bible to the unregenerate sinner is the doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s sin.  While I would differ from his understanding of federalism, John Murray put it frankly when he wrote that,

“The truth is that each person never exists as other than sinful.  He is eternally contemplated by God as sinful by reason of the solidarity with Adam, and, whenever the person comes to be actually he comes to be as sinful.” – John Murray, The Imputation of Adam’s Sin, (Phillipsburg: P&R, n.d.), 90.

The whole human race was comprehended in Adam, so that what he got, we get.  God identifies us as “Adamic,” although the identification is not by mere imputation, it is real.  Adam defiled the Divine Image; therefore, he passes that corrupted immaterial image, of which the body is more an expression than a part, on to his posterity.  That is what I believe is being referred to in Genesis 5:3 where it is recorded: “Adam bear a son in his own likeness, after his image.”  He could no longer pass on the perfect image that had been given him.  What he passed on represented his fallen self as much as it represented God.

It is pointless to speculate about God beginning all over again with another man.  In fact, it is wrong-headed, because it forgets that Adam came perfect from his Maker’s hand.  Adam was planned; perfectly conceived by the Supreme Mind.  Were you or I to be made perfect it is certain that we would have made the same fatal decision he did.  (That, by the way, throws an interesting light on Christ’s Temptation, showing it to be a necessary experience for the last Adam to endure).

Physical Effects

  • Physical Death – the separation of body and soul.
  • Aging – “the outward man perishes day by day.”
  • Pain and disease – the effects of evil are felt in our bodies.
  • Frustration – The ‘stubborn earth’; foolish thinking; sorrow.

Spiritual Effects

Genesis 3:7-8 indicates that a significant spiritual transition occurred at the time of our first parent’s disobedience.

  • Their eyes were opened – they saw in ways at variance with how they were meant to see
  • They hid themselves from God – their new “understanding” evinced a fallen relationship

These effects point to one thing; “separation from God” as the primary meaning of spiritual death (cf. Isa. 59:2).  The separation is such that natural man cannot enjoy fellowship with God.  In fact, he does not normally think about God as God (cf. Rom. 1:21).  “God is not in all his thoughts” (Psa. 10:4).  This means not that unregenerate fallen man never thinks about God, nor that he cannot be religiously inclined, but he cannot be spiritually inclined.  He is “natural,” thus, as natural he is deprived of both a true perception of and communion with his Maker.

But that is not all:  The Apostle tells us in Ephesians 2:1 that man without the New Birth is “dead in trespasses and sins.”  By “dead” he means separated from the life of God.  The New International Dictionary of NT Theology speaks of it as “­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­man in his independence, man loose from God” (Vol. I. 446).

But more about that next time.

2 thoughts on “The Fall and Its Effects (Pt.2)”

  1. So many of our Systematic Theologies present Adam’s sin condemning the whole human race from the perspective of federal headship. This seems to leave too many questions unanswered, in my opinion. Better, based on a literal reading of Romans 5:12 (comparing with Hebrews 7:9), is the seminal headship of Adam. In this understanding, the whole human race is guilty of the sin of Adam, not because he represented us, but because we participated seminally in his sin. This way, we don’t have to say that since Adam was perfect and he sinned, we would have as well (so God is just in imputing Adam’s sin to use and condemning us for it). Seminal headship also allows us to understand why God created Eve as He did, by literally taking her from the flesh and bone of Adam, thereby establishing her seminal descent from Adam as well; thus, we can’t compromise even on the details of creation, which have immense theological significance.

  2. Well I agree that seminal headship (and traducianism) is more satisfactory to me than federal headship and its attendant “creationism” regarding the transmission of the soul. This is not a hill I would die on, but it seems to me that there is a representative element that attaches itself naturally to seminalism anyway.

    I am not persuaded that the matters you bring up about Adam’s sin standing for ours. You may not have worded it quite right. If you mean that in the federal scheme Adam’s sin has no causal connection with our sin but is simply reckoned to our account because God just chooses to I would agree. Moreover, I don’t think Eve’s being taken from Adam supports seminalism very much. But I plan to say more about this issue later.

    Thanks for commenting.

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