What truly happened at the fall of man?Question: "What truly happened at the fall of man?"
Answer: The fall of man occurred sometime after God created the world and after Satan’s rebellion in heaven. We find the biblical account of creation and the fall of man in Genesis 1–3. According to the book of Genesis, God spoke everything into existence: sky, planets, seas, vegetation, animals, and everything else. He pronounced it all “good” (Genesis 1:25).
But when God made man, He got down in the dirt and formed the shape of a human body from the clay (Genesis 2:7). Then He breathed His own life into the man’s nostrils, and “man became a living soul.” He called the man “Adam.” The man had a life that differed from the plant and animal life. He had been created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27), which means that he possessed an everlasting spirit, such as God has. He was designed to be like God, fellowship with God, reason like God, and enjoy God forever. So God placed Adam in a garden designed specifically for him (Genesis 2:8). In these perfect surroundings, God walked and talked with the man, enjoying the creation He had made and Adam’s pleasure in it (Genesis 2:19–20; 3:8).
Because God did not want the man to be alone, He fashioned a woman, Eve, from one of Adam’s ribs. He gave them everything in the garden to enjoy except for the fruit from one tree (Genesis 2:16–17). God told them that, if they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die.
Genesis 3 introduces us to another being involved in the fall of man: the serpent. Satan had already been cast down to earth due to his rebellion against God in heaven (Luke 10:18). Satan came to Eve as a serpent and suggested to the woman that God had not really forbidden the fruit for her good but was rather keeping good from her (Genesis 3:1–4). So she ate it and gave some to Adam (Genesis 3:5). Adam also ate it, and in that moment everything changed. Sin had entered into God’s perfect world (Romans 5:12). Mankind had fallen.
The fall of man was caused by Adam’s sin. Sin is any human behavior, word, or thought that is contrary to the perfection of God. Because of Adam’s sin, God placed a curse upon the world, the people, the animals, the plants, and the very ground (Genesis 3:14–19). Their sin had brought upon them the judgment of God, and the only just punishment for such high treason is eternal death (Romans 6:23). But God then put into play a system by which human beings could find pardon for sin. God killed an animal and made garments for the man and woman to cover the nakedness that now brought them shame (Genesis 3:21). In doing so, God painted a picture of what He would do thousands of years later when the Perfect Lamb was slain to take away our sin (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8).
After the fall of man, God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden and placed a cherub to guard the entrance. This was so that Adam and Eve could not return and possibly eat from the tree of life and live forever in their cursed state (Genesis 3:23–24). They were forced to find their own food and shelter. Adam had to fight weeds and thistles to eke out an existence from the ground, while Eve had to suffer in childbirth. Suffering and toil are part of the curse God put upon this world because of sin.
We call this episode in human history the fall of man because, in that act of disobedience, Adam brought a curse upon every person yet to be born. The man who was designed to walk with God in unbroken fellowship had fallen from that exalted position. He was doomed to live in a broken state, in a broken world, apart from ongoing communion with a holy God. God promised that the Seed of the woman would one day save them from the eternal consequences of their sin (Genesis 3:15), but the temporary earthly consequences of sin remained.
We all suffer the consequences of the fall of man. Our salvation is in calling upon the name of the Lord and trusting in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sin (Romans 5:10–11; 2 Corinthians 5:18). The world groans under the curse, crying out for the relief that will come at the ultimate redemption of God’s people when Christ returns (Romans 8:22–23). When Jesus comes for all those who have trusted in Him, God will restore all things (Acts 3:21). He will create a new heaven and a new earth to replace that which sin destroyed (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13; Revelation 21:1). Mankind will no longer be “fallen” but restored and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God (Revelation 7:14).
Recommended Resources: Hard Questions, Real Answers by William Lane Craig
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