Christians: What is the fall?
ADAM AND EVE: What is the fall?
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. Genesis 3:6
In Genesis 3, Eve believed Satan over God and chose pride over humility by partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in sin against God. Hers was a sin of commission, whereby she did what God forbade.
Tragically, we further read that while all of this occurred, Adam stood by silently, failing to lead his family in godliness.1 This was Adam’s sin of omission, whereby he failed to do what God created him to do—lovingly lead his family and humbly serve God. Adam then joined his wife’s sin of commission, bringing shame, distrust, and separation between Adam and Eve, and between them and God. This included hiding from God and one another and covering themselves, as sinners have done in varying ways ever since.2
Since this sin of our first parents, every one of us has experienced relational troubles with God and one another. Like our parents, we turn on each other. And, we hide from God and blame him for the struggles in our life. In some says, Genesis 3 explains not only what happened, but what always happens until Jesus returns to straighten out everything we’ve made crooked.
We see the character of God when he came looking for the man. Instead of thundering judgment, he invites Adam to confess with his question, “where are you?” Adam’s first response is good as far as it goes: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Gen. 3:10 ESV). He gives the context, the emotion, the identity and the action of his sin, but fails to acknowledge his disobedience or take responsibility for it. God addresses the identity (who told you that you were naked) and the sinful action, holding him responsible for the sinful condition of his family as its head.3 Rather than repenting of his sin, Adam essentially argued with God by blaming Eve for his sin and blaming God for making Eve.4 Eve, too, failed to repent of her sin and blamed the Serpent for deceiving her.5
As a result of the fall, the descent into sin has continued unabated ever since. A respect for authority was replaced by rebellion. A clear conscience was replaced by guilt and shame. Blessing was replaced by physical, spiritual, and eternal punishment. Viewing God as a friend to walk with was replaced by viewing him as an enemy to hide from. Trust was replaced by fear. Love was replaced by indifference and even hatred. Intimacy with God was replaced by separation from God. Freedom to obey God was replaced by enslavement to sin. Honesty was replaced with lying and deceit. Self-sacrifice was replaced by self-centeredness. Peace was replaced by restlessness. Responsibility was replaced by blaming. Authenticity was replaced by hiding.
Theologian D. A. Carson says, “Consumed by our own self-focus, we desire to dominate or manipulate others: here is the beginning of fences, of rape, of greed, of malice, of nurtured bitterness, of war.6
Nonetheless, sin and the fall do not rule the world, but God does. And he speaks a promise of hope in the coming of Jesus who will respect authority, bring blessing, and be a friend we can walk with, a savior we can trust in, love incarnate, and God come down to be close to us and liberate us from sin’s presence and penalty, by calling us to honest repentance to live God- centered lives of peace, responsibility, and authenticity as saved sinners.
Can you remember a time in your life when you had wandered from God and he called out to you, inviting you back into relationship with him?
6D. A. Carson, Christ and Culture Revisited (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 46.