Most Christians are generally familiar with the story of the Fall of Man as related in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve are placed in a garden paradise to live with only one prohibition: they are not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2.16-17). But then, the crafty serpent, who elsewhere in the Bible is equated with Satan,1 comes along and entices Eve to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. Eve shares the fruit with her husband, and Adam violates the command of God as well.
Usually when we talk about this event, we focus on it in a couple of predictable ways: the disobedient act of eating of the fruit represents the first human sin, and as a result, the spiritual relationship between humanity and God is ruptured, and physical death comes to mankind as a result.
Both of those things—the disruption of our relationship with God and our mortality—are important, and are certainly framed as results of Adam and Eve’s sin in Genesis 3. But the consequences of sin don’t stop there; they are widespread, and affect all areas of life. To put it another way, sin messes everything up, and as a result, we live in a messed-up world.2
Over the next few posts, I’d like to look at the theological, personal, sociological, ecological, and physical consequences of sin,3 and these categories come directly from the account in Genesis 3:
- Genesis 3.8-10: Adam and Eve hide from God because they are afraid (theological effects).
- Genesis 3.10-11: Adam and Eve realize they are naked (personal effects).
- Genesis 3.12-13, 16: Adam and Eve refuse to take responsibility and their relationship is changed (sociological effects).
- Genesis 3.17-19: Creation itself becomes cursed (ecological effects).
- Genesis 3.22-23: Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden and separated from the tree of life (physical effects).
Hopefully this series will help us to take sin more seriously, and see how all-destructive it is.
• • •1See, for example, Revelation 12.9.
2One of the biggest problems I have with folks who consider Genesis 1-11 to be allegorical rather than historical (i.e., they don’t believe that the first 11 chapters of Genesis relate actual, historical events) is that such a view strips away the Bible’s explanation for the reason why our world is the way it is. The Bible repeatedly affirms that sin is a huge problem, and our own observations repeatedly affirm that our world in its current state is fundamentally jacked up. Genesis 3 provides the biblical explanation for the enormity of sin, and a groaning creation (cf. Romans 8.22).
3This series of posts is based in considerable part on the lectures of Dr. Mark Powell in his Systematic Theology class which I took at Harding School of Theology.