The ‘Fall of Man’ with specific reference to Genesis 3. Article by Kennedy Owiti
Although popular philosophy that emphasizes the dignity and mental capabilities of man would flatter men into thinking that they can produce from within themselves the desire to do good and avoid evil, and that there is nothing wrong with humanity, the bible teaches differently on this matter. God did make man pure, good, special and even noble in nature [Genesis 1:27-30; 2:19], for unlike all other creation he was made in the image of God, who went ahead and placed him in charge of the rest of the entire creation! But a reading of Genesis 3:1-7 teaches us that when Adam and his wife Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit that He had instructed them not to eat, they fell out of favour with God and the goodness, purity and nobility of man was thence corrupted and he turned into a being that was no longer able to choose good but rather became inclined toward evil. This disobedience that led to this fall is called sin for essentially Adam and his wife went against the clear command or law of God, and sin is lawlessness [Titus 2:14; 1John 3:4], disobedience [Romans 5:19], trespass [Ephesians 2:1] and unrighteousness against and before God [1John 1:9]. Wayne Grudem defines sin thus;
Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature. Sin is here defined in relation to God and his moral law. [emphasis mine]
Prior to the incident in the Garden of Eden, when Satan deceived Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word and rely on their own strength and ability in discerning good and evil, Satan,
himself a fallen angel, rebelled against God and became evil [2Peter 2:4; Jude 6]. The strategy Satan employed was to use Eve and get her to lure her husband into disobeying the command that God had given to him more so as he knew that Eve was not the covenant head, having not received the command directly like her husband and so would not have the same sense of responsibility apart from being the more likely vulnerable in the arguments. Satan thereafter cast doubt in them by questioning the goodness, wisdom and care of God to them and suggesting instead that God was a miser and legalist who did not have their interest at heart. He persuaded them that God’s directive was really an interference with man’s liberty and rights, a command that had been issued out of pure selfishness and a desire to by God to keep man in subjection. Satan then simply lied “you will not surely die” [Genesis 3:4], suggesting to man that he would instead become like God! The desire for autonomy and independence from God, the seeds of pride and unbelief that had been sowed as well as a rejection of God’s sovereign authority led Adam and Eve, like Satan before them, to rebel against God! Roger Weil grimly says of this first temptation and fall into sin;
Satan by tempting him caused Adam to fail the test of pure obedience to God. Adam believed that by choosing his own way he could be like God himself. Adam thus became the servant of sin. Because he was the representative of the whole human race he transmitted to his descendants the pollution and guilt of sin (Romans 5:12, 18-19). We therefore inherit our fallen natures from Adam our earthly head.
Somehow the Devil continues to tempt people today to sin against God by basically using the same strategy that he employed with Adam and Eve in Eden and a look at the temptation of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4 bears witness to this. In the first temptation and clearly seeking to cast doubt in the mind of Christ about whom God had said in Matthew 3:17 “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, Satan starts by saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Then he lies by misquoting and negating the intent of what God has said in his word just like he did with Adam and Eve and it takes the clear and perfect knowledge of the Scriptures by our Lord to put him off this line of attack! Basically he employs the same trick in the second temptation and upon realizing he has failed in both cases uses the third trick of creating a desire to reject God’s authority, to seek to be autonomous from God and to reject God’s clear command that He alone is to be worshipped when he asks Christ to worship him so that he gives Christ his own kingdom! [Matthew 4:8-11] These are really the same strategies and ways that Satan uses today to tempt us. He has kept sinners in false comfort zones by conning them that there is no God, or that the demands of God upon sinners are too burdensome, or that God really doesn’t love us when He denies us the ‘pleasures’ of sin that this world offers, or that God is tyrannical and really just does not want the best for us and that his commands deny us the ‘right’ to acquire the best things in life which we would acquire, say through corruption! No wonder that David in Psalm 73:2ff says that ‘his feet almost slipped when he saw how the prosperity of the wicked and how they appeared healthy and unburdened by the cares common to men’, and Satan uses these same kind of tricks on us today.
As God had indicated that the penalty for sin would be death, the disobedience of his command indeed caused Adam and Eve to ‘die’ in several ways. First and foremost they died spiritually in that the communion with God that they had hitherto enjoyed ceased. God is holy and cannot consort with sin and the sin of Adam and his wife separated them from God such that they became as good as dead from that point of sin onwards for it is only in communion with God that they could truly be alive! Other than this, they also now became susceptible to physical death so that in Genesis 3:19 man is told that just as he had been made from the dust of the earth, then to that dust he would return. Indeed and in fulfilment of this promise we see in Genesis 5:5 that Adam physically died after he had lived for 930 years. Lastly, the penalty of death for sin meant that Adam, unless he repented and was forgiven by God would face eternal death: the culmination of spiritual death or separation from God. This is the unending form of death reserved for sinners spoken of in Revelation 14:11 thus;
And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.
Unrepentant sinners would and will therefore be sent into hell where they shall die continuously and for all eternity.
On account of all the foregoing and going now to Genesis 3:8 onwards, we see that sin has quite adversely affected the various relationships that existed prior to its entry into the Garden of Eden. As between man and God, it must be noted that prior to the fall man who had been created upright and in God’s image had full communion with God. Louis Berkhof says of the consequence of this sin,
As a result of it man lost the image of God in the restricted sense, became guilty and utterly corrupt, and fell under the sway of death, Gen 3:19; Rom 5:12; 6:23
Man became separated from God [Deuteronomy 31:17f, Psalm78:59-62], felt guilty and no longer wanted to be near God or even to encounter him. Little wonder then that when God came into the Garden that evening, man decided to hide away from him, naked and ashamed [verses 8ff]. And this was an effect not only on Adam but a consequence that by transmission befell all of humanity. In an article in the ESV study Bible and while including a quote from Romans 3:10ff and Isaiah 53:6, the authors thereof make the following startling and grim comments on the effects of the sin;
The curse brought physical and spiritual death, separation from God and alienation from him and others. All people are now conceived, born, and live in this fallen, depraved condition: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one”
This means that man is no longer capable of pleasing God and God in turn banished man from his presence [Genesis 3:23f] having lost the favour of God and the communion hitherto existing.
The relationship between the man and the woman was also affected in that the woman who hitherto had been referred to by Adam as ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ [Genesis 2:23], was now referred to disdainfully and most regrettably as ‘this woman you put here with me!’ [Genesis 3:12] But that was not all, for in verse 16 we find that there would eternally exist a power struggle between these erstwhile good companions with the woman always seeking to be either like or above the man who had already been given authority over her. The man who himself had shown much love, companionship and understanding towards the woman would now exercise an almost authoritarian rule over her!
The relationship between man and his work was also affected. A look at Genesis 2:15 which is the point at which man is put in charge of all that God had created and when he is tasked with working the Garden seems to show that the work was joyfully accepted by man as not burdensome. Indeed even thereafter, but before the fall, we do not see man having any complaints of any sort about his work in the Garden as God had mandated. However in Genesis 3:17ff we see God cursing the ground such that man’s labours are no longer enjoyable but rather a most painful experience! Says the LORD in part b of verse 17;
…Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you…19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since fro it you were taken…
Derek Prime, commenting on the immediate consequence of sin in so far as man and work are concerned says
The first man and woman’s experience of the wonder of God’s creation was immediately spoilt: childbearing became associated with pain (Gen. 3:16); daily work became a matter of toil (Gen. 3:17-19).
In Conclusion we can say that although God gave the earth to the children of men, designed as a comfortable dwelling for them, sin has altered the property of it and it has instead become cursed for man’s sin and has become a dishonorable habitation. Its spontaneous productions are now weeds and briers and to even get some amount of good from it must require hard toil, ingenuity and labour from man. The beautiful relationships that existed prior to man’s fall: whether between him and his God or even with fellow man are all destroyed. It can only get better through God’s intervention and we can indeed only thank God that He has intervened through the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Derek Prime, Bible Answers to Questions about the Christian Faith and Life. [Ross-shire, Scotland] Focus
ESV Study Bible, Biblical Doctrine: An Overview. [Wheaton, Illinois] Crossway, 2007.
John Calvin, Biblical Christianity. [Arlington London, England]; Evangelical Press, 1982.
Louis Berkhof, A Summary of Christian Doctrine. [Edinburgh, UK] The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005.
Mathew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. [USA]; Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
Roger Weil, Foundations of the Christian Faith. [Arlington, England] Grace Publications Trust, 2007.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. [Leicester, England]; Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
 Kennedy is a member of Grace Baptist Church Kisumu
 John Calvin, Biblical Christianity. [Arlington London, England]; Evangelical Press, 1982. 55-70
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. [Leicester, England]; Inter-Varsity Press, 1994. 490
 ESV Study Bible, Biblical Doctrine: An Overview. [Wheaton, Illinois] Crossway:2007. 2530-2531
 Roger Weil, Foundations of the Christian Faith. [Arlington, England] Grace Publications Trust, 2007. 71
 Supra note 2 at 497-498
 Louis Berkhof, A Summary of Christian Doctrine. [Edinburgh, UK] The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005. 57
 cf Daniel 9:7; Amos3:2f and Isaiah 59:1f ; The physical separation of man from God is displayed starkly when in Genesis3:23f, we are told that man was banished from working in the Garden of Eden [apparently he had enjoyed working there] and was driven out from the Garden [read ‘from God’s presence and communion with God’] and to ensure Adam understood that he was no longer welcome, God stationed a cherubim with a flaming sword at the gate of the Garden to guard the way to the tree of life!
 Supra note 2 at 2530
 Derek Prime, Bible Answers to Questions about the Christian Faith and Life. [Ross-shire, Scotland] Focus Publications, 2004. 48
 Mathew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. [USA]; Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, 14-15