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What Is the Fall of Man? Genesis 3 Explained

Discover the reason for the "Fall of Man" by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and its significance for us today.

What Is the Fall of Man? Genesis 3 Explained

The Fall of Adam and Eve

The word sin means literally “missing the mark.” It indicates the failure to be what one should be and to do what one should do.

Originally man was made to be the created image of God, to live in union with God’s divine life, and to rule over all creation. Adam and Eve's failure in this task is their sin which has also known as "the fall of man".

The “fall” of man means that man failed in his God-given vocation. This is the meaning of Genesis 3. Adam and Eve were seduced by evil, the serpent, into believing that they could be “like God” by their own will and effort.

What Is the Fall of Man?

When Christians refer to the fall, they're referring to the incident in Genesis 3, where the serpent comes to the first man and the first woman that God has created, Adam and Eve. And he tempts them to rebel against the creator. Adam and Eve fall into temptation. And they sin. They eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God told them not to eat from. And they sin.

Now, the reason why this is so significant in Christian thinking is the fall or the sin of Adam and Eve did not just have consequences for Adam and Eve. It did have consequences for them. They eventually died for their rebellion against God, but it also brought about repercussions for all of the human race. So when Adam and Eve sin, they became enslaved to sin in a sense, the Bible says, but also when they brought forth children into the world, their children were also brought into this slavery or bondage to sin. So Paul will say in Romans 5, that, "Through one man sin entered into the world. And by this one man, death was brought into the world."

So this is the big idea when they sin, when they fail from God's goodness, they brought sin into the world. As a result, death came into the world and God's curses came into the world. We know, for example, that God cursed the ground. God also said there'll be greater pain in bringing forth children into the world. But this big idea is that death came into the world, separation and alienation for the human race and their relationship to God. And it's transmitted through all the posterity of Adam and Eve. So every human being that's related to Adam and Eve, and that's everyone, is affected by the sin.

Now, the counterpart to the fall in Christian thinking is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So the Bible also teaches, Paul teaches in First Corinthians that all in Adam die, but all in Jesus Christ are made alive. So by blood, we're related to Adam and Eve. We're in bondage to sin. But when we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ, we're united to a new head, Jesus Christ. And because we're united to Jesus Christ, we move from a life of death, into a new life of eternal life with God forevermore.

The Fall of Man in the Bible: Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

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. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Read More: The Full Bible Story of Adam and Eve

Significance of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden

I think the one question on everyone's mind, regardless of their worldview, is what went wrong on this planet. Why don't all babies come home with their moms, and why don't marriages last? And why is there death? And why is there suffering? Every world view is wrestling, and they all have various versions of that. We know something's wrong but outside of Christ we really don't even have a solution. And outside of the Bible, we don't even really have an answer as to why things went wrong.

But if you look at the Bible and you begin with what's wrong in your mind the answer in the Bible makes immediate sense. The book of Genesis tells us that mankind rebelled against God, his goodness, his love, and perfection, and sought autonomy and the worship of self, and destroyed all subsequent generations of men by separating themselves from God.

And the federal headship that was in Adam, representing all mankind, touched every descendant. The Bible says we're all born having committed as if it were the sin of Adam.

So in Romans chapter five, the apostle Paul says there's a second Adam to save us from the first. And the first committed the fall and the second commits the promise and salvation and redemption.

First Corinthians 15, kind of going back to the very beginning, has this triumphant declaring oh death where is your victory, and oh death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin. That's true. And the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.

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