As a result of the fall all the afflictions of mankind were introduced.
- Shame. Adam and Eve knew they were naked and tried to cover their nakedness. Evidently, like their Creator, the pair were clothed with garments of light prior to the fall:
“Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment” (Psa 104:2 NKJV)
- Knowledge of good and evil, with a compulsion toward the evil.
- The Law of Conscience. The law of conscience began to work, accusing Adam and Eve inwardly, producing guilt.
- Religion – the Law of works. In sewing fig leaves together, Adam and Eve sought to make themselves, even in their sinful state, presentable to a holy God. This essentially is the nature of man-made religion.
- Blaming others. Genesis 3:13-19 records how each conspirator sought to lay the blame at another’s doorstep. However, it is only when we accept responsibility for, confess and forsake sin, that freedom and deliverance can come.
- Corruption. Man’s entire nature was corrupted. His spirit, which is the lamp of the Lord (Proverbs 20:27) was thrown into darkness, losing its contact with God; his soul and its faculties of mind, will and emotion became self-centred and destructive (Eph 2:1-3; 4:17-19; 2 Tim 2:25-27; Rom 1:18-31; Titus 1:15); man’s body became subject to perverted instincts, sickness and death. Sin is not however a physical thing but a spiritual law, though expressed physically. Childbearing also would now to be with pain and sorrow.
- Rejection. Expulsion from the garden began the awful inward torment of rejection and failure, which undoubtedly were preyed upon and amplified by satan.
- Separation and death. Hitherto death was not part of God’s created system. His warning that in transgressing they would ‘surely die’ came into immediate affect and the process of death began in Adam and Eve. The literal meaning of “surely die” is “in dying thou shalt die”. Separation of the spirit from God – Spiritual death – was immediate. Resulting from this separation, the ravages of physical death began.
The death penalty, which is the final result of sin touches three areas relative to man:
a. Physical death. The separation of the spirit from the body. Death began in Adam’s body the moment he sinned and consummated 930 years later (Gen 5:5)
b. Spiritual death. Separation of the spirit from God. Dead in trespass and sins, out of fellowship with God. (John 5:24; Rom 8:6; Eph 2:1,5)
c. Eternal death. Separation of spirit and soul from God for all eternity in the lake of Fire. Death is not cessation of life, or annihilation, as some false cults insist, but eternal separation from God because of sin.
- The curse. All of Adam’s dominion came under a curse. The earth now brought forth thorns and thistles, and refused to yield its fruit willingly to mankind. All of creation now groans under this curse, awaiting the day when all things will be made new.
“For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Rom 8:19-22 NLT)
Some of the effects of sin upon mankind are summarised thus in Willmingtons’s Guide to the Bible. He says that sin:
a. Dulls man’s ears (Acts 28:27 ).
b. Darkens his eyes (Eph. 4:18 ).
c. Diverts his feet (Isa. 53:6 ).
d. Defiles his tongue (Rom. 3:13, 14).
e. Deceives his heart (Jer. 17:9 ).
f. Devours his intellect (1 Cor. 2:14 ).
g. Dooms his soul (Ezek. 18:4 ).
The Long Range Effects of sin
“In Adam” all sinned and died
The full effects of the fall were not evidenced immediately in Adam and Eve, but followed in their offspring, the human race.
through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”Romans 5:12
In considering this concept let us ask a question:
If my father died in a car crash three years before I was born, where would I be? The answer is that I too would have died “in him”.
Thus, when Adam sinned, all men sinned, for they were as yet in his loins. All the potentiality of future offspring was there in the first man, as yet unrealised. Adam was the representative of the entire human race. Sin is both hereditary and universal. All men are born with sinful and depraved natures, with our nature being passed through our natural mother and father. For this reason, Jesus could not be born by natural means of conception, because He too would have inherited the nature of Adam, bearing personally the guilt and penalty of death.
Original sin is inherited from Adam, actual sin is that which man commits. Because of man’s sinful nature however, he can do nothing but sin. A man sins because he is a sinner, he is not a sinner because he sins. This is why a change of nature is required, not just a reformation of character. Man is accountable to God for his own personal sins and needs to repent, and also bears the penalty for Adam’s sin, because when he rebelled, we were “in him”. This concept of representation provides the key for understanding the gospel message that “in Christ” we are set free from the penalty and power of sin [we will consider this powerful truth in great depth in the Module later in course entitled, “The Atonement – In Christ Realities”].
The penalty of sin, which is death, also passed to all men. All sinned and all died “in Adam”, the father and representative of the human race (I Corinthians 15:21-23,45-50). Death was foreign to man; he was created to be immortal and did not need to die. Physical death followed spiritual death.
However, there was hope for the human race. Genesis 3:15 speaks of one born of woman, who would crush Satan’s head. This speaks of course of Jesus Christ who defeated Satan at Calvary. God provided a covering for Adam and Eve by killing an animal, which also points to the sacrificial death of Jesus who by His shed blood dealt with sin and opened up the way for man to dwell with God in a restored relationship.
The Sin of the Christian
The work of Christ has forever dealt with the problem of sin. As Scripture declares, the purpose of Christ’s coming was to take away the “sin of the world”:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
and to destroy the “works of the devil”:
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1John 3:8 NKJV)
The Law of Sin
The Bible makes it clear that although we, as born again children of God, have been granted the necessary authority to overcome temptation, the reality is that at times we allow our lower nature, the lusts and desires of our flesh, to override the law of conscience and lead us into wilful disobedience to God’s righteous standards. John addresses this weakness in our flesh in 1 John 1:8-10:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1John 1:8-10 NKJV)
He also stresses in the same letter however, that such actions are contrary to the new nature and image we now bear in Christ:
“No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.” (1John 3:9 AMP)
The root of such actions, contrary to our nature, can be traced back to unbelief in the heart of God’s child:
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12-13 NKJV)
We are deceived into believing a lie. Just as Adam and Eve were misled in the Garden, to desire something outside of God’s will, in the false expectation that some longing within them would find satisfaction, so sin comes to deceive us and attempts to con us into believing that something not ordained by our Father, will somehow satisfy our desires. As Proverbs points out however, behind a veneer of pleasure, lurks the true nature of sin, wielding pain, and ultimately death (See Proverbs 9:17-18; 20:17). The Bible does not deny that sin can be pleasurable to the flesh (Hebrews 11:25), but teaches that a sweet exterior, like the fruit in the garden, actually conceals a poisonous heart.
James describes the process of the law (principle) of sin at work:
“But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:14-16 AMP)
Kevin Conner describes the process in this way:
- Lust in the heart of man is like the female ovum
- The seed of temptation then enters the heart
- Sin is then conceived in the heart, which eventually leads to the birth of sin, which is the deliberate act contrary to the will of God.
- When this infant grows up to full maturity, it turns out to be death.
It can be seen that the birth of sin begins first with a temptation to desire something outside of God’s will. The will of the flesh pulls toward this temptation, believing that it will bring satisfaction. It is at this point that the child of God needs to act, taking authority by God’s grace. Once the seed thought has been received into the imagination a conception of sin has taken place so it is much harder to resist (we are then fighting a battle both without and within ourselves). If we pull on God’s grace prior to his conception, grace is promised to help us overcome even the most violent of temptations:
“For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.” (1Cor 10:13 AMP)
For this reason it is important that we protect our mind from those outward things that potentially could become the seed which impregnates our imagination with the lie of sin’s satisfaction. A man given to sexual images will undoubtedly conceive lustful passions in his members, and end up committing some form of sexual act contrary to his conscience. A person given to materialism will succumb to the conception and birth of idolatry if they continually behold catalogues and shop windows. As Jesus pointed out, if our hand or eye, however fond we are of them, causes us to sin, we should “cut them off”:
““If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.” (Matt 18:8-9 NKJV)
Clearly, Jesus was not here advocating self-mutilation, but using very aggressive imagery to teach how we should deal with those appendages and habits that seek to control our lives. Cutting ourselves free will doubtless be painful, but to enjoy the pleasures of this world and be lost forever in the next will be indescribably more painful.
The effect of sin
If and when we do succumb to the temptation to sin however, God has amply provided a way of restoration through the Blood of Jesus Christ. A child of God who sins does not become again a ‘sinner’ in the sense that an unregenerate person is a sinner. The child of God is by nature a saint, set apart for God. When they sin their nature is not changed, but their fellowship with the Father is adversely affected. They become a saint who has sinned.
Willmington points out the following six things the child of God immediately loses upon sinning. A seventh may also be lost if a person continues in wilful disobedience. (Willmingtons Guide to the Bible)
1. The loss of light (1 Jn. 1:6 ).
2. The loss of joy (Ps. 51:12 ; Jn. 15:11 ; Gal. 5:22 ; 1 Jn. 1:4 ).
3. The loss of peace (1 Jn. 3:4-10 ).
4. The loss of love (1 Jn. 2:5 , 15-17 ; 4:12 ).
5. The loss of fellowship (1 Jn. 1:3,6,7 ).
6. The loss of confidence (1 Jn. 3:19-22 ).
7. The possible loss of health and even physical life (1 Cor. 5:5 ; 11:30 ).
Ultimately, if a person chooses to follow the way of sin instead of the way of their Master, their salvation can also be lost. The Bible nowhere teaches that our salvation cannot be lost if we fail to follow Christ with a sincere heart. The abundant testimony of the Scriptures points to the fact that we are saved as we ‘continue’ to follow Christ. (Hebrews 6:6; 10:26,38; 12:25; Romans 11:22; Colossians 1:21-23).
For this reason we must work out with reverent fear what God is working in us, and never consider the blood of Jesus a familiar or common thing:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13 NKJV)
We stress that our salvation is not lost every time we ‘sin’ necessitating being saved again and again. We are speaking here of wilful and continued disobedience and hardening of heart. As we walk sensitively with the Holy Spirit, we can enjoy great peace of heart and assurance, even if we do occasionally fall into disobedience.
The remedy for disobedience in the child of God is outlined in 1 John 1:9: Confess that we have sinned, forsake and repent of that sin, trusting the Blood of the Saviour not merely to cover our sin, but completely cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The preventives against sin
Willmington cites the following three preventatives against sin:
1. The Word of God (Ps. 119:11 ; Jn. 15:7 ; 17:17 ; 2 Tim. 3:16 , 17 ).
It has been often observed that the Bible will keep one from sinning, or sin will keep one from the Bible.
2. The intercession of the Son of God
(Lk. 22:32 ; Jn. 17:15 ; Rom. 8:34 ; Heb. 7:23-25 ).
3. The ministry of the Spirit of God (Zech. 4:6 ; Jn. 7:37-39)
We add a fourth…
4. Living in fellowship and accountability with other Christians
(1 John 1:6-7). It is always the sheep who seek to live outside the flock that are devoured by wolves. Satan, as a hungry lion, seeks to entice and devour all those who stray away from this principle of humility and accountable relationship within the bounds of a local fellowship of believers (1 Peter 5:8).
As we resist temptations from the enemy, and faithfully overcome trials that present themselves in our lives, the promised fruit is worth the pain and humiliation that often comes with such testings:
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” (1Pet 5:10 NKJV)
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:3-5 NKJV)
“For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:10-11 NKJV)
“Sin is lawlessness, selfishness and self-will. But through the redeeming work of the cross, God will have a people who will freely, willingly and lovingly submit their will to His good and perfect will. He will write His laws in their hearts and sin will be brought to an end in them. Law, order and harmony will prevail in the universe eternally upon the basis of the New Covenant. The Scriptures end with a promise, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life….” Revelation 22:14.
Adam forfeited the right to the tree of life by disobeying the one commandment. Christ, who fully kept the Law and was obedient to His Father’s will, restores it.”(Kevin J Connor, ‘The Foundations of Christian Doctrine)