Lesson 11: The Fall of Man | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 11: The Fall of Man

The fall of man took place when Adam and Eve fell from their state of unconfirmed [i.e., untested, on probation] holiness into a state of sin. Before examining the unique aspects of the Fall in this lesson, one should note the following:

1. Sin was present in the universe prior to the fall of man. The Fall introduced sin into the human race.


[What was the very first sin? Satan’s pride. See Isa 14, Ez 27. When did it occur? The Bible does not say. Obviously sometime in between creation and the fall of Adam. ]

2. Genesis 3 reveals that Eve took the initial step of disobedience. However, Romans 5:12 19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 22 indicate that God held Adam accountable for the Fall. He was the representative head of the human race. Therefore, this lesson will refer to the Fall in terms of Adam’s sin, though Eve bore responsibility as well.

3. The fall of man into sin was a unique event. The circumstances surrounding the Fall have not been nor will they ever be repeated. Nevertheless, the Fall profoundly affects mankind today. This lesson will point out both the many characteristics which were unique to the Fall and the continuing results of this event today.

I. The Circumstances Surrounding the Fall Were Unique.

So God created man . . . . God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.   Genesis 1:27 28, 31

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.   Genesis 2:19 20

A. Adam was given specific commands , which he was responsible to obey.

God gave Adam many commands that were intended for him alone. For example, he was responsible to rule over the animals, to name them, and to care for the Garden of Eden. Negatively, he was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

[Adam must have named all the animals on one day (Day Six). ]

B. Adam possessed unconfirmed holiness .

Adam was in a state of moral purity which was unconfirmed; that is, his holiness had to pass a probationary test of obedience in order for him to be confirmed in that state.

[How do we know that Adam was holy? Because everything God created was “very good.” He was exactly what God wanted him to be. Therefore, Adam was not in a state of neutrality; he was positively good/holy, having spiritual life and fellowship with God. Some have called this state “unconfirmed creaturely holiness.”

Although the Bible doesn’t say so, if A & E had not sinned, they likely would not have died. They would have eternally maintained their holy condition.

One who is on probation is being tested to see what he is really like.]

C. Adam had a free will and was capable of weighing choices.

God gave Adam a free will by which he could choose to obey (and, thus, be confirmed in moral purity) or choose to sin. Adam, of his own will, chose the latter.

[Prior to the fall: they were righteous, but able to sin. After the fall and prior to salvation: man is unrighteous and unable not to sin. After salvation and prior to glorification: man is righteous (positionally) and able not to sin. After glorification: man is righteous and unable to sin. ]

Note the following:

1. Adam was the only man to ever have a free choice.

Every decision that man has made since the Fall has been influenced by his sinful nature. Since Adam had no sinful nature prior to the Fall, he was the only man (other than Christ) ever to make a choice without being influenced by sin.

[Actually, even Christ operated on earth within the sphere of sin’s influence. Adam’s sin shows that even in the very best of conditions/ circumstances, man will choose to do evil. Thus changing one’s circumstances will not necessarily change the man.]

2. The Fall was planned by God.

Nothing is outside of God’s eternal plan. Adam’s choice of disobedience did not surprise God. Since God planned Christ’s death on the cross for man’s salvation before the creation of the world (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18 20; Revelation 13:8), the Fall must have been a part of God’s foreordained plan as well. However,

because Adam committed the first sin within the confines of God’s sovereign will, his choice was not absolutely free.

[So when we say that Adam had a free will, we simply mean that he was not influenced by the sinful nature. This is the primary way Adam’s will is different than ours. God is the only being with an absolutely free will, and even God has limited Himself to do what He said He would and act in a manner consistent with His character. For man, there is no such thing as an absolutely free will.

Three levels of freedom: Absolute freedom: only God has this; freedom not influenced by a sin nature: only Adam, Eve, and Jesus had this; freedom influenced by sin: everyone else. ]

3. God was not the author of Adam’s sin, nor was He responsible for it.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.   James 1:13 14

Although God is not the author of sin, He allowed man to fall. This is the mystery of evil; it is a problem which mankind cannot solve. Only God knows the solution to this mystery. It is clear, however, that man had no excuse when he fell. Exercising the freedom of his own will, he fell from the state of perfection in which he was created by sinning against God.

[The “mystery” is how can God foreordain something like the fall of Satan or of man and still not be responsible for it. This comes down to the seeming contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. Although God is in control of all things and has planned all events, He still holds man responsible for his actions. How can this be? That’s the mystery. An even bigger mystery is why God allowed sin in the first place. ]

II. The Test of Adam Was Unique.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground  trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”   Genesis 2:8 9, 15 17

The test was whether or not Adam would obey God by not eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although Adam was given many commands, disobeying this command would result in death. Though men must still obey God today, they do not face a test in the same way that Adam did. Only Adam had the opportunity to be confirmed in holiness by an act of obedience.

[Again, although the Bible doesn’t say so, it seems that if Adam and Eve had obeyed, they would have been confirmed in their holy condition. ]

III. The Temptation of Adam Was Unique.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.   Genesis 3:1 6

A. The means of the temptation was unique.

The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.   Revelation 12:9

A master deceiver, Satan approached Eve by means of a serpent. Although Satan still uses various means to tempt mankind, this was the only time he used a

talking animal .

Note: Eve did not sin by being tempted, but rather by yielding to the temptation.

[Being tempted is not sin. Giving in is. Jesus was tempted (Matt 4). Temptation is strongest for those who don’t give in to it.

Note also that Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. He went into the sin knowing exactly what he was doing. Thus God holds Adam, not Eve, responsible.]

B. The potential consequences of the temptation were unique.

As representative head of the race, Adam’s response to the temptation had far-reaching implications for all mankind. When someone is tempted today, there are potential results for himself and others , but not for the entire human race.

[Read Romans 5:12, 18. Adam’s sin somehow passes on to the entire race. Because Adam was the representative of the entire race, his sin affects everyone after him. ]

IV. The Consequences of the Fall Were Unique.

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”   Genesis 3:14 19

By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam gained a knowledge he did not have before. Prior to the Fall, he knew by experience only good, but now he knew both good and evil. This new knowledge, however, brought with it a changed attitude toward God. Whereas Adam delighted in God’s presence prior to the Fall, he now hid from Him, experiencing the feelings of guilt, fear, and shame which accompany sin. In addition to these results, God immediately imposed judgment on the following:

A. The serpent (Genesis 3:14)

The serpent was condemned to crawl.

B. Satan (Genesis 3:15)

An individual from the woman’s seed (Jesus Christ) would deal a death blow to Satan’s head (at the cross), while Satan would cause Christ to suffer (“strike his heel”).

The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 was only partially fulfilled at the cross, as Satan is still active today. One day it will be completely fulfilled. Because of Christ’s death, Satan will be defeated once and for all. Christ’s resurrection sealed Satan’s doom (1 Corinthians 15).

C. The woman (Genesis 3:16)

1. Women will have pain in childbirth.

2. Though a woman’s desire will be to rule her husband, sinful men will exercise oppressive rule over their wives.

D. The man (Genesis 3:17)

Though man had to work prior to the Fall (Genesis 2:15), the difficulty of his work greatly increased after the Fall.

[Work is pre-fall. It’s not part of the curse. Man was made to labor/work.]

E. The earth (Genesis 3:17 18)

The ground would grow thorns and thistles, increasing the effort required to make it produce food.

[Creation as a whole came into the “bondage of corruption” Rom 8:19-22. The whole universe is suffering the effects of sin and it will continue that way until the millennium and the eternal state.]

F. Mankind in general (Genesis 3:19)

God told Adam that when he ate from the forbidden tree he would surely die. God’s justice required that man’s sin be punished by death (Romans 6:23). That death was both physical and spiritual.

1. Man became mortal the day of the Fall, becoming subject to physical death.

If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would not have died physically. Because of the Fall, Adam and all mankind would one day return to the dust of the ground. This physical death involves the separation of the material aspect of man from the immaterial.

2. Man became spiritually dead the day of the Fall, becoming separated from God.

Adam was the representative head of the human race, and when he sinned, all mankind became “dead in transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Since the Fall, each individual is born spiritually dead.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.   Romans 5:12

[The “one man” is Adam. The construction of the words “all sinned” implies that this was a one-time event, the fall of Adam. Also note that Paul regards Adam as a real, literal person, not a figurative character.]

Spiritual death is a break in fellowship with God and was symbolized by Adam and Eve being driven from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23 24). The only remedy for spiritual death is regeneration , the impartation of spiritual life to the spiritually dead.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 5:20 21

The Fall affected all human beings, bringing many grave consequences. It was the darkest hour of human history. Once the sin was committed, it could never be undone.

Learning to Live It

While at camp, you hear an evangelist preach on the sin of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3:1 7. As he preaches, he makes the statements listed below. Read them and answer the accompanying questions.

1. “Adam and Eve had absolutely free wills  and so do you!” Did Adam and Eve have absolutely free wills? Why or why not?

no, not absolutely free; Their wills were limited by factors over which they had no control.

Do you have an absolutely free will? Why or why not?

no; Besides the above, you have a sin nature which often causes you to choose contrary to your will (Rom 7:14-20). In the case of an unsaved person, he is unable to choose the right–he will always choose the wrong.

2. “Just like Adam and Eve, you are faced with a moral choice. You must choose to obey God or to be a sinner. You must choose between spiritual life or spiritual death. You must choose between heaven or hell.” Are these statements accurate? Why or why not?

no; You are already a sinner and, if unsaved, are already spiritually dead and destined for hell. Besides, you really aren’t the one who chooses–God is. You make the choice to accept Christ because God has drawn you to Himself. Nobody would choose God in and of themselves

3. “If you reject God and walk out of this service, you will be separated from God, just like Adam and Eve.” This statement seems accurate at first glance. Upon closer examination, however, what is wrong with it?

If unsaved, you are already separated from God.

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