The Fall and Redemption of Humankind

Genesis 3 addresses the fall of humankind through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God. A narrative I believe is known even by unbelievers. God commanded them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with a surety that the day they eat, they shall surely die.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Genesis 2:16-17).

Now through a series of temptations at the beginning of the Chapter, our first parents disobeyed God’s command and plunged the whole human race into sin resulting in what is popularly called the fall.

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honor; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to His own glory. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them, whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body (LBCF 6.1-2)

Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God (WSC Q13)

In our opening Scriptural text, I will seek to address the two points of the title: Fall and Redemption. Firstly, we will look at how the fall happened and its consequence. Then we will look at God’s plan of Redemption in response to the fall.

The Fall

Temptation and Deception

The fall of Adam and Eve was a consequence of temptation and deception. Temptation here being the solicitation or appeal to do what is contrary to God’s command. The end of temptation is disobedience to God. Temptation and deception doesn’t come easily in ways we can identify. If the devil were to present temptation to us with the tag “Temptation”, none of us will fall. Genesis 3 records how Satan presented himself: subtil (KJV), crafty (ESV). This means Satan is cunning and manipulative. Unfortunately, many ideas and descriptions of Satan don’t perfectly fit who Satan is. Satan is not an ugly being with horns and tails as he has been portrayed through mediaval and modern art. Scripture describes him as one who transforms himself into an angel of light: (2Corinthians 11:14). That indeed makes him highly deceptive.

Questioning God’s Word

The temptation of Adam and Eve started with Satan questioning God’s word, challenging its authority and presented God as a dictator who doesn’t want Adam and Eve to enjoy their life. Precisely so, many people will not follow God’s word because they have bought into a lie it will limit their freedom. So sin is simply a cry for independence from God and anytime we sin we are telling God “I know what is better for me than you do”. The fall was simply choosing Satan’s word over God’s word. Whenever we sin, we have chosen Satan’s word over God’s word. Sin is a trust issue. Whenever we sin we are saying we don’t believe God’s word–we don’t believe the promises and threats in his word.

Covering the shame of sin

Sin brings shame. Eventually we get to realise it is not worth it after all. This is one common result of the fall. Anytime we sin, we feel ashamed and will want to cover up: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (v.7). What the devil promised them was the opposite of the reality. They were promised their eyes will open, be like God and know good and evil (v.5). But rather, their eyes were opened to shame and they sought to cover themselves.

Blame Game

Instead of taking responsibility for their sins; they went on a blame game journey. Sinners don’t take responsibility for their sins. It is always the fault of someone. In the narrative, Adam blamed God for the woman he gave him. Eve blamed Satan: “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.” (v.12-13).

The Consequence of the Fall

The fall was overarching, it affected every area of our lives.

Alienation between God and humankind

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 (vv.23-24).

We see the first consequence of the fall: Adam and Eve were driven away from Eden which was where God had fellowship with them. Their alienation became the alienation of everyone until they come to Christ. The Scriptures clearly teach that, naturally, we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This falling short of God’s glory is our sorrowful state where we are alienated from God. The sin of Adam passed on to all humankind. Adam was our federal head and in his fall we fell:

When Adam stood in Eden as a responsible being before God, he stood there as a federal head, as the legal representative of all his posterity. Hence, when Adam sinned, all for whom he was standing are accounted as having sinned; when he fell, all whom he represented fell; when he died, they died.¹

Alienation between humankind and nature

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 (vv.17-18).

The ground was cursed because of sin. Sin affected humankind’s relationship with nature. Man was given the earth to have dominion over it but the story changed when humankind disobeyed God. Paul captures this alienation between nature and humankind well when he spoke of the awaited redemption of creation:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Rom. 8:20-22).

The Joy of labour was gone 

Human beings were created to work and tend the earth. That was the original pla But because of the the fall work is even laborious.

The Redemption

Redemption in biblical terms is simply God liberating or setting us free from sin. The idea is that of freeing people from a slave market. So as fallen human beings in sin, we are said to be living under bondage of Satan. We are slaves of sin and Satan until we come to Christ. And God sent Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to die for the salvation of sinners that whoever will believe in him would be redeemed  from bondage to Satan and brought us into God’s kingdom.

In the text, God pronounced judgement on the serpent and in that judgement we see Christ revealed and the first gospel –protoevangelium– in the Bible preached:

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 (v.15).

The seed of the woman promised here is not about a battle between snakes and human beings. Rather it is about an enmity between Satan and Christ. And in that text God revealed his plan of salvation. A seed of the woman speaks of Christ’s incarnation, the offspring of the serpent brusing the heel of the woman’s offspring speaks of Christ’s suffering; His crucifixion and the the woman’s offspring  bruise the head of the serpent’s offspring speaks of Christ’s victory in death over Satan.

Another important fact of redemption in the narrative is a contrast between vv.7 and 21

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths (v.7)

And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them (v.21).

What we see clearly here is human covering verses God’s covering. Human covering representing our own rigtheousness and God’s covering representing Christ’s righteousness. As sinners, we always try our means to cover up our shame and sins which doesn’t cover up our sins anyway. But God provides a better means–a more durable and acceptable means of his covering. In Christ –the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world–there is a better covering of righteousness. A covering that justifies us before God. A covering that hides away our sins from the presence of God. A covering that imputes unto us the righteousness of Christ and he in turn take our sins.

We all come into this world as fallen human beings separated from God. We have been deceived. We have bought into satan’s lie and as a result, we cover up and run away from God always. But the Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What will you do with your sins? There is only one solution; come to Christ in faith. Repent of your sins and he will receive you.

Notes

1. A. W. Pink, “Adam and Federal Headship”, https://www.monergism.com/adam-and-federal-headship, accessed 7th December, 2018

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