The apostle John comments that the “whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). When we contemplate such a comprehensive statement we might ask the question, “how could this be, seeing a loving God made ‘the world and all things therein’”? The answer lies in what happened in the garden of Eden right at the beginning of human history. One deed had such vast out-workings.

The Genesis account of the creation of man and his sin and its consequences provides us with a credible, complete and satisfying answer to what otherwise is an inexplicable mystery.

Man in His Novitiate

This sub-heading is drawn from Elpis Israel. In this section Brother John Thomas considers man as he was created in his first estate. It is important to do this in order to appreciate what happened to Adam after he sinned and why the Lord Jesus Christ was “born of a woman” and thus was Son of Man. We are taught that when God reviewed “everything that he had made… behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). This, of course, included Adam in his physical and moral aspects. There is other evidence in Scripture which confirms this to be the case. Solomon made the observation that “God hath made man (Heb Adam) upright (Heb Yashar = upright, right, righteous); but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccles 7:29).

Further evidence of man’s initial uprightness can be seen from the answer Eve gave to the serpent when asked, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Eve replied, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Gen 3:1–3). Such was her “fear” of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that she added to the words recorded that God had spoken: not only would she not eat of it, she would not even touch it! Her reply indicates an attitude of implicit and unquestioning obedience: for the forbidden fruit she had no desire. It was only after her pristine thoughts had been contaminated with the sophistry of the serpent that this situation changed.

The Temptation

The consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin are phenomenal and embrace the entire human family. It is therefore important to understand how the situation in which we find ourselves arose. The Genesis account of the “fall of Man” provides the answers, which not only explain how this happened, but accord perfectly with all human experience.

The serpent’s response to Eve confused her mind, which once had been so clear about the consequences of partaking of the forbidden fruit. He did this with a mixture of truth and error, which appealed to her vanity and pride. The false statement, “Ye shall not surely die”, contradicted what God had so plainly stated and “removed” the dreaded consequences of partaking of the fruit: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). But it was the appeal in the words that followed that excited her imagination. According to the serpent, the reason for giving the law in the first place was to deny them the privilege of enjoying a higher status than that which they then enjoyed, enlightenment, the “opening of the eyes”, being “as gods” (Elohim) and “knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). This was an attractive thought, for Eve perceived the Elohim (the angels) as superior beings. Thus there was sown in her mind thoughts which would never have arisen without an external influence. Her hitherto latent pride had been awakened. She was unable to dismiss the desires, the thoughts prompting her to seek equality with the angels. Her feet followed her thoughts. Fatefully she walked to the place where she knew the tree to be.

Once in the presence of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” other feelings, other desires, hitherto unknown, were aroused: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen 3:6). Besides confirming what the serpent had said about making her wise, the other feelings that were ignited by the sight of the fruit of the tree were: 1 “The lust of the flesh,” for its fruit was manifestly “good for food”, and 2 “The lust of the eyes,” for as the Genesis record says, “it was pleasant (mrg a desire) to the eyes”.

The Aftermath

Immediately their eyes were opened and they became aware of new feelings. In their innocence their nakedness had occasioned them no shame; but now, conscious of having breached God’s law, they sought to cover themselves. No longer would they experience unmingled good; evil was now part of their realm and destiny.

The apostle John in his first epistle says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (2:16). This statement at the “end” of the Bible accords with what we read at the beginning (Gen 3:6). Within all of Adam’s descendants there exists these lusts, these propensities which lead to sin; no one, save the Lord Jesus Christ, has totally resisted these inherent powers, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

Consider the following Scriptures which illustrate how entrenched these evil desires are:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5)
“For the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21)
“… yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Eccles 9:3)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9)
“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders…” (Mark 7:21)
“For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now, if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom 7:18–20).
These are amazing and consistent descriptions of human nature’s perversity and rebelliousness. They are not descriptions which could apply to Adam and Eve as they were created. So we observe that, besides the shame of sin, there was a proneness to sin, as a consequence of the first sin, and that this bias or inclination to sin is inherited by all of Adam’s descendants.

It is also notable that whereas Eve required an external tempter to cause her to sin, we do not. Whilst external objects or persons may play a part in temptation and sin, they are not essential.

In Adam All Die

The simple law that God gave to Adam had a penalty appended to it: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:17). The phrase “thou shalt surely die” (Heb ‘dying thou shalt die’) is a Hebraism and does not express the mode or process whereby they would die, but the certainty. That is, in the day they partook of the forbidden fruit they would be as good as dead; death would be inevitable.

God upheld His law when He sentenced Adam to toiling in the field, culminating in death: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake… in the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:17–19). In the course of time Adam grew old, decayed and died. He was a mortal man, that is, he was subject to death. In his former estate death had no place: death had come as a result of a decree extraneous to the nature bestowed upon him. Once condemned to death, Adam’s nature could no longer be described as “very good”.

The death penalty imposed on Adam has vast ramifications, for it takes all his descendants, the whole human family, into account. We all die because we all sin. We all inherit a nature which is mortal, “condemned” to death because of its sinfulness. The following Scriptures show that all men fall short of the glory of God because they sin, and so death reigns over them.

“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men (adam)… Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up… In the evening it is cut down and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou has set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 90:3–8)
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12)
“For as in Adam all die… ” (1 Cor 15:22).

Summary

We have considered Adam and Eve in their first estate, the way the temptation took place and also its consequences.

It is important to understand these foundation facts so that we can appreciate our own position and need; and also how the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ provides for these needs.

The issues dealt with in this opening article elaborate the statements found in the Cooper-Carter Addendum. The Addendum forms part of the basis for reunion, which took place among Australian Christadelphian ecclesias in 1958. It explains Clauses 5 and 12 of the Statement of Faith.

The relevant words in the Addendum read as follows: “We believe that Adam was made of the earth, and declared to be very good; because of disobedience to God’s law he was sentenced to return to the dust. He fell from his very good estate, and suffered the consequences of sin—shame, a defiled conscience and mortality. As his descendants, we partake of that mortality that came by sin, and inherit a nature prone to sin.”