What was the effect of the fall on humanity? How did the fall affect our world?
The effects of the fall cannot be overestimated. In order to appreciate the vast scope of the effects of the fall, we first must understand that Adam acted as the representative for all of humanity. As such, his fall was the fall of all.
One of the most devastating effects of the fall is the unwelcome appearance of death. Genesis 2:16–17 says, "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.'" After Adam disobeyed God's command not to eat from the tree, God told him, "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" (Genesis 3:19). Paul says in Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned."
Another effect of the fall was that man, who was created good, was from then on born with a sin nature. We see this in the very first children of Adam and Eve. Cain becomes angry at his brother Abel and kills him (Genesis 4:1–16). Mankind is now born with a sinful disposition of the heart. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. It is our nature. As recorded in Matthew 15:18–19, Jesus says, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." The great King David said in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." The list of the "works of the flesh" contained in Galatians 5:19–21 includes "sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these." The description of mankind after the fall recorded by Paul in Romans 1:29–31 includes all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, haughtiness, boastfulness, inventions of evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness. All of these sinful attitudes and actions are a direct result of the fall.
The most terrible effect of the fall was the effect it had on the loving relationship between God and man. Whereas before the fall, man walked openly with God in the garden; after the fall man hid in fear and shame from God (Genesis 3:9–10). God was no longer a Father to be loved, but a Judge to be feared. Because of the fall, mankind became alienated from God, hostile to God, and enemies of God (Ephesians 2:12; 4:18; Colossians 1:21; James 4:4). Instead of being children of God, we became children of wrath, disobedience, and the devil (Ephesians 2:1–3; Romans 11:32; 1 John 3:10).
Other effects of the fall include strained relationships between husband and wife, painful labor both in childbirth and toilsome labor (Genesis 3:16–19), and a host of natural disasters (Romans 8:22).
Worse news there could not be, right? However, as bad as the effects of the fall are, they are no match for the good news. As Paul says in the book of Romans, the gift of Jesus is greater than the trespass of Adam. Death came through Adam, but eternal life comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15–21 states, "But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Further, 1 Corinthians 15:21–26 states, "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
Christ has overcome the curse of sin with His triumph at the cross (Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 4:8). Christ has overcome sin with holiness (Hebrews 4:15), death with life (John 10:10; 14:6), painful labor with eternal rest (Matthew 11:28), broken relationships to God with reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), a groaning creation with a new earth (Revelation 21:1), guilt with forgiveness (Romans 8:1), fear with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), anxiety with peace (Philippians 4:7), and despair with joy (John 15:11). The works of the flesh, which are the result of the fall are overcome by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Rather than be bound to the fall, we can trust Christ through faith in the reality of the resurrection and have hope to one day be raised to life again with Him (Romans 6:3–11).
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