August 14, 2021 - Adam and Eve

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Today we’re going to talk about Adam and Eve: was their sin necessary? And was their fall into sin bad or good? There are some today who believe that Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden was a necessary good for humankind. Some would say that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a “fall upward,” that their sin was a blessing in disguise.

Why? It is claimed that there has to be an “opposition in all things.” So without sin, you can’t have righteousness. And without righteousness, you can’t have happiness. And without all that, you can’t have God, and we all cease to exist. That’s where we get that famous line: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

God's very existence depends on the necessity of sin?? Innocence means no joy?? It sounds like God has been made the author of not only moral evil, but of all the hideous suffering that has come with it. How can anyone come to such a conclusion? Why would anyone feel the need for such a belief?

It is claimed in a source outside the Bible that Eve reportedly said: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should we have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth to all the obedient.” So Eve says that if we had not sinned, we'd never have had children.

But still, how can obeying Satan be a good thing? "Woe unto them that call evil good, and call good evil!" (Isaiah 5:20). How can God intend that the ancestors of the human race must disobey God and obey the Evil One, in order that they can have children? God commands them to be fruitful and multiply before they fall into sin. Why would God command, what they cannot do unless they reject God’s advice and do what the Evil One says? God makes it clear that to do what the serpent says is the way to death, not life.

I reject the claim that there would be no children without the Fall. Children serve a different purpose in a fallen world, where their purpose is to replace people as they die. In an unfallen world, the purpose of children is to increase God's army of image-bearers, so that we can fill creation and subdue it. Children were always intended for a higher purpose than replacement. So the Fall was an unnecessary tragedy of catastrophic proportions.

What would Adam and Eve and their descendants have done, if they had not fallen into sin? What would their world have become? What would life have been like? Take a look at the new heavens and earth in Revelation, with a holy city from God. They are a picture of what I would call Eden 2.0. They are what Adam and his sinless children probably would have built, if sin hadn't destroyed the relationship they had with God.

So why was it necessary for Adam and Eve to fall into sin, then? Our friends who believe this way say the greater issue is that without pain and struggle, how are righteousness and human greatness possible? How can we have goodness, without evil to resist? A friend of mine says that a perpetual Eden would have produced spoiled brats, or at best, Adam and Eve would have remained little children rather than becoming mature, virtuous adults. He claims that the Fall was needed to make heaven as wonderful as it is. He thinks that the blessings we will inherit in heaven are greater than we would have had without the Fall. I disagree!

My friend also thinks that innocent humans would not be Christ-like, because they would not have struggled with sin like Christ did. Some have speculated whether Heavenly Father or Jesus had to overcome sins of their own committed in a previous world. This possibility would be entirely consistent with the belief that Adam’s sin was necessary in our present world, but it creates great problems for our understanding of the Atonement, which requires both a sinless Heavenly Father and a Savior with no sin of his/her own to pay for.

The truth is that to know evil by doing it was not necessary for our first parents. Jesus was perfect, without ever having participated in evil. The sinless Jesus encountered opposition, the same kind as Adam and Eve did before they fell. Satan never gave up on Jesus. Rebellion had already happened before Eden was created, so Paradise was not without potentials to sin, so Adam still had evil to resist there, and he would have had to do so as long as he lived (forever).

If Adam and Eve had never sinned and went on to live forever, what if one or more of their children had sinned? They would have experienced the curse that God warned them about, including death, but their sin would not have automatically spread to or impacted the rest of creation, and there is no reason to believe that Adam and Eve would have voluntarily joined them in sin to keep the family together.

Nor must we believe that Adam had to follow Eve into sin. Adam would have been wise to let that marriage end, and trust his future to God. That’s why Adam is more blameworthy than Eve for falling into sin. Eve was tempted by the great deceiver himself. Adam disregarded God’s word purely on the word of his wife. Adam knew better.

Because Adam fell, God sent Jesus as the second Adam, to undo all of the damage done by the first Adam. Jesus lived the life that Adam and Eve and all the rest of us should have lived. That’s why and how Jesus was able to become our substitute. Jesus engineered the ultimate unfair trade: he took our sin, he gave us his righteousness. And because Jesus was God in the flesh, he was able to do this, not just for one individual, but for an entire race of human souls, as many as would place their faith in Christ to save them.

So how can Adam and Eve know good, if they have never known evil? The answer is that they knew good, like a fish knows water, and evil would always be close at hand, even if they always made the correct choice. Today, we must learn through what we suffer, but that’s because we now have a human nature that is at war with God, unlike Adam and Eve, who did not have a sin nature to struggle against at first, but fell into sin anyway.

Yes, before they sinned, Adam and Eve had none of the effects of the curse, effects which God hates: pain, death, decay. God uses evils like these to produce great good (Romans 8:28). But God hates these evils all the same, and I believe that God would have preferred to bring about even greater good without all the damage done by sin.

Adam and Eve did have to exercise faith. Their duty took more than just passively doing what they were told. But exercising faith is the very point where they failed. Instead of actively relying on God’s word, they were challenged into finding the truth for themselves. The results plunged us all into thousands of years of horrible misery. We are all better off taking the word of someone who loves us who warns us “Don’t jump off that bridge!” than we are if we jump and find out why they warned us not to do so.

Did Adam and Eve have it easy, lounging around the ultimate Paradise? No, God put them to work, but work without the subsequent curses on their work such as futility, thorns and thistles, and sweat. Imagine what we could accomplish! Imagine what joy we could take in our work! Imagine how different work could be without the evils that sin brought into our world.

C S Lewis' Perelandra describes a fictional world on Venus where the inhabitants did not commit Adam's sin, and were just on the verge of making that fateful mistake when the hero of the story intervenes. Imagine: if only the story had played out that way here in real life on earth!

Death threw a brick through the glass window of God's paradise. God repaired the worst part of the damage, by providing for our salvation. But to say that this event was good is to agree with the logic that riots are good for the economy, because they require economic activity to rebuild what was destroyed, an argument that fails to count the cost of the damage done. Don’t tell me that all of the pain, destruction, and heartache caused by human sin was good in any way.

Death was not necessary before Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. It has become necessary now, in order to release us from the curse brought on by our rebellion, so that we can be restored to God's original intention, from which we took the whole creation on a Satanic detour. We did not need regeneration, until we threw away our originally intended state.

It required child-like faith for Adam and Eve to let God decide good and evil for us, and it was Adam and Eve's desire to “be like God, knowing good and evil” [in other words, to determine it for themselves] that was the very issue where the serpent tempted Eve. Better not to be “like God” in this way! We would have been better off if we had maintained a childlike trust in God to decide good and evil for us.

To claim that the fall of Adam and Eve into sin was a necessary blessing turns our entire faith upside down. It requires suffering and evil of catastrophic proportions, simply so that we might have joy in spite of all the horrendous collateral damage. What kind of “joy” is this?? To me, this teaching is one piece of evidence that whoever taught this is not from God.

No need to beat up on Adam and Eve. They simply did what any and every one of us is highly likely to have done if we had been in their place. That’s why it’s fair to say that when Adam and Eve sinned, we all sinned. They were us. They were fair representatives of us all. Furthermore, we all come from the same human stock. We get our DNA from them. And something happened when they sinned: their sin switched on the selfishness trait that lay dormant in our DNA. That’s why they freak out when they knew they were naked: they suddenly become self-conscious. They’d never had the self-feeling before. (We’ve never known life without it.) Once that selfishness trait was switched on, it became impossible to switch it off; selfishness spread to all of their descendants.

That’s what we call the reality of original sin. Sin becomes an addiction that we are born with. We don’t have to train little children to be selfish or rebel – they do it naturally. We have to train them not to be selfish. It’s more than just bad example; it is inborn. And like the baby that is born addicted to crack, we today did nothing to bring this condition upon ourselves, but we suffer the effects, including the curse upon the world that God warned Adam and Eve not to unleash. We are condemned, not for what our ancestors did, but because we are part of their rebellion, even though we find ourselves powerless to resist being swept into that rebellion.

You say: if we were all born with the selfishness gene switched on, why doesn’t God just switch it off for everyone? That would require God’s constant intervention. God has intervened this drastically only once in all of human history: in the conception of Jesus Christ. Christ was virtually a new creation. God supplied half of his DNA, not through a physical act of sex (the Bible does not teach that God is an exalted male human). God does so by a supernatural creative act beyond what we can understand or explain, entirely by the power of the Holy Ghost.

All we know is that Jesus was born as a person like Adam and Eve before they sinned: free from the addiction to sin, with the selfishness gene switched off. Jesus was now free to successfully obey where our ancestors failed. He did for us what we could never do for ourselves, both by living a life without sin, and paying the price for sin that we could never pay. Jesus is the Second Adam. He reverses the curse. He undoes all the damage done by the first Adam. He does what Adam should have done, and thereby he brings salvation and healing to all who join themselves to him by faith.

But for now, we are stuck with the tragic results of Adam and Eve’s sin. Some might ask: What kind of mean God would create billions of souls, and then put them into persons who are addicted to sin? What’s the alternative? Stop the human race from reproducing. The answer is that God is not programming anyone to sin. Most of God’s creative work was done when God created the DNA of our first ancestors. The potential for an entire human race was packed into their chromosomes. Psalm 139 describes poetically how God still plays a major role in the process, as the chromosomes of 2 parents are woven together in a mother’s womb. But God does not prevent us from suffering the curse of original sin brought upon us by our first parents.

God is the one who ultimately makes us who and what we are. But God does not switch off the sin trait that our ancestors switched on. Neither does God always step in to prevent the genetic variations produced by the curse that cause illnesses and abnormalities. To bring an end to all of the suffering and tragedy caused by the curse brought on us by our ancestors, God would have to bring the world to an end. God’s not ready to do that yet, because God is waiting for as many souls as possible to turn to him, some of whom have not even yet been born.

God has made us who we are. But God has not programmed us to rebel or be stubborn. God has given us genuine freedom. We may be swayed by our addiction to sin, but we are not robots. God holds us responsible for the choices we make, and while none of us makes 100% bad choices, every choice we make is a free choice.

Even most of those who believe that God predestines the vast majority of what happens in the world will agree that God builds a lot of choice into his plan. God did not make us to be robots. Not even John Calvin believed that! Now yes, God made us who we are, and that has a huge impact on the choices we make. And yes, original sin also has a huge negative impact on our ability to make the right choices. But God does not program us to sin – we do that naturally, without being forced against our will.

God is not glorified by robots who do what is right, because they are powerless to do otherwise. God is glorified by creatures who do what is right but have the freedom to choose otherwise. God operates, not by force, but by persuasion. And while the Bible does say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, God never hardens the heart of an unwilling victim. One pastor once said: What do you care what God has planned, when it never kept you from doing what you choose to do, anyway? We think we’re doing what we choose, then we find that God planned it long ago. We talked more about this a few weeks ago in our program on Predestination.

But the creation of Adam and Eve gives us the other side of the coin. Nothing is outside God’s control, God made us who we are, but God has given us enough freedom for our choices to be genuine and meaningful. We are responsible for the choices we make and the consequences that follow from them, and here is precisely where Adam and Eve’s choice went horribly wrong. They failed to heed God’s warning. They failed to do what they knew was right.

Adam and Eve brought a disastrous curse upon the world. To say that their sin was necessary, or to even say that it brought blessing to the world, makes absolutely no sense from a Biblical point of view. Yes, God is the champion at bringing good out of evil, but God would have been far more pleased if we had obeyed God and resisted the temptation to become gods ourselves. And we would have all spared ourselves and the world endless, needless tragedy.

Next week, we’re going to take a look at another curse. It may sound strange or even counterintuitive, but those who strive to reach God by obeying God’s laws are under a curse. Why is that, you may ask? And if we are, how can we be set free from that curse? We’ll talk about that curse (and how to get freed from it) next time on Biblical Words and World.

It’s time for me to invite you to send me questions for me to answer on the air. If I pick your question to answer on the air, I’ll let you know. (I record these programs several weeks in advance.) I would particularly like to know where you’re from. If you are from Nephi or Green River UT, I’d love to hear from you – I’ve been praying for you for a long time! Or if you’re from Idaho or Wyoming, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at g.thomas.hobson@gmail.com! Or use either one of our websites to reach that address.

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