The Story of the Bible, Part 1: The First Sin, and What Happened Because of It

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The Story of the Bible begins at the Beginning. After speaking briefly about the creation of the universe and the creation of the Earth, the focus shifts quickly to the beginning of mankind.

When God created the first two people, he had a very special relationship with them. Adam and his wife Eve lived in a beautiful garden-like paradise called Eden (possibly in the vicinity of modern Iraq), and they experienced close and loving fellowship with God all of the time.

God did not want to force Adam and Eve to love him. Rather, he wanted their love to be sincerely and freely given. Perhaps as a test of their love, he placed a special tree in Eden that had delicious-looking fruit. This tree was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. There were many wonderful things to eat in Eden, and God said that Adam and Eve were free to eat any of those things … except the fruit of this special tree.

In our Famous Names in the Bible reading we were introduced to Satan, an angel who rebelled against God some time before Adam and Eve were created. By this time, Satan’s hatred of God was so intense that he wanted to destroy the relationship between God and those he loved.

So Satan disguised himself and visited Adam and Eve in the Garden. He worked hard to get them to doubt what God had commanded. Then, Satan suggested that God made the rule about the tree because he didn’t want them to have god-like knowledge. Finally, he had them look at the fruit of the tree and said, “Doesn’t that look delicious?”

Sadly, both Adam and Eve took Satan’s advice, and they ate the forbidden fruit. At that instant, something horrible happened: their special relationship with God was broken, and they became spiritually separated from him. The Bible refers to this condition of separation as death. Even though Adam and Eve were still alive physically, their spirits became dead to God from that moment on. They were so aware of their new condition, they even tried to hide from God.

This separation was more than just a bad feeling. In their life before eating the fruit, they could not imagine doing anything to displease God. This is why there was no need for God to say to them, “Don’t lie,” or “Don’t steal.” But now their hearts were changed. Not only was it now easy for Adam and Eve to imagine disobeying God, they often did so. The second sin followed quickly after the first, and many more followed after that. They didn’t hate God like Satan did, but neither did they love God like they used to.

Not only did Adam and Eve’s first sin corrupt their own hearts, it corrupted all who came after them. The tendency to rebel against God’s perfect standards of right and wrong became a part of mankind’s nature, passed on from generation to generation:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

— Romans 5:12 (NLT)

This means that every person since Adam and Eve—including you and me—is born spiritually dead. People who are spiritually dead tend not to value the things that God values. Whenever a person is presented with the choice of obeying God or disobeying him, he usually prefers to disobey. Sometimes he does what is right, but even then it is often only because doing so benefits him in some way.

"Adam and Eve Driven Out of Eden", by Gustave Doré
Adam and Eve Driven Out of Eden
Gustave Doré

In the Bible, acts of disobedience to God are known as sin. A person can disobey by doing something God has commanded him not to do — for example, when he steals something. He can also disobey by failing to do something God has commanded him to do — for example, when a husband fails to love his wife. We have little trouble understanding that acts like murder are sin, but many see little harm in telling a lie. However, all such disobedience is offensive to God.

Many other religions talk about sin, but just about all of them suggest that man can become spiritually pure again through his own effort — through self-discipline or through righteous deeds that “outweigh” the sin. The Bible differs with this idea very sharply. Man’s problem is not that he is spiritually impure; his problem is that he is spiritually dead! No act of man can undo the damage done by even a single sin. But let us imagine for a moment that man could do something to become acceptable to God. Based on the Bible’s description of God and sin, what would that require?

For a person to be acceptable to God through his own effort, he would have to live his entire life without disobeying God even once! In other words, a single small act of theft, a single lie, a single instance of arrogant pride, a single envious thought, a single unkind word spoken to someone else—any one act of disobedience of God’s standards of right and wrong (God’s “moral law”) would be enough to condemn a person. It is easy to see that every one of us has failed in this.

Adam and Eve were forced to leave Eden and live out the remainder of their lives without that close and loving fellowship with God that they had enjoyed at the beginning. They always remembered with great sorrow that special relationship. They lived to see several generations of their descendants before they died, and saw the awful consequences of their choice to disobey God.

As the Story continues next time, we will see what the Bible says about sin’s effect as mankind’s population increased and spread, and what God did in response.

 

Thought questions for Part 1:

  1. What is sin?
  2. What effect did the first sin have on the human race?
  3. The reading says that our tendency is to disobey God rather than to obey. Why do you think we prefer to disobey?
  4. Many people think that if they do more “good” things than “bad” things, God will be pleased with them. According to today’s reading, this is not true. Why do you think that God would not be pleased?
  5. In the Garden, Satan worked hard to persuade Adam and Eve to disobey God. They finally agreed to do so. Was it Satan’s fault that they ate the fruit? Why or why not?

 

 

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The Story of the Bible , © 2002-2009 by Tim Thornton. Please do not reproduce these materials without proper attribution.

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