The Sin and Fall of Our Father Adam
The Apostle Paul, writing by Divine inspiration, draws a very instructive parallel between the first Adam and the last Adam, between the first representative man (Adam) and the second representative man (the Lord Jesus Christ, “The Lord from heaven”). Five things are revealed in this last half of Romans chapter five which need to be clearly understood.
1. Sin and death entered into this world and was passed upon all the human race by the sin and fall of one representative man, our father Adam (v. 12).
2. In his act of disobedience and the penalty of death he incurred as our representative, Adam was a type and figure of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was ordained of God to come into this world as the Savior of a chosen race (v. 14).
3. God’s elect are made righteous and granted life and salvation in Christ in exactly the same way as we all became sinners, died, and became subject to eternal damnation in Adam, -- by the doing and dying of that representative man, who is himself God, the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 15, 17-19).
4. The Lord God, in his sovereign wisdom, goodness, and grace, ordained and permitted the entrance of sin into the world by Adam’s disobedience so that he might magnify his name and the glory of his grace in the salvation of his elect by Christ, so that in the very place where sin abounded grace might super-abound (vv. 16, 20).
5. The purpose of God was not, to any degree, frustrated, but perfectly fulfilled in the sin and fall of our father Adam (v. 21).
The law God gave to Adam and the covenant he made with him as our representative were broken shortly after Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden. Though he was created in the image of God, in a state of innocence, integrity, and righteousness, by an act of willful disobedience and sin, Adam fell from that lofty state of righteousness and life into a state of sin and death; and we all (all the human race) fell in him.
As we seek to understand what happened in the Garden, I want to answer three questions. The questions are simple. The answers are revealed with utmost clarity in the Word of God. Yet, the answers to these three questions are some of the most controversial and profound things revealed in Holy Scripture.
The Word of God declares that both Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, sinned against God, first Eve, then Adam (1 Tim. 2:13-14). Eve was first in the transgression (Gen. 3:1-6). She was beguiled and deceived by the old serpent, the devil. He persuaded her to eat of the forbidden fruit. However, it was by Adam’s transgression and sin that sin and death entered the world and plunged all the human race into sin and death, under the wrath of God.
God’s covenant was not made with Eve. It was made with Adam. I do not minimize the fact that Eve personally transgressed God’s law and his covenant; but she was not the covenant head and representative of the race. When she ate the forbidden fruit, nothing happened. But when Adam, with his eyes wide open, took the fruit in defiance of God, immediately, the human race was corrupted by sin and plunged into spiritual darkness and death, under the wrath of God (Gen. 3:6-7).
Adam was Eve’s federal head and representative in exactly the same way as he was our federal head and representative. I stress this because it is very important. God arranged it so that the entire human race would stand or fall by the obedience or disobedience of one representative man. He did that because he had purposed that all his elect would be recovered from Adam’s fall by the obedience of one man, the God-man, his darling Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
In his act of sin, by which we were all made sinners, in his spiritual death, by which death passed upon all men, our father Adam was, by Divine appointment, a type and figure of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is not merely a matter of theological reasoning. These are the words of God the Holy Spirit. Adam was “the figure of him that was to come” (Rom. 5:14).
Adam’s transgression was a horrible, treasonous act of rebellion against the Lord God. He knew exactly what the consequences of Eve’s sin would be. She had sinned. Therefore, she must die. Adam, therefore, with his eyes wide open, in a fit of fury against his Creator, snatched the fruit from Eve’s hands and willfully plunged himself into death, under the curse of God.
How does this typify and portray our Lord Jesus Christ? As Adam loved Eve, so Christ loved his bride, the Church. Because of his love for Eve, rather than be separated from her forever, Adam chose to become what she was, to become a sinner with her. Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ, because of his great love for us, rather than be separated from his people forever, chose to become one of us and to be made sin for us. When Adam took that forbidden fruit, he knew full well that the result would be his own death under the terrible wrath of almighty God; but he willingly chose that death because of his love for Eve. So, too, the Son of God, because of his great love for us, chose to become sin for us, knowing that when he was made to be sin he must also suffer all the wrath of God and be banished from his Father as a cursed thing as our Substitute.
There are, however, two great disparities between the first Adam and the last Adam. (1.) When Adam chose sin and death for Eve’s sake, it was an act of the highest and greatest possible rebellion and disobedience. -- When the Lord Jesus chose sin and death for us, it was an act of the highest and greatest possible love and obedience to God. (2.) Adam’s disobedience brought ruin, and judgment, and death. -- Christ’s obedience brought righteousness, and life, and salvation.
Thus it has come to pass exactly as the Lord God purposed from eternity that where sin abounded grace did much more abound; and as sin reigned unto death, so grace now reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by our Lord Jesus Christ!
How could a perfect man, created in
the image and likeness of God, commit such a crime?
That is a fair, honest, and reasonable question. I have asked it many, many times when contemplating the sin and fall of Adam. How could a man, so wise, so knowledgeable, so holy, just, and good, a man created in the very image and likeness of God commit such a violent, treasonous act as this?
We know that the Lord God did not cause Adam to sin. It seems abhorrent that I should have to even make such a statement as that. But those who despise our God and the gospel of his grace, despising the fact of his absolute sovereignty in all things, falsely accuse us of making God the author of sin. Nothing could be further from the truth. God did not make Adam sin. He forbade it. He resented it. He was displeased with it to the highest degree. James declares, “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”
However, the sin and fall of Adam did not take God almighty by surprise. Considering this matter with reverence and sobriety as we read the Word of God, certain things simply must be acknowledged by anyone familiar with the character of God and the plain statements of Scripture.
God Almighty could easily have prevented Adam’s sin and fall had he been pleased to do so. He who kept Abimelech from sinning with Sarah, kept Laban and Esau from hurting Jacob, and kept Balaam from cursing Israel could easily have kept Adam from sinning in the Garden. Had it been his will to do so, God who kept Satan from destroying Job could have simply commanded the devil to leave Adam and Eve alone.
Without question, it must also be acknowledged that God, who “worketh after the counsel of his own will,” foreknew, foreordained, and predestined the sin and fall of Adam. I know, some people squirm at this; but either God was in control here, or he wasn’t. Either he had his way, or someone else had their way. Either God’s purpose stood, or it fell to the ground. What does the Bible say? The Bible says, “all things are of God” (Isa. 14:24, 26; 46:9-10; Lam. 3:27; Rom. 8:28; 11:36). Nothing is done, or can be done, that God does not will and purpose to be done. The Word of God tells us plainly that the suffering and death of Christ to redeem us from sin and deliver us from the fall was ordained before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; 4:28; 1 Pet. 2:20). If our deliverance was foreordained, the fall from which we are delivered was so foreordained.
It cannot be denied that this thing came to pass because God permitted it. I do not mean by that that God simply allowed it, or suffered it to come to pass without interference, or that he stood by as a spectator; but that he permitted it in the sense that he wisely and graciously planned it and willed it, though he did not in any way coerce Adam to sin.
John Gill stated the matter well when he wrote, “God permitted or suffered Adam to sin and fall, which permission was not a bare permission or sufferance. God was not an idle spectator of this affair. The permission was voluntary, wise, holy, powerful, and efficacious, according to the unchangeable counsel of his will. He willed, and he did not will the sin of Adam, in different respects. He did not will it as an evil, but as what he would overrule for good, a great good. He willed it not as sin, but as a means of glorifying his grace and mercy, justice and holiness.”
Satan, with great craftiness and subtlety, used that which was dearest and most pleasing to Adam to destroy him. The old serpent enticed Eve, and thus arranged for Eve to become Adam’s snare. Adam chose to rebel and sin, therefore he rebelled and sinned. That’s the long and short of the matter. Adam sinned with the full consent of his will, without any force upon him. With purpose, forethought, and determination, he took the forbidden fruit. Never did a hungry man eat bread or a thirsty man drink water with greater eagerness than Adam had when he took the forbidden fruit.
What are the consequences of
Adam’s iniquity, transgression and sin?
Read Romans chapter five again. Three answers to this question are given in verses 12, 18, 19, 20, and 21.
1. When Adam sinned, we all sinned in him representatively, and we all became sinners (v. 12). Adam’s sin was legally charged and imputed to all the human race. “All have sinned.” Adam’s sinful, depraved nature is passed to all his descendants by natural generation.
2. Death and the sentence of death passed upon all men, because “all have sinned.” “The wages of sin is death.” When Adam sinned, we all died spiritually. We are all dying physically. We are all subject to eternal death.
3. In verses 18-21, the Holy Spirit tells us that the sin and fall of our father Adam, as it prefigured it, also made a way for the display of God’s glorious, super-abounding grace in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Had there been no fall, there would have been no recovery. Had there been no ruin, there would have been no redemption. Had there been no sin, there would have been no Savior. Had there been no Savior, there would have been no such songs as these…
“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains!”
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see!.”
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
When we consider the sin and fall of our father Adam, and the consequences of it, we ought to bow before the throne of our great God in worshipful reverence, and say, with the apostle Paul, -- "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."