The Fall of Man
The fall of man from fellowship with God occurred when Adam sinned against God, in disobeying God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Understanding Spiritual Things
To understand the fall of man, and man’s relationship with God, we must recognize that the Bible is dealing with spiritual things that affect natural things. Eating of the tree of life, eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, fellowshipping with God, life and death; all these are spiritual things that are often represented in Scripture by natural things, such as fruit and trees. We can much more easily understand these things when we view them from a spiritual perspective.
Man is a spirit, first and foremost. His spirit is the part of him that fellowships with God, the part that will live forever. He also has a soul, and he lives in a body. The fall of man is something that took place in Adam’s spirit. Death took place in his spirit, and was later manifested in his physical body, and passed on to all mankind. Death is a spiritual force, that rules the unsaved, unredeemed world.
Thinking in spiritual terms will make it easier to understand many of these things concerning the fall of man, and his subsequent redemption, made available through Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the last Adam, a life-giving Spirit.
The Wiles of the Devil
In studying these things, we also gain insight into the wiles of the devil, the strategies, the enemy uses to mislead our thinking and our understanding of the things of God.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The word “subtil” means shrewd, crafty, and sly. The devil is a master of craftiness and deception. And he approached the woman, Eve, with a question. Did God really say not to eat of every tree of the garden?
Has God Said?
His sly maneuvering was directed toward an end result of confusing her about what God had said. He is still busy at that same strategy in our present day. Confusing people about what God has said in His word is one of his most powerful weapons he uses against believers. Where there is error about what God has said, and about what God meant by what He said, there is darkness and confusion, and broken fellowship with God and with His people.
Our relationship with God is dependent upon our perception and understanding of the word of God. Without it there is no relationship. We are born again by the word of God, the incorruptible seed, and we feed upon the sincere milk of the word as spiritual infants, and we grow in the knowledge of God. Without the word of God, we have no relationship with Him.
There is no wonder that Satan so strongly attacks our understanding of the word of God, and attempts to lead us into misunderstanding and deception. We should always be on guard against the enemy’s perversions of truth, because when we’re deceived, we don’t know it. Like one minister said, “The bad thing about deception is that it’s so darn deceptive.” But the Bible says that we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices.
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
Genesis 3:3 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.
Adding to the Word
Her first mistake was to dignify his question with an answer. But, because she had never been deceived before, the notion of questioning his motives would probably not have occurred to her.
In the previous chapter of Genesis, God had placed Adam in the garden, and had told him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And soon after that He took one of Adam’s ribs and made a woman to be a companion to him. So, Eve had heard what God said by way of Adam telling her. Her knowledge of the subject was second-hand, based upon what Adam had told her.
God had told Adam that he would die if he ate the forbidden fruit. He did not say that he would die if he merely touched it, as Eve stated in her answer to the serpent. And we today still often have the problem of adding things to God’s word that He didn’t actually say.
Life and Death
Notice that the fruit in question was called the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was in contrast to the tree of life. It would probably be acceptable to call this tree of the knowledge of good and evil the tree of death. It certainly brought forth death in mankind when Adam ate of it."
But what are these two trees? What do they represent? It is not difficult to draw a connection between the tree of life and the word of God. The word “life” in the phrase,” tree of life” means green, like vegetation, flowing, like a river, and bursting forth with life, like springtime. It is similar to the New Testament word “life” used in such phrases as eternal life, everlasting life, and newness of life, which means possessed of vitality and fulness of life.
The word of God is not ink on the pages of the Bible. The word of God is the living word that is contained within the written words of the Bible. It is a living thing in itself, quick, alive, and powerful, the Bible tells us. It is the word that has been around as long as God has, because, according to the Bible, it is God Himself.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
This Word was not created in the beginning. The Word has been around as long as God has, which is, according to the Scriptures, from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning and without end. It says that the Word was God, and that the Word made all things that were made.
And it goes on to say that in Him, the Word, was life, and that the life was the light was the light of men, or, that is to say, the light that enlightens men’s hearts.
The word of God is the food that we eat of to have eternal life. The word gives us light, and that light is full of life. The word is the fruit we eat that gives us life, the life of God Himself. It is the tree of life. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is also a light of sorts. It is a knowledge, of sorts. But it is a light that is full of darkness. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 11:35.
Luke 11:35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
The knowledge of good and evil is the knowledge of the natural world separated from the knowledge of God and spiritual things. It is the knowledge we can have outside of God. It is the knowledge of the wisdom of this world, that, in its essence, denies the existence of God.
This knowledge is mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of Romans by the Apostle Paul.
Romans 1:21-22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. . .
The light that was in them was darkness, yet they professed themselves to be wise. Knowledge that is separate from the knowledge of God appears to be wisdom, but is, in fact, darkness. Our job, in Christ, is to grow in the knowledge of wisdom and of God, and allow His light to shine into our darkness, and enlighten our understanding.
So, the knowledge given by the tree of life is a heavenly knowledge, while the knowledge of good and evil is a natural, worldly, and carnal knowledge.
Contradicting God’s Word
Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
This was a bold and blatant contradiction to what God had said. God had said that they would die, but the serpent said they would not die. Then he gave a reason to support his assertion.
Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The devil’s rationalization was to assume to know what was in the mind of God, as if he were capable of attaining to such things. He told the woman that God knew that if they ate the fruit, that they would become like gods, to know good and evil.
Fellowship with God
But the truth was that they were already like gods. They had dominion and authority over all the earth and everything that was in it. They were as close to being like gods as they could ever hope to be. But, according to the serpent, if the man and woman would just disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit, they would receive wisdom that only gods could attain to.
Yet, they already had the wisdom of God, because they were already in fellowship with Him, interacting with Him on His level. There was no greater wisdom for them to aspire to, only a lesser knowledge, a knowledge devoid of the knowledge of God.
They fellowshipped with God Himself, and they lived in Paradise, the Garden of Eden, which means the “Garden of Pleasure.” But Satan convinced them that there was something better.
Genesis 3:6 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.
Buying into the Devil’s Lies
Suddenly, in the woman’s mind, the tree was good for food. It looked good, and it was a fruit to be sought after to make one wise, whatever that meant. Before, it had been a tree to avoid at all cost. With just a little manipulating of her thinking, it was now something of great interest.
She reached forth her hand, and took the fruit, and ate of it, and she gave some of it to her husband, who was evidently standing there with her the whole time, and, lo and behold, he ate it, too. The Bible teaches that the woman was deceived, and not the man, but he ate it anyway. He ate it willfully, with the full understanding that what he was doing was wrong.
Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Naked and Vulnerable
Whatever had covered them before was now gone. Some surmise that they had been covered with the glory of the LORD, which was now lifted from them, and they felt naked, vulnerable, and ashamed. Their eyes were opened, as the serpent had promised, opened to experience a condition they had not known before, a condition of vulnerability to the world around them. Something had clothed them before, protecting them from the natural environment, but it was now gone from them.
Man had fallen from fellowship with God, and something was now missing in his life. And that something was the divine protection of God’s presence. Man, through sin and disobedience, was now separated from God, separated from His presence, and separated from the sustaining power of heaven.
Adam was now without God, in the world, alienated from the life of God. And that condition of spiritual death would be passed down to every generation of man that followed. The great struggle had begun. Man was now without God, and in need of the One Who would ultimately give His own life to redeem mankind from that condition. Adam’s relationship with God, his fellowship with Him, the very source of his blessing, had been severed.
Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, 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 sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt 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.
It had been God’s presence in Adam’s life that had caused the earth around him to produce abundantly. And now that the presence of God was gone, the earth would tend to bring forth thorns and thistles.
The most basic meaning of the word “death”, from a Biblical and spiritual perspective, is separation from God. God had told Adam that in the day that he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he would surely die. Adam did not die physically that day, but that day he died the real death of spiritual death, or separation from God. Fellowship with God was broken, which fellowship would many centuries later be restored to mankind through Jesus Christ, and the work of Calvary, and made available through the eternal life given to those who would believe upon Him.