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The Fall of Man

This series offers an overview of the chief teachings of the Christian church.

We stood watching, waiting, anticipating. Then we heard “Pop! Pop! Pop! ” accompanied by puffs of smoke coming from the eighth floors of two twelve-story buildings. Six seconds later, nothing was left except two heaps of rubble, just as the demolition experts had planned.

Twelve-story buildings are made to last. They are not intended to fall. When they do fall, the destruction is great—even catastrophic if the fall is unintentional.

Adam and Eve were made to last. They were not intended to fall. God created them in His image (Genesis 1:27)—they were righteous and holy, and had a perfect knowledge of God and relationship with Him like none other. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10)

God gave Adam and Eve a specific way to show their love for Him. They could eat freely from everything in the garden, except one tree—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Abstaining from eating this fruit—and only this fruit— would be a demonstration of obedience to their Creator, trust in Him, and love for Him. God warned, “in the day you eat of it you shall surely die!” (Genesis 2:17) In other words, the judgment of death would be immediate and certain.

God made mankind to stand forever, but Satan had other plans. Satan is the demolition expert. Having destroyed himself by rebelling against God (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6), Satan turned his attention to destroying the crown of God’s creation.

First, Satan carefully placed the explosive charges (Genesis 3:1- 5).

Cast doubt on God’s Word: “Has God indeed said . . .”

Change the focus from what one has to what one doesn’t have: “. . . you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

Offer an outright lie: “You will not surely die.”

Share a truth, but deceptively make it sound desirable in order to foster dissatisfaction: In the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

With the explosive charges thus set, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Instantly, what stood in perfection came crashing down with billowing dust and debris. Spiritual death separated creature from Creator—they were afraid of God. Sin’s debris billowed making lust possible—they knew they were naked and were ashamed. The dust of defending sin and avoiding responsibility settled upon God’s once-holy creatures— Adam blamed Eve, he blamed God for giving him Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:11-15). God gave greater understanding to the impact of destruction when He said what would follow in a sin-cursed world (Genesis 3:16-19).

Separation of soul and body in temporal death would now come to all; and all would die eternally separated from God in hell—a place of judgment prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Demolition can’t be undone, but something new can be built. In the midst of the rubble, God promised a rebuild. To the serpent Satan, God said, “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15).

While mankind still stood in the rubble of his own making, God promised a Savior Who would completely redeem sinners from their sin (Romans 5:8). We are rebuilt, and the image of God is restored through the work of the woman’s Seed—Jesus, our Savior.

Satan is still the demolition expert with the same strategies. The same dust continues to settle upon us, and we still die. But Jesus speaks to us as we sit in the debris of our sins, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest . . . learn from Me. . . you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Wayne Eichstadt is pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, Washington.