What are the effects of sin?

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Genesis 3:14-15
  • Genesis 2:16-17
  • Genesis 3:16-19
  • Romans 8:20-22
  • 2 Samual 12:19-23
  • Psalms 5:4
  • Genesis 3:7,21-23
  • Romans 5:12

The first prophecy

  After man sinned there is a lot that happened, most of which we still don’t get answers to in the text. But before we get there, we need to look at a classic oddity of the passage. We find that God addresses Adam, Eve, and then the serpent. When this happens God gives a “punishment” to each in this order. But what happens to the serpent is rather strange. 

14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

We get a strange issue here, there are two seeds presented. And then we get this seed personified as a man. Often scholars will often note that this is one of the first prophecies in the Bible. Interestingly enough this relates to several different prophecies that we find that get more details later in scripture. The first is relatively clear and it is that of the Messiah (The Christ). From the new testament, this is clear that Jesus came to defeat Satan on the cross. The second has to do with the issue of childbirth. What is interesting is that it deals with the woman’s birth. Later we get more details about how this is a virgin birth and that the Messiah comes from the line of David. There is another way to look at it after you see this connection. Throughout the old testament, you find that Satan is constantly trying to destroy the line of David. Whether if it is trying to destroy it from happening (killing the babies in Egypt), trying to destroy Isreal all together (all the wars Isreal goes into), or through corrupting the royal line (by using idolatry and the like). We can find that Satan is constantly trying to stop Jesus from accomplishing his mission all the way to even trying to get him from not dying on the cross. Of course, that is a discussion for another time. 

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:11-13 ESV

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 ESV

40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

John 7:40-42 ESV

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ESV

The changes of sin

Back to the major issues of the chapter. What is not clear directly from the chapter until you look at the rest of the scripture and also reflect on what is actually happening here. In a strange way, we find that somehow sin affects the physical world in some way. Exactly how is not clear, but the effects of sin are not just limited to actions people commit and only deals between people. We will take this in two parts, the changes to man and the changes to creation. 

The changes to Man

First things first, did God lie? Obviously, God does not lie and I talk about how God can’t lie before. But we need to address an apparent contradiction. How is it that God said before that if they eat the fruit they will die and here they didn’t die when they ate the fruit?

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 ESV

It turns out Man physically dying is not because of the fruit, it is because of God (this will be addressed later on). Something else must be at play here, but what is it? Adam doesn’t physically die, but he spiritually dies. From this point on, we find that God’s relationship with man changes in many ways. For one, we find that God can’t be in the presence of sin. 

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.

Psalm 5:4 ESV

2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Isaiah 59:2 ESV

Sin separates us from God, so on some level, sin has permanently changed how God interacts with us. How exactly of course is subject to debate. On the one had God still speaks to people and God still influences us even when we are not aware of it. But one could argue this is why the new testament talks about being born again. The concept that our spirit is cut off and “dead,” so we are no longer connected to God. This could be the point that God was trying to make when God originally said Adam would die if he eats the fruit. He doesn’t physically die, instead, he is forever changed. The change is that he is dead to God, he will never be the same because of it.

Now we get to the wacky stuff that just opens a bunch of questions we can’t really answer. What about all this other stuff that happens? God tells Adam and Eve that all this stuff will not be different.

16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16 ESV

What does this mean? It seems clear the Eve never had a child before this, for several other reasons. One being that after this section Adam calls Eve the mother of the living. Which could imply that after this she starts giving birth. Of course, we would probably find other arguments like if this happens early on in the life of Adam and Eve, they might not have had time to have children yet and so on. But why does it seem that childbirth changed? If they never sinned, would it not be painful at all? Or would it be less painful? 

The changes to Creation

Then we look at most of the stuff that happens with Adam. Interestingly enough, the changes don’t happen to Adam directly like Eve. To some degree, it seems she was physically changed but not with Adam. 

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:17-19 ESV

We find all these changes happen with the ground and the plants, not Adam. The question is why is it cursed? Is it cursed because God changed this? Is it cursed because sin caused a change? It is because later we find Adam kicked out of the garden and in the garden all the thorns where take care of? To some degree living in the garden, it makes sense why he doesn’t have to struggle to eat “by the sweat of your face.” In the garden, everything presumably would be well worked on and all Adam had to do was take care of the garden of it after God formed it (Genesis 2:8, 15). 

But then it gets stranger. It seems all of creation is affected by the issue of sin. So much so that the creation is destroyed and started over.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:20-23 ESV

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

2 Peter 3:9-11 ESV

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Revelation 21:1 ESV

The question is, how can sin that man commits have such a drastic change in even the physical world? That will be addressed next time. 

Problematic question

While we are talking about changes, we need to address a contradiction that I had previously fallen into. It has to do with what it means to live in a sinful mortal body. We will need to come back another day to further address this but we have an issue.

Does living in a mortal body inherently mean you are sinful or means you committed a sin even from birth? 

This is a subtle question and the problem comes in what you start considering what it actually means and its implication on scripture. We know that all men have fallen short and sinned (except Jesus). But does that mean just simply being born means you are destined for hell? 

In short that can’t be true. For starters, Jesus was born in a human body [John 1:14, Galatians 4:4, and others]. This is part of his dual nature we see in scripture he was both man and divine. So if simply living in a mortal body makes you inherently sinful, then we have a problem with Jesus. 

The second problem is a bit more subtle. Remember in the old testament, when David committed adultery with Bathsheba? Everyone remembers the story, but few people talk about the weirdness that happens after it. It is expected that a child is on the way and David is told the child will die. So David is on his knees praying to God until something happens. 

19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:19-23 ESV

Why does David get up like nothing happened after his child dies? His remark is even stranger. He said that he will go to him, when will that be? When David dies. Where will they meet? Presumably in heaven. In the context of this problem, the child dies and goes to heaven, but the child is born, did the child sin? If simply being human and living in a mortal body is sinful, wouldn’t something need to be done about this?

What to do with Man’s sin

Getting back to the point, here Adam and Eve have disobeyed God. But now the question is what does God do about it? When you follow up with the passage there are some subtitles that may not be expected. We see what God does to the serpent, Eve, and then Adam, but that is not it. If you continue, it turns out there is more to how God deals with the situation.

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. … 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 3:7, 21-23 ESV

Some people like to know the difference between God’s covering and man’s covering. When Adam and Eve cover themselves from their nakedness (which there is a question of why is this now different), they pick leaves. Leaven will wither away and they are not sturdy, they are easily blown by the wind and so on. When God does so, it is with the skin presumably of an animal, in some sense maybe leather? What God does will far outlast what man does. Man’s attempt to cover himself will never last before God, which is why it takes God to show man the correct way to do things. Of course, the fact that God uses animal skins is important which we will talk about another day.

But we are not done here. Notice that this is in effect, the first death penalty in history. God does not want Man to live forever in sin so he purposely makes sure man does not live forever. God kicked Adam out of the garden. Once that happens, now man will die. Later we get to the new testament: 

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

Romans 5:12 ESV

Of course, there is more to talk about here, how does God follow up and why this death penalty and how it really is in line with the rest of the Bible. 

The first act of mercy and grace

While we are here, we need to talk about one final thing. We need to talk about why God is justified in what he did here. Yes, we will do this taboo thing because someone will ask the question, “Was it fair for God to just do that? They didn’t know better…” and on and on.

As a shortcut, we find in the Bible that God is a just God and he must punish sin. And as talked about previously, Hell is the punishment for sin that is already set up for Satan and his Angels (Matthew 25:41). But yet, we find that God is a God of love, mercy, and grace. But let’s define mercy and grace as I already talked previously about how God is a loving God.  

  • Mercy: Not getting what you deserve.
  • Grace: Getting what you don’t deserve

Adam and Eve sinned, therefore they should have been punished. And God did punish them, but not to the full extent we see later in the Bible. What God did, by kicking them out of the Garden was an act of mercy. We will see later that now, man will not live forever in sin which is the least they deserve if not hell; to live with the consequences of their sins. But God loves them so much he decided to intervene. He has mercy on them by not letting them live forever in sin. Already this starts with some grace, giving them this gift. But then God extends even more grace, God is in the works of finding a way to restore them. They don’t deserve to have God restore them (mercy), yet God finds a way to regardless of what they did (grace).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s