The world we live in today is not the very good world that God created (Genesis 1:31). Adam’s disobedience toward God brought about several significant changes that affect not only each and every one of us but also creation.
1. Loss of Righteousness
Before the Fall, God’s original creation was a place where Adam and Eve are described as being naked and without shame (Genesis 2:25). The description of God “walking” in the garden suggests that there was fellowship between Him and Adam (Genesis 3:8; see Leviticus 26:11–12). However, it was in the garden that the serpent (Satan–Revelation 12:9) came to Eve and tempted her to eat from the tree that God had commanded Adam not to eat from (Genesis 3:1–5). After disobeying God’s command not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, both Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened (Genesis 3:7). They became aware of their nakedness and knew that their former perfection was just a memory. Because of this disobedience, mankind now stands as guilty sinners in Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22).
2. Separation from God
Adam was not a sinner when he was created, but he fell from a state of innocence and from the fellowship he once enjoyed with God. This fall from grace can be seen when Adam and Eve, after hearing the voice of the Lord, were afraid because they were naked (Genesis 3:10). Their shame in being naked, which in their innocence they had been without, is a consequence of their disobedience (Genesis 3:7; see Genesis 9:22–23).
Because of their nakedness, they hid themselves from the presence of God (Genesis 3:8). Previously when they heard God’s voice, they had been unafraid, but now they feared the presence of God with whom they once had fellowship in the garden (Genesis 3:8). As descendants of Adam, we all now enter the world separated from God, and are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1–3).
3. Cursed Environment
The punishment of Genesis 3:17–18 reveals that man’s sin caused the curse against the ground, resulting in the troublesome thorns and thistles and a change in the way the natural world works (Romans 8:19–22). The ground was cursed not only in the Garden of Eden, but also throughout the whole earth outside of the garden from which Adam was taken (remember that he was placed in the garden to tend and keep it—Genesis 2:15, 3:23, 5:29). The Hebrew words adam (man) and adamah (ground) are closely related and show the related consequences of Adam’s disobedience on the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 2:7, 3:17). The ground (adamah) that was destroyed in the days of Noah is the same ground that God said He would not curse again (Genesis 8:21).
4. Physical Death
The fulfilment of God’s promise that Adam would die reveals the punishment Adam received for disobeying God’s command (Genesis 3:19; cf. 2:17). Adam was told that he would return to the dust from which he was taken, a concept that is referenced by many of the Old Testament writers (Job 10:9; 34:15; Psalm 90:3, 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:20, 12:7). Adam disobeyed and physical death came not only to him, but also to his descendants (Romans 5:12). Cain killed Abel, the first human death, but death did not stop there—it impacted everyone, as the genealogies reveal: “and he died” (Genesis 5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31).
The first death mentioned in the Bible comes in Genesis 3:21, when God makes garments of skin after Adam and Eve sinned. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, their “eyes were opened” and they became aware of their nakedness, trying to cover it up by sowing fig leaves together. Nevertheless, this was ineffective, and ultimately God Himself clothed Adam and Eve because they could now no longer walk before Him in innocence. We wear clothes because, in a fallen world, nakedness brings about shame. God’s “clothing” of Adam and Eve is also a reminder that our salvation does not come to us through our own works but by God’s grace when He clothes us in His righteousness (see Zechariah 3:5; Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Fall and its consequences as well as the redemption and reconciliation of all things lie at the heart of the gospel message (see Colossians 1:20; Romans 8:21). Because of man’s disobedience toward his Creator, death and suffering entered into the world. But it is by the suffering, death, and Resurrection of His Son that we can gain salvation so that we are no longer condemned to live forever in a fallen world. Scripture also gives us an eschatological hope that the curse that accompanied sin in Genesis 3 will be reversed and removed as death, sorrow, crying, and pain will be no longer (Revelation 21:4; 22:3).