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Is ‘the ultimate curse’ the result of ‘the sin of Adam and Eve’?

Published: 11 January 2014 (GMT+10)
Illustration by Caleb Salisbury 8096-temptation
Was it Adam and Eve’s sin that brought ‘the ultimate curse’ upon the whole world? See main text for commentary on what the Bible tells us. (Picture taken from Russell Grigg’s book for children, Adam and Family.)

USA correspondent Michael I. submitted the following comment in response to Dr Kathy Wallace’s two articles on transsexualism (Male and female He made them and George Jamieson /‘April Ashley’: A ‘model’ life for the ‘gender reassignment’ brigade?):

Hello Dr. Wallace,

I very much enjoyed reading the articles you recently wrote about gender reassignment. They are very informing articles to an issue that quite frankly is nearly never mentioned and is a real problem.

I wanted to write you however to mention something I noticed in your feedback article. I don’t know why I thought about it so hard but I thought it best to share with you.
Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin—Romans 5:12.

In the seventh paragraph you said “…and is a direct consequence of Adam’s sin.” I believe this sentence is a little flawed in the fact that the ultimate curse on mankind is a direct result of both Adam and Eve’s sin. Obviously each of them was cursed differently as man and woman. I feel that curses of “…death, mental turmoil and disease…” as you said in the same paragraph, which both man and woman face the same, are a result of both and not one or the other. I guess it becomes important because if only one of them had sinned what would have been the outcome?

I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this, but I felt it a good reason to share with you. It is not necessary to post or reply to this comment. God bless you and everyone working for our Lord Jesus Christ.

CMI’s Russell Grigg, who often writes on these theological matters, responds:

Illustration by Caleb Salisbury 8096-the-fall-2
At first temptation seems irresistible, but oh! … the consequences! (See: ‘The Fall—a lesson never to forget!’ in Russell Grigg’s book for children, Adam and Family.)
Actually, it is very important that we clarify this key issue for you and the benefit of other readers. Here’s why.
The Bible says that death is the result of Adam’s sin, not Adam and Eve’s sin, and in doing so it compares the act of the one man, Adam, to the salvation that came through the act of the one man, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:12 states that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin,” and in the following verses 13 to 20 this is reaffirmed no less than a further seven times. The one man is identified in 1 Corinthians 15:22 as being Adam.
The reason for this is that Adam, the first human created by God, is the federal (or responsible) head of the human race—all human beings, including Eve, have descended from him. It was to Adam that God gave the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17), and this was before God made Eve from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:21–22). Eve was aware of this command, so it appears that Adam passed this command on to Eve, possibly with his own admonition, something like, “So don’t you even touch it, do you hear now”, which Eve misconstrued as coming from God. (Genesis 3:2–3).
Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor—1 Timothy 2:14.
1 Timothy 2:14 says: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” This suggests that Adam made a deliberate choice to disobey God. Jesus said that arrogance comes out of the heart of a man (Mark 7:21–22), which further suggests that Adam already had this attitude toward God before Eve handed him a piece of the fruit to eat.
The last question: “if only one of them had sinned, what would have been the outcome?” is one of those delightful thought puzzles, “What would God have done if … ?”
Answer: God has not told us ‘what He would have done if …’!

Helpful Resources

Adam and Family
by Russell Grigg
US $12.00
Hard Cover
The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
US $39.00
Hard Cover
Please Nana ... What is death?
by Margaret Wieland
US $12.00
Hard Cover
One Big Family
by Gary and Frances Bates
US $8.00
Hard Cover
Creation, Fall, Restoration
by Andrew S Kulikovsky
US $24.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Michael I.
MR. Grigg,
Thank you so much for the response to my comment. I agree completely now especially after reading several verses in the Bible that account Adam as responsible. When I wrote that comment I hadn’t read those many verses as I only in the last year rediscovered my faith and began reading my Bible more often. It honestly makes perfect sense thinking about it especially in the terms that Adam was given charge. Again, I thank you greatly for your response. CMI has been a great blessing to me and I truly am glad to have found this ministry. God bless you all.
Graham Y.
Yes, it is not until Adam eats the fruit, that they realise they are naked.
With Eve's 'misunderstanding' she was easily lead, touching wasn't forbidden, as she thought, so when she touched it, and there was no consequence, she was (easily) led on to eating it. But there was still no consequence, so Adam did likewise; but he had been told directly by God no to do that, so there was an immediate consequence.
John K.
This is one of the best, succinct answers I have ever read. Direct and biblically accurate in proper context, there is no room for misinterpreting what you stated.
David B.
You answered perfectly. Eve was beguiled, Adam was not. He ate of the fruit even though he knew it was wrong to do so. I feel the Bible clearly heaps all the blame of the original sin and all natural disasters on Adam’s shoulders, and deservedly so, because he turned his back on God. I include “natural disasters” because Adam’s sin also resulted in the cursing of the land (the Earth). God no longer sustains his creation in its original perfection. Our sin nature, acquired from Adam, and Adam’s original sin can explain every evil, vile or tragic event or occurrence in Earth history. Many want to blame God for all the world’s problems, but it was clearly Adam and our sinful nature that was to blame, in other words, humanity is to blame for every tragedy and disaster throughout history. Yet, He still loves us and has a plan to redeem and save us from ourselves. Our God is truly an awesome God.
Arthur G.
I fully agree with Russell Grigg's response. The New Testament clearly holds Adam responsible; this is well attested (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22). More importantly, the role of Jesus is blurred if this were not so.
Adam's attitude to the whole situation is the key. Although not explicitly stated in Genesis, it could be construed that Adam was present throughout the temptation of Eve (Gen 3:1-7). Did Adam test God to see if Eve would die? Was Eve Adam's test case? When she didn't die, he then ate the fruit. His attitude was one of arrogance towards his Creator, imagining he could go his own way as an independent being (Mark 7:21-22). It was this attitude as the appointed head of the human race that separated him and all subsequent generations from the love of God. Eve was deceived, Adam knew full well what he was doing. As do we all.
One of the better thought puzzles that comes out of the account of the Fall of Mankind is what would have happened if Adam had had a humble attitude and took responsibility? Supposing he refused the fruit and said to God, "Sorry, but my wife has made a mistake. Please forgive her. It is my responsibility..." and then went on to intercede for his wife as the federal head of the race? How would God have responded?
As we ponder this, we could also reflect on our own heart attitudes.
May I wish everyone at CMI a happy and blessed New Year, and fruitfulness throughout 2014.
Grahame G.
Well said, Russell. Scripture makes it very clear that Adam bears the responsibility for sin and the curse, not the woman, except for the specific curses given individually in Genesis 3. But the general curse of sin is completely born by Adam as federal/corporate head (I hope I've used that term correctly).

Thanks again to CMI for making the teachings of scripture clear and showing how to derive doctrine from the authority of scripture, including what we can't be sure on.

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