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The third chapter of Genesis (the story of the fall) gives us a graphic picture of sin. It would be an error to think of it to be merely the story of Adam and Eve. It is in actuality the story of all mankind. To see what sin was in the lives o the first pair is to see what it is in every human being. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “Adam” in this chapter is also translated “man” in some of the verses. It can simply mean “human being.” To read the story as if it applied only to Adam and Eve is to ignore the responsibility of man today and to fail to recognize what sin does in the lives of people today.

In the story of the fall, sin begins in a questioning of divine authority. The serpent asked Eve if God really said what she had been told. Eve’s mistake was to take her cues from a creature instead of from the Creator. Later the apostle Paul would write of all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve: “They…worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

The book of Genesis presents sin as essentially the attempts to become like God. That was after all the serpents promise " that when they would eat of the tree they would become like God and know good and evil. How does someone become like God by sinning? The one who really knows good and evil is the one who determines what they are. God is the one who makes the definitions, who says what is good and what is evil. But Eve seized for herself the right to do the defining. That is how someone becomes like God by sinning " by making a grab or final authority. By seeking to be the sovereign instead of the steward of God’s creation, as each person is meant to be.

But sin also has a social dimension. The woman gave fruit to her husband and he ate it. If “misery loves company,” as the saying goes, then sin does as well. In Eve’s offer, and Adam’s acceptance, sin was transmitted from person to person, before there was any conception or birth of children. Sin is not something written into the genetic code, found in DNA molecules. If it were, the genetic scientists of today might eventually rid the human race of it.

Sin involves the breaking o fellowship. When the man and woman saw their nakedness, they were ashamed as they had not been before they sinned. They attempted to hide from one another by making coverings for themselves. They also tried to hide from God among the trees of the garden.

Sin includes the denial of responsibility. When confronted with his deed, Adam blamed Eve. In so doing, he blamed God, saying, “The woman you put here with me” is responsible. Then when God confronted Eve, she put the blame on the serpent by claiming he had deceived her. Neither the man nor the woman would accept responsibility for their deeds. Still today, sin is the deluding notion that something else besides free will causes people to sin.

Sin robs life of meaning and purpose. The woman is told her pains in childbearing will increase. Because sin is in the world, parenting still has its pains and agonies, which dilute the joys of rearing children. The man is told that painful toil will be his lot as he makes his living by the sweat o his brow. As a rule, men can express their creativity in their work, and women can express theirs in motherhood. Both realms of creativity are impaired because of sin.

Finally, the end result of sin is alienation from God. Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden, and cherubim are placed at the gate with a flaming sword to prevent their return. To live in sin is to live outside of God. To be bound to self is to be free from God, but freedom from God is death.

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