When 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.
God gave Adam and Eve freedom and dominion, but not without limitation. They had free will, but were still responsible to God. The only restraint God put on them was not to eat the fruit of a single tree. Everything else in the garden was theirs to explore, care for, and use for beneficial purposes.
The tree, however, wasn’t just any tree. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had warned them that to eat its fruit was to die, so the wisest choice would have been simply to avoid it. But Eve took the first step toward sin when she looked at it—“she saw that the tree was good” (v. 6), for food, to look at, and as a source of wisdom. Her longing gaze sounds a lot like what the apostle John described as “all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).
Looking was the first step; the next three followed quickly after: she took, she ate, and she gave some to Adam. Each step was worse than the previous one, and the final step had lasting consequences for Eve, Adam, and every person who has ever come after them. God had put Adam in charge, so the bulk of the blame fell to him, and when he ate, he represented all of us. Sin entered the world like a virus, infecting not only mankind but all of creation, replicating with each conception, opening the gates of paradise to decay and death on both physical and spiritual levels.
In fact, as Paul later described it, because of Adam’s sin, “by the one man’s offense death reigned” (Romans 5:17). That sounds serious, right? It is. The consequences of the fall are so serious that we, by and large, are blinded to just how serious they really are. Think about how we talk about sin. We hate to even use the word.
It’s so brutish and nasty. So we use different terms—we say hang-up, or personal baggage, or our ethnic heritage. In this way we try to justify whatever it is we’ve done. Well, the Bible calls it sin. And if we have that much trouble dealing with the word sin, its consequences are even harder: God’s judgment? Eternal hell? People definitely don’t want to hear all that hellfire and brimstone business—and granted, it’s not easy to hear even though it’s what the Bible teaches. But the result is that we often ignore the root cause. We make our excuses, we minimize sin, and because it’s around us all the time, we don’t understand that sin is bad enough to separate us forever from God.
Just as you’ll never go to a doctor unless you admit you’re sick, you’ll never seek a Savior unless you realize you’re a sinner. Only people who can say, “I have sinned” will seek a Savior to cleanse them from their sin. We have to admit it. Humankind has fallen as a result of it. It’s worse than being sick with it. We’re not just sick—we’re dead. Spiritually dead. And as dead people, we can’t respond on our own. We’re not capable. It takes a miraculous intervention by God.
That’s why Paul wrote, “You hath he quickened”—made alive—“who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1 KJV). When you and I were born, we were born DOA—dead on arrival. Separated from God. The virus of Adam was in our bloodstream; we were separated from God, needing a Savior, because “death reigned” (Romans 5:14). That is sin’s impact, and all that takes place after Genesis 3:6 is the result.