Why did Adam's sin have such terrible consequences for humanity and creation?

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Many Christians thinking about sin, actually, are only thinking about sins. They think about the individual acts and things we do that they know are wrong sins of omission, things that we should do, we don't do; or sins of commission, the bad things we do we know we ought not to do but sin in the Scripture, first of all, starts with something that is infinite. And the reality is that what we have in Genesis 3 is not just Adam and Eve each committing a sin. It is humanity, in Adam and Eve, particularly in Adam, falling into sin. It is giving ourselves over to sin. You know, the background of this is the holiness of God. The holiness of God is infinite. The righteousness and justice of God are infinite. So, sin is an assault upon his infinite glory, his infinite holy, his infinite righteousness, and so it brings very devastating consequences. You cannot insult the infinite glory of God without dramatic consequences. You cannot rob God of his glory as Paul describes the Fall and human sinfulness and depravity in Romans 1 without grave consequences. The Lord himself warned Adam that there would be consequences to his sin. And what happened in the Fall, in Adam's sin, is that in Adam, we not only sinned, but we bear the consequences of that sin.

The consequences for Adam and Eve were immediate. The moment they ate of that fruit, they started to die. Mortality entered into them, and so all of a sudden the word "death" now enters into the human scene, and it's directly attributable to sin. But it's not just death. It's violence. It's catastrophe. It's the existence of carnivores and viruses. It's the problem of mosquitoes and murder. All that we see around us bears testimony to the effects, the devastating effects, of human sin and God's judgment upon that sin. It's cosmic. There are hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes. There are lightning flashes and all kinds of things that take place in the created order that are testimony to, as Paul writes in Romans 8, creation groaning.

You know, what we see in Genesis 3 is a very straightforward and honest presentation of the consequences of sin. But, you know, there are Christians who read Genesis 3 and think that's all there is. But you come to read the totality of Scripture, you come, for instance, to the last chapters of the book of Revelation, and you come to understand that the wrath of God poured out upon sin is going to make Genesis 3 look like just an introduction. This is what makes our salvation so important, so precious to us, is that our salvation is not just being saved, it's being saved from something. It's being saved from the wrath to come, from the just consequences of our sin. And not only do we need to be redeemed, but as the book of Revelation makes clear, so does creation itself. That's why it speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. The consequences of sin are not just the fact that it rains on the just and the unjust, and we have death in our bodies, and a need for salvation. It's that every part of this created order is now waiting for a consummation, a judgment, and a perfection that only Christ can bring.

Answer by Dr. R. Albert Mohler

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.