The Severity of the Consequences for Adam's Sin

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

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Christianity says that when Adam sinned that the whole creation is now cursed, and there's a result of that for us as well: we fall as well, we stand guilty before God, we are in need of salvation. And it's a very normal and natural question for someone to ask why. And I think that we have to go back and look at those statements in Genesis 2:16-17 and then Romans 3:23 as well. In Genesis chapter 2 it says, "Don't eat this fruit, and the day you do it you shall surely die." In Romans 3, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death. And so you have this what looks like a formula, where God is saying, "If you sin, I will kill you." And the natural question to ask is, why? What is the logic or the rationale behind sin and the resulting damnation and destruction that comes to the earth as the result of that? That's the natural question. I think what we have to remember is, first of all, who God is. So, we say a lot of different things about God, and we could list a lot of those attributes right now, but let me just mention one. God is the Creator, which means as Creator he's the one that gives life. He's the fount of being and the fount of existence. He's the one that brings us into existence and gives us life. Let's just stop right there. What is sin? Sin is by definition a turn away from God into something else. And so, when we put those two ideas together we can see that God is the giver of life, the fount of life, life itself. Sin is a turn away from God. Where we were designed to turn to him, we now turn away from him, which means in sin we turn away from God which is life, which is then a turn into death. So, the rationale behind the statements, "You eat this fruit, you die" and "The wages of sin is death," is not just some arbitrary decision on God's part � "Oh, I know what I'll do, I'll kill them if they disobey me." No. It's a recognition that, "I made you. I give you life. Seek me because in seeking me you seek life. If you turn from me, you turn out of life, and you turn into death." And so I say to students a lot of times, "Listen, you were made for a particular thing, you were designed for a particular thing, and that is relationship with God. And when we turn away from that, that life-giving relationship to God, that has horrible consequences for me, for you, for everybody, because a turn away from God is a turn into death and destruction and damnation as such. And so, this doesn't look like to me to be some arbitrary decision that God makes in heaven and eternity past somewhere. It seems to me that it follows logically and clearly that when we turn away from God we are thus bringing death and destruction on ourselves as a result of that.

Answer by Dr. James K. Dew, Jr.

Dr. James K. Dew, Jr. is Associate Professor of History of Ideas and Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.