|The Image of God and the Fall|
The gift of freedom
Human freedom is essential if we are to carry out God’s purposes in producing culture. God does not want automatons, so He gave us the gift of freedom and creativity and the scope to exercise our gifts under His authority. Even more, freedom is necessary for us to develop as persons who reflect God’s own character. God wants us to be virtuous, and that means that we must have the freedom not to act virtuously. If the potential for vice does not exist, we cannot be praised for being virtuous.
Similarly, God wants us to love Him, but love that is coerced is not love. Love must be freely given or it is not love. So to be the people that God wants us to be, as well as to carry out the work He made us to do, we must be free.
A test failed
We failed comprehensively.
It started off with the serpent getting Eve to doubt God (Gen. 3:1-4). The “ice breaker” question was whether they could eat fruit at all, to which Eve replied they could, except for the fruit of one tree—and then she went beyond what God told her by saying they could not eat it or touch it or they would die. Eve’s first mistake was a Pharisaical misinterpretation of the commandment that prohibited more than was commanded.
Then the serpent outright called God a liar and questioned His love for Adam and Eve and concern for their well-being, suggesting that God was keeping something from them out of His own self-interest. Thus deceived, Eve began to think about the fruit—it was visually appealing and edible—and so she decided to eat it. Not only that, but she gave some to Adam as well (Gen. 3:6).
Adam knew full well that what they were doing was wrong—he wasn’t deceived by the serpent—but knowingly and intentionally decided to disobey anyway. John Milton in Paradise Lost suggests that Adam did this because he couldn’t stand the thought of losing Eve, and thus “completed” the first sin that his wife had begun. Whatever his motive, however, Adam’s action sealed the deal: they had betrayed God, first by lack of trust in His goodness and love, by doubt of His Word, by believing the deceiving serpent more than God, and finally by open rebellion.
Results of the fall
And so God pronounced His judgment. The serpent was cursed to live in the dust, to unending hostility with Eve and her offspring, and ultimately to death at the hand of the “seed of the woman” (Gen. 3:14-15), a topic to which we will return in the next article.
Further, her relationship with Adam changed. Rather than the equality between the two that existed prior to this, Eve was now in the difficult position of “desiring” him. This was a reference to her sexuality and thus her inability to escape the first part of her judgment, as well as to her desire for the kind of psychological and emotional intimacy that had been lost—but also became subordinated to him so that he would now “rule” over her the way they had together “ruled” over the other creatures (Gen. 3:16).
For Adam, the curse fell on the earth itself. As God’s steward, it was Adam’s responsibility and privilege to “tend the Garden,” growing his food and developing culture; now, what should have been a wonderful and joyful task would turn to drudgery. This struck at the heart of what it meant to bear the image of God and to a critical element of man’s self-identity.
And so in Genesis 3, we see sin breaking our fellowship with God, creating psychological problems within ourselves, striking at the heart of our families and our most intimate relationships, bringing pain into childbearing and struggle and frustration into our work, and even damaging our bodies.
Original sin and the problem of sin
But the problem of sin is even bigger than that. Since we are the image of God, His representatives and regents on earth, even the natural world has become tainted by human sin (Rom. 8:20-22). Our failure means that God’s intent for the world to be developed, for the Garden of Eden to become the City of
But God’s will cannot be thwarted. Even though Adam’s offspring were in his fallen and sinful image, the image of God was not lost—it was marred, but it was not completely effaced. Even after the Flood, God affirmed to Noah that human beings were all made in His image (Gen. 9:6). So we remain God’s regents here, even though this is a much more painful and difficult job to do so since we have to fight not just the cursed ground but our own nature as well.
Further, God had His contingency plans in place for Adam’s disobedience. Though Adam was reminded of his mortality, he did not die on the day He ate the fruit. But something did: God Himself replaced the fig leaves with clothes made from animal skins for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). Our parents’ guilt and shame was covered by an animal that died so they wouldn’t have to—a substitutionary sacrifice for their sin that pointed the way ahead to the time that the seed of the woman would destroy the serpent but be wounded Himself in the process (Gen. 3:17). We will examine that in more detail in our next article.
 It was not apple. That idea came from a Latin pun: the word for “evil” is malus and the word for “apple” is mālus. When the pun got translated into popular culture (and the vernacular), it was taken literally.
 This is not God’s intent for marriage or a command about how things should be; it is a statement of what would follow. In the New Testament teaching about marriage, we see a restoration of much of the equality and mutuality that prevailed before the Fall.
 This is what Calvinists mean when they talk about “Total Depravity,” not that we are as bad as we could be, but that every aspect of our being is affected by sin.