The origin of sin
Where did sin come from?
If you were asked to describe where sin came from, what would you say? Likely it would be something that described Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It might include a tree where a snake talked Eve into eating some fruit. Disobedience of God’s direct command — that’s where sin came from.
Perhaps you should buckle in, cowboy. This is going to be a bumpy ride.
The Garden Story
OK. So you’re not wrong.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Gen 1:1
In the beginning God created the world. He followed that by creating everything in it. You can see this in Genesis chapters 1 and also 2. Chapter 1 is the world building; chapter 2 focuses on the garden and the creation of mankind. Following that is chapter 3 where we’ll get to the sin.
The Lord God planted an orchard in the east, in Eden; and there he placed the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil, every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food. (Now the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the orchard.) — Genesis 2:8-9
We see in chapter 2:9 that when God created the garden — more specifically, when he planted the garden — and placed man there, the scripture tells us that he made “all kinds of trees.” I want to point out the next phrase: “every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food.” Then in parenthetical he makes direct mention of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are there. God planted the garden. God made the trees grow.
Satan did not plant these trees. Satan did not make them grow. So if your theology wants to profess that Satan put them there to create sin then you should leave that theology right now. The bible clearly tells us that God planted the garden and he made these trees grow there.
All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. — John 1:3
for all things in heaven and on earth were created in him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him. — Colossians 1:16
You see scripture in many places tells us that God created all things. It states that not one thing that exists was created by anyone else but him. Everything that was created was created for him. It was all for his good pleasure and glory.
And when John went to heaven in Revelation the twenty-four elders fell to the ground and said:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!” — Revelation 4:11
Since we know all things were created by him, and we know the tree of the knowledge of good and evil exists (was created) then we know that he created it. In face, God wanted no confusion here so in Genesis chapter 2 he specifically mentions it when he mentions the garden that he created.
Why create the tree at all?
Why did God have to create the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at all? I mean, why not simply leave it out of creation and let man go on without this Genesis test of obedience? Adam and Eve walked with God in peace in the garden. It was beautiful. It was a perfect existence. There was no work, no toiling over the land, no pain in childbirth, no pain at all — no sickness, no disease, no death. (This last one is a debate since sin brought in death, but it could be argued that this was spiritual death such as when the serpent told Eve that if she ate of the fruit of the tree then she surely would not die.)
But God had a purpose. Some say that the purpose was to allow mankind a free will. It would be up to man as to whether they would follow God and obey his commands or if they would choose to disobey. It is argued that without this free will man would be nothing more than a puppet with no choice, just simply doing what is good because that is all that we have been programmed to do. Thus God gave mankind the ability to choose freely, to decide for themselves if they would follow a set of commands or if they would choose to sin and accept all that comes with it.
The free will explanation is a fair one. It does in some ways explain the existence of the tree. It would be a great example if free will was an attribute that only humans had. The problem is that angels have a free will as well. We know this because Lucifer, the great archangel of heaven, second to God himself, had a free will and chose pride over obedience and tried to rise higher than God. He lost and was cast down out of heaven. But Lucifer didn’t have a tree to ponder over. He simply had a free will and a choice.
So the free will explanation won’t quite explain the tree, although the tree clearly is there to allow a choice between obedience and sin.
Results of the tree’s existence
So let’s just go forward knowing that the tree exists — for we covered the fact that it does and it was made to grow there by God who planted the garden so that man could live there — and knowing that Eve decided to pluck some fruit from it an eat in disobedience to God.
Now the serpent was shrewder than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; 3 but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’” — Genesis 3:1-3
We can see that in the garden, at the tree, we have Eve and we have the serpent. It is pointed out that he is the shrewdest of all animals. He has the woman repeat the commandment of God. it is important we know that she indeed knows that this is wrong. In fact, in later scripture it is pointed out explicitly.
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression. — 1 Timothy 2:14
It is stated that Adam was not deceived. It was the woman that fell into transgression. She was not an innocent child. She knew what the rules were. She knew the command of God. Going back to Genesis 3 we can see the deception and the fall.
When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. — Genesis 3:6-7
Here I want to reinforce that God planted this tree. I had you take note in Genesis 2 that God made “every tree that was pleasing to look at and good for food.” Here in Genesis 3 we see that Eve notes the tree produced fruit that was “good for food” and that the tree was “attractive to the eye.” This was one of the many trees that God made grow in the garden.
And she ate from the tree and fell into transgression. She then offered it to Adam and he ate it as well. They sinned. Their eyes were open to their sin and they saw that they were naked and were ashamed. Why? Not sure. But somehow nudity became something of which to be ashamed. Plus they were alone with each other. What were they ashamed of? But they were, they sinned, they fell into transgression.
So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned… — Romans 5:12
Through this sin death entered into the world. Sin and death then spread to all people (what people? We only have two at this point) and we have what we call the original sin. Because of this all mankind through all of eternity will be considered sinful.
Because man is stained by sin he is in need of a redeemer. I’m not going to revisit this, but for some reason blood must be shed to provide atonement for redemption. So we needed a redeemer who was perfect — a perfect lamb — to be sacrificed and shed his blood to wash us clean of our sins and make us worthy to stand before God.
So let’s get the order correct here. God creates man. Man sins. Man needs a redeemer. God appoints Jesus as that redeemer. Jesus comes and dies on a cross. Man accepts the free gift. Man is saved.
Except something is not correct.
Jesus as Savior of the World
The biggest and best story about sin is that Jesus destroyed its effect on our lives. He shed his blood and washed away our sin. He clothed us in a white robe of righteousness (took our sin and gave us his righteousness) so that we can stand before God in the throne room.
I have found that a lot of people don’t realize that there was a time after mankind sinned and before the Law was given that there was no accounting for sin. There is an order to this. The Law put the ordinances before us so that we knew what we needed to do (under the Law) to not sin. Of course nobody could live up to this. Thus we needed a Savior — Christ Jesus.
So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed. — Romans 5:12-14
So in what manner was Jesus determined to be our Savior?
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake. — 1 Peter 1:18-20
Sin was passed down from Adam. You thus became a sinner not by your own accord initially, but by inheritance from Adam and Eve. You, of course, sinned much. You can’t help it. But Jesus was an unblemished and spotless lamb — in other words he didn’t commit any sin — and he became the Savior of the world.
What do I mean: when? I mean just that. Was he given the task to be our Savior when we sinned? Was it in that time between the sin and the Law? Did he become some sort of trade-off for the Law?
No. Verse 20 above tells us that Christ was “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” God had him picked to be our Savior before this world was ever created.
Think about that a little. Christ was set to be our Savior before the world was created. Before a garden was planted.
Before a tree was made to grow.
Before a woman listened to a serpent and ate the fruit.
Christ was ready to be our Savior before all of that. What if the woman was strong and didn’t eat of the fruit. Then we have no sin. Then we have no need of a Savior.
But the Savior was already selected; he was already put in place. All of eternity was settled. The sin, the redemption, the rapture (if your eschatology teaches that), the millennium (which relies on a King who has been designated as our Redeemer). So much rides on Jesus being the Savior of the world.
And he was foreknown to be the Savior before the world was created. The tree was put in place for one purpose and one purpose only. To give an event that causes sin so that Jesus can fulfill his position as redeemer. Not only was the tree put in place, but the actions of the woman were known before they happened. The actions of the woman were predetermined so that mankind would fall into sin, so that Jesus could atone for our sins, so that he could redeem us.
The fall had to happen. It was already set up BEFORE the creation of the world.
For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his legal heirs through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will… — Ephesians 1:4-5
And to reinforce that, BEFORE the creation of the world he chose us in Christ. So the entire redemption process was decided upon and set up before the creation of all things. God had it in mind how this entire process was to fall into place. The tree was no accident. It was no “choice” on the part of Eve. It was not left to chance because the solution for sin was already set up. And for Jesus to have been chosen, ordained to be our Savior, he must have someone to save.
The Fall that had to happen
Our fall was inevitable. It was planned. It was coded into our DNA so that we would choose the enticing option of sin. We did not have choice at the tree. We had a Savior waiting for us to need saving. We had a Savior chosen to be a sacrificial Lamb in a most brutal and bloody manner to atone for our sins and wrap us in his righteousness so that we may live eternally. So it was inevitable that we sin. There was no real choice not to sin. Eve was told not to eat of that tree when it was fully well known to God that she would eat of that tree.
God did not force her hand. He did not take her hand and make her pick that fruit and take a bite out of it. It is not puppetry. God did indeed create man and created him with all the emotions and instincts that he has. He created man with taste buds that find certain food appealing and certain foods not (and most of us are different in those likes and dislikes). Why do we have this penchant for liking things we shouldn’t? Why did Eve have such an enticing desire to eat the fruit? Why was she even near the tree in the first place? And if the serpent led her there (which scripture does not say) and enticed her to eat (which it does say), why would she listen to such sinful thoughts?
For her to even entertain sin — disobedience of God’s command — she must have been built to entertain sin. She had it in her and we have it in us. We are built that way. God made this world exactly how he wanted to make it. Nothing is out of God’s control. Nothing exists in a manner that God did not want it to exist. Understanding that sin exists because God wanted it to exist even if he does not desire that we choose sin ever. Go find a brick, like the kind we build houses with. Make a loaf of bread out of that brick. Can’t be done. Why? Because God did not build this world so that bricks can be transformed into loaves of bread. He didn’t desire that transformation. But it is possible for us to sin. It is possible for us to disobey a commandment of God. Why? Because God wanted that to be part of our makeup.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. —Romans 8:7-9 (NKJV)
Carnal mind is simply the fleshly mind. It is the mind of man before he is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. It is the sinful, unsaved man. Enmity is the state of being opposed or hostile to. So the carnal mind is opposed to God and the things of God. The carnal mind could never want to walk in the way of God. It doesn’t follow the law of God — couldn’t if it somehow wanted to. So the carnal mind can never please God. And when you are saved, you are not of a carnal mind because you belong to God, you are not your own, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and guides you.
Religion is very careful to dance around all that has been shown here. They so very much do not want to say that God is the author or the source of sin. They will dos-àdos right up to admitting that God created all things, including evil and sin. But God, to the religion ones, will never cause, author, drive toward, enlist one into, make one perform, or otherwise be involved in sin other than to condemn it. They will admit that men are like worms, that we are incapable of choosing, chasing, and/or pleasing God without his call and his salvation. Some sects will even say that God predestinated some to be elect (saved) and some to not be elect (unsaved). But if one is not saved then this one does not have the Spirit of God, thus he can’t please God and can do no good. He is a sinner. God appointed this one to sin. Yes, he caused it.
But let’s not focus on that sect but rather we’ll focus on scripture and what it says. Eve disobeyed and ate the fruit sending mankind down into sin. Jesus is our Savior to cleanse us of our sin. Jesus was ordained before the creation of the world. Therefore the fall of man was inevitable, drawn into the plan of God so that Jesus could be our Savior. Jesus dies on the cross and sheds his blood, atoning for our sin and wrapping us in his robe of righteousness. We live into eternity.
We can do this because God planned for man to sin. There was no choice in the matter.