The Consequences of Sin

            Whenever we sin, there are consequences that come as a result of the sin. Some of those consequences are spiritual and some are physical. When Adam and Eve sinned they experienced both physical and spiritual consequences.

            The first result of their sin was their awareness of their nakedness. They lost their innocence. In their embarrassment, they tried to cover themselves by making some sort of clothing. Their garments were made from fig leaves, sewn (or woven) into a short skirt tied around the waist. Fig leaves are thick, leathery leaves about 3-4 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long. The description indicates they took the stems of the leaves and braided them together and left the leaves to hang down. Take you hand and spread your fingers wide. Put your thumb at your waist and where your little finger ends would be amount of covering Adam and Eve had. Obviously, fig leaves are not much of a covering. Nothing would be hidden when they sat down, or if they moved too quickly, or if a breeze blew. Perhaps you can understand why they hid themselves when God came to the Garden. Even with their fig leaf garment, they still felt naked.

            God knew what had happened, but he wanted Adam and Eve to understand and admit their sin. When people make mistakes, there are two responses to the sin. Either they acknowledge their sin or they try to hid it. God understands we make mistakes, but he wants us to admit our faults (I John 1:8-10). We cannot correct a wrong until we are able to admit that we made a mistake. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin. When God asked Adam what happened, Adam tried to pin the blame on Eve and indirectly on God. "It wasn't my fault, the woman you gave me, she gave me the fruit to eat." Adam said Eve gave him the fruit to eat, so it wasn't his fault. Indirectly he blamed God, "I didn't asked for this woman. You made her." When God asked Eve what happened, she too tried to pass the blame onto someone else. It wasn't her fault, the serpent tricked her.

            Parents understand this principle very well. There is a crash in the next room and you find little Susie next to an overturned lamp. You know very well what happened and who did it, but you ask anyway. You're not looking for an excuse, you want to make sure the child understands she did something wrong and that she knows why it was wrong.

            God then pronounces the punishment for their sins.

            To the serpent, he altered the animal's shape so that it had to crawl on its belly. In addition, he made a natural repulsion between the serpent's kind and the woman's kind. Even today, thousands of years later, there is a natural fear of snakes especially among women. Some people overcome their fear of snakes, but in general there is a natural dislike between snakes and people. In verse 15, there is a prophecy made about a future event. There would be hatred between a descendant of the snake and a descendant of the woman. The snake's descendant would bruise the woman's descendant's heel -- in other words, cause a minor wound. However, the woman's descendant would bruise the serpent's descendant's head -- in other words, deliver a mortal blow. Our benefit of hindsight tells us what happened. The descendant of the woman is Jesus. Jesus was born to a woman, but he did not have an earthly father. The serpent's descendant can be seen as either Satan himself, or those who follow after Satan. Satan bruised Jesus by arranging for his death on the Cross. This was only a minor wound, because God raised Jesus back to life. However, that resurrection was a mortal blow to Satan. Until that time, everyone eventually died. Satan used the power of death as the ultimate club to get his way. Since Jesus overcame death, Satan's club was destroyed. See Hebrews 2:14-15 and I Corinthians 15:20-28.

            Notice that death is another consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve. Until this time, there was no death. All creatures ate plants (see Genesis 1:30). Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life and therefore could live forever (see Genesis 3:22). By their sin, they introduced physical death into the world, giving Satan a mighty weapon to use against them and their descendants. God said they would surely die on the day they ate of the forbidden fruit. The Hebrew word for death in Genesis 2:17 literally means "dying you shall die." Adam and Eve did die a spiritual death immediately when they ate the fruit. Their sin separated them from God (Isaiah 59:2). But in their spiritual death, they also began to die physically. It wasn't just them. Their sin brought death to the whole creation (Romans 8:18-23).

            The woman too received punishment for her sin. Just like the serpent, the punishment did not just effect her, but also all those who came after her. The first punishment was that childbirth would no longer be easy. It will be filled with sorrow and pain. Bearing children is not easy: from the morning sickness when the woman is first pregnant, to the discomfort of carrying a child, to the extreme pain of the actual birth, to the depression that follows as the woman's body returns to normal function. The second punishment was that the woman would no longer be emotionally independent. She would become emotionally bonded to her husband, becoming the follower, with the husband being the head of the family. Some women fight against this natural law, but it is a fact that this law exists.

            The man also was punished for his sin. Like the serpent and the woman, the man's punishment did not effect Adam only. It applies to all men who descended from him. Until this time, Adam only had to do light work to care for the Garden. From this point on, man would have to labor hard for a living. The world would no longer cooperate and make it easy to earn a living. Even to this day, it is the man's responsibility to earn a living for his family. That work rarely comes easily, even if some of us do not do manual labor. The second half of the punishment is the affirmation of Adam, and all mankind's, eventual death.

            The last consequence of Adam and Eve's sin was banishment from the Garden. The purpose of the banishment was to remove Adam and Eve's access to the Tree of Life. An angel (sometimes called a cherubim) was placed in the garden to ensure that no one could enter the garden. Their banishment also put a physical distance between them and their God who would walk at times in the garden. This is a physical representation of their spiritual separation.

            As a gesture of kindness, God replaced their inadequate fig leaf garments with tunics made of animal skins. This may have been the first death after their sin, when an animal was killed to produce the skins for Adam and Eve's clothing. A tunic is a long shirt that goes from shoulder to the knees; it is similar to long tee-shirts used for nightshirts. The tunic became the basic garment for mankind for thousands of years.