The fall of mankind explained

by Mervyn Tilley – 24 May 2017


Mankind; “We believe in the universal sinfulness of all men since the fall rendering man subject to God’s wrath and The Fall of mankindcondemnation”.

If there is one statement of faith that ought to spur us on to evangelism then this surely is the one.

In the past much of modern evangelism majored on people coming to Jesus to have all their problems solved so that they would feel better about themselves – but little or no reference was made to their standing before a holy God. The above fundamental declares how God views man’s position and, as God is Creator and maker of all things surely what He thinks is more important than anything>

To understand the position we are in from God’s perspective let’s use a simple illustration from the law of man.


On British roads there are various speed limits. Once you exceed the speed limit on a given road you automatically become a law breaker – whether you exceed the limit by a lot or a little.

Whether you are caught or not is not the point. You may not agree with the law – you may even think the law is silly – nevertheless it is the law and no amount of arguing or trying to justify oneself will change it. Now if that is true in the natural realm, how much more true is it in the spiritual realm? God is the ultimate law maker. He gave the first two people on earth a basic law (Genesis 2:15-17).

They had tremendous freedom in what was probably a very well-stocked garden full of a wide variety of trees – but in order to test their loyalty God gave them one basic law. A very small price to pay for all God had done for them. Sadly they failed the test and the rest, they say, is history.

In theological terms this event is called the fall, which was engineered by the serpent – the devil. He wasn’t called subtle for nothing and we know this because he approached Eve and not Adam (Genesis 2:15-17).

He knew what he was doing by approaching Eve and not Adam. He was undermining Adam’s authority, bypassing the head of the house. Strictly speaking, Eve should have said – I had better ask my husband, or you need to speak to my husband – but she did not – she took it upon herself and paid a heavy a price.

The serpent’s strategy was very crafty and very successful. The first thing he did was to sow a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind. “Has God said?” At first she answered correctly but then the serpent maligned the name of God and Eve took it on board and she was hooked.

She was quickly followed by Adam, and they both crossed a line and moved outside God’s law. In that moment they passed from perfection to imperfection and from life to death – they became separated from God – first dying spiritually and finally dying physically.

From the moment of man’s fall to – a whole stream of negative emotions began to flow – fear, guilt and shame – and then in the next generation – through Cain – jealousy, resentment, hatred, murder, deceit and self justification erupted (Genesis 3:7-11, 1 Corinthians 15:22, Psalm 51:5 and John 3:16-18). And from that point onwards things went from bad to worse, culminating in the Flood and then Sodom and Gomorrah. The rise of false religions also rose dramatically.

Paul summed it up clearly when he wrote to the Corinthians, “ in Adam all die”. Every human being ever since inherited Adam’s fallen nature.

Up until now – we have only shown the results of breaking just one simple law – but when you come to the Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus 20 you are presented with laws that cover the whole of man’s behaviour towards man and God (Exodus 20 and Romans 3:10-19).


The Ten Commandments

1. No other God.

2. No idols.

3. No blasphemy.

4. Keep the Sabbath.

5. Honour parents.

6. Do not kill.

7. Do not commit adultery. 

8. Do not steal.

9. Do not bear false witness.

10. Do not covet.

The purpose of God giving these laws was not so much to save – but rather to convict us of sin – because no-one could keep the law in its entirety (Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 59:1-2).

God is angry and sad at what has happened to His creation – but because He is just and holy He cannot let sin go unpunished – it is an offence to Him. Therefore, everyone must pay for their sins unless someone can be found who will take their place.

This means that outside of a Saviour man is hopelessly lost. This is why Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost. Luke 15 records three parables about lost things. Outside a Saviour even death does not get us off the hook. The Bible speaks of judgement to come – because God’s justice will be satisfied one way or another (Matthew 12:36, Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 20:11-13).

Unless man deals with these issues while on earth, it means that earthly separation from God will lead to eternal separation from God. Why does God want men to feel this guilt over their sins? Because He wants men to call upon Him to save them (Psalm 107:10-22 and Acts 2:21). 

As you read the Bible you will discover that God never sent judgement without first offering mercy. On occasions He pleaded with man over a long period of time before sending judgement, so great is His love for those He created.

Thank God that Jesus became the ultimate substitute when He died on the cross. 

In that one event He satisfied God’s demand for justice and so opened the way for mercy because God’s demand for justice had been satisfied. He was now free to forgive those who acknowledged their sin and put their trust in Him.



There are only two men of consequence in all of human history – Adam and Jesus Christ.

Adam is head of the human race and Jesus Christ is head of an alternative race – people who have been born again of the Spirit of God. According to the Bible "in Adam all die" but in Christ "all are made alive".

Every human being since Adam has inherited his sinful human nature, which is why the Bible says that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 5:12 and 5:18-19).

Every human being that receives Jesus Christ by faith is given a new spiritual nature which brings men and women into a whole new dimension of living – a life potentially without sin, although of course we do still have our old natures to contend with (Romans 7).

"And so it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man" (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Answers to Questions
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