The Results Of The Fall

There were many consequences of the fall of the human race into sin. Here are many of the main ones:


a)        Adam and Eve became guilty of sin before God the Supreme Ruler and Judge. Guilt is the legal standing of wrong-doers before God in His role as the Ruler and Judge.

b)        Adam and Eve began to be ruled by self and selfishness instead of by God and His love. All their future generations inherited the same characteristics.

c)        Adam, Eve and those descended from them found themselves trapped in a situation of being condemned selfish rebels against God, something from which they could not free themselves.

d)        Adam, Eve and their descendants lost their innocence. Genesis 2:25 and 3:7 relates to this. They experienced guilt and a knowledge of evil they did not have before.

e)        It is possible decay and corruption entered the natural creation after the Fall (see Romans 8:20-21). Death already existed in the plant kingdom before the Fall because Genesis 1:29-30 records God originally gave green plants to humans, animals, birds and creeping things as food. But whether animals died from aging prior to the Fall is debatable. Genesis 2:16-17 refers to humans dying if they sinned, but does not mention animals. Genesis 3:17 shows the ground was cursed because of Adam’s sin. This seems to relate also to the plants embedded in the ground.

f)         All humans were consigned to have to work hard to survive (see Genesis 3:17-19).

g)        Eve and all women following were punished with pain in childbirth.

h)        Humans began to fear death (see Hebrews 2:15) and fear God in a wrong way (see Genesis 3:8-10).

i)          Humans began to blame others for their sins instead of accepting the main responsibility for these themselves (see Genesis 3:12-13).

j)          Sin has made even the best achievements and successes of unsaved humans to be worthless and meaningless in the long run (see Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26). Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 says: “…Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.”

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all humans physically die. So nothing that is done or achieved in this life by unsaved people is of any value in the long run. Also, sadly all unsaved people will spend eternity suffering in hell. All their efforts to own more, enjoy themselves, be self-fulfilled, be happy and so on will have been an enormous waste of time and effort.

k)        Sin has also resulted in all unsaved people continually looking for self-fulfillment in many different things – some evil and some good. Examples of evil things are sexual immorality, occult, vandalism, crime and hurting others. Examples of good things in which the unsaved try to find fulfillment are in houses, cars, jobs, marriage, sex, children, sport, hobbies and even helping the needy.

But God has created humans in His likeness and image (see Genesis 1:26-27 and 9:6). Therefore no human will ever be totally fulfilled unless they centre their lives on Him. Even many Christians do not find true fulfillment in their lives because instead of focussing totally on Jesus Christ in everything they do, they follow the example of the unsaved in some matters.

l)        Sin has caused every unsaved human to be deceived to some degree. Their deception is demonstrated when they say certain good things are evil and say some evil things are good. Isaiah 5:20 refers to this: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Sin-caused deception manifests in unbelievers’ lives in their rejection of God’s and Jesus Christ’s claims on them.

m)    After sin entered the human race and the Holy Spirit left them, it did not take long before murder, terrible violence, family strife, drunkenness, plundering, sexual perversion, incest, jealousy, favouritism in families, rejection, hatred, lack of love, rape and a multitude of other evils occurred among humans. [1]


Cut off from the tree of life


Another result of the Fall was that all humans were cut off from the tree of life. Genesis 2:8, 3:22, 3:24 and Revelation 22:14 refer to the tree of life. [2]


The debt of sin


As a result of Adam’s sin and their own personal sins, every human now has an unpayable debt they owe God. This debt involves:


a)      the proven charges against them.

b)      the guilty verdict pronounced on them by God and

c)      the deserved sentence of death.


Many people do not understand every disobedience to God’s perfect laws incurs an enormous debt that must be paid by someone. Hebrews 2:2 says: “…every transgression and disobedience received a just reward.” The word “reward” is used in this verse in the sense of a punishment. Jesus used the word “debts” in Matthew 6:12 in reference to sins. The Greek word for “debts” in Matthew 6:12 is “opheilema” which Vine says means “sin as a ‘debt’ because it demands…payment by way of punishment”. [3] Louw and Nida define “opheilema” as the “debt incurred as a result of sin”. [4] This debt is owed to God’s holiness and justice because of sin. In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus spoke a parable in which sins are equated with debts to God also.

God judges wickedness and disobedience to His love commandments even more severely than human courts judge disobediences to their laws. No human court punishes seemingly “minor” evils with everlasting punishment.

To understand the characteristics of the debt of sin we owe God, we need to look at the ancient Roman criminal courts. In the Roman Empire, it was expected that every person within it should be totally loyal and obedient to the Emperor. The Roman Emperor was the supreme human ruler and final judge in the Empire. People who were suspected of disobeying Caesar’s laws or rebelling against him, were brought before his judges. If the person was declared guilty of disobeying the Emperor’s laws and was sent to prison, a list was compiled of all his crimes and the matching penalties. This list was named a Certificate of Debt. This Certificate was a sign of the debt owing to the rule of Rome and its Emperor.

The condemned person’s Certificate of Debt was nailed to the outside of the door of his prison cell. Prison warders or others who passed by could read this Certificate to see for what crimes he had been condemned and for how long he had been sentenced. It was a crime to keep the prisoner there longer than he was sentenced. Roman prisons were horrendous places, so many died before the end of their sentence came. But for those who completed their sentence and were released, their aging Certificate of Debt had the words “Paid in Full” written across them. As long as they were able to produce their cancelled Certificates, they could never be repunished for the same crimes.

This is similar to what has happened in relation to every human. God the Supreme Ruler and Perfect Judge has pronounced a legal judgement of “Guilty” against every human. This is because none of us have totally obeyed every one of His commandments every moment of every day, as descendants of fallen Adam we are born with a nature that loves sin and we have Adam’s sin debited to our account. Therefore, God declares that the due punishment for such guilt is death – physical and spiritual.

Colossians 2:14 refers to the type of Certificate of Debt recorded in heaven against every human: “Having wiped out the hand writing of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” In Greek, the word “handwriting” is a form of the word “cheirographon” which means “a (handwritten) document, specifically a certificate of indebtedness [5] or “a handwritten statement, especially a record of financial accounts”. [6]

The New American Standard Bible rightly translates the form of “cheirographon” used in Colossians 2:14 as “certificate of debt”. In this verse, Paul reveals that the record of our debts to God have been nailed to Jesus’ Cross.


The sentence of death


Before Adam and Eve wickedly chose to sin, God lovingly warned them of the awesome penalty for such sin. This penalty was death. Genesis 2:16-17 records: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’.”

This penalty of death included two horrendous features. The first of these was spiritual death (see Romans 5:12-21). As a result of their sin, their spirits were totally separated from God the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:2 and Revelation 11:11 speak of the Holy Spirit as being the Spirit of life. So when God the Holy Spirit’s Presence was shut off from their spirits, these became dead in a spiritual sense. Their spirits still operated but desired sin in relation to God and other humans. Romans 5:12 shows this spiritual death was passed on to all other humans. (This verse also relates to physical death.)

Spiritual death is compared to eternal life in John 5:24: “…he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and…has passed from death into life.” Ephesians 4:18 speaks of how all unbelievers are cut off from the life of God: “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the hardening of their heart.”

God warned Adam of the penalty of spiritual death in Genesis 2:16-17. But observe God here did not place any time limit on the spiritual death resulting from sin. Therefore this sentence of spiritual death was an everlasting one. In other words, God warned Adam that sin would cause him to die spiritually and this would last forever and ever.

1 John 3:14, Ephesians 2:1 and Revelation 20:11-15 refer to spiritual death. Spiritual death occurs in the lives of unbelievers prior to and after the Final Judgement. Revelation 20:11-15 refers to the everlasting state of spiritual death in Hell or the lake of fire after the Final Judgement as the second death. Revelation 2:11, 20:6 and 21:8 also refer to this second death.

The second feature of the penalty of death of which God warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:16-17 was physical death – the death of the human body. Romans 8:10 relates to this: “…the body is dead because of sin…” The latter part of God’s pronounced judgements in Genesis 3:19 relates to the punishment of physical death: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

It is little wonder Paul says in Romans 6:23 that the deserved wages or reward of sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:20-21 teaches similarly: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness…For the end of those things is death.”

Romans 8:2 refers to the “law of sin and death”. This expression also shows the relationship between sin and its resulting penalty of physical and eternal spiritual death. Refer also to James 1:15.





Inherited sin


An associated result of Adam’s sin is called inherited sin. This expression “inherited sin” has also been called “original sin” or “hereditary sin” by others. These three expressions need to be clearly understood. They refer to two things:

a)        The corrupt sinful nature humans inherit from Adam.

b)        The accounting or imputation of Adam’s actual sin and guilt directly to all of his human descendants. This imputation will be clearly explained later in this chapter.


The expression “inherited sin” has one difficulty about it. This is the fact God imputes or accounts Adam’s actual sin and guilt directly to each human and not indirectly through the parents. Also, note the expression “original sin” does not refer to the first human sin – Adam and Eve’s partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Original sin refers instead to the sin imparted and imputed to all Adam’s descendants as a result of Adam’s sin.


The inherited corrupt sinful nature


Adam’s Fall resulted in his nature becoming corrupt and sinful and his descendants being born with similar natures. Various Christian writers call this inherited sinful nature “depravity” or “total depravity” or “original pollution” or “inherited corruption” or “the Adamic nature”. Some people wrongly regard the sinful nature as being the full meaning of the expression “original sin”, but it is only part of it.

The inherited fallen nature all humans are born with relates to every part of them – their spirit, heart, soul, mind, emotions, will and body. Some of these parts overlap each other in meaning.

In Ephesians 2:3, Paul says that all of us prior to conversion were “by nature” objects of God’s wrath. This shows that our inherited human nature was sinful and opposed to God. Ephesians 4:17-19 relates to similar things.

Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 8:21 and Mark 7:21-22 refer to the inherited sinful state of fallen human hearts. The Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek words for “heart” do not include the human body, but include the human spirit, mind, will and emotions. Jeremiah 17:9 states: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…”

Psalm 51:5 shows the inherited sinful nature is transmitted from parents to children: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Note angels who fell into sin did not transmit their evil fallen nature because angels do not reproduce offspring – Matthew 22:30).

The Biblical teaching about the depraved corrupt nature all humans inherit at birth:


a)        does not say every human is as totally corrupt in thought, word, feeling and action as they can choose to be.

b)        does not mean they do not have some admirable characteristics such as sympathy, kindness or friendliness. For example in Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 11:11-13, Jesus revealed that though parents are evil according to His perfect standards, most of them do good to their children.

c)        cannot be taken to suggest humans have no conscience or no inherited ability to distinguish right from wrong to a certain extent.

d)        does not mean every human indulges in every type of evil.

e)        cannot be taken as suggesting humans totally lost their attributes of being created in God’s image and likeness (see Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9). The image of God in humans was corrupted but not removed.


Instead the Biblical teaching on inherited corrupted sinful human nature means:


a)        all humans are born with a corrupt nature which has a tendency towards sin in every part of it.

b)        they have a permanent inability to not do evil (see Genesis 6:5, 6:11-12 and Romans 7:14-24).

c)        they have nothing in their character and nature which would make God regard them as being acceptable in His sight.

d)        and they are unable by their own strength to change their extremely sad situation.


Personally responsible


Some people believe because unconverted human beings inherit a corrupted nature and therefore do not have the ability to obey God perfectly, then they are not really responsible for their sins. This is wrong. God created humans without sin so He is not responsible for their evil. The first humans willingly chose to turn to sin – self-reliance, self-centredness, independence from God, lack of total dependence on Him and rebellion against His will and rule over their lives. All of their descendants were born into the same corrupted state.

Even though all of Adam’s descendants did not choose to be born like this, they choose willingly each day to enjoy various actual sins and are pleased to continue living self-centred, self-reliant lives in rebellion against God’s rule. I am here referring to people prior to any turning to Jesus Christ.


The imputation of sin and guilt


Romans 5:12-19 teaches us that Adam’s sin and guilt are imputed to all humans. In this context, the word “impute” means to account or reckon or debit something to someone. Romans 5:18 says: “Therefore, as though one man’s offense judgement came to all men, resulting in condemnation…”


The original Greek words


In the original Greek New Testament, there are two main words which refer to imputing. The first of these is “logizomai” which in some contexts means “reckon…count something against someone…” [7] or “to keep records of commercial accounts, involving both debits and credits”. [8] The second of these is “ellageo” which means “charge to someone’s account”. [9]

The word “logizomai” is used in Romans 2:26; 4:3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24; 6:11; 9:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23. All of these references except Romans 2:26 relate to God accounting or crediting wonderful things to those people in Jesus Christ.

The Greek word “ellageo” is used in Romans 5:13 and Philemon 18. Philemon 18 gives a human comparison of what imputation involves when Paul said to Philemon about Onesimus: “But if he has wronged you or owes you anything, put that on my account.”


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Liberal Protestant views


Liberal Protestants support the theory of macro-evolution so fully that they regard most of the events recorded in the Bible in relation to Adam and Eve as being mere religious myth. As a result, they reject the idea humans are born with sinful natures or are born with Adam’s sin and guilt accounted to them. Most liberal Protestants believe human nature is basically good but does wrong only because of the wrong conditioning or socialising by parents, schools, society and their general living environment.

These Protestants believe all people will go to heaven, even people like Adolf Hitler and other unrepentant Nazi butchers. So they regard as horrendous any suggestion that Adam’s sin, guilt and associated eternal condemnation could be debited to his descendants.

Comparison of the main categories of sin


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Bible Study Questions


1.       What were many of the main results of the Fall of the human race into sin?

2.       What does Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:26 teach about the best achievements and successes of unsaved sinful humans?

3.       Why does Matthew 6:12 and 18:21-35 refer to our sins as debts to God?

4.       What is the Certificate of Debt which Colossians 2:14 mentions?

5.       What is the difference between spiritual death and physical death?

6.       What does inherited sin mean?

7.       Describe what is the inherited corrupt sinful nature.

8.       “Romans 5:12-19 teaches that Adam’s sin and guilt were imputed or debited to all their human descendants.” Explain what this means.



[1] See Genesis 4:1-16, 4:19-24, 6:11-13, 9:21, 19:1-29, 19:30-38, 27:1-40, 34:1-31, 37:12-36 and 38:1-30.

[2] Among Bible teachers, there are a number of views about what the tree of life was at the time of Adam and Eve. Here are the main views:

a)          The tree of life was a literal tree which continually imparted God’s eternal life to the hearts and bodies of Adam and Eve. (Some believe Genesis 2:7 refers to God’s eternal life being imparted to Adam when he was first created and the tree of life being a continual ongoing impartation of eternal life after then. Others suggest Adam did not receive God’s eternal life until he first partook of the tree of life.)

b)         It was not a literal tree but symbolically represented the real historical imparting of God’s eternal life to their hearts and bodies. (John 6:63 speaks of the Holy Spirit imparting life. Romans 8:2 calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of life”. The tree of life is argued to represent figuratively the Spirit of life.)

c)          It was a literal tree which related solely to the giving of immortality to the human bodies of Adam and Eve.

d)         It was not a literal tree but symbolically represented the real historical imparting by the Holy Spirit of immortality to their human bodies.

[3] Vine, page 150.

[4] Louw and Nida, page 774.

[5] Bauer, page 880.

[6] Louw and Nida, page 394.

[7] Bauer, page 476.

[8] Louw and Nida, page 583.

[9] Bauer, page 252.



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