Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?


by Shawn Brasseaux

A frequent objection raised against the Holy Bible regards the issue of the curse of sin. It is asked, “Why do we have to suffer in a fallen creation because of something Adam did?” Let us be Berean Bible students and search the Scriptures for enlightenment. God’s Holy Word just might surprise us with His answer!

Once Adam ate the forbidden fruit, the Bible says that sin and death entered into the world (Romans 5:12). Historically, this “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21) appeared in Genesis chapter 3, and it still exist. All of creation was tainted by sin. Even today, members of the scientific community study the most obvious effects of sin—disease and death. The presence of sin detrimentally revolutionized agriculture and the natural world (including the animal and plant kingdoms), government, marriage and family life, economics, and so on. Our current world is far from what it was originally.

Before we get to the results of Adam’s sin, we want to look at the consequences of Eve’s sin. We read of the LORD’S answer to Eve: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). Do you ever wonder why women experience severe pregnancy and labor pains, why they endure so much sorrow in bringing forth their children? Do you ever wonder why God appointed the husband as the head of wife? The Bible tells us that it is because of Eve’s act of sin, which was influential in Adam’s sin. (For our female readers asking why they have to suffer for Eve’s sin, we will address that concern in due time. It all relates to our original question.)

Ultimately, however, it was Adam’s sin that caused the Fall of the human race. The Bible, in Romans 5:12-19, emphatically states that a man, not a woman, was the primary party to blame. “By one man sin entered into the world, … Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come…. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; …. For as by one man’s disobedience….”

What are the results of Adam’s sin? We read of this curse God placed on creation, in Genesis 3:17-19: “[17] And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; [19] In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Do you ever wonder why life is so miserable for so many? Do you wonder why there are thorns and thistles prevalent in the plant kingdom? Do you ever wonder why labor is so hard, especially farming and the production of enough food for human consumption? Do you ever wonder why people physically die? The Bible clearly declares the answers.

At this point, the question arises in the minds of men and women: “Why do I have to suffer because of Adam’s sin?” Women would ask, “Why do I have to suffer because of Eve’s sin?” These are excellent questions, and the Bible has the answers. How can God be fair in allowing us to suffer the effects of the sins of our parents, Adam and Eve? By asking these questions, we are prompted to discover wonderful, truly wonderful, Bible verses and truths.

All we have to do is read Romans chapter 5. Please be very mindful of the bolded phrases in these verses, which we will briefly analyze after reading that chapter in its entirety here:

“[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. [6] For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. [8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. [10] For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. [11] And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. [12] Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [13] (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. [14] Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. [15] But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. [16] And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. [17] For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) [18] Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. [19] For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. [20] Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: [21] That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The perceptive Bible student will notice, particularly in verses 12-21, contrasting ideas that can be categorized into two groups. We see the negative—Adam, disobedience, sin, wrath, and death. We also see the positive—Jesus Christ, obedience, righteousness, peace, and life. With that said, we see that there are actually two “federal heads”—two individuals who led two groups of people. Adam leads sinners and Jesus Christ leads saints. There are those who are “in Adam” and who thus share Adam’s identity—sinners. There are those who are “in Christ” and who thus share Christ’s identity (2 Corinthians 5:17)—saints.

Adam represents fallen man and Jesus Christ represents redeemed man. While we do indeed suffer the effects of Adam’s disobedience—a deliberate sin—we can enjoy the benefits of Christ’s obedience to Father God at Calvary’s cross. So, overall, it balances out. Men and women suffer because of Adam’s sin in Eden, but men and women can enjoy God’s riches because of Christ’s obedience at Calvary.

While women do suffer because of Eve’s poor choice—unlike Adam, she was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:11-15)—women can benefit from something God Himself did with a descendant of Eve. God did not leave mankind hopeless in the Garden of Eden, for He declared to Satan the Serpent that He would one day defeat him: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This “seed of the woman” (Jesus Christ, whose physically body was formed in the womb of the virgin Mary, a descendant of Eve) that came through Eve, and then defeated Satan at Calvary (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14), is the way whereby women can benefit from Eve eternally. All we have to do to receive Christ’s identity—whether man or woman—is to trust alone in His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins.

So, in Adam, we are all naturally sinners, on our way to eternal hellfire. In Christ, we are all naturally saints, on our way to heaven. Before we consider it “unfair” for God to punish us for Adam’s sin, we need to remember that it was “unfair” for God to punish His sinless Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins! (Very rarely does one ever consider the latter half of the foregoing sentence.) Again, God’s wisdom balances it all out. Indeed, looking just at the bad news in the book of Genesis causes us to overlook the good news in the book of Romans.

Also see:
» Why did God ask where Adam was?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» Why do good people suffer? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)