An essential claim of the Bible is that we live in a good world gone wrong. The Fall into sin started with Adam and Eve, and has had wide-ranging effects at every level.
In Genesis 3 we see the first effect of Adam and Eve’s choosing to sin—they became aware of their nakedness, they cover themselves, and try to hide from God. When God asked whether they had eaten from the forbidden tree, they shifted the blame. Adam even implied it was God’s fault. He told God he sinned because of the “woman you put here with me.”
Adam and Eve were not only ashamed of themselves. They were alienated from God and each other. In his book, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, author Al Wolters says,
Deeply ingrained in the children of Adam is the tendency to blame some aspect of creation (and by implication the Creator) rather than their own rebellion for the misery of their condition.
The consequences of the Fall are spelled out by God in Genesis 3:14-19. Notice especially that God says, “Cursed is the ground,” and goes on to say how sin will make work difficult. Sin affects not only our personal and communal lives but the whole cosmos. Every area is affected by sin, including our work.
Good Things Have Been Twisted
God’s good creation now can and will be twisted and used for evil purposes. Charles Williams, fellow Inkling with C.S. Lewis, used to say that now everything can be divided into two categories:
- This is Thou—God’s divinely intended use for creation.
- This Not Thou—The misuse of God’s creation.
Everything in God’s creation has a proper use and a prohibited abuse. We could apply this to drinking alcohol, dancing, eating, possessions, work, sports, or anything else. Sin affects us individually, corporately, and cosmically.
Creation Will Be Made Good Again
Despite its far-reaching consequences, sin does not annihilate the goodness of God’s creation. Al Wolters writes,
The central point to make is that biblically speaking, sin neither abolishes or becomes identified with creation. Creation and sin remain distinct, however closely they may be intertwined in our experience. Prostitution does not eliminate the goodness of human sexuality, political tyranny cannot wipe out the divinely ordained character of the state, the anarchy and subjectivism of modern art cannot obliterate the creational legitimacy of art itself. In short, evil does not have the power of bringing to naught God’s steadfast faithfulness to the works of his hands.
Theologians have often regarded sin as a parasite on God’s good creation. You could have good without evil being present, but you couldn’t have evil without good because nothing is intrinsically or inherently evil.
Redemption can—and does—eliminate from creation the effects of the Fall in all areas. Creation can be restored and cleansed from the consequences of sin. We can be confident that evil won’t get the final word, because the One who sits on the throne has declared, “I am making everything new!”