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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: How Did the Fall Affect Humankind and the Earth?

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Don Stewart
The Bible speaks of Adam and Eve disobeying God and bringing sin into the earth. This act caused the Fall of humanity. The Fall had a great effect upon the conditions of the earth as well as upon humankind. They include the following:

1.Spiritual Separation

First, the perfect relationship between God and humanity was broken with the Fall. Sin caused a wall of separation to be erected between the creature and the Creator where previously there had been none. Humankind, because of his sin, could not now directly approach God. The Bible emphasizes that sinful man cannot enter God's presence.

Who [God] alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16).

2.Judgment Upon The Serpent

Through the serpent, Satan appeared as an angel of light. The serpent, who was Satan's tool in the Fall, was himself judged with a divine curse.

So the Lord God said to the serpent: because you have done this, you are cursed more than all the cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life (Genesis 3:14).

The judgment of the serpent to crawl upon his belly suggests to some that this creature formerly walked upright. Not only did the snake lose his original beauty, God judged him to crawl upon his belly all his days and eat dust.

Vestigial Organs

There are some that assert that there are vestigial organs on the serpent that show evidence that he formerly walked upright.

From Beginning

Others believe this was not the case. They feel that the serpent crawled on his belly from the beginning. The emphasis on his judgment was to eat dust. This has a connotation in Scripture as to suffering total defeat. The prophet Micah wrote:

They shall lick the dust like a serpent; they shall crawl from their holes like snakes of the earth. They shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of You (Micah 7:17).

Even during the glorious new creation of the heavens and the earth, the serpent will still eat dust.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the Lord (Isaiah 65:25).

The sight of the crawling snake should serve as a constant reminder to everyone of the judgment of God. He would also illustrate that Satan will receive his final destruction.

3.Judgment On The Woman

Judgment against the woman consisted in two areas that originally were to be a source of blessing - her children and her husband.

To the woman He said: I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (Genesis 3:16).

First, the woman would suffer increased pain in giving birth to children. This does not assume, as some contend, that she would have experienced some pain in childbirth before the Fall. The emphasis is that the entire birth process would be an extremely painful experience. Had the Fall not occurred, this would have not been the case.

Husband Rule Over

Furthermore, her husband would now exercise rule over her. The woman's desire would be for her husband. The desire may be seen as the woman's attempt to be equal with the man or else to gain the upper hand over him. She will desire to do something that the Fall will not permit her to do.

Therefore the two areas that were to be a source of blessing to the woman - children and her husband - are now going to be reminders of the Fall.


But there is hope in all of this. The final victory over the serpent will be achieved through the birth of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Therefore, birth pains suffered by women are a symbol of both the judgment of the Fall and of the hope of redemption.

4.Judgment On The Man

Man must now labor for his existence on a cursed earth. Adam may have had to perform work before the Fall, but now his work involves exhausting toil and suffering. He could no longer freely eat of the good land that God had provided. Furthermore, he will return to the ground in death. Instead of becoming divine as the serpent promised, man will go back to the dust from where he was created. The Lord said to him:

Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the herb of the field. 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 (Genesis 3:17-19).

5.Divine Judgment On The Earth

The earth did not escape the judgment of the Fall. The original condition of nature, which was perfect, began to degenerate after the Fall. Thorns and thistles will now come from the ground that was formerly good. The Bible says that the thorn, like the serpent, is the natural enemy of humanity. The thorn is used in Scripture as a symbol of evil:

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell (Numbers 33:55).

Jesus said:

You will know them by their fruits. Do people gather grapes from thornbushes of figs from thistles (Matthew 7:16).

The Apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh that he asked God to remove (2 Corinthians 12:7).

The Roman soldiers made a mock crown of thorns for Jesus.

And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe (John 19:2).

6.Judgment Upon The Animal Kingdom

Judgment was also placed on the animal kingdom. Animals that were formerly docile would now have a different relationship with humanity. However, there are those who believe that the animal kingdom was not affected by the Fall but had already been in a struggle for existence.

7.Expulsion From The Garden Of Eden

There was also the expulsion from the perfect conditions in the Garden of Eden.

Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 3:23).

Humanity was no longer allowed to live in the Garden. The paradise of Eden would soon degenerate as would the rest of the earth.


The effects of the fall upon the earth and humanity include the following:

1. Adam and Eve and their descendants were separated spiritually from God.

2.The serpent was condemned to crawl on his stomach and eat dust.

3.The woman was judged in two ways: she would experience pain in child birthing process and her husband was to rule over her.

4.Man was judged to live life with sweat and labor.

The Fall produced degenerating conditions upon the earth.

6.The animal kingdom was also affected by the Fall.

7.The Garden of Eden was no longer the habitat of humanity. The Paradise would degenerate like everything else in the world.

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