[CMN Home]

Lesson 7
Evil Comes into Human Life

Through the ages many men and women have puzzled about the mystery of evil. We have found that the Bible reveals the answer to this mystery to us.

We know that the evil had no part in God's creation. God, as the perfection of love and goodness and beauty, did not create evil or make it a necessary part of life.

The Creation of Angels

The Bible reveals to us that God did not only create the visible world. He also created angels (Psalm 103:20; Psalm 148:2). Angels are pure spiritual beings, that glorify God and do God's will. Many times we read that God used angels as his messengers to people (Hebrews 1:14). They are able to make themselves visible in the form of human beings. The Bible says:

"Remember to welcome strangers in your homes.
There were some who did that
and welcomed angels without knowing it"
(Hebrews 13:2).

Disobedient Angels

We also learn from the Bible that evil came into existence when one of the angels of God became filled with pride and started a rebellion for self-glory (1 Timothy 3:6). The result was that this angel, now called Satan or the Devil, and the other angels who were misled by him, were thrown out of heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Satan is the source of all evil, as the Bible explains:

"Whoever continues to sin belongs to the Devil,
because the Devil has sinned from the beginning."
(1 John 3:8.)

But this does not yet explain how sin entered human life.

Only One Thing Forbidden

God created man to be morally and spiritually perfect. But our loving Father did not make us like machines or robots that automatically obey instructions. When he placed our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, he gave them a freedom of choice. They could choose to be obedient to him and live there forever, or to be disobedient and so lose their freedom.

God forbade them one thing only: Adam and Eve had complete freedom and complete control over everything in the garden of Eden, but they were asked not to eat of "the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad." As long as they obeyed this command, they would continue to live there forever in a happy and deathless state.

We are not told exactly what this "tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad" was. The important thing to understand is that God asked perfect obedience to this one law. Obedience was the condition for eternal happiness. As long as they obeyed God, they had a wonderful closeness with God, and could meet God everyday.

If you ask your son or your younger brother not to go along into a busy street or market place, and he goes out in spite of your instructions, he has broken the principle of obedience. Just as that son or brother has a choice in the matter, so Adam and Eve could choose to be obedient to God's command. We read of this command in the Bible:

"You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden,
except the tree that gives knowledge
of what is good and what is bad.
You must not eat the fruit of that tree;
if you do, you will die the same day."
(Genesis 2:16-17.)

When you think about this, please learn to understand that the true spiritual life always rests on obedience to God. Complete obedience brings uninterrupted peace with God!

Sin enters

Now we will find out how sin entered Adam's life. Satan, in his hate against God and God's creation, saw the peace and power and joy in Adam's life. He saw an opportunity to attack God's creation and to destroy the peace in human hearts. If he could only tempt Adam to break the one law that God has given, he, Satan, would gain power over man and the world.

If we now read the third chapter of Genesis, we see that that is precisely what Satan did. With supreme cunning, he appeared to Eve in the form of a snake. He questioned her about the command that God gave Adam. When he found that the woman was prepared to speak to him, he told the first great lie. He told Eve that God did not speak the truth when he warned Adam that if he ate of the tree he would die. Satan said they would not die, but in fact would receive great knowledge and wisdom. They would be like God and know what is good and what is bad. Thus he tempted them with the same sin, selfishness and pride, that caused his own downfall.

Eve saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruits would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise, like God. She took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to Adam, and he also ate it.

The whole balance of life was immediately shattered. A division came between God and man, between Adam and his wife and between them and the rest of the creation. Adam and Eve were immediately driven out of Eden. Now they would have to struggle for a living. They would be subject to death and all the other sufferings that today form part of our lives. Their disobedience threw open the floodgates of suffering, pain, misery, and death upon the whole world. By the grace of God Adam and Eve did not die instantly. (God still had a plan to save the human race, as we will see.)

This is how God's Word reveals to us the origin of sin and evil and suffering in the life of humanity. You will notice that in the world around us all humanity, including every nation and race, the most civilized and scientifically advanced, the rich and the poor without exception is subject to sin, suffering and death. Please study this lesson carefully, and read the third chapter of Genesis in your Bible with care and with much prayer. A great Christian, Dean R. C. Trench, the Dean of Westminster, spoke about this chapter when he said,

"It is the only chapter which, if we would conceive it as being withdrawn, would leave all the rest of Scripture unintelligible. Take this away, this record of the fall, ... and you take away the key of knowledge to all the rest of the Bible."

In Christian teaching, what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they yielded to Satan's temptation is called "the fall". In our next lesson we will look at the results of the fall.

Test Yourself No. 7

Answer the following questions and then compare your answers to the answers you will see when you click here: [answers]

1. What was Satan before he rebelled against God?

2. How were Adam and Eve when God created them?

3. What was the one thing that God forbade Adam and Eve?

4. What did the fall consist of?