Adam’s fall reset our human identity. The forbidden fruit consumed Adam and Eve. And we still live with the bitter aftertaste of their choice with so many today missing what we were made for.
Let’s reflect on that day. Adam and Eve were created as the singular male and female “man.” They were, together, a paired “one” who displayed the ultimate “let-us-make-man-in-our-image” God. The one God who lives in eternal triune communion as Father, Son, and Spirit—the ultimate “Us” who is “One.” Eve, we read in Genesis, came out of Adam and they were then reunited in marriage to become one. And in their union they bore children.
The fruit that consumed Adam and Eve was disobedience. In eating what was forbidden they swallowed the serpent’s fantasy of being “like God.” His vision was twofold. First, he sought ultimate moral power by employing an upside-down standard for good and evil. Evil was good.
And through this perversity he redefined the “one” God as an autonomous monad—a being made in his own autonomous image. This set up his own independence from God, with an identity rooted in ambitious “free will.” Unlike the true God, who exists in the mutual giving of love, Satan reversed this reality by elevating the ideal of consuming individualism. And this is what Adam and Eve ate in Eden. And it is what most of humanity still consumes.
The damage was instant and obvious. The first couple lost their first confidence and communion as they grieved and drove off the Spirit of life. So when God came to visit them they were two isolated, fearful individuals; no longer bonded by the Spirit to each other, or to God. Instead they were now inward-curving souls—self-conscious, naked, ashamed, and spiritually dead.
Death came through their lost faith. The serpent held that God was withholding a new delight called independence. And against all reason they believed what the creature promised rather than the Creator’s words. God had told them they would die if they ate; and the serpent told them God was lying. God’s words were true, but they were captured by the lie. Their vision was tragically distorted and the Spirit’s sweet fruit was instantly replaced by fleshly appetites.
With any illness a cure calls for a correct diagnosis. So, it helps us to regain faith once we see and then dismiss the problem of sin: our independence. Or, in light of Adam’s fall, to recognize the false claims made about God in Eden. Jesus gives us corrective spiritual lenses.
The lie, “you can be like God,” has two strands. It denies the Triune and relational being of God who is eternally the Father, Son, and Spirit. Not three Gods in eternal conference, but one God with eternal distinctions, living in the communion of mutual love. The second strand of the lie is a premise that God demands individual morality. In place of faith and participation in Christ. As if goodness is a commodity we humans gain through moral effort; rather than a new response in love to the one who, alone, is good. And who gives us a new life of goodness in our communion with him.
The “cure,” then, calls for new identities. Of being “in Christ” with others who know and love him. Only Jesus offers us the restoration we need by having taken our sins on himself at the cross; and then, after swallowing death for us, he gives us his eternal life by union with his Spirit. This is being “born again” by looking to him in faith. As in the vision of Numbers 21 where the serpent, with its crushed head impaled on a sharpened pole, is writhing in death. Jesus, in John 3:14-16, was also lifted up. And he became death, then life, for us. We need only to “look … and live.”