Adam and Eve’s relationship to God and the origin of sin

Hi there, first of all I just want to thank RZIM for the amazing resources and expertise that you provide for the public and your service to the church.

My question is regarding Adam and Eve’s inclination to sin. If they were in a state of integrity as William Lane Craig explains in his defenders class: “In the state of integrity, man possessed a set of perfections – both the so-called major perfections which were perfections of the soul, and then also minor perfections which are the perfections of the body. Among the major perfections – the perfections of the soul – we find the knowledge of God, sanctity of the will (we will what we should and ought to do), and the purity and harmony of man’s desires” - then why would they disobey God if their desire and will was in harmony and was to please God, would it imply that they were not totally satisfied in their relationship with God? If this is the case, when we get to heaven or when Christ returns and establishes a new kingdom, could we also repeat their behaviour? If we shift the blame to the temptation of Satan this sort of makes Adam and Eve seem inculpable and would effect how we interpret the doctrine of original sin.
Could we explain it all by saying that God knew Adam and Eve would disobey and allowed it in order to carry out his redemptive plan and for us to recognise the consequences of disobeying God?
So, I guess my question is fundamentally ‘Where did the first desire for evil come from?’ How could the will become distorted?

John Piper answering the question of ‘Where did Satan’s desire for evil come from?’ explains: ‘To say that Satan had free will — that is, ultimate self-determination — is not an explanation for why he committed his first sin. It is a label. It is not an explanation.
It is a label of a mystery. How could a perfectly good being — with a perfectly good will and a perfectly good heart — ever experience any imperfect impulse that would cause the will to move in the direction of sin? The answer is that nobody knows, including those who say, “Oh, it is free will.” That is not an explanation. It is a name for a mystery‘.

Many Thanks,

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Clay Jones professor from Biola university deals very well with this question in his book “Why does God allow evil?” It is a good read and I got the book off amazon real cheap.

When I read Gen chapter 2 and 3 there are a two things that stand out to me.

Adam and Eve were innocent (Gen 2:25) and that their free will was intact (Gen 3:1-8)

Based on Who God is he knew that Adam and Eve would exercise that free will and violate his law.(Don’t eat from the tree)

I have heard Ravi say it multiple times in podcasts paraphrased “In the Garden there was one law, since it was violated we now have laws for everything.”

It all comes down to free will. Until I began studying evil and suffering to teach a class at my church I didn’t fully appreciate the gift that free will is.

My memory isn’t perfect but I have heard Ravi and Vince say this a lot in the open forums.

There are three ways God could have created the universe.
1 a universe in which everyone always chose to do the right thing
2 a universe in which each person is free to choose whether to do right or wrong
3 no universe at all

Only the second way enables us to know what, love, compassion, and self-sacrifice are.

If you read Gen 3:1-8 I find the reason Adam and Eve chose to disobey is they didn’t believe God (“Did he really say you would die”?) they didn’t trust God (“He knows you will become like him”) and because of that they rebelled. If you compare Gen 3: 1-8 with the Ten Commandments and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness we see that Adam and Eve violated commandments 1 and 2 by choosing to be gods they put themselves before God thus falling into idolatry and Jesus withstood the same temptation and didn’t choose to sin.

I hope that helps with the original sin question.


Hi John,

Thanks for your reply, the resources and quotes that you cited are great.

I guess my question is not how did it happen i.e. because they had free will and didn’t trust God fully…rather WHY wouldn’t they trust God? Did they have an inclination to disobey? - just as we have a bent towards sin now since the fall. If they were in perfect communion with the incommensurable good, why would they listen to Satan over God…?

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Hi @Joel_Redman

Excellent question. Let me have a go at your questions.

Why wouldn’t Adam and Eve trust God fully?

I guess the real sin, or original sin here is actually the temptation of self-autonomy. As beings created in the image of God (they are already LIKE God), they were deceived by the deceiver that they will be LIKE God (as if they weren’t already).

What does it mean to be God?
To redefine good and evil for ourselves. In other words, to play God or to be our own God.

God taught the Fear of the Lord to us. The Jews called this teaching Yirat Shamayim (Fear of Heaven) based on Deut 10:12-14. What is Fear of the Lord? It is simply to obey God, to submit our autonomy to God’s sovereignty. Our will in exchange for His will.

And that is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), just like Solomon ask for wisdom, God’s help to discern good and evil.

Today we throw the word SIN around too easily, that we are kinda lost on its meaning. Sin in Hebrew is Khata (missing the mark) and Hamartia in Greek (failure to achieve its purpose). Basically, to be our own God, redefining good and evil for ourselves is missing the purpose of our design. That’s what sin is supposed to mean.

After justification in Christ (the salvific work), we are now in the process of sanctification in Christ, which is to become more and more like Christ. In fact to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior is to say “My way isn’t working, so I won’t do it my way anymore. Let me do it your way now.” To reflect Christ, which is back to our original design, to be His image bearer, not the image itself.

To put it simply, we are designed to be mirrors, to reflect God. Meaning whatever God’s will is, we obey(reflect). It would be weird if we have a mirror who doesn’t reflect our image. We would say the mirror isn’t working as it’s supposed to. It has missed the mark, failed to live to its purpose (SIN).

You asked somewhere, in heaven will we still have the free will to “miss the mark”?
My best guess is it will probably be impossible, as we had this life to accept Christ as Lord, and be in intimate fellowship with Him in heaven, without the deceiver. But I said “probably” as a caveat, because I honestly don’t have a definitive answer to this. So I could be wrong, but even if I’m wrong I believe the true answer be will be even better than what I could imagined it to be. Even the wisest scholars can reason convincingly in regards to what will happen in heaven, but so far only God knows.

I hope my discourse helped somehow. On the last part, I also would like to see someone wiser to enlighten us all. I would love to learn about it too.


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Hi @RoySujanto, thanks for your response. Your definition of sin is a really great one! I Gues my question still remains where did this inclination to sin come from, why did they disobey, if they were in perfect communion with God. Als, if Satan was a perfect being how could a perfectly good being — with a perfectly good will and a perfectly good heart — ever experience any imperfect impulse that would cause the will to move in the direction of sin?

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Hi @Joel_Redman,

I think I understand where you are angling this from.

I believe it’s a false premise that we are created with a perfect impulse. Or a perfect will per se.

What we do have is a perfectly free will. A free will is perfect if it is truly free indeed. Free to choose to do things our way, instead of God’s way.

I’m not saying I find it easy to understand the deceiver’s will and Adam’s will in the pre-fall state as well. But how can it be truly called a free will, if they can’t choose to obey or disobey God?

From what has been recorded thus far, this will to disobey is only made possible the moment God gave the first command.

A command automatically demands a response to obey or disobey.

So a command is God’s way of honoring their free will.

If God wouldn’t honor their free will, He wouldn’t have given a command. He will just “will” them into doing what it is He willed them to do.

So, in conclusion, a command, with the option to obey or disobey, made the free will perfect in a sense.

For them to choose to obey, you could say it’s the perfect impulse.

But for them to choose to disobey, it could also be argued is the perfect impulse of the free will, though I will concede it’s not the morally better impulse.

Ok I should stop, I’m starting to make circular reasoning. But I think you catch my drift here.

But for what it’s worth, thank you for pushing the envelope with your question.


Hi @RoySujanto, yes good points.
Regarding having perfect free will, William Lane Craig explains that Adam had “sanctity of the will (we will what we should and ought to do), and the purity and harmony of man’s desires…Adam’s passions were in harmony with his will, the will had integrity, and therefore he had the ability to not sin”.
So I agree that you must be able to freely obey or disobey or as you rightly point out, it’s not free will.
I guess the part I’m struggling with is if Adam and Eve’s will was what they ought and should do and their will was in harmony with their passions, meaning they wanted to do the good (not like us when sometimes our passions are sinful), what changed in that moment when Eve disobeyed? I came across this video by William Lane Craig regarding thhe origin of evil and he explains tat it is as a result of a disorder in the free will when one chose to direct it towards good ta were not God.
So even though they had the ability to not sin, they also had the ability to sin, and therefore they chose to go against their natural inclination to do good when the saw other ‘goods’ other than Good. SO they must have known they were making a wrong decision (purity of the will) but chose to disobey it…whether this was because they were clouded by deception or not the are still culpable as the must have known the were doing the wrong thing.

I’ve definitely over complicated it and like you said, it can be circular reasoning.
Your points have really helped!

Thanks, Joel.

Simply put God gave man the choice.we do not know every word or all that took place during mans time in the garden. All we have is a synopsis of those events. By faith we have received by faith we believe. We do not precisley know when Satan rebelled or how he knew to rebel. I have thought many times that perhaps he was jealous that man got what he didn’t. Just wanted to give you some different insight into your question.