Recently I read a statement made by a major religious denomination based in the United States that surprised me. They wrote, “Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the Fall of Adam …”. What is meant by “soul” is not stated, but the belief in the “fall of Adam” is linked to the belief that man has an immortal soul. The “fall of Adam” is a widely held belief and without some thought it may seem a reasonable description of what happened in the Garden of Eden.
First, we need to appreciate the concept of “fall.” While it is not found in the Bible, it is a theological expression for the descent from perfection to sin. It intimates that the world before sin was perfect. That perfection included man who was created in the image of God. Thus it is believed by many that man was made spiritually perfect and that the body is the mere physical housing of the true spiritual man – the immortal soul.
This theological view has Satan as the destroyer of God’s perfect creation. Satan led Adam to sin (original sin) and this caused a fundamental change to his nature. This has become known as the “fall of man”, or the “fall of Adam”. He fell from his previous perfect condition.
The consequence of this understanding then flows into the idea that God has had to rescue His perfect creation and that man has to be saved. Since man has “fallen”, God must repair the damage to restore man to his original condition. From this comes the belief that God is trying to save the world. This concept drives the typical religious approach today of trying to get people saved. In reality it pits God against Satan and we can draw the not unreasonable conclusion that God is losing the battle.
But let’s back up: man was created mortal, made from the dust of the ground. He was offered the opportunity to become immortal through the tree of life, but he rejected it. Man is a soul – he has life, the breath of life, nephesh, mortal life. This is the same breath that animals have, implying clearly it is mortal, physical life through the breath. Added to that, man was given intellect making him different to animals. We refer to this as the spirit in man.
There was no change in man’s nature. Adam was flesh and blood and had a mind with the freedom to exercise choice. Adam chose to sin. That was not a change of nature, but a conscious decision. This decision to disobey God was sin. That sin brought not only the death penalty, but also the penalty of being cut off from access to the tree of life. Man from that point on would live life without access to God’s Spirit. In that way, “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
We die because of our own sins – not Adam’s. If Adam had been created as a perfect being in the image of God spiritually, he would not have sinned. He didn’t fall, he gave in to his sensual nature and disobeyed God.
We are mortal and do not have an immortal spirit life in the form of an immortal soul within us. “The first man was of the earth, made of dust … As was the man (Adam) of dust, so also are those who are made of the dust … this mortal must put on immortality … (1 Corinthians 15:47, 48,53).
As mortals, we have to repent of sin and build the character of God. When resurrected “this mortal has put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:54). We shall be born into the family of God.
There was no “fall of Adam” and we do not have an immortal soul.