When God created man, he created him perfect. Adam was not programmed like robots to obey. He knew what was right and what was wrong and God gave him the ability to do what was right. He was given the privilege of choice to obey or disobey God. Having equipped him with this knowledge, God decided to test man. He wanted to demonstrate whether man would love and obey Him freely and willingly. The basic test is that obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings judgment. God put man to the test by entering into a covenant with Him.
A covenant is a contract between two parties. It is broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. He simply gave him his commandment. Genesis 2:16-17 states “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God has the right to tell Adam what he can and cannot do because He is the Creator and man is the creature. It is called the covenant of works because man had to perform certain works of obedience if he were to receive the promised blessing of the covenant. Others call this same covenant the covenant of life because in this covenant God promised eternal life to man if he would obey. In this first covenant God declared to Adam that disobedience would mean death; obedience would mean life.
God asked just one thing of man, obedience. Adam, simply submitted to God’s authority and believed God’s promise. In return for this simple faith and obedience, God promised to give to Adam everlasting life. He would never die. Adam would be brought to a state where it would no longer be possible to sin and where he could have fellowship with God upon the basis of abounding grace. Adam failed to keep his part of the covenant. In rebellious unbelief, he ate the forbidden fruit. He preferred to believe the lie of Satan who promised him that he would not die.
God fulfilled the threatened curse upon Adam. He was to die spiritually, physically and eternally. He was driven from the garden and cut off from the presence and fellowship of God. Man could not do anything else to save himself. Adam had to die physically – the body had to return to dust. This death was to be eternal. Man was never to partake of the tree of life for he had been driven out from the garden of Eden. An angel with a “flaming sword turned Adam & Eve away from of the tree of life”.
The covenant was made with Adam not only for himself but for all of his descendants. Adam represented us before God. His sin is our sin just as Christ’s righteousness is our righteousness (Rom. 5:19). All the consequences of Adam’s sin fell upon us. We inherit his same sinful rebellious nature so that we cannot help but sin. We commit the same sins and suffer the same miseries in this life. As summarized by the Westminster Shorter Catechism – “All mankind by the fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever” (Eph. 2:3; Rom. 6:23; Mk 9:47, 48).
When man fell in sin, the covenant of works was no longer sufficient for his salvation. Never could he of himself measure up to God’s standard of perfect obedience. This covenant of life was now a covenant of death. How then could man be saved? Would God leave all man to perish? “No.” It is true that a holy God must deal with sin, but He is also the God of love. He loves sinners and He provides them a way of escape.
God pronounced sentence first on the serpent and then on the devil who had used the serpent. While God did curse the serpent and the ground (Gen. 3:17), He provided a redeemer for Adam and Eve. The first announcement of the coming Redeemer is found in Genesis 3:15. To God’s people, this verse was a beacon of hope; to Satan, it was his condemnation (Rom. 16:20).
God promised Adam and Eve He would send a mighty Deliverer and Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). What happened immediately when sin came into the world? At once God intervened. In Genesis 3:8-9, God immediately sought out His disobedient children to declare His love for them, and in Genesis 3:15 we read that at once God said, “I will do something… I will send a redeemer who will be “her seed” – the seed of the woman”. The reference, of course, was to God’s Own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would come in the fulness of time to live and die and rise again in order that He might be the Saviour of man. Gal. (4:4-5). How wonderful it is that away back in the Garden of Eden, God should express His love by promising to send the Saviour.
God declared that when Jesus came, He would be born of a virgin. But where do we read of this in Genesis 3:15? The virgin birth is declared in the words “her seed” – the seed of the woman. This is a most unusual expression. The word “seed” is always in reference to and in connection with the male and never with the female. The seed for procreation is always resident in the male. What is the explanation of “the seed of the woman”? The explanation is that Jesus was not to be born as the result of the union of a man and a woman. His was to be a virgin birth; He was to be conceived of the Holy Ghost in order to become our Redeemer.
Genesis 3:15 declares that while Satan would bruise Christ’s heel which was to take place upon the cross of Calvary; the Redeemer at His second coming will deal a final blow to Satan. This will be the victory that will be shared by all believers.
When Adam and Eve heard the Lord’s pronouncement and His promise of a redeemer, faith was implanted in their hearts. They believed what God had said. How do we know this? Genesis 3:20 declares it. Eve was not then a mother, but Adam had the faith to believe that she would become a mother and that through her the Redeemer would ultimately come into this world.
God’s response to Adam and Eve’s faith was to clothe them with acceptable garments that He Himself provided. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them (Genesis 3:21). This provision entailed killing an animal, perhaps to suggest a sacrifice for sin. It is a picture of what Jesus did for sinners on the cross when He died for a sinful world (2 Cor. 5:21).