Friday, March 19, 2010

Gospel Principles: The Fall of Adam and Eve

Sunday March 21, 2010
"Chapter 6: The Fall of Adam and Eve,” Gospel Principles, (2009), 26–30

Goal of the Lesson

To develop an appreciation and gratitude for Adam and Eve for choosing to commence mortality for the rest of humankind.

1.      Adam and Eve Were the First to Come to Earth
2.      The Garden of Eden
3.      Adam and Eve's Separation from God
4.      Great Blessings Resulted from the Transgression

Adam and Eve Were the First to Come to Earth

What evidence helps us know that Adam and Eve were valiant spirits?

  • They were pioneers (Moses 1:34, 4:26) and generally speaking, you would have to be valiant and faithful to be a pioneer.  They were to “set the tone” for the rest of us.
  • Adam was Michael the archangel who led the battle against Satan and a third of the hosts of heaven (see D&C 27:11 and Revelation 12:7-9)
What can we learn from the examples of Adam and Eve?

The Garden of Eden

Under what conditions did Adam and Even live in the Garden of Eden?

From the book “When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. In this state, “they would have had no children” (2 Nephi 2:23). There was no death. They had physical life because their spirits were housed in physical bodies made from the dust of the earth (see Moses 6:59; Abraham 5:7). They had spiritual life because they were in the presence of God. They had not yet made a choice between good and evil.

God commanded them to have children. He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Moses 2:28). God told them they could freely eat of every tree in the garden except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree God said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:17).

Satan, not knowing the mind of God but seeking to destroy God’s plan, came to Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tempted her to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He assured her that she and Adam would not die, but that they would “be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Moses 4:11). Eve yielded to the temptation and ate the fruit. When Adam learned what had happened, he chose to partake also. The changes that came upon Adam and Eve because they ate the fruit are called the Fall.”

Adam and Eve's Separation from God

What physical and spiritual changes occurred in Adam and Even as a result of their transgression?
  • Physically, they became mortal – subject to death. 
  • Spiritually, they were separated from the presence of God.
  • Because of these two changes, they had “fallen.”
Great Blessings Resulted from the Transgression

How does the Fall provide opportunities for us to become like Heavenly Father?

Joseph Fielding Smith said, "When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, he was in the presence of God our Eternal Father. He talked with the Father and the Father with him. But something happened, and it had to happen: Adam partook of certain fruit. My Bible, the King James Version, [speaks in a commentator’s note] of Adam’s Fall [as] “man’s shameful fall.” Well, it wasn’t a shameful fall at all.

Adam came here to bring mortality upon the earth, and that resulted in the shutting out from the presence of the Eternal Father of both Adam and Eve and their posterity. The Son of God comes upon the scene from that time henceforth as our Redeemer. … It is the Savior who stands between mankind and our Heavenly Father. … The Son is the mediator between mankind and the Eternal Father. You seldom hear a prayer that isn’t offered to our Heavenly Father in the name of His Beloved Son, and that’s right. Christ came into this world to represent His Father. He came into this world to teach mankind who His Father is, why we should worship Him, how we should worship Him. He performed the greatest work that was ever performed in this mortal world by the shedding of His blood, which paid a debt that mankind owes to the Eternal Father, and which debt we inherited after the Fall of Adam.

They Opened the Door

Adam did only what he had to do. He partook of that fruit for one good reason, and that was to open the door to bring you and me and everyone else into this world, for Adam and Eve could have remained in the Garden of Eden; they could have been there to this day, if Eve hadn’t done something.

One of these days, if I ever get to where I can speak to Mother Eve, I want to thank her for tempting Adam to partake of the fruit. He accepted the temptation, with the result that children came into this world. … If she hadn't had that influence over Adam, and if Adam had done according to the commandment first given to him, they would still be in the Garden of Eden and we would not be here at all. We wouldn’t have come into this world. So the commentators made a great mistake when they put in the Bible … “man’s shameful fall.”

Well, that was what the Lord expected Adam to do, because that opened the door to mortality; and we came here into this mortal world to receive a training in mortality that we could not get anywhere else or in any other way. We came here into this world to partake of all the vicissitudes, to receive the lessons that we receive in mortality from or in a mortal world. And so we become subject to pain, to sickness. We are blessed for keeping the commandments of the Lord with all that He has given us, which, if we will follow and be true and faithful, will bring us back again into the presence of God our Eternal Father, as sons and daughters of God, entitled to the fulness of celestial glory.

Privileged to Be Mortal

That great blessing of celestial glory could never have come to us without a period of time in mortality, and so we came here in this mortal world. We are in school, the mortal school, to gain the experiences, the training, the joys, and the sufferings that we partake of, that we might be educated in all these things and be prepared, if we are faithful and true to the commandments of the Lord, to become sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ; and in His presence to go on to a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever, and perhaps through our faithfulness to have the opportunity of building worlds and peopling them.

Brethren and sisters, let’s thank the Lord, when we pray, for Adam. If it hadn’t been for Adam, I wouldn’t be here; you wouldn’t be here; we would be waiting in the heavens as spirits pleading for somebody … to pass through a certain condition that brought upon us mortality.

We are in the mortal life to get an experience, a training, that we couldn’t get any other way. And in order [for us] to become gods, it is necessary for us to know something about pain, about sickness, and about the other things that we partake of in this school of mortality.

So don’t let us, brethren and sisters, complain about Adam and wish he hadn’t done something that he did. I want to thank him. I am glad to have the privilege of being here and going through mortality, and if I will be true and faithful to the covenants and obligations that are upon me as a member of the Church and in the kingdom of God, I may have the privilege of coming back into the presence of the Eternal Father; and that will come to you as it will to me, sons and daughters of God entitled to the fulness of celestial glory. (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Adam’s Role in Bringing Us Mortality,” Ensign, Jan 2006, 52–53)

From the June 2006 Ensign …

Most Christian churches teach that the Fall was a tragedy, that if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the forbidden fruit, they and all their posterity could now be living in immortal bliss in the Garden of Eden. But truth revealed to latter-day prophets teaches that the Fall was not a tragedy—without it Adam and Eve would have had no posterity. Thus, the Fall was a necessary step in Heavenly Father’s plan to bring about the eternal happiness of His children.

No Death, No Posterity, No Progress

“If Adam had not transgressed,” Lehi taught his son Jacob, “he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. …

“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:22–25).

After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened, and Eve expressed gladness at the opportunity their transgression made possible: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).

Partaking of the fruit brought mortality, with its many opportunities to choose between good and evil, and enabled Adam and Eve to have children. Thus the Fall opened the door for Heavenly Father’s children to come into the world, obtain physical bodies, and participate in “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). “Therefore this life became a probationary state,” a time to learn and grow, to repent and overcome weakness, “a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24).

Transgression, Not Sin

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) said: “I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!” 1

Regarding this distinction, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed: “This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (emphasis added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall.” 2

Even though Adam and Eve had not sinned, because of their transgression they had to face certain consequences, two of which were spiritual death and physical death. Physical death came to Adam and Eve at the end of their earthly lives, but spiritual death occurred as they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, being cut off from the presence of God (see Alma 42:9).

Original Sin

The result of our first parents’ transgression, explained President Smith, “was banishment from the presence of God and bringing … physical death into the world. The majority … [of Christians] maintain that every child born into this world is tainted with ‘original sin,’ or partakes of Adam’s transgression in his birth. The second Article of Faith contradicts this foolish and erroneous doctrine.” 3 All descendants of Adam and Eve inherit certain effects from the Fall, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ we are held accountable only for our own sins. Children who die before the age of accountability are “alive in Christ” (Moro. 8:12) and have no need of repentance or baptism (see Moro. 8:8–11).

Commandments in the Garden

The Lord gave Adam and Eve commandments in the Garden of Eden, two of which were to multiply and replenish the earth (see Gen. 1:28) and to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Gen. 2:17). These two commandments were designed to place Adam and Eve in a position where they had to make a choice. President Smith taught: “The Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain as he was in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so.” 4 Faced with this dilemma, Adam and Eve chose death—both physical and spiritual—which opened the door for themselves and their posterity to gain knowledge and experience and to participate in the Father’s plan of happiness leading to eternal life. ("The Fulness of the Gospel: The Fall of Adam and Eve,” Ensign, Jun 2006, 48–49)


Bear testimony of the importance of the Fall.