“And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.”
- Romans 5:16
An interesting question arises from out of the ashes of the Garden of Eden. Did Adam really sin when he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Strangely, the question exists in some religious circles, and by its very existence, it seems to cast the entire blame for the fall of mankind squarely on the shoulders of Adam, or was it the woman—Eve?
The result hints at peculiar consequences. For example, if Eve is to blame, could it be that the woman and not the man passed the sin nature to mankind? Perhaps a curse has been placed on all women making them subservient to men? Better yet, maybe a woman’s role in Heaven is somehow in servitude to men, instead of God?
To many people, putting things just this way seems strange and rather sexist. Yet this is not an uncommon belief regarding Adam and Eve. Teaching that Adam made a tough but correct choice to follow the woman in a form of martyrdom is another approach to this subject within the Mormon Church. With many different approaches to this very critical piece of the puzzle, I myself was rather confused and needed clarity. I wanted to understand, so my longing for more information continued. I yearned to have a closer walk and fellowship with God. My life before Mormonism was filled with confusion and guilt, and I wanted freedom from these spiritual chains, but the more I studied Mormon beliefs, the more confused I became as I tried to reconcile what I read in the Bible with Mormon Doctrine.
I imagine this is true for many different religions—not just Mormonism. Thankfully, we have an incredible God that reveals truth through His Word and Holy Spirit. Spiritual chains of confusion, whether of our own making or of man’s, do not have to bind us. We can have freedom and clarity through truth.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- John 8:32
For me, the contradictions of Mormon teaching and in supposed inspired books led to confusion and an unnecessary questioning of God—and what He has said. For those following anything but God’s Word, there will be contradictions and confusion that will only continue to bind you in the spiritual chains of confusion, stunting your spiritual growth.
“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
- Proverbs 2:6
Mormon Doctrine brought these chains of confusion into my life. On one hand, the second of the Mormon thirteen Articles of Faith says, “Men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.” Yet in other writings, we find that Adam did not so much as sin, but ate of the tree in an effort to fix what Eve did. For example, Marion G. Romney, a Mormon apostle and member of the First Presidency in the Mormon Church wrote the following: “I do not look upon Adam’s action as a sin. I think it was a deliberate act of free agency. He chose to do that which had to be done to further the purposes of God.”
It appears that, according to Mr. Romney, Adam needed to disobey God in order to fulfill His command of multiplying. This is a catch-22 in that it sets a contradictory precedent that sometimes it is necessary to walk in opposition to God in order to obey God. It is as if they are saying God sometimes needs us to do wrong in order to assist in fulfilling His will. How can an individual ever have a sense of what is right and what is wrong if even the foundational belief of their faith contradicts itself?
And without doubt, the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is foundational to everything we believe. It gives the reason for Salvation, sets the tone for Redemption, and provides understanding of our purpose and for God’s creation. It is not something we should meddle with.
But meddling is the main reason why we have such problems to begin with. In Genesis, God very clearly stated His command to Adam. Adam was told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was no debate or misunderstanding:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must NOT eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’” - Genesis 2:16-17
As parents we understand the need to provide clear expectations and boundaries to our children. We need to let them know what we want them to do, the rewards for obedience, and the consequences of disobedience. God did exactly that with His children—Adam and Eve. He offered them everything man would ever need. He provided abundant resources. He gave man a purpose to live for. Man walked with God in perfect fellowship.
However, to have the relationship with man that God desired, he needed man to voluntarily choose to love Him. In order for love to be love, it must be freely chosen; therefore it was necessary to provide man with a choice. He could continue to walk with God, or he could eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s perfect plan and desire was to live in eternity with Adam and Eve in Eden. Scripture makes this clear (1 John 1:7, Psalms 9:10). God is not the author of confusion. He makes His commandments perfectly clear. He does not want His children to fall and commit sin. The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil allowed Adam and Eve to continually demonstrate their love for God by their choice not to eat of the tree and to obey God.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” - John 14:23
Mormon Doctrine, however, muddies this call from God. The end results are confusion and double speak. They don’t give a clear answer to the question of whether Adam sinned or not—despite the fact that Scripture clearly indicated that he did. Mormons teach that Adam made the correct choice to eat of the fruit offered to him by Eve. They don’t see it as a sin. They see it as necessary to correct Eve’s sin and replenish the earth.
To explain this, the Book of Mormon says in 2 Nephi 2:25, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy.” The logic suggests that Adam didn’t sin, but rather stepped up to the plate and bailed God out of a tenuous situation as a direct result of Eve’s sin. In this case, Adam was the savior—not of Mankind or even of Eve, but of God’s plan.
In the Temple ceremony—an important step in a Mormon’s eternal progression and status within the church community—you watch a movie in which God speaks to Adam and Eve saying, “Nevertheless you may freely choose.” In the Mormon book, The Pearl of Great Price, you can clearly see how they add to God’s word in order to justify Adam’s actions. It says in Moses 3:17, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God certainly wanted them to choose correctly, but He never said that they had the freedom to choose to eat of the tree. The opportunity to choose does not make all available options right.
This is obviously not God’s word. This is injected scripture! God never says this anywhere in the bible! Remember, God’s Word was clear. They could freely eat of any tree—except one. Of that one tree, they were not to eat of it! This is why God commands us not to add to the Bible. When we add or subtract from God’s Word under the guise of inspiration, the only thing that ultimately results is more confusion.
According to Genesis 1:28, God commanded man to be fruitful and multiply the earth. Unfortunately, Mormon doctrine teaches that this command was somehow in jeopardy as a result of Eve’s sin and it was up to Adam to preserve it. Mormon’s teach that it was necessary for Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit in order to produce the necessary children for the ongoing goal of eternal progression—the belief that every person has the potential to become their own god of their own planet in the hereafter. Thus Adam is left with fear and his own bizarre choice. If he refuses to eat, he would remain in the garden, Eve might be exiled, and he could remain in close relationship with God. But there would be no children. There would be no means for the spirits in Heaven to continue on their eternal progression. The other choice for Adam would be to eat of the forbidden fruit, leave the garden with Eve, bear children and so in his mind fulfill the will of God.
Mormons believe that Adam chose the latter in order to preserve God’s plan.
However, it is not necessary for Man to bail God out. Adam never gave God a chance to rectify the situation. Instead he took matters into his own hands resulting in a sin, not a solution.
What Really Happened in the Garden?
To put it simply, both Adam and Eve sinned. There is no other way to look at this. We can’t blame the fall of mankind on just Eve, nor on just Adam—although Scripture indicates that Eve was deceived, and Adam was not (1 Timothy 2:14), Adam’s decision to eat of the tree was indeed a deliberate act, but it was still an act of sin.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
- Romans 5:12
Adam’s decision to eat of the tree may indeed have been done for some altruistic reason—a reason that probably had more to do with his fear of losing the only other human on the planet to exile or death than from a desire to fulfill the will of God. Nevertheless, it is always a mistake to circumvent God and take things into your own hands.
When King Saul tried to do this in 1 Samuel 13, God’s disappointment became immediately apparent. Saul offered a sacrifice to God. That in of itself seems like a good thing. The problem was that Saul wasn’t allowed to actually perform the sacrificial ceremony—that was a job for a Levite. His disobedience to God brought a staggering reaction:
“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” - 1 Samuel 13:13-14
Saul tried to take things into his own hands and even trying to do a good thing in a wrong way was considered to be a sin in the eyes of the Lord. Later, Saul did the same thing with similar results. In the second case, Samuel pointed out that obedience is better than sacrifice, and to listen to God is better than an offering to Him (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel went on to explain that rebellion is equivalent to the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness to the sin of idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23).
With this very direct Scripture, it cannot be construed that Adam did anything other than sin against God. His sin and the sin nature have now passed upon all men (Romans 5:12).
The idea that Adam did not sin as put forth by the Mormon Church has allowed others to likewise justify their sins under the guise of doing God a favor. This is unacceptable to God. To Him, it is the same as witchcraft and idolatry!
We are commanded to obey Him. Adam and Eve’s sin and the direct and indirect consequences of their actions is a valuable lesson that we need to take to heart. Neither Adam nor Eve tried to confess their sins. In fact, they tried to pass it off onto someone else—an action that too many of us are guilty of. If Adam and Eve had tried to confess their sin, instead of justifying it, perhaps an alternative could have been found other than exile from the Garden of Eden. We will never know, but we do know what the Scriptures say:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:9
Instead of trying to justify our sins, perhaps we ought to try confessing them. A loving and faithful God has more power to make things right than a sin committed with good intentions does. Taking things into our own hands is always a mistake. Trusting God, obeying him, and casting all our care upon him is what brings lasting peace with Him.
Dangers of Justifying Sin
One of the more peculiar dangers to justification of sin is a demotion of the holiness of God. If sin can be right, then God is less holy than Scriptures indicate. Mormons, who do have a hunger for God, are being taught that the God they’re following is a cruel taskmaster that once possessed all the human fallibilities and capacity for mistakes as they do. They are taught that the Mormon god of this world, Elohim, was once a man like us living on a different planet. He was a sinner like us, but eventually attained godhood. What’s more, under this belief, immortality and God status is fully attainable by any perfect Mormon able to follow the same pattern as Elohim did—a peculiar belief considering that Scripture repeatedly tells us that there is only one God (Isaiah 44:6, 8; 45:5-6) and that we are to worship one God only (Exodus 34:14, Matthew 4:10).
This idea of becoming a god can appeal to our sense of pride while undermining the holiness and ultimate perfection of God. Although Mormons now believe God to be perfect and sinless, they believe that he wasn’t always like that. Thus justifying of Adam’s sin sets the stage for justifying the sins of mankind, including prophets and leaders, all in the name of a greater good.
This belief suggests that the ends justify the means—a notion that is abhorrent to God.
Sin stabs at our souls and pulls us away causing us to hide from the very God we all seek to know. When I was a Mormon, I never got what I had most desired—clarity of God’s will and therefore a closer relationship with Him. The teachings set up a system where it was nearly impossible for me to hear His direct command and follow Him.
This is another one of the dangers of attempting to justify sin. It creates the illusion of a double minded God that either can’t make up His mind, or has a somewhat whimsical sense of bizarre humor. Any time you attempt to justify a sin, you must make changes to the prevailing thought, current belief, or understood command. The immediate result of this double-speak is an open door to question anything God said.
This was Satan’s very first tactic…to get us to question the Word of God.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say ,‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” - Genesis 3:1-5
Eve justified her actions by allowing Satan to question what God said. This created a question in her own mind that led her to consider what she never before even thought of doing. This led to both Adam and Eve’s sampling the forbidden fruit, which led to their exile from the Garden and the condemnation of sin. Any time there is a direct contradiction to what God said, there is an opportunity to justify a sin. Mormon doctrine is rife with contradictions that provide many opportunities to justify a sin. Direct contradictions of what God supposedly said leaves us with several uncomfortable choices in regards to God’s Word—and even God Himself:
- God changed His mind—contrary to Numbers 23:19.
- God forgot what He originally said.
- God’s got a strange sense of humor and likes to see us confused—this is not what a loving Father does.
- God is testing our ability to read His mind—despite Isaiah 55:9.
Not a one of the choices inspires hope. Fortunately, not one of these is true; God meant what He said, and it is man or Satan that has contradicted God, not God. The other options leave God’s Word susceptible to hijacking by evil men who claim to speak on behalf of God. He has never changed His mind about who He is, the nature of sin, or the nature of holiness.
God hasn’t changed (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). God won’t change, either. Thank God for that. We can always count on His love. We can always rely upon His grace. We can always appeal to His mercy. And we always have access to His salvation.
A third danger of justifying sin is that you begin to glorify the wrong choice. This is a form of self-righteousness and embodies all the dangers listed. Self-righteousness, as we already explored in the life of Saul, is contrary to God.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”- Isaiah 64:6
When compared to God, our righteousness is an unclean thing. So how does God look upon our efforts to glorify a sin in the name of righteousness? We can tell from His Word, not very well. Yet any attempt to justify a wrong is in essence an attempt at self-righteousness. The sin itself must be glorified in order to accomplish this. I was astounded that the Mormon Church venerated Adam’s decision as wholesome and right. This led me to question areas in my own life where I wondered if doing a wrong was the right thing to do.
When we begin this process of glorifying a sin, holding it up as some kind of example of righteousness, we steal from God’s Word, reduce God’s holiness, and blur the lines between right and wrong. Blurring the lines or even saying that wrong is right and right is wrong, puts us in the precarious position of trying to play God. Invariably, we no longer demonstrate trust in God, but fall back on our own base reasoning to determine right from wrong.
“he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,”- Titus 3:5
Only the righteousness of Jesus Christ can save us. His righteousness, not ours, is our only hope.
Healing from the Wounds of Self-righteousness
We are all guilty of self-righteousness. It seems to be part of our very nature. No one likes to look bad. No one likes to even think of himself or herself as a terribly bad person. We justify our sins in order to feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately, this leaves behind a cancerous guilt that gnaws away at our consciousness. This results either in insecurity and spiritual injury or a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). You will not find the joy of the Lord as you begin to believe your own lies.
You can heal from this. Here are the steps to follow:
- Accept sin for what it is—sin.
- Repent, meaning turn from your sin
- Realize that you are never separated from God’s love—except by choice.
- Place your complete faith in God’s Word.
- Seek the Fruits of the Spirit.
To begin with, it is important that we never try to justify sin. The more we attempt to do this, the more we play God, resulting in an insensitivity to sin. This is known as a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2). Sin separates us from God. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from God when they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. This is the natural result of sin. To believe that sin is in some way justifiable only separates us further from God in the sense that we don’t even believe we need forgiveness. This separation is one of fellowship—your communication with God is impaired.
Imagine a child who disobeys his father. Does the father continue to love his son? Yes! But how is their communication? Until this disobedience is resolved, there is an issue in the relationship that prevents it from being all that it can be. The father still loves the son—which is why the relationship can be repaired, but there is still a separation in fellowship. The child must go to his father to repair the relationship. His isolation, so to speak, from the father lasts as long as he decides not to make it right. The moment he tries to make it right, the relationship is repaired (1 John 1:8).
This leads me to the next point. Peace comes from love (1 John 4:18). It is not necessary to justify your sin to find peace of mind. It is only necessary to envelop yourself in the love of God. According to Romans 8:38 and 39, there is nothing in this universe that can separate you from God.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present not the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:38-39
However, we can feel like we’ve been separated from God, but this is the result of what we do to ourselves. It is a choice we make. As with all sin, God will forgive us if we ask. In order to repent of our sin, we first have to recognize it as sin, be remorseful of it and ask for that forgiveness from God. It would be wrong to glorify our sin and let everyone think we made the right choice (1 John 1:10). Only then can we feel like we have access to God’s love.
We want to be certain we are obeying all of God’s commands found in His Word. Until we have complete faith in His word, we are prone to add to it and subtract from it. All of this additional false doctrine creates confusion and blurs the line between right and wrong. If we cannot see sin clearly, then Satan will pervert our minds to believe that what we are doing is right or justified as the Galatians begin to do in Galatians 1:8.
It is essential to understand that God’s commands are given to protect us. God wasn’t trying to restrict Adam and Eve, He was trying to keep them from the pain and suffering that followed their sin. You may ask, “Why didn’t God remove the tree then and take away temptation?” Because a walk with God must be made freely, of our own will, for it to have meaning. One choice is not a choice. The tree gave Adam and Eve that choice. God, in His love and desire to protect them, clearly outlined the consequences of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God wanted to protect them. So too, does God want to protect us by giving us commands and laws to follow. We must go to God and His Word and seek to be in His will for our life. If we begin to think that God’s concept of sin is not really sinful, or if we believe that God is double minded, we are merely issuing ourselves a license to sin and calling it good!
This is an insane way to live our lives!
The Fruits of the Spirit, interestingly enough, begins with love. Love comes before joy and peace! If we wrap ourselves up in God’s love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, then we will find joy and peace. This is the means God created to give us the joy and peace we crave while keeping sin forbidden.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”- Galatians 5:22-23
The fruits of Satan’s spirit are death, manipulation, oppression, depression, confusion, hate, and sin. Being trapped in Satan’s lies never brings the joy and peace you want. But Satan’s grasp can be loosened—yes shattered, by turning to Christ again, refusing to justify your sin, and surrounding yourself in the love of God.
A Prayer of Healing
“Lord, thank You that Your Word, the Bible, is perfectly clear, and that you give us commandments for our protection, because you love us. I thank You for Your clarity. I ask that You continue to make my path straight and clear. I will listen to You alone through Your Word, the Bible. Thank You that You forgive me of my sins. Lord, thank You that You came to redeem the fall of Adam. I am grateful for Your grace and love that is never ending. I want to walk in the fruits of Your spirit Lord. I shall have no other god but You Lord. In Your mighty Name, I pray, amen.”
Marion G. Romney, Look to God and live: Discourses of Marion G. Romney (Deseret Book Co, 1971), 251.