The devil tries his best to get us to think of the pleasure of the moment. His preference is to keep us from even thinking about the future but, failing that, he tries to get us to envision an unrealistic view of the future. I am reminded of a multivitamin that was very popular in Nigeria when I was growing up. Everyone simply called it ‘multivite.’ The manufacturers of ‘multivite’ knew that the core of the tablet was very bitter, so they made sure they had a thin sugar coating around it. You were tempted to think that it was a very sweet tablet, but that feeling was short-lived, for you soon realized that much of the tablet was actually very bitter. That is what the devil does with sin. The devil tries to get us to concentrate on the thin, sweet, momentary pleasure of sin that would very quickly give way to the long-lasting bitter consequences.
Adam and Eve found this out the hard way. When the devil in the form of the serpent tempted Eve, Eve explained that God had commanded them not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that should they eat of it they would surely die. The serpent would respond by saying, “You will not surely die. 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 3:4-5). In saying, “You will not surely die” the serpent was lying. The serpent then got Eve to concentrate on the pleasure of the moment, saying, “Your eyes will be opened.” Finally the serpent over-glamorized what would be the aftermath of the fall. The serpent would say, “You will be like God knowing good and evil.”
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and, as a domino effect, there were some dire consequences for them as well as some dire consequences that went beyond them.
Consequences for Adam and Eve: God would punish Eve with pain during child-birth and Adam with the necessity to work for his daily bread. Whereas the serpent had insisted that they would not surely die, they would actually die in more ways than one. They died spiritually immediately as they would experience alienation from God which was demonstrated by their going to hide in the bush in a futile attempt to hide from God’s presence. They would also be subject to physical death from then on, for God would pronounce to Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Consequences on all Humanity: What Adam and Eve could not even begin to imagine was that their act of disobedience would affect all humanity. From this point on, all humanity would be spiritually separated from God till they turned to God in repentance. Also, all humanity would be subject to physical death, so that in the Bible we have only two people—Enoch (Genesis 5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2)—who never experienced physical death. It would take the incarnation, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of our Lord to pay the penalty that man incurred and to bring salvation to all who would repent and accept the free gift of salvation (see Romans 5:12-21).
Consequences on all creation: All of creation too would suffer the consequences of this fall. In punishing Adam, God declared, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” (Genesis 3:17b-18a). Paul would point out in Romans 8:20-22:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning in the pain of childbirth until now.
All creation, therefore, awaits the time when it would be set free from the curse.
David’s Experience: David too would experience the domino effect of the consequences of sin. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and, in an attempt to cover up his sin, had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed on the battlefield (see 2Samuel 11). When God sent the Prophet Nathan to go and confront David with his double sin of adultery and murder, David would sincerely confess his sins to God. The Prophet Nathan would then tell David that since he had confessed his sins, God had forgiven him his sins but that some of the consequences of the sins would remain. The son that had been born to him by Bathsheba as a result of the adultery would die and, from then on, the sword would never depart from his house (see 2Samuel 12). David no longer had peace in his life. One sinful act for one moment would cascade into a second heinous sin and multiple consequences.
Deterrent to Sin: One of the greatest deterrents to committing a sin is to ask oneself, “Am I prepared to face the consequences of this sin?” When we confess our sins, God does forgive us, just as we are assured in 1John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” However, this must never be mistaken as a license to ‘sin like the devil’ with impunity and to keep claiming God’s forgiveness. Sometimes the consequences of the sins would remain, sometimes for the rest of one’s entire lifetime. And sometimes the consequences would spill over to others as well. We would, therefore, do well to always remember the domino effect of the consequences of sin.