Westminster Shorter Catechism Question & Answer 13

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

Redemptive history can really be broken down and viewed under four major headings of historical events. We already looked at the first major historical event in redemptive history, Creation. Creation was described by God himself as being “very good”. Now we move on to the second major historical event, the Fall. It is hard to underestimate the impact of this event. First, when Adam and Eve exercised their own free will and sinned against God, it brought about an end to the covenant of life. Adam and Eve, having originally been created to enjoy eternal life, would now have to die. The covenant was broken and the penalty would have to be paid. There was no mediator to take the curse for Adam. It would have to fall on man directly. Secondly, harmony was lost. The garden was a place of great peace and harmony. Some theologians have rightly used the word “shalom” to describe the estate of the garden prior to the Fall. There was harmony between God and man, as they enjoyed fellowship together. There was harmony between man and his wife in their marriage relationship. There was harmony between man and the creation as man had dominion over all the creatures. All of this was lost when Adam and Eve sinned and fell from their original condition. Perfect fellowship between them and God was gone. Harmony between Adam and Eve as husband and wife was gone. And of course, harmony between man and the created world was gone. There was no more “shalom” to be found.

The effects of this moment in history continue to this day. Mankind still rebels against God, and there is no peace between God and man. Mankind is constantly at war with each other, not only in the marriage relationship, but in every relationship. Mankind and the created world are constantly at war with one another, as man constantly damages the natural world around us, and the natural world unleashes havoc against man. Everything that is wrong and disastrous about this world can be traced back to this single moment in history. And while we know that God does not leave man or his creation without hope, that God would act in unspeakable ways to show us his grace and mercy, we are not quite there yet in our study of the catechism. For now, we must reflect upon the seemingly hopeless state that our first parents left the entire creation in, and know that whenever we look at the world around us, or even examine ourselves in an honest light, all the injustice, pain, suffering, sin, and evil can be traced back to this single moment in history. This single moment when God’s creation was transformed from being “very good” to being utterly ruined.