Cover image via Gospel Media Library.

There is much detail written and spoken about the Fall of Adam and Eve that is essential for our understanding.  But there remain some things that seem counterintuitive without this essential puzzle piece.  Rather than rehearse all the good that has been written, this article will focus on this essential element. 

We know that Adam and Eve died both spiritually and physically because of the Fall.[1]  The fruit brought the physical death as warned by God.  But spiritual death results from sin.  The command to not eat of the fruit contextualized as “you mayest choose for thyself.”  It was forbidden because, God explains, physical death will result, and they had yet to receive instruction concerning the telestial state into which it would plunge them.  But giving them the choice gave them agency.  Had they obeyed that command, they would have remained in a terrestrial state, unable to have children or eventually die or resurrect, thereby, completing their becoming like Father, without some other kind of intervention.  As it was, they chose to eat, but it was the way they chose that initiates the chain causing spiritual death.  They received several commandments prior to the Fall but each was not of equal consequence.  Normally, obedience to commandments brings increased light and divine opportunity in the form of blessings.  Multiply and replenish the earth, and dress the garden, were two such commandments that would lead them to become more like God.  Even eating of the forbidden fruit would open the door to progression but they didn’t yet know that.  Eve would learn it from the serpent, from Satan, but she didn’t know Satan and apparently talking serpents weren’t a concern…. or were they. 

In Doctrine and Covenants 20:18-20 we learn of a key commandment that should have guided both Adam and Eve through this first encounter with evil.

18 And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;

19 And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.

20 But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.

They were to worship or obey only God.  We don’t have a detailed account of “these holy laws” other than “don’t eat” and “I forbid,” referring to the tree of “experience of good and adversity.”[2]  Then note what it was that brought the necessary eviction from God’s presence, as is the case with all sin. Adam and Eve obeyed Satan!

40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.

41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead… DC 29

With this additional understanding, we can more effectively apply the lessons of the Fall to ourselves.  When we choose to follow anyone or anything other than God, we subject ourselves to forces that will lead us away from God.  In fact, sin is a form of worship.  Sin steals light from our very being and becoming leaving us without joy![3]

“Before we can comprehend the Atonement of Christ, however, we must first understand the Fall of Adam.” Elder Russell M. Nelson, Oct 1996 Conference.

[1] 2 Nephi 9:6-12; Alma 42:7-9; Helaman 14:16; Alma 12:16

[2] The Hebrew here is daath the root of which is yada.  This knowledge comes only from experience.  It is sometimes translated as cunning, which requires premeditation.  This infers that the fruit would give them experience from which they could “know.”  But, what would they know?  Good and “ra” which can be translated at bad, evil, or adversity.  Adversity is consistent with 2 Nephi 2:11, 15 where the fruit is identified as the necessary opposition in the garden.

11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things….

15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.

[3] DC 93:

28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.

29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the lightof truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.

33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.

35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.

36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.

37 Light and truth forsake that evil one.

38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

39 And that wicked onecometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.