The tentacles of Genesis 3 reach through every chapter of the Bible and every moment of history; the sub-human animal world and the inanimate creation have even felt the effects of sin’s entrance into the world (Gen 3.14, 17; cf. Rom 8.19-21; 2 Pet 3.11-13; Rev 20.11; 21.1). Yet Adam’s choice has affected God’s image-bearers beyond any other aspect of creation (cf. Rom 5.12-14, 17, 19; 1 Tim 2.12-15). The rebellion of the first man and woman is the root of all human relational conflict—and this is the consequence Gen 3 emphasizes most pungently.

Adam and Eve’s choice resulted in spiritual isolation from the most necessary and basic human relationship, their relationship with God. This is seen in their shameful self-consciousness (v. 10), the woman’s physical agony in childbirth (v. 16), the curse of the soil and toil in labor (vv. 17-18), and the final consequence of death (v. 19). But Genesis 3 does not minimize the ‘horizontal’ effects of sin: Adam and Eve had a sense of isolation due to the self-consciousness of their nakedness (v. 7), they had a propensity to blame others for their own faults (vv. 12-13), and Eve experienced a desire to rule over her husband (v. 16).

Even though God was gracious and allowed the human race to carry on (vv. 20-21), generations later the Psalmist observed sin’s continued dominion of human relationships. In Psalm 12 we read that lack of loyalty from one’s companions led to an outcry for protection from God. Psalms 14 and 53 record petitions for deliverance from Israel’s foes because their sinfulness had caused them to be at enmity with God’s people. In Psalm 38 the psalmist recognized that his own sin was the cause of his scorn and frustration before both companions (v. 11), and enemies (v. 12, 16, 19-20).

The pervasive sinfulness of humanity is a formative motif in the drama of redemption, the storyline of Scripture. Moses predicted that human sinfulness would cause Israel to fail in the Promised Land (cf. Deuteronomy 28-30)—a prediction that was found to be accurate (cf. 2 Kings 17, 25). Jesus told a group of Pharisees: “You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires” (Jn 8.44). The apostle Paul applied portions of Psalms 14 and 53 to both Jews and Gentiles—to show that humanity is unable to meet God’s standards of righteousness and should thus humble themselves and receive His righteousness in Christ (cf. Romans 3). The apostle John wrote “the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 Jn 5.19). In his apocalyptic visions of the Revelation John saw that sin dominated the human will to the degree that: they rejoiced and celebrated with gifts when Christian witness was (temporarily) halted (11.7-14); even when people were burned with intense heat, “they blasphemed the name of God who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory” (16.9); if not for God’s intervention even the sinful political and religious systems would come against each other (17.15-18); and when the millennial reign of the Messiah is complete, sinful man will again turn his will to the lies of Satan (19.17-21; 20.7-10).

Yet the Scripture storyline reveals that God’s grace in Christ overcomes the power and dominion of sin. Even in Genesis 3 God does not leave His people without a word of hope. Here we find that word in v. 15, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel.” Jesus overcame Satan not only in the wilderness (Matt 4.1-11), but also in His death and resurrection (Jn 18.33-38; 20.17; 1 Cor 15.51-57; Col 2.11-15; Heb 2.14-15)—as Paul explained to the Romans:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to one’s account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a prototype of the Coming One.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification. Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5.12-21).

Jesus will finally defeat him when He returns to consummate His kingdom, as John detailed in the Revelation:
“When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20.7-10; cf. 1 Cor 15.20-28)!
*For a complete list of references, please see