Why did God allow the fall into sin? And why did God create the world, knowing that his perfect creation would soon be corrupted? The entire Bible is the story of God’s work to restore his fallen creation. Through much pain and suffering on his part, climaxing with the crucifixion of Jesus, God has been working in human history to remove evil from his creation. The three basic evils are sin, death, and the devil. Prior to humanity’s fall, the devil had his own fall. Then he became the source of man’s fall, bringing sin and death into the world. All of this happened from Genesis 1 to Genesis 3, and the rest of the Bible is the history of God fixing his creation. So why not just prevent all this from happening in the first place? Why even create the angel Lucifer? Why even plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Why allow sin as a possibility? Couldn’t God have created a world where sin and death are not even possible?
Yes, of course he could have. But he didn’t. Why?
As far as I know, Scripture doesn’t give us a definitive answer. That means that any answer we propose will be more in the realm of philosophy than theology, and we shouldn’t be too dogmatic about whatever answer we propose. So this article is less important than one on, say, Baptism or the Ten Commandments, where Scripture gives us clear answers. But this is a question that can trouble us, so it’s still worth pondering.
Perhaps the most popular explanation is that God didn’t want robots. The idea is, We can’t truly love God if we don’t have any choice in the matter. So God gave us a choice, so that when we do love him, it will be voluntary. I believe this answer is wrong. For one thing, it makes God seem needy. Would God really be insecure for all eternity, not really knowing if we love him? That’s ridiculous. But more importantly, it’s contrary to Scripture. While Scripture may not give us a definite answer to our question, it teaches us enough to know that this is not the answer, because it denies the bondage of the will.
Adam and Eve, of course, had free will. They were able to sin, and they were able not to sin. So they worshipped God (for a time) by not eating the forbidden fruit. But since the fall into sin, humanity has been different. In our natural condition, we are in bondage to sin (see Eph. 2:1-10). That is, we are not able to not sin (reread that a few times if you must). So our love for God never comes from a position of neutrality. If we are to love God, he must create that love. Only after he creates faith and love in us do they become active. We’re still not robots, but our love does not spring from free will. The “God doesn’t want robots” explanation falls short of biblical doctrine because it assumes free will, which does not exist after the fall.
I think there is a better thought. And when I say that, I don’t intend to set up a false dichotomy. Just because the “God doesn’t want robots” explanation fails, doesn’t mean my suggestion must be true. Someone else may have a better one.
I also don’t claim to be able to see into the mind of God. The following may or may not be his reason. But there is something we can observe from below that actually makes it quite marvelous that God permitted the fall into sin.
Here it is: A redeemed creation is better than one that was never corrupted.
Here it is in an equation for the math nerds:
(Fall into sin + Redemption = Perfection) > Perfection
God’s new creation will be better than the original (compare Gen. 1-2 with Rev. 22:1-5).
The new creation is prepared for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection (John 14:2-3). If there were no fall into sin, we would not have the love of God manifested in Jesus’ sacrifice. A new creation, where we know the fullness of God’s love and are restored by Christ’s atonement, is better. So permitting the fall into sin isn’t so much about God making sure we truly love him, but about him loving us.
As for the suffering we endure in this life before we reach the new creation, those sufferings are very real now, but in the eternal bliss of the life to come, they will seem as nothing. We will be happy to know and experience the fullness of God’s love in Christ Jesus. For all eternity God’s saints will bask in the incomprehensible, sacrificial love of God in Jesus Christ. This isn’t possible without the fall into sin.
I don’t know if this was God’s reasoning. Furthermore, God doesn’t need us to defend him. But here’s one thing we can observe from below: Since God did allow the fall into sin, his goodness is seen all the more clearly, and we are better able to enjoy it, because it led to our redemption and the new creation.