Chapter 8: The Fall

“Chapter 8: The Fall,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000), 19–21

“8: The Fall,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, 19–21

Chapter 8

The Fall


Three years before Adam’s death, his righteous posterity gathered at Adam-ondi-Ahman to receive his blessing. “And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel” (D&C 107:54). It is no wonder, then, that we seek to understand Adam’s role in the Fall and the nature of the consequences that came from eating the forbidden fruit. If we correctly understand the role of Adam and Eve, we will realize that those who have labeled them sinners responsible for the universal depravity of the human family are misguided. The truth is that Adam and Eve opened the door for us to come into mortality, a step essential to our eternal progress.

Doctrinal Outline

  1. Conditions in the Garden of Eden were different from those of mortality.

    1. Before the Fall the earth and all things upon it existed in a spiritual state (see 2 Nephi 2:22; Moses 3:5–7).

    2. Adam and Eve were in the presence of God in the Garden of Eden (see Moses 4:14; Genesis 3:8).

    3. Adam and Eve would have had no children had they continued to live in the Garden of Eden (see 2 Nephi 2:23; Moses 5:11).

    4. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in a state of innocence, not understanding good and evil and having neither joy nor misery (see 2 Nephi 2:23; Moses 5:11).

  2. Adam and Eve brought about the Fall by their own choice.

    1. Adam and Eve were commanded not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2:15–17; Moses 3:15–17; Abraham 5:11–13).

    2. Eve was beguiled by Satan and partook of the fruit (see Genesis 3:1–6; Moses 4:5–12; 1 Timothy 2:14).

    3. Eve gave the fruit to Adam, and he partook (see Genesis 3:6; Moses 4:12).

    4. After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, the Lord told them the conditions of mortality that would confront them (see Genesis 3:16–19; Moses 4:22–25).

  3. The Fall brought about significant changes for Adam and Eve’s posterity.

    1. The Lord placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the tree of life and to prevent Adam and Eve from partaking of it (see Genesis 3:24; Moses 4:31; Alma 12:21–23; 42:2–4).

    2. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:24; Moses 4:31).

    3. After the Fall Adam, Eve, and all their posterity became subject to physical death (see Moses 6:48; Alma 12:22–24; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

    4. Adam and Eve were required to support themselves by their own labors (see Genesis 3:19; Moses 4:25; 5:1).

    5. Adam and his family were shut out of God’s presence, thereby suffering a spiritual death (see Alma 42:6–7, 9; D&C 29:40–41; Moses 5:4; 6:49).

    6. Adam and Eve began to have children (see Moses 4:22; 5:2–3, 11; Genesis 3:16).

    7. Pain and sorrow were introduced as part of mortality (see Genesis 3:16; Moses 6:48).

    8. Fallen man became carnal, sensual, and devilish (see Alma 41:11; Ether 3:2; D&C 20:20).

    9. By being exposed to evil, Adam and Eve could recognize and embrace good (see Moses 5:10–11; 2 Nephi 2:11).

  4. The Fall was a purposeful step in God’s plan of salvation.

    1. For our agency to function, it was necessary that Satan be allowed to tempt us (see D&C 29:39–40).

    2. Adam’s fall gave him and his posterity the opportunity to obtain the joy that comes from choosing good over evil (see 2 Nephi 2:25–27; Moses 5:10–11).

    3. If Adam and Eve had not transgressed, they would have lived forever in innocence, without children, thereby frustrating God’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 2:22–24; Moses 5:10–11).

    4. Death is a necessary part of God’s plan (see 2 Nephi 9:6; Alma 42:6–8).

  5. In this life we are subject to enticements of the flesh and the Spirit.

    1. The flesh subjects us to enticements toward physical gratification (see Romans 8:5–8; 2 Nephi 2:29).

    2. Only by yielding to the enticings of the Spirit can we overcome the inclinations of the flesh (see Mosiah 3:19).

Supporting Statements

  1. Conditions in the Garden of Eden were different from those of mortality.

    • “Adam had a spiritual body until mortality came upon him through the violation of the law under which he was living, but he also had a physical body of flesh and bones.

      “… Now what is a spiritual body? It is one that is quickened by spirit and not by blood. …

      “… When Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he was not subject to death. There was no blood in his body and he could have remained there forever. This is true of all the other creations” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:76–77).

    • “He [Adam] had knowledge, of course. He could speak. He could converse. There were many things he could be taught and was taught; but under the conditions in which he was living at that time it was impossible for him to visualize or understand the power of good and evil. He did not know what pain was. He did not know what sorrow was; and a thousand other things that have come to us in this life that Adam did not know in the Garden of Eden and could not understand and would not have known had he remained there” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:107–8).

  2. Adam and Eve brought about the Fall by their own choice.

    • “I’m very, very grateful that in the Book of Mormon, and I think elsewhere in our scriptures, the fall of Adam has not been called a sin. It wasn’t a sin. … What did Adam do? The very thing the Lord wanted him to do; and I hate to hear anybody call it a sin, for it wasn’t a sin. Did Adam sin when he partook of the forbidden fruit? I say to you, no, he did not! Now, let me refer to what was written in the book of Moses in regard to the command God gave to Adam. [Moses 3:16–17.]

      “Now this is the way I interpret that: The Lord said to Adam, here is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you want to stay here, then you cannot eat of that fruit. If you want to stay here, then I forbid you to eat it. But you may act for yourself, and you may eat of it if you want to. And if you eat it, you will die.

      “I see a great difference between transgressing the law and committing a sin” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Fall—Atonement—Resurrection—Sacrament,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 124).

    • “The devil in tempting Eve told a truth when he said unto her that when she should eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they should become as Gods. He told the truth in telling that, but he accompanied it with a lie as he always does. He never tells the complete truth. He said that they should not die. The Father had said that they should die. The devil had to tell a lie in order to accomplish his purposes; but there was some truth in his statement. Their eyes were opened. They had a knowledge of good and evil just as the Gods have” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 1:16).

    • “Adam and Eve were chosen to come here as the primal parents of humanity. And they were placed in the Garden of Eden where there was no death and we read in the scriptures that they could have lived in that Garden forever, but not under the most favorable circumstances. For there, although they were in the presence of God, they were deprived of certain knowledge and understanding in a condition where they could not understand clearly things that were necessary for them to know. Therefore, it became essential to their salvation and to ours that their nature should be changed. The only way it could be changed was by the violation of the law under which they were at that time. Mortality could not come without violation of that law and mortality was essential, a step towards our exaltation. Therefore, Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, forbidden in a rather peculiar manner for it is the only place in all the history where we read that the Lord forbade something and yet said, ‘Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself.’ He never said that of any sin. I do not look upon Adam’s fall as a sin, although it was a transgression of the law. It had to be. And Adam came under a different law. The temporal law. And he became subject to death. The partaking of that fruit created blood in his body and that blood became the life-giving influence of mortality” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [25 Jan. 1955], 2).

    • “The adversary, Lucifer, through the serpent, beguiled Eve and deceived her and induced her to eat of the forbidden fruit.

      “It was not so with Adam. … He knew that unless he did partake there would be an eternal separation between him and the partner that God had given to him, so he transgressed the law. … Because had he not partaken of the fruit, they would have been eternally separated” (Cannon, Gospel Truth, 1:24).

    • “Adam voluntarily, and with full knowledge of the consequences, partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that men might be. … For his service we owe Adam an immeasurable debt of gratitude” (Marion G. Romney, The Message of Seminary and Institute Teachers [address to seminary and institute employees, 13 July 1966], 5).

  3. The Fall brought about significant changes for Adam and Eve’s posterity.

    • “When Adam, our first parent, partook of the forbidden fruit, transgressed the law of God, and became subject unto Satan, he was banished from the presence of God, and was thrust out into outer spiritual darkness. This was the first death. Yet living, he was dead—dead to God, dead to light and truth, dead spiritually; cast out from the presence of God; communication between the Father and the Son was cut off. He was as absolutely thrust out from the presence of God as was Satan and the hosts that followed him. That was spiritual death. But the Lord said that he would not suffer Adam nor his posterity to come to the temporal death until they should have the means by which they might be redeemed from the first death, which is spiritual” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 432).

    • “Not subject to death when he [Adam] was placed upon the earth, there had to come a change in his body through the partaking of this element—whatever you want to call it, fruit—that brought blood into his body; and blood became the life of the body instead of spirit. And blood has in it the seeds of death, some mortal element. Mortality was created through the eating of the forbidden fruit” (Smith, “Fall—Atonement—Resurrection—Sacrament,” 125).

    • “When Adam came into this world, he was not subject to death. He was immortal. He could have lived forever. Had he remained in the Garden of Eden and not transgressed the law that had been given to him, he and Eve would have been there yet. …

      “… Adam had not passed through a resurrection when he was in the Garden of Eden, and having not passed through a resurrection, spirit and body could be separated by the violation of the law. And the Lord provided the law so it could happen, because the mortal estate in which we find ourselves is absolutely necessary to our exaltation” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:91).

    • “The ‘natural man’ is the ‘earthy man’ who has allowed rude animal passions to overshadow his spiritual inclinations” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 161; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 112).

    • “This being ‘conceived in sin’ [Moses 6:55], as I understand it, is only that they are in the midst of sin. They come into the world where sin is prevalent, and it will enter into their hearts, but it will lead them ‘to taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.’” (George Q. Morris, in Conference Report, Apr. 1958, 38).

  4. The Fall was a purposeful step in God’s plan of salvation.

    • “We came into this world to die. That was understood before we came here. It is part of the plan, all discussed and arranged long before men were placed upon the earth. When Adam was sent into this world, it was with the understanding that he would violate a law, transgress a law, in order to bring to pass this mortal condition which we find ourselves in today” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:66).

    • “Did they [Adam and Eve] come out in direct opposition to God and to his government? No. But they transgressed a command of the Lord, and through that transgression sin came into the world. The Lord knew they would do this, and he had designed that they should” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 103).

    • “The first step in salvation of man is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles. Spirits are eternal. At the first organization in heaven we were all present, and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181).

    • “When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord passed a sentence upon him. Some people have looked upon that sentence as being a dreadful thing. It was not; it was a blessing. …

      “In order for mankind to obtain salvation and exaltation it is necessary for them to obtain bodies in this world, and pass through the experiences and schooling that are found only in mortality. …

      “The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise, and was the means of furthering the purposes of the Lord in the progress of man, rather than a means of hindering them” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:113–14).

    • “If we cannot be good, except as we resist and overcome evil, then evil must be present to be resisted.

      “So this earth life is set up according to true principles, and these conditions that followed the transgression [of Adam] were not, in the usual sense, penalties that were inflicted upon us. All these … that seem to be sad inflictions of punishment, sorrow, and trouble are in the end not that. They are blessings. We have attained a knowledge of good and evil, the power to prize the sweet, to become agents unto ourselves, the power to obtain redemption and eternal life. These things had their origin in this transgression. The Lord has set the earth up so we have to labor if we are going to live, which preserves us from the curse of idleness and indolence; and though the Lord condemns us to death—mortal death—it is one of the greatest blessings that comes to us here because it is the doorway to immortality, and we can never attain immortality without dying.

      “So these are all real blessings. We come to the earth with all these conditions arranged as they are so that we have to struggle constantly against evil, struggle to preserve our lives, struggle for everything of true value—that is the thing for us to understand—this is the course of life that is most desirable, and for our good. We have no need to find fault with these conditions. The Lord has ordained them all for our welfare and happiness” (Morris, in Conference Report, Apr. 1958, 39).

  5. In this life we are subject to enticements of the flesh and the Spirit.

    • “Man is a spiritual being, a soul, and at some period of his life everyone is possessed with an irresistible desire to know his relationship to the infinite. He realizes that he is not just a physical object that is to be tossed for a short time from bank to bank, only to be submerged finally in the everflowing stream of life. There is something within him which urges him to rise above himself, to control his environment, to master the body and all things physical and live in a higher and more beautiful world” (David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Oct. 1928, 37).

    • “Man has a dual nature; one, related to the earthly or animal life; the other, akin to the divine. Whether a man remains satisfied within what we designate the animal world, satisfied with what the animal world will give him, yielding without effort to the whim of his appetites and passions and slipping farther and farther into the realm of indulgence, or whether, through self-mastery, he rises toward intellectual, moral, and spiritual enjoyments depends upon the kind of choice he makes every day, nay, every hour of his life” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, 347–48).