A Power Not to Fall

Thomas Watson helps us understand just how great Adam’s fall was, in pointing out that Adam had a power not to fall. This is important when you understand the doctrine of original sin. Because of original sin, we are all born sinners. We don’t have the ability to not sin. Yet, Adam, being made good by God, was created good and without sin. Not only that, he had the power not to sin or to fall. I hope you can see how hard this is to fathom, given our own fallen natures.

Watson also points out that Adam was not under Satan’s dominion, as we are at birth. He was completely free in a way that we are not. Ephesians 2:1-5 show us that we are born under the domain of Satan. He is our prince and rules our lives until we are saved by faith in Christ. Not so for Adam. He was free of the dominion of Satan, and actually had dominion over the serpent. Adam could have put the serpent to death and the entire human race would have been free of our demonic ruler once and for all. But alas, he didn’t.

Here is Watson:

Our first parents fell from their glorious state of innocence. ‘God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions’ (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Adam was perfectly holy, he had rectitude of mind and liberty of will to good; but his head ached till he had invented his own and our death; he sought out many inventions 1. His fall was voluntary. He had a pose non peccare, a power not to fall. Free-will was a sufficient child to repel temptation. The devil could not have forced him unless he had given his consent. Satan was only a suitor to woo, not a king to compel; but Adam gave away his own power, and suffered himself to be decoyed into sin; like a young gallant, who at one throw loses a fair lordship. Adam had a fair lordship, he was lord of the world. ‘Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth’ (Genesis 1:28). But he lost all at one throw. Soon as he sinned, he forfeited paradise. 2. Adam’s fall was sudden; he did not long continue in his royal majesty.

In this one paragraph by Watson, we begin to get a glimpse of everything that Adam lost in eating of the forbidden fruit. I’m sure that Adam and Eve are the only humans who fully understand the depth, breadth, and width of all that was lost. For us, it’s unimaginable. But Watson helps just by showing that Satan was not a king, merely one trying to woo Adam. It was Adam’s place, as prophet, priest and king of the garden, to expel Satan and his lies. But Adam fails and instead of ruling Satan as a king, is ruled by Satan and the evil that he became after the fall.