Where did the first sin come from?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1).

The Bible doesn’t begin with the beginning of evil, but its existence. Humanity is created innocent, creation is good and the deceitful serpent is already there.

How did the serpent become deceitful and humans become susceptible to temptation? I don’t know. I believe that angels and humans were created with free will, but that doesn’t explain why good creatures with good hearts experience the imperfect impulse to rebel. Free will is an accurate description of the first created beings, but not a full explanation of why they sinned. Free will is a name for a mystery. 

Here is what I can say: God is sovereign. Nothing happens apart from God’s plan. God causes some things directly and permits others indirectly. The serpent’s desire to deceive the first humans into rebelling against God, and humanity’s succumbing to temptation were all a part of God’s plan of salvation.  Sovereignty is an accurate description of God, but not a full explanation of why the rebellion was a part of God’s plan. It’s the name of a mystery. 

I end where I began: how the very first sin in the universe came about is a mystery to me. I do know that God demonstrates both sovereignty and holiness again and again in the Bible. God is sovereign over all things, including sin, and God is never a sinner.

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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