The apostle Paul advised the Ephesians, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16). He exhorted the Christians at Colosse similarly, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:5-6). The wise man wrote, “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” (Prov. 4:26-27).
All of these passages of scripture emphasize the point that we need to take great care as to how we live our lives. We need to be deeply thoughtful as we make decisions. We need to maintain keen awareness and conduct ourselves with discernment. The implied reason for such focus is the understanding that actions produce consequences.
When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed (Gen. 3). The world in which we live is not the world they experienced before the sinned. The woman would experience greater sorrow and conception and pain as she bore children, and her husband would rule over her (vs. 16). The man would have to work hard to make a living, his work would be less productive and he would experience physical death (vs. 17-19). Mankind would be denied access to the tree of life in this world (vs. 22-24).
But these were only the immediate consequences. Sin, and its consequences, was now a reality for all mankind. It was not long until the Genesis account recorded the first murder in human history. Cain, a son of Adam, murdered his own brother out of jealousy and resentment (Gen. 4:1-8). It’s difficult to imagine the unique emotions Adam and Eve experienced over the death of one of their sons at the hand of another of their sons. Like no hurt or loss they’d ever before known.
Just a little further along Lamech seems to brag about how he killed a young man for hurting him (vs. 23-24). The cancer of sin was spreading. As the chapter closes, Seth was born to Adam and Eve (vs. 25-26), after Adam had lived 130 years (Gen. 5:3).
An interesting, and somewhat curious, statement is made in reference to Seth: “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” (4:26). That statement would seem to indicate a turnaround in the mindset of mankind. It seems to suggest that there had been a great digression away from godliness, lasting a very long time, and that Seth led something of a reformation movement, influencing humanity to turn back to God. Apparently, the effects of sin had become great on the earth within a relatively short period of time from when Adam and Eve first sinned.
However sweeping that reform might have been, by the sixth chapter mankind had become so excessively wicked that God determined to destroy man from the face of the earth, except for the lone family of godly Noah (6:5-8).
I wonder, as Adam wept over his murdered son, if he reflected on his decision to bring sin into the world and asked himself, “What have I done?” I wonder, as he observed the spread of sin and of its consequences throughout the realm of humanity over the ensuing years, if he often lamented, “This all began with me!” Actions produce consequences
Gary L. Hutchens