I feel as though I should have a direct, straightforward answer to this question, but I often come up a bit short. There is little doubt in my mind that God works everything together for good. However, the circumstances in the Garden led to an entirely predictable, inevitable result, one in which God knew full well that Adam and Eve would fall victim to the serpent.

I've chosen Gen. 3:1-7 here, because this is the first we read of God allowing — indeed, foreordaining — the sin that would inevitably occur. For reasons that we may never fully appreciate, God chose to hasten the Fall of Man in the Garden by placing the Tree directly in the middle of it. And Satan, as the serpent, wasted no time entering the Garden to tempt Eve to disobey God. As previously stated, this was preordained to occur since nothing can surprise an a Being with absolute power and omniscience.

It is simply a fact that the circumstances were certain to play out as they did. Human beings would then be cast from the Garden where they have a lifetime to demonstrate their obedience to God and Christ — or their obedience to Satan's influence: the world.

1. The first part of my question, therefore, is this:

If I put a bowl of poisonous candy in front of children (the Tree in the middle of the Garden) and tell them not to eat of it, and I then allow a malignant, superhuman tempter to convince those same children that it is OK to eat, do I not bear grave responsibility for the outcome?

2. What court of law anywhere would find me innocent of the deaths of those children? Does the fact that the fruit of the Tree didn't immediately kill Adam and Eve offer extenuating circumstances?

One answer to this problem is the story of Joseph, Jacob's son, speaking about the evil his brothers committed against him (resulting in his Egyptian bondage):

Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (emphasis added).

Most of us understand that God allows events to unfold for the sake of certain greater, ultimate purposes. One contributor (@CMK) has pointed out, using other O/T examples, that God is the One to have caused Israel to practice idolatry (among other sins) for which He condemned them, demanding that they repent of all such transgressions.

We further understand that God uses Satan to accomplish many of His purposes: Satan is given a great deal of latitude. Suppose we consider the horrific suffering of Job — "the greatest of all the men of the east". While God did not personally rain down the terrible misfortunes of that great patriarch, He definitely allowed, and even endorsed, such calamities. The remainder of the question, then, seems to be this:

3. How is God unaccountable for crimes He has not personally committed by using an instrument like Satan to accomplish such deeds? In many serious crimes, we do not blame the weapons used to commit them (Satan, in this case); rather we blame the assailant responsible (God?). How might we respond to such questions?

  • 1
    This is a theology question and is unsuitable for this site. It should be migrated to SE-C, in my view.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1 '21 at 21:30
  • I agree with @NigelJ - this is a very significant theology question. The short answer is that Jesus takes responsibility for our sins by "being sin for us", becoming a "curse for us" and "dying for our sins".
    – Dottard
    Aug 1 '21 at 21:51
  • 1
    You’re question is flawed. God didn’t place a bowl of poisoned candy in an empty room and told some starving children not to eat. Rather He placed adults with intelligence able to assign names, capable of creative thought and agile judgment, in a fruitful, rich garden and restrained them from one and only one tree, offering them countless alternatives. Your question is a GROSS misrepresentation of the facts and in a court of law you would guilty of leading the witness, embellishing the truth and/or concealing evidence with knowledge to sway judgment. The choice rested with Adam AND (OR) Eve Aug 1 '21 at 23:06
  • I’m voting to close this question because it’s begging the question with a false premise. Aug 1 '21 at 23:10
  • @nihil (Your question is flawed, not you're) This comment shows an inability to deal with a very reasonable question. Why should it not be asked? (whether here or elsewhere) It is you who has grossly misrepresented what is going on in the garden and seem to have little appreciation for what God is actually doing, nor how He is doing it. +1 fwiw
    – steveowen
    Aug 2 '21 at 1:07

Jesus took responsibility for our sin in a "deal" that is sometimes called “The Divine Exchange” and is illustrated in the following texts:

  • 2 Cor 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Gal 1:4, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
  • Gal 3:13, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
  • John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 2 Cor 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
  • 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit,
  • Isa 53:4-6, Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

That is, Jesus was treated as we deserve so that we can be treated as He deserved. This is sometimes expressed another way: Jesus took responsibility for our sin because we could not do anything ourselves, being powerless as sinners!

  • I very much like this answer as it frames the gospel in Christocentric language. However, this may not be ‘far enough’ for @Xeno ‘s enquirer bent on swimming upstream to first principles! There is an even more Christocentric layer behind your excellent gospel outline, viz. that we are merely pawns in the ultimate showdown between God and the angelic rebellion, which began before the creation of the world. The gospel, thus framed: God created the eternal realm and the angels to worship him; Satan rebelled;… Nov 8 '21 at 4:42
  • …God cannot condemn outright without compromising his attribute of love; the accuser approaches God and says the only reason why humans love God is that everything is hunky dory; God permits Satan to tempt humans, thus falling for the trap which ultimately leads to perfect love and infinite judgement coming together when God judges and punishes himself on the cross, redeeming the creature but not compromising on love; Satan is vanquished and Christ is glorified; heaven now has a new layer of creatures slightly lower than the angels to worship and adore the creator. Nov 8 '21 at 4:55

The OP poses questions that presume to know more than God - to understand good from bad more than God - to conceive a way of making perfect righteous humans better than God. God could have made perfect. He did already with the angels and archangels. They have free will and some have chosen to rebel - sin against God. Whatever their future we cannot be certain. Can they be redeemed? It's not conclusive, but,

to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Col 1:20

God made humans and clearly, as we are told, evil was present in the garden. Did it sneak in? No. So it was there on purpose, the two trees were there on purpose? Sin was waiting - what chance did man have against an archangel? Did God hold their hand and pull them away from an evil encounter or course? No.

God IS totally responsible for addressing the need to fix the problem with His creation. It was His design that placed the serpent and the two trees within the garden. It was His design that has been revealed that, from the foundation of the world, Jesus would come at the appointed time to deal with evil, sin and death.

inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matt 25:34

by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, 20having been foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but having been revealed in the last times for the sake of you 1 Pet 1:19

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Rom 5:6

Certainly not by 'becoming sin', but by being a sacrifice of 'unblemished life' for all other sin.

It is within these parameters - all clearly expressed in the word, that all men will have opportunity to be found blameless and suitable for the age of eternity to which all were originally destined. Only through Jesus, the Christ, in which all creation has its meaning. Without Jesus and his worthy sacrifice, the whole plan was pointless.

because in (not by) Him were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and unto Him. BLB

This plan of God's has even more emphatic assurance of reaching the divine destiny - to be delivered after sin has been dealt with according to plan, (and Jesus hands all things over to God 1Cor 15:24)

2 Tim 1:9-10 ...God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


As the OP has suggested, God's plan most certainly included a sinful path which God has purposely woven into His plan. This requires man to learn the horror of sin and its consequences and to determine never to go that way again. This the angels cannot do. This, Jesus the son of God, did do as he wrestled with sin and temptation and always submitted obediently to God - choosing the way of life - not just for himself, but all creation.

Once we have entered the kingdom in the righteousness of Christ as people with spirit life and no longer mortal, we will choose not to sin. We will be so filled with God that sin is not remotely attractive anymore. But without having encountered and experienced sin in all its darkness and pain, we would not be able to freely choose good over bad. That experience, God had deemed worth the course He has chosen, and the life that Jesus was called to live and die for all.

Paul explains in Eph 2

1And you, being dead in your trespasses and sins— 2in which once you walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, 3among whom we all also once lived in the desires of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of its thoughts; and we were by nature children of wrath even as the rest.

All are held by the power of evil in this world/age. Only in Christ is that power broken. Yet the power remains all around us. Only when changed, filled with God instead of evil, will sin be totally defeated.

And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of the One filling all in all Eph 1:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.