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Old Testament - Lesson 4

Lesson 4 – “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”
Taught by Jeff Stone on January 24, 2010

Introduction:
This lesson covers “The Fall.” The scriptures covered are Moses 4, Moses 5:1–15, and Moses 6:48–62. These scriptures give a summary account of the temptation of Eve by Satan, and of the partaking of the forbidden fruit by both Adam and Eve. In the description of the fall, there are a few areas that often cause confusion or controversy; they are:

  1. Eve is told that she will conceive children in sorrow in Moses 4:22.
  2. Also in Moses 4:22 Eve is told that her husband is to rule over her.
  3. And finally in Moses 4:23 Adam is told that the land will be cursed.

Sorrow in Conception (Moses 4:22): Let’s take a look at each one, starting with sorrow in conception.

Although Cleon Skousen’s work “The First 2000 Years” is not officially sanctioned by the church, I believe he has an excellent insight into why The Lord said what he did:

“Had the Lord desired, He could have… said ‘You have now projected yourselves into the Second Estate by eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The great blessings which I planned for you… will now be available to you. You will have the powers of procreation.

However, the fallen, mortal condition of your bodies makes them subject to pain and suffering and the power of begetting your kind will therefore involve passing through the valley of the shadow of death and bringing forth children at the cost of sorrow and great travail This is the only way this blessing can be obtained while your mortal bodies are so constituted.’

In the wisdom of the Lord, however, He did not share this intimate confidence with Adam and Eve at this time… He merely recited the consequences of the Fall without entering into and detailed explanation. He wanted mother Eve to be constantly reminded that the trials of mortal life, particularly the travail of childbirth, were brought about by her own choosing.” (The First 2000 Years. p. 58)

Husband Shall Rule Over Thee (Moses 4:22):
Next, let’s look at the phrase “Thy husband… shall rule over thee.” A quote from Spencer W. Kimball and another by Elder M. Russell Ballard should clarify this one:

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

“God has revealed through his prophets that men are to receive the priesthood, become fathers, and with gentleness and pure, unfeigned love they are to lead and nurture their families in righteousness as the Savior leads the Church (see Eph. 5:23)” (“Equality through Diversity,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 90).

President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“I have a question about the word rule. It gives the wrong impression. I would prefer to use the word preside because that’s what he does. A righteous husband presides over his wife and family” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72).

The Land Shall Be Cursed (Moses 4:23):
The entire scriptures reads: And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life (italics added).

Notice that the Lord said that the ground would be cursed “for thy sake.” Remember D&C 122 of the D&C where Joseph Smith is told that all of the evil that will fight against him will be for his own good.

Summary:
From these three points, we see that Eve was taught the principle of consequences or cause and effect when she was told that child birth was painful. We see that the husband is meant to righteously lead and preside over his family. As I once learned in a Stake Conference, the stake does not belong to the stake president any more than the church belongs to President Hinckley. The Church, Stake, Ward and Family all belong to the Lord. Worthy priesthood holders are merely given the responsibility of presiding over these various entities of the Lord. Finally, we see that hard work and labor is good for us and our growth, and therefore, the land being cursed is for our own benefit to gain strength and the appreciation for hard work.

Why Was The Fruit Forbidden?
As we can see from the pillars of salvation drawing at the top of the page, the plan of salvation cannot happen without the creation, the fall, and the atonement. Often the question is asked, “If the Lord needed Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit for his plan to be fulfilled, then why did he forbid it?” Along that same line, another question is asked, “Did Adam and Eve commit a sin when they partook of the fruit?” These are great questions, and they have relatively simple answers.

A large and important part of the plan is our agency. If the Lord told Adam and Eve to take the fruit, then, in a sense, later on Adam and Eve could easily point the finger of blame elsewhere for their suffering and trials in mortality. We HAD to choose the plan or else it would all be for not.

As for the question of sinning, it is important to understand that there is a difference between a sin and a transgression. As is pointed out in  Article of Faith 2, Adam and Eve transgressed, but did not sin.

To further clarify this, here is a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. . . .

“. . . We celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall. . . . Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: ‘I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. . . . This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin.’ . . .

“This suggested contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (italics added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 98; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73).

The Effect of The Fall:
Many things happened when the Fall occurred. Here is just a short list of some of these things:

  1. Blood flow began in the human body
  2. Procreation was introduced
  3. Physical death introduced
  4. Spiritual death introduced
  5. Pain, suffering, misery, and woe
  6. Ground becomes cursed
  7. Knowledge of good and evil
  8. The ability to Sin
  9. The ability to have Joy in Mortality
  10. The ability to have Joy in our Redemption
  11. The ability to have eternal life

When looking at the list above, we see a lot of negative and a lot of positive. Remember, however, the words of Lehi (2 Nephi 2:11–15) where we are taught that there must be opposition in all things. If not, then God does not exist.

Remember that the whole point of the plan is to return to Heavenly Father. The only way to do that is to earn it by being tested. The only way to be tested is to have a place to be tested (hence the creation), and have the choice to do right or wrong (hence the fall). Finally, knowing that we will often choose wrong, we needed a plan to pay the price for our sins (hence the atonement). In order for us to gain a more full knowledge of our purpose in life, we must understand the fall and how it relates to the atonement.

President Benson summed it up nicely in the following quote:
“The plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam. In the words of Moroni, ‘By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, . . . and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man’ (Mormon 9:12). Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

Conclusion:
Once Eve realized what she and Adam had done, she was grateful. She bears her testimony of this in Moses 5:11. We, too, should be grateful for the fall. This lesson should bring new light to 2 Nephi 2:25, which states: Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. That scriptures contains a wealth of knowledge. Had Adam not “Fallen” we would never have existed, but we do exist; because we exist, we may now have joy (or eternal life). Without the fall, salvation, joy, eternal life, would not be possible.