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The Downfall.


"And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Gen. 2:8).

Called to the Divine-like and similar to angelic life, and to the greater and closer communication with God, the man should not have been distracted from this most important goal by the excessive care about himself. All the necessary for life was given to him by the Creator. He gave to the man a commandment: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it" (Gen. 2:16-17).

As in any act of God, this first commandment has several sides. The freedom of the man is fulfilled in reality: he can obey or disobey. There is no guard, like the further appearing archangel with a fiery sword, which was placed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Through that commandment the man was to be brought up, increase his love for God. The man, like angels, was created by God for the blissful life, which is gained through the spiritual growth. The man was created for the development of the feeling of love for his Creator and the similar to Him creatures — other people and lower creatures.

But love, only as a theoretic proof, as a simple statement of the fact is fruitless. Moreover, developing, it gets petrified, atrophies. Love demands its display, and the most direct, natural display of it is the fulfillment of the will of the loved one. Therefore the commandment "do not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" had a goal to develop and strengthen the love of Adam and Eve for their Creator, and with that strengthen their will and morally improve it.

The Church rejects the spreading since the antiquity thoughts that under the trying of the fruit from the tree of knowledge should be understood the carnal communication of Adam and Eve. This communication was not forbidden, on the contrary, it was blessed by God, Who said: Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28).

The first people were childishly inexperienced and primitive, more incompetent in life, as modern kids, for children, who do not have personal experience, are learning from their parents. Such experience existed by the first people, who were taught in the blissful communication with God, but absolutely naïve and not tempted. Therefore, they needed a simple and understandable commandment. Such was given by God: ""Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." In this commandment we recognize one of the simplest, most accessible for all people, Church commandments, ancient as the Church itself — the commandment about abstention, i.e. about fasting.

Why is the forbidden tree called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Because the man went out of the hands of God absolutely clean, not knowing any evil. By eating the forbidden fruit he first got in touch with the evil and then from the experience could distinguish between it and the original, put into him by God, good. God did not want that the loved by Him creature knew the evil from the own experience. As good parents are trying the longer possible to protect their children from the acquaintance with the wickedest and most disgusting sides of life, the same wished God for His favorite children.

It is absolutely fruitless to make suppositions about how the destiny of mankind could be, if there would have been no initiator of the evil in the world — the fallen spirit, who rejected God and who hates everything, created by Him. Led by pride, and then by hatred, once an angel of light, he became "the old serpent, called the Devil, and satan" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). That was Him, who attempted to drive the new creatures of God — people — to the same rebellion against God and to the disobedience to Him, which he fulfilled himself and towards what he attracted the multitude of the fallen with him spirits. St. Basil the Great says about it this way: "The Devil, seeing that he is excommunicated from the angels, could not indifferently watch how a born on the Earth ascends towards to the angelic rank through his success" (The Conversations, 9 "That God is not the One, Who Causes Evil").

And the serpent said to the wife: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" The one, who had rebelled against the Truth, the father of lies, cannot say the truth. He slanders in the very first words, which the man hears from him. He knows that God allowed the people to eat from any of the trees, but one. This commandment about the only tree the devil wishes to represent through slander as the ban of God to taste all heavenly fruits. Together with that the slander is cunningly disguised so that it is not obvious to the naïve people. Those, who do not read the Bible thoughtfully enough, do not notice where the slander is hidden. In this ancient method of the satan we easily recognize the contemporary variants of the same in its essence method: so as the contemporary anti-religious and anti-Christian forces use it on the state scale, the same way happens with the complaints at God and slander at neighbors. This testifies to the lack of creative variety of the enemy of God and of the banality of his methods in tempting people during many centuries.

And the woman answered to the serpent: "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die"

The fact that Eve enters into the conversation with the serpent, in spite of the fact that she had heard from him the slander at God, shows that her love for God did not yet managed to develop itself, that she is not yet spiritually mature. And in the answer she evidently submits to the deceit of the serpent: she as well several times distorts the words of God, exaggerating their strictness. God did not say: "Do not touch them." Maybe, if Eve with the absolute exactness and truthfulness said the Divine words, the devil would have run away from her, for he hates only the absolute truth of the words of God. But he bears the distorted semi-truth and continues his tactics of tempting.

"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

This slander is thin and very significant. God created the people similar to him and for gaining the gradual and greater similarity to Him, as St. Basil the Great writes: "We are the creatures, but are called to become gods due to the grace."

Further on the Son of God will come to the earth in order to make the man divine, in the way the church chants tell many times: "God became the man, so that the man would become god." Not knowing about the Divine plan concerning the man, the devil could, nevertheless, guess about it, for the same was the plan of God concerning him, when he was the angel of light. Therefore the satan knew, that the temptation "will be like gods" is attractive for the man, who was created for that. But instead of becoming similar to God through love for God and through the unity with Him, the devil suggests the Divine similarity through rebellion and disobedience to Him.

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise"

The devil does not know the depth of the spirit of a human, not yet spoilt with sin, but he understands the surface spiritual movements, connected with the physical nature, which can be equally directed towards the good or the evil. And he mobilizes them, as everything he has in disposal in the decisive moment of temptation, repeating his method of tempting millions of millions of times over all human creatures in the whole and very sad human history.

"The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" — the holy fathers name this "triple temptation," used in the beginning of ages by the devil, in the relation of Eve.

"She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" —The cosmic catastrophe happened, but so simply and unnoticeably for the outer world. The thunder did not roar, the skies did not shake, the mountains did not move nothing outwardly reacted over the terrible catastrophe, which violated the course of world existence, the entire Divine plan about the created by Him world.

But the downfall of each person is, in its essence, the same catastrophe, the same tragedy, and each of us knows from his personal experience, how outwardly simply and meaninglessly happen these catastrophes. If we would have been in need of asserting the Divine truth of each word of the holy Divine revelation, then this simplicity and outward imperceptibleness in the description of the catastrophe of the downfall of the first people would have been one of the most striking proves that what is in front of us is not a myth.

"And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden … and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden"

The poison of the downfall at once and so evidently reflected the personal feelings of Adam and Eve. The communication with God till those times was the basic and joyful meaning of their lives. They were created for that, it was the source of their blissful state, for it included into itself all the following pure delights of the man: the artistic delights, for God is the Fullness of the Beauty; and the joy, which we experience, if we see the triumph of a just matter, for God is the Fullness of the Truth and Justice; and the joy of the scientific creation, which comes out of the understanding of the laws of nature, the Lawgiver of which is God. So, here, with the appearance of God, after the downfall, Adam and Eve for the first time try to evade from meeting God. "And Adam and his wife hid themselves." For the people, who have made the image of God darken in themselves, the communication with God becomes painful.

Simultaneously they lost the knowledge of God, which before was typical of them. Before the downfall they knew God with their inner understanding of their similar to the Divine soul and through the communication of their spirit with the Spirit, the knowledge, which was yet not mature, not formed and therefore able to be easily lost. This communication was broken by the sin: there is no sin in God, and it appeared in the man. That was why the man ceased knowing God. This is already evident from the fact that Adam and Eve forgot of the Divine Presence everywhere and of God’s ability to know everything. They naively, "amongst the trees" tried to hide from the All-Seeing Eye. In this obscured understanding of God since the first moments of the downfall lies the seed of all the following false-teachings — idolatry and heresies for all of them, in their essence come from the same mistake: either assigning to God the qualities, which are not typical of Him, or negation of the perfections, which He possesses.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? The Lord shows greatest fatherly leniency towards the sinful lack of understanding of people. He does not hurry to expose or punish them. With the most delicate care He wishes to call them to repentance. He does not look for the childishly naïve shelter of the sinned people but calls them to fulfill the act of the acceptance of guilt and calls the man by the name. Finally Adam answers: "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."

The first weak sign of the inert turn in Adam can be seen in the fact that he responded to the Divine call, and did not hid in his shelter. But even this, minor improvement of his he spoils by the attempt to deceive God: "and I was afraid, because I was naked"

The Lord waits but the man does not accept his sin, does not confess it, and does not repent in it. Meanwhile it would have been so appropriate and necessary! What deeply human, known to us from the personal experience and the experience of communication with other people, fine drama is drawn for us by the holy Bible in several words.

"And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?"

Adam does not confess, he does not show repentance. The lenience of God goes further on. As a most careful confessor in the respect of the unskillfully repenting sinner, God Himself pronounces Adam’s fault instead of him, names his sin, leaving to the one, who had sinned, only to say the short, confessionary "Yes!." Further on goes the Children-loving Father in order to meet the prodigal son.

But, adding to the already committed sins of violation of the Divine love in breaking the simple commandment, the attempt to hide from God, and therefore — to deceive Him, Adam commits one more sin, not against God, but now against the miserable accomplice of his crime, his wife: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

Piling up one crime above another one, Adam with these words breaks the connection of love — the guarantee of one-essence existence between him and Eve, and makes more profound the rebellion against the Creator, striving to shift onto Him the part of guilt for his crime: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me…"

The Lord then leaves Adam not to multiply his sins and addresses to Eve. Until that moment he had not addressed Her, because she, connected with her nature with Adam, was of one essence with him. But by the shifting of his fault onto Eve Adam breaks his unity with her.

Waiting for repentance at least of Eve, Good tells her: "What is this that thou hast done?." But she, too, continues with the persistent self-justification, saying: "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."

The serpent — the ancient dragon, called the devil, the slanderer, who tempts the entire universe (Rev. 12:9), the Lord does not ask anything. He does not waste a single word in vane with the conscious slanderer, for whose repentance there is no hope. Asking him about nothing, the Lord curses him, and the curse ends with the frightening for the devil and reassuring for those having committed grave sins, but not hopeless people, promise: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," or it is more expressive in the Slavonic variant, translated from the Greek by the 70 interpreters (the Septuagint): "It shall rub off your head."

This promise, with which God reassured the sinned people, the Church called the First Gospel — the first good news.

"Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."

Sending the sinned people forth, as many other Divine acts, is really many-sided. The Bible directly points at one of the reasons: "Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." The stay in heaven is connected with the eating from the tree of life, what made people immortal. Meanwhile, for the sinned people with rotten nature such eternal life in the lasting sinful state and in the becoming more and more profound moral destruction would truly be the infernal existence, the source of infinite tortures and despair. They should have been removed from heaven, so that, as St. Gregory the Theologian says, the evil would not become immortal.

The heavenly state was connected with the Divine communication. Meanwhile, according to the spiritual law, which we observe by the guilty children, the communication with God, which before was the source of the greatest bliss, since the moment of the downfall became the source of sufferings for our forefathers. As a child, who feels his fault before the parents, does not want to be in the same room with them anymore, the same way the sinned people tried to hide from God.

Moreover: we know on the example of the children, who are at fault before their parents, how harmful it is to let them stand in their lack of repentance, for they become even more impudent, insolent and shameless. The similar way the Lord, in order to prevent their further downfall, casts them out of heaven, for they did not show any signs of repentance.

Before bringing them forth out of heaven the Lord orders to Adam to work. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken." This commandment of God, as the majority of the acts of God, is many-sided: for together with the punishment for sin there is given the medicine for it.

In heaven the people were free from hard labors, connected with their physical nature, for the led by them nature obediently fulfilled all the work, concerning their feeding and serving to them. The man, until he remained righteous, morally needed such freedom from labors and material worries, to have the opportunity to be in constant communication with God.

But as soon as the man fell off from God, the nature rose against him. Having violated his calling, he broke the whole system of the physical world, having stopped being the connection between him and God. Both plants and animals lost their master and intercessor before the Creator: his rebellion caused the "rebellion" from their side.

The time, which the man before could use for his spiritual growth and communication with God, he had to spend onto the hard labors for maintaining his physical existence. But without such filling of time, the life, deprived of the communication with God, would become unbearable. When our soul is tormented, then the unique balm is labor. On that reason, casting the man out of heaven, the Lord commands him to work.

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