“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people” Romans 5:12
But what if Adam had not sinned? Would that have guaranteed freedom from sin for the whole human race? Would each of us been sinless for all eternity? There are no clear answers to these questions, but here I posit some possible considerations.
Adam was made in the image of God, i.e. experiencing time, having personality, emotions, volition, intelligence, masculinity and femininity, i.e. a living soul. But we know what happened: he ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil which Eve gave to him when she was deceived. The only tree in the Garden from which they were forbidden. So why did God put that tree there in the first place? He gave them everything that was good, “very good,” in fact. Why mess it up with a tree that posed a potential problem?
God did not want automatons who had to serve Him because there was no other choice. By creating man with volition, i.e. will that was free, He was creating someone with whom He could relate; someone with whom He could enjoy fellowship. He did not, nor does He now, need us or our fellowship. Existing as the Triune One, He already had and maintains perfect fellowship within Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is simply in His nature to share the love and holiness He enjoys, so here we are! Created in His image, not as though He has hands and feet, but in our spirits sharing in a very small temporal way the grand and eternal characteristics that identify Him as God.
By creating man with volition, there always is a possibility of disobedience. (Keep this in mind.) However, all Adam and Eve knew experientially was what was good. The only thing they could learn from the forbidden tree was what was evil. It all came down to trust, that experience God did not even know until He came to earth as the God-Man, Jesus, and had to trust His Father and the Holy Spirit in ways the Triune God had not experienced.
We know what happened to Adam and Eve, and each of us has experienced the inclination toward sin that originated with their disobedience. We know to do good, but we find in ourselves an impotence to do it. We know to avoid sin, but we find our sin nature pulls us inexorably into it. We have no power to resist evil and do good within ourselves. It is only through the redemption that Jesus provides that our once dead spirits are made alive by the Holy Spirit so that we no longer obey the world, the flesh nor the devil. We are freed from sin’s power.
Back the original question: what if Adam had not sinned? Imagine for a minute having parents who nurtured you perfectly, trained you in your growing years without unfruitful anger or selfishness, guided you with wisdom in making decisions until you were able to imitate them perfectly. Imagine not being inclined to be selfish, yourself! Seeing another child with a toy would not evoke jealousy or envy, because from birth you knew that if something was good for you, your parents would provide it. Where would be the impetus to sin? Why would you doubt the integrity of the God who walked with your parents and you every day and provided everything, not just good, but very good!? Someone born into such a kingdom would be inclined to do the right thing, just as now we are bent to do the wrong thing.
However, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would still be in Eden! The tempter may have been vanquished with Adam’s and Eve’s obedience. Perhaps the serpent, that liar and murderer, would not even have been allowed back into the Garden after Adam and Eve had children. But the Tree would still be there . . . and you and I would still have volition, free will.
Without the pull of someone evil trying to mess up our relationship with a loving God, we might never have touched that forbidden tree, as Eve would have taught us to obey. Eating from the Tree of Life in the center of the Garden would have provided us with eternal life. But free will would still be free. Someone could decide to eat of that forbidden tree. Through the thousands of years and billions of people on the earth, one of us may have decided to go our own way and try the forbidden fruit.
INSANITY, we cry! Of course. All sin is insanity in one measure or another. Why would someone inject dangerous chemicals into his arms at risk of death just for a good feeling that will pass? Why would someone steal what is not his just to gain a very small and temporary advantage over another? Why would someone lie to save a moment’s embarrassment? Why would an angel try to steal God’s glory and make himself God!? Yet, Lucifer, living in the presence of all the love and holiness of God that he could experience, made just that decision!
I suspect God, infinite in wisdom, would recognize a “problem child” before he became a problem and protect the rest of humanity and the rest of the universe from one sinner’s sin, but He would not stop the exercise of free will. So someone, even after Adam’s and Eve’s passage into faithfulness, could still decide to try life without God’s guidance. Any one of us could have still sinned in the Garden and our path would have taken us and our progeny on the same road that we are now on, thanks to Adam’s and Eve’s choice.
So we are now faced with that same choice Adam and Eve faced: Will we trust The God Who Is There or will we trust our own perceptions and doubts about His goodness? What if Adam had not sinned? We would still face this choice: to do life our own way or to do life His way. Even though Adam sinned, it is still our choice, the same as if he had not sinned.