Question: Were Adam and Eve created perfect? If so, how could they sin? If they were created with a will that could choose to sin, how could they have been perfect?
Response: The Bible says that “God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gn 1:31). Never is it said, however, that Adam and Eve were perfect. That word is applied to man, but never to mean without sin. To Abraham God said, “...walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Gn 17:1); of Job it is said “...that man was perfect and upright” (Job:1:1); Jesus commanded, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48); Paul says that Scripture is given “that the man of God may be perfect” (2 Tm 3:17); etc. The meaning is maturity and a heart that desires to please God and do His will—but not without the possibility to sin. The Bible clearly says, “For there is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl 7:20), and “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom:3:23). Sin is coming short of the glory of God, in whose image Adam and Eve were created. Only God is perfect in the full sense of being without the possibility of sinning. Thus Jesus said, “...there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mt 19:17).
Adam and Eve must have been created with the power of choice, or God would not have given them a command and punished them for disobeying it. No one, not even Eve who was deceived by Satan, Judas of whom it is said that “Satan entered into him” (Jn:13:27), or Ananias and Sapphira whose hearts “Satan filled...to lie to the Holy Ghost” (Acts:5:3) can blame his or her sin on the devil; nor does God ever tempt man to sin (Jas 1:13), much less cause anyone to sin. All are without excuse.
If Adam and Eve were forced (or even tricked) into doing something against their will, they could hardly be held accountable, nor could that act be called sin. It makes even less sense that God would have caused them to sin. Thus God would be the author of evil and we would have the contradiction of God telling them not to eat of the tree, causing them to do so, then punishing them for disobeying Him—a thought repugnant to human conscience and logic. Yet such, sadly, is the teaching of Calvinism. In his highly recommended book, the five points of calvinism, Edwin H. Palmer declares, “God...causes all things to hap- pen that do happen...the beating of a heart...laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist— even sin” (p. 25).
You also said that you understood that the “sinful nature was passed down through Adam” but weren’t sure why. You asked, “Why wouldn’t Cain and Abel be born in the same sinless, perfect state [as Adam]?” The Bible says Adam’s sin brought death upon all of his descendants, but not that sin is passed through the father rather than mother. Surely it is passed through both. The difference between Adam and Eve and all of their offspring is a simple one: the former were created by God in a state of innocence and intimate fellowship with Him. No doubt the Spirit of God dwelt within their spirits in close communion. When they sinned, the Spirit of God departed, bringing immediate spiritual death, which affected their bodies and eventually brought physical death. As the children of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel could only be born into the state of sin, separation and death that had become the condition of their parents. And so it is with all of us.