Question: "What does it mean that we live in a fallen world?"
Answer: The word fallen is used in the Bible to describe someone or something spiritually and morally degraded. Israel is described as “fallen” (Amos 5:2), as are angels (Isaiah 14:12; Revelation 12:4) and the glory of mankind (1 Peter 1:24). Each of these has fallen away from the heights of God’s good will for them, fallen into sin, and therefore fallen under the just wrath of God. Those in a fallen state suffer the degrading and deadly spiritual, moral, and social consequences of sinfulness.
Several Bible passages speak of this kind of downfall: 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns Christ’s followers, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Falling into sin is the opposite of growing up in righteousness. In Revelation 2:5, Jesus speaks to the church of Ephesus, which had left its first love: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (ESV).
The whole world of mankind has fallen:
• from friendship with God into proud estrangement from Him and enmity with Him; this leaves us diseased and dying in every part of our personalities and bodies (Genesis 2:16; 3:2-19; Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 30:15–20)
• from our full reflection of His likeness into shattered, distorted images, suffering the results of our brokenness (Genesis 6:5; Matthew 15:19; Romans 1:14—2:16; Romans 3:9–20)
• from joyful obedience to God’s rules so as to fulfill His superlative design for our lives into lawless rebellion and constant frustration and warfare at every level of society (Genesis 3:14–16; James 4:1–10)
• from the beauty, tranquility, and vitality of godly family life into a cesspool of sexual-identify confusion, domestic strife, and aimlessness (Genesis 3:16; Romans 1:14—2:16; Galatians 5:19–21)
• from dominion as trustees of God’s world into a selfish exploitation of the land and the resulting ecological disaster (Genesis 3:17–19; Ecclesiastes 5:8–17; Haggai 1:6)
• from knowledge of God’s enlightening truth into the darkness of ignorance and the confusion of depraved minds (Genesis 2:17; Proverbs 1—31; Judges 1—21; Romans 1:28)
To live in a fallen world means we struggle with sin on a daily basis. We experience heartache and pain. We witness natural disasters and staggering loss. Injustice, inhumanity, and falsehood seem to hold sway. Discord and trouble are commonplace. None of this was God’s original plan for humanity. We fell from our original position in the Garden of Eden. We now live in a fallen world, and all creation “groans” under the consequences of our sin (Romans 8:22).
The good news is that God does not intend His world to forever groan. Through Jesus Christ, God is repairing His creation:
• restoring friendship with Himself in Jesus Christ, giving us eternal life (John 10:10; 15:15; Romans 3:21–31; 5:1–11; 6:1–14; 8:1–4; 8:22–23; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Ephesians 1:3—2:22; Colossians 1:15–22)
• restoring the reflection of God’s likeness in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28–32; 1 Corinthians 6:11)
• restoring His rules for a fulfilling life in Jesus Christ, resulting in true peace and prosperity (Matthew 5—7; Ephesians 5:15–21; James 2:8)
• restoring His design for the family through Jesus Christ (Luke 1:17; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:21—6:4; Colossians 3:18–21)
• restoring man’s proper dominion in caring for God’s world (Romans 8:18–21)
Jesus Christ has promised to return, and when He comes back, He will finish setting everything right forever (Isaiah 2:2–4; 25:6–9; 65:17–25; Revelation 20—22). Don’t miss God’s final invitation to all fallen people: “Come!” (Revelation 22:17). All who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ will be restored.