The earth was created as a place for Heavenly Father’s children to live and gain experience. Adam and Eve were the first of God’s children to come to earth. They lived in a place called the Garden of Eden, where they were still in God’s presence.
Our Heavenly Father gave Adam and Eve agency, or freedom to choose. He commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obeying this commandment meant they could remain in the garden, but they could not progress by learning from experiences and challenges. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and they chose to do so. This was part of God’s plan. Because of their decision, they were separated from God’s presence physically and spiritually. They became mortal, that is, subject to sin and death. They were unable to return to Him without His help. Their physical and spiritual separation from God is called the Fall.
“If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. …
“And [Adam and Eve] would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
Our Heavenly Father sent angels and the Holy Ghost to teach Adam and Eve the plan of salvation. Central to this plan is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which enables God’s children to overcome the effects of the Fall and have joy in this life and in eternity.
Because of the Fall, you are separated from God physically and spiritually. This separation is part of God’s plan for His children. Your purpose in leaving His presence to come to earth includes obtaining a body, gaining experience, and learning to make right choices.
Many aspects of life bring happiness, and some bring sorrow. These experiences help you learn to distinguish between good and evil and to make correct choices. God influences you to do good and to follow Him, while Satan tempts you to ignore God and commit sin. (Sin is knowingly choosing to do wrong or not to do right.) When you choose to follow God and keep His commandments, you grow in wisdom and strength of character. You can experience joy even in times of trial, and you can face life’s challenges with a spirit of peace.
You have made many good choices in your life, but you have also made some wrong choices. When you make wrong choices and commit sin, you separate yourself to some degree from God. The scriptures call this separation spiritual death. In addition to separating you from God, sin also causes guilt and shame. You cannot overcome sin and its effects by yourself.
Because Heavenly Father loves you, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for your sins. This payment is part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ voluntarily suffered for your sins, pains, sicknesses, and sorrows. Through His grace and mercy, He can help you in your trials and relieve you of the guilt and shame that result from your sins.
In paying for your sins, Jesus did not eliminate your agency or personal responsibility—He will not make you clean against your will. To receive His help and strength, you need to exercise faith in Him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and choose to follow His teachings for the rest of your life. As you rely on the Atonement, you will feel the love of God, and He will help you endure your trials. You will experience joy, peace, and consolation. All that seems unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the mercy and love of Heavenly Father. The Atonement is the central point in the plan of salvation.