Dispensation of Conscience
When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they were given the knowledge of good and evil – a conscience. Rather than to obey the simple commands that God had given them previously, they were expected to live according to the conscience that they now had.
The Adamic Covenant brought both good and bad for Adam and Eve. The result of breaking the Edenic covenant brought death to them. In addition to this though, there would be sorrow in life and it would be hard. The easy work of the Garden would be replaced with hard labor and the ground would be cursed. Likewise there would be pain in childbirth and man would be placed as head over woman.
Despite the negative side of this covenant, the serpent would be punished. The serpent would be despised and feared and caused to move along its belly. More importantly however, in Genesis 3:15 we are given the first promise of Jesus. The seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent even though the serpent would strike His heal.
Blood sacrifice is instituted as a result of this covenant to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. It was an expectation of this dispensation and pointed toward the eventual sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
The age of conscience ends in failure at the time of Noah. As the Lord surveys the earth in Genesis 6:6 He is “grieved in His heart.” Man was unable to follow his conscience and unwilling to obey. Therefore God planned to destroy the earth in a flood with the exception of Noah and his family.