“And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16, NIV)
God placed Adam in a garden with trees of whose fruits he could eat, but forbade him from eating from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." That’s the only thing God told Adam he could not do. The God formed woman, Eve, but He created her after the command is given to Adam. Later, in Genesis 3, a the devil takes on the form of a serpent and persuades Eve to eat from its forbidden fruit, and she in turns gets Adam taste it. They quickly realize that things have changed—they experience guilt and shame at being naked. Consequently, God expels them from the garden. You all know the story I am sure.
So God gave Adam, and later Eve, all they needed—life was perfect. They did not need to worry about anything. Nor did they have to understand everything. They just had to trust God and obey Him. The perfect life was theirs for eternity—just obey God—and only in one specific area—avoid this tree. But from that tree all other sins take root.
The word in Hebrew for “good and evil” is actually one word, טוֹב וָרָע ("tov wa-raʿ") which means "good and evil”. But it could also mean not just “good and evil”, but more inclusively, a knowledge of “everything”. And I think that this is something mankind still demands. We demand to know, understand, and in some cases, experience, everything—even things we should not.
But God warned them that if they eat this fruit, they are "doomed to die." The Hebrew behind this is in a form regularly used in Hebrew for issuing death sentences. So God warns them of a death sentence if they eat the fruit. We carry that death sentence within our mortal souls today. We are all sentenced to die because of the disobedience of one woman and one man.
So in Genesis chapter three we read this, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
There’s a lot going on here that we can’t cover today, but it was the serpent that tempted them to look for more than what they needed. If you read what he said, he never totally lied nor did he totally tell the truth. That’s what he does. He bears a false witness, exaggerates, embellishes, distorts and deceives.
His taunt to Eve was straightforward: “Why not test the taste is sin?”—that was the bait he offered to Eve. He uses the same line with teenagers today when it comes to sex and drugs, little boys with matches, or with adults with far more!
Satan always offers these short cuts to what God wants to give us eventually. He desires to give us, just like Adam and Eve, the deepest desires of our hearts, but Satan is always slithering around in our thoughts suggesting that there’s an easier way to get what we really want or think we really need. It’s a lie! He’s the author and master of lies. And somewhat in Eve’s defense, consider this: Eve never heard a lie until the serpent spoke it to her! Imagine, Adam and Eve always spoke the truth, never heard anything but truth, and did not know how to lie, much less what a lie was. All they knew was truth and honesty. That’s how it WILL be in heaven…that’s how it’s SUPPOSED to be if we’ve truly been born again….it is our DESTINY as His true sons and daughters…it is what we should DEMAND of our pastors, leaders and those that rule our nation!
But note that right after they were lied to by the serpent, Eve and Adam also learned dishonesty. They did not out-and-out lie when God asked them about the forbidden fruit, they danced around the truth and tried to blame someone else.
But even when the serpent tempted her, Eve knew the truth, but Satan slyly challenged her to think about it again…”did He really say that?” And when she began to wonder about the truth, the game was up—the serpent won. He was able to convince her that she was old enough, and smart enough to know what was best for her—not her Creator. That is the same battle we are fighting in our world right now. Many, many people do not believe that our Creator knows what’s best in terms of sexuality; we demand our “rights” to do to our bodies what we think is best. More and more, if you do stand up for what God has told you to do and hold onto truth, you face fines or prosecution for speaking truth.
Satan suggests to us then, as now: “Why listen to unreasonable demands from God? You have a right to explore these things.” But of course, that’s a lie. You don’t have a right to do whatever you want. You have the will to do whatever you chose—including rebellion against God. But it’s not your right. He is our Father, yes, but before we came to know Jesus as our Savior, He was our Creator. He knows what’s best for us—He even knows what we desire the most intensely! Satan suggested to Eve that she knew better than God what was best for her. Resist that lie every time Satan whispers it!
Th fact is that God is in control of this universe—He put every atom together, for crying out loud! He’s not asked us to improve upon His creation and laws or or to explain it to Him! He did not place us here to take over the school and change the rules…
Over the past 43 years I have put together a Staff Manual and Camper Notebook. Each year we expand it a bit. It’t not the Bible, I humbly admit that, but if our staff and campers followed those two booklets, 90% of our problems would be gone. But we don’t like to be told what to do, or we choose to believe that the rules don’t apply to us. We get that predisposition from our ancestors—Adam and Eve.
Only the most annoying children think that must cry and whine when they do not get all things they want. But Satan tempts adults to play the same game—and it’s what got him, when he was known as Lucifer, in trouble before the creation of the world. He’s been trying to teach it to God’s children ever since.
You and I were not created to demand that God gets us what we want, when we want. Quite the opposite, we were created in His image to glorify Him, and to believe and trust that in His time, we will receive far more than we get ever imagine or cry to have. But God’s ways are purposeful and are intended to prepare us for the things we could not properly handle or appreciate on our schedules. Isaiah said it best: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa. 40:31). Are you waiting, right now, on the Lord, or like Eve, looking for a short cut?
The incredible prize that Satan offered was the idea of becoming like God. Of course, that was the prize he was also seeking while he was an angel. It was his sin to become his own god. And God tells us that He, the Divine, has a knowledge of good and evil, and man can to, just as Satan has. But whereas God’s knowledge does not lead Him to abandon Himself or His holy perfection, the knowledge of evil does appear to destroy His creatures. So yes, there are things that God has given you freedom to do that He does not want you to do. Sounds strange, but He does seem to want for us to have choices—-choices of obeying and trusting Him, or doing things our own way.
But think about it. Prior to eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve did not know evil. Their minds and consciouses were free of any need to choose or weigh the consequences of their choices. They only knew good!!! What a blessed place to have been—and what a wonderful goal to achieve if it is possible in this life! To be able to live and not worry about choosing wrong, or having the guilt of knowing that you made a bad choice or surrendered to an evil temptation…wouldn’t that be great! No anxiety, or fear of retribution, or dread of facing the consequences of sinful actions? That’s the life Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to their disobedience. You see they ate the fruit and immediately that had bad thoughts. Up to that point they were quite innocent. But with total and complete knowledge can come evil desires.
Our journey in Christ is not to become innocent again—that’s been lost. Our pilgrimage is to become pure and holy. We now know the good and evil, and we must make those choices every day. Temptation has been let loose on mankind. But this process that we call “sanctification” includes, I think, “un-learning” the knowledge of evil. Becoming more like Christ means that the more I trust Him, and the more I have to make choices between good and evil, the more I am supernaturally drawn to choose the good…. and by the grace of God I am not inclined to want to evil.
Heaven will be that blissful place where we don’t have to choose! All will be returned to a place of only good! I can’t wait!!!