And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress [H5647] it and to keep [H8104] it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
(Genesis 2:8-17 KJV)
When the creation of the heavens and the earth were completed, God (YHVH) gave mankind a few simple rules. Adam and Eve were to work and protect the garden. Then God told them that, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Many people ask why would God create something that was banned and, specifically, why would it be a tree whose fruit offered knowledge of good and evil? Isn’t knowledge good?
Skeptics often complain that God set Adam and Eve up to fail. However, God had to give Adam and Eve a choice. Without free will to choose, Adam and Eve would have been mere puppets. True love always requires choice. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose to love and trust Him. The only way to give this choice would have been to command something that was not allowed. Since God had planted in the garden all the different trees from which we now get fruit, the test was not too difficult. Adam and Eve had plenty to eat and a large variety of fruits from which to choose, and could have chosen to believe God. They were only commanded not to eat from one tree out of the many.
Since everything else God planted in the garden was good, the natural choice of something to choose from would be knowledge of evil. God’s plan for Adam and Eve was to enjoy each other and their fellowship with Him without the influence of evil. God did not want Adam and Eve to experience evil or even know about it. However, Lucifer had tempted Eve to join him in rebellion against God. Eve sinned and tempted Adam to join her and Satan in rebellion against God, which he did also.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
(Genesis 3:1-7 KJV)
Satan used the oldest ploy in his playbook of deceit, God is a cosmic killjoy who is trying to keep something good from you. Satan first asked Eve about the tree from which they were told not to eat. Eve told Satan they were not to eat of the forbidden fruit or they would die. Satan’s reply indicated that God was a liar and that He just wanted to keep something good (the fruit) from them, saying, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). So, Adam and Eve gained knowledge of the difference between good and evil through direct experience, instead of through instruction by God. The text suggests that Adam and Eve had enjoyed daily walks with God through the garden prior to their fall (Genesis 3:8). The knowledge of evil brought fear and shame to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:10). So, the knowledge of good and evil was not a good thing, since it ruined their innocent relationship with God and each other.
There was one tree bearing two kinds of fruit. The name of the tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The name of the tree revealed the nature of its fruits, good and bad fruits of life and death, love and hate, light and darkness, good and evil, peace and war and heaven and hell. The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a double-edged sword, the complete fusion of opposites. This tree was put before Adam and Eve, and even if they had in their innocence the liberty to look upon it as a tree of God’s wonders. God’s prohibition did not allow them to place their desire in it and eat of it, but threatened that (if they would do so) they would die from its fruit. For this was a tree of division where good and evil battled with each other, but in a battle there can be no life. Battle brings forth destruction, and destruction brings forth death, life lives in the sweet unity of love. Therefore, when Adam and Eve ate from this tree, a battle started within them, and in this battle they eventually lost his lives.
Satan didn’t tempt Adam and Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Life. His motives were not to see mankind live as him, as another immortal. His motive was to tempt them to sin and ultimately bring them death. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23 KJV).
I believe that believers will lose our knowledge of evil in heaven. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8 KJV).
God had created Adam and Eve in a perfect moral state with very lofty intellectual capabilities. They understood that his role was to achieve as close a bond as possible to the God Almighty, and sin was the furthest thing from their minds. They understood, however, that their existence in the Garden of Eden was a restricted one, they would only be able to worship God with a limited exercise of their free will since they were largely unaware of other modes of existence. Adam and Eve, however, desired to worship God precisely through the wide ranging exercise of their cognitive powers, by exercising their free will in a broad spectrum of experiences. They hoped that through this route they would ultimately arrive at the lofty level of the angels in their relationship with the Creator.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:8-24 KJV)
As a consequence of their disobedience and rebellion against God, thy were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the ground was cursed to bring forth thorns and women were chastised by greatly multiplying their sorrow by pain in childbirth and became subservient rather than equals with their husbands.
Due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they effectively changed the entire nature of mankind. We were originally created perfect and without any desire to sin. All subsequent offspring were born with a sinful nature and a desire for evil (Psalms 51:5)
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(Psalms 51:5 KJV)
Every human being sins. Sin is a failure to live according to God’s divine instructions (Torah). A sin is an act that violates a known moral rule. The term sin also refers to the state of having committed such a violation. Sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings. Therefore, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating should be considered sinful. We sin because we have a corrupt nature to sin. This corrupt nature is inherited from Adam and Eve. Our corrupt nature to sin separates us from God.
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19 KJV)
Christians have two natures at work in their being, one is the old nature of sin, and the other is a new nature controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakodesh). These two natures are constantly at war with each other. The Apostle Paul explained that, despite his best intentions, he was still influenced by his corrupt nature to sin (Romans 7:18-19).
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:18-19 KJV)
While our two natures are constantly in conflict, it is not the corrupt nature that will ultimately control the Christian. Part of the sanctification process involves dying to the old nature. A Christian will sin, but a Christian will not continue in unrestrained sin. Paul wrote, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9 KJV). Sin in a Christian’s life will be followed by remorse and repentance.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
(Galatians 5:16-17 KJV)
After Yeshua’s Second Coming, when a believers body is glorified, our corupt nature will be destroyed once and for all. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58 KJV).
In the meantime, we must resist temptation and sin. There is no excuse for any sin, the devil cannot make anyone do anything. I can honestly say that each and every sin that I have ever committed has been committed willfully and intentionally. Yeshua was tempted with every sin that we are tempted with, and I believe He was pursued by HaSatan (“The Accuser”) with more temptations than anyone else that has walked the earth.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV).