Studies in Genesis 3
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 ESV)
What does God know? He knows everything. God is omniscient. He knows what will happen as well as what could have happened. Yet, this is not what the Deceiver means by “for God knows.”
“For God knows” suggests God is fully aware that the consequences of eating the fruit against His direction is not undesirable death but something desirable. God is actively keeping Man away from that which may bring a benefit by suggesting a negative will happen. Nothing in the garden, or created by God, is designed to harm or hurt. All of the trees of the garden which bear fruit are good for food. There is no reason to not eat from every tree other than God said do not eat from a specific tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Deceiver is telling Eve it knows something about God she does not because God has kept it from her.
There is nothing magical in the fruit. There is no reason for Eve, or Adam, to believe the fruit is anything other than food. If the fruit had no magical properties, but was simply nutritious and good for food, then God, in giving the command, is not concerned about Man’s physical body but the thinking of Man’s heart. Awareness of good and evil is a perception and understanding of the moral-emotional self that would affect every aspect of life, physical, mental, emotional, willful, and spiritual. It is not the physical properties of the fruit which are being denied but the willful disobedience to a command given by God is being encouraged.
The Deceiver turned God’s command on its head by implying the physical properties of the fruit had some unknown magical element which would give something, some unidentified quality, missing from Man. God obviously did not finish what He had started when He created Man, even in His image, and was malevolently denying Man that which would complete them.
God’s image in Man includes the intellectual, the moral-emotional, the will, dominion and many other spiritual qualities. The Deceiver’s statement challenges every aspect of God’s relationship with Man. Intellectually, the challenge is to learn that which is supposedly being withheld. Morally, the lie states God is the liar and cannot be trusted. Trust is an emotional response sandwiched between intellectual beliefs and the will. People will do that which their heads (the intellect and beliefs) and their heart (the emotions) tell them to do. Finally, God gave Man dominion over the earth and everything in and on it. By withholding the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil God has limited that dominion.
God’s purpose in embedding His image in Man is for relationship. Man is not God but like Him enough for each to relate to the other. By subverting the relationship, suggesting it is not and cannot be what God has made, the Deceiver seeks to sever the relationship and subvert the image of God in Man. These statements show deliberate intent to do that which is contrary to the will of God.