Desiring Versus Coveting

Studies in Genesis 3

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6 ESV)

We do not know what Eve and Adam were feeling when they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We do know Eve’s thought process. Eve talks with a snake who is controlled by the Deceiver. She believed the Deceiver’s lie about the fruit having a special property other than simple nutrition. She believed the first superstition that actually eating this fruit would give her wisdom and insight and make her like God.

Eating the fruit showed her bent toward rebellion. She and Adam were instructed by God to take care of the tree of the knowledge if good and evil but to not eat its fruit. She wanted something only God could have, to be like Him in all ways, not just with His image, and acted upon this desire. Adam and Eve were given dominion over the Earth. This dominion did not extend to God. He has ultimate authority over all He has created.

Eve and Adam coveted that which was God’s and not theirs.

God uses the word “covet” in this verse. Most translations of the Scripture use the word “desired” but it is the same word used in the tenth commandment in Exodus and Deuteronomy. The word used means to desire, take pleasure in or to delight in. It is something which is desirable or precious. Its first use is in Genesis 2:9 when God creates every tree “pleasant” which means “desirable” and is also translated “covet.” “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9 ESV). Covet is used in both a good and evil way in Scripture. God made the fruit of the trees desirable and precious.

Rebellion takes that which is designed for pleasure and makes it an object of desire which must be had at all cost. That which is desirable becomes the object of lust. Coveting is wanting a thing more than wanting God. Coveting becomes wanting what someone else owns for your own, which includes wanting what God owns, and planning how to acquire that thing.

Coveting that which belongs to God or others is the foundation of sin. That which drives sin and rebellion is to have what belongs only to God by planning to take it away from God. After the fall people are so completely bent by sin that their natural tendencies are always away from Him. For most there is no conscious thought of God. For Adam and Eve God should have been in the front of their minds. As the ruling authority over the earth, coming under the authority of God, Adam and Eve should have been aware of both their position under God and His position over them. Ignoring or forgetting God is not wise.

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