Active Rebellion

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)

Being tempted by the Deceiver, or temptation in general, is not the same as willful disobedience. Eve made a conscious decision to eat that which was forbidden and then offer it to Adam, who made a conscious decision to eat that which was forbidden. Temptation is not sin. Deciding to act upon the temptation followed by active rebellion is sin.

We are given Eve’s rationale for eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3:6. First, the tree was good for food. Secondly, it was a delight to the eyes. Finally, eating the fruit would make her wise.

We know that the tree was good for food. Every tree in the garden grew fruit that was good for food. This is how God created the trees in the garden. We also know every tree He created was pleasant to the sight. Every tree in the garden was both beautiful and its fruit was nutritious.

“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).

The first two points in her train of thought are correct. It is the third excuse, influenced by the lies of the Deceiver, which invalidate her conclusion and make her disobedience an act of rebellion. She believed the superstitious lie presented to her without thinking about God or feeling the moral tug to obey her Creator.

“Wise” means to be prudent, circumspect, or to prosper. It also means to give attention to, to consider, ponder, to have insight and comprehension. In this circumstance, her rationale was neither prudent nor circumspect. She gave the illusion of carefully examining all of the evidence but left out one important detail, which should have been the deal breaker. She ignored God’s command, disregarding His words. She listened to a creature instead of the Creator.

God is specific in His command and the consequences of disobedience. The Deceiver showed disregard for both the words of God and the consequences of disobedience. By listening to the Deceiver and deciding to rebel Adam and Eve also showed disregard for God and the consequences given by Him. Rebellion will cost her and Adam life, both physical and eternal. By disregarding God and His words and focusing on their immediate selves and circumstances, they showed no prudence or comprehension of what is happening.

God Commands

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 3:5 ESV)

The Deceiver is telling Eve, and Adam, that eating from this specific tree will give them knowledge they do not yet have. They will know good and evil. God called all He made “good.” He called nothing “evil” other than naming a tree. God named two trees. He called one the tree of life and the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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)

There was nothing magical about any of the trees. All of the trees that bore fruit were food for Man. Every tree was pleasing to the eye and the fruit of every tree was edible and would not damage or hurt anyone who ate the fruit. Yet, God forbade Man from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as part of His teaching them about obedience and disobedience, about good and evil.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God does not have to explain to anyone why He gives a command. Remember, God commanded Man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not ask. God never asks anyone to do or not do something. Man’s obedience to God’s command is expected. If I am correct in my thinking God would have eventually allowed Man to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam and Eve were in training. They were growing in the discipline of knowing and serving God. They were not told to refrain from eating from the tree of life. Once they were mature in the thinking of their hearts they would eat from both trees.

Knowing the difference between good and evil is intimately knowing the reason for obedience and the consequences of disobedience. Why would those created for service to God even think or feel they could, or should, not serve Him? Either the seed of disobedience and rebellion was already planted in Man by God or it was planted in Man by a force other than God. That force other than God need not be the Deceiver. It could be Man, themselves. Some will say that inherent in the image of God given is the possibility of rebellion. But is this true? None living now are perfect. We cannot know the state of being of Adam and Eve. We can know that they had the tools needed to make specific decisions and the freedom to carry out those decisions. They could choose to obey out of intimate love for their Creator or to rebel and begin hating Him by focusing upon themselves. Genesis is telling us they were influenced to think of rebellion by the Deceiver and they listened to him. Their actions will either finish his deception or show that it failed. We know what happens.

The First Superstition

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 3:5 ESV)

We are shown the birth of the first superstition. By eating the forbidden fruit, the Deceiver implies two things will happen. First, Eve’s knowledge will become complete. Secondly, with the addition of complete knowledge will come divinity. The Deceiver is saying she will be another God. This is a lie.

Superstition is an absurd religious belief or practice meant to manipulate either nature or God, or both, into doing that which is against both the laws of nature and the person of God. Such superstition relies upon the misinterpretation of evidence and willfully believing something which cannot be true. Adam and Eve had enough knowledge to know the fruit of the tree, any tree, was meant only for food. They also had enough intimate knowledge of God to know they could never be completely like Him in His person. They had those qualities which allowed them to know God both intellectually and intimately. They were His authority on the world but had no authority anywhere else.

Here, we learn something about the Deceiver. We already know he (I am moving away from the term “it” for the Deceiver is called “he” in Scripture) was created by God. We know he was able to enter and control a physical animal. We know he did not have the image if God, yet was intelligent, understood morality and was willful. We can surmise he did not have dominion. We now know he was in rebellion against God, had done something forbidden him by God because he wanted to be equal to God. I draw this opinion-conclusion from his words to Eve. He wants her to rebel against God just as he rebelled against God. He wants her to think she can be like God just as he thinks he can be like God. This line of thought and action suggests a hatred for God and everything God has created, including himself.

David, in Psalm 7, gives us the formula followed by the Deceiver, and consequently by all who are in rebellion against God. “Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies” (Psalm 7:14 ESV). First comes the desire to rebel against God. This desire is not instant nor arbitrary but deliberate and focused. Next, is the time needed for the rebellion to grow to viability. Both “evil” and “mischief” are translated “trouble.” But “evil” includes idolatry and wickedness while “mischief” suggests deliberate labor toward a specific end or conclusion. Finally, the result of active rebellion is deception, fraud and betrayal.

While the Deceiver was already in rebellion against God he planted a seed of rebellion in Eve. Either Eve, and Adam, were already contemplating their place before God, questioning their relationship with Him, or he, the Deceiver, spent some time cultivating, planting and feeding the superstition. Both concepts are possible. But, we do not know. Genesis tells a story of a single meeting between the serpent and Eve. We must be careful to not add to God’s words.

“For God Knows”

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.

Second Death

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)

If I am correct in my thinking then God wanted Adam and Eve and all of Man to know the difference between good and evil. God, the Creator, knows the time He wills to introduce knowledge which will lead to maturity. This is not the time but is a test which would probably usher in the right time.

That which is inhabiting the serpent, the Deceiver, continues speaking half-truths. A partial truth is still a lie and still designed to deceive. It, the Deceiver, tells Eve that God lied. God said “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). Not only will you die if you disobey and eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but you will die again, a second death. For the Deceiver to state Eve would not die is a contradiction of the stated consequences of rebellion against God’s command.

Here are some educated assumptions. The Deceiver has already rebelled against God. Created by God for service to Him and at His pleasure the Deceiver did not originally have the design to rebel against God. Nothing God creates, and God created everything, was evil or designed for evil. There is, however, the ability to choose evil for those creatures given the capacity to do so. Man was given the image of God in a created body. Part of the image of God is the ability to choose, to decide, to act. Whatever the Deceiver was it had the ability to choose, decide and act and did so through rebellion. This does not mean creatures other than Man may have been given the image of God, for there is more to His image than the ability to choose, decide and act.

When the Deceiver rebelled God did not immediately bring death, but allowed it to continue to live. So to, the Deceiver told Eve she would not die. It knew, at least for a time, she would continue to physically live. God did not say judgment was immediate. He did say judgment was absolute. When Man rebelled death was not immediate but still guaranteed.

Those who are living cannot understand what death is until it is experienced. When the body dies, it does not immediately cease to exist. In fact, the physical properties of the body after death are slowly re-absorbed into the larger creation. God formed the man from existing material.  “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). So, when the physical body of Man dies it does not cease to exist but returns to the material from which it was initially created.

There is a second death. We can only know about this second death through personal experience and by the little God tells us. At this point, we know nothing of the second death other than there is another death that is probably spiritual because it is not physical. Rebelling against God brings God’s judgment which is a second death. The Deceiver knows this, deliberately lying to Eve and in doing so stating God is the liar.

Touching and Eating

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

When Eve added her own words to God’s, “neither shall you touch it,” what was she saying? God said when you eat the fruit “dying you will die.”

To “touch” means to reach out and grasp to oneself. “Touch” can also mean to strike or to be defeated. For Eve, the word may mean either deliberate or accidental physical contact with the fruit of a tree. Eating the fruit would automatically demand touching the fruit. Yet God does not say “do not touch.” His command is, do not “eat.”

It would appear there was, within the makeup of Eve, a desire to eat that which was forbidden. She had the will to resist that desire, and the intellectual ability to reason why she should not eat. Instead, she built, in the thinking of her heart, a reasonable boundary to keep herself from doing that which was forbidden. Her thoughts may have been if I don’t touch it then I definitely will not eat it. She built her own tool to help her keep God’s command. This suggests her faith and confidence in God was wavering. There was an apparent weakness of which the serpent took advantage.

Did she understand what God meant by “die”? To “die” means to be separated from that which sustains life. Physical death is separation from that which sustains physical life. In the same sense, spiritual death is separation from that which sustains spiritual life. God sustains all life whether physical or spiritual.

Yet, God does not simply say “die.” He says “die, die.” “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). The implication of this statement suggests there was already physical death, as a natural part of life, and that disobeying His command would bring a different kind of death. Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and after you physically die you will experience another death. You will die spiritually.

Man was not created to rebel against God but for obedience and relationship. Given the image of God, Man was designed to learn over a period of time what it means to know each other and to know God. Part of the process of learning and maturing was to know the difference between good and evil as a natural, created part of His image. Obedience to God’s authority is part of that maturing process. Disobedience is in His face rebellion.

Answer with Truth

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

When questioned by the serpent, or whatever was inhabiting the serpent, Eve responded with a vague half-truth. She did not identify the tree from which they were to not eat and she added to the command of God. When God gives an explicit command, we do not have the authority to alter His words into something vague and imprecise. Nor is it ever our place to speak for God by putting words in His mouth. Eve could have countered the deception of the serpent with the exact words of God.

Notice what Jesus does in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. When tempted and tested by the devil He does not respond in generalities but with the actual words of God.

Why is this important?

When we allow the thinking of our hearts about God and His commands to descend into generalities we open ourselves to believing compromise is essential and begin adding boundaries, exclusions and misinterpretations to what He said. We begin to believe He did not say what He really said. This gives us a false view of God and of ourselves in relation to Him. This would be like an “editor” randomly adding clarification to someone’s writing without knowing the person, what has already been said or agreeing with the message, working with the intent to steal the message away from the author and make it their own. God said “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 ESV). This command has for some, morphed into not allowing justified killing of the criminal or killing during a justified war. The most prevalent use of compromising the word of God is the justification of murdering a baby in the womb because the baby is not considered a person. God’s words are twisted to fit our insane beliefs.

God is not mysterious and vague in His Words to Adam and Eve. He spoke to them directly, face to face. He embedded His image in them so they had the inherent tools and abilities needed to understand Him and intimately know Him. Having His image gave them an absolute advantage over every other physical or spiritual creature. Both the snake, a physical creature, and the spiritual being inhabiting the serpent were created by God. Eve had a conversation with a dumb, unable to speak, physical creature being used by a different, intelligent and morally compromised spiritual creature. Physical creatures are separated from physical creatures by flesh and blood and bone. It is possible a spiritual creature could inhabit, or take up residence, in a physical, as evidenced by Jesus confronting the myriad of demons who had taken possession of people. Adam and Eve had all they needed to know something was amiss and that whatever was in the serpent was not speaking the truth to them.

We do not know why Eve did not counter the lies of the serpent with the truth of God. We know that she did not specifically identify God’s true statement, and that she added to His words. The serpent set her up to fail, gambling that she would fail. She failed almost immediately.