Tag Archives: good and evil

They Knew

Studies in Genesis 3

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:7 ESV

Adam and Eve were naked, without clothing, because they did not need clothes. There was no spiritual, physical or social reason to cover themselves. Nor, was there a prohibition toward covering themselves. Yet, after they purposefully rebelled against God they “knew that they were naked” and decided to cover themselves.

God uses two different, closely related words for the translated word “naked.” In Genesis 3:7 (and in Genesis 3:10-11) the word means nudity. It is closely related to, but still different from, the word used in Genesis 2:25. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). “Naked” means bare, unclothed. Both words, in Genesis 2:25 and 3:7, are related to a word which means to be crafty, subtle, shrewd or prudent.

There is a difference in their awareness. In Genesis 2, in their original, obedient before God state, they were unaware of any reason to have covering. After their rebellion, they almost immediately saw a need to cover themselves, because they saw they were naked. What was the perceived need and why did they think they needed to cover themselves?

Perhaps we can find and answer in the word “knew.”  First, they now knew about good and evil, but not under the direction of God. To “know” means to perceive, recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess, to understand through experience, to find out or reveal. To “know” may be either purely intellectual or intimate. Intimate knowledge involves the whole person, mind, emotions, including the moral understanding, will and spiritual being. Gaining such knowledge is progressive, growing from a small or minute comprehension to a more mature or complete understanding with time and experience. As soon as they rebelled they comprehended that they had done something against the direct, stated will of God. They now knew their action was evil and had no control, or dominion, over the consequences.

How long it took before the instinct to cover themselves arose is not stated. It could have been immediate or soon thereafter. Scripture suggests immediate comprehension. If so, their minds, hearts and beings were not disciplined to handle the terrifying consequence of knowing evil, especially in themselves. They were not designed for evil and the realization they had done something evil began rending them away from that with which they were familiar, their relationships with God, each other and the world in which they lived.

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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.

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.