Tag Archives: tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Covering

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

As soon as Adam and Eve realized they were “naked” they tried to make coverings for their bodies. They used leaves because of the abundance of material and because they did not know how to make cloth or that they could kill and animal and use its skin.

Why did they see a need to cover themselves? Here are two possible answers.

First, they may have been ashamed and wanted to cover themselves to hide their shame. God has already told us they “were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). When they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, what they expected to happen did not happen. Their eyes were opened but they were not changed or made better by the act. Eve expected something that would make her like God. Her superstitious expectation, fueled by the lies of the Deceiver, were unreasonable and could never be fulfilled. Adam, on the other hand, had no expectations. He ate because he wanted to eat.

For the first time, they felt guilt and shame and did not know how to react. So, they hid part of their bodies behind coverings. There was remorse but no repentance. Repentance comes from acknowledging guilt and the consequences of rebellion and then mentally and emotionally turning away from the act and motivation. Instead of admitting to each other what they had done was wrong, that they should not have eaten the fruit, they tried to cover over their sin and rebellion with a superficial, self-made fix.

Second, they may have wanted to undo what they had done but did not realize they could not. After their willful act, when their eyes were opened to a new and uncomfortable perspective, they may have wanted to go back to their original state and life. They did not know how. Perhaps they were beginning to realize they could not undo what had been done. Yet, their sin, their transgressions, needed covering.

It is the insanity of man to try to fix the unfixable. Only God can do the impossible. Once a transgression, a sin, is committed it cannot be undone. Yet, by the image of God in them, they inherently knew their sin needed covering. God did not create Man and give His image to turn His back on any person. Because of His love and desire for relationship He would cover their sin and restore their relationship with Him. But in His way and at His time and at a great cost to Him.

It is the gospel which declares God has done that which Man cannot do.

Sin Patterns

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. (Gen 3:6 ESV)

Adam was not deceived. His rebellion was deliberate. Eve gave him the fruit and he ate it. He knew the fruit was from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and that God, his creator and the authority over all creation, had forbidden he eat the fruit. “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 2:17 ESV).

Adam was specifically forbidden from eating the fruit.

Sin involves the whole person. Eve, while speaking to the Deceiver, thought about what she was about to do. She was lied to and accepted the lie as truth. She also used her emotions to view the fruit as desirable in a way different than how God made the fruit. God created all the fruit desirable, that is delicious and nutritious and with a pleasing look. Eve changed the desire from what was intended to that which is coveted. She then acted on her will, driven by her covetous desires based upon a lie. She rebelled and sinned.

Adam ignored his intelligence and emotions and simply acted. There was no thinking that we are aware of, nor feeling that something was wrong. Adam knew that if he were to think about what he was about to do, or feel the fear of the consequences, he would not act. He “turned off” his intelligence and his emotions and simply acted. He rebelled and sinned.

We see two motivations for sin. Eve’s sin involved building excuses to act against the will of God. Adam’s sin intentionally ignored the direction and will of God. I am not suggesting that women have a sin pattern different than men. Sin is sin. Temptation is not sin. But allowing temptation to decide or excuse sin does not either justify or defend sin. The basic pattern for sin follows either building an excuse based upon a lie or simply ignoring the known will of God.

Both Eve and Adam willfully rebelled against God.

Deceived and Purposeful

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. (Gen 3:6 ESV)

Adam was with his wife. She gave him a piece of fruit she had picked and eaten from, and he, too, ate the fruit. Did Adam watch the entire transaction and conversation between the Deceiver and Eve? Every sermon I have ever heard has Adam standing passively next to his wife while she deliberately disobeyed the command of God. Either he heard the discussion or Eve told him of the discussion. Or she didn’t tell him, because he was not there and simply offered him a piece of fruit when he arrived and he ate.

In Genesis 3:6 the word “with” can mean beside. It can also mean against and in spite of. Like many of the words in the first three chapters of Genesis this is the first time this word is used. We assume Adam and Eve were together all of the time. This does not necessarily have to be true. We can know for certain he was present when she gave him the fruit. Whether he was present during the discussion with the Deceiver and then when she actually picked and ate the fruit is only assumed.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for disobedience. Adam knew he was to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Either he ate knowing the fruit was from the tree or he ate not knowing from which tree the fruit came. Either way, he ate the fruit which God has specifically forbidden from eating.

Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:14 ESV)

There are many implications from Paul’s statement. The woman was deceived by the Deceiver. Adam was not deceived, by either the woman or the Deceiver. His rebellion was purposeful. He knew the consequences of his rebellion. We know nothing of his thinking or feeling which brought him to the action of eating the fruit. We are reminded daily of the consequences. For the consequences of Adam’s purposeful rebellion is abundantly clear and always present. It is sin and death.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 ESV)

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19 ESV)

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.

“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.

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.