We are all familiar with the story of the fall of man in genesis. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and brought death upon themselves.
When I re-read the tale of Adam’s fall as an adult, several questions flooded my mind:
- Why was it a sin to eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”?
- Why did God punish Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of the forbidden tree considering they had no prior knowledge of good and evil?
- Was God overly harsh on Adam and Eve?
- Why did God create the forbidden tree knowing it would lead to the fall of mankind?
In this blog article, we will delve into several such questions concerning the fall of man in Genesis.
Before we go any further, let us first understand what exactly man ‘fell from’.
Adam’s Fall From Purpose
Many Christians incorrectly believe that the fall of man in Genesis involves Adam’s fall from spiritual union with God. This is not the case. Adam never had a true spiritual union with God. His relationship with God was external (we will discuss this in detail later).
God’s main purpose in creating man was for man to enjoy an eternal relationship with God. What a privilege it is to be one with God Himself! But God would never force such an intimate relationship on man. Being fair, He gave man a choice in the form of two trees – the two trees were a choice to live with or without union with our Father. By eating from the wrong tree, Adam fell from God’s intended purpose for mankind.
Sin is derived from the Hebrew word chata, which means to “miss the target” or “fail to achieve the goal.” When Adam sinned, He forfeited God’s glorious purpose for man: to be one with God’s spirit and be His representative on earth, carrying out His will. Did God require man’s assistance? No way! In every manner, God is self-sufficient. Yet it brought Him great delight as a loving Father to bless us with all good things and to see His children rule alongside Him.
Imagine your favorite superhero approaching you and asking you to share his awesome superpowers, or a king inviting you to come live in his palace and enjoy all the royal privileges! Who would say no to that!? The all-powerful God who created this magnificent universe wanted to unite His Spirit with ours! God created us to be His living temples.
Imagine, Adam missed out on that! Adam is lucky to not be around, he’d have some very angry descendants to deal with.
The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil: The Cause Of The Fall.
There were two trees standing in the middle of the Garden of Eden. One was the Tree of Life, and the other was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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).
As a loving father, God wanted both Adam and Eve to enjoy the fruits of the garden of Eden abundantly. That’s why He told them that they may eat ‘freely’ from any tree.
When Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit despite God’s warning, they proclaimed themselves independent from God. They chose to trust themselves above God, as if to say to God, “We don’t want You to decide what is right and wrong for us; we will decide what is good and evil for ourselves.”
They submitted their fate to Satan and removed themselves from God’s protection and supply by rejecting His instruction given to keep them safe. In a nutshell, they chose Satan’s fallen way of life over God’s love and the rich, fulfilling life He offered.
Why Did God Punish Adam And Eve For Eating The Forbidden Fruit If They Had No Prior Knowledge Of Good And Evil?
Note, the Bible says Adam and Eve didn’t have “knowledge of good and evil”, NOT that they were not capable of good and evil. Having free-will, they were created capable of disobedience. When the Bible says they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil, it means they had never personally experienced evil. They were innocent and until the fall had never encountered disobedience of any sort nor made a choice to disobey God.
Adam and Eve were innocent not stupid. God made them intelligent beings.They fully understood warnings, that’s the reason why they were given warnings.
In Genesis 3:3, Eve even communicates God’s warning to Satan. This shows that were well aware that their actions would have only one result: death. They were also aware that they had free will. On being given a choice, they were able to weigh the pros and cons of both options.
They were not punished by God. He forewarned them about the consequences of their decisions. When parents warn their children not to put their hands in the fire, and the kids still do so and get burnt in the process, do we say the parents set the kids ablaze? No!
Adam and Eve chose to bring death upon themselves despite being clearly warned.
Why Did God Create The Forbidden Tree Knowing It Would Cause The Fall Of Man?
If God had only created the tree of life, man would not have been able to exercise his free will since he would have had nothing to choose from. God doesn’t desire forced worship or obedience from us. He wants us to obey because we know He is a devoted father who is always looking out for our best interests.
Giving Adam the ability to choose posed a greater risk for God. He already knew He’d have to pay the price for Adam’s poor choice by suffering at the cross. Despite the horrific death that He would have to face, God still chose to give us the freedom of choice. Such is His great love.
The Effects Of The Fall Of Man
- Sin entered the earth, corrupted it.
- Adam’s sin didn’t change God. God never changes. Sin changed Adam’s perception of God. Before the fall, Adam enjoyed walking with God in the garden; after the fall man became self-conscious. He exchanged God’s perspective of him with his flawed perspective of self. God’s holiness made him conscious of his sin. Amusingly, fear and shame made him hide from God, not from the adversary who intended to harm him, but from his Father, who had bestowed everything good upon them. This separation from God created an emptiness in man, who was created to be a vessel of God’s Spirit. That explains why most people go through life continually feeling like there’s something missing and looking for something or someone to fulfill them, while the truth is that only God can truly satisfy us.
- Physical death and sickness came upon creation.
- Man became self-obsessed. The human race that descended from Adam became proud and self-centered, seeking to live and justify their lives based on their own faulty ideas of good and evil instead of relying on God’s wisdom and purpose.
The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil – A Picture Of The Law
Before the fall, when Adam and Eve looked at themselves from God’s perspective, they didn’t feel the need to hide. They were ‘very good’ for their Abba. When they exchanged God’s perspective with their darkened view of themselves. they became self-conscious and felt shame. In order to feel ‘very good’ again, man began to rely on his own efforts to be “good enough”. God created man to be God-reliant not self-reliant. Eating from The tree of knowledge of good and evil led man to believe that he was capable of rejecting evil and fulfilling good on his own. We strive to justify ourselves, judge others and make decisions based on our own ideas of right and wrong.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil is a picture of the law. We think the law makes us good and holy while the law only exposes our flaws. God is the only source of all holiness and goodness. Man can never be holy or good without God. Can a tree without root bear fruit? Unless we are rooted in God, we can never produce fruit. Through the law, we relate to God based on our performance rather than God’s unconditional love. By attempting to keep the law, we are constantly striving to be “worthy” of God’s love, despite the fact that God’s love and grace are freely given to anyone who comes to the Father.
Satan’s Lie – The accuser’s Role in the fall of man
Satan used the tree of knowledge of good and evil to rob Adam of his identity in God. There was nothing wrong with Adam. ‘God created Adam in his own image’. Eating the forbidden fruit made man sick. The sickness? Self-obsession. Man became self-focused instead of God-focused.
Satan the accuser of the brethren
The original Hebrew term śāṭān (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן) means “accuser”. Tempting and shaming are the Accuser’s tactics to make us think there is something wrong with us. His weapon? The Law. I know some of you are now ready to bite my head off, but let me explain. Sheeesh!
Don’t get me wrong. By itself, the Law is just and holy. But every time the law is given to us, our flesh is roused. We are tempted to do things that we are asked not to do.
Remember how the more Mommy warned you not to touch those chocolate chip cookies, the more you wanted to eat them?
Since man, in his arrogance, believed he could attain perfection on his own, God gave man the law to reveal God’s standard of perfection, which man could never meet. God had to shatter our pride, not to humiliate us, but to show us how desperately we needed Him. It is important to note that God does not need man, but man does need God to heal his brokenness.
God had to save us from this toxic loop of self-obsession and self-condemnation that we had fallen into, which never would allow us to truly rest and enjoy God’s love because we’re too busy struggling to overcome our flaws and feel worthy. Satan uses the law to keep us imprisoned in our self-efforts, preventing us from seeing the freedom we have in God’s grace. He uses the law to tempt us and, when we fail, accuses us of being unworthy.
Wow, isn’t this guy just vicious!
Are you giving satan a foothold into your life today?
My friend, the law was not given to man so that he could achieve righteousness through his own efforts, for God knows that man cannot. The bible itself says so.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
We are not under the law but under grace. God’s grace is given to us because of His love for us, not because of our good deeds.
Have you ever come across a mother telling her wailing child that she will only hold him if he fulfills her list of demands? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But that is exactly how we perceive God. It seems like we have a higher view of humans than God. Satan wants us to see God as a hard taskmaster, so we will flee from Him. But God is a loving Father who wants us to come to Him just as we are.
When we strive to keep the law by our own efforts, we give Satan a foothold into our lives, because our flesh is immediately stirred. Any good we accomplish is the result of God working in us, not our own efforts. No matter how big your sin, God’s grace is greater. Is grace, then, a license to sin, as some argue? Definitely not! Anyone who has had a true revelation of God’s grace understands that when we are filled with God’s love and spirit, sin loses its power over us.
The devil wants to make you question and doubt God’s goodness and intent to bless you, just like he did to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1–6).
Remember that God loves you not for what you do, but for who you are – His child. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
What would have happened if Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life?
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who came to rescue humanity from sin said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)
Adam had an outward relationship with God in Eden, but he never had what we now have, that is God’s Spirit never resided within his spirit. The tree of life was a picture of Jesus. If Adam ate of it, he would experience true spiritual unity with God.
People often confuse God breathing into Adam’s nostrils as God giving Adam His Spirit. That is not the case. The next line states that through God’s breath adam became a living soul. There is a distinction between soul and spirit.
Christ is the tree that brings forth life-both spiritual and eternal. Our spirits are now connected. We don’t need external laws because His Spirit lives within us and guides us. He did not come to make bad people good; He came to make dead people alive. We were dead in our sins. Jesus gave us His life-giving Spirit and made us a new creation.