Summary: Ah ... free will. The ability to choose/decide for ourselves what is right and good and what isn't. However, as Solomon points out, we also got 'temptation' along with it and he beautifully illustrates the tension of temptation in Proverbs 9 between Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly.
Ah … it’s a familiar story. Eve is strolling through the beautiful Garden of Eden when she is surprised by a talking snake.
“Hey, how ya doing?”
“What ya doin?”
“Oh, Adam and I are just walking around … taking in the beauty of God’s creation.”
“Oh, yeah? Lovely. Say, what about that tree over there?”
“What tree? You mean that tree over there? The ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’?”
“Yeah. Look at the fruit on that tree. Gorgeous. Looks absolutely delicious, doesn’t it? Ever been tempted to take a bite?”
“Oh, no. God said that if we eat from that tree, we will die.”
“Nah … did He really say that? Look, I’m telling you that you won’t die. Who ya gonna believe? Me or God? Listen, the only reason that God said that is that He doesn’t want you to know the truth. He’s afraid that if you eat of its fruit, you’ll be like Him, knowing good and evil and you won’t need to blindly follow His orders. You’ll be able to think for yourself. Doesn’t that sound just heavenly?”
“Okay … just one bite. How about you, Adam? Care to take a bite?”
And so, death did enter the creation … and so did something else: free will. God gave us the ability to think for ourselves and make our own choices … but He also gave us the consequences that come with it … such as our never-ending struggle with … ‘temptation.’ Temptation is always a struggle between what I want to do and what I know I should do. If I do something I know I should be doing, then there’s no struggle, right? I struggle when I know, when I try to justify, doing something that I know is something I either should be doing or not doing. The Apostle Paul captured the struggle beautifully:
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me… For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:19, 22-24).
This is the struggle that Solomon has so brilliantly analyzed in Proverbs 9. In verses 1 through 6, he describes the house built by Wisdom. Listen carefully to how Solomon describes it: “… she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table” (Proverbs 9:1b-2).
The first thing to note is that she built her house and established it on a firm foundation … just as God built this cosmos, this creation, this incredible, beautiful universe that we live in … and He established it on the firm foundation of His wisdom. “Let there be light … let there be heaven and earth … let there be land and sea … let there be plants … let there be animals” … and then … when all was ready … “let there be man and woman.” The very order of creation was based on God’s wisdom. In order for humanity to survive, they needed food. In order for the animals to survive they, too, needed food, so God created plants. In order for the plants to survive, they needed land to grow in and they needed food … which came from the water and the sunlight. Without water, without sunlight, the plants would die and without plants the animals would die … and without all of these things, we would die.
This [creation], this universe that we live in … is God’s house built by His wisdom … supported by seven pillars … the pillar hewn out of the darkness … the pillar hewn out of the water … the pillar hewn out of the land … the pillar of life … six pillars hewn by God in six days. Whew! And the seventh pillar was the Sabbath … the day when God called us to sit with Him and enjoy His creation. Doesn’t that just give you God bumps?
Let’s look at Wisdom’s house again. Who built her house? She did. Wisdom’s house, like God’s creation, was built in an orderly fashion. First she built the foundation, supporting her house with seven pillars. She then slaughtered whose animals? Her animals. Why did she slaughter them? To feed her guests … just as God made plants and animals to feed us. She has set her table … provided her guests with a feast … just as God, in this Garden of Eden, in His house, has set a table for us. As Solomon’s father, David, proclaimed: