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Summary: “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).

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Choosing between life and death

“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).

It is clear that this was the only forbidden tree, or what is commonly called the forbidden fruit. Of every tree, by contrast, was free for the taking. It should be plain, therefore, that the evil was not in the fruit itself, but in the choice to eat it, against God’s clear command: “You shall not eat.”

God created man and placed him with perfect order in a garden to enjoy perfect peace, joy and happiness. Genesis chapter one is a very simple narrative of the creation of the world; Simple, yet majestic in its beauty and profound in its depth when we come to Chapter 2 we find a kind of recapitulation of the main event of Chapter 1, i.e., the creation of man. Here we are given much greater detail of the story of God's making of man.

The basic message of Genesis 2:16-17 is that God alone knows what is good for humanity and God alone knows what is not good for us. God had to give Adam and Eve a choice. Without free will to choose, Adam and Eve would have been mere robots, simply doing what they were programmed to do. God created Adam and Eve to be “free” beings, able to make decisions, able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice. True love always requires choice. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose to love and trust Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. To enjoy the “good” we have to trust God and obey him. If we disobey, we will have to decide for ourselves what is good and what isn’t good. That’s what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents: ethical awareness. It’s a reference to all moral knowledge: the ability to create a system of ethics and to make moral judgments.

The tree of the knowledge of good & evil mentioned in scripture only in this verse, largely because its effects have become widespread. But the tree of life reappears again in the book of Revelation. In Genesis 2, the Lord gave a command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Eve began to listen to another voice and did not hold firmly to her Creator's words. All that Satan had to do was plant a single doubt about God's integrity and offer Eve one appealing advantage of doing things her own way—and she fell for it. The world is filled with voices that vie for our attention and influence our thoughts and actions. Throughout the day, consider the messages that are sent your way through the media and people. Consciously begin to compare them to what Scripture says about God and His ways. Remembering what God says in the Bible is our safeguard against deception and temptation.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it…..” (Genesis 3:6)."

Eve added three more benefits to the temptation: the fruit is good for food and a delight to the eyes and attractive for wisdom. This moment in time is referred to as the "Fall of Man." Adam and Eve desired to gain "wisdom" and ate the forbidden fruit. In other words, they wanted to be like God apart from Him indwelling them. When they ate the fruit they died spiritually and sin entered the world. God removed His life from them. That life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, was the life that gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 says “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Without it all they had left was their own understanding. The fruit of Adam and Eve's decision has echoed throughout history. Religions, universities, museums and libraries are full of mans attempts to discover wisdom, knowledge and understanding apart from God. In many ways, they are the futile attempts to explain God and His creation while leaving Him out of the process. It is the best that men without God can attain.

The choice of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is man acting apart from God, man pursuing goodness according to his self-will, man hastily and impatiently seeking after the knowledge that God has not granted, and man pursuing progress by his own means rather than by trusting in God. What all these mean is that man is simply acting alone and independently, outside of God. The purpose for God to create and save man was for man to depend on Him. God wants us to have no activity apart from Him. He wants us to administer His will on earth through us. God wants us to realize that we are helpless and that we should depend on Him wholeheartedly. This is why Jesus said “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5)

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