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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.


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