When I was a teenager, my mom would suggest (strongly, in her frustration) that I read the Bible. I didn’t want to do that because I thought the Bible was about all the perfect people who never sinned. I didn’t want to read about them because it would make me feel worse about myself. Boy, was I wrong! There’s only been one sinless person - Jesus Christ, the Son of God! And there are only two sin-free chapters in the entire Bible, Genesis 1 and 2. Genesis 3 is where all that God created as “very good,” changes forever. His plans do not change, but sin is introduced to the world and the eyes of mankind are opened because after their sin, they know both joy and shame. Everything in the Bible after Genesis 2 is about human nature, thought processes, reasoning, and God’s infallible LOVE despite the sinful commiserations and deeds of those He created in His own image.
We read in Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’” We assume the serpent was the devil or Satan or one of his angels speaking through a snake, as evil spirits do find willing creatures to speak for them. This assumption is based on Revelation 12:9, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” The NIV translation uses the word crafty to describe the serpent, but other translations say shrewd, subtle, cunning, and sneaky. We can see his character illustrated in the question he asks, Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ I visualize his head cocked to the side, and a facial expression of, “surely not!” I hear his voice as one that makes God’s seem ridiculous, like, ‘Are you serious? All these trees and all this fruit, and God said you can’t eat it? What’s His problem?”
Eve’s response (Gen. 3:2-3) doesn’t quell the inquisition because she misstates what God actually said. “The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” First of all, there are two trees in the middle of the Garden and only one is forbidden. Second, that is not what God said. In Gen. 2:16 “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” In Eve’s defense, at the time of God’s statement, she had not yet been made. God was speaking to her husband who, we must assume was responsible for relaying the message/warning to her. We then wonder, where Adam was while Eve and the serpent were chatting. We read in Gen. 3:6 that he was there “with her.” If he was close enough to be handed a piece of fruit, he was close enough to overhear a conversation, and close enough to intervene if he chose to.
“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. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6) In this verse is the first time mankind committed sin - but was it biting from the forbidden fruit or was it before that? When Eve studied the fruit, thoughts were likely brewing in her mind. She was weighing what the serpent said against what God said, although she was incorrect about what God said. When we don’t trust God’s Word, when we allow Satan to cast doubt on the Word of God, that’s our first step down the pathway to sin. When a dating couple knows that sex is to be reserved for marriage, but they contemplate and discuss how intimate they can be without going all the way, or when they discuss it and decide that waiting until marriage is ridiculous, unattainable, and unimportant, it becomes a slippery slope.
Many people wonder why God put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden, but forbade them to eat from it. Some say it was there to test them. Some say it was there to teach them boundaries - what’s His and what’s theirs. Some say it was placed there to give them the opportunity to choose obedience. It was their opportunity to exercise their freewill. I think all of these explanations have merit. God, our Creator, their Creator, knew the future but they did not, just like we do not. Sometimes He puts us in situations that are to prepare us for the future that He has already planned. By setting parameters He was setting them up for future success. They wouldn’t always be the only two humans in the Garden, with more humans to look at, there would be potential temptation all around. God’s intent could have been to teach them restraint, to teach them to develop their skills at yielding not to temptation.
James 1:14-15 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” While we do not know God’s exact reason(s) for placing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we can learn from this situation.
If you are reading this today and would like to give your life over to God - If you have decided that life is too hard to do on your own, maybe you are ready to confess your sins to Jesus. Pray this prayer:
Dear Lord, I come to you today with my head bowed low, and with guilt in my heart. Lord, I am a sinner in need of a savior. Lord, I am a sinner who needs forgiveness. Lord, I am a sinner who wants to repent. Lord, please take my life and turn it around, Lord, I want to walk with you. Lord, I believe that you died on the cross for me and you were raised up from death that I, too can live. Lord, I ask you to forgive my sins and take me as your child. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer and you meant it in your heart, you are saved. God doesn’t reject hearts that are open to Him. Now you need to start reading His Scriptures and find others who are walking with the Lord to walk with you along your journey. If you want to reach out to me for help with your next steps, I welcome you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.