YOU HAD ONE RULE!
Adam & Eve
“And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.””
Read Genesis 2:15-3:24
• Adam & Eve had no concept of Wrong/Bad/Evil
• Adam & Eve were only able to process information & make choices
• We make a mistake when we judge Adam & Eve by post-fall standards
Adam & Eve had no concept of Wrong/Bad/Evil
Genesis 1:25 tells us, when God finished making everything, just before He made Adam, He looked at His creation and declared it all good. Everything around Adam and Eve was good. God created it that way. Like small children, Adam and Eve had no concept of bad or evil. In fact, they probably had no idea what it meant for things to be good. Everything simply “was.” Children don’t understand good/bad. For this reason, parents take steps to protect their children from harm since words often have no meaning for them. The same was true for Adam and Eve. I believe they were simply unable to understand it would be wrong for them to eat fruit from the tree.
Adam & Eve were only able to process information & make choices
As a young child, my sister disobeyed my father because another adult told her it was all right for her to do the very thing my father had told her not to do. My sister was not being disobedient. She simply didn’t understand she was about to do something wrong. One adult had said don’t do it, another adult then said it was all right. My sister simply followed the words of the second adult. Right/wrong had no meaning to her at that age. She simply processed the information given to her and followed the directions offered.
God told Adam and Eve everything in the garden was there for their enjoyment and use. There was only rule, God explained, do not eat the fruit on one specific tree in the garden. They accepted this information and stored it until other information was offered that overrode the original information. Yes, I guess know it makes them sound like robots, androids but all they could do was accept information. Adam and Eve had feelings but they had no frame of reference when it came to reflecting on information and considering options. When they were told to do something or not to do something, that’s the action they took until they were told something else. As I said before, they were like young children. I don’t feel they made decisions on their own. They had to be given instructions first.
We make a mistake when we judge Adam & Eve by post-fall standards
I have taught this story a few times and I always give it the same name. Let’s face it, Adam and Eve lived in paradise with only one rule to follow: Don’t eat the fruit off THAT tree. Only one rule, I would say, and they still couldn’t follow it, they still managed to break that one very simple rule. And it’s not like they were in need of food, forced to eat forbidden fruit. Nope, they ate it just because they wanted to… or so I thought.
You see, I was always stunned they went ahead and ate that fruit when they knew it was wrong… or did they? Did they know it was wrong? I don’t think so. Yes, God had told them not to eat fruit off that one tree but Adam and Eve didn’t understand it was WRONG to eat it. They didn’t understand wrong. They didn’t understand right. They didn’t understand any of that until they ate that piece of fruit.
The mistake we make when we reflect on this story begins with the name of the tree. Often, I have heard it referred to as the Tree of Knowledge. This implies the fruit would make Adam and Eve smarter, that they would then know the things God knows. Not quite. The correct name of the tree is The Tree of Knowledge of Good from Evil. This tree didn’t offer intelligence. This tree offered discernment. Until then, Adam and Eve were unable to see evil, to feel fear. It was all good. There was no fear. When you have no knowledge, no recognition of evil, there is nothing to fear. Once they ate that fruit, they were able to recognize evil. In that moment, they knew they had done something wrong. This is proven when Adam and Eve hide from God when they hear Him walking in the garden. God asks why they hid. Adam explains they heard a noise and hid because they were afraid. They had never hidden before when God walked in the garden. That one piece of fruit changed everything. That piece of fruit introduced fear into the world and, with it, sin.
The serpent convinced Eve, who then convince Adam, to eat the fruit by telling them God didn’t want them to eat from that tree because they would then know the things God knew. The enemy had them believing they shouldn’t let God keep things from them, that they had the right to know everything God knew. We can see how foolish this sounds to us today but Adam and Eve didn’t know better so they were easily influenced.
We often make bad choices out of fear. We can be influenced to do things, even things we know are wrong because another person scares us with an excellent argument. Many successful advertising campaigns and political campaigns are built on a message of fear. If we don’t buy a certain product or service, if we don’t vote for a certain person, the results would be catastrophic for us and, even more important, for our families. Fear often drives us to sin since sin is a byproduct of fear.
We must avoid making a knee jerk reaction out of fear. We need to listen to the small, still within us, telling us if we are making the right decision or warning us in a effort to stop us from making a bad decision. Unfortunately, we sometimes become stubborn, refusing to listen to the better angels of our nature. Like a naughty child, we insist on doing it our way. Unlike Adam and Eve, we know better. We must overcome our fear, take a breath and do the right things.
Faith Vs. Fear
Faith and fear only enter the story, and our lives, once Eve and Adam eat the fruit from the tree. And with that fear comes sin as I discussed before. Fear causes us so many problems in life when we surrender to its power rather than standing firm and strong in faith. Following the Fall, fear becomes a major player throughout the Old Testament. Fear is also present in the New Testament, however, the New Testament also presents Jesus. I believe Jesus not only came to wash away our sin. He came to eliminate our fear and, with our fear, take away our tendency to sin. With the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, with the forgiveness of our sins, we are better equipped to overcome fear than those whose stories are told in the Old Testament.
One piece of fruit, one act of disobedience and humanity still carries the burden of that decision. We must always consider the powerful impact of even our most insignificant sin before we make a mistake that may impact others for years to come. Adam and Eve may not have known better when tempted with that fruit. We can’t plead ignorance. We know better.
What tempts me? How does fear affect my ability to resist temptation?
How does this lesson apply to my life? How can I resist temptation?
What can I do to strengthen myself against temptation? How can I work to recognize the fears that cause me to be weak?