The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

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The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

James R. Aist

“…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

For the longest time, I read right through Genesis 3:1-7 not really understanding what the tree of knowledge of good and evil was about. After all, isn’t it essential for us to know what is good and what is evil in order to obey God?  So what is it about us knowing good and evil that upset God so much that He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for it? Then one day, I read in a book an explanation of it that made all kinds of sense to me. And, it truly does explain a lot!

Let’s begin by reproducing Genesis 3:1-7 here: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Next, let’s unpack this passage, point by point, and “Fact Check” each claim:

Claim # 1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. True. This claim that Satan uses subtlety to entice his victims is confirmed elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:14, Ephesians 6:11 and Revelation 12:9);

Claim # 2: And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” True. In Genesis 2: 16-17, God gives this very same instruction to Adam, before Eve was created. They have no excuse;

Claim # 3: “You surely will not die! False. Satan is lying here, in order to set Eve up for the accusation against God that follows;

Claim # 4: “…God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened…” True. Satan begins with the truth, in order to make the lie that follows more easy for Eve to accept as being also true, but he doesn’t tell her the whole truth;

Claim # 5: “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Patently False and not really True! Herein lies (pun intended) the subtle deception. Satan himself was driven by his ambition to be like God (Isaiah 14:14), so he tempts Eve with the same ambition. But, in reality, no created thing can ever be like its creator; not Satan, not Eve. (I doubt that Eve was aware of that fact.) Then, he says she will become aware of good and evil, like God is, and she did (Genesis 3:22). Well, sort of. God’s awareness of good and evil included His authoritative determination of what actually is good and what actually is evil, whereas Eve’s awareness of good and evil was nothing more than her personal opinion, without any authority to actually determine what is right and what is wrong. In other words, her believing that she had been given the last say as to what is right and what is wrong was nothing more than a subtle delusion. Moreover, now that she was aware of good and evil, she was responsible to God for honoring His moral code. Ouch!

To summarize: Satan lured Eve into the delusion that, if she would eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she would not only become aware that there is good and evil in the world, but that she would also, by the same act, commandeer from God the right and the authority to determine what actually is right and what actually is wrong. That is the delusion that ruined everything!

So, “How has that delusion ruined everything?”, you might ask. Well, in a nutshell, this delusion is at the heart of every manifestation of mankind’s rebellion against God (i.e., sin), from the Garden of Eden until now; this delusion that it is OK for every man to do what is right in his own eyes (cf., Judges 21:25); this delusion that there is no “higher moral authority” to which we will be held accountable; this delusion with which every human being is born, the “sin nature” that we all have inherited, somehow, from Adam; this delusion that has caused the whole creation to groan and travail in pain together until now (Romans 8:22).

All was “very good”  between God and man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:31) until Adam and Eve believed a lie of the devil; namely, that they could usurp God’s moral authority to determine what is good and what is evil. That’s when the trouble began. But, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and on earth…” (Psalm 135:6). In the fullness of time, He will end all rebellion against His absolute moral authority and reign on the earth in righteousness and peace, forever. The good news for mankind is that all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will rule and reign with Him. Will you be there?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

“Lead Us Not Into Temptation”

The Temptation of Christ, 1854“Lead Us Not Into Temptation”

James R. Aist

Introduction

Have you ever wondered why Jesus would include the phrase “lead us not into temptation” in His instruction to His disciples concerning prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13? The New International Version reads “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” It struck me as odd that Jesus would say such a thing. At first glance it appears as though Jesus was implying that God the Father tempts people to sin, because, after all, our prayers are to be directed to the Father (John 16:23-24). But, does God really tempt people to sin; and if He does not, then what could Jesus possibly be referring to here? Let’s have a closer look.

Does God the Father Tempt Us to Sin?

James addresses this question directly and unequivocally: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:13-14). This passage makes it clear that Jesus could not have meant to imply that God the Father tempts people to sin when He said “lead us not into temptation.” What, then, could Jesus have been referring to?

The Temptation of Jesus

Perhaps the answer lies in the details of an earlier run-in that Jesus himself had with the Devil. Here’s the way Matthew describes how this came about: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1). Here we see that the Holy Spirit did, in fact, lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, but did He actually do the tempting? No, He did not; the Scripture says that it was the devil who did the tempting; the Holy Spirit only arranged the meeting. If you read on in Matthew 4, you will see that the temptations that the devil used against Jesus were powerful and, potentially, very enticing. Moreover, to trick Jesus into complying, they were bathed in Scripture, making it appear as though it would be within the will of the Father for him to accept the devil’s offers. We can only imagine how difficult it may have been for the human side of Jesus to withstand such temptations. In retrospect, it could have been a terrifying experience for Jesus.

Jesus Was Concerned for His Disciples

What I am suggesting is that the reason Jesus instructed His disciples to pray “lead us not into temptation” was that He, himself, was so severely traumatized by these vicious attacks of the devil that He wanted his followers to be spared the kind and intensity of trial that God the Father, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, had put him through, and that He was concerned that they might not fare as well as He did if they were tested like that. This suggestion seems to be all the more likely when one compares the wording in the two relevant passages: “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted” and “lead us not into temptation.” It makes sense to me that Jesus instructed his disciples to pray “lead us not into temptation” because He didn’t want his disciples to go through what He went through. What do you think?

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)