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What Was Bad About the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

By November 1, 2011July 19th, 2014No Comments

Q. In Genesis 3:22, God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.” Many theologians say “Us” is the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I assume it is good for them to know good and evil. God desires that we grow in knowledge and wisdom to the fullness of His Son, Jesus. Wouldn’t this include knowledge of good and evil? Yet God clearly forbade Adam from attempting to gain this knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

A. In the Garden were many fruit trees from which Adam and Eve could choose to eat (“every tree,” Genesis 2:9, 16). But God firmly told them that they must not eat of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did, they would surely die (v.17). They wouldn’t die physically on the spot, as Adam lived to 930 (5:5); rather, the death was spiritual. Genesis 2:17 literally reads, “Dying, you will die.” In other words, man’s spiritual fellowship with God was broken by disobedience (spiritual death); then, as a consequence, physical death would eventually come (3:19). Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” When any person since Adam and Eve is born into the world, he is already spiritually dead. The new birth is necessary for each person to be made alive spiritually (Ephesians 2:1, 2).

God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden to test Adam and Eve, to see if they would obey Him. He created human beings with volition, the ability to choose to obey or disobey. God wasn’t interested in creating human robots; He wanted people to love and obey Him without being forced. As you pointed out, God is all-knowing (omniscient). He knows good and evil perfectly. Adam and Eve were created with the capacity to know good from evil. However, knowing good from evil in their case was not good, because of the way in which they came to know it. They got it through sinning, through disobedience. In the Garden of Eden—the Dispensation of Innocence—Adam and Eve had nothing but good. They could have continued to enjoy that perfect setting indefinitely, had they obeyed. But they disobeyed, and thus had to experience knowing evil through their disobedience, rather than learning these truths from God if and when they may have needed them. Keep in mind it wasn’t the fruit of the tree that was at fault; it was man’s willful disobedience. Man had failed the test God gave, but we also know the wonderful story of redemption available through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the “second Adam” (3:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22).

God in His perfect grace and wisdom sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden so they would not eat of an additional tree in the Garden known as the tree of life. If they had taken fruit from that tree, they would have remained in their sin forever. The tree of life will one day be available to believers all because of Christ (Genesis 3:22; Revelation 2:7; 22:1, 2, 14, 19).

Speaking of Adam and Eve, let me say that I am quite frequently disturbed these days by various so-called evangelicals who seem to be questioning and outright denying a number of Scriptural truths. Recently Baptist Press reported that some evangelicals are now denying the existence of Adam and Eve, and a reporter with National Public Radio interviewed a professor of biology in an evangelical college, asking if all humans descended from Adam and Eve. “That would be against all the genomics evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so [it’s] not likely at all,” answered the professor. He explained that there is simply too much genetic diversity among human beings than would be possible with an original reproducing pair. He affirmed the standard evolutionary line of argument and explained that “modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population—long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago.”

This is utter foolishness and a disregard for the plain teaching of Scripture: Luke 3:23-38 gives us the exact genealogical line from Jesus all the way back to Adam.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

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