A Christian debate about the fall in paradise.
|Paradise and the tree of good and evil.
The beauty of Eden, God's creation for Adam and Eve, our first parents, is beyond our imagination. Furthermore, it is incredibly hard for us to understand how wonderful life in this garden must have been. All human needs were fed abundantly and continuously. There were no illnesses and there was no death, no heavy or meaningless labour, no maintenance of human works or structures and no money. As for spiritual things, spiritually everything was great. There were no evil desires, thoughts or ideas, no mixing of good and evil. There was no guilt, shame or regrets. Best of all though, must have been the fact that Adam and Eve could commune with God. Yes, as it states in the Bible, God visited His image bearers in the cool of the day. There was only one thing that could mar this beautiful setting. For this we need to look in the middle of the garden where there were two special trees; one was the tree of life and the other the tree of right and wrong. (Genesis 2:9.)
Why would God have done things this way? Why on earth did He plant the tree of right and wrong in the middle of this perfect garden? Did God really need to create such a tree? These questions are extremely common arguments against our God. Such people are called protest atheists. Indeed this form of unbelief sees humanity as a victim of a revengeful and vindictive God, and in disgust they refuse to serve or submit to Him.
Indeed many unbelievers today blame God for the suffering in this world. They argue that God did not need to put this particular tree in paradise, and that even if He did, He didn't need to punish people with such heavy curses.
Insight into these questions are often very important to Christians today, as many believers struggle with similar questions. Why, for example, did God not forgive our first parents of the wrong committed? Why did thousands of years have to pass, with billions upon billions of people suffering, sinning and dying? Yet all God had to do in paradise was to forgive Adam and Eve, you would think.
However the above views have little understanding of the marvellous complexity of Creation and the utter devastation Adam and Eve caused by their wilful disobedience. Clearly the two trees in paradise represented spiritual realities. The tree of life, for example, produced fruit that when eaten continued life. As long as Adam and Eve ate from it their lives would persist. On the other hand, the tree of good and evil also represents spirituality but instead of life it causes death. God warned His creatures about the fact that good and evil in our hearts don't produce lasting good.
When we read the story of the fall in paradise we can see the truth for ourselves.
"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'?" The woman said to the serpent "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but 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."
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when 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 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 3:1-6. NIV)
See? Here we are told that the devil, a fallen angel, had been scheming carefully. He knew that the tree of good and evil was his only chance to become the god of this world. We must not doubt that this was his goal. (Isaiah 14:3-17) For he presented Adam and Eve with the lie twisting the truth in such a way that the infamous fruit was taken and eaten by both God's image bearers. Can you see that evil was really around?
Here is what happened, untrue thoughts and feelings entered Eve's heart – the devil's lies fed her spiritually. These were prevarications which brought the suggestion to become as wise and powerful as God Himself and to simply eat the fruit of right and wrong because it looked delicious. And so by purposefully ignoring God's dire warning, she reached out and let this inner reality rule the moment and became disobedient. Consequently Eve ate, and Adam followed in her footsteps.
Retrospectively Satan had spoken a half-truth for Adam and Eve now knew good and evil. Yet as God had warned their life crumbled instantly. Their eyes were opened and they understood what was within this reality of good and evil. For look, they became aware that they were naked, can you see the infamous fruit spreading its poison, bringing instant shame, guilt, fear, hiding away and blaming. Spiritually God's created good, truthfulness, inner bliss and constant happiness died. In other words, paradise and eternal life was already lost to them.
The tree was there as a warning with real-life consequences, for now evil wrong has found a place within humanity. The devil took his new position as ruler starting his diabolical rule. He is the one that shapes spirituality after his own nature, shame, guilt, hiding, blaming, fear and scores of other inner thoughts and feelings which cut us off from good-bringing evil into our spiritual being and killing it. It is not for nothing that one of the names of Satan means Destroyer.
God didn't interfere because, as His creatures in charge, we have been created with a freewill. God would have had to destroy our psyche - we would have turned into robots who could only do "programmed good" for eternity-no Godlike image in that, no freedom in such a thing either.
How on earth could it be God's fault that evil is possible? Is it God's “mistake” that freedom of choice means the possibility for someone to make the wrong choice?
This is what the tree of good and evil was for - a warning not to eat from such a reality. For how can good in a truthful setting - the reality of Adam and Eve before the fall - mix with evil lies and expect to remain untouched? Our spirits could be compared to water or even air, and we know that once this is polluted, it takes an enormous effort to become clean again. (As it took God, in Christ, an enormous effort to clean us. (Romans 5:12-20 ))
Clearly protest atheists, and all who blame God for the world's misery, have it terribly wrong. The Bible tells us that the devil is guilty party number one. He has by deliberately misleading Adam and Eve caused untold misery in God, creation, and in the hearts of Adam and Eve's descendants.
The devil has directly and indirectly caused all the pain and suffering creation has gone through. A fiery lake is awaiting him as repayment - and that is a really good thing surely? (Revelation 20:10) Not so good is the fact that humanity at large is still under Satan's control. Tell-tale symptoms that we are controlled by his wrongs are ongoing thoughts and feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, confusion and its insecurities, doubt and fear, and/or becoming more selfish, arrogant, violent, dishonest, greedy and lustful. They show that we still listen to the devil, either accusing us with our wrongs or talking us better than we are. Trying to make us do right in our own strength or giving ourselves over to his wicked suggestions. In these scenarios the Dark one is still playing the god of our lives.
The devil continually uses our wrongful sin to kill indwelling good and has ruled humanity this way bringing untold suffering, yes, devilish horrors upon Creation as a result. God didn't bring such wicked evil – Satan, often in co-junction with us, did. (See the story of Job and Jesus, for example.) After the fall into sin, God wasn't our Father King any more-Satan was. Life wasn't free or eternal any more. Instead, the devil keeps using wrong within, killing our potential to produce lasting good. Through deception Satan became the god of this world and creation still groans today as result of this. (Romans 8:20-23) He has been on this throne for thousands of years already - the true power broker behind the darkness in world's current affairs.
On the other hand we have Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, who refused to listen to Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). He refused to be divided within. He stayed both truthful and loving - the two spiritual trademarks of our God. Even in the end, when humanity under the influence of the devil dragged Him to a cross, and an early agonising death, Jesus stayed true to God the Father, Himself and to us.
Please understand that Jesus was killed by wrong, Wickedness murdering God's good-even as Satan murders the truth in us, killing the opportunity of lasting good to grow within our soul. So the Chosen ones die at the Devil's hand, often people, both those who think themselves righteous as well as those who are unrighteous, helping him eagerly to achieve all that.
Yet God The Father raised Jesus from death, making Him victorious over Satan and his henchmen. This makes Jesus Christ the true liberator.
He has broken the curse, and if you seek Him with your entire heart, submitting to His rule of love, you will also taste the victory of the cross. In Him our lives of good and evil ceases. The curse replaced with true life - for all that we can find inside of our nature as humans. His love setting us free to rule our own selves again free to love everyone. True freedom once more, us, seeking, loving, adoring, praising, thanking, glorying, worshipping, submitting, and prostrating ourselves to God's truth. Indeed in Jesus we can not die any longer - instead we may reign with Him forever.
That is the deal I'm committed to - no more eating of the fruit of right and wrong. Instead I eat the bread of life, the bread that Jesus sends to those who put their trust in Him. (John 6:35-40)