“…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die…Have you eaten of the tree of which i commanded you not to eat?…The man said, ‘The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 2:17 and 3:11-12)
Biblically the ruin of mankind stems from one man’s disobedience. For God created Man and Woman and called them “good.” He gave them but one command of what not to partake, the tree’s fruit. We speak of the Word of God either as the second person of the Trinity, Jesus (“In the beginning was the Word” J0hn 1:1), or the words with which we find in Scripture which are the very words of God himself, either through Prophets, Kings, or Apostles. For Scripture is that blessed revelation that God has bestowed upon mankind so that we might know of the love God has for everyone. Is not God’s word to Adam to not eat from the tree Scripture? It is the word of God, from God’s own tongue, spoken with a purpose and as a command. Why was it spoken? For our best. Calvin states:
“Adam was denied the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to test his obedience and prove that he was willingly under God’s command.” Calvin, Institutes 1.2.4
Have we not heard the robot analogy in regards to free will? Whenever i am in a discussion over the limited nature of our free will, I inevitably will have someone state that “God would not create robots, he wouldn’t feel loved if you came to him out of obligation and not out of the goodness of your heart!” Hence God’s command is that we might know and love Him out of the goodness of our heart, not like a blind robot following a dictator. According to Calvin, God then placed the tree in the garden so as to know and test their obedience to His word. But as my pastor very poignantly pointed out to me, there are many commands and words that God issued Adam and Eve in the garden to partake and obey that could have been disobeyed! This is not the only option that Adam and Eve had the option to disobey. It was however the only prohibitive command from God in the garden.
Therefore, Adam could have disobeyed any of God’s commands, either by acts of omission or comission. He indeed disobeyed the living word of God in his act of comission, eating the fruit. In this act of disobedience, the very truth of God’s word was disobeyed. Adam turned himself into a god. He put his own selfish desires before the living truth of what God had told them was best for them. His disobedience allowed the creep of sin to entangle all mankind. For what is sin but an act of unfaithfulness in the holy word of God. Where “disobedience was the beginning of the fall…unfaithfulness, then, was the root of the Fall.” (Calvin, Insitutes 1.2.4)
(ORIGINALLY POSTED: July 17th, 2008)