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Out of Eden: Thoughts on Free Will, Salvation, & The Tree of Knowledge

imagebase apple tree 2Don’t think of an orange pumpkin.

Did you?

Why do you think that is?

Maybe because of the power of suggestion. Maybe because we humans are rebellious creatures and have a tendency to do the exact things we’re not supposed to.

The Forbidden Fruit

It all started thousands of years ago back in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve, in essence, lived in an earthly state of perfection, or at least as much so as is possible for humans on earth. They lived in a parcel of paradise, like a botanical garden on steroids. Natural beauty was their home, the wonders of creation were their backyard, and God was their next door neighbor. They had everything they wanted and God told them that they could eat freely of every tree in the garden.

Except one.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And, being the fallible human beings that they were…they did.

They ate from that one tree that God told them not to. They had all the other trees in the garden to choose from. There was only one they couldn’t eat from. God gave them a simple command. Don’t eat from that one tree because if you do, you’re going to die.

“Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

Satan knew this was his only way to bring Adam and Eve down and he used it to his advantage. He tempted Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and she listened to him. She ate the forbidden fruit and then, as if that weren’t bad enough, she gave some to Adam and he ate it also.

“The serpent said to the woman, “You won’t surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat 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, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took some of its fruit, and ate; and she gave some to her husband with her, and he ate it, too.” Genesis 3:4-6

The Why

“But why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Wasn’t that like tempting them to do the one thing they weren’t supposed to do? If you tell me not to think of an orange pumpkin, aren’t I going to? If you put me in a room full of treasure chests and tell me not to open the big one in the middle, aren’t I going to try?”

Some of you may be wondering this. You may be wondering why God would even create The Tree in the first place.

I recently found myself presented with this question and, to be quite honest, I didn’t know how to answer it.

So I went and found someone who did.

David B. Capes wrote an article that gives us a logical supposition to help us understand this.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there, in part, to provide humans with a choice: to obey the Voice of God or not. Had there been no choice, there could be no obedience. The ongoing question for us is whether we will choose to follow, love and obey the One True God. Yes, I think God knew that some people would choose to follow. Others would choose to follow their own designs. That is not a failure in God but in us. Had God made us so that we could only love him, then it would be no love at all. Love is at the heart of creation.” (David B. Capes)[1]

If we take this as our answer, then, in essence, God created The Tree for the purpose of giving us a choice. If there had been no Tree, no way for us to choose, no way for us to gain a knowledge of good and evil, how then could we exercise our free will? God didn’t create the Tree to tempt us. God doesn’t tempt people, Satan does. God is perfect and holy and, therefore, does not and will not tempt us. God didn’t create the Tree to tempt us, but to give us a choice.

The Fault

He warned Adam and Eve not to eat from it. He didn’t want them to eat from it, He didn’t want them to screw up and suffer the consequences…but they did. They listened to the devil and made the wrong choice.

God warns us not to sin. He doesn’t want us to sin, He doesn’t want us to screw up and suffer the consequences…but we do. We listen to the devil’s tempting whispers and make the wrong choices.

“Tell them, As I live, says the Lord Yahweh, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11

The fault lies not in God. God is infallible and righteous. The fault lies in our own fallibility and natural sinfulness, in our rebelliousness, and in the choices that follow after Satan’s lies rather than God’s Word and loving guidance.

The Salvation

“what is man, that you think of him? What is the son of man, that you care for him?” Psalm 8:4

In and of ourselves, we are nothing, we are unworthy, sinful, desperate creatures. Yet God created us and He loves us so much He made a way for us to escape our sin. He sent His son Jesus Christ to earth in the form of a human being, knowing full well everything that would happen to Him. They mocked Him, beat Him, scourged Him, and killed Him. He willingly took on the excruciating death of the crucifixion and separation from His father. He took on the sins of the world, including mine and yours. He died for us and rose again, becoming a living sacrifice in order to become our salvation from sin and give us the hope of eternal life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

In the Old Testament, you can read about sacrifices and sin offerings. The reason they had to do this was because there had to be some kind of atonement for sin. God, in His holy and perfect nature, cannot abide sin. Essentially what a sin offering did was transfer the sin-guilt and the penalty of death onto the sacrifice to make atonement for the one who had sinned.

When Christ died on the cross, He became the ultimate sacrifice and eliminated any further need for sin offerings and sacrifices. His death was the ultimate sin offering, His blood the ultimate atonement, His resurrection the ultimate hope.

Salvation isn’t complicated. It doesn’t require a ritualistic ceremony. It’s not reserved for theologians and saints.

Salvation is available to anyone who will accept it.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,” Titus 2:11

All you have to do to gain salvation is to believe, confess your sins, ask God to save you and come into your heart, and commit your life to Him and to following His Word.

There’s no special mantra you have to say, just talk to Him as if He were a friend standing right beside you…because He is.

God is right beside you, holding out His hand to you, ready to take you in His loving arms and give you hope and life.

Will you take His hand?

 

 

[1] Capes, David B.  “Why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” 10/8/2012 School of Christian Thought, Houston Baptist University. Christian Thought. Web. http://christianthought.hbu.edu/2012/10/08/why-did-god-create-the-tree-of-the-knowledge-of-good-and-evil/ 10/16/2014

One thought on “Out of Eden: Thoughts on Free Will, Salvation, & The Tree of Knowledge

  1. Pingback: The Final Amen! « Entertaining Eternity

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