Why Was the Fruit Forbidden in the Garden of Eden?
Why Was The Fruit Forbidden?
Many Bible students ponder the theological questions as to why Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and what the fruit of this tree was. The truth is it came down to a test of freedom.
He (Adam) was commanded to abstain from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, lest he die [Genesis 2:171. The Hebrew language indicates here that if Adam sinned he would die twice! . . . There are two kinds of death . . . physical and spiritual. In the Bible, the theological meaning of the word “death” is “separate.” The death of the body is the separation of soul and spirit from the body.
The death of soul and spirit is their separation from God. This is the death that Adam died, and in Adam we died also. It is in consequence of this death that we are born separated from God, estranged, aliens, Godless, hopeless, Christless [Ephesians 2:12] (GENESIS, Donald Grey Barnhouse, p. 16).
The complete freedom of man in the garden was restricted only by this one prohibition (eat not of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). Since man as yet in a state of unconfirmed holiness, God chose to test the obedience of His creation by placing him in a perfect environment with but one restriction. As God had created him, man was able not to sin. If he had not sinned, he would have been confirmed in righteousness and would subsequently not have been able to sin. Instead, he disobeyed God, died spiritually, and fell into a state that made him not able not to sin (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. I, p. 17).
What About the Image of God?
What about the fact that Adam was made in God’s image? The following comments concern Adam being made in the “image of God.” The Bible uses the terms “image of God” and “likeness of God” as indication of man’s mental and moral nature, his powers of reason and intelligence, his free will and self-consciousness, and his capacity for communion with God (THE BOOK OF GENESIS, Charles R. Eerdman, p. 19).
Although Adam was created in the “image of God,” neither Adam nor Eve were capable of knowing good and evil as perfectly and completely as God knew good and evil. The truth was that Adam and Eve could never attain God’s knowledge of good and evil because, in part, to know evil they had to sin, something which God had never done and something which would be fatal to their [Adam and Eve’s] experiential knowledge of good (PARADISE TO PRISON, John Davis, p. 89).
It should be pointed out that the knowledge of the distinction between good and evil is the property of all oral intelligence, and man [Adam] possessed it from the first. The mere presence of the Tree, apart from the eating of it, gave knowledge, to what extent, of good and evil. Man thus knew the nature of good and the possibility of evil. He sought to know more, to know evil, not as a possibility merely, but as a reality; not negatively, but positively; not by symbol, but in fact, by personal acquaintance and experience, by free and voluntary choice (STUDIES IN GENESIS, Robert S. Candlish, p. 64).
Freely Acting to Break God’s Law
Thus we understand, both [Adam and Eve] acted freely; both knew that they were breaking the law of God – both were guilty of sin; for in the gift of freedom had been involved oral responsibility. They might have chosen to obey God. They chose, however, to disobey; and what is sin but transgression of law? (THE BOOK OF GENESIS, Charles R. Eerdman, p. 19).
A further question to the issue of Adam and Eve and their disobedience to God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is “Why did God permit a temptation which ultimately leads to death and all our woe?” The answer must always be that God will have only that to count as oral behavior which is worthy of a being made in God’s image, freely given and maintained even where the possibility of doing otherwise offers itself. To do what God desires merely because one cannot do otherwise has no moral worth.
It would be a morality like unto that of beams which uphold the house because they have been put in place and cannot but bear their load. To do right where there has never been an opportunity of doing wrong is not moral behavior. The opportunity to do otherwise must present itself. This is temptation. A being who could not even suffer to be tempted would be a poor specimen of God’s handiwork. But the true wisdom of God appears in this, that, though His creature falls, God is still able to achieve His original purpose through the redemption. which is in Christ Jesus, a redemption for which provisions were noted in Genesis 3 (EXPOSITION OF GENESIS, Vol. 1, H. C. Leupold, pp. 145, 146).
To answer the question, “what was the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?” it may be simply stated that the fruit was “forbidden fruit.” With the eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened. They saw themselves as sinners, devoid of their original beauty. They now saw good and evil only from the standpoint of sinners. They now experienced the dilemma described by the Apostle Paul which says, For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do (Romans 7:9).
In other words, they knew good but were unable to do it. They also knew evil, but were unable to resist it. Truly it may be stated that the forbidden fruit was a bitter/sad fruit. As a result of eating the fruit, a keen sense of guilt immediately followed the act of Adam and Eve sinning, and their intimate fellowship with God was broken.
The Shedding of Blood For Sin Offering
Another question often asked by Bible students is: “Why did God choose the shedding of blood as the only acceptable sin offering? What is unique about the shedding of blood?” The Scripture explains that after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons (Genesis 3:7). In a pitiful attempt to replace the radiant garments of their innocence, they sewed fig leaves together. Man has ever since attempted to cover his guilt and assuage his conscience.
His efforts, just as Adam and Eve’s efforts, fall way short of God’s divine demands. Although man’s covering for his nakedness was inadequate, God provided a suitable covering by sacrificial blood – that is, substitutional death of the innocent for the guilty. For Adam and Eve, the sacrifice of innocent animals was the high cost of their guilt and covering of their nakedness. Later it would be the death of the sacrificial Lab of God, Jesus Christ, as He died on the cross of Calvary for man’s sins.
It should be pointed out that the Lord God made the coats of skins, and clothed Adam and Eve in them (Genesis 3:21). In this, God appointed innocent animals to be slain in sacrifice – representing the way in which sin is covered, by the imputed worthiness of the great sacrifice – the righteousness of the lambs slain for sin’s remission. The Lord God Himself “made,” or ordained, this as the method acceptable for covering. . . . The skins have spiritual meaning arising out of the sacrificial se of the beasts to which they belonged. . . . The practice of animal sacrifices is manifestly taken for granted as having the sanction of God . . . (STUDIES IN GENESIS, Robert S. Candlish, pp. 81, 82).
Christ is Our Covering Now
We who claim Christ as our personal Lord and Savior may stand assured that God has provided for the covering of our sins, nakedness, and shame, and for the sinner’s acceptance in His sight: clothing him with a perfect righteousness, the righteousness of a full and finished work of vicarious obedience and expiatory blood. And we may claim as the apostle John wrote: . . . Thou art arrayed in white robes, washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 8:13-14) .
In summary, Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit, thus penalizing man to both physical death (the separation of body and soul) and spiritual death (the separation of soul and God). However, God acted in mercy to provide a way of salvation and demonstrated His grace to cover the shame (sin) of man. Man was separated from God by sin. God determined to prevent his partaking of the “Tree of Life.” To partake of the Tree of Life is to share in the eternal life which is experienced to the fullest in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:2). The only way for sinners to partake of that life is through faith in Jesus Christ, whose coming was prophesied even in Genesis 3:15.