The Good Death of Innocence


“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.”

Adam and Eve were forbidden from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That phrase, “knowledge of good and evil”, as defined by the bible, refers to maturity and wisdom (Deuteronomy 1:39; 2 Samuel 14:17; 1 Kings 3:6-9; Hebrews 5:12-14). Was the prohibition of knowing good and evil a permanent one? No, but Adam and Eve, or the first humans, had to mature to the point where they could partake of it. The tree of life, like milk, is available to the babes, but the knowledge of good and evil, or solid food, is only for the mature.

A sixteen year old girl losing her virginity at a drunken high school party loses her innocence. What comes after is shame and, unless some healing takes place, self destruction. She dies to her innocence but is not resurrected into something better. Her death to innocence becomes a permanent thing leading to corruption. It’s a bad death.

A young woman who loses her virginity on the first night of what will become a life long marriage however dies to her innocence to then be resurrected into a mature woman who knows the fullness of goodness, love, pleasure, and soon motherhood. Her death to innocence is a good death as it leads to a more glorious state of being.

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge prematurely, they died, not to be resurrected into mature humans ready to move out into the wilderness to increase and multiply in a good and glorious way, but rather they died a bad death which led only to corruption. We, who come after, are under that curse of bad death.

Jesus began His mission in a hostile wilderness where, while being tempted by the serpent, proved His wisdom and maturity. He went on to die a good death to then become the first man to be resurrected into a true and perfect human. We who come after are resurrected into that same perfection.

Our bad death becomes a good death to innocence leading on and on to perfection.

Related reading: Predisposed to Rule

Predisposed to Rule

crownA question often asked about the Adam and Eve story is: Why did they fall? And why so quickly? If all was perfect and wonderful, why did they fall at all?

The answer usually given revolves around free will. God wanted them to truly love Him, and they couldn’t do that without free will. Okay, fine, they did have free will. But that doesn’t answer the question of why they chose to fall.

Free will is like gravity. Gravity is a powerful force in the universe, and it effects everything. But, when compared to other forces, gravity is relatively weak. Free will is like that – it is a force in your life, but it is weak compared to other forces in your life.

For example, take two men: one is an alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in three days; the other has only tasted alcohol once and it nearly made him puke – he hates it. Lock both men in a room containing only a full bottle of whiskey. Both men have free will – they can both choose to drink or not to drink, but we all know which man will drink. One man is predisposed to drink while the other is not. The force predisposing the man to drink is stronger than his free will. That doesn’t mean he can’t choose not to drink; it just means he probably will choose to drink. That’s an imperfect example of course, but it helps us to understand why Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

What was the Tree of Knowledge? Read 1 Kings 3:6-9:

“And Solomon said: ‘You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?'”

Also read 2 Samuel 14:17; Deuteronomy 1:39; Hebrews 5:12-14. All these passages show us that a knowledge of good and evil (the ability to discern and judge between good and evil) is a sign of maturity and kingly rule.

Just as the alcoholic is predisposed to choose to drink, Adam and Eve were predisposed to choose to rule. It was not a bad thing for them to want to do this, God created them that way (Genesis 1:26). But, to rule requires wisdom – an ability to discern good from evil. Adam and Eve, at the beginning, were like little children and not ready to to rule fully (Deut. 1:39). God did start them on the path of rule in the confines of the garden, but they had to mature to a point where they could rule outside of the garden.

Enter the serpent. Who was this serpent? I believe it was simply Satan in his naturally created form. Not all angels look alike, it would seem, and not all angels resemble men. The Cherubim and Seraphim are mighty dragon-like angels (Seraphim means “fiery serpent” in Hebrew). Satan himself is called a dragon in the book of Revelation. And why was the serpent there? Well perhaps the serpent, not yet fallen himself, was sent to Adam and Eve to be a tutor, a teacher, to show them how to rule. This would mean that Adam, Eve, and Satan all fell into sin at the same time. There’s no biblical reason to believe that Satan and the angels existed for millions of years before the creation (if there was such a thing as “years” before the creation), and that at some point in that “before-time” Satan fell.

God told Adam and Eve to increase and multiply and to fill the whole earth. Perhaps they needed a tutor who was a crafty beast from the field/wilderness (outside of the garden) to teach them what the rest of the world was like. We don’t know how long the serpent spoke to Eve, but at some point in the conversation, I believe, Satan realized what God had planned for mankind (to rule) and he became jealous.

Satan did not fall because he wanted to be like God, he fell because he wanted to be like Adam. Adam fell because he wanted to be like God too quickly.

Notice that the worst of the punishments fell on the serpent (Gen. 3:14-19), which means that he was the most responsible for the fall. It also means that he was not in the same category as Adam and Eve. God promised salvation to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15b), but not to the serpent.

The serpent understood that to cause Adam and Eve to fall he would need to tempt them to enter into their rule prematurely. The Tree of Knowledge was off limits to Adam and Eve, but not permanently. They would, over time, mature into the ability to eat of it. But the serpent knew that they were predisposed to rule and that that force could be used to overcome their free will to simply obey God. And he was right.

Jesus was also tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11) – and in the same way as Adam and Eve, although no longer in the safety of the garden but in the wilderness itself.

Jesus came to rule (Isaiah 9:6-7), and Satan offered Him a short cut. Jesus truly was tempted to give in to Satan. He desired what Satan was offering. Jesus was, too, predisposed to rule. But, being the first mature man, He did not give in and chose to obey God first. Jesus, being the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49), obeyed God and made the way for all of us to be restored to our true purpose: to rule.

Adam and Eve’s great mistake then was not a desire to know good and evil, or a desire to be like God (those are good things), but rather, their great mistake was not trusting God and not obeying Him. Our predispositions may be stronger than our will, but our obedience to God must be stronger than all.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” ~John 14:15

No Bad Trees in the Garden

God put two special trees in the garden. The “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.” Adam was allowed to eat of any tree as much as he wanted, but he could not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Why then did God put that tree in the garden? Some would say, “Well, God wanted to give Adam free will and the ability to choose to be evil. And, God wanted to know if Adam really loved Him, and He couldn’t have known that unless Adam had a choice to not love Him.”

That’s a good Sunday school answer, but it makes God sound like somebody’s insecure girlfriend. “Adam, sometimes I just don’t know if you love me anymore!” Also, if that reason is the only reason, then the tree could have simply been called the “Tree of the knowledge of Evil” since Adam already knew good–in fact, that’s all he knew.

But the tree was called the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps a better way to say it would be “the tree of being able to discern the difference between good and evil.” Being able to discern the difference between good and evil is called wisdom. If we could only choose a select few in our societies to have this wisdom, who would we choose? Our leaders of course.

In Canada, our leaders have declared that gay marriage and abortion are good things. They have lost their ability to discern the difference between good and evil. What is clearly a hateful thing in God’s eyes has been declared a “right to happiness” in our government’s eyes.

In the bible you will see that the great kings and leaders were also great judges. Solomon was known among the nations for his wisdom, a wisdom that allowed him to discern good from evil. The whole book of Proverbs is a laying out of what is good and what is evil. At the beginning of the book of Judges, we see that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. That’s why God sent in the judges–to discern good from evil. When ever a king lost this wisdom, the whole nation suffered.

Nebuchadnezzar was a great king. In his vision of the statue he was the head of gold–the greatest of all the empires to follow. He had another vision where he was a great tree. All the peoples took shade under his branches. What was that tree in his vision? It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The wisdom to discern good from evil is given to kings.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
~Proverbs 25:2

You’ll notice that with the Old Covenant (the law and the Mosaic priesthood) it was all about bread. The bread of life. But when Jesus came to establish the New Covenant He added something more: wine. And while the bread stayed, the emphasis was placed on the wine.

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
~Luke 22:19-20

He said the cup was the New Covenant, not the bread. Wine is a symbol of maturity. It takes time to prepare good wine. And while you can give a child plenty of bread, you won’t give him wine. The bread of life and the wine of maturity. The Old Covenant (the bread) prepared the way, and Jesus (the wine) brought the covenant to maturity. Jesus is King.

Back to the garden. The tree of life was the bread. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was the wine. Adam was called to be king. But he was not ready to be king right at the beginning. He needed to mature first. If Adam had obeyed God, the time would have come where God would have said, “Adam, you are ready to be king. You may now eat of the tree of knowledge.” But instead, Adam took a short cut, and in doing so forfeited his ability to eat of both trees.

Jesus Christ was called to be king also. When He was tempted in the desert by Satan, He was being tempted to take a short cut. Satan offered Him all the nations. Did Satan have the ability to give Jesus the nations? Absolutely. Satan had authority over all the nations except Israel. But Jesus did not give in. Instead, He bound the strong man and took the authority from Satan through His death and resurrection.

Jesus is the second Adam. Where Adam fell short, Jesus conquered. And now, we who believe, can rule as kings with Him, being brought into maturity by His blood.