God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, not because He did not want them to have the knowledge of good and evil…but profoundly at the deepest level of brilliant foresight and perfect divine love…God knew that eating a piece of fruit from a special tree could not possibly impart the depth of a genuine knowledge of good and evil.
A timeless and eternal God in Revelation 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world, meaning that God anticipated the fall of man and the need for redemptive salvation by grace through faith…rather than self-salvation through a program of reformation by self-performance of good works…far ahead of time.
Eating the fruit only gave Adam and Eve the recognition and awareness that they were naked.
It did not add virtue to their characters.
The temptation in the Garden of Eden by Satan in the beguiling spiritualized apparition of a beautiful talking serpent was in the form of two subtly destructive lies that are at the low, corrupt bottom of the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light.
The first subtle lie was that eating this fruit would make Adam and Eve “as gods knowing good and evil,” which is a classic half-truth lacking the fine-print details.
Knowing we are morally imperfect (naked) by itself is only one leg of the three-legged stool required as a minimum to be “as gods”…missing the other two legs of divinely timeless foresight and perfect moral goodness.
The second subtle lie was that this temptation contained the character assassination of God, questioning the motivation, reliability, and trustworthiness of God’s word.
We do not understand redemptive salvation rightly.
Yes, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ eternally redeem believers from our sins by grace through faith.
This is as orthodox as can be…central to the Christian gospel message.
But there is an even higher underlying principle that we talk around the edges of but do not fully understand, the power of which is not only overwhelming in revealing the brilliance of the God of the Bible…but also may answer the single fundamental question of this life and why we are here.
Every Spirit-born Christian understands the basics that Jesus took upon Himself our sins so that the Father can view us through Christ…in our still fallen yet redeemed nature…so that we can experience a relationship with God purchased for us through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is the simplicity of the Christian gospel message that can and does launch the new life of faith free from the bondage to sin.
But in my opinion there are two important connecting dots that have been missing until now.
The first dot is the recognition that the people of faith in the Bible and modern Christians today…pursue our callings through the vehicle of a fallen nature…the “earthen vessel” described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:7).
This is the God redeemed and sanctioned 4-wheel drive vehicle that transports us over the rough terrain of this life in the one-and-only research program that opens up our understanding of the knowledge of good and evil…enabled by grace through faith and not self-performed good works.
The second missing dot until now is the recent discovery in the past few decades by modern science of complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated systems of information everywhere we look in the natural world.
This second dot points towards an intelligent designer God having unimaginably precise architectural and engineering acumen…which then carries over into the biblical narrative stories of faith revealing a composer of life-scripts having equally purposeful direction and creatively brilliant insight.
These two dots further connect our understanding of the temptation in the Garden of Eden…with the cross and the resurrection…a through-line constructed of pure love and brilliant light, entirely for our benefit in a narrow way that could never have been the product of human literary mythological fiction.
The difficulties of life are not comeuppance for our rebellion and fall in the Garden of Eden, universally applied to the human race.
The challenges in this life, the things that continue to knock us down and have the appearance of fighting against our obtaining the “good life of ease” (Gen. 16:2, 43:14; Est. 4:16; Mt. 16:22) are not payback for our shortcomings.
This is truly and simply the only way we could through empirical first-hand experience obtain a workable knowledge of good and evil…to be able to comprehend the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts using the microscopic and telescopic lens of the humility of an “earthen vessel” to venture out into a research program in this likewise fallen and broken world.
How is Paul going to be able from Damascus onward to research the real truth that becomes his New Testament letters to the early churches…without being buffeted along the road of a research program that by the divine intention of God has many pitfalls, obstacles, and pot-holes along the way?
The divine love and brilliant pure light of God uniquely manages to combine the redemptive salvation of grace by faith with God-composed journey of faith life-scripts after the pattern of the biblical narrative stories of faith…so that we can not only experience a personal relationship with God…but also so that we can in the most counterintuitive and divinely created way pursue a real understanding of good and evil that was inaccessible through the rebellious route of going our own way by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.