Genesis 3:1-5, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
One of the most thorough statements of biblical doctrine ever produced is the Westminster Confession of Faith. This confession masterfully summarizes many of the teachings of Scripture and looks to Genesis 1–3 as establishing the covenant of works. Chapter 7.2 of the confession states that in this covenant, “life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.”
As we saw in Genesis 2:16–17, Adam and Eve only had to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in order to fulfill the terms of this covenant. It is impossible for us to know how long our first parents were able to resist the forbidden tree; it could have been hours or even years. Clearly, however, had Adam faithfully endured his period of testing until its appointed termination, he would have guaranteed an eternal reward for himself and for all of his descendants (Rom. 5:12–21).
Prior to consuming the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve understood that obeying God is right and disobeying Him is wrong. The promise of death for disobedience (Gen. 2:16–17) informed them that to rebel against the Lord is evil. Eating of the outlawed tree did not introduce this knowledge; instead, it gave man experiential awareness of evil and an intimate perception of wickedness.
Satan was not wholly incorrect when he told Eve partaking of the banned tree would make her “like God” (3:5), as to be more aware of the horror of sin is to come closer to God’s knowledge of all things (v. 22a). However, as he is wont to do, the serpent never gave Eve the whole truth. He did not tell her man would develop a love for perversion by such knowledge of evil. Moreover, he lied outright in asserting that death would not follow her transgression (v. 4).
To tell half-truths and outright lies is in our enemy’s very nature (John 8:44). He enjoys calling God’s truthfulness and goodness into question with subtlety, as he did with Eve by over-emphasizing what the Lord forbade instead of what He permitted (Gen. 3:1b). His tactics have not changed, so let us beware lest he deceive us as well.
Do you believe in what God has revealed to us? Do you take Him at His word when He tells us He is good and that He never lies (Num. 23:19)? Or do you let your own “knowledge” or experience lead you to embrace disbelief? Perhaps you imply you doubt by not following all of His commandments? Consider an area of your life where you have not lived according to God’s Word. Repent and show you believe in Him by walking in obedience today.
The Forbidden Fruit, Copyright (2022), Ligonier Ministries.