UNDERSTANDING GENESISBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
The Book of Genesis contains the record of humanity's beginning and the foundation and basis of all subsequent biblical revelation.
As with all studies of the Bible, there is truth for those who search for it. Likewise, a thorough study of the third chapter of the Book of Genesis reveals truth that has been hidden for centuries. Specifically, this study reveals what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolized, why God forbid Adam and Eve to touch it or eat its fruit, and why Satan was so intent on deceiving Adam and Eve into disobeying God's instructions.
Additionally, this study shows the following:
THE GARDEN EXPERIENCE
Genesis 2:8-9 KJV
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden , and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
After finishing the creation process, the Lord God planted a garden for the benefit of Adam and Eve that must have been truly awesome in beauty and design. Moreover, Genesis chapter three describes this garden as a place with plenty of good food and a perfect climate. All of this was designed for Adam and Eve's maximum comfort and enjoyment. In the middle of the garden there were two magnificent trees that were the focal point and central theme of the entire garden. The fruit of each of these trees held the destiny of humanity.
Genesis 2:15-17 KJV
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die."
Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but they could eat of the Tree of Life. What was God's reason for forbidding them to eat the fruit of this tree and having the knowledge that it would impart?
"Now the serpent [Satan] was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, " Is it true that God has said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden?" (v1 Para.).
Satan who is the master of deception questions Eve to see if she understood what the Creator had said regarding the trees in the garden. Notice how the Interlinear Bible translates this passage:
"And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die;" (vs.2-3 KJV).
Eve knew that God had not only forbidden them to eat fruit from this particular tree but also he had forbidden them to touch it. It seems that the Creator had made it very clear to Adam and Eve that this particular tree was something very dangerous to their well-being; it was so dangerous that to even touch it would bring the death penalty.
"And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (vs.4-5 KJV).
Satan tells Eve a lie in order to deceive her into a false sense of security; however, he tells her the absolute truth about the understanding that would be gained from eating the fruit of this particular tree. This truth with the suggestion from Satan that the Creator was trying to keep something from them that was highly desirable was more than Eve could resist:
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to look at, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took some of its fruit, and ate it, and also gave some of its fruit to her husband who was with her, and he also ate it" (v6 Para.).
The English word 'wise' in verse 6 is translated from the Hebrew word 'sakal', which means 'insight' or 'comprehension'.
Many people believe that, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they gained wisdom along with knowledge; however, this was not so, because wisdom is the ability to make the right choices. Obviously Eve did not have prior wisdom or she would have never touched this forbidden tree, and if she had gained wisdom from partaking of its fruit, she would not have given it to her husband. Moreover, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they still did not have wisdom; they only had knowledge.
Adam and Eve were wise in that they gained the knowledge of good and evil. Whether they had the wisdom to follow the instructions that God gave them after their disobedience until their death is not known. However, if they did follow God's way until their death, they would be considered to have possessed true wisdom.
When a wise person is confronted with a decision about whether or not to obey God, they will make their decision based on the law of God.
Verse 6 shows Eve being overcome with the desire to have this forbidden knowledge that would make her equal with her Creator in having insight and understanding into good and evil.
"And their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and covered themselves. (v7 Para.).
WHY WERE THEY ASHAMED OF THEIR NAKEDNESS?
Why were Adam and Eve ashamed of being naked? They were man and wife and there was nothing wrong with being naked in front of each other. They were not ashamed of this nakedness before eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:25). Therefore, what caused them to be ashamed after they had touched the tree and ate its fruit?
Apparently, the immediate result of their disobedience was instant knowledge; they understood what was right and what was wrong. Their eyes were opened to know good and evil, just as the serpent had said. And this knowledge showed them that they had become sinners and were naked before God.
The obvious implication of verse 7 is that the opening of Adam's and Eve's eyes was linked to their newfound knowledge of good and evil. Before they disobeyed God, they had no knowledge of good nor evil, because one cannot recognize evil without having the knowledge of good by which to measure evil. There is no short without tall, no black without white, and no evil without good. Likewise, one cannot recognize good without the knowledge of evil by which to make a comparison.
Therefore, when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were opened to know both good and evil. They disobeyed God by touching the tree and eating its fruit and, as a result of this act, their eyes were opened to know both good and evil. They then understood and recognized that they were in a condition of sin, which was in contrast to the condition of God who could not sin.
This is apparently why Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness in front of each other, and why they attempted to hide themselves from God. They were ashamed because they knew that they had broken their Creator's law and their crime would be known to him. Moreover, they knew their hearts were as an open book before Godbeing condemned to death, as sinners under the law, they stood naked both physically and spiritually before him:
"And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (v8 KJV).
Eating the fruit brought the realization that they had become evil; they had disobeyed their Creator and realized they were completely naked before him, so they hid themselves, knowing that what they had done was evil.
WHAT GIVES HUMANS THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL?
There is only one idea in the entire Bible that symbolically mirrors the description of the two trees which is given in Genesis 3:5-6. The Tree of Knowledge is not symbolic of Satan nor is it symbolic of sex, as some people believe. Moreover, the Bible does not teach that either Satan or sex are the source of wisdom or the knowledge of good and evil. Actually, this tree represents the law of God!
One of the most simple scriptural proofs that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents God's law is Moses's explanation of what God's law is and what it would do (Deut.30:15-19). In this account, Moses gives Israel all of the laws that God had given him including the 10 commandments. When one studies the Book of Deuteronomy it becomes clear that Moses gave his discourse in one day and what he related to Israel was the law of God concerning what constitutes good and evil.
After eating the fruit of the tree, Adam and Eve knew what was good and what was evil. But what is good and what is evil? According to the Bible, to be good is to obey God's law, and to be evil is to disobey his law. So the fruit must have opened their minds to understand the law of God, which includes the law that the Creator gave to Moses to give to national Israel. It is apparent that, after Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the law of God that defines good and evil was revealed to them.
GOD'S LAW REVEALS THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
GOOD AND EVIL
For centuries people have tried to understand and define what is good behavior and what is evil behavior in accordance with their personal philosophy, religious belief, or contemporary ethics. However, what does the Bible say is good or evil and how to understand and define what is good or evil?
Deuteronomy 30:15-19 KJV
After he had repeated the major points of the law of the covenant to Israel Moses says, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil (v15).
Blessings for Obedience to the Law
"In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply: and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it (v16).
Curses for Disobedience to the Law
"But if your heart turn away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce to you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, where you passed over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live" (vs.17-19 KJV).
Moses clearly told Israel that obedience to God's law would bring them tremendous blessings (good) and that disobedience would bring horrible curses and death (evil).
THE LAW DEFINES WHAT SIN IS
For centuries there has been much debate and confusion as to what constitutes sin. The apostles Paul and John give a clear and concise definition of what reveals the knowledge of sin and exactly what sin is.
"Now we know that the things the law says, it says to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be silenced, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, no one can keep the law and be justified in God's sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom.3:19-20 Para.).
"What then shall we say, Is the law sin? No, But I did not understand sin except through the law. For also I did not understand lust except the law says, You shall not lust" (Rom.7:7 Para.).
"Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1.Jn.3:4 KJV).
"All unrighteousness is sin" (1.Jn.5:17 Para.).
Clearly, God's law is the standard of good in the eyes of God and evil is the result of opposition to his law. Sin is any deviation from God's righteous laws, precepts, and principals that define how a person should live their life and worship God.
EATING THE WORD OF GOD
The physical act of eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil did not make Adam and Eve sinners; eating the fruit revealed to them what sin was. This same process is applied as an analogy in reference to eating the law and word of God as food.
"Your words were found, and I did eat them; and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart . . ." (Jer.15:16).
Before Ezekiel was sent to preach to the rebellious House of Israel, he was told to 'eat' God's Word, which was said to be like honey in his mouth (Ezk.3:1-3).
The Book of Hebrews calls God's teachings 'meat':
"But strong meat [solid food] belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb.5:14).
Symbolically eating the teaching of God gives one the ability to discern between good and evil (i.e., have the knowledge of good and evil).
Pleasant to the Eyes
Not only is God's law good for food but also it is pleasant to the eyes. It is God's wisdom that enlightens the eyes:
"Open you mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law" (Psa.119:18).
"The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psa.19:8).
WHAT WAS THE FRUIT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL?
The literal meaning of the Hebrew word 'periy' which is translated into the English word 'fruit' in Genesis 1:29 is 'fruit' or 'that which is produced to propagate its species'. Although the tree and its fruit were actually in the garden of Eden, the tree and fruit also have a symbolic meaning.
The scriptures show that the tree and fruit are symbolic of the end result of deeds, thoughts, or teachings:
"Therefore shall they eat of the fruit [result or end result] of their own way, and be filled with their own devices" (Pro.1:31). See also Hos.10:13.
"The fruit [end result] of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise" (Pro.11:30).
"Say to the righteous, that all shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit [end result] of their doings" (Isa.3:10). See also Pro.31:3.
"A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit [end result] of his mouth: and the recompense of a man's hands shall be rendered to him" (Pro.12:14).
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit [end result] thereof" (Pro.18:21).
In the New Testament, the word 'fruit' (Greek: karpos) is also symbolic of an end result:
"But the fruit ( Greek: 'karpos', 'end result') of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. . ." (Gal.5:22-23).
Therefore, the symbolic meaning of 'fruit' always refers to the end result or the climax of some thought or effort.
WAS WISDOM THE 'FRUIT' OF EATING OF THE TREE OF GOOD AND EVIL?
God's law is our source of all wisdom. Wisdom is, therefore, the fruit or end result of obedience to God's law. Righteous wisdom is not derived from knowledge, but it is the result of making the right decisions based on the knowledge of God's truth. The apostle James says:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him" (Jms.1:5 KJV).
Although God gives the knowledge of his truth and the ability to know what to do with it (wisdom) to those who diligently pursue knowledge and truth, he will not force a person to make a wise choice.
Eve made an unwise decision and ate the fruit of the tree that contained the truth of God concerning the knowledge of good and evil.
After Moses led Israel out of Egypt and presented them with God's law and his statutes and judgments, he tells them:
"Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people" (Deut.4:6 KJV).
Solomon, one of the wisest men that ever lived, showed the connection between God's law and true wisdom: "My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you; So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding" (Pro.2:1-2 KJV).
Biblically speaking, wisdom generally implies an ability to conform to the law of God: The choice to do good instead of evil. To have such wisdom requires a knowledge of God's law. Wisdom is having knowledge, understanding, and the discernment to make a right choice in a given circumstance. The 'fruit' eaten by Adam and Eve contained the knowledge (wisdom) of God's law outside of the sacrificial law, which came after God discovered that they had eaten the forbidden fruit.
DID THE TREE CAUSE DEATH?
Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree under penalty of death. But why? Was there death in the tree itself or was death in its fruit? No. The tree did not cause their death; their death was the end result of what they had learned by eating the fruit. By eating the fruit, two things happened that would cause them to die:
1. They became responsible to be wise (make righteous decisions) and keep and apply the law perfectly.
2. They were found in violation of that law, because the law demands perfect obedience to God.
In eating the fruit, Adam and Eve violated the law and, at the same time, they became responsible to keep it. There was absolutely nothing inherently evil in either the tree or its fruit. However, they were guilty of stealing something which did not belong to them; therefore, there was no possible way that they could avoid the death sentence for their transgression: "The wages of sin is death. . ." (Rom.6:23).
Adam and Eve were commanded to abstain from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Once they had disobeyed, they and their descendants were responsible to conform to the knowledge which they gained by eating the fruit of the tree and follow the standard of good or be put to death. Adam and Eve were made responsible to the law in the same way that the nation of Israel was many years later at Mount Sinai where the people vowed: "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do. . ." (Ex.19:8).
Therefore, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represented the law of God, and the act of eating its fruit placed Adam, Eve, and their descendants under an obligation to comply with the law. If they perfectly obeyed the law, God would bless and save them, because the law demands perfection and it promises blessings and life only to those who keep its precepts perfectly.
THE LAW IS THE STANDARD FOR SINLESS PERFECTION
Because God's law is the standard of righteousness, the law itself is unable to make anyone innocent before God:
"By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom.3:20 KJV).
The perfect justice of the law demands the sentence of death upon all law-breakers. The law can only proclaim sinless people to be innocent and worthy of life. Because no human has ever remained sinless, except Christ, the law cannot proclaim any other person to be innocent and worthy of life.
The law was not given to be the basis for salvation. It was given to convict the world of sin and pass the sentence of death upon all men. Its righteous standard was placed far above our reach, so that we would not be able to attain eternal life by our own works, but that we would instead receive life by the grace and mercy of God. See Gal.3:22.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden passed the sentence of death upon humanity, but Christ took that sentence upon himself and nailed it to the tree on which he was crucified.
THE TREE OF LIFE
"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" (Gen.3:22 KJV).
Remember, both trees were in the garden and Adam and Eve had been given permission to eat fruit from the Tree of Life. But this permission was denied after they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Before eating from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve could have eaten of the Tree of Life and lived forever. However, when they disobeyed God, they and their descendants lost access to the Tree of Life:
"Therefore, the Lord God sent Adam from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from where he was taken" (Gen 3:23 Para.).
CHRISTTHE TREE OF LIFE
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is symbolic of the perfect law of God, and eating from it brought the sentence of a final and eternal death upon all humanity. However, the Tree of Life that was also in the garden held the remedy for the death sentence. It is clear from the Bible that both forgiveness for sin and eternal life are free gifts from God; therefore, it can be assumed that the Tree of Life symbolizes God's grace through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
THE CANCELLATION OF THE DEATH PENALTY
In the Book of Romans, Paul speaks of two laws that are at constant war within the Christian: Obedience to God's law and obedience to the law of sin (transgression of God's law).
"For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who can deliver me from the body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (Rom.7:22-25).
Paul goes on to explain that to "walk in the spirit" is to be in obedience to God's law, and to "walk after the flesh" is to be in disobedience to God's law. Paul explains that Jesus did not come to free us from the obligation to obey God's law, but to free us from the penalty of disobediencedeath.
Romans 8:2-4, 6-8 KJV
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus [obedience to God's law] has made me free from the law of sin [violation of the law] and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh [life as a human], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (vs.2-4).
"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (vs.6-8).
The grace that Christ brought to humanity did not cancel the law of God; instead, the law's death sentence was carried out against Christour substitute.
The Tree of Life (grace through Christ) and the Tree of Knowledge (law) both existed together in the garden. The law provided the righteous standard, and grace through Jesus Christ provided the means by which one could be redeemed from the curse of the law, which is death.
The sons of the Father's new creation (the Father's elect children) live in obedience to the law of God, because the law is written in their hearts and minds:
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and lawlessness will I remember no more" (Heb.10:16-17 KJV).
THE COVERING SACRIFICE
"For Adam and his wife the Lord God made coats of skins, and clothed them" (Gen.3:21 Para.).
God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins in order to initiate the sacrificial system: "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin" (Heb.9:22; 11:4).
God's law provided for an animal life to be given as a temporary substitute for life of the violator of the law. God clothed Adam and Eve with skins, which signified atonement for sin. Their nakedness (sin) was covered by the sacrificial blood (life) of the animal. The sacrificial animals foreshadowed the eventual sacrifice of Christ who would take our sin (nakedness) upon himself. Christ's sacrifice is not a temporary covering for sin like the sacrifice of animals was; Christ has redeemed humanity from sin and his sacrifice removes sin altogether:
"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29 KJV).
Adam and Eve's nakedness had nothing to do with sexual sin as some people believe; it was symbolic of the state of being guilty of sin.
NO LAW, NO SIN!
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, so that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adams transgression,. . ." (Rom.5:12-14 KJV).
Two facts are stated by the apostle Paul. First, through Adam's act of disobedience, the law of God, which brought the death penalty upon all of humanity, was revealed to humanity. Second, before Adam's disobedience, humanity had no understanding of the law; therefore, there could be no violation of law or a penalty for breaking it. With these two facts in mind, it should be obvious that the eating of the forbidden fruit transferred the understanding of the law of God and the penalty for its violation to Adam and Eve.
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can now stand before God clothed in righteousness. See our studies concerning the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
THE PROMISE OF A SAVIOR
After God provided Adam and Eve with the sacrifice of an animal that covered their sins and placed them back in right-standing with him, he promised that someday a savior would come and allow himself to die for them and remove their sins, and through this savior they could have eternal life. In order for Adam and Eve and their descendants to have the promise of forgiveness of sin and eternal life fulfilled, all they had to do was diligently practice the system of worship that God had shown to them.
The Promised Seed
After God had questioned Adam and Eve concerning what they had done, God made the prophetic promise of a savior and the conflict between Satan's and the Eve's seed:
"And I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed [Satan's seed] and her seed; it [the woman's seed] shall bruise your head, and you [Satan] shall bruise his [Christ] heel" (Gen.3:15 Para.). See Matt.13:38; Jn.8:38-44.
The English word 'seed' is a translation of a Hebrew word that is a collective noun which can be taken either in the singular or the plural sense. Studying the context in which the word 'seed' is used is the only way to know if its usage is singular or plural. In Genesis 3:15 the word is obviously to be taken as both singular and masculine, because it's modifying pronouns are he and his.
Contrast the context of this verse with Genesis 17:7, which uses the word seed in the plural: "And I will establish my covenant between me and you [Abraham] and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you."
Here, God speaks of Abraham's 'seed' and 'their generations' (plural), this is definitely not the case with Genesis 3:15, which defines the 'seed' of the woman in the singular (he and his) and the seed of the serpent as plural (your seed, Matt.13:8; Jn.8:44). Who was prophesied to bruise the head of the serpent? "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. . ." (Rom.16:20).
Although God the Father and Jesus Christ are both referred to as Gods of peace, it is Jesus Christ the seed of the woman who is referred to by Paul. Women do not have 'seed', which is something that only men have. Therefore, this prophecy could only be fulfilled in Christ who was not fathered by a descendant of Adam but was born of a virgin after being impregnated with the Creator God (devoid of his divinity and immortality) through the power of God the Father's holy spirit. Therefore, Christ alone fulfills the qualification entailed in the phrase "seed of the woman." Moreover, Satan will be bruised under the feet of Christ's brothers and sisters because they are a part of his bodythe church (Rom.12:4-5; 1.Cor.12:12-27).
THE THREE CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE
People who are called to salvation fall into three distinct categories: Those who are called, but there is uncertainly as to whether or not they will obtain salvation, those who are called, but reject God and his worship system, and those who are called and accept God and his worship system. A close examination of Genesis chapter 3 will reveal all three of these categories of people in the examples of Adam and Eve, Abel, and Cain.
ADAM AND EVE
Many Christian churches teach that the reward of the saved will be a state similar to the state Adam and Eve were in before they disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This belief states that Adam and Eve were created as immortal beings, and if they had not sinned, they would have lived forever in the same state in which they were created. In order to determine if this popular belief is true or not, it is important to look at what Adam's and Eve's physical and spiritual condition was before they sinned.
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die" (Gen.2:15-17 KJV).
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons" (Gen.3:6-7 KJV).
These scriptures show that Adam and Eve were created without the knowledge of what was good and what was evil, and that they were without wisdom. Moreover, after they ate of the tree, they became like God; in that, they knew the difference between good and evil.
After their disobedience, Adam and Eve knew that they stood naked before God as sinners, which is why they tried to hide themselves from him. They knew that they had become cut off from him because of their disobedience to him. Moreover, they knew they were under the law and that any violation of the law would result in the death of the violator.
ADAM AND EVE CALLED TO SALVATION
We do not know whether Adam and Eve will receive salvation, because it is not revealed in the Bible; however, we do know that they had their opportunity for salvation. The choice was theirs to make. If they continued to worship God through the sacrificial system and practiced his law to the best of their ability, they will be in the first resurrection along with their son Abel (Gen.4:4).
THE CALL TO SALVATION
The call of Adam and Eve to salvation, can be seen as an example of the process that the Father uses to call people to salvation.
This is the condition that all individuals are in before the Father calls them to salvation and reveals his truth to them. This condition is very similar to that of Adam and Eve before they ate the forbidden fruit.
Upon calling a person to salvation, the Father reveals enough of his law to them in order to show them that they are in violation of it and need to change from disobedience to obedience. Thereby, each person who is called stands naked before God, because they know that they are a sinner:
"Well then, am I suggesting that these laws of God are evil? Of course not! No, the law is not sinful but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known the sin in my heart the evil desires that are hidden thereif the law had not said "You must not have evil desires in your heart." But sin used this law against evil desire by reminding me that such desires are wrong and arousing all kinds of forbidden desires within me! Only if there were no laws to break would there be no sinning. That is why I felt fine so long as I did not understand what the law really demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized that I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. So as far as I was concerned, the good law which was supposed to show me the way to life resulted instead in my being given the death penalty. Sin fooled me by taking the good laws of God and using them to make me guilty of death. But still, you see, the law itself was wholly right and good. But how can that be? Didn't the law cause my doom? How then can it be good? No, it was sin, devilish stuff that it is, that used what was good [the law] to bring about my condemnation. So you can see how cunning and deadly and damnable it [sin] is. For it [sin] uses God's good law for its own evil purposes. The law is good, then, and the trouble is not there but with me, because I am sold into slavery with Sin as my owner" (Rom.7:7-13 Living Bible).
Each individual is right in his own eyes before the Father's call. But after this call, the Father uses the law to show what sin is. Then, the person who is called comes to the realization that they are a sinner and will die forever unless God forgives them for violating his law .
ABEL, THE RIGHTEOUS
From the very beginning, the message to mankind was to love one another. Cain rebelled against this message, but Abel did not. Because Abel was willing to follow God's instructions concerning how he wanted to be worshiped, Abel was called righteous:
"And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and by the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect to Able and to his offering" (Gen.4:2-4 KJV).
Abel's offering was symbolic of Christ, the Lamb of God, is consistent with the sacrificial system recorded elsewhere in the Bible:
"By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it being dead yet he speaks" (Heb.11:4).
Abel is the first person mentioned in the Bible to receive salvation and is a type of many who would follow his example and be saved.
How Did Abel Receive Salvation?
"For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and killed his brother. And why killed he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (1.Jn.3:11-12).
We can conclude from what John records about Able that he lived a righteous life according to God's standards and is an example of all who are called of God and remain faithful to the end of their life.
CAIN, THE WICKED
Cain seems to be the first incorrigibly wicked person sentenced to the Lake of Fire which is the second and final death. Although Cain acknowledged God as the source of all good, he rejected God's worship system:
"Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and by the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect to Able and to his offering: But to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. . ." (Gen.4:2-5 KJV).
Notice that Cain brought a bloodless offering of the fruit of the ground in contrast to Abel's sacrifice of a lamb from his flock of sheep. Abel's offering addresses a major truth of God's law that proclaims, "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin" (Heb.9:22; 11:4).
In conformity to God's system of worship, Able brought a blood offering; therefore, he acknowledged that he was a sinner and in need of forgiveness. Cain's offering shows rebellion against God's system of worship and the beginning of all false religious systems that attempt to worship God through their own methods, which are in opposition to God's methods.
After Cain made his offering, and understood that God had not accepted it, he became angry at God; therefore, the Creator says to him: "If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not do well, sin [a sin offering] lies at the door. And to you shall be his desire, and you shall rule over him" (Gen.4:7).
The English word 'sin' in Genesis 4:7 is translated from a Hebrew word that means 'sin' and 'sin offering'; therefore, the use of the word emphasizes the complete identification of the believer's sin with his sin offering. In this scripture, both meanings are brought together: "sin lies at the door" and "a sin offering crouches at the door." Cain's bloodless offering was a denial of his guilt and a rejection of God's method of atonement for sin. The Creator appeals to Cain to bring the required offering (Gen 4:7) by saying "If you do well [make the correct offering], shall you not be accepted?. . . and you shall rule over him [sin]" (Gen.4:7).
The Living Bible Paraphrased translates this account as follows:
"And Abel brought the fatty cuts of meat from his best lambs, and presented them to the Lord. And the Lord accepted Abel's offering [because Abel's offering represented Christ], but not Cain's. This made Cain both dejected and very angry, and his face grew dark with fury [Cain was angry at God]. Why are you angry?" the Lord asked him Why is your face so dark with rage?" (vs.4-6).
God tells Cain that if he would repent and bring the proper sacrifice as Able had done, he could be very happy.
"It can be bright with joy if you will do what you should! But if you refuse to obey [God's previous instructions concerning the proper offering]. Watch out [Here is a warning from God]. Sin is waiting to attack you, longing to destroy you [Sin will eventually destroy you if you do not bring the proper offering and have it forgiven and covered.]. But you can conquer it!" (v7).
God gave Cain an opportunity to repent and follow the right system of worship through which he could have his sin atoned for and hidden from his Creator's sight. Cain could have conquered sin through having a proper attitude and bringing the proper sacrifice. But, Cain refused to do what he knew the Creator wanted him to do, which makes Cain the first example of an incorrigibly wicked person. Therefore, Cain is an example of all who are called by God and reject that calling. Cain refused to worship God in the manner in which God wanted to be worshiped. Cain decided to worship God in his own way, which was the wrong way; therefore, Cain will die the second death in the Lake of Fire.
THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST
The Father reveals the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ to each person that he calls to salvation and shows that, through his sacrificial blood, a person's sins are forgiven and removed forever. After Jesus Christ's sacrificial blood is applied to a person, that person is clothed in righteousness and placed in right-standing with the Father.
A person can remain in harmony with the Father forever through Christ's sacrificial blood and his position as our High Priest. The decision to remain righteous belongs only to the one who has been made righteous. A person can either use the tools that God gives through his holy spirit and have eternal life, or reject God's way that leads to eternal life and choose the way that leads to eternal death. This is exactly the same decision Adam, Eve, Abel, and Cain had to make.
WHAT IS SALVATION?
It is very clear that Adam and Eve were offered salvation. Moreover, the Bible records many individuals who have been offered salvation since that time, and it is God's plan to offer salvation to all of humanity. But, exactly what is salvation?
Although there are many scriptures that tell us that salvation is the saving of one from the penalty of eternal death, which comes as a result of breaking the law of God, the crowning achievement and end result of God's plan for the salvation of humanity is expressed by the apostle John:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name" (Jn.1:12 KJV).
If a person will avail themselves of the opportunity that the Father offers through the sacrificial blood of his Son Jesus Christ and diligently practice God's worship system, that person is promised to be saved from eternal death and have eternal life in the Family and Kingdom of God. See our studies concerning the gospel message, and the sons of the new creation.
JESUS CHRIST, THE FIRST TO RECEIVE SALVATION
CHRIST THE GOD
"Your attitude should be the kind that was show by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like a man. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal's death on the cross" (Phil. 2:5-8 Living Bible).
Jesus Christ who was the Creator God gave up his position in the God family to become a man for the purpose of dying for all who would accept his sacrifice in their stead. See our studies concerning who God the Father and Jesus Christ are.
Before his death, Jesus asked his heavenly Father to return him to the position and glory that he had before he came to earth as a human:
"And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was" (Jn.17:5 KJV).
After his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ returned to his Father's spirit-kingdom, and he now sits on a throne at his Father's right hand and has the same glory and power that he once had as the Creator God:
"And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom.1:4 KJV).
God and High Priest
Jesus Christ is now the High Priest who sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. And because of his sacrifice and the new agreement, there is now a new life-giving way to gain access into the very presence of God the Father.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God" (Heb.10:19-21 KJV).
"But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better agreement, which was established upon better promises" (Heb.8:6 KJV).
Jesus Christ now holds the position as our high priest, which is vital to our salvation. It is because he lives, that he is able to be our high priest and intercede on our behalf before the Father:
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb.4:14-15 KJV). See also Heb.2:14-18; 9:7-28.
CHRIST'S SACRIFICE IS RETROACTIVE
The scriptures plainly show that Able will be in the first resurrection, which is possible because Christ's sacrifice is retroactive and reaches back to the beginning of humanity to forgive Abel's sins.
Romans 3:20-26 KJV
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (v20).
Paul says that no one can be justified by the performance of the law. He also says that it is through the law that we learn what sin is:
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets" (v21).
Now there is a way to be declared righteous and maintain a harmonious relationship with God that does not require the perfect keeping of the law.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (vs.22-24).
Because the way of justification under the law failed for all but Jesus Christ, justification now comes through true belief in the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ. Because all humans except Christ have missed the mark of perfection set forth in God's law, the price to deliver humanity from the death penalty and to justify them before the Father was the righteous life of Jesus Christ who died for our sins.
"Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation [offered for reconciliation] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (v25).
The prophetic symbolism of the sacrifices for moral and spiritual sin was fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ completely satisfied the demands of the law through his life and death. In anticipation of the sacrifice of Christ, God the Father declared everyone who diligently practiced his sacrificial system from the time of Adam until his Sons sacrifice righteous individuals. Moreover, those who now accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and diligently practice God's ways are declared righteous as well.
Because of Abel's faith in the system of worship that God had provided for him to follow (i.e.,the sacrificial system, which pictured the ultimate sacrifice of Christ), he is an example of all those who are called by God the Father throughout the ages and remain faithful and willing to follow his way of worship. These are the ones who will participate in the first resurrection. See our studies about the various resurrections and the various covenants.