READ THE FINE PRINT
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
In the narrative of Eve’s temptation, usually we assume that part of Satan’s lie was in telling Eve that she would ‘become like God.’ And we can begin to use this verse as a denunciation of the fact that we are not in fact gods, nor should we be compared to God in any way.
But unfortunately, I think that this line of argument misses the point altogether about what this verse is actually trying to say.
I say this because when God re-enters the narrative and learns of the fallen state of Eve, and Adam, among the things He says, He includes something pretty interesting.
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
God is actually confirming that this portion of Satan’s temptation was I’m fact true.
In some way, mankind had become like God. Except, mankind clearly did not receive what they believed this to mean. We have not become like God in the sense of His power, His wisdom, His sovereignty, His omniscience, His omnipresence, or His immutability. So what then does it mean to become like God in knowing good and evil?
I think that in order to understand this, we need to fully comprehend the dichotomy between God and Satan. You see, in the Christian worldview, God and Satan are not polar opposites like the Ying and Yang of some popular beliefs. God alone is the only eternally existent One who is good.
Sure, people can do some pretty good things from time to time. But maybe half the reason why we feel the need to celebrate it is because we know how rare it is for human beings to be anything close to intrinsically good – all the time.
Yet the God of the Bible is a God who is described exactly like that. Every choice He makes, everything that He purposes, every thought in His heart – is absolutely pure and perfect.
Likewise, anything God creates therefore is also good.
But also in this worldview contains the free will that God gives to His creation so that they may serve Him out of the same genuine love He had for them, rather than on account of some sort of robotic pre-programming. If free will did not exist, neither would real love.
However, when we do not function in the way we were created to function, or in other words, if we do not do the good in which we were created to do, this is what the Bible calls sin. And all sin is in fact a sort of ‘falling short’ of the perfection of the God created order in which this world was created to function in.
Satan is a good example of the heights from which one can fall from their God-created perfection in that he was created with both wisdom and brilliant beauty. But rather than use these gifts to glorify the One who made him, Satan instead used his wisdom and beauty to seduce others after himself rather than God. Satan desired the worship that is due to the sole Creator of the universe alone.
This is where he initially fell short of the glory for which he was created, and by doing so, he is now forever disconnected from the life of the One who alone has the power to restore all perfection. But Satan, being cut off from all true light and life, and now darkened in his reasoning due to this, actually looks to subvert God’s authority by the very same rebellion which has now caused all of humanity to fall short of God’s intended perfection for them as well.
And herein lies a clue to what it means to know ‘good and evil’ and become ‘like God.’
To become like God in knowing good and evil because by the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means that we have now fallen prey to a fixed moral state – but instead of having a fixed moral state of good, like God, we instead have one that much like Satan, also resists and rebels against God.
We only begin to understand this revelation in the New Testament after the Apostle Paul makes a scathing indictment against all humanity when he says:
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
Even the Apostle Paul, though he tried with all his strength and religious zeal in all of his own human effort to live for God in pure and perfect good found that:
For I do not do the good I want to do,
Romans 7:19 This fixed moral state in our attempts to be like God has proven futile and powerless to accomplish any self accomplished righteousness like the false religions of the world lay claim to. Some may still actually live in the delusion that they are in fact accomplishing it; but those who are of a more sane disposition can clearly and truthfully see, that NONE OF US is anywhere close to the perfection that we’d all like to be. (Notwithstanding, of course, those whose bar for righteousness is way too low – which is why God gave us ‘His’ law, so we could understand the terms under which we fall short.)So Satan was in fact telling the truth that we would become like God in that we would also have a fixed moral state, and the Mosaic Law bears witness to it, but he forgot to mention that the fixed moral state we would have would be like his, and all that falls short of the perfection we were created to be.
And life and eternity would be utterly desolate and meaningless if God gave no thought but to leave us as we are.
Instead, the Gospels inform us that He wrapped Himself in human flesh; left the throne of Heavenly Glory, and entered into a sin-infected world where He lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to the Father. Fulfilling every prophecy of the Messiah at his first coming, and by offering Himself on the cross, at the very hands of the creation He had created, He demonstrated the immeasurable love He indeed has for each and every one of us, even though we in our darkened, imperfect, starkly visioned glasses, can barely even see the glory of the One who gave everything to deliver us from this body destined to death and hell for it’s useless imperfection.Which is why when the Apostle Paul understood this despairing condition, was so full of hope that he said:
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Breathe that in for a few moments.
Let the immense weight of that truth wash over you for more than a few seconds.
Meditate and give it the chance to reach deeply into your soul and imagine the immeasurable joy that a verse like that should impart into your life.
And this is why it is written:
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Are you beginning to see why it’s called the Good News?
God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us by believing His Son has done what we could never accomplish, and accounts to us all righteousness so that we may be found worthy to stand before Him by His grace!
When grace really reaches the depths of our hearts, surely we’ll never be the same again!
So if you’re feeling the full weight of your own insufficiency and inadequacy in your life today, let me introduce you to a love beyond comprehension.
Which is why I implore you,