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Forbidden Fruit

QUESTION: What was the forbidden fruit?


The forbidden fruit grew as a real fruit on a real tree God called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It stood as one of many beautiful trees God created on earth in an extensive Garden of Eden. “Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had created. And the LORD God planted all sorts of trees in the garden -- beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit. At the center of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:8-9).

The forbidden fruit served as a test of Adam and Eve’s willingness to live within God’s will. Obedience demands the equal possibility of disobedience, hence volition or free will. One cannot exist without the other. In particular, obedience to God cannot exist until what He wants from us is contrary to what we want for ourselves.

The forbidden fruit meant that God expected humanity to live without the knowledge of good and evil. Adam didn’t need such knowledge to live eternally, but only to obey God. Continuing to eat from the tree of life would have extended his life increasing the awareness of righteousness and the virtue of obedience.

God forbade Adam to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We cannot have God’s knowledge of good and evil. He knows the difference and can never be tempted by evil. “ And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either” (James 1:13).

We know the difference, but knowledge invariably leads us into sin. Our moral intention and mental determination are no help in saving us from sin’s influence once we are accountable for our actions. That’s why God commanded our common parents to avoid, ignore and shun the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The forbidden fruit, once eaten, demanded their removal from innocence to experience. Adam and Eve’s lives did not mirror Eden’s wholeness anymore and God necessarily expelled them from the sanctuary. They were prevented from returning, but even then, God’s mercy began the restoration process through the Holy Spirit’s renewal of man’s salvation.

The forbidden fruit brought death, once eaten, that only Christ could bridge to save humanity. Spiritual death occurred immediately with separation from God. That’s why God immediately sacrificed an animal from whose hide he made clothing to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. God’s sacrifice of the animal, the precursor of the sacrificial system under Moses that Jesus perfected at Calvary, established the seriousness of sin. It demanded that death and blood to be remitted.

The physical death occurred hundreds of years later, but both meanings followed, and neither has ever been contravened. Every generation pays the penalty. As King David on his deathbed reminded Solomon, “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2).

Once banished from the garden, Adam undoubtedly fixed his attention on the physical consequence of his spiritual disobedience: It was a jungle out there! His progeny has certainly fixed their attention on the natural consequences of sin -- sickness, tragedies, natural disasters, disease, suffering, etc. -- not on our spiritual betrayal of God’s word. It’s always “why does God allow this?” not “how greatly we have sinned against our merciful Creator.”

This article is also available in Spanish.

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