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Good and Evil
May 12, 2017
Relevance: Chapter 5, Restored by Grace


What's wrong with the knowledge of good and evil?


Chapter two of the book of Genesis tells us that God the Creator placed the first human couple he created in the huge Garden of Eden, which had all kinds of trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the garden was also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned them, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die" (Genesis 2:16-17).

By giving a tree a particular name with a prohibition, God effectively gave the couple a choice. Their free will, which is the core nature of their being, then became a real ability they could exercise.

A verse in the Bible talks about innocent little ones as "children who do not yet know good from bad" (Deuteronomy 1:39). But moral discernment was surely not what God forbade. The knowledge referred to something else.

"God's benevolent creation intention, as expressed in the norms he ordains, is what defines good. Evil is any deviation from his purpose. His will is the moral code for the entire creation because he's the Creator and owner of everything. So God knows good and evil because he prescribes the rules." (RG, 112)

The first couple were perfect humans, the smartest of us all. They knew their choice, decided to reject their limitations, and desired God's knowledge of good and evil. They "tore themselves away from God and from their place in the creation order, and carved out their own realm of separate existence where they could be like God with the power to dictate the rules as they please. They became the center of their own world." (RG, 113-4)

The death God warned them of was the inevitable consequence of separation from him, rather than a punishment. It's like a warning of being burnt if one touches a fire with a bare hand. Our benevolent Maker "has no need to be satisfied and yet provides everything we need. He alone knows our best interests and has infinite resources for our eternal benefits. We're not equal. Unplugging ourselves from him is really as bad as death." (RG, 114)

The immediate consequence was that the first couple were two separate beings trying at the same time to be the center of this realm. Strife was inevitable. Their relationship of love, communion, and equality turned into a relationship of servitude and domination, with one trying to rule the other. This strife is seen today in all human relationships.

"We're in an age in which everyone is exposed to a constant flood of external intentions to direct our will, from outright coercion to subconscious suggestion. Our will may be under strong influences, but we still possess the power to exercise it ... It's something that God chooses to respect, and he therefore holds us responsible for our decisions." (RG, vii)


Notes:


From Darkness to Light
170504, Ch.1, What is Heaven?
170512, Ch.5, Good and Evil
170519, Ch.5, Image of God
170526, Ch.6, All Have Sinned
170602, Ch.6, Isaiah Prophecies
170609, Ch.6, Lamb of God
170616, Ch.6, Decision Prayer

New Life in Christ
170623, Ch.7, Fruit of the Spirit
170630, Ch.7, Time with God
170707, Ch.7, Life Together
170714, Ch.7, Messiah's Return
170728, Ch.7, Audacious Faith
171006, Ch.7, Mark of the Christian
171027, Ch.7, Christian Identities

Growing in Christ
171110, Know the Bible
171210, Christ is Central
180302, Satan Exposed

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