I was leading a discussion on the City of God vs the city of man when the subject turned to Adam and Eve. The interest in the room on the subject prompted me to respond by exploring what the Bible tells us about the garden.
Why did God put the tree in the garden? Why not put a fence around it if we were not supposed to eat the fruit of it?
Sure, Adam and Eve were given the choice of obeying God or defying Him. But was there a deeper reason for the tree?
Do we have free will if our only choice is to obey God? God loves us, Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." He also wants us to love Him, Mark 12:30, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." However, He cannot force us to love Him. Genuine love is a choice displayed by behavior, Romans 12:9, "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." We cannot pretend to love God and continue to cleave to evil. We must demonstrate our love in our actions for it to be genuine, which means we abhor evil.
Until we know what both good and evil look like, we cannot make an informed choice, nor can we be held accountable for our choices, James 4:17, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
So, Adam and Eve needed to eat from that tree, defying God and learning for themselves what good and evil look like. Today, we are faced with the same process. We can look around this world, filled with good and evil, and choose. Do we want to follow Jesus, or will we instead follow the evil so prevalent in our world?
He calls us from Deuteronomy 30:19, "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 thou and thy seed may live:"
Yes, He put the tree in the garden to give us an informed choice. This is the loving thing to do, and since God is love, He could do nothing else, 1 John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
As for me and my family, we will follow Jesus by loving as He does. Even though our attempts will be imperfect, for we are human. This means confessing when it is needed and repentance whenever we fail. It means we give mercy and grace to those around us who also fail.
We are imperfect people, imperfectly following Jesus through the sanctification process to the eternity He has promised, Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
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