What’s so terribly wrong about knowing good and evil?

God told Adam that knowing good and evil would be the death of him. But later on he says that knowing good and evil would make Adam “like one of us,” Genesis 3:22. So why would knowing good and evil be the death of Adam when it made him like God himself?

Because it would put Adam in competition with God, not fellowship with him, and that was the difference between life and death for humanity. Before the serpent turned up, Adam was in perfect fellowship with God. Everything was fine. God talked personally with Adam and gave him instructions; Adam obeyed and trusted God in return. It was great, humans and God together in perfect harmony – and without any need for knowing good and evil, take note. It wasn’t necessary. Fellowship with God does not require knowing good and evil, it only needs trust and obedience.

Break that trust and obedience and humanity’s relationship with God dies. Break the relationship and humanity dies, because life for humans only exists in fellowship with God. We’re made in his image to be able to fellowship with him, unlike any other creature he made. Break that fellowship and our reason for existence ends.

So what does the serpent do? He sets about destroying humanity’s fellowship with God. Destroy the fellowship and you destroy the human. And what creates a human being’s fellowship with God? Trust and obedience. So the first thing the serpent does is destroy trust. He gets Eve thinking God’s a liar and can’t be trusted. The “truth,” according to the serpent, is that God’s afraid of humans knowing good and evil because it would make them just like him, Genesis 3:5, and God doesn’t like competition.

And with that picture of God firmly implanted in their minds, it didn’t take much for Adam and Eve to disobey God next and eat the forbidden fruit. Mistrust leads to disobedience, the two things that destroy a human’s relationship with God. But in their minds it didn’t matter because knowing good and evil would make up for it. It would make them like God himself. They could be their own God instead, capable of figuring out life for themselves without any need for obeying or trusting God. Who needs fellowship with God when you can “live” without him? So instead of fellowship with God, they were now in competition with him.

What’s so wrong about knowing good and evil, then, is that it focuses us entirely on ourselves and not on God anymore. And just as Adam and Eve ate off that tree, so has humanity ever since. Result? “Life” as we’ve got it today. How sad.

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