Why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
There was an epic struggle regarding this particular tree. It bore fruit that God had forbidden Adam and Eve to consume. The significance of the tree, and the circumstances that surrounded it, set the course of human kind and its interaction with God. There was a choice given to Man, one that allowed him to exercise his free will and his personal responsibility. That choice was whether or not to obey the directive of God not to consume the fruit of the tree as recorded in Genesis 2:16-17.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
God provided a rather compelling reason for avoiding the eating of the fruit of that tree as the narrative continues in Genesis 3:1-13. He was very careful to let Adam know that an effect would come (the curse of death) if they acted and ate the fruit. However, God knew that the problem was not the fruit of the tree itself. Rather, it was what the ingestion of its fruit would yield.
Whether the passage is taken literally or metaphorically, the result is the same. Eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil destroyed mankind’s innocence. The fruit was unlike any other food.
It was like a spoiled piece of meat that when eaten, festered, and caused sickness and disease. However, the sickness was not physical, but spiritual. It was like a virus that was incorporated into their very beings and into their souls. They became carriers, spreading it to all of their descendants. The serpent was so persuasive because of the nature of this insidious disease. He wanted to cause this disobedient action on the part of the Woman and the Man so that they would seal their own destruction.
Who was the serpent that wreaked havoc upon mankind and why would he want to do this? The serpent is not identified here, but he is made known in Revelations 12:7-9. However, his identity was not fully appreciated by those in the Old Testament because they were without any revelation of his existence. We will explore this idea in more detail later.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
We now know who the serpent was, but why did he set out to deceive Eve? The Devil or Satan, also known as Lucifer, knew the difference between good and evil himself before this encounter with Eve. Satan, in the form of the serpent, chose to engage in the sin of deception or lying. Man and Woman had not yet sinned when the Woman was deceived by the serpent. The deception was effective. It led to sin that made the Man and the Woman aware of the concept of Good and Evil. With their innocence now removed, they now became responsible for their actions, and subject to the penalties of disobedience. This realization begs another question, “Why did God put that specific tree in the Garden?”
The Tree might have been placed there as a test of the commitment and obedience of Man. However, the Tree of Life was also there in the midst of the Garden. If the man and woman had eaten the fruit of that tree first and then the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would have had eternal life in a corrupted state, which is the condition of Satan. Considering the gravity of the choice of Man, there must have been a more compelling reason than just a test.
God tells us in the Bible that other beings were present in the universe before the creation of Man and Woman. These were heavenly beings, such as angels and a variety of other spiritual beings. One of the most precious and exalted of those was Lucifer (the Devil or Satan). He lost his status when he fell to his own conceit and self-importance as he exalted himself above God. A description of his fall is found in Isaiah 14:12-14 (see p. 71of IDEOLARY). Additional descriptors are found in Ezekiel 28:12-19. There is some disagreement among scholars as to whether or not this passage refers solely to Satan, or the results of Satan’s influence on an earthly king. However, for the purpose of our discussion, since the description of the spiritual condition and end state of the fallen being is basically the same as that of Satan, we will assume it to be referring to Satan.
We still have to address the question of why God put that tree in the Garden. This is especially puzzling since God undoubtedly knew that Man was going to be disobedient and sin. Sin had entered God’s creation before the introduction of human kind, but the sin of Lucifer (Satan) did not automatically corrupt the human world in which we live. The corruption of God’s new creation, Man, was the goal of Satan after his fall. He had previously sinned, and he was not going to tolerate a sinless creation of God. He saw that dominion had been given to Man and Woman over the realm of the Earth to which he had been cast (Genesis 1:26).
Satan was jealous of the power that God had invested in these new creatures and immediately set out to steal God’s gifts to them as well as their very lives. His goal was to destroy God’s new creation and steal back the authority in the earth realm that God had given to them. However, this is where God’s justice came into play. Both of the Trees were present in the Garden because God is a just God. He follows the rule of law, which emanates from His mouth. If He did not follow His Words, He would be a liar and unjust.
Sin was already an influence within the universe due to Lucifer’s rebellion. The new creation of the Earth and Man had not yet been corrupted by sin. God legally permitted the possibility of rebellion (read this as free will) within this new realm. He had to be just and fair to the rest of the beings that were already in existence. They had been aware of the sin of Lucifer and been subjected to his deception and rebellion. God could not create a separate world that would interact with the existing spiritual world without allowing the same possibilities of deception and sin.
Thus, the opportunity to know Good and Evil was necessary.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about God’s Character and Nature in Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem
You can read about more subjects from Ideolatry below.