Entry Level Theological Truth 
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5
The title of Tears For Fears’ 80’s pop anthem “Everybody wants to rule the world” hits on a basic truth about humanity: people innately desire to command their own lives and circumstances. Of course, the reality is far different. Many live like the embodiment of Henley’s skeptically poetic lines:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.1
Yet the sad truth is that men are not in control of their fate, lives, or world. This inner yearning for control with its correlative quest for personal knowledge and enlightenment are artifacts from the fall. From the garden of Eden onwards, Satan has peddled the lie to humanity “…you will be like God”2, holding forth the promise of self-sufficiency for wayward humanity.
A Faustian Temptation
The serpent implies to Eve that the Almighty does not want competition by saying this: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5.) In other words, Adam and she will know what God knows and be able to decide for themselves concerning the nature of good and evil. Contemporary people also find this lie attractive. They erroneously believe that they are their own arbiter of truth and can determine good and evil for themselves. But God is the standard of truth in Himself; apart from Him humans do not have the capacity to escape evil and achieve lasting, eternal good.
Of course, the Lord does not want man to be ignorant; He is a God who reveals Himself and gives light through His Word (Ps. 119:130.) He wants people to walk in the light with Him (1 Jn. 1:5-7.) That is, God wants them to discover knowledge in Him. Good is what agrees with His character and will (these things are explicitly revealed by what He commands and teaches in His Word.) In Christ – the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) – believers find the truth about God and themselves (Jn. 14:6.)
Rejecting Destructive Independence
The essence of sin is rebellion against God – a treasonous act of disloyalty to the One who made mankind. When one sins, they dethrone God in their life and place themselves squarely on the throne. As Stott pointedly said: “Every sin is a surrender to the primeval temptation to become like God.”3 When they sin, they are saying in effect: “I know better than God what is good for me; abstaining from this act would be evil – I must do it.”
Sharing In The Life That God Has For Us
Christian sanctification is the process by which our Creator and Redeemer works out the new life in His new creature’s lives. The more that the saints walk with Christ, the more they learn to deny self in favor of obedience to God. A nineteenth century preacher put it well:
The first object from which our heavenly Father weans His child is self. Of all idols, he finds self the hardest to abandon. When man in Paradise aspired to be as God, God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself. From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race, and will continue to be until Christ comes to restore all things. In the soul of the regenerate, Divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol, and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is not eager to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. There is much yet to be achieved before this still indwelling and unconquered foe lays down his weapons in entire subjection to the will and the authority of that Savior, whose throne and rights he has usurped…The moment we learn to cease from ourselves–from our own wisdom, and power, and importance–the Lord appears and takes us up. Then His wisdom is displayed, His power is put forth, His glory is developed, and His great name gets to itself all the praise. It was not until God had placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, that His glory passed by. Moses must be hid, that God might be all.4
1William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”; found here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/ Accessed on 6/5/12.
2Or “gods” according to some translations; either rendering of elohim is permissible in Hebrew. If one thinks of Elohim as a proper title for God – as in Gen. 1:1 – than it is “God” (NKJV, JND, & ESV.) If, however, the serpent was using the term generically of Adam and Eve, then “gods” would be the correct translation (KJV; “divine beings” NET; see Ps. 82:1, 6 – especially note the margin of the NKJV.) It is a question of emphasis: is he saying they will be like God, emphasizing that they could achieve the same level as their Creator? Or is he affirming that they will be little gods who can decide things for themselves apart from their Maker? Either way, it is a sinful declaration of independence from the God who is the truth.
3J.R.W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist. London: Tyndale Press; Downers Grove: IVP, 1970, p. 207.
4Octavius Winslow, from the blog: http://octaviuswinslow.org/ Accessed on 7/30/10.
Jump to the next article in this series…
Jump back to the first article in this series