Entry Level Theological Truth [39]

“Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:22-24

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole

Eviction is never pleasant. Involuntarily leaving one’s home is traumatic. Worse still, in Adam and Eve’s case it also meant losing the freedom of unimpeded enjoyment of their Creator (Genesis 3:8.) They were sent from the garden – “Paradise Lost” as Milton dubbed it – into an uncertain world of labor, hardships, and tribulation. In spite of this drastic alteration of scenery, however, the Lord was actually acting in mercy towards them.

 


The Danger Of A Little Knowledge



 

During his seduction of Eve, the cunning serpent told her that eating the fruit would make Adam and her like Elohim (v. 5.)1 That there was an element of truth in this temptation is seen in the Almighty’s statement: “Behold, the man has become like one of Us to know good and evil…” (v. 22.) Now they could think in concrete moral categories, for their experience intimately acquainted them with evil and good. Tragically their experiential knowledge put them on the wrong side of the issues. They knew evil by being thoroughly contaminated by it; on the other hand, they knew goodness as what they consistently failed to maintain.

 


Averting Eternal Punishment



 

In an elliptical pronouncement the Lord outlines the horrible danger that fallen man faced in the garden: “And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…” This fate is so terrible that He does not complete the sentence out loud. If sinful man and woman were to eat the fruit from tree of life it would prolong their iniquitous agony forever. When fallen man thinks of living eternally in his current condition it evokes nightmares.

In part, this is why Hinduism and Buddhism, which each assert that to exist is to suffer, seeks to be absorbed into the nothingness of “Moksha” (Hinduism) or “Nirvana” (Buddhism.) through the transmigration of the soul. While the solutions of these religions are false, they are correct in maintaining that continuing everlastingly would be awful – for sin always produces suffering and death.

To go on forever in sin-damaged bodies with the wicked sin-principle indwelling them would truly be a conscious hell of torment (see Luke 16:22-28; Revelation 22:11.) Keeping this in mind, it is obvious that God acted mercifully by barring man from the tree of life.

Eternal life that is worth the name – and worth having, for that matter – is contingent upon knowing the triune God (John 17:3.) The Creator sent His Son into the world to remove sin from the equation. By His sacrificial death and rising again, Christ changed the prospect of unreconstructed everlasting existence into genuine eternal life through triumphant resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:53-57.) He offered an escape from eternal punishment in hell; moreover, He secured dwelling-places in the Father’s house for those who by faith receive the Son as their Lord and Savior (John 1:12-13; 14:1-3.)

 

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1 “Gods” (KJV) or “God” (ASV) – either rendering is permissible – it is a question of whether he was using the term generically [as in the former] or as a proper title of the one true God [as in the latter.] In the end, his suggestion implies that God does not want them to be like Him – “little gods” who determine their own morality.

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