When God created the world, He called it good (Genesis 1:31). Man was without sin, and all was right with the world. He created the first man, Adam, in the garden of Eden–a place of spectacular beauty. In the garden He also put two specific trees–the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9). Adam was only commanded not to eat of one of these trees, but he disobeyed that stipulation.
Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” A question that has haunted me for a long time is this: if the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was able to cause Adam and Eve to sin (thus causing them to die), why did God put it in the garden in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if the first sin wasn’t able to happen in the first place? While this hasn’t caused my faith to waver, per-se, it has been a plaguing thought in the back of my mind.
I have often just chalked it up to free will without taking the time to truly understand why. Now, I am not the type of person that thinks I have to have an answer for everything, but being someone who spends a lot of time thinking gives me a desire to want to know. I truly believe God doesn’t want us to leave our intelligence at the door when we think of Him, because He gave us that knowledge to begin with. I think God reveals what is important to us in His time, and I think God was gracious enough to reveal that answer to me this morning:
If we didn’t have something to measure our free will against; it wouldn’t truly be free will.
Consider this: If we are to truly be able to enter into loving communion with God, we have to have the free will to be able to choose to. We also have to have the option not to. If there wasn’t anything in the garden that Adam and Eve could choose to disobey God with, there wouldn’t be any other option but to obey God. That is not true free will. If all they could do is love God, it would be a hollow victory for God.
The other thing that occurred to me is that this is completely applicable today. When we come to a decision in life, we have the option to lovingly obey God, or not. In the same way Adam and Eve should have leaned on God for strength to resist the temptation of eating from the tree, we should lean on God to resist the temptation to watch pornography, to withhold forgiveness to that bully, or to want what our neighbor has. The glorious truth is that God is faithful to those that seek Him.
So God has given you the free will to choose to love Him or not, to obey Him or not. It is your choice to make the commitment today, or to uphold that commitment, but God is there for you to lean on when times get difficult.