How Man Fell: The Garden of Eden

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Fallen human nature too plainly speaks on every hand not to have discovered to us the fact that the moment a prohibition comes home to us from the earliest childhood to our latest breath at once
is kindled within us the desire for the, very thing which it forbade. A thousand instances and examples might be presented to prove this.
But there was "law" in paradise—before man fell and man was a responsible creature before he broke away from God; he was responsible to obey the law prohibiting his eating the fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before he became a "transgressor." God had revealed His ways to him, as a Giver, in the largest and widest munificence. Nothing was withheld from man. The ten thousand tributary streams which contributed to his happiness in Eden, stoke of a God who would withhold no good thing. "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat," proclaimed the freeness and fullness of no niggard hand. The man was to enjoy it all freely. One small interdict prohibited the eating of the fruit of one tree a tree which marked a responsibility which, when accepted, would only entail evil "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." In observing this prohibition he expressed that his will was subject to God who had placed him there, and surrounded him with every creature blessing.
This is the principle of law. An interdict will always prove a will in the person addressed, either subject or insubject to another. The smallest interdict is sufficient for this. It is the way to discover whether another is subject to you or not. If insubject, the authority of that other is refused; and, as a consequence, two wills are opposed, the one to the other; while the man that is tested owns in conscience that God has a right to be obeyed.
Now Satan did not begin by calling attention to the blessedness with which the man had been surrounded, nor to the character of God as giving all things richly to enjoy. Rather does he seize upon the prohibition, calling attention to the interdict alone; "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" whereas God had said, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." The grand master stroke of the serpent was to instill lust into the soul, and distrust of God—to cast a suspicion on the fullness and freeness of His nature to bestow. This was the poison of the serpent which has permeated humanity ever since that day. It was done before ever there was a sin committed. The devil had stepped in and sown distrust in man's heart, creating a suspicion in the soul, and separating man and his Creator by the loss of faith in Him.
This is what men do between each other nowadays to reach some end they have in view. I dare say they do not perhaps think so, but many of the sorrows between men, or even between brethren, are caused by some hint behind backs, or some whispered story to which the hearts of others are ready to lend an ear, which causes distrust to spring up between souls. Distrust engendered, dislike follows, but more especially in the one who has wronged the other. It is exceedingly hard to trust a heart you have wronged. "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it." Pro. 26:28. "He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends" (Pro. 17:9). "But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away." (Acts 7:27). These passages (kindred in their character) are but the workings of this principle of evil. Hence the true saying, "The injured may forget; the injurer, never."
To restore man to perfect confidence in God, and to meet the outrage on His nature, was the work of Christ at the "end of the world."
Man then was a responsible creature before he fell. Distrust of God, and lust were instilled into the soul of the woman. Will was put forth against God, and in the case of Adam it was highhanded will (for "Adam was not deceived"; 1 Tim. 2:14), and man fell. A breach as wide as the poles came in at once between God and man- an abyss, impossible to repair or to recross. Man became as "one of Us," said the Lord, "to know good and evil" (Gen. 3:22). This he never can unlearn. He never returns to innocence again.
What then is it "to know good and evil"? It is something which is said of Godhead too—"as one of Us," we read, "to know good and evil." It is to sit in judgment, and pass sentence, on good or evil which we find in our own souls. Of David the king, it was said by the wise woman of Tekoah, "As an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad" (2 Sam. 14:17). This was in reference to the decisions of judgment. This we read of Solomon in 1 Kings 3:9; of Israel in Deuteronomy 1:39; see also Hebrews 5:14.
This is the work of conscience—to take knowledge of the evil practiced by a will opposed to God—to sit in judgment upon it and to condemn—and alas! to apprehend the good, while opposed to it-to approve of it without the power to perform. This was fallen man with a conscience. Responsible before he fell, he distrusted God and transgressed in will His command. He had an ability, even when fallen, to pass sentence upon his own actions by the knowledge of good and evil- good that he had not the power or desire to practice, and evil that he was not able to avoid! Then at last he is driven out of the presence of God, for he had lost his place on such a ground forever. These three things marked his state: distrust of God; sin committed in that distrust; and his place irrecoverably lost. These three things are reversed by the gospel. His confidence is restored by faith in Him as a Savior, his sins removed, which had been committed in distrust; and he is brought into a new place in Christ before Him.