"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Romans 5:12-14
While admitting that the instructions and laws given in the Old Testament originated with God, the modern churches teach that they were only temporary and that Christ had done away with them. This stems from a misunderstanding of the basis, purpose, and divisions of God’s Law.
God’s Law is a full body of national law, consisting of the Commandments, Statutes, Judgments, and Ordinances. The Ordinances were added in Mt. Sinai as the sacrificial and ceremonial laws of justification referred to by the writer of Hebrews as "the shadow of things to come". In the above quoted it is easy to see this is so because until Moses death reigned. It wasn't until Moses that the blood justification came to be for the atonement of sin, later to be fulfilled by Christ.
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." 1John 3:4-5
In the opening verses it notes that Adam brought sin into the world. Wouldn't that suggest that John, the writer of one of the 4 gospels of Christ, believed that Adam transgressed God's Law? We could say that the Law at his time was not to eat a fruit but what does that even really mean?
"And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 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." Genesis 2:15-17
We see a command to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The wages of eating from this tree is death, just as Paul declares in his letter to the Romans that the wages of sin, aka transgression of God’s Law is death. While I have met some folks who really believe Adam’s sin was literally eating a forbidden fruit, most acknowledge in some form or another the euphemistic nature of this story.
- Euphemism-the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant
Whether it’s with expressions like "eating of the forbidden fruit" in the context of sexual innuendos, or the idea that Satan seduced Eve into sin when the text offers nothing but the story of a literal snake or serpent as the culprit, the reality is that no one is satisfied with the literal text itself. With good reason to I might add. This story among many other stories and parables are referred to as euphemisms throughout Scripture.
We do not propose to know exactly what happened here and it would be mere speculation to hold steadfast to any specific interpretation, but the principal is what is most important and what we all should take away from this event. Throughout the rest of scripture there are many writers who refer to the same euphemistic expressions used in Genesis, all with very intriguing context. Let us see how Moses addresses the topic of the knowledge of good and evil.
"I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it." Deuteronomy 30:15-16
Let’s not just rely though on the single instance here where Moses seems to equate the Law with the knowledge of Good and evil, but let us also hear from Paul on the very matter:
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." Romans 7:7
With this type of insight we could easily equate that God “euphemistically” planted the Law, or the knowledge of what’s good and what’s evil, in the Garden of Eden. We could even see the whole picture that in the beginning before sin, Adam was given the knowledge of the law and the gift of life with the only real command at this time to obey God to preserve his right to the tree/gift of life. The only command at this time was not to eat of the fruit of that knowledge, or sin. Let us examine some instances in scripture where "the fruit" was mentioned and in what context it was mentioned in and see if this premise could accurately be made:
"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:17-20
Solomon even equated the same euphemistic value that the fruit was ones works and it can be seen in an adversarial role with the will of God:
"For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices." Proverbs 1:29-33
So we can clearly see the euphemistic value that fruit is ones works. In the acknowledgement of the knowledge of good and evil being the Law, what could the fruit or works of the Law be? Since the law teaches of sin, could that not be the fruit we are forbidden to eat? With the knowledge of good and evil, we are only presented with 2 choices. If good is the fruit of life, evil must be the fruit of death:
"I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:19-23
Adam and Eve met the same fate when disobeying God's commands. And regardless of whether the Law was the tree and sin its fruit, or whether it was just a piece of fruit, the Law was revealed to Adam as soon as he entered into sin. The theme that reoccurs throughout all of scripture is the same paradigm that was posed to Adam and Eve back in the garden, either we serve God into life, or we serve our own desires unto death. Adam and Eve both were cursed and removed from the tree of life for their sin. Is it any different now for us when we reject Christ, our tree of life, with our sin?
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, which they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14
Seems like a summation of what Solomon preached long ago, and a continual message preached by Christ himself of the very same principal found in the Garden of Eden:
"My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her." Proverbs 3:1-18
By our assessment, the Laws and Commands of God have been in effect since the creation and were observed by the all the patriarchs. If you look back all the way in the beginning of Genesis you will find that the knowledge of good and evil revealed that Cain killed Able and it was murder. Not soon after, the knowledge of good and evil revealed that sexual immorality is severely forbidden and if it wasn't for Noah being a just man and perfect in his “generations”, all of creation would have been wiped out for its transgressions against commands not believed to have been given yet. Not soon after that we knew that Noah was aware of the difference between clean and unclean meats, a statute most don't declare existed until Moses on the Mount.
“Of every clean beast thou shall take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.” Genesis 7:2-9
If there was no pre-existing Law governing the difference between clean and unclean animals as defined in Leviticus 11 & Deuteronomy 14, then how did Noah know the difference between the two? We even read that the promise God gave unto Abraham was given because of his diligence to following His Law.
"Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham OBEYED MY VOICE, and KEPT MY CHARGE, my COMMANDMENTS, my STATUTES, and my LAWS." Genesis 26:3-5
By rightly dividing the word of truth we see that Cain violated some measure of good and evil, Noah adhered to some measure of good and evil and had knowledge of the Law, Abraham obeyed the Law, and his children were brought up with the Law. Although they were not written in stone yet, they were in effect, therefore providing a “communal establishment of national conduct”, or government. This very statement is the definition of the English word “Morality”.
So why is it that modern theology and the new age church reject this notion that the Law was temporary, given to us through only Moses and that its commands, statutes and judgments have no place in the new covenant?
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Genesis 3:1-6
So regardless of what exactly the forbidden fruit was, the principal of the whole event remains very strong. The same situation is individually given to us and we have to decide who we serve. Through scripture it is revealed that sin is the transgression of God's Law. God's Law is the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent was the force convincing Eve that it was OK to disobey God. Has the serpent crept in unawares and perverted our doctrine of love? To disobey God and to continually sin in the Name of Christ? Do we share the same curse given to Adam and Eve when they were deceived?
"It is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Galatians 3:10
These are all worthy questions that need answered, don’t you think?