Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil can be understood as a choice of who gets to establish the law. God wants to be the final arbiter of what is good and evil, right and wrong. Mankind’s eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is an act of usurping that prerogative for ourselves. Now we will decide. We alone get to distinguish the good from the bad.
Even though this was the primordial sin and is described throughout Christian literature as “the fall”, we actually don’t talk about it a lot.
Christians’ disinterest in who gets to choose right and wrong may in part arise from a view that we have already identified with God and his choices. We already accept that God’s law of right and wrong is correct. Life is good; death is bad. Stealing is bad; working for a living is good. But I wonder if that assumption that we are already in line with God can stand up to scrutiny.
God established that sacrificing for each other is good but we are inclined to indulge ourselves well beyond what we might need for our own wellbeing. My neighbor may really need my help on a Saturday afternoon but I wind up on my couch instead. Why? Any time I make a choice, I reflect my actual law of good and bad. Even if I try to assuage my conscience with guilt, my actions reveal what I really believe: couch good, investing in neighbor bad.
The law was intended to discipline us and highlight where we miss God’s mark. But if we become the sole lawmaker, we will find the law will reflect our own shallow morality and self-centeredness. Let your actions tell you what you believe about good and bad. Spit out the fruit and let God be the sole lawmaker of your life.