Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Monday, April 1, 2024

Genesis 2:15-17 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  Genesis 2:15-17

(15) Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; (17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." 
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Beginning in Genesis 2:15God gives man two clear instructions. First, he must "tend and keep"—or as some translations say, "cultivate and preserve" or "adorn and guard"—the Garden. He would have to choose to work the Garden to produce food, as well as to keep it from deteriorating. Almost the very first things said to him involve Adam having to choose to do or not do. Did God instruct any animal to do anything remotely similar? They are not in God's image.

The second command involves an even greater responsibility to choose. God commands Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that was in the midst of the Garden because in the day they ate its fruit they would surely die. This represents God's first clear expression of His will for man involving a moral choice. It could not have been more plainly stated.

The story of the first sin in Genesis 3 involves four characters: God, who had instructed and set the standard; Adam and Eve, who have had the standard clearly taught them; and the Serpent, who arrived on the scene to test them. The outcome of the test is decided in a clash of wills: Satan's, who uses his ploys to persuade nascent humanity, and Adam's and Eve's, who choose to allow their desires for the fruit and to be like God to override their knowledge of the moral standard and to indulge in the self-expression of their wills. Conversely, animals cannot sin; they are not free to choose to sin. They truly are close to puppets on a string.

This is the eternal picture of man's moral life. God tells us what is right but then allows us the freedom to determine what we will do. There is no evidence at all that God tricked Adam and Eve into sinning. He did not stack the deck against them, nor did He overpower them. They were free to choose either way. The same act of creation that creates the possibility of moral character also opens the door to sin. Does not God say to Cain in Genesis 4:7, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it"?

The cause of man's plight is not ignorance of the right but his own desire, which leads him to substitute his will for God's. This simple story illustrates why man's relationship with God has run afoul. By deliberate choice, man separates himself from God, who created him and gives him the freedom to choose.

Nothing changes regarding the free-moral agency of the person called by God. When one is forgiven and receives God's Spirit, He does not overpower them. The right to choose freely remains, even as with Adam and Eve. To take away this privilege would truly make the individual a puppet on a string and destroy God's creation of him or her in His spiritual image. God is free to choose, and so is man created in God's image. It is this freedom of choice that opens the door for man, through redemption and conversion, to be like God in character.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

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