“And you will know GOOD & EVIL”: The danger of learning the right thing AT THE WRONG TIME

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on November 21, 2007


Could anyone answer the question of why all the trees were given to eat from and yet the
was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the only one denied?

This question was brought up elsewhere by another on the Philosophy board at CARM. After inquiring what her thoughts were on the subject, this is how she responded to me:

My thoughts would be through all the knowledge that is collected of men, much confusion comes forth. Many divisions of faith, for one.

A small scripture appears in Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a lttlle child, he shall not enter therein.
This is also repeated in Luke 18:17.

Pertaining to the pure faith, even without knowledge, I am assuming.

So…with this being the Philosophy board, I am wondering about how someone philosophically would explain.

I know within my own learning…the more I know, the more I want to know and it can become very addictive. It is also dangerous as to the amount of knowledge one has compared to the responsiblity which is placed upon the one with that knowledge.

Bringing me back to the tree of knowledge.

I thought she had some excellent points. Remember the movie “Jurrassic Park”? I bring that up because some of HER points reminded me of one point in the movie where Dr. Ian Malcom is talking to Mr. Hammond about the ramifications of creating a park full of Dinosaurs……& while Hammond is justifying his decision, Malcom makes it explicitly clear that DINOSAURS WERE MEANT TO BE EXTINCT FOR A REASON, & bringing them back only meant harm as they were UNATURAL to our world & could NOT BE PREDICTED as to how they’d act, meaning that there was no guarantee to knowing WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES WOULD BE & HOPE OF CONTROLING THE RESULTS………& when Hammond said they had the tecnhnology/knowledge to do it & were actually doing what they believed to be a service to mankind, Malcom sharply disagreed with them, saying that they didn’t take the time to learn the knowledge for themselves/take responsibility for it as those before them did—-they simply studied the knowledge others before them aquired & manipulated it so they could get a profit of of it……

And as Malcom pointedly said,



“But Your scientists spent so much time wondering whether or not they could do something that they never stopped to think if they should……”

On that last point, I think it’s worthwile to say that this is essentially what the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD & EVIL issue is about to a degree: Not weighing the ramifactaions of our actions in the knowledge we aquire & how we attain or use it…….rather than asking ourselves “Is this the knowledge I need right now….or does having this knowledge pose a threat somehow in the LONG-TERM rather than the SHORT-TERM results it may bring?”

Question: The devil was present during the creation of man & obviously had plans for ruining God’s creation from the get-go. To clarify,

Satan is the author of sin and the cause of the fall of man. A. Satan is created upright.

1. Genesis 1:31 declare that God looked on his creation and saw that everything he had made was very good.

2. This statement includes Satan, who had not fallen as yet.
3. There was no sin or death in the world in Genesis 1:31.

B. Between Genesis 2:25 and Genesis 3:1, pride drives Satan into rebellion.

1. The time of his fall is after creation, not before creation or during creation.

a. Genesis 1:31 – When God finished creating, he said everything was very good.

b. When Jesus said this, there was no sin, no wickedness, no rebellion and no death in the world.

c. Satan had not fallen as yet.

2. Genesis 3:1 – Satan came to the woman to deceive her.

a. At this point, Satan had fallen.

b. Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14 were being set in motion, although the secondary prophecies of these verses will not take place for a long time.

3. Ezekiel 28:12-19 – This passage is double prophecy.

a. The primary prophecy is concerning the king of Tyrus.
b. The secondary prophecy is concerning Satan.

1) Verse 12-15 refers to the condition of Satan before his fall.

2) Verse 16-19 refers to the reasons Satan fell and the consequences of his fall.

4. Isaiah 14:4-23 is another double prophecy.

a. The primary prophecy is written to the king of Babylon.

b. The secondary prophecy is written to Satan.

C. The result of Satan’s rebellion.

1. Satan is given dominion over the world.

a. Job 9:24“The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?”

1) Job is speaking, therefore we can know this is correct.

2) God owns the world (Ps. 24:1“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”) but, as we read in Job 9:24, the world has been ‘given into the hand’ of Satan temporarily; and Satan dominates it, subject to such limitations as God is pleased to impose.

b. Matthew 4:8,9“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

c. Luke 4:6“And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.”

d. Ephesians 2:2“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”

e. Psalm 76:10“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”

1) Satan is the prince and power of the air, but just as God restrained Satan from killing Job, so Satan is restrained in the evil he is allowed to do.
2) Revelation 9:4,5 – When these demons are released from the bottomless pit, they are restrained from hurting the people of God, but they are allowed to hurt the people who have not the seal of God in their foreheads. God restrains these demons from killing people, but allows them power to torment for the limited time of five months.
3) Note the power of God over Satan, and that power continues today and will continue for all eternity.

2. Satan was given authority to sow tares in the world, which are his children – the non-elect. a. Matthew 13:25, 13:38-39 – Satan sowed tares in the world when he deceived the woman.
b. The tares are mixed in with the wheat.
c. There can be saved people in every family, even though they are born of lost parents.
d. There can be lost children in every family, even though they are born of saved, Godly parents.

Going back to the original point with what transpired in the GARDEN. Satan was present and yet God told man from the beginning that he was to have DOMINION over the EARTH, going into uncharted territories and subduing the world in HIS NAME (Genesis 1:26-30).

Also, for the task of cultivating the garden, God had given man everything he needed….from food to water/nourishment & everything else he needed to get the job done at that point (Genesis 2:1-20).

However, evil wasn’t something on the “to-do” list yet……..but Satan was obviously planning/plotting & and present during CREATION.

Seeing that the forces of darkness were going to eventually be approached by Adam & Eve in their quest to have DOMINION over the planet, would’nt it be logical to say that there was no NEED OF THEM EATING OF THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD & EVIL since GOD WAS GOING TO HAVE TO INSTRUCT THEM ANYWAY ON what EVIL WAS & HOW TO PROPERLY COMBAT/HAVE DOMINON OVER THAT AS WELL WHEN IT ARRIVED???

Seeing it from that angle adds a WHOLE NEW TWIST on the subject, for it really serves to illustrate the danger of seeking to take knowledge for oneself in the wrong way….. & at the WRONG TIME!!!!
As my friend said in response to the issue,

I am going to bring this down to a personal level, because that is what it is in each of us, really. When first reading the Bible, what is understood, is not exactly the same as it is understood as the years go by. The level of understanding changes, or there are more avenues of interest. In searching for deeper knowledge and understanding of the Bible, doubts…yes doubts, creep in as to the authenticity of the earlier teachings. As seeking continues, responsibility continues being heaped upon one as to what they will do with this knowledge acquired. What may have been said to another student of the Bible may well have been wrong as later learned. Therefore, to instruct anyone is a risk. The knowledge one has may not be the full knowledge that will be available.
So…in the long-term, would the results from the earlier understanding’s interfere with what was shared with someone in the past…and the responsibility of that shared conversation be weighed upon the shoulders of the one doing the sharing?
Does that make any sense?
It is almost as if one should not share too much knowledge, if any, because of the long-term consequences. And yet, if one does not share, we would all be dummies!!!

In some sense, it comes to mind that we have all eaten of that tree.

Probably one of the greatest examples I can think of is the topic of SEX. God made it, it’s AWESOME, & BEAUTIFUL……at least, we done in CONTEXT/THE RIGHT TIMING

Song of Solomon 2:7

7 Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

However, when discussed/opened PRE-MATURELY (such as in the ages of childhood when they shouldn’t be even thinking of it or ready to handle it), it creates problems……& yet many kids have been exposed to the knowledge of it, as well as the practice of it, FAR TOO EARLY……which is now resulting in a MYRIAD of PROBLEMS (i.e. STD, early Pregnacies at earleir ages & far too young to handle, emotional issues that come from sleeping around & dealing with the severing of ties that INEVITABLY happen when you become ONE with another, which is another reason why God says DON’T DO IT WITH ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE SEX IS LIKE SUPERGLUE…& UNLESS YOU ARE READY TO BE FULLY COMMITTED TO SOMEONE & have the CONTEXT APPROPIATE TO HANDLE IT, your leaving them will rip something from you and apart of you will be LEFT BEHIND, ETC)

If children do not trust their parents with the knowledge they need & that it’ll be given to them when they need it, or trying to gain the knowledge of it in the WRONG MANNER, they’re only settting themselves up for danger…..& that’s exactly what happened with Adam & Eve.

According to my Study Bible,



“Adam & Eve got what they wanted:an intimate knowledge of Good/Evil….but they got it by doing EVIL, & THE RESULTS were DISASTROUS…….True freedom comes from OBEDIANCE & knowing what NOT TO DO……and the restrictions he gives us are for our good, helping us avoid evil. We have the freedom to walk in front of a speeding car, but we don’t need to be HIT before we realize it would be foolish to do so. Don’t listen to Satan’s temptations. You don’t have to do evil to gain more experience and learn more about life”

It’s all about TRUST……..

For some excellent commentary on the issue, consider these thoughts from another:

So far things have been perfect. Everything that the Lord created was good in the Lord’s eyes (Genesis 1:31). God has authored and ushered in marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18, 23-25).

God established the first and the most intimate of all ‘intrahuman’ relationships between Himself and man. God, the creator of the universe and maker of man, set him up as his vice regent over the rest of creation and commanded him to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1: 28-29). His relationship with man was set at a very personal level (Genesis 2:4 onwards).

Man is entirely dependent on God but not a robot—He has free will, the exercise of which is informed or assisted by God’s love in his guidance and word. A specific example of God’s guidance/word is seen in Genesis 2: 16-17.

“Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for on the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Note the stress on ‘surely’

Observe the expanse of freedom in this area. Everything but the one tree he could eat. God even informed them of the negative consequence of eating from that tree.
Trusting God (Basis and Extent)

How far should we trust God? There is much more to the universe than we in our limited minds can see. God, on the other hand, sees and knows the total picture. He is God overall. If He is not the utmost/supreme/highest in the entire existence/universe, then we have serious cause to be shaky in our trust or commitment in Him. This God who identifies himself here runs through to Jesus in the New Testament, the only pillar on whom we have staked or should stake our entire being, future and ultimate.

God Loves Mankind Deeply

It is from this perspective that God gives us His word and boundaries. He means not to destroy us but to protect us and secure our freedoms.

Adam received all his benefits from God. His position and his mandate were from God. He knew God and what God’s word meant to him. He did not know guilt or shame, but had complete fellowship with God. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…. ” (Genesis 3:8).

The God of the Bible has revealed to us as much He determines we need to know. We need to know what he has revealed, treasure it and wisely use it in worship, making decisions and responding to him..
B. The test —A third player on the scene—the serpent

Genesis 3:1 introduces a third player in the form of one of the creatures—the serpent. Strange that a serpent should talk to man!

Serpents Line of Questioning:

‘Has God indeed (really) said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ (Genesis 3:1)

1) Did the serpent not know what God had said?
2) What should Eve’s answer had been? “Yes” or “No”?
3) What is the serpent’s motive in asking this question?
Is this motive clear (or clearly portrayed to Eve)?

You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5)

The Serpent goes further here than the first twisting of God’s word, to outright denial and contradiction of what God had expressly told them earlier. As yet they did not know death. They had not lost the fellowship of God, trusting that God loved them and meant what He said. They trusted God had their welfare at heart for all their provisions including THIS prohibition.

Outright contradiction

The serpent spoke in outright contradiction to God’s word. Eve knew and practiced God’s Word but an appealing promise caught her off guard.

1) Who is making the promise? Is it God? If not God, who? Does it agree with God has said? What is the end purpose of it? Does God promise that? If yes, why not wait for God in his timing? If not, why bother with it? Can I check with God in prayer?

2) Since it is clearly in conflict with God’s word, the decision boiled down to who Eve trusted —God who she had known well all this while and from who she derived her being and all her position? Who am I most responsible to? And if I do not know it all, whose word would I trust?

3) Note the nature of the promise. You do not have a way of testing it independently without disobeying or setting aside God’s clear warning and it’s negative consequences. How is this like some modern marketing tricks? This is important with regard to temptation.
Where was the serpent’s motive?

What was the serpent’s real or hidden motive or desire in these temptations?

  • Take revenge at God.
  • Dominion over man and creation.
  • Steal what authority God had given man.
  • Control over God’s creation.
  • Become God himself ruling over some of God’s creation. John 10:10, Matt 4:9-10.

Eve’s decision making considerations :

Eve’s priority of parameters considered (Genesis 3:6)
——–good for food
——–pleasant to the eye
——–desirable to make one wise
——- what the Lord had clearly said
——–warned them not to do,
– ——consequence of dying
——–Recall God goodness and heart towards her
Were all these considerations that Eve highlighted wrong in themselves?

Why are you being called upon to set God’s word aside? The love and testimony that God has shown you? Why are you called upon not to remember these? Who is calling you to set it aside?

Why was the serpent’s appeal so strong? Was he appealing to an innate desire in Eve? Did Eve want to be like God? Or want to be God? Can she be? Who wanted to be God? Scriptural reference

Two clear options— a decision had to be made.

Sometimes the options are distinctly different—so called black-and-white options,

Other times the options are not so distinctly different.

This occurs when the option does not clearly contradict a given dictum or principle of scripture.

These are called gray areas. “All things are lawful but not all things are profitable” towards the end goal is an example of this.

Satan loves to confuse us in the murky sides of the issues. This murkiness decreases with knowing and obeying the word of God and prayer.

The most important part of making a decision is the responsibility to decide who to trust the most when you:

  • do not have all the parameters
  • do not know the future
  • do not have a good perspective on an issue.

What does one need to think through when making important decisions?

  • You have to settle in your heart who you trust the most.
  • You have to settle in your heart what your purpose in life is.
  • You have to settle in your heart what price you are willing to pay for that purpose.
  • Who is your primary audience? Who do you need to please the most?

What was Eve’s mistake? If I were in Eve’s place what would I do? Then? Now? What about Adam? His Response to the Offer :

Adam, the leader of the home, the one who named her woman, should know and act better. But surprisingly, the Bible is silent on Adam putting up any fight at all. He took the serpent’s bait coming through his wife ‘hook, line and sinker’.

1) Why didn’t Adam implement any kind of filter to protect Eve from the serpent’s words?

2) Should our fascination with or love for our spouses set aside our responsibility towards God?

In the previous lesson, we saw that a marriage was not between man and woman alone but in real truth a tripartite covenant—God being the third and overseer. It is each person’s responsibility and healthy relation with God that strengthens the bond between the two people.

The point here is to underscore the order of priority of man’s loyalty in relationships:

  • 1) Unique Personal Relationship of God to man
  • 2) Relationship of man to His wife preceding all other ‘interhuman’ relationships
  • 3) Relationship of man to other creatures under God’s sovereignty












Is anyone important enough to cause us to set aside the Lord’s clear word, will or purpose or override his “do not”?

Is anything, any glory, any prestige, reputation, or promise great enough to set aside or contravene God’s word for?

Does God ever ask us to set aside His precepts in order to obtain His promises?
A clear no!

C.) The Results of the Fall into Sin (Genesis 3:7-13, 22)

There were two contesting consequences from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

  • 1) God’s “You shall surely die”
  • 2) The serpent’s “You shall not surely die. For God knows that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Serious subversion is expressed counter questioning the nature of God and His supremacy. Telemarketers appeal to potential victim’s vulnerability but hide the real cost.


Eyes were opened (Genesis 3:7)

They got to know good and evil and in that sense became like God. (3:22) so the serpents promise came true…..but they got MORE:

While God has knowledge of good and evil, evil never has a controlling part. This shows God’s remarkable will and holiness! But for man, this knowledge of good and evil came with subject to the control of evil, loss of rulership to Satan and loss of the very ideal of life as God designed it.

In knowing good and evil, they lost the free access to the tree of life which if they had eaten after that would have lived forever.

The irony is that the excellence of their faculties was infinitely depressed. This is where mankind is today. He does not even have a proper perspective of God, His creation, the future, goodness and the other attributes God originally gave to man. This also contradicts the belief is that man is good in himself. Even by man’s own standards, man questions this!

Guilt, shame, lost innocence

  • Knew they were naked (Genesis 3:7 compare with Genesis2:25)
    They were ashamed at least they were honest about that (unlike the nudist proponents). Tried to make clothes to cover up their nakedness–but inadequate clothing.(Genesis 3:21); God had to provide better clothing.
  • Hiding from God’s presence (Genesis3:8 -10)
    They had to hide (if not brazen) because of sin. Sin does not make us want to go to God as it brings a fear of God’s presence (distinct from the healthy fear that aspires into God’s presence).
  • Passing the Blame (Genesis 3:12)
    ‘Buck-passing’ or ‘clever’ denial man’s personal responsibility to trust and obey God. Does God buy it? Compare this to his faculties in naming the living creatures and the woman.
  • Deceived and Excuses (Genesis 3:13)
    The woman also passes the buck but at least admits that she was deceived—-only after the deception had worked it’s end—too late after the fact.

Deception—the essence of the enemy of God and our souls!

Why would anyone deceive? When does a deceiver want you to find out the truth? Perhaps never, but definitely not early enough to see through his deception or stop him from getting what he is deceiving for. So what did the serpent get for his deception? We have touched on his motives earlier on. But in pursuing his motives, he does not care a hoot about man’s welfare.

Did the serpent’s promise that “you would not surely die” come true?

Did they surely ‘die’?

Why did God not bother about all the additional benefits of eating the fruit when he warned Adam and his wife not to eat it?

—The dying far outweighed the benefits. God’s wisdom hits foundational issues. God’s promises are dependent upon our obedience.

The unfolding of the ‘surely die’ will continue on in the chapter. In fact it has continued all through human history and till today. We really have no innocent man as Adam and the woman were then.

Long term results:

Adam subjected all his progeny to the dominion of sin for eternity. In fact we shall see later that it is God, in His wisdom, mercy and grace, who immediately took steps to prevent this from happening (3:23-24).
Man does not love anywhere near to the degree that the God of the Bible does.

This is why we say that natural man born of the will of man is fallen. Even the best of us struggle with the dominion of sin in our own members. Very pathetically, we cannot on our own make it back to the standard of God. Man has prided himself in his lofty human cultures, but God’s standard is infinitely higher than those achievements. Mankind just doesn’t know what they are missing.


* In choosing to ignore God while exercising their free will, Adam and Eve suffered the very consequences of God’s warning. Man is responsible to God irrespective of which way he exercise his free will. Trust Him enough to obey Him or be so consumed by his own desires as to ignore God’s word.

* If only Eve and Adam had taken God at His word—knowing who He had been to them and put Him first and foremost, above everyone else—themselves or their spouses, their fellow creation-the serpent they would not have fallen.

* In making decisions- small or great- to put the clearly defined will and principles of God in action. God never asks us to set it aside to obtain His promises. John 17 :17.

*Natural man is no longer innocent but Fallen.


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