Most of us are familiar with the story of “original sin.” Adam and Eve in the perfect Garden of Eden…the serpent-tempter shows up…Eve caves to the temptation and eats a piece of fruit…then, bammo! Condemnation to eternal death!
What would make Adam and Eve’s rule-breaking so egregious that it warranted capital punishment, not only for them, but for all their descendants?
1. Eating from the tree was direct disobedience to God. The fact is, they did break a law; a law to which a specific consequence (death) was tied. Their disobedience was intentional, deliberate, calculated, and unquestionable. They had trespassed on property God had reserved for himself.
2. Eating from the tree was done for self-gratification and self-exaltation. When the tempter promised in Genesis 3 that “you can be like God, knowing good from evil,” Satan was beguiling Eve in the same way he himself was deceived. He was saying, “Go ahead Eve, make your own decisions. Why live according to the Creator’s rules, when you can make your own? You can be your own god!
3. Eating from the tree represented a breech of their covenant with God. God had appointed them as the managers of creation, yet they broke the trust. They used their decision-making power to turn away from the Creator. Death was a necessary consequence because it prevented creation from being completely and eternally overrun by evil. Satan knew that if he could pollute humanity with rebellion, his goal of overthrowing God’s kingdom would be advanced while God’s honor would be tragically diminished.
4. Eating from the tree was a misuse of God’s gift of free will. God gave us the power to choose so that our love for him could be genuine. Choice, and the relationship it makes possible, was to be an eternal blessing for humans to enjoy. But using choice to rebel made it necessary for God to restrict such power to a temporary lifespan. No one who chooses against God can be allowed to prevail forever.
5. Eating from the tree would affect all humans born in the future. When Adam and Eve chose against God, they not only chose for themselves, but for the entire human race. Rather than being born in innocence, all subsequent individuals would enter the world under the dominion of sin. The seriousness of their sinful choice is greatly enhanced by the wide circle of people it would hurt or destroy over the years; in fact, this tragic consequence still plays out today in every sorrow, every suffering, every pain, and every evil. Adam and Eve led our race down a road from which there could be no easy return.
6. Eating from the tree resulted in separation from God. God wanted a love relationship with human beings. He was to be their Father God and they were to be his beloved and privileged people. As history has turned out, only some humans have chosen to live under the authority of God; most have rebelled. Adam’s choice to disobey was a step away from God that could not be retracted. Only through drastic measures of salvation, mercy, and personal sacrifice would God be able to restore hope to humanity.
An act that seemed so “insignificant,” a simple choice, changed history and brought death into a world designed for life; war into a world designed for peace; pain into a world designed for happiness; futility into a world designed for purpose; selfishness into a world designed for love.
I wonder if my choices today matter so much? Something tells me they do.