“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'”

Gen 2:16-17; ESV

When I served as youth leader I was often asked questions about the beginning. This makes sense since such questions pertain to much of the substance and meaning of life: Why am I here? What purpose do I have for living? Am I an accident that slowly came out of a primordial soup, like biological evolutionist’s teaching in school? Am I just an animal, then? What happens when we die, is that it or is there something else?

Another question that was sometimes hurled at me was this: “Why were Adam and Eve told that they would die if they ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?”

A related question that followed was, “Why do I suffer the consequence (sinful nature) of their sin?”

Good questions. These are the sorts of things that kids should be asking mom’s and dad’s everywhere. And, they should be the sort of questions that mom’s and dad’s ought to jump at answering. I know, I know not many parents teach their kids these things nowadays. Not many parents read to their children or teach their kids to pray, thanking God for the many blessings we receive each day throughout out lives.

What I would like to do today is offer a short answer to the underlying problem of the question proposed by children (and adults) regarding the eating of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, in the beginning.

“I thought you said it was a ‘good question,’ ‘the [sort] of things that kids should be asking…? So then, how can you say that there is an underlying problem with the question?” you ask. Very good. I’m glad that you were paying attention. Here’s the problem.

Who are the supposed victims when the question is being asked? God or mankind? When the punishment/consequence of the eating of the forbidden fruit is challenged it is on the grounds that “dying” is far too harsh. “All they did was eat a piece of fruit!”

Were they warned ahead of time of the punishment/consequence to follow if they did so? Yes, they were. “But dying! But passing on that death sentence to their children after them (an inherited sin nature)! That seems too radical!”

It does, why? You see, the supposition is that mankind (male and female; Adam and Eve) are the real victims here. But, they are the one’s who committed a transgression against a known law. If they are punished for violating the law, then why assume that they are victims? Bear in mind that this mentality has deeply seated itself into the very fabric of our society. The idea that a just punishment for a crime is too harsh, too inhumane is to make a victim out of the perpetrator.

I have heard this argument used time and time again in defense of those who break the law. We see those that show little regard for righteousness as somehow the victims of the system of law. This reveals, to me, the immaturity of our society at large. Our society thinks more like a child, than an adult.

Just in case you didn’t know the real victim in the garden when Adam and Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit, was not the man and woman who were held accountable for their crimes against their Maker. The true victim was God their Creator. He gave them life. He gave them all that He had created. All He required is that they respect and love Him in honoring His Word. They refused. They spit in His face. They chose to rebel against Him and attempted to strike their Father in the face. The true victim in that act of eating the forbidden fruit was the Holy God whose word was violated, not the man and woman who treated Him so lightly.

The punishment was, therefore, just. Justice served from a righteous King. It really is too bad that so many in our world today fail to recognize true justice, true victims, true violations of the law, but can we expect anything less from a people who have been indoctrinated with lies. A nation who does not know its left hand from its right? Sadly, I think not.

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