Adam and Eve were created in the very image of God. They lived in a wonderful place in the very presence of God. They had been given stewardship over every living creature on land, air, and sea. They were created to live forever. They could want for nothing.
Inasmuch as God created them, He had complete authority to set any conditions He deemed necessary for their benefit and protection. And there was only one condition He set to measure their obedience.
“Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.’” Genesis 2:15-17
The single condition was very basic and straight forward. They could partake of all trees in the garden including the tree of life, but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Not only was this a test of their obedience, there was no reason for them to know ‘evil’.
The Hebrew for ‘die’ in the present context means physical death. Synonyms include kill and slay. Physical death was a major consequence of the curse directed towards Adam, i.e. “and to dust you shall return.” The writers of Hebrews confirmed such death, “And it is appointed for men to die once…”
Now Satan was well aware of God’s requirement on Adam and Eve. He had just one opportunity to disrupt the perfect plan and he took full advantage of that opportunity.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field, which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” Genesis 3:1
The term ‘serpent’ does indeed mean snake; however, the serpent appeared as one to shed light on God’s command. Eve didn’t recognize the serpent for who he really was.
Recall that the instruction not to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was originally given to Adam. Adam in turn had relayed the command to Eve. The serpent approached Eve, who as Adam’s helper, was more susceptible to being deceived.
The Hebrew for ‘cunning’ means subtle, sly, and/or crafty. The serpent’s subtlety exceeded that of any other of God’s created beasts on the earth.
Eve responded to the serpent’s question.
“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden,’ God has said ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
The serpent responded with ‘logic’ that there was no reason for God to place any restrictions on their freedom in the garden. The serpent convinced Eve that she would actually benefit from eating the fruit.
And so it was.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6
Eve saw only the perceived benefits of eating the forbidden fruit. A key term in the above passage is ‘desirable’. It is the Hebrew chamadh which is translated ‘covet’. It means to long for. It represents an inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire. The same Hebrew word is the basis of the 10th Commandment, i.e. ‘You shall not covet…’
One of the results of their disobedience was their recognition of their sinful state. They attempted to cover their nakedness by clothing themselves with fig leaves.
No disobedience to God’s instructions escapes Him and because of His holiness all disobedience must be dealt with. When He confronted Adam, he pointed to Eve. Eve in turn blamed the disobedience on the serpent.
“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” Genesis 3:13b
The consequences would be devastating.