“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 (New King James Version)
“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’?’”
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.’’” Genesis 3:1-3 (New King James Version)
The first sin of humanity is described in these verses. There was a simple command: a broad use case (of every tree you may freely eat), one exception (but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat), and a warning (for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die).
The serpent began by quoting God. That happens today. Individuals who wish to bend God’s Word in order to justify sin often begin by quoting God. This isn’t surprising; C. S. Lewis proclaims “evil is a parasite” in Mere Christianity. Sin is unoriginal, so it is unsurprising when sinners quote scripture. (God is more powerful than sin, and when I see scripture misinterpreted to justify sin I pray the truth – rather, the Truth of God’s Word will do what it always does – defeat sin.)
The serpent fashioned his quote of God as a question. “Has God indeed said…?” That also happens today. The beginning of many attempts to justify sin begin with “Has God indeed said…?” or a variation; “Doesn’t the Bible say…?” or, “If the Bible says…?”
The human responded by misquoting God – adding to the original command. Where did the modification originate? In Genesis 2, God issues the command to Adam. Eve is created afterwards. God told Adam and Adam told Eve. Where was the additional clause inserted? When Adam told Eve.
The addition seems like a good thing, doesn’t it? What is the addition? “Nor shall you touch it.” This makes a lot of sense, really. It’s logical. You have to touch the fruit first before you eat it, don’t you? Maybe, I suppose one could eat the fruit directly from the tree without touching it. God needs a little help with His original proclamation. He doesn’t understand. He’s out of touch with the modern scene in the Garden of Eden. A little interpolation is required, a slight modification to make the command more relevant. More applicable. “Don’t touch it.”
Except that wasn’t what God said. And since it wasn’t what God said, maybe Eve touched the fruit and didn’t die. Think about Eve’s experience with God to date. She has a single command: Eat from every tree, except the one tree, and don’t even touch its fruit, or you will die.
She touches the fruit and doesn’t die.
God has lied to her.
The command is wrong. So God must be wrong.
God no longer informs her reality. God no longer applies. Everything God said is now subject to doubt.
This exchange in Genesis is often the topic of discussions about literal vs. figurative. I’m not going to take that detour. Look at the results, instead. Compare those to the very literal misquoting, misapplication, and misinterpretation of God’s Word you can read on Facebook every day. Are the results identical? Do we question God, find His commands uninformed? His explanations awkward and indefensible? Don’t we make the leap that God then must be wrong and irrelevant and inapplicable?
Is logic sin? No. But like humans – even humans living in a sinless paradise – logic is fallible.
Can the Bible be interpreted to mean anything? No. Along with being interpreted to reveal what God has said (and continues to say) the Bible can misinterpreted to mean things God never said and does not say. Sometimes misinterpretation is mere error with the best of intentions; other times it is justification of sin with malicious intent.
Things haven’t changed much since that encounter in the garden, literally or figuratively. Many repeat the mistakes of humanity in the garden over and over again, with much the same results.
Don’t fall for the deception. Seek Truth. Sow truth. The rewards are eternal.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” – the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians, chapter 6, verse 7 (New King James Version)