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The Fruit of Two Trees

  • January 2019 Issue
Theology Matters

The Bible traces sin’s entrance into human experience to the fruit of a forbidden tree. Adam was warned, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:16-17). In a way, this seems strange. We often think of sex, power, or greed as the sins that are humanity’s undoing. Instead, it is something far more basic: the simple act of eating.

Why would God stake so much on something so ordinary? Eating is a common experience and is essential to our existence. But this is true of all sin. Most sins are distortions of basic desires or needs that in themselves are natural and good. The Lord had clearly given Adam and Eve many alternatives—they were free to eat from any of the other trees.

What is more, Adam and Eve had better food waiting, if they had only obeyed. Not only had God given them many alternatives to the fare that Satan offered, but also one fruit was superior to all the others. This was the fruit of the tree of life. At the time of Adam’s temptation, he had not yet eaten from the tree of life (Gen. 3:22). After they sinned, Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden to keep them from taking from the tree of life.

This was both a protective measure and a sign. The consequences of their disobedience and eating the forbidden fruit meant that Adam and Eve were now subjected to sin and death. They were alienated from God’s holiness and presence as soon as they ate from the tree. If they had taken from the tree of life after their disobedience, their fate would have been to live eternally in this state.

But by expelling Adam and Eve from the garden and consigning them to physical death, God provided a way of escape for humanity. Just as death entered the human race through one man’s disobedience, grace and the gift of righteousness would come through Christ’s obedience to the point of death (Rom. 5:17). By His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has graciously restored our access to the tree of life (Rev. 22:14).

To learn more, read In My Place Condemned He Stood by J. I. Packer and Mark Dever (Crossway).

BY Dr. John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

Dr. John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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