Usually when “one of those passages” keep coming back to my mind, I have found that God is trying to teach me something very important.
I have been thinking about the Free Will question. Firstly, we don't know what kind of fruit the Tree of Knowledge had on it. Someone somewhere decided that it was an apple.
Let's look at the Scripture verse by verse: God created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:8-9) Then God put Adam into the Garden of Eden that He had made for him so he could work the Garden and keep it in order. Then, “God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead.” (The Message)
Here is the very first commandment. Never had God commanded anything before…He just spoke and it was. But to Adam, God gave intelligence and God expected obedience from him. We know that Adam did eat from the Tree. We also know that Adam did not physically drop dead from eating that fruit. So what happened when he took that bite?
1. God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit…God commanded Eve through Adam.
2. God expected Adam's obedience.
3. God knew that as long as Adam obeyed Him, Adam would be innocent–meaning that he would be guiltless of any sin. OK… let's go back and look at another verse.
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (NASB)
But more than that, God created Adam for a perfect fellowship with Himself. Adam knew God intimately and Adam had God's Spirit abiding within Himself. Adam and Eve were the only flesh and blood that ever entered God's presence because they were innocent of any sin. They didn't even know what sin was. They did not know what evil was and did not experience evil.
Gen 2:25, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
When Eve was deceived and she gave Adam the fruit to eat… Adam chose to disobey God's command and he ate the fruit. This fruit was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Basically, it wasn't solely the fruit that gave them the knowledge, it was the act of disobedience also that gave them the knowledge. They were no longer innocent and they knew they were naked. Consider chapter 3 in Genesis… A lot of finger pointing went on, but if we follow God's leading…we'll see who God considered the real culprit.
3:14 — The serpent is cursed more than anything created. The woman's seed will bruise its head with His heel.
3:16 — The woman's pain in child birth was greatly multiplied and in spite of the pain of childbirth, her desire would be for her husband. She would be ruled by him.
3:17-19 — The man's labor is greatly increased in order for his family's needs to be provided for; and here is where God decrees Man will physically die. 3:23 — God sends Adam out of the Garden, away from His own presence. Thus are the physical consequences of the first sin–the sin of disobedience– established. Adam and Eve were given Free Will from the very beginning, otherwise they would not have been able to defy God's command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It was always God's intention for humans to have Free Will because He has never desired Forced Worship. He desires us to desire Him above all things. He desired Adam & Eve to make Him ruler of their hearts just as this is His desire for His children. They exercised their freedom of choice.
The sin was disobedience to God's command. The consequence was loss of the Holy Spirit of God abiding within their hearts. Therefore, Adam and Eve spiritually died the instant they took that bite of the fruit.
They eventually physically died, however the Spiritual death was much more traumatic because God banished them from His presence. The consequence of this was that all humans ever after are born with a God-sized hole. Man was created to be Spiritually alive with God's Spirit. When this was taken away, the God-sized hole gives Mankind this intense craving to be filled. Mankind does all kinds of crazy things to fill this hole. He tries everything from work, to money, to drugs, to self-mutilation, to pursuit of knowledge (Ecclesiastes is a good example of this) to pursuit of perfect physical appearance, to having as many children as possible, to all kinds of church work, to buying as many toys as possible, clothes, shoes, possessions, big houses… the list goes on and on. Nothing fills that God-sized void except the Holy Spirit. It took the willing sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humans to the Living God again legally.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated drops of blood in His anxiety but He chose to obey God's will. Now, we can freely choose to either accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. (Proof of this choice is in Acts 12–you might note that we are not given a reaction from Drusilla whose father was Herod Agrippa. He's the one that was eaten alive by worms because of his pride and refusal to bend to God's will.) Here's the wonderful thing about this kind of Freedom. When we accept Jesus as Savior — That's the last decision we ever make on our own. We have much greater wisdom at work in us than mere human wisdom after the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Choosing Jesus means choosing Him as Ruler of the Heart and Mind and Body and Soul.
This is how a Christian is known to other Christians…True Believer to other True Believers. The True Believer will desire to obey God and will be convicted by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. Does this mean we won't have periods of rebellion and/or times of seduction into doing ungodly things? No. We most certainly will have those times because we are not perfect and we still reside in our fleshly, physical bodies. What it means is that we will be convicted of our sin when we sin and we won't be able to sleep at night or have peace in our minds or be content. We will worry. We will fret. We will do all manner of running away from God until we recognize the sin for what it is. When we confess that sin and repent from that sin…Then God cleanses us, refreshes us, gives us peace in our hearts and minds. Our witness is restored from the shambles it was in and we are stronger in the Lord than ever before.
It is the free will offering that we bestow upon Him. Are we not made in God's image?
Did not Jesus choose to go to the cross and remain upon the cross? We have the Mind of Christ as Paul testifies in 1 Corinthians 2:16. Therefore, we have that same freedom of will. Jesus speaks of it in Luke…
Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who were sent to her! again and again would I have taken your children to myself, as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, but you would not!