16 ¶ And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This barrier, so to speak, of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a real literal, tree, is very important. Mankind was not to reach beyond that barrier. Obedience to God presents blessings and eternal life. Disobedience was a barrier to the fellowship with God that eternal life depended on. God told mankind’s first representative, Adam, not to eat of it. God would grant all things to him and, by extension, to us but we were to obey. There was no law, no rules, no restrictions, no commandments, save this one thing, along with being fruitful and multiplying which seems more of a permission as it carries more obvious benefits, joys, and pleasures.
For a Christian to obey God requires belief, faith, and an expectation of things to come, which benefits are not always apparent. Our choices, our pleasures and entertainments, our professions, and those things and people we surround ourselves with often appear to us to be simply a matter of our own will. However, if we do not choose based on our obedience to God, if our free will is not harnessed to what God has ordained, then we will give the illusion of the goodness of our own will power over us. The end result of our own will, being corrupted by sin, is more sin, and disaster. Of course, this can be complicated by a so-called man of God dictating his will to a congregation as a substitute for God’s, even saying that the so-called man of God is repeating something that God has laid on his heart when it is his own prejudices, bigotry, fear, and self-righteousness that is being expressed. This is done for the purposes of control and self-justification. It is very important, therefore, to know what the Bible says so you can compare everything said to God’s word.
God said that Adam would die if he ate of the tree and he began dying that very moment he ate of it. The penalty for his disobedience was death. Dying is a process. In a way, we begin dying as soon as we are born. With each cell division and in each generation mankind passes on more and more deleterious mutations, so much so that some researchers into genetics have been alarmed at the accumulated damage and amazed that human beings have not become extinct because of it. (19) We will see a statement in a few verses that shows that future generations have the image or appearance of God that Adam had lacking in respects in them.
(19) Alexey S. Kondrashov, “Contamination of the Genome by Very Slightly Deleterious Mutations: Why Have We Not Died 100 Times Over?” Journal of Theoretical Biology, (1995) vol. 175, pp. 583-594. James F. Crow, “The High Spontaneous Mutation Rate: Is it a Health Risk?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (Aug 1997) vol. 94, pp. 8380-8386.
The process of dying, mutations, decay, old age, disease, and death are the profound consequences of this disobedience. Death is the great plague of life.
Hebrews 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
To eat of this particular tree was disobedience to God. Disobedience to God is sin. Death is the result of sin.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.