We all know the story. Adam and Eve partook of the Forbidden Apple/Pear/Banana/whatever, sin was introduced into the world, and we’re all suffering for it (Genesis 3, Romans 4). Life in the garden had been perfect and wonderful and now, everything is messed up. And we have to wear clothes. Bummer.
But my friends and I were discussing the Fall of Man and it got me thinking. Was Eden really as good as we make it out to be? Some of you bristle at the thought of someone questioning this fact. “There was innocence in the Garden! There was unity with God! There was perfection in creation and marriage! There was no sin! There was no death! Of course Eden was perfect! Why would you say it was not?”
Look, Eden was great–better weather, animals were all cool, you could high-five a Velociraptor (insert debate here), and God was always right there. Eden was great…it just wasn’t enough.
CAPACITY FOR SIN ALWAYS EXISTED–The Devil walked right up to Eve in the form of a serpent and twisted her and Adam to do evil without hardly trying. Satan, possession, and deception. Sin was already in the picture, it just wasn’t a part of us. But as you can see, Adam and Eve already had the capacity to sin all on their own.
Free will is a dangerous thing. Without it, you have robots who cannot love or think. With it, you have the capacity for them to make a bad decision, to hurt others, and to ruin themselves. Adam and Eve, you had had free will, and in the words of the internet, “you’re doing it wrong”.
INNOCENCE ISN’T THE SAME AS RIGHTEOUSNESS–Genesis 1-3 called it “The Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil” (emphasis mine). This further proves that Good and Evil already existed, the Fruit just made us aware of it. Satan was right: our eyes were opened. So why was this a bad thing?
Say a man finds a $100 bill on the ground. He says, “Hey! Free money!” and picks it up. Then another man comes and screams at him that the $100 bill was his own. He proves it somehow and the first man says, “Hey, sorry, I didn’t know.” Now re-imagine the scenario without innocence. The first man sees the second drop the $100 bill, then takes it and walks away anyway. He knows it is not his, he knows he should return it, but he takes it anyway. Innocence shields us from guilt even when we do commit a wrong. Simply put, we didn’t know any better.
Now we do. And sin clings to us like a needy girlfriend who is also a leech covered in a tar/honey/peanut-butter ooze. But read the rest of the story: Jesus came in and removed our sins with his death (Isaiah 53, the entirety of Romans, the whole New Testament…). We are still not innocent of sin, for we know what we did (we must to confess it), yet we still don’t bear the guilt. Jesus paid that price, and now we are justified, made right with God. Jesus makes us righteous. Innocence is a shield of ignorance; Righteousness cuts through sin with the Blood of Christ. And this brings me to my last point…
GOD WAS NEVER FULLY REVEALED AND NEVER COULD HAVE BEEN–I mean it. Without failure, we would never understand God’s grace. Without trials, we would never understand God’s provision and strength. Without the Cross, we would have never fully grasped God’s love. Adam and Eve saw God closer than probably anybody, but they only saw one facet of him in Eden. Now, we can see all of God.
WHAT SHALL WE SAY, THEN? Do the ends justify the means?…well…yeah!
God knew this was going to happen; the Fall didn’t surprise him. And John 1 says that Jesus was always with God, always existed, so he was already lined up to make up for the mistakes Man hadn’t even made yet. The whole thing was part of God’s great story. Why would God deliberately account for the failure of Eden when he could have simply prohibited Satan from entering?
Because Eden was NEVER enough. It was beautiful, it was wonderful, and it was home. But God knew that one day, we would have to leave it.
God didn’t want to just keep us away from sin, He wanted to get us through it. What’s better: holding down the fort during the Zombie apocalypse, or killing all the zombies?
And in defeating
the zombies sin, God showed us the fullness of himself. Would we have really known God was might to save if he never showed us? We are humans, after all.
But most importantly, Eden was a time bomb. If not with the forbidden fruit, then Satan would have won them some other way. Adam and Eve were only human; they could never have lived sinless lives. Only Jesus, who was God, could make it happen. So Eden was never built to last.
You’re thinking of Heaven.
Heaven is where sin has no access. When God raises the righteous, it will not be with the same old flesh that is infect by sin. It will be with a new body, one yet untainted. But we will not be ignorant. We will have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony (Rev 12:11). We will be past sin, and then it will be removed forever. And in Heaven, we will see God face-to-face, in full, in person, in all His glory, and for the first time ever, we will truly know him.
If this Earth is only a shadow of Heaven, then Eden was only a shade, a clearer image perhaps, but an image, still. It was never the real thing, never the end goal. God didn’t have any roots in Eden because he wasn’t going to settle. He was going to take us higher and farther than Eden could ever offer.
It’s always scary to leave home–whether you’re in the Shire, the Muggle World, Tatooine, this side of the Wardrobe, or any other place where you once laid your head. But the journey to true greatness lies far beyond your door, and never begins until the first step is taken across the threshold.