[Genesis 2: 16- 17]
“And the LORD God commanded the man, “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 of it you will surely die.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
When you raise children who are about two to three years old, they may be harmed touching or eating dangerous things in the house..
For example, suppose there is some poison in the house. Even if the parents tell the children, “You must never drink this,” they do not understand what it means.
That is why the parents hide dangerous things from the children or just remove such things from the house.
They just remove the harmful substances from the house to begin with, so that their children will not be harmed. I think you would do the same, right?
But in the Bible, there is a strange matter. It is about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God created man in His own image and loved the first man Adam so very much. He put His beloved Adam in the Garden of Eden to live, but He also placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there too but, If Adam ate from it, he would surely die.
Adam still ate from the tree, and he and his descendants all became sinners who had to face the punishment of death. Why, then, did God place such a dangerous tree in the garden?
Didn’t God know that Adam would eat from it? Then, does it means God had something He did not know, so we cannot say He is all-knowing? However, if the Almighty God placed the tree there knowing everything, does that mean He did not love Adam?
Of course not! God knew everything and He loved Adam very much. That is why He placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there.
Today, it is the fifth session of the message of the cross, and I will explain to you about the providence of God’s placing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden.
I hope you will realize God’s providence and love embedded in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil through this message.
I bless in the name of the Lord that, by realizing it, you will become God’s children who love Him from the depth of your hearts, and be loved by Him.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ and viewing audiences, when Adam was first created, although his appearance was that of a grown-up adult, he still was just like a new-born baby as far as knowledge is concerned. It is just like a brand-new high-tech computer that has no data input in it.
From this situation, Adam began to gain all kinds of knowledge step by step directly from God.
He learned about God, the spiritual realm, truth, goodness, light, and many other things of spiritual knowledge, including the knowledge needed to rule over everything. After Adam gained sufficient knowledge, he finally had the qualifications to rule over and subdue everything as the lord of all creation.
Genesis 2:19 says, “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”
Today, even the best avian scholar would not be able to know all the names and characteristics of all the birds on the earth. But Adam knew the characteristics and ecology all of not only all the birds but also all animals so that he could name all of them appropriately.
With this kind of amazing knowledge and wisdom, Adam and Eve began to multiply by giving birth to many children.
Genesis 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” As said, they gave birth to many children.
The fact that Adam and Eve gave birth to children in the Garden of Eden can be seen in the Bible.
In the first half of Genesis 3:16, God says, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.” The phrase, ‘greatly increase’ tells us that Eve had already had some childbearing pain before.
For the baby to come out, the pelvis has to widen, so there had to be some pain.
But before the curse, the pain was less, but after that, God said it would increase greatly.
That is why there is tremendous pain with the labor in childbearing today.
But it is a fact that this pain of childbearing decreases as a woman gets rid of her sins and becomes sanctified.
In case of our church’s female members who try to become sanctified and lead a good Christian life, they have a relatively easy time in childbearing.
After they receive prayer with faith, they give birth within such a short time without much pain.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Garden of Eden is a place where there is no disease, aging, or death. So much time passed while Adam and Eve lived in this garden that the people were able to multiply.
Saying that the history of the cultivation of mankind is for six thousand years, the six thousand years did not start from the moment Adam was created but from the time he was driven out to this earth.
An incalculable period of time passed from when Adam was created until he sinned. For this long period of time, Adam enjoyed great authority as the lord of all things, and he lacked nothing.
But when God let Adam live in the Garden of Eden, He prohibited Adam from one thing. He was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the LORD God commanded the man, “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 of it you will surely die.”
Angels were created only to obey God’s command unconditionally.
But to men, God gave them freewill. Men can obey or choose not to obey according to their own freewill.
After a long time had passed, Adam and Eve no longer kept God’s word on their minds. With their freewill, they eventually ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Until Adam and Eve ate from the tree, the serpent played a very important role. The enemy devil and Satan instigated the serpent to deceive Eve.
Today, most people feel disgusted or repulsed when they see snakes.
But it is not that men disliked snakes from the beginning, that is, at the time they were created. Men came to dislike snakes from the depth of their nature because men came to the way of death due to the serpent.
In fact, the snake, before it was cursed, was not repulsive at all. Just as all other creatures of God, they were also lovely and had a pleasant appearance.
The appearance of today’s snakes is the appearance that was changed to the worse by the curse of God, after it had deceived Eve. The serpent was not only lovely, but also very crafty.
Being crafty, in other words, means it has wisdom to gain the hearts of people.
The serpent was crafty so that it could please Eve and gain her heart. So, when the serpent tried to deceive her, it would be more likely that Eve would not be as careful.
When you lead a Christian life, in many cases, the enemy devil and Satan temp you to commit sins through those who are close to you. When you were tempted through your family, friends, or those whom you love, you are more likely to move away from the truth by them.
When Satan tempted Eve, it used the serpent, which was usually very close to Eve.
The serpent one day asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman answered, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, lest you die.'”
God actually said, “If you eat from it, you will surely die.” But because Eve did not keep God’s word in her heart, she answered, “lest you die.”
She changed God’s word as if she may or may not die by eating it. If we do not keep God’s word in mind but change it like this, we will be more easily tempted by Satan next time.
God’s command is not something that we may obey or may not obey.
If we obey, we gain life, but if we disobey, we go to death. For example, if God says, “Keep the Sabbath,” we must keep this in our heart and keep it in our lives.
If one keeps the Sabbath on some Sundays and does not keep it on other Sundays according to his thought, he would not even be saved.
When Eve changed the word of God as she did, the serpent was able to get in through this opening.
The serpent said, “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In Eve’s standpoint, she did not even want to eat from the tree since it was prohibited by God.
But when she accepted the temptation of the serpent, she wanted to become like God. So, when she looked at the tree now, it looked completely different. Since the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life were agitated, the fruit looked good for food and pleasing to the eye. It was also now desirable for gaining wisdom.
So, she violated the command of God and ate from the tree, and even gave the fruit to her husband, Adam, to eat it.
It is the same with you. For example, when you definitely want to keep the Sabbath, you will not have any desire to go on a picnic or watch TV on Sundays.
But your friends come and tempt you, telling you to come with them on a picnic to a beautiful place over the weekend.
Then, you must firmly drive away this temptation. If you accept it in your heart, you will have many kinds of thoughts of playing on Sunday and wanting to see beautiful sights and so on.
You might even accept the temptation and violate Sunday. That creates a great wall of sin between you and God.
As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobeying God’s command, God’s word that said, “you will surely die,” was realized in their lives.
According to the law of the spiritual realm in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death,” they had to pay the price of their sin.
Of course, Adam and Eve did not immediately die at the moment they ate from the tree. But God’s word saying, “You will surely die,” was not only about physical death.
It meant the more original death, which is the death of spirit. Our visible body is only a shell to contain our spirit, and most important things for men are the spirit and soul that are contained in the body.
Men’s spirit can live by receiving life from God through communication with Him, but after Adam became a sinner, he could not communicate with God any more.
So, men were cut off from God. The enemy devil and Satan took men as their own and caused them to commit the sins that finally leads them to hell.
Even though the body dies, decays and disappears, the spirits of men are not extinguished. So, it is the spirit that receives eternal punishment in hell. Likewise, when the communication between Adam and God were disconnected, we say Adam’s spirit died.
Due to the sin of Adam, not only Adam himself was cursed, but also all his descendants became sinners like Adam and were also subject to death.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not only men that were cursed by Adam’s sin. All the things on earth that were under the control of Adam were also cursed. Genesis 3:17 says, “To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.'”
Before, they only had to take from the trees that bore abundant fruits. But now, since the ground was cursed to produce thorns and thistles, Adam had to toil and by the sweat of his brow so he could gain food.
Also, on the cursed land, many diseases and harmful living organisms came into being, which had not existed before. Men also came to suffer from tests and trials brought on them by the enemy devil and Satan.
Among the cursed things of this earth, the serpent was the most cursed.
Genesis 3:14 says, “So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” Have you seen a snake eating dust? Snakes live on rats, frogs, birds, or insects.
Here, ‘serpent’ refers to the enemy devil and Satan spiritually, and the dust figuratively represents men, who were made from dust.
The serpent eating the dust means that the enemy devil and Satan will take the fleshly men as their food to bring to them tests, trials, and disasters.
As said, those who commit sins and corrupt into flesh come to suffer many kinds of pains under the control of the enemy devil and Satan.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as I briefly mentioned in the beginning of the message today, when they hear about Adam’s committing a sin, people might have a question. It is, “Why did God create the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the first place?”
If God had not placed the tree there, Adam would not have eaten from it. Then, he would not have committed a sin, so that he would not have had to receive the punishment of death. God certainly knew that Adam would eat from it, and He loved Adam very much, but still, He placed the tree.
What is the reason? Conclusively speaking, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to give true happiness to Adam.
Please listen carefully to what this means. The Garden of Eden, where Adam was living, was such a beautiful and peaceful place that lacked nothing.
Adam, who was living in this garden, was very happy, wasn’t he? NO, he was not happy.
More precisely, he could not feel anything like happiness. It is because he never experienced unhappiness, which is the opposite of happiness.
Adam never experienced any disease, death, or accident in the Garden of Eden, so he never suffered any sorrow or pain due to those things. Of course, when God explained to him what unhappiness is, he could understand it mentally, but until he himself experienced it, he could not realize in his heart how painful it is to be unhappy.
For men to realize the true value of something, they must have experience with the opposite of something to learn the relativity of the two things.
Suppose you have never been ill since you were born. Then, you would not feel in your heart what the pain and sorrow of having sickness is like, no matter how much explanation you hear.
If you see somebody suffering from a disease, you might have some feeling about it, but you can never feel the pain of being sick.
This kind of person can have little true thankfulness for his good health.
But if a healthy person becomes ill, he would realize the importance of health deeply in his heart and be grateful for being healthy. It is the same with everything. Only those who have suffered hunger can be truly thankful for abundant food. Only when there is evil, can we realize goodness is really good. Only when there is darkness can we realize how precious light is. Without poverty we will not be thankful for being rich. If there is no hatred, we would not know love is good.
Adam, who was living in the Garden of Eden where there was no unhappiness whatsoever, could not realize his happiness. Since he had never seen death, he could not fully comprehend in his heart what it meant when God said, “you will surely die.”
God loved Adam very much and supplied him with everything, but Adam could not thank God from the depth of his heart.
But after he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was driven out from the garden, all things were changed. As Adam had to live in the cursed world, he came to suffer from many things that he had not known before.
Experiencing hunger, tiredness, coldness, hotness, death, parting, sorrows and pain caused by sins, Adam could realize how happy he used to be in the Garden of Eden.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if men live without feeling true happiness, what is the meaning of their lives although they live in comfort?
Rather, even though we have to suffer for a short time, if we can realize happiness through the short suffering, that life would be a valuable part of life.
Physical parents do not raise their children only in the house even though they love their children so much. Outside the house, there are temptations of bad friends and such dangers as traffic accidents and contagious diseases.
But, because the children can become fully grown-ups after going to school and experiencing this society, the parents send their children out into the world.
It is the same with God the Father. It would be good if Adam could realize happiness in his heart and give thanks to God as a child who loved God. But unlike God the Creator, a creature, such as man, cannot realize the relativity of things unless he himself has experience.
That is why God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, to let man experience unhappiness and pains, so that he could genuinely understand relativity [and not just the concept of it in his brain].
But this does not mean that God guided Adam to commit a sin. It is just that God allowed Adam to choose with his own freewill.
Adam finally ate from the tree of the knowledge with his freewill, and mankind came to suffer from many kinds of pains such as coldness, hotness, diseases, poverty, hunger, paring, loss, and death.
When we get to the heavenly kingdom after we go through the process of human cultivation on this earth where we suffer, we will realize how good the life in the kingdom of heaven is.
We will be able to feel deep in our heart that the heavenly kingdom, where there is no sin or unhappiness, is so good since we have already experienced sins, diseases, sorrows, and death on this earth.
We will give thanks to God from the depth of our heart for giving us such a wonderful heavenly kingdom and to live in joy eternally. In that day, even after a long time, we will not change negatively like Adam who was not able to keep God’s word in his mind.
It is because we know not only as knowledge in our head, but because we have experienced the relativity, we clearly know that heavenly kingdom is so good. Thus, we will not change as time goes by, but rather our love and thanksgiving will increase more and more.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Adam came to experience unhappiness by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He could then realize how happy his life used to be in the Garden of Eden.
But when he realized this fact, he had already become a sinner. His communication with God was disconnected and his spirit already died. He could not go back to the garden or get back to the previous happy life.
Not only Adam and Eve but also all their descendants were destined to receive the punishment of death as sinners. Now, what can we do about it? How can we, born as mankind who are all sinners, escape from the punishment of death?
God from the beginning knew Adam would eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and commit the sin. So, even before He placed the tree of the knowledge, God had prepared the way of salvation for mankind.
He prepared the way before the time began to save the mankind who are sinners from the punishment of death, without violating the law of the spiritual realm.
What, then, is that way of salvation? I will tell you about this beginning in the next session.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, viewing audiences, now, do you understand why God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
If you realize the will of God in placing the tree of the knowledge, you cannot help but admire the amazing providence of God. You will naturally give thanks to God for His love for give us the opportunity to receive eternal happiness. Those who realize this fact and have hope for heaven will have only thanksgiving and joy, no matter what kind of life they lead on this earth.
That is why 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
No matter what kind of sorrow or pains we suffer on this earth, it is only momentary for us. After this life, we will enjoy the glorious heavenly kingdom and eternal happiness forever and ever.
I hope you will realize the love of God who wants to give us true happiness. Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will lead a Christian life overflowing with joy with your thanks to God and hope for heaven.