By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit AND ATE, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, AND HE ATE.”
Genesis 3:6

There are many who think that this eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trivial and petty incident that very apparently thrust the whole created order into bondage to sin. Why should this mouthful of fruit be so dramatic and fatal? Why should such a “little” bite have such huge and dire consequences? Really, why did this “simple” act of disobedience create such horrific results for the whole world for literally all of recorded history?

The actual asking of such questions proves that a great gulf exists between not seeing nor understanding that there is no greater sin in us than the disregarding of God’s Word, treating it as forgettable. And, on the other hand, the accepting, thinking, and living as though His Word is absolute, irrevocable truth, which it truly is. 

A massive chasm has been created by failure to fully grasp that disobedience of His Word is the fatal determinant of all of life, while obedience to that Word is the source of all joy in God and of creation. 

That great serpent, Satan’s, cunning, step by step, convincing of Eve to question the veracity of God’s Word. This is exactly what Satan’s “modus operandi” is towards the whole human race! He wants you to question the spoken and written Word of God. 

In fact, this is sin’s true definition: “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.” (The “Law of God” is basically synonymous for “God’s Word.”) 

Satan said to Eve: “Did God really say?” Then he said emphatically in direct opposition to God, “You will not surely die.” In fact, Eve was guilty of, while speaking to the serpent, what so many humans are guilty of, adding to God’s Word. She said, we cannot only eat of it, “we cannot touch it,” something which God never told her. This was part of her sin; she discounted God’s Word, disobeying it and also adding her own thoughts to it. 

Many, many down through history have seen cause to add to God’s Word, something His Word commands us especially not to do, either in written or spoken word. By adding to it we sin, and we thus create heresy; just another way in which we do not accept His Word as true and wholly sufficient; God’s revelation, delivered without fault through the Holy Spirit to His prophets and apostles. 

God’s Word defines what sin is, and says we are all sinners (Romans 6:23“We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.”) The whole world is divided into two and only two groups: redeemed sinners and unredeemed sinners. Redeemed sinners have a freedom of their will to choose not to sin or to sin. Unredeemed sinners, on the other hand, are in bondage to sin and, therefore, can only sin. 

Unregenerate people, unbelievers, do “good” things at different times in their life, but they do not do them to please God, whom they do not believe in or give Him any glory for doing them. 

The believer recognizes he does good only by the mercy and grace of God. The unbeliever does “good” things with his own power and self-interest. He does it for his own glory and self-pride in one way or another. 

Martin Luther wrote “Bondage of the Will” in the 1500’s, and Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Freedom of the Will” in the 1700’s, centuries apart, basically saying the same thing, that there is no free will for the unbeliever, for they are in bondage to sin; while the believer receives free will in being born again. He is free to obey God or to not obey God. But, nevertheless, we are all sinners, though the believer never attains perfection in this life despite his free will to do so. For the believer still battles a sin nature. 

So, eating of the forbidden fruit was by no means a small thing. It involved disbelieving God and counting His Word as forgettable. There is no greater sin! It consigned the earth to destruction. God’s creation was placed under the weight and groaning of sin and consequent death, which are the “wages” of sin. 

We do not know what a deathless creation is like, for it has always experienced death, but we will. Man, excepting Adam and Eve, was consigned to a creation of death, and knows no other creation but this. 

So, man’s science cannot make heads nor tails of such a world, either by his science or his imagination. But the creator of the vast universe, both macro and micro, has no trouble with anything so simple or complex. 

At the Paul Anderson Youth Home we work with young men who are sinners who are free to sin or to obey, and with sinners who are in bondage to sin. 

It is our fervent hope that all these young men will come to faith and to freedom, but not all do. Those who remain outside of Christ never experience the joy of the Holy Spirit. 

Such young men are characterized by anger, discontent, and the constant assault of the evil one, Satan. 

On the other hand, the young men who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit still face spiritual war and temptation from the stalking lion, but they also know the joy of salvation and are growing day by day in holiness. 

We see the difference in their temperaments and in their respect or disrespect for authority, among many other character traits. Would that God would bring all of them to salvation. This is our great prayer and hope. But this is exactly why we are in this work!


“Watch! Let not the wicked world with its power defeat thee. Watch lest with her pomp unfurled she betray and cheat thee. Watch and see lest there be faithless friends to charm thee, who but seek to harm thee.”
(3rd verse of Johan Freystein’s hymn, “Rise My Soul, to Watch and Pray,” 1697)

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