CHAPTER 6: LEAVING THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Our story so far: God told Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam ate
it. His eyes were opened, knowing good and evil. Now what? How does God respond? What's a
father to do?
Here again are the pertinent verses from Genesis Chapter 3:
16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in
childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for you
husband, and he shall rule over you."
17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of
your wife, and have eaten from the Tree about which I commanded you, saying, `You shall
not eat from it'; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the
days of your life.
18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall
eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the
ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall
20 Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of
all the living.
21 And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and
22 Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of
us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the
Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever"
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden, to
cultivate the ground from which he was taken.
24 So he drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He
stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the
way to the Tree of Life.
The events are clear. God tells Adam and Eve they will suffer. It is
also plain that God will cause this suffering. "I will greatly multiply your
pain...cursed is the ground because of you..." He casts them out of the Garden,
making it impossible for them to eat the Tree of Life. God prevents Adam and Eve from
living forever. He, in essence, condemns them to death. Why does God do this?
"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the Tree
about which I commanded you, saying, `you shall not eat from it'." That certainly
sounds as though God is punishing Adam for disobedience.
But he wasn't. As we have seen in the previous two
sections, Adam's disobedience was the indirect problem; it led to the direct problem,
which was the knowledge of good and evil.
Example: a parent says, "Don't touch anything under the sink."
Adam disobeys, drinks some poison and becomes very sick. The parent responds,
"Because you didn't do what I told you, we have to take you to the hospital." In
this example it is very easy to see that though Adam's disobedience led to his sickness,
it is not the disobedience itself that made him sick; the poison made him sick. The fruit
from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was poison. And Adam was quickly getting
sick. "All right, fine. But God still punished Adam and Eve for eating from the
Tree." That is the next issue we must examine: punishment.
THE TWO TYPES OF PUNISHMENT
Remember from Chapter 4 our discussion of two forms of parental
commands, selfish and selfless. We concluded that God must have been acting selflessly in
his prohibition against the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with
their best interests in mind. In the previous Chapter we saw the harm that came to Adam
from this Tree. Recall also our illustration of little Adam and the x!@. What happens
if/when little Adam does indeed touch the x!@? In the answer #1 (selfish) scenario the
parent gets hurt. Parent feels anger and loss because the x!@ Is important to him/her. In
the answer #2 (selfless) scenario Adam gets hurt. Parent feels sorrow for Adam because he
has been pained, and tries to comfort and heal.
Who was hurt through Adam's transgression? The only obvious answer is
"Adam". If that is true, and God was acting selflessly and lovingly toward Adam
and Eve, then God must have felt sorrow for Adam and Eve because they had been pained, and
tried to comfort and help heal them. How then are we to understand that God "greatly
increased" their pain and "cursed" them for what they had done?
There are two types of punishment, paralleling the two types of
Punishment type #1 seeks to hurt another as retribution for some
harm experienced by the punisher. This is vindictive, after the fact. The parent hates the
color green, and has commanded that Adam never wear green clothing. One day Adam
"forgets" and wears a green hat. The parent then whips Adam for disobeying, for
offending the parent's aesthetics.
Punishment type #2 seeks to deliver a lesser hurt that can
be understood/related to, in order to try to prevent some greater hurt that cannot be
comprehended. This is protective, before the fact. Little Adam is reaching for a
pot on the stove. Parent slaps Adam's hand (which Adam can feel and understand) to
communicate the message that Adam must not do that, trying to save Adam from an
Which type of punishment do you think God gave to Adam and Eve?
THE VINDICTIVE GOD OF THE CUG
The commonly understood Gospel, while wrong, is at least consistent in
its view of the arbitrary, vindictive God. God is "just" (CUG # 3). He required,
therefore, obedience for its own sake. Thus the command not to touch the one Tree. Adam
disobeyed (CUG #6) out of stubborn, sinful rebellion. God punished Adam for having done
this, casting him from the Garden of Eden, destined to lifelong suffering until dying a
death of eternal separation from God (CUG # 8 & 9).
God was angry. His perfect righteousness was offended, and he absolutely
would not want to have His disgusting, sinful children around to mar His heavenly
beneficence and glory. Since the test of obedience was arbitrary, "God" could
have simply forgotten or forgiven the transgression. Such a vast amount of suffering from
such a small, meaningless test. Like a spoiled child who has been offended,
"God" gets mad that Adam and Eve failed this arbitrary test. He has one really
nice toy that He will only let His friends play with: the Tree of Life. And since Adam and
Eve made Him mad, "God" won't let them touch His nice Tree. So out they had to
go. "Get out of my sight! I never want to see you again! And for good measure, I'll
be sure you never enjoy another day as long as you live!!"
Some "god", huh? A selfish, arbitrary parent, who vindictively
punishes his children eternally for offending his capricious whims, multiplying pain and
suffering to vent his allpowerful anger.
This is not right! This is a manifestation of the very evil that
came into the world when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good
and Evil. This is a vision of a God as evil as the minds that conceived it. It is, in
fact, evil itself. It is not real.
Yet this is the conception we have had drilled into us.
Once Adam and Eve began to know good and evil, everything became
polluted. Especially their knowledge of God.
THE REAL GOD
The real God, the creator of heaven and earth, our
- God is love. (I John 4:7)
- God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (I John 1:5)
- Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His
lovingkindness is everlasting! (Psalms 106:1)
Why, then, would a good, loving God "increase pain...curse...and
cast out?" Strange as it may seem to our darkened hearts and minds, He was trying to
help. To heal. "What??!?" That's right. You see, after Adam and Eve ate from the
forbidden fruit, a disease was born in their soul; the knowledge of good and evil may not
have been toxic to God, but it was absolutely deadly (!) to Adam and Eve, who were created
to be manifestations of pure good. Just like little Adam in the example of the poison
under the sink, they have eaten something very harmful to them.
Now, what is a loving parent to do? If you saw your child convulsing
from ingesting poison, after you had warned/ordered him/her to stay away from the kitchen
sink, how would you respond? Would you slap your child for disobeying you? Would you throw
him/her out on the street, vowing to never speak to them again? If you had an antidote for
the poison, would you deny it to them in anger? Of course not!! It is only the most vile
and loathsome socalled parents who would act in such a horrible manner.
Yet again, this is exactly the behavior the common understanding
of the Gospel ascribes to God!!!
At the point that your child is writhing in pain, slapping him/her has
no value. No meaning. You are willing to forgive any trespass. The fact of your child's
disobedience is absolutely meaningless in the light of the lifethreatening situation
he/she now faces. You must deal with the poison!
It is exactly the same with God. Adam's transgression, the fact that he
disobeyed, was and is insignificant. God is love. God is forgiving. "For Thou, Lord,
are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon
Thee." (Psalm 86:5) God was not punishing Adam. Forgiveness, if it was needed, was
already his. All he had to do was ask. No problem. Paradise never lost.
The problem, however, was Adam's sickness. Knowledge of good and evil
was eating him alive. Killing him. Causing him to be egocentered, out of harmony with
his mate, hiding from his God.
What Adam needed was an antidote! But God didn't have one on hand. Not
quite yet. It would take a few thousand years to make one.
But God got to working on it right away.
And when it was ready, He made it available to everyone.
In another Garden.
TO THE HOSPITAL
But in the mean time, God still had a little problem. What to do with
Adam? If your child was convulsing from poison, and you didn't have an antidote at hand,
what would you do? In all probability you would take him/her to the hospital. Which is
exactly what God did to Adam!
God sent Adam out of the Garden of Eden, into the cold world, to till
the soil by the sweat of his brow until he returned to the ground. This world is a
hospital for souls sick with the knowledge of good and evil. But why did Adam and Eve have
to suffer? Why did God say He was going to "greatly multiply" their pain?
It was a blessing that God added pain to Adam and Eve's lives. Pain,
albeit unpleasant, serves a very good and useful purpose: to indicate what is wrong, and
to steer us toward what is right. Without it, we could destroy ourselves utterly without
the slightest indication that anything is wrong.
In fact, this condition exists. It is a disease medical science calls
neuropathy. People with this disease have nerve endings that are incapable of transmitting
pain signals. People with this condition can actually amputate one of their own limbs and
not feel a thing. They simply die from blood loss. It is a very deadly disease, in that
children afflicted with it must be carefully supervised and taught how to avoid situations
that seem harmless to them.
This was precisely the situation with Adam and Eve. Yes, they had caught
the sickness of good and evil knowledge. Yet it did not control them utterly; there was
still much life within them. God gave them pain to be their guide. Life out of balance
would yield suffering, as a constant tutor to lead us back to the truth. But, thanks to
the fact that God kept them from the Tree of Life, the suffering would not be everlasting.
BARRED FROM THE TREE OF LIFE
One nagging issue remains: the Tree of Life. Why did God make it
impossible for Adam and Eve to have access to it? If the Tree of Life could give
everlasting life to Adam and Eve, why didn't God allow them to eat from it? In other
words, since the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil brought death to
them, wouldn't the Tree of Life heal them? Wasn't this, in fact, the antidote for the
poison in their soul that we referred to earlier? It seems incredibly cruel for God to
deny them this Tree, if it could have solved their problem.
The Tree of Life is life itself. Ever growing. The source of all living
things. It is rooted in the spiritual world, in that life is much more than a collection
of chemical processes. Being a spiritual reality, not bound by its manifestation within
time or space, it is eternal. Whatever touches or "eats" from this Tree becomes
Therefore, if God had allowed Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Life,
their knowledge of good and evil, and all the suffering it begat, would have become immortal
To use the illustration of the poison once again, this would be like
little Adam convulsing and retching in pain forever and ever and ever and...... But God is
love, and He would never let such a thing happen to His children. He loved them, and
wanted to protect them from harm. Remember, that in His act of creation God manifested
only goodness. Through the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve gained knowledge of evil, all
those potentials God sought to avoid. (Hopefully this point has been well made by now.)
Had these nonmanifest potentialities been touched by the Tree of Life, they would have
been given manifest, positive reality. At which point evil, instead of being a knowledge
of what is not, a delusion, would have become a created/manifest existence of equal status
with the rest of the universe.
So He sent them from Eden, placing an angel to "guard the way to
the Tree of Life", to certify that they could not accidentally stumble upon it and
immortalize their knowledge of evil. Paradise lost. But not forever.
ON SIN AND DEATH
"The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) "The soul who
sins will die." (Ezekiel 18:4) Knowledge of good and evil is deadly. Souls sickened
with this disease have been barred from the Tree of Life. Hopefully it is clear by this
time that God has set things up this way as a manifestation of his love and concern. Life
is good. Knowledge of evil brings pain and suffering. If sin could touch the Tree of Life
then the suffering would be everlasting. In his goodness God saw to it that all suffering
from sin would be limited and temporal.
So, all sin must die. Will die. Not as a punishment or retribution, but
as a natural result (wage). For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. For
every sin there is death. We see this in two important ways:
1) Directly, death of the sin. Hatred must die. Enmity must stop. Strife
will end. Darkness will give way to light.
2) Indirectly, death of the part of the soul that is attached to the
This last idea is quite important and must be expanded. I'll use an
example. Let's say that little Adam is perfect in every way except one: he hates the x!@.
It has plagued him throughout this entire writing, and by now he is sick of it. He hates,
loathes and despises it. This hatred, with all of its ugly and unpleasant feelings, cannot
be allowed to continue forever. It must stop. Adam must cease his hatred. This sin must
die. So, that part of Adam's soul which is attached to the idea of hating the x!@, those
thoughts and feelings, must die. That part of Adam's soul must repent, turning away from
All of our thoughts, feelings and desires are a part of us, of our soul.
That part of us that is polluted must be healed. The cancer must be killed. The part of
our soul that is diseased with sin must die. Not the whole soul, just the part that is
sick! The CUG (#11) would have us believe that due to one sin, one time, Adam eternally
lost communion with God; that this one act of disobedience so angered God's sense of
justice that he could never, ever tolerate to see his children again.
This belief is a manifestation of evil. It is wrong. Once again it
ascribes to God the most atrocious of acts and motivations. Back to the example of the x!@
again. Adam's parent said "don't touch it." But Adam did. What kind of human
filth would be so angered that he/she would never, ever speak to Adam again? In fact, is
there anything at all that your child could do that would cause you to disown them
forever? For a loving parent the answer is "no!" Though the parent may rightly
renounce the act, the parent will always care for the child. "Hate the sin but love
So too with God! Any sinful act must simply be repented of; it is not
necessary for the entire soul to die.
However, there is a deeper problem: the knowledge of good and evil still
remains. This is the state of sin, which will continue to generate acts of suffering. The
state of sin can be likened to cancer, which in turn attacks different organs in the body.
We can eradicate the cancer from each organ, but until the body stops producing new cancer
cells, it is not really healthy.
Turning from sin in the Bible is called repentance. We have stated that
evil is a knowledge, a mode of perception. It is therefore not so surprising, now that we
are beginning to really understand this whole business of evil / sin / punishment /
repentance, that the Greek word we translate into English as "repent" is
"metanoia". It literally means "To change the mind". To
"repent" means to think differently!
So here are a few passages with the word "repent" replaced
with "Think differently":
- Job 36:10 He makes them listen to correction and commands them to think
differently of their evil.
- Matt 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Think
differently, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
- Acts 8:22 "Think differently of this wickedness and pray to the
Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart."
- Acts 17:30 "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he
commands all people everywhere to think differently."
Though it should be obvious, I will nevertheless state that repentance
doesn't consist simply in stopping what you are doing or feeling sorry for past acts. It's
essence is to have a different attitude (thinking) all together.
So we see that God is very willing and eager to forgive. He does not
need or want to punish anyone eternally for anything. Each act of sin must stop. This is
called repentance. That part of the soul which is attached to the sin will die, for God
has seen to it that all evil and suffering is temporal and limited. But the fundamental
problem remains: knowledge of good and evil. That is the root of sin, the state of sin.
Individual sins are the branches and flowers (fruit!) from the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil. Mankind will not be healthy until the state of sin is eliminated, until we
no longer know good and evil, but only life. God was preparing the cure.