Knowing Good and Evil (Genesis 3:4-5)

Genesis 3:4-5


4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6


Genesis 4:3-4


3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.


        I see in these two very different passages a running theme that is frightening to behold.  The theme is scary, not because it happened 6,000 years ago, but because it is still happening today in our world.  In fact, if we are honest, we are tempted by this sin right now.


        In Genesis 3, we see the fall of man.  The serpent tempted Eve with the ability of  “knowing good and evil.”  The reason this tempted her, as we see earlier in the serpent’s words, is that such an ability makes one “like God.”  In fact, the one with the ability that Eve wanted would be a sort of mini-god all to himself or herself.


        Now, look at chapter 4.  Cane’s offering was rejected by God.  Something about Cane’s heart and his offering was not right to the Lord.  How did Cane respond?  He was angry. 


        Can I experimentally ponder this morning that these two sins might be the same?  Look at Cane.  He wanted to have the right to tell God what was good and evil.  He wanted to tell God what offering should be acceptable.  He wanted to know good and evil in such a way as to be the god who determines what is right and what is wrong.  Go back to Eve.  She wanted to be “like God, knowing good and evil.”


        Whether my little mental exercise would bear up under scrutiny aside, is it not true that we today still try to sit in the place of god?  is it not true that we want to not only know what is right and wrong, but we believe ourselves to have the authority to say what is right or wrong?  When we look at a command of Scripture and weigh in our hearts whether we like it or not, are we not saying to God that we, better than he, know what is right and wrong?  When we delve into commands that do not make sense to us in order to find a justifying reason for that command to be good, are we not, in a small sense, trying God’s commands by our own standard of good versus evil?


        Perhaps one of the key differences between pre-fall and post-fall humanity is that we now believe that we have in ourselves the ability to judge what is good and what is evil.  Watch the atheist and skeptic.  Watch such people respond to the claims of Christianity by weighing in their own man-centered judgment, whether the faith is good or evil. 


        A whole solid discussion could also be had, were we to take the time, on how this ought to affect our evangelism.  It seems that many of our modern apologetic strategies include inviting the lost to evaluate God’s commands and promises to see if they meet the lost person’s approval.  Christ is not, however, a toy on a Wal-mart shelf with a “Try me” button.  God has simply commanded all men everywhere to repent and trust in Christ for salvation.       


            Perhaps it would do us all good to examine ourselves.  Are we placing ourselves on the judge’s bench to examine the rightness or wrongness of God’s commands and claims?  We need to remember that God is God and we are not.  His words and ways are perfect.  We will never have the right to judge him or his ways.