Let's go back to the beginning when God created a garden for Adam and Eve. He entrusts the whole place for them to nurture, guard and protect. He makes them responsible for it, so they would have a purpose for their lives.
Eating from the Tree of Life symbolizes life unending and life abundant. God welcomes them to eat freely from this tree. This tree represents a meeting place for their love relationship with God and a way for them to express their commitment to him in a practical way. It offers them the promise that God's life will sustain their lives - spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Choosing to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil results in certain death. This tree represents self-centered independence. We might call it the "I will decide for myself what is right and wrong" tree. To refrain from eating of this tree would show that Adam and Eve trusted God and believed he ultimately knew what was best for them.
In His wisdom, God knew that for this relationship to work, it had to be based on free choice. The forbidden tree offered them a way out if they wanted it. All they had to do is eat of it and they would be making a clear choice between what each tree represented and a strong statement about what they thought of their Creator. Yet the warning not to eat of it could not be stronger. The consequences could not be more clear.
What choice would you and I have made?
Would we have wanted to decide for ourselves what was right and wrong?
Being a parent, I understand the clear boundaries God set up when He said not to eat from the tree of "I will decide for myself what is right and wrong." Nothing can dismantle any hope of having a loving family than everyone deciding for themselves what is right and wrong.
Where did the serpent come from? How did he find his way into this perfect garden? What role will he play in the garden? First thing this slippery serpent does is to slither his way up to Eve and Adam. The serpent plants a simple thought in Eve's mind: "If you eat from the forbidden tree, you will not die. You will be like God, deciding for yourself what is right and wrong." "Wow", she must of thought. "Now I can be like God and do anything I want." The lure of independence must have been so appealing. As they listened to the serpent, they must have felt that God was holding something wonderful back from them. Unfortunately, they could not see that they already had all of the freedom they needed and could do anything they wanted to do under the care of their loving Father. But let's be honest with ourselves. All it takes is a series of quick rationalization and any of us could head down a path to a place we do not want to be. Lose our focus - get distracted by a thought - give place to the thought - for as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Prov. 23:7. Eve quickly comes up with a list of convincing reasons why this fruit is exactly what she wants. She "needs it". She decides to ignore the warning from her loving Father about the one forbidden tree.
The two same choices remain for humanity today.
First, there is the self determined way: the "I'll decide for myself" way. This way may look good at the beginning, but has huge consequences later on.
Second, there is God's way, which may look ridiculous from a human point of view, but ultimately ends up being the very best way.
True relationship requires freedom of choice, yet if I use that freedom for blind self-centeredness, there are real consequences. God's love demanded that He offer the first man and woman freedom and at the same time warn them of the consequences of abusing that freedom. As a parent, I get this. When I look to God from the perspective of a parent, things start to become much clearer.