True Education


Chapter 3—The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Though created innocent and holy, our first parents were not placed beyond the possibility of wrongdoing. God might have created them without the power to transgress His requirements, but in that case there could have been no development of character. Their service would not have been voluntary, but forced. Therefore He gave them the power of choice—the power to yield or to withhold obedience. And before they could receive fully the blessings He desired to impart, their love and loyalty must be tested. TEd 16.1

In the Garden of Eden was the “tree of knowledge of good and evil. ... And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat.’” Genesis 2:9-17. It was the will of God that Adam and Eve should not know evil. The knowledge of good had been freely given them, but the knowledge of sin and its results was in love withheld. TEd 16.2

While God was seeking good for the newly created pair, Satan was seeking their ruin. When Eve, disregarding the Lord’s admonition concerning the forbidden tree, ventured to approach it, she came into contact with her foe. Her interest and curiosity having been awakened, Satan proceeded to deny God’s word and insinuate distrust of His wisdom and goodness. To the woman’s statement concerning the tree of knowledge, “God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die,” the tempter answered, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:3-5. TEd 16.3

Satan tried to make it appear that this knowledge of good mingled with evil would be a blessing, and that in forbidding them to take of the fruit of the tree, God was withholding great good. He urged that it was because of its wonderful properties for imparting wisdom and power that God had forbidden them to taste it, that He was thus seeking to prevent them from reaching a more noble development and finding greater happiness. He declared that he himself had eaten of the forbidden fruit and as a result had acquired the power of speech, and that if they also would eat of it they would attain a more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of knowledge. TEd 17.1

While Satan claimed to have received great good by eating of the forbidden tree, he did not let it appear that by transgression he had become an outcast from heaven. Here was falsehood, so concealed under a covering of apparent truth that Eve, infatuated, flattered, beguiled, did not discern the deception. She coveted what God had forbidden, and distrusted His wisdom. She cast away faith, the key of knowledge. TEd 17.2