The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (NLT)
This ancient story is a reflection by the people of God on what went wrong right at the beginning of the human story. Those very first humans decided they knew best, that God couldn’t order them around. Eating a bit of fruit wasn’t the problem: defying God was the problem. Humans were made for creaturely dependence on their creator. Deciding to do things independently of the creator is what the Bible calls sin.
The evil one, seen here as a serpent, seduces the woman who in turn seduces the man. He promises them God like powers. It was not as if chomping on a bit of fruit gave them a moral conscience. They already had that as part of their humanity. It is rather that eating that fruit would allow them to decide just what was right and what was wrong. In other words, we will live independently of our Maker.
Like a lot of sin, it doesn’t prove as appealing as promised. Shame came into their relationship, they needed to protect themselves from one another and eventually hide from God. Their eyes were certainly opened but they didn’t like what they saw. They learnt, as we continue to learn, that independence from God is not freedom but captivity. Forbidden fruit can have a bitter aftertaste.