BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
There are laws that govern our actions and operations as humans anywhere we find ourselves so that we don’t become a law to ourselves. The selfish nature in man will make him take care of his own interest alone not minding the interest of others. But the law exists to create order and balance.
Anywhere you find yourself, your operations will be regulated. You may self-impose regulation but for the good of all, you’ll, most likely, be regulated by the institution or authorities or the person in charge. That means there is a limit to your actions – you are not permitted to do just anything you like. And in some situations or places, you are not permitted to eat or say whatever you like or go wherever you like.
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in defiance of God’s instruction. The forbidden fruit is anything you are barred from; whatever you are prohibited from doing, eating, saying, etc. This definition covers more than sexual indulgence that is unbiblical, illegal, and immoral.
There are control mechanisms that are put in place to avoid chaotic, lawless situations where everyone does what he likes as it was in the days of the judges in Israel. The Bible says, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6 ASV).
That means there were no standards. Everybody set his own standards. Such a scenario is a recipe for anarchy. Yet God had warned in Deuteronomy 12:8: “Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes” (ASV). In a situation where everybody sets his own standards, everybody will be right in his own eyes. Everybody will believe that he is wise and others are fools but the truth is when someone begins to think like this, that person is the exact opposite of what he thinks he is. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes; But he that is wise hearkeneth unto counsel” (Proverbs 12:15 ASV). Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts” (KJV).
The forbidden fruit is to preserve your life by instituting control. A life of no control is a dangerous life. Such a person is dangerous to himself and everyone around him. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (NLT).
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, death set in. God had warned them not to eat that fruit. “And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17 ASV).
But Satan deceived Eve and after eating it, she gave it to her husband who also ate it. An uninvited guest deceived them to reject the instruction of the Landlord (God) – the owner of the estate, their abode. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:4-7 ASV).
Adam and Eve were cursed for disobeying God and they were evicted from the Garden of Eden. “Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (verses 23-24 ASV). Their evil counselor, the serpent, was also cursed. Life has not been the same for humanity since then. What happened to Adam and Eve is a lesson on the evil of eating the forbidden fruit.
Unfortunately, several years after this monumental failure, man has not stopped eating the forbidden fruit. It is no longer the fruit in the Garden of Eden but the commandment of God in the Bible, civil laws, rules governing human operations in organizations, workplace, homes, etc. These laws and rules, written or unwritten, are meant to institute control and ensure that no one does whatever he likes. And anytime you eat the forbidden fruit, you will always face the dire consequences. For instance, a bank manager is entrusted with depositors’ money and he is forbidden from taking from it; he is to be contented with his salary. The bank’s money is forbidden fruit. When he goes ahead to spend the money, he is handed over to the police for prosecution if found out. An exhibit is forbidden fruit for a policeman. He can’t convert it to personal use just because it is in his custody and he likes it. If he is caught, he faces the consequences of his action. The same thing applies to other civil servants and politicians either elected or appointed.
You and I, like Adam and Eve, have fruits pleasant to the eyes that we may only look at (some we must not even look at) but are not permitted to eat. To eat them will result in regrettable repercussions. Some have lost their jobs, marriages, businesses, etc. because they ate one forbidden fruit or the other. How unwise to lose your garden because of one fruit! But that was what Adam and Eve did. There were other fruits in the garden they were free to eat but just that one fruit they were forbidden from eating which they ate cost them their continued stay in the garden. But that’s not different from what a lot of people have been doing in both ancient and contemporary human history – someone somewhere is doing that right now as I am writing this. Just one step outside of control led to the ejection of Adam and Eve. One faulty step is enough for you to lose your place too. Don’t lose your garden because of one fruit. It’s unwise.
Why People Eat the Forbidden Fruit
1. Misunderstanding, ignorance, or forgetfulness of instructions. In law, there is a general rule that ignorance or mistake of criminal law is not a defence to criminal liability. In layman’s language, “Ignorance of the law is not a defence for violation.” Misunderstanding or forgetting the instruction cannot be a defence either.
To avoid misunderstanding, ignorance, or forgetfulness of God’s Word and commands, God has given Christians the Bible to read, meditate upon and obey. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8 ASV).
Just as you are expected to study, meditate on and obey the word of God, it is also your responsibility to find out what rules obtain wherever you find yourself, understand it, remember it and abide by it. Eve did not appear to have an accurate understanding of what God said concerning the fruit she ate and satan exploited this. She told Satan, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:2-3 NKJV).
Eve added to the Word of God. God never said they would die if they touched it. He only said they shouldn’t eat of the fruit of that tree. But why even touch it if you’ve been warned not to eat it? Once the devil saw this misunderstanding or ignorance, he took advantage of it. “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘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 3:4-5 NKJV).
Where someone misunderstands, is ignorant of, or forgets the instructions guiding his conduct and actions, and goes ahead to do what he is not allowed to do, he is still guilty of eating the forbidden fruit though not intentionally and will face the consequences of his action. It is not enough to say, “I thought …” No. If you don’t understand, ask questions. Don’t assume and go to act wrongly. You may be sincerely wrong but you are still wrong. Ignorance, misunderstanding, and/or forgetting will not excuse you from guilt and punishment – it may only reduce your punishment. Luke 12:47-48 says, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (NKJV).
With God, you can get forgiveness quickly if you genuinely repent and ask for forgiveness but human beings are not usually quick to forgive and forget like God. To understand, be well informed and remember instructions given you to obey.
2. Lack of faith in the integrity of the source of instructions. If the recipient of the instructions doubts the integrity of the source of some instructions, there is a tendency to despise the instructions. Contempt for the source of the instructions may create a negative attitude by the receiver towards the instructions. Because he cannot trust the source of the communication, he transfers the same attitude to the instructions – he cannot trust the instructions, and, therefore, he is not prepared to obey them.
With regard to the Word of God, the integrity of God and His word is not in doubt. You can trust God and rely on His word. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie, Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and will he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and will he not make it good?” (ASV) God is not like you and me. He says what He means and means what He says. And He also does what He says. His actions match His words. The Bible calls Him “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17 KJV). 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (KJV).
So many scriptures testify to the integrity and reliability of God and the infallibility of His Word. Psalm 12:6-7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever” (NKJV). Ps 119:160 says, “The sum of thy word is truth; and every one of thy righteous ordinances (endureth) for ever” (ASV). Jesus also corroborates this saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17 KJV).
Against this backdrop of God’s integrity and fidelity, there is no reason for any human being to despise His instructions and violate them like Adam and Eve did and like you and I have done several times. All the laws and instructions of God are for the good of man; they are not to make God more like God or to promote God or make Him bigger than who He is. Therefore it is in our own interest to obey God’s instructions. We disobey His law, His Word at our own peril.
The same thing applies to instructions put together to guide conduct in different places either at home, at the workplace or in the society generally. Addressing the issue of submission to civil authorities, 1 Peter 2:13-15 says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (KJV). Heb 13:17 says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit (to them): for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this (were) unprofitable for you” (ASV).
God’s Word is clearly against disobedience to constituted authority because those in authority are God’s representatives even if they are non-believers. Romans 13:6-7 says, “For this cause ye pay tribute also; for they are ministers of God’s service, attending continually upon this very thing. Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute (is due); custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (ASV). Col 3:22 says, “Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord”(ASV). God will hold both the servant and those they are serving, the followers and the leaders, accountable for what they do. So the leader should not think that He is God. He will account for the power and privileges God has given him. Since God is the final judge, the servant – anyone in a subordinate position – should continue to serve as long as God would have him.
The same thing the Bible tells children as regards obeying their parents. “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 ASV). Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 also tell wives to submit to their own husbands. Those under authority cannot do whatever they like; they must obey instructions given by those above them. The only exception is if those instructions are contrary to the Word of God; God’s Word is superior to the word of any man. So the same principle applies – the word of man must submit to the Word of God.
3. Disagreement with instructions or laws. When people find it difficult to agree with instructions or laws, they break them. Disagreement with instructions or laws is another reason why people eat the forbidden fruit. In the case of Adam and Eve, the serpent deceived them to disagree with God’s instruction not to eat the fruit in the middle of the garden. He told them they would not die as God had said. By saying that, he made God a liar. “And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat” (Genesis 3:2-6 ASV).
God’s instructions or laws are not open to discussion. They demand obedience. Civil laws are not subject to individual preferences. You don’t have to like a law before you obey it. Disagreeing with it and violating it will only expose you to the wrath of the law. It is a case of “cause and effect.” If you sow the wind, you shall reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). For instance, if you fail to stop when the traffic light shows red light just because you don’t like the traffic light, you will be in trouble if the appropriate law enforcement agents catch you. Worse still you may expose your life and unfortunately that of other road users to needless danger. The traffic light is for control, and it’s to protect road users including you. To disobey traffic rules is to be a lawbreaker. Prayer and fasting, speaking in tongues, sowing, etc. can never be a substitute to obeying the traffic light (and similar civil laws)! It is not just a sin against the State but a sin against God. Numerous lives have been lost owing to this.
4. Lack of contentment manifesting in greed and lust. This is the desire to have more than God is giving one. Adam and Eve should have been contented with all the other fruits that God gave them to eat but they allowed the devil to create a desire for more than God had given them. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (ASV). But lack of contentment made them desire the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And believing the lie of the devil that God was lying, they were ejected from the garden.
If an accountant is not contented with his salary, he will steal the company’s money and if caught, he will not only lose his job but will be prosecuted. Everybody should be contented with what has been given to him legally and not allow greed to move him to go beyond his bounds. It is sad when non-believers have to be preaching honesty to thieving bankers, fraudulent public servants, etc. who profess to be Christians and non-believers sentence them to different prison sentences. That is not the persecution Jesus spoke of – that is justice.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (KJV). Gehazi is an example of greed. He couldn’t believe that his master would not collect the gift offered by Naaman. “But Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, said to himself, ‘My master should not have let this Aramean get away without accepting his gifts. As surely as the LORD lives, I will chase after him and get something from him’” (2 Kings 5:20-21 NLT). Gehazi collected gifts from Naaman but he lost his place eventually just as Adam and Eve lost their place in the Garden of Eden. That was a consequence of eating the forbidden fruit. Hear the conclusion of this misadventure of Gehazi: “…Is this the time to receive money and clothing and olive groves and vineyards and sheep and oxen and servants? Because you have done this, you and your children and your children’s children will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.’ When Gehazi left the room, he was leprous; his skin was as white as snow” (2 Kings 5:26-27 NLT).
What happened to Gehazi and his family is consistent with Proverbs 15:27: “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live” (NKJV). Gehazi caused trouble for his family – he, together with his children and children’s children, suffered from Naaman’s leprosy forever.
This scripture also captures succinctly what happened to Achan, another greedy fellow. Achan said in Joshua 7:21, “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it” (NKJV). Because of his greed, he violated Joshua’s instruction not to take out of the accursed things in Jericho (Joshua 6:18-19). What was the result of his eating the forbidden fruit? “Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘Why have you brought trouble on us? The LORD will now bring trouble on you.’ And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies” (Joshua 7:24-25 NLT). Did you see that he lost not only his place but lost his life and brought tragedy on his family? Don’t bring trouble upon yourself and your family. Don’t ridicule Christianity. Do not by your misdeed give great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to despise and blaspheme him (2 Sam 12:14).
Be content with what God has given you. Don’t let greed make you violate God’s instructions, civil laws, operational guidelines, and code of conduct of your profession, etc. Remember that godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6). Don’t lose your garden because of one fruit!
5. A character defect of habitual unwillingness to submit to authority. Some people eat the forbidden fruit because of an inherent trait of rebellion against authority in them. They have a hatred for authority. They find it difficult to follow. They like to swim against the tide. They are nonconformists. And it can never be overstressed that not submitting to authority is contrary to the Word of God.
Vashti lost her position as Queen because she failed to obey her husband (Esther 1:10-12). She was banished from the king’s presence and was replaced by Esther. In Genesis 16:9, the angel of the Lord told Hagar, the fleeing maid of Sarai, to “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand” (NKJV).
God hates non-submission to authority. The only exception is if the issue in question violates God’s Word. God’s Word is superior to the law of man. “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). Peter and these apostles were addressing the High priest and the Council and defied their instructions not to preach again in the name of Jesus. After the Council had listened to the advice of Gamaliel, a doctor of law, to be careful with how they dealt with them, the Bible says, “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus (as) the Christ” (Acts 5:40-42 ASV).
Anyone who has a propensity towards rebelling against authority needs to be cured of it because it will set him against God and the consequences are not palatable. A heart of willing obedience attracts God’s blessings (Isaiah 1:9). Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28 NKJV)
6. Demonic deception and manipulation. This comes through sinful thoughts, negative influence from peers, authority figures, loved ones, and relations. That was what happened to Adam and Eve. The serpent, a cunning beast, started by suggesting to them. He said to Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1 NKJV). Satan seduced Eve to disobey God’s instructions and Eve influenced Adam, her husband. The devil still does that today by using especially those people who are not likely to turn down their suggestions or influence. That is how many people have gone into error.
Don’t let satan use anyone especially those you’re likely to defer to, to seduce you to do evil. Satan used the old prophet in Bethel to mislead the young prophet to go back and eat contrary to the instruction of God. The young prophet could handle the inducement of the king but not the enticement of the old prophet. 1 Kings 13:15-19 says, “Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water” (KJV). This was a high-level satanic manipulation and this prophet fell for it. This was a prophet who had told the king he prophesied against: “If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest” (1 Kings 13:8-9 KJV).
How could this have happened to this man of God? The young prophet said God told him to eat no bread or drink water or turn again by the same way that he came yet he listened to an old prophet who said an angel spoke to him by the word of the Lord to bring him back to his house to eat bread and drink water. That was the Word of God versus the word of an angel! How could God have sent an angel to the old prophet to do what he claimed when it wasn’t the angel God sent to give the young prophet the initial instruction? Would God have done that? No. God is not an author of confusion. The Bible says the old prophet lied. So is it possible for a prophet to lie? Yes. This prophet lied to him and brought the life and the ministry of the young prophet to an abrupt, premature, heartbreaking, heartrending end. The old prophet tragically abbreviated the life and ministry of this young prophet. Satan used the person he wouldn’t say “No” to – senior colleague. So sad!
It is sad that the person that satan used against him was the same person that brought the Word from the Lord that condemned him for disobeying the voice of God. “And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers” (1 Kings 13:19-22 KJV).
Alas, the prophecy of this wicked old prophet came to pass. “And it came to pass after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcase cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcase: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt” (verses 22-25 KJV).
The callous prophet didn’t show any remorse for misleading this young prophet and causing him to die prematurely. Hear what he said: “And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him. And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him. And he went and found his carcase cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcase: the lion had not eaten the carcase, nor torn the ass. And the prophet took up the carcase of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him” (verses 26-31 KJV).
Did you see that? He blamed the young prophet for his death. What a wicked prophet he was! He didn’t say that he was the one who misled him. He killed him and buried him. Don’t let satan use people to manipulate you to eat the forbidden fruit. God’s no-go area should be a no-go area for you. Don’t let anyone, no matter his spiritual credential, change God’s personal instructions to you. If God wants to change his personal instructions to you, He will tell you. He is most unlikely to send to you the person He didn’t send to give you that instruction in the first instance.
Although this old prophet allowed himself to be used by the devil to deceive the young prophet, note that no one can mislead you without your permission. Accept responsibility for your failure if you allow anyone to mislead you. The old prophet buried the young prophet and mourned over him calling him his brother. What kind of a brother was he? A killer brother! “And he laid his carcase in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones: For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass” (verses 30-32).
Be sensitive; don’t let the devil use against you those who are close to you or have the capacity to influence your life. Satan wanted to use Peter to discourage Jesus from going to die on the cross – his real purpose of coming to the earth. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:21-23 NKJV). Peter took Jesus aside rebuking him. Satan was taking advantage of Peter’s close relationship with Jesus. But as close as Peter was to Jesus, he didn’t spare him – no sentiment. He wasn’t really against Peter but that spirit using him at that time.
Amnon raped Tamar because he took counsel from a friend, Jonadab, his cousin, who was just like the serpent. The Bible says Jonadab was a subtle or cunning man. That’s the same way the Bible describes the serpent in Genesis 3. If Jonadab had rebuked Amnon when he hinted him of his immoral desire for his half-sister, he probably would have been able to deliver Amnon from premature death. Rather, he taught him a sinister plan which worked, but also ensured that he died before his time, and indeed a violent death two years later. “Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast.” “Absalom told his men, ‘Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!’ So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled’” (2 Samuel 13:23, 28-29 NLT).
Avoid listening to evil counsel. The Bible says if you walk with the wise you will become wise but if you walk with the fool, destruction awaits you (Proverbs 13:20). Don’t let satan manipulate you to eat the forbidden fruit, to do what you’re not supposed to do.
Consequences of Eating the Forbidden Fruit
i. Your eyes will be opened. After eating that fruit, the Bible says concerning Adam and Eve, “At that moment, their eyes were opened” (Genesis 3:7 NLT). That is what normally happens to anyone who eats the forbidden fruit – violates the law or instructions given him or her. That means you will see your nakedness – your foolishness, your emptiness. It will become obvious to you that you’ve been deceived or rather you’ve deceived yourself. It will become clear to you how stupid you have been. Your eyes will be open to your folly. You won’t need anyone to tell you. It will be evidently clear to you – no ambiguity about it.
ii. Shame. The Bible says about Adam and Eve “and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness” (Genesis 3:7 NLT). When you do what you’re not supposed to do and your eyes become open, you become ashamed because you are not the only one that will see your nakedness, your foolishness; others will see it too. Nobody likes shame but there is no hiding place from shame once you do a shameful thing. If you don’t want to be ashamed then avoid doing shameful things. To put it in Nigerian parlance, “respect yourself.”
Eating the forbidden fruit will expose someone to shame as it happened to Adam and Eve. Hear what Jeremiah said concerning Israel: “We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, We and our fathers, From our youth even to this day, And have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God” (Jeremiah 3:25 NKJV). Sin brings shame or reproach. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people” (ASV). Sin removes honour and clothes someone with shame. Eating the forbidden fruit will bring shame to your life. It puts your name in the Hall of shame!
iii. Fear. Once you eat the forbidden fruit, you will start living in fear. Everyone who has cheated somewhere is always living in the fear of being found out. I’m sure you don’t have a problem agreeing with me on that. After all, you and I have some personal experiences in that regard. If you have cheated at any time in the past, depending on how serious the matter was, you’re always living in the fear of being exposed. Fear leads to hiding from the source of instruction or law you have violated. You are always not bold to confront those who are supposed to supervise compliance be it the auditor, the police, the Vehicle Inspection Officer, the custom, the boss, etc. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion” (NKJV).
In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were not bold as the lion; they were afraid and hid from God. Wise indeed! Is it truly possible for anyone to hide from God? “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:9-10 NKJV) That is exactly what happens to you and me when we eat the forbidden fruit. We don’t want to meet the person whose instructions we have disobeyed. We prefer to hide. How long shall we continue to hide? What we need to do is to own up; repent and forsake our sins. That is when we can truly be free.
iv. Loss of peace and regret. After eating the forbidden fruit either in pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, stealing from your employer, etc. you cannot but lose your peace especially for the fear of being found out as I said earlier or for the fear of the negative result. You begin to regret your actions. Why did I do this thing? If I had known it would be like this I wouldn’t have ventured into this. The pleasure of sin will give way to pressure. Isaiah 48:22 says, “There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked” (ASV). Isaiah 57:21 says a similar thing: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (ASV) There is no peace for the sinner; he can only enjoy the pleasures of sin for a moment. Hebrews 11:25 says Moses chose rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
After Judas betrayed the Master, he regretted his action. The Bible says he returned the money to his partners in crime who refused to collect the money back. He threw the money away and went to commit suicide. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5 NKJV).
Esau never felt anything wrong after he sold his birthright to his brother who was more focused than he was. Genesis 25:30-34 says, “And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red (pottage). For I am faint. Therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me first thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am about to die. And what profit shall the birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me first. And he sware unto him. And he sold his birthright unto Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils. And he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright” (ASV).
But Esau regretted his action later. He felt he shouldn’t have done what he did but it was too late. The deed was already done. He had to live with the consequences of his action. Using his error as an example, the Bible warns: “lest (there be) any fornication, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright. For ye know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for a change of mind (in his father,) though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:16-17 ASV). That is why it is necessary to think deeply before you act.
v. Blame game. This is one of the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit. People sometimes blame themselves for their actions and even after repenting and accepting God’s forgiveness, find it difficult to forgive themselves.
Many other times, people fail to accept responsibility for their error and rather begin to pass the buck to others. They blame everybody except themselves. However, they forget that while people may tempt them, lure them or advise them to do what is wrong, ultimately the decision is theirs. Nobody can force you to sin. Satan didn’t force Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. It was their unwise decision. In fact, the Bible says, “And it was the woman, not Adam, who was deceived by Satan, and sin was the result” (1Timothy 2:14 NLT).
Human beings are fond of playing the blame game and we inherited it from Adam and Eve. When God asked Adam why he ate the forbidden fruit, instead of admitting that he sinned, he blamed it on the woman that God gave him as wife. “And the man said, the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12 ASV). He was wrong. But God didn’t bother to pick him up on that. God turned to Eve. And trust Eve – she quickly passed the buck to the serpent. “And Jehovah God said unto the woman, what is this thou hast done? And the woman said, the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:13 ASV). God didn’t go further to ask the serpent to defend his action. Maybe he would have come up with his own alibi too. God went ahead to pronounce judgment on the three in reverse order, that is starting with the serpent.
If you have eaten the forbidden fruit, all you need to do is to repent sincerely and ask for forgiveness from God. Stop blaming somebody somewhere for your action. God is a righteous judge (Psalms 7:11; 50:1; 2 Timothy 4:8). He doesn’t need to find out who did what, why, how, and when. He knows all the details of what each person has done and will do, and will judge rightly.
vi. Punishment. Every law or instruction has in-built sanctions for defaulters. It serves a dual purpose of punishing violators and deterring prospective defaulters. We see punishment in divine laws and instructions as well as in civil laws and rules and instructions guiding conduct in different spheres of human endeavours. Such sanctions may include suspension, expulsion, demotion, sack, prosecution leading to imprisonment and/ or fine. The punishment can result in disgrace, shame, loss of reputation, loss of favour, etc.
Many times, God punished the children of Israel for their sins. God had told them He would punish them if they disobeyed His Word; He would not bless the disobedient. “You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 20:5 NLT). This is just one of the several scriptures where God expressed His commitment to punish the sins of the Israelites, and He did at different times even allowing the enemies to oppress them and eventually ensuring that they went into captivity. Their punishment on several occasions was not a surprise; they were warned. They only reaped what they sowed.
Adam and Eve suffered punishment for eating the forbidden fruit. God had said the day they ate it, they would die (Genesis 2:17). Though the serpent lied to them that they wouldn’t die, they actually died – not physically. They died spiritually. Death here means separation from the life of God. In Genesis 3:16-19, God announced his punishment to Eve and Adam for eating the forbidden fruit. “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return’” (NKJV). That was the price they had to pay for disobedience.
But God was not done with them. They must also lose their right of living in the Garden of Eden; so they were evicted. “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ — therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24 NKJV).
There are many people today that their punishment for eating the forbidden fruit was the loss of job, promotion, different benefits, favour, health, etc. Who says sin doesn’t pay? Sin pays! It pays with shame, demotion, sickness, loss of peace of mind, premature death, and ultimately hellfire. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT). Wages mean pay, just reward, recompense for something, etc. Isaiah 13:11 says, “I, the LORD, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin” (NLT). Romans 2:12-13 says, “God will punish the Gentiles when they sin, even though they never had God’s written law. And he will punish the Jews when they sin, for they do have the law. For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God’s approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God’s sight” (NLT). Sin pays!
vii. Enmity with the source of influence to eat the forbidden fruit. No one who has been influenced to disobey will love the person who influenced him to do so more so when such a defaulter has already come under guilt and the burden of other consequences I have previously highlighted and is facing punishment for his unwise action. People like that usually develop hatred for those who negatively influenced them to disobey.
Can you imagine how Adam and Eve would feel having the serpent around them after their ejection from the garden? I’m sure they would not want to have him around them not to talk of going into a conversation with him. No wonder, in Genesis 3:15, God put enmity between the serpent and the woman and their seeds. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (NKJV).
You have to be careful that the person you call your bosom friend today is actually your friend. If you allow him to influence you to eat the forbidden fruit, you may hate him exceedingly later when you begin to suffer the consequences of your action. Then you will realize that he wasn’t really your friend. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (NKJV).
viii. Sorrow, pain, struggle, and general degeneration of life. Someone cannot eat the forbidden fruit and not face difficulty, hardship, suffering in life. This was the aftermath of Adam’s and Eve’s eating the fruit. Life was no longer the same for them. From dressing the garden, Adam took a new tedious work. He would sweat before eating. Even his food changed – no longer what he was freely given in the garden. The ground was cursed because of him; it wouldn’t produce as before (Genesis 3:17-19). Life was not made better for Eve either (verse 16). The serpent didn’t tell her that was what life would be for her. If Eve had known it would be like that, she wouldn’t have listened to the serpent to eat the fruit. He would have believed God and obeyed His Word rather than the devil.
Sorrow multiplies, life degenerates, sweat flows, etc. when you eat the forbidden fruit. There are those who are in prison today serving various terms of imprisonment with hard labour doing what they would never have done and eating what they would never have eaten as free citizens. With the benefit of hindsight, they could say now that they were wrong; they shouldn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit because it had made life worse for them not offering them the good life they thought they would enjoy. A wise person will learn from their lives and avoid repeating their mistakes.
ix. Knowledge of both good and evil, blessing and calamity. Genesis 3:22 says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘The people have become as we are, knowing everything, both good and evil…” (NLT). Adam and Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, lost their innocence. They have disobeyed God and have tasted evil. From then forward, they became vulnerable. Before then, all they knew was good but having eaten the forbidden fruit, they knew both good and evil. Contrary to what God had told Adam, the serpent told Eve they would not die. He said, “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 NLT ). How much of God can man become like by disobeying Him? Becoming like God by disobeying Him? How logical was that? But satan was right that their eyes would be opened. But opened to see what? To see their nakedness, which made them ashamed. Wouldn’t it have been better for their eyes to be closed?
They knew everything, both good and evil, as God also confirmed in Genesis 3:22. The only problem was that since Adam and Eve (and their descendants) knew both good and evil, and ever since, human beings have had no power to choose good above evil all the time. That knowledge of both good and evil does not make man better in his choices in most cases. Paul puts it this way: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:17-20 NKJV). To preserve your innocence, it is always better to avoid eating the forbidden fruit. That you know that something is evil does not mean that you will not do it. You cannot break the power of sin over your life by yourself; it is only by the power of Jesus Christ,
CONCLUSION: Anywhere you find yourself, never allow anyone or anything to influence you to break the law. When you break the law once or violate instructions – scriptural and societal – you make yourself susceptible to do it again and again. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves to sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you” (NLT).
You are a slave to whatever you allow to control you. Nothing can control you until and unless you permit it. Eating the forbidden fruit never leaves you the same. If you have eaten the forbidden fruit before now, the mercy of God is available to help you overcome the power of sin over your life. Don’t try to hide from God as Adam and Eve did. Don’t blame anyone; accept responsibility for your action. Repent, confess your sin, forsake it, forgive yourself, make amends where possible, and put the past behind you.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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