The Righter Report

Satan in the Garden of Eden

By Pete Righter

Unless man has free will to sin or not to sin, he is simply a pre-programmed robot. Consider the following:


“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness….'” (Genesis 1:26). Thereafter, Genesis goes on to say that Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and fell into sin. The critical question here is: Is the knowledge of good and evil a prerequisite for coming into the likeness and image of God?

Genesis 3:22 seems to answer this in the affirmative – “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” At the other end of the Bible we see this curious verse – “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). From my research, sin, evil, and the (carnal) world are the things that God commands us to overcome. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). But who is it that overcomes the world? “For everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). “Who overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are not allowed to eat of the tree of life and gain eternal life (Genesis 3:22). In the book of Revelation, once man has overcome evil, he is then allowed to eat of that same tree and enter into eternal life.

But is there another way for man to overcome evil and come into God’s likeness and image other than having to get “down and dirty” in the midst of it? In the book of Romans there are three sources of ‘light’ (the revelation of God to man). In Romans chapter one (1:20) it says that God reveals to man His divine nature by what has been made – the heavens and the earth (also note Psalm 19:1-6 and Psalm 97:6). But while the evidence for God is clearly known to mankind in this way, it does not necessarily or specifically provide a mechanism for overcoming evil. Man knew who God was before and after the fall, yet God would still not allow him to eat of the tree of life. Man had to go another route.

In Romans chapter two (2:15) it says that man’s conscience bears witness to him of doing right or wrong. This seems like a more viable option in dealing with evil. Yet if this was the way God wanted man to come into His own likeness and image, why was “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8)? It would have just been an exercise in futility. It is not enough to just know that something is wrong – man also needed to know why it was wrong and what the consequences of his actions would be. Knowing the personal consequences of sin seems to indicate a much further walk down the road of evil than does the work of conscience alone. In addition, man would need to know what evil is in order to be able to make a comparison to what good is. You must know what sound is before you have an objective sense of what silence is.

God created evil / calamity (Isaiah 45:7 – KJV). Again, creation denotes purpose. What was the purpose of evil? For one thing, if there is a law of sowing and reaping, then there have to be good and evil’rewards’ for both activities. Secondly, for man to have true free will, he must also be allowed to delve into the ugly morass of iniquity as an alternative to following God. If there was only goodness, God would seem to be the only option. And finally, for man to reign eternally with God, he should have a clear and in-depth knowledge of the consequences of sin and evil, and be able to overcome it. But the crux of the matter is that man’s (Adam’s) conscience was not a formidable enough deterrent to ward off his falling into sin. And this was before carnality entered into man. So conscience therefore has to be eliminated as the primary factor in dealing with evil.

The third source of light is in Romans chapter three – the revelation of righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ, the true “light.” Christ is the manifestation of grace and mercy, two of God’s most endearing attributes. Christ is the vehicle by which man overcomes evil and the world. If man overcomes evil by his own actions and conscience, then he might have something to boast about. But if by God Himself, then God plays the major role in the redemptive plan of mankind. It all seems to point towards the fall and Jesus Christ the Redeemer as the only logical alternative to overcoming evil. God ordained that man should come into His own likeness and image – knowing both good and evil – and then provided the means of overcoming evil and gaining eternal life.


“For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:13-14)

Satan is the tempter. The above verse seems to indicate that no individual is willfully tempted by God. Consider now Matthew 4:1 – “Then Jesus was led by the (Holy) Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Taken in conjunction with each other, this appears at first glance to be a clear cut case of a Biblical contradiction. God does not tempt, but it is clear His purpose was for Jesus to be tempted, and He, as the Holy Spirit, even led Jesus to that end. There are two ways of answering this dilemma without chucking our Bibles into the trash. The first would be to make the assumption that Matthew 4:1 indicates that no natural man is tempted by God. Jesus would therefore not fall into this category because He is also fully God. The second explanation, and the one I prefer, is that God does not tempt anyone, He allows Satan to do it – He allows Satan to engage in this activity, subject, of course, to God’s permissible will. We see this actually occur in Job chapters 1 and 2.

With this in mind, we go back to the Garden of Eden and who do we find? That ancient serpent, Satan (Revelation 20:2). What is he doing there? Was Adam not evicted from the garden because of his fall into sin? Why wasn’t Satan? If the garden is a sanctified, holy area, one would think that God would have the sovereign power and desire to keep it that way. Unless, of course, there was a divine purpose involved for Satan to be there. And what would that purpose be? To tempt Adam into the fall so that man would come into the knowledge of good and evil, overcome it through the power Of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and be raised complete in the image and likeness of God. Man cannot be an overcomer until he has something to overcome, like sin and Satan. In my mind, Satan is the “smoking gun” who served the greater purpose of God in the Garden of Eden.

One other observation: Whereas Genesis 1:26 states that God was to create man in His own image and likeness, Genesis 1:27 shows that man was only created in God’s “image.” It wasn’t until Genesis 3:22 when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he became “like” God.

To Summarize:

1. Man was to be created in the likeness and image of God (Genesis 1:26).

2. Part of this “likeness” was a knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:22)

3. For Adam to be truly “like” God, he had to acquire a knowledge of evil.

4. The means to that end was eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

5. To do that a “tempter” was likely needed to entice Adam into sin.

6. God provided, or allowed, Satan as the tempter.

7. God knew in advance what the outcome would be, but allowed it anyway.

8. God knew atonement would be required, and provided Jesus Christ as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth” (Revelation 13:8).

9. Man achieves the likeness of God, acquires a knowledge of and overcomes evil, partakes of Christ, and is reunited in paradise with God. Man is now an overcomer with a keen knowledge of evil.

The key to all this remains, “Is acquiring a knowledge of good and evil a prerequisite to coming into the likeness and image of God? If the answer is yes, I think Adam has to eat from that tree, and God has to make it happen. If the answer is no, then I think you have to look back to Genesis 3:22 and reconcile that with Genesis 1:26, explaining how Adam is “like” God, but at the same time lacks a knowledge of good and evil. Also, how does man acquire that knowledge without eating of the fruit of that tree?

– The Righter Report


October 10, 2013 - Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: