Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 14

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Foundational Themes in Genesis – Part 14

(Key verse: Gen 2:17)

Last week we saw how the theme of a garden is assisting our understanding of God’s works in the generations of the first man Adam to make him (and all in him) in the image of God, even Jesus Christ (1Co 15:22, Rom 8:29). God is working in His garden in the generations of the first Adam so that all of them will eventually bear “the fruits of righteousness” by Jesus Christ at their appointed time (Joh 5:17-18):

Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

By God’s design, we all, like Adam, start off with in the natural (garden) which only produce the “fruit unto death” (Rom 7:5, 1Co 15:46, Gal 5:19-21, Mat 7:15-20, Eph 2:1-3). All natural plant life (“after his kind”) was created on the third day on the earth (Gen 1:11-13). This included briars and thorns because God created all evil, and it was also not an afterthought by God as some claim (Isa 45:6-7, Isa 48:3). These plants also included the two trees mentioned in Genesis 2, and these were placed right in the middle of the garden of Eden by God:

Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree [on the third day of creation] that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

These two trees were also made to be “pleasant to the sight and good for food” on different levels. Respectively, they typified that which ‘is despised and rejected of men’ versus the things which are “to the satisfying of the flesh” (Isa 53:2-3, Gen 3:6, Col 2:23). It was the tree of knowledge of good and evil which was made “to the satisfying of the flesh” when God also drew special attention to when He gave Adam a commandment concerning this particular tree. This focus on the tree of knowledge of good and evil was made for a good purpose:

Gen 2:17 (KJV) 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 [Hebrew: grave].

Gen 2:17 (CLV) Yet from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you are not to be eating from it, for in the day you eat from it, to die shall you be dying.

This verse touches on two important themes in Scripture – that of a commandment given by God and the theme of death [the Hebrew: ‘grave’ appears for the first time here and is repeated in this verse]. The scriptures are clear that ‘sin was in the world’ (in Adam) before any commandment was given, because “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8).

Rom 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Adam was made in a ‘body of this death’ (Rom 7:24) which is a ‘body of sin’ (Rom 6:6) because sin dwells in flesh:

Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

The commandment (like any law) was given to work ‘the motions of sin’ in Adam and Eve (and in all of us):

Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

Adam was in flesh, and he could not and did not please God in any way because God is spirit (Joh 4:24, Rom 8:8). Any commandment or law of God is given to reveal to us our deadly marred sinful condition, which is from the hand of the Potter Himself (Jer 18:4, Psa 51:4-5). We cannot prevent the thoughts and actions that stem from this marred condition, although we will give an account of those thoughts and actions to God (Rom 14:2, 1Pe 4:5):

Deu 8:1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
Deu 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

God knows what He created within our natural hearts, but we do not know it. Our humbling trials and tests are good because they are given for our knowledge, not His. This is the true condition of any natural heart in the generation of the first Adam:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

It is indeed “the fruit of (our) doings” that reveals to us our deceitful and wicked hearts within this marred condition called flesh. The commandment of God is therefore necessary to reveal this to ourselves. When we transgress, our natural man usually wants to cover up just like Adam and Eve also did (Gen 3:7-8). We indeed should feel sad when we discover our evil heart, but God is greater than our hearts. He created that evil heart and caused our actions, and for most this accounting of stewardship is impossible to admit to in this age (Luk 16:2, Rom 14:2).

1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
1Jn 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
1Jn 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

The commandment or law works the motions of death and sin in us. That does not make the law sinful, just as God is not evil when He created evil (Isa 45:7).

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

The laws and commandments tell us of the evil things, like lusts, which God created in us. When we are tempted to break God’s commandment, we are ‘drawn away’ and enticed by our own lust to transgress the law which reveals our sinful condition. Transgression is sin, but the transgression also reveals our sinful and deadly condition. Our transgressions are the fruits of sin and death in us:

Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [lusts]. For without the law sin was dead.

Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin [in the form of transgression]: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

All laws are from the one lawgiver, namely God. That includes all the natural laws we are to obey (Jas 4:12, 1Ti 1:8-9, Rom 2:14-15, Rom 13:1-9). We are first under “the law of sin and death” as that law applies lawfully to all the unrighteous in the first man Adam. When we are given the strength to overcome the flesh, then we are given spiritual liberty to be under the law of the spirit (Rom 8:1-2, 1Co 15:42-46). It is clear from the focus God placed on the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that the tree of life was not at this stage something Adam would desire. Adam did not eat of the tree of life because it did not and still does not appeal to the ‘motions of sin’ in us. The natural man walks after the flesh and not after the spirit because the fruit of the spirit needs no “law of a carnal commandment” to bring it forth (Heb 7:16):

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The fruit of the spirit comes through the ‘law of liberty’ or ‘royal law’ which is in the other tree, the tree of life which was a type of the tree of spirit life, Jesus Christ (Jas 1:25, Jas 2:8, Jas 2:12, Rom 8:1-2). The prophet Isaiah tells us why Jesus (and His true doctrine) does not appeal to our natural man:

Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The tree of life (first as a ‘tender plant’) grew out of the same dry ground, and that is how Jesus fulfilled all laws aimed at the natural man. He was made of the same flesh as us and made subject to the law for a natural man although He never transgressed in any way (Mat 5:17, Gal 4:4, Heb 2:14-18, 2Co 5:21). To get to the tree of life we must first eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree of the knowledge of good and evil typifies “the law of sin and death” which God appointed to be our “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ at the appointed time:

Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

When we can see our sinful condition via the carnal laws and we revile sin in all forms in us, then God gives us the faith and courage to totally cancel (disannulling) the old law and receive the law of the spirit – the tree of life, Jesus Christ who alone has immortality as a creature of God the Father, at this stage (Gal 3:22-24, Heb 7:18-19, 1Co 15:53, 1Ti 6:15-16). Because we are still in the flesh (the old ‘bottle’) our natural man is still subjected to the natural laws, even the laws of those powers God ordained over us, until we are fully redeemed to receive the new ‘bottle’, our spiritual body, with the new wine at the resurrection (Rom 13:1-7, Rom 2:14, Ecc 10:20, Joh 19:11, Eph 1:13-14, Mat 9:16-17, Luk 5:36-39, 1Co 15:44). Those in Christ, however, reckon themselves dead to this world, and sin has no dominion over them (Rom 6:6-14, Eph 2:1-3, 2Pe 2:22):

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Those who advocate the false doctrine of the fall of man cannot see the plan of God from beginning to end (Ecc 3:11). They cannot honor God for creating and causing both good and evil in the world of the generation of first Adam. God’s commandments are good for us because they reveal to us how awful sin is to a good and holy God:

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good [the commandment or law of God] made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Sin relates to death, and the commandment reveals what sin and death entail. Adam’s mind, and all natural minds, cannot see what death is all about and how it is to be understood (1Co 2:7, 14). The double use of the one Hebrew word ‘grave’ in Genesis 2:17 is also significant to our understanding of death. Death has two applications in our lives. Firstly, on the physical level the commandment will help Adam to get the true knowledge about his physical condition which was “subject to vanity” from the hand of His maker (Rom 8:20, Jer 18:4, 1Co 15:53). Adam was mortal, and death was present in his own body and in all physical things around him.

There is also an inward application of death which is even harder to detect and understand for the natural man. As Adam’s own physical body was a ‘body of this death and sin’, even so was his invisible natural mind ruled by death at that stage (Rom 7:24, Rom 6:6).

Rom 8:6 For to be carnally [that is naturally] minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The natural man in the first man Adam will always struggle to see and accept death physically and spiritually. The dead indeed ‘know not anything’ (Ecc 9:5). Both applications of death work together in God’s creation from the beginning, just as the heaven and the earth were created together on day one of the physical creation:

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The earth or the physical creation reflects the heavens or the invisible part of God’s work in the heavens, even in the generation of the first man Adam:

Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

It is by “the things that are made” that we can understand the invisible things of God (Rom 1:20). Obedience or disobedience (to God’s commandments/laws) reflects how our will is influenced by God’s will to fulfill His purposes. God knows all things in advance, and He knew Adam would disobey His commandment (Isa 63:17, Lam 3:9, Rev 1:8, Psa 139:2-16, 1Jn 3:20). Adam’s steps were directed by God from the beginning as Adam (and all in him) will live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Mat 4:4, Lam 3:37-38).

Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

All natural things have death linked to them. As darkness was on the face of the deep on day one of creation, so is spiritual death (ignorance and disobedience) part of the natural mind in Adam from the beginning. However, God called forth the light of His knowledge which will shine in all eventually (Gen 1:2-3, Hos 4:6, Psa 119:105, 2Co 4:6). The carnal fruit of disobedience testifies that we are indeed made in a body of death, and that flesh cannot bring forth spiritual fruit that pleases God. Out of and through this darkness of death God will bring His spiritual light, life and fruit to us, even in the knowledge of Him (Joh 17:3, Joh 14:6, Joh 12:24).

Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

[Detailed studies on the themes covered in this study can be found at, including:
The Law of Moses Versus the Law of the Spirit
Freed from the Law of Sin and Death
How we surely die:
What Does “To Die you Shall be Dying” Mean?
Life comes out of and through death:]

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