The Genesis Parable
The Natural Man - Part 4
In our last study, we considered the following passages from Romans, Chapter 7.
Romans 7:7-13 (ESV)
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." 8 But SIN, seizing an opportunity through the COMMANDMENT, produced in me all kinds of covetousness… 9 I was once alive apart from the law (natural), but when the COMMANDMENT came, SIN CAME ALIVE and I DIED (carnal)…11 For SIN, seizing an opportunity through the COMMANDMENT, DECEIVED ME and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the COMMANDMENT is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was SIN, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the COMMANDMENT might become sinful beyond measure.
As we learned in our last study, Paul is speaking of the commandment, “You shall not covet.” Our word “covet” means, “To set the heart upon, i.e. long for (rightfully or otherwise).” The King James renders Romans 7:7 as, “I had not known LUST, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Our word “lust” means, “A longing (especially for what is forbidden).” As we might guess, Paul is describing how it is that we are tempted. Here’s what James wrote concerning temptation.
James 1:14-15 (ESV)
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
“Each person is tempted” when they are “lured and enticed” by their own desire. So James goes on to say, “Then DESIRE when it has CONCEIVED gives birth to SIN.” Our word “desire” is “lust” in the King James, the same word Paul used in Romans 7:7. Let’s consider how this relates to our Genesis parable since this is the FIRST TEMPTATION recorded in the Bible.
Genesis 3:1-6 (NKJV)
1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 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.' " 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 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." 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree DESIRABLE to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
First of all, note that there are three things which the woman SAW in regard to the tree of knowledge (and remember, three is a “complete witness”). Now, not for a moment do I believe that Eve was considering a literal tree, nor does our word “saw” indicate literal sight; see Matthew 13:13-15 where “seeing” and “hearing” equate to understanding and perception. Here’s our three things regarding the tree of knowledge:
The Tree of Knowledge
1. Good for food.
2. Pleasant to the eyes.
3. A tree desirable to make one wise.
It’s evident in our passages that Eve DESIRED this tree for three particular reasons, and our word “desirable” in verse 6 agrees perfectly with James 1:14-15. Now, allow me to share the following from 1st John, Chapter 2.
1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For ALL that is in the world--the LUST OF THE FLESH (1), the LUST OF THE EYES (2), and the PRIDE OF LIFE (3)--is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Eve considered three things concerning the tree of knowledge while the apostle John notes three things that sum up “ALL THAT IS IN THE WORLD.” Do they connect? They do, so we can list it as follows:
The Tree of Knowledge
1. Good for food = Lust of the flesh.
2. Pleasant to the eyes = Lust of the eyes.
3. A tree desirable to make one wise = Pride of life.
Now, let me share with you the following from George Hawtin’s book, God’s Great Family of Sons, concerning 1st John 2:15-17, quote, “There are three things in this vast world, and only three: — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; briefly, appetite, avarice, and ambition. I do not think you will be able to avoid the conclusion that all the inventions, creations, and contrivances of man are in existence to cater to these three things. It was with these three things that Eve was tempted. She saw the tree was good for food (the lust of the eyes), a tree to be desired (the lust of the flesh), a tree to make one wise (the pride of life), and though the temptation was not from within but from without, she yielded to it and partook,” end quote.
Three things – appetite, avarice, and ambition. Another word for “avarice” is “greed,” or better yet, “An inordinate or insatiable longing for material gain, be it food, money, status, or power.”
Eve considered three things concerning the tree of knowledge while the apostle John notes three things that sum up “ALL THAT IS IN THE WORLD.” We see our connection by listing it as follows:
The Tree of Knowledge
1. Good for food = Lust of the flesh; appetite.
2. Pleasant to the eyes = Lust of the eyes; avarice.
3. A tree desirable to make one wise = Pride of life; ambition.
Our word “lust”? It’s the same word we considered in Romans 7:7. Now, let me bring in the New International rendering of 1st John, Chapter 2.
1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world--the CRAVINGS OF SINFUL MAN, the LUST OF HIS EYES and THE BOASTING OF WHAT HE HAS AND DOES--comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
As we see, the “lust of the flesh” equates to “the cravings of sinful man,” while “the lust of his eyes” remains as such. Finally, in place of “pride of life,” we read “the boasting of what he,” i.e. man, “HAS and DOES.” Here’s our list again using the NIV rendering:
The Tree of Knowledge
1. Good for food = Lust of the flesh or cravings of sinful man; appetite.
2. Pleasant to the eyes = Lust of the eyes; avarice.
3. A tree desirable to make one wise = Pride of life or the boasting of what he HAS and DOES; ambition.
When we understand that the “Garden of Eden” represents the divine principle of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6, verses 7 through 10, and that the two trees of the garden illustrate the twofold outcome of this principle, we see our correlation between Genesis 3 and 1st John 2. Concerning the “tree of knowledge,” there are three characteristics and in 1st John, we also have three characteristics, both signifying a “complete witness.” As noted, John sums up “all” or “everything” in the world using these three components.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is symbolic of God’s law and nature and in conjunction with 1st John 2 and Galatians 6, shows us how the Lord established His law to oversee our conduct when we sow to our flesh. Proof is in John’s discourse in 1st John 2, where he points to the world and everything in it.
Now, allow me to share what I found in Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament concerning 1st John 2:16. In regard to the “lust of the flesh,” Vincent states, “Sensual appetite. The desire which resides in the flesh, not the desire for the flesh… the lust of the flesh involves the appropriation of the desired object.” As for “the lust of the eyes”? Vincent states, “This is included in the lust of the flesh, as a specific manifestation. All merely sensual desires belong to the economy which ‘is not of the Father.’ The desire of the eyes does not involve appropriation. It is satisfied with contemplating. It represents a higher type of desire than the desire of the flesh, in that it seeks mental pleasure where the other seeks physical gratification.” Finally, in regard to the “pride of life,” Vincent states, “Vainglory. The word occurs only here and James 4:16… it means, originally, empty, braggart talk or display; swagger; and thence an insolent and vain assurance in one’s own resources, or in the stability of earthly things, which issues in a contempt of divine laws. The vainglory of life is the vainglory which belongs to the present life.”
Once we connect Eve’s temptation with 1st John 2:15-17, we find even further confirmation in the temptation of Christ. Again, from George Hawtin’s book, God’s Great Family of Sons, we read, “The temptation of Christ was on the same basis exactly. The first appeal was made to the flesh through appetite. ‘Command that these stones be made bread.’ The second was made to the eyes to awaken covetousness and greed. ‘All this will I give you if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ The third was to the pride of life. ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.’"
Here we have it, my friends; appetite, avarice, and ambition, and according to the apostle James, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Does this not indicate that temptation is always an inward matter of our own thoughts and intents? Returning to Vincent’s explanation of the “pride of life,” we read that this “word occurs only here and James 4:16.” Let’s consider these passages.
James 4:13-16 (ESV)
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you BOAST in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Our word “boast” in James 4:16 is “boastings” in the King James, the same word translated as “pride” in “pride of life” and defined by Strong’s as, “Braggadocio, i.e. (by implication) self-confidence.” Concerning our word “boastings” in James 4:16, Vincent states, “Only here and 1 John 2:16. The kindred word, a boaster, is derived from a wandering or roaming; hence, primarily, a vagabond, a quack, a mountebank. From the empty boasts of such concerning the cures and wonders they could perform, the word passed into the sense of boaster.” Note Vincent’s reference to the “kindred word, a boaster,” which is “derived from a WANDERING or ROAMING.” With this in mind, consider the following about Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel.
Genesis 4:10-14 (ESV)
10 And the Lord said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a FUGITIVE and a WANDERER on the earth." 13 Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a FUGITIVE and a WANDERER on the earth…"
Beloved, our word “fugitive” means, “To waver,” while our word “wanderer” is “vagabond” in the King James, meaning, “To nod, i.e. waver; figurative to wander, flee, disappear.” Does this not agree quite well with our definition of the “pride of life” or ambition? And, as we see from this, there is much more to be considered in the Genesis parable than what first meets the eye.
During His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, stating, “Man shall not live by bread alone” or physical sustenance, “but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When we understand that the story of Adam and Eve is a representation of all humankind, of you and me and every person ever born into this world, then the idea of the Garden of Eden and the two trees in the Garden reveal an understanding that is relevant to every person since the dawn of time. There can be no doubt; Adam and Eve entered this world as living souls and were immediately brought under the divine auspices of the Word of their Maker, and the same is true for each and every one of us for “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and THE WORD WAS GOD” (John 1:1) All of us, regardless of whether we believe it or not, reside under the living and active Word of our Creator. All of us reap what we sow, for that is the divine edict of our Creator. No one can argue this. And our sowing and reaping, whether after the flesh or Spirit, always falls under the dictates of God’s Two Great Covenants; the Law and the Promise, i.e. its spiritual nature; see Hebrews 8, verses 6 through 13. Understand that we always begin with the Law first, followed by its spiritual nature, so that is why Paul wrote, “But it is not the spiritual that is FIRST but THE NATURAL, and THEN THE SPIRITUAL” (1st Cor. 15:46; ESV) and again, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). “The law,” symbolized by the tree of knowledge, “is spiritual,” symbolized by the tree of life, i.e. Christ the Spirit. Look once more at the following from Romans, Chapter 7.
Romans 7:9 (ESV)
9 I was once alive apart from the law (natural), but when the commandment came, SIN CAME ALIVE and I DIED (carnal).
Note where I have inserted the words “natural” and “carnal.” “Natural” was Adam and Eve’s state of being BEFORE they took of the tree of knowledge, but once they gave in to DESIRE, they “died,” descending into a different state of being which the Bible describes as “carnal.” But keep in mind that this was ordained by our Creator, for Hebrews 9:27 tells us, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” In our Genesis parable, the story of Adam and Eve shows that judgment is rendered through the universal principle of sowing and reaping while in this life; see Romans 2, verses 6 through 11. Let me close with the following from Romans, Chapter 8, which describes the state of being known as “death.” This agrees perfectly with what the apostle John outlined in 1st John 2, verses 15 through 17.
Romans 8:5-8 (ESV)
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.