The Test in the Garden of Eden
In the garden of Eden, God abundantly supplied everything that was necessary for the perfect health and happiness of Adam and Eve. He also made one small, but important restriction:
“And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . . . And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:9, 16-17.
It was now Satan’s aim to spread his rebellion to planet Earth by enticing Adam and Eve to disregard God’s commands:
Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator’s law. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish. God had made them the recipients of rich blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would forfeit His gifts and bring upon them misery and ruin. . . .
The tree of knowledge had been made a test of their obedience and their love to God. The Lord had seen fit to lay upon them but one prohibition as to the use of all that was in the garden; but if they should disregard His will in this particular, they would incur the guilt of transgression. Satan was not to follow them with continual temptations; he could have access to them only at the forbidden tree. . . .
In order to accomplish his work unperceived, Satan chose to employ as his medium the serpent—a disguise well adapted for his purpose of deception. . . . Thus in the garden of peace lurked the destroyer, watching for his prey.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 53
Although Adam and Eve had been duly cautioned regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they did not take the warnings as seriously as they should have:
The angels had cautioned Eve to beware of separating herself from her husband while occupied in their daily labor in the garden; with him she would be in less danger from temptation than if she were alone. . . . Unmindful of the angels’ caution, she soon found herself gazing with mingled curiosity and admiration upon the forbidden tree.
The fruit was very beautiful, and she questioned with herself why God had withheld it from them. Now was the tempter’s opportunity. As if he were able to discern the workings of her mind, he addressed her: “ ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ ” Genesis 3:1. Eve was surprised and startled as she thus seemed to hear the echo of her thoughts. But the serpent continued, in a musical voice, with subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness; and his words were not displeasing. Instead of fleeing from the spot she lingered wonderingly to hear a serpent speak. Had she been addressed by a being like the angels, her fears would have been excited; but she had no thought that the fascinating serpent could become the medium of the fallen foe.
To the tempter’s ensnaring question she replied: “ ‘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.” ’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You shall 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 3:2-5.
By partaking of this tree, he declared, they would attain to a more exalted sphere of existence and enter a broader field of knowledge. He himself had eaten of the forbidden fruit, and as a result had acquired the power of speech. And he insinuated that the Lord jealously desired to withhold it from them, lest they should be exalted to equality with Himself. . . . The tempter intimated that the divine warning was not to be actually fulfilled; it was designed merely to intimidate them. How could it be possible for them to die? Had they not eaten of the tree of life? . . .
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 53-54
Thus Satan spread his lies about God—that God was withholding something that was good for Adam and Eve. What happened when Eve listened to the serpent?
When she “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 its fruit, and ate.” Genesis 3:6. It was grateful to the taste, and as she ate, she seemed to feel a vivifying power, and imagined herself entering upon a higher state of existence. Without a fear she plucked and ate. And now, having herself transgressed, she became the agent of Satan in working the ruin of her husband. In a state of strange, unnatural excitement, with her hands filled with the forbidden fruit, she sought his presence, and related all that had occurred. . . .
Adam understood that his companion had transgressed the command of God, disregarded the only prohibition laid upon them as a test of their fidelity and love. There was a terrible struggle in his mind. . . . Love, gratitude, loyalty to the Creator—all were overborne by love to Eve. She was a part of himself, and he could not endure the thought of separation. . . . He resolved to share her fate; if she must die, he would die with her. After all, he reasoned, might not the words of the wise serpent be true? Eve was before him, as beautiful and apparently as innocent as before this act of disobedience. She expressed greater love for him than before. No sign of death appeared in her, and he decided to brave the consequences. He seized the fruit and quickly ate.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 56
Sadly, God must now meet with Adam and Eve and relate to them the consequences of their disobedience.
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version, including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James Version.—Editors