Like God, Knowing Good & Evil

Have you ever desired to be like God? If you knew that you could become like God, would you desire it? Think about that for a moment. Adam and Eve were presented with such a decision. However, they were not the only two people faced with a decision to be like God. You and I will have the same opportunity each and every day of our lives, and even numerous times within the course of each day. Let us notice from the Bible what is said of Adam and Eve on this matter and understand from their decision how we, too, can benefit or suffer from a desire to be like God.

While they lived in Eden, Eve was told, “For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3.5). This statement was uttered to Eve by Satan. Sadly, it is one of the few times (cf. Matthew 4) that Satan spoke truth. We find Adam and Eve acting upon their desire to become like God: “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 desirable to make one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3.6-7). Adam and Eve’s desire to be like God was a life-changing experience. Their decision actually cost them their lives, yet discipleship necessitates that one give up his or her life. In discipleship, however, losing one’s life preserves it. That is a huge difference. Jesus made this clear in John 12.25: “The one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.

The Bible clearly teaches that there are two ways to know good and evil. One way is by heeding God’s promises and warnings (Genesis 2.16-17). The other way is to disobey God (Genesis 3.11,17). Adam and Eve believed Satan’s words and disobeyed God. Let us consider the way of disobedience. To disobey God is to commit sin. When we sin, our eyes will be opened in like manner as Adam and Eve’s were. But, gaining knowledge of good and evil in this way (i.e., by committing sin) will not bring us joy. Instead, we will experience what Adam and Eve experienced: Fear and shame. Adam said, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3.10).

This experiencing of fear and shame causes us to do as Adam and Eve did: Seek to hide from God (Genesis 3.9). This, of course, is futile (Psalm 139.8). All humans react alike once their eyes are opened by sin. Sin is not an abstract thing. It is an act of disobedience to God’s word. Because we are ashamed of our actions, we are now afraid of God. What we fear is God’s wrath. God’s wrath is only to be feared by those who disobey (Ephesians 2.2; 5.6; Colossians 3.6; Hebrews 2.2).

We need to give much thought to wanting to be like God. It can be a good thing or it can be disastrous. It depends on our motives. What do we actually want? Is it power? Knowledge is power. Is our concept of being like God just having knowledge about everything? How do we intend to use that knowledge? Does man know how to use knowledge apart from what God has spoken? This is the real issue. Adam and Eve didn’t. They were badly deceived, but their desire for knowledge overruled their trust in God to know how to use that knowledge. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1.14-15).

The word of God and wisdom are synonymous. God is the source of wisdom. In Proverbs 8.27, we read of wisdom and God: “When he established the heavens, I was there; when he inscribed a circle on the face of the deep.” God has revealed the wise way to be like him. Job 28.28 states it as follows: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.Psalm 111.10b says, “All those who follow his commandments have a good understanding.Proverbs 1.7b declares, “The fear of the Lord is knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Becoming like God is only possible by yielding to God’s word. The God-oriented way brings happiness and joy to life. It encourages one to seek out God and ensures fellowship with him. Do we desire this type of happiness and joy?

Let us honestly consider how our desire to be like God will be pursued. Let us consider our motives. Do we want to respect God’s authority or be the authority? Do we want the attributes of God (omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient) to use as we see fit? Do we just want to know everything about everybody? These are soul-searching questions that address our hearts. Let us give serious consideration to the question asked in a hymn: “Is Thy Heart Right With God?”