Since the Garden of Eden, this term has been used to symbolize anything our flesh desires that is against God’s will. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we desire is evil; it just means that God might not want us to have something for any number of reasons that He knows about. As our Heavenly Father, God knows what is best for us, and also what is worst for us. It is His right to protect us out of His loving heart from anything that will seriously harm us by placing rules and restrictions around certain areas of our lives.
Let’s take a look at the story of the original Forbidden fruit to see why God really knows what’s best for us.
The Test of Contentment
Most of us are familiar with the story of the Fall of Man found in Genesis chapter 3 of God’s Word. Satan enticed Eve to sin by using the one tree in the Garden of Eden that God had forbidden her and Adam to eat from. That tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God placed in the garden to test their obedience to Him.
Now, Satan knew that Eve was aware of God’s command, but he wanted to deliberately draw her attention to the one thing she couldn’t have, in spite of all the other wonderful things she had already been given. God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat fruit from all the other trees of the garden except that one, because He wanted to not only test their obedience, but their contentment as well.
Satan was the first being to sin, because he was dissatisfied with serving God in Heaven. It wasn’t enough for him that he was the Leader of Music among the angels, or that he had a beautiful appearance; he wanted to be worshiped just like God. So when Satan wanted to tempt Eve to sin for the first time, he projected the source of his original sin onto her, by making her want to be like or equal with God Himself. By telling her the lie that eating the Forbidden fruit would make her and Adam like gods, Satan was trying to twist and pervert the natural desire that humans have to be holy like God, since we are all made in God’s divine image.
What was wrong with Eve’s desire?
In truth, there was nothing wrong with Eve’s desire to be like God, since she was created to desire His holiness and perfection. However, there was something very wrong with the way she chose to pursue this natural desire, by disobeying God and not following His will. God is good and gracious, and he wanted Adam and Eve to be happy, but it is His divine right to withhold certain things He didn’t want them to have. You see, the Bible tells us that after eating the Forbidden fruit, the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened, because they knew the difference between good and evil. God desired them to be in a state of pure, innocent bliss in the Garden, while He would deal with Satan’s betrayal Himself. He knew that they did not need to know the presence of wickedness in the world, and that they would be better off without it; but Satan convinced them the very opposite – that God was being selfish and didn’t want them to be happy.
When Eve chose to eat the Forbidden fruit, she was missing out on all the other blessings around her, the many different trees that God HAD given her permission to eat from. She believed Satan’s lie that God was holding something good back from her, when it was really a commandment made for her own good. If she had just waited to ask God how to be like Him, I’m sure she would have received an honest, straightforward answer, rather than a deceitful, double-sided answer from Satan. It could very well have been the case that God might have wanted to teach Adam and Eve to be more like Himself over the passing of time, rather than having them attempt to be like Him through disobedience.
How are we like Adam and Eve?
Just like our very first parents, we are prone to discontentment as well. Whenever we take our eyes off the things that God has already given us, we automatically become dissatisfied, and begin lusting after things that He either hasn’t given to us yet, or after things that He never wants us to have. Now, some of our desires might be completely natural and wholesome, but God may not have chosen to fulfill them yet. Does that mean that He doesn’t want us to be happy? Of course not! God is good, and if He chooses to delay in giving us something, it simply means it isn’t the right time for it yet. Perhaps He wants to change something in us before we’re fully ready to have a particular desire.
For example, a small child might want to drive his parents’ car, but his parents realize that he is far too young to be responsible for such an object. They tell him that when he is old enough, he will be able to drive the car someday. Does that make the boy’s parents cruel and unkind for not giving him his wish immediately? No, they simply practiced common sense by judging what their son was or wasn’t capable of handling. The same thing applies to our desires and God’s will. There are many things that we might desire: a certain job, a nice house, a new car, a person to be our life partner. While none of these things are wrong to desire in and of themselves, they can quickly become wrong if we try to claim them for ourselves before God wants us to have them, or in a way that goes against His Word. The best thing we can do is wait on the Lord to do His will.
How do we possess the skill of patience?
It can be extremely difficult to wait on God to fulfill our desires, especially when our hearts so desperately want them in the present. In the meantime, God would have us to practice the skill of patience while He accomplishes His perfect work in our lives. We can start by asking ourselves a question such as this – What is God trying to teach me in this period of patience? There are always things we can improve about ourselves, and some of them might be harder to find than others. Thankfully, we have the help of the Holy Spirit to identify what needs to change within us. There might also be the possibility of God wanting us to get busy preparing for the future while He prepares our blessings yet to come. What it all comes down to is the simple matter of our faith in God. Do we truly believe that He is good, and sincerely desires our well-being? Are we willing to trust Him enough to let Him have His way as He writes the story of our lives?
How can we learn from Adam and Eve’s mistake?
There are many different lessons to be found in Genesis chapter 3, but the one that stands out to me the most is the importance of thankfulness. Adam and Eve were perfectly happy until they listened to Satan’s lies and became ungrateful like he was in Heaven. Instead of focusing so much on what we want but don’t have, we should focus on what we already have that God has given us, and really don’t deserve at all after sinning against Him. Just like the many other different kinds of trees in the Garden of Eden, God has provided us with a multitude of blessings flowing from the treasury of His grace. If you hear Satan starting to whisper in your ear to walk in the direction of the Forbidden Fruit in your life, the best thing you can do is to just turn around to look at the Permitted Fruit. When he begins to draw your gaze towards what is off-limits (for your own good), reach your hands for the right things that God wants you to have right now. Practicing contentment can help you prevent a personal catastrophe!
Here are God’s own words about this matter:
Hebrews 13:5 ~ “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.“
Psalm 27:14 ~ “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalm 145:15-16 ~ “The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.”
I hope this helps encourage you to be satisfied with God’s goodness in the present, even if you still have unmet desires in your life. Don’t forget to trust God no matter what, because He never fails, even when man disappoints. If you keep your eyes on the right fruit that God has permitted you to have in your life, then you should be able to stay away from the forbidden fruit, at least until God allows you to have it in the future. Remember that He is your Heavenly Father, and He loves you more than you could ever imagine.
– Gloria D. Hopkins