In South Florida, arboriculturist revealed that the Manchineel tree produces a pleasant fruit that resembles and tastes like sweet pears.
Even so, historians have found that sailors who ate the Manchineel fruit suffered horrible stomach and intestinal pains, sores on their lips, and inflammation around the mouth. Furthermore, oral tradition states that Ponce de Leon’s enemies tipped the arrow that killed him with the sap from the Manchineel (a.k.a. Arbol de la Muerte).
Today if you visit the Manchineel tree, you will find warning signs that state:
- Do not touch the tree.
- Do not eat its fruit.
- Do not lean against the tree.
- Do not rub your eyes or lick your fingers.
- Do not stand underneath the tree when it rains, as the leaves will transfer the poison to your skin.
Sound familiar? Genesis 3:1-6 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So, 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
We can see that it was not the actual touching of the fruit that led to the downfall of Adam (and the human race), or he would have died that day. What preceded the disobedience of God’s command was an act of the will.
Many people say that Adam and Eve “messed it up” for all of us in that their one act of disobedience condemned the entire human race. Others say that God’s judgment on humanity is unjust because the first couple had little or no knowledge of sin.
These are challenging arguments. However, there is nothing to say that if you and I were in Adam and Eve’s position that we would not have acted in the same way. Adam and Eve made a choice. They elevated the serpent’s word over God’s commands and thus desired to be as God.
In, Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, the section regarding the “Origin of Sin” says, “Because created persons sinned, the capacity for sin had to exist as a possibility with them. Sin occurred because Satan, Adam, and Eve chose to exercise their volition to disobey God rather than to love God.” (See pg. 457). In another section called “Sin Defined,” it says that “Sin, therefore is acting autonomously and usurping the authority of God.” (See pg.454).
On the website gotquestions.org, the following question appears: Did Adam and Eve know what death was? Their answer states, “God did not punish Adam and Eve with death for simply “not knowing” something but for acting against what they already knew to be right. Death was a consequence of their disobedience, not their ignorance. Adam and Eve had no reason at all, as far as we know, to trust what the serpent said. Yet trust him they did, even though it meant rejecting what they did know about God’s provision and loving care. Indeed, their reason for rejecting God’s command was not an innocent mistake: Genesis 3:5–6 demonstrates that Adam and Eve saw the fruit as an opportunity to become ‘like God.’ They knew what they were doing was wrong, and they did it anyway. It is hard to imagine an offense against a holy God that would be more deserving of death than this.”
Although Adam and Eve did not experience death at that moment, they did suffer the shame of disobedience for the first time. I wonder if they had asked God for wisdom if He would have given them the magnitude of knowledge gifted to Solomon. But, again, the difference here is that Satan deceived them to believe they would be like God.
The gotquestions.org answer continues to say, “What is even more amazing is that, despite the defiance displayed by His creation, God responded to their disobedience with a promise to redeem them. Despite the tremendous evil displayed by Adam and Eve—and that which all of us have displayed ever since—God has reached out to us in love.”
That is what’s so astonishing about the teaching of the Fall of Man. Although we passively entered into sin (and damnation) through Adam’s act of disobedience, we also received salvation freely through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We see that in Romans 5:18-19, which says, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous.”
So then, fellow sinner, remember that our inheritance of sin does not excuse us to practice disobedience. However, our passivity to grace makes us indebted to Christ and should spur us to resist temptation and follow Him.