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  • Chad Werkhoven

Genesis 3:20-24 - Forbidden Fruit

God's seemingly harsh actions are actually His supreme grace.


Genesis 3:20–24 (NIV)

CONTEXT: After the fall into sin, God curses everyone involved: the serpent, the woman and Adam. Here's what happens next:

20 Adam named his wife Eve,  because she would become the mother of all the living.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man

We believe

that God created man from the dust of the earth

and made and formed him in his image and likeness—

good, just, and holy;

able by his own will to conform

in all things

to the will of God.

But when man was in honor

he did not understand it

and did not recognize his excellence.

But he subjected himself willingly to sin

and consequently to death and the curse,

lending his ear to the word of the devil.

For he transgressed the commandment of life,

which he had received,

and by his sin he separated himself from God,

who was his true life,

having corrupted his entire nature.

So he made himself guilty

and subject to physical and spiritual death,

having become wicked,


and corrupt in all his ways.

He lost all his excellent gifts

which he had received from God,

and he retained none of them

except for small traces

which are enough to make him


Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness,

as the Scripture teaches us:

“The light shone in the darkness,

and the darkness did not receive it.”

Here John calls men “darkness.”



This has to be one of the saddest episodes in all of history. God had created a world of beauty and had breathed life into a the first man, created in the very image of the Creator in order represent God within this new and perfect world by working and keeping it. Yet now this same man, accompanied by the partner God had designed and made especially for him, is being escorted out, their shame hidden behind the skins of animals whose blood was shed by God to clothe His fallen image bearers.

But lest you think Adam and Eve sulked out of their garden home with their heads hung down in sorrow, re-read v24. God "drove the man out." These image bearers had grown tired of simply reflecting God's image. They wanted to define their image themselves, and their ability to grab the immortality that would enable them to do this hung on a tree not far from the one the serpent had already coaxed them to.

No, Adam and Eve didn't exit the garden in humble repentance; they were forced out, and man's job as keeper was assumed by the mightiest of God's angelic army who wielded a flaming sword to keep them and their sin away from that precious tree of life. They would still work, one of the primary purposes they'd been created for, but now they'd work in frustration until they disintegrated into the very ground they'd been formed from.

Dig Deeper

Maybe God's actions seem harsh. But this sad passage is actually full of His grace. It begins with the name the woman was given: "Eve... mother of all the living." Although man deserved instant death for their transgression, life would continue on a limited basis, and someday the life that would descend from Eve would rise up and crush the head of the serpent.

Secondly, God met these image bearers who were now ashamed of their physical appearance and provided clothing for them. How it must of hurt God to kill another of His perfect creatures in order to cover up the shame of His covenant people! Yet this would not be the last time this would happen. The innocent blood of animals would flow in abundance in the tabernacle and temple until the very people God created and provided for would kill One whose blood would finally atone for their sin.

Even banishing them from the tree of life was an act of mercy. Imagine the horror of being condemned to live eternally in a body of sin and shame, had selfish Adam taken a bite of the fruit hanging on the tree of life! That tree needed guarding so that God's covenant people would never be conscripted to such a hell in which they forever knew both good and evil. This word means more than just being aware of it. It's the same word the Old Testament uses to describe sexual relations, as in 'Adam knew his wife...' (Genesis 4:1, ESV). This is what it means to be a fallen human being: you know and are one flesh with both good and evil. Thank God this condition was not eternally cemented!

There still would be a path to everlasting life, and it still comes through a tree. Only now it's a horrific tree on a hill of death, on which the perfect Son of God would be hung. It's only through this tree - the cross - that you can gain access to the wonderful tree of life (Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 22:14-19).

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who gives us exactly what we need even when we don't want it;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for His grace in your life which opens the way back to the tree of life;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 10


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