How often most of us have made decisions against our better judgment! Ironically, the most important decision in all history may have been made"... against my better judgment." WE KNOW the situation. Others tell us plainly a particular course of action can come to no good.
Our own experience — past trial and error — militates against it. Sound intuitive judgment tells us to say no.
But we deeply love or feel otherwise obligated to the person desiring a yes answer. So we find ourselves saying yes, against our better judgment.
Leaders of governments have fallen headlong into this tempting trap. Heads of giant corporations have made the same mistake. Parents have said yes when the collective child-rearing experience of past ages told them to say no.
Husbands have traditionally given in to their wives against their better judgment. Girls, especially in this generation, give in to boys over the matter of premarital sex, often against their better judgment.
The Same Old Story Generations of humankind have repeated this same old story all the way back to our first parents. Even the forbidden fruit incident may have been no exception.
Consider the narrative surrounding the most colossally important decision ever made in the experience of mankind. The bare account itself does not emphasize the incredible import of what occurred. But the Bible itself helps us to read between the lines.
Genesis 3 concentrates on one of the most critical human decisions. Notice verse 6: "So when the woman 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 of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (Revised Authorized Version throughout).
What happened to Adam? He appears to act as nothing more than a cipher — rather than the head of the human race.
Was Adam deceived along with his wife? Or did he know what he was doing? Was his decision to eat the fruit decisively influenced by his attraction for his wife Eve?
God, we discover in chapter 2 of Genesis, created Adam out of the dust of the ground, placed him in a beautiful garden in a land called Eden and began to give the first man some vital survival instructions. Note verse 16:
"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.'"
The timing is essential to our understanding. Adam received this vitally important instruction before the creation of Eve. The narrative strongly indicates that it was the man himself who passed the message along to the mother of all living. The biblical pattern shows that a man is to be able to instruct his wife about such matters.
In chapter 3 a spirit being called Satan in Hebrew — Satan means "adversary" — appears under guise of a serpent. Satan asks Eve about the fruit trees in the garden. She replies: "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'" (verses 2-3).
Her answer shows that Adam instructed his wife about God's commandment with emphasis. She got the message all right. But a wily Satan proved to be too much for her.
The subsequent story shows that the woman was deceived by Satan the devil into consuming the forbidden fruit — and that Adam followed suit in her transgression. But what were the circumstances? The after events shed more light on our subject.
God confronted the transgressors with their crimes one by one, and typically each blamed someone else. Adam blamed both God and Eve.
Notice what he tells his Creator. Verse 12: "Then the man said, 'The woman whom You [God] gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.'" This verse only summarizes the story in the briefest form. Remember we are getting only the high spots of what happened.
It is when God begins to mete out the penalties that we really begin to get the true picture. First he passes sentence on Satan, then Eve, and finally he comes to Adam. Verse 17 adds the vital dimension we were previously unaware of. "Then to Adam He [God] said, 'Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of it": cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.'"
So there was a conversation between Adam and Eve before his consumption of the forbidden fruit. We don't know how long the conversation lasted, but Adam finally capitulated... against his better judgment. Adam knew better. Eve was deceived.
The New Testament Evidence Several New Testament books provide us further information. The apostle Paul — the most prolific New Testament writer — had as one of his favorite themes the incident of the forbidden fruit. He was totally engrossed in its far-reaching implications. In one of his letters to the church at Corinth in Greece, Paul wrote: "But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor. 11:3).
Notice that there is no mention of Adam in terms of the deception — and for a very good reason. He was not deceived.
In instructing the young evangelist Timothy, the apostle Paul reminded him: "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (I Tim. 2:13-14).
Satan presented Eve with certain misleading information she hadn't considered before. The fruit was pleasant to the eyes. It tasted good. One's perceptions would be increased. None of this impressed Adam. He was not deceived. He simply acted against his better judgment.
Paradise Lost, by John Milton, is one of the most famous classic poems of the English language. While we may have major disagreements with some of John Milton's theology, he may not have been far from the mark when he pictured Adam as being initially horrified upon seeing his wife eat of the forbidden fruit.
Adam knew the serious implications. He knew that God had pronounced the death penalty for this disobedience. He knew what the consequences would be and may well have feared for his wife Eve.
Probably he thought back to the time when "there was not found a helper [suitable] for him" (Gen. 2:20) — the time before Eve was created. These were some of the thoughts that most probably ran through his mind.
Adam was at the crisis point in his life. Would he follow his wife — or would he follow God? The issue was one of obedience to God or rebellion and defiance. On the other hand, Adam also feared having to lose his wife.
Adam made the wrong decision.
But he did not make it based on deception. He knew what he stood to lose. He went into it with his eyes open — he was not deceived like Eve. In the end his wife persuaded him to eat that fruit against his better judgment. He put her first — he put her ahead of God.
How ironic that one of the most important decisions in all of history was probably made "against my better judgment."
More to Learn Adam's sin was not just an average sin. It was far-reaching in its implications. True, all men have sinned (Rom. 3:23). But the apostle Paul recognized an essential difference about this particular sin — even though all spiritual sin brings death (Rom. 6:23).
Adam's sin cut the world off from divine revelation and the gift of God's Spirit and set civilization on the wrong course. That's why Paul wrote to the Romans: "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam... " (Rom. 5:14).
Adam's sin uniquely affected all human history.
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