Genesis 3:22 notes, “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.” God is speaking in this verse. The question arises: how, exactly, did knowing good and evil make man like God?
Adam and Eve already knew, intellectually, the difference between good and evil because of God’s command to not eat of the tree’s fruit. They knew it was right to eat of those trees and wrong to eat of that tree. However, when they chose to disobey, they knew evil experientially because they themselves had sinned against God. At that point, they fully understood both right and wrong. God, who knows everything, already understood the nature of evil. When Adam and Eve lost their innocence, they, too, understood the nature of evil because of its very real presence within them. They became “like God” in that they now realized what evil was truly like.
The serpent’s deception in the Garden had included a grain of truth. Satan told Eve, “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). What the serpent did not say was that knowing evil would damage Adam and Eve’s relationship with God. Half-truths can be as deceptive as full-blown lies.
It was enough for humans to understand and experience the good, and much good had been given to them (Genesis 1:31). But Adam and Eve wanted more knowledge and more experience, to their own detriment. The entry of sin into the world was a curse leading to a loss of fellowship with God and other judgments upon Adam and Eve. Those judgments have affected all humanity (Genesis 3:16–19). Only in the end, when God creates new heavens and a new earth, will this curse be broken. Revelation 21:3–4 promises, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 22:3 adds, “No longer will there be any curse.”
Knowing good and evil was not a positive thing for Adam and Eve; rather, it served as the entry of sin into humanity. Now, all people sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and we all live under the twin curse of sin and death (Romans 6:23). “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24–25; cf. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9).