How could a God of love, the Parent of mankind, make such an attractive fruit and leave it in a place where it could be eaten by his children and cause them to fall (Gen 3:6)? Jesus said in Matthew 15:11, "'...not what goes into the mouth defiles a man but what comes out.'" How then could something edible cause man to fall? It is also inconceivable that a God of love would create a fruit to test man so mercilessly as to ultimately cause his death merely to see whether or not man would obey his Word.
The fact that they ate the fruit, despite having been told that they would die, indicates that the fruit must represent something so extremely stimulating that their desire for it was even greater than their desire for life. Before we can determine what the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolizes, we must know what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is mentioned only a few times in the Bible. In order to determine what the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolizes, we will first determine what is the Tree of Life, which, according to the Bible, stood with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:9, 2:17, 3:3) and is mentioned in numerous places throughout the Bible.
If fallen people are asked what is the essence of happiness and hope, each person will give a different answer. One person might answer that it is power and another that it is wealth or knowledge. Then what has been the common hope of people of faith throughout history? One thing is clear: If the innermost hope of fallen man is the Tree of Life, then the hope of Adam before the Fall also must have been the Tree of Life. The reason is that each person retains this original nature deep within himself and thus longs for that which was originally desired before the Fall but was lost. Genesis 3:22-24 shows that Adam desired to reach the Tree of Life but because of his sin was not allowed to. Thus, the Tree of Life has remained only a hope of fallen man.
Then what was this Tree of Life, the hope of the growing Adam? Could material possessions have been the basic hope of Adam in the Garden of Eden? Or power or some external concern? Since he was to be lord of the cosmos and to rule all things, there was no reason for Adam to hope for more material possessions or power. If Adam had a deep wish while he was still unperfected, it would have been to achieve his own perfection: his relationship with God, his father. In other words, his desire would have been to become a man who fulfilled the ideal of the Creation, just as naturally as children feel the same desire with their own parents.
Therefore, the Tree of Life symbolizes a man who has fulfilled the purpose of the Creation. If Adam has not fallen and had attained the ideal, then he would have become the Tree of Life and he would have established the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. However, Adam fell, and God blocked his way to the Tree of Life with a flaming sword. (Gen 3:24)
Since Adam abandoned the purpose of the Creation, he became a false tree of life and bore descendants who were false trees of life, establishing a garden of false trees of life rather than the garden of true trees of life. In other words, in order to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which is the garden of the trees of life, a true Tree of Life must appear in the fallen world and engraft all mankind to itself. Knowing that the Tree of Life represents Adam, we can then understand that the Tree of Life in the Old Testament (Prov 13:12) represents Jesus (1 Cor 15:45) and the Tree of Life in the New Testament Book of Revelation (Rev 22:14) represents the returning Messiah. Furthermore, we can understand why the purpose of the dispensation for salvation is to restore the Tree of Life that was lost in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:9) and the Tree of Life that is mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Rev 22:14).
In the Bible, Jesus is at times symbolically represented as a vine (Jn 15:5) or an olive tree (Rom 11:17). In a similar fashion, Adam and Eve are represented by two trees, and through this discovery a clue is provided concerning the secret of man's Fall. To assert that there is a Tree of Life and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the midst of the Garden of Eden does not mean that there were two literal trees in the center of a literal garden. Rather it means that two people, Adam and Eve, are the center and nucleus of God's ideal for the Creation. God's entire ideal for the Creation is to be fulfilled through man and woman. When we understand things in these terms, we can see that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represented the woman, Eve. We must then conclude that the fruit of this tree is somehow related to Eve. However, in order to understand clearly what the fruit represents, we must first determine the identity of the serpent.
In Genesis 3 we also see that the "serpent" talked with the woman and that he understood that God had told Adam and Eve not to eat the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In order for the "serpent" to be able to speak to man and know what God had instructed, the "serpent" must have been a spirit being. Revelation 12:9 says, "And that great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world -- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him," indicating that the "ancient serpent" is the devil. This "ancient serpent" is the very "serpent" which tempted Eve. Since Revelation 12:9 says that the serpent was thrown down from heaven, we know that the serpent was in heaven prior to being thrown down and therefore that he must have been a spiritual being.
Since we know that the serpent is Satan (Rev 12:9), we can learn who the serpent is by discovering who Satan is. In order to know who Satan is, we must discover the identity of the spirit being which was in heaven before it sinned. It can be argued that since the serpent was originally in Eden before being thrown down from heaven, the serpent must originally have been a being that God created with the nature of goodness and a being that was not yet perfect because (1) there was no being in Eden which was not created by God; (2) God is absolutely good and creates only good; and (3) no good being could commit a sin after becoming perfect.
Some imagine that this spirit being which is symbolized as a serpent was a being who existed even before the Creation existed and was a being whose intent was evil and contrary to that of God. However, with the exception of fallen man, everything in the cosmos exists according to one perfect order, so it is not possible that there could have been in the beginning a source of evil contrary to God. If there had originally been two opposing forces in the universe, their contradictory purposes would have caused the universe to be destroyed. It can only be concluded that this spirit being was originally created for the purpose of goodness but later, while in the process of growing, fell and became Satan. This being was able to converse with man; it knew God's Will; it originally lived in heaven; it had the ability to tempt man; and that after falling and becoming Satan was still able, transcendent of time and space, to influence man's mind and spirit, causing man to lead a life of evil.
What being is endowed with such abilities? No being other than the angel is endowed with such abilities. One might ask whether angels can commit sins but biblical evidence for this is clear. In fact, when we read 2 Peter 2:4, which says "...God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom...," we can clearly see that angels can and do sin. Taking due note of Revelation 12:7-9, in saying "his angels," indicates that the "serpent" was in fact a leader of angels, we can understand that the "serpent" was an angel.
In Genesis 3:7 we read that after being tempted by the serpent and committing sin, the first ancestors became ashamed of their nakedness and covered the lower parts of their bodies. However, before their fall Adam and Eve were naked but unashamed (Gen 2:25). Then when we read that they covered the lower, or sexual, parts with fig leaves after they sinned, we must ask ourselves whether man also committed the sin of fornication.
It is in fallen man's nature to try to conceal his faults and wrongs; so if the fruit of good and evil were a fruit in the literal sense, Adam and Eve should have covered their hands or mouths if they had taken the fruit with their hands or had eaten it with their mouths. Yet we find that they covered their sexual parts, not their hands and mouths. This is an indication that Adam and Eve's transgression involved their sexual parts. Job 31:33 says, "... I have concealed my transgression ... like Adam by hiding my iniquity in my bosom" (emphasis added). Job's words indicate that Adam concealed his transgression, and since we know that Adam and Eve concealed their sexual parts, we can conclude that their sin involved their sexual parts.
In the Garden of Eden, the only sin that man would possible commit at the risk of his life was a sin involving love. Adam and Eve were to grow as brother and sister, and, after perfecting themselves, were to establish the Kingdom of Heaven by becoming the first husband and wife and creating God's family, fulfilling the Purpose of the Creation.
However, when Jesus says in John 8:44, "'You are of your father the devil ...,'" it clearly shows that fallen people are descendants of the devil. Adam and Eve forsook God, their true father, and became one with a false father, Satan, which is the reason that Romans 8:23 says, "... we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (emphasis added) The fact that we are waiting for adoption into God's lineage tells us that we are not of God's lineage now. In Matthew 3:7 and Matthew 23:33, respectively, John the Baptist and Jesus called the people a "brood of vipers" -- in other words, the offspring of serpents,clearly indicating that fallen man is the offspring of Satan. Thus we can clearly understand that fallen man belongs to Satan's lineage, not God's. This is the result of Eve's committing the sin of fornication with the angel. As a result of this crime, all human beings have been born as the "children" of Satan.*
Therefore, the root of sin is not the first human ancestors eating a literal fruit but their establishing a blood relationship through fornication with the archangel, who is symbolized by the serpent. This blood relationship is the cause for the Original Sin's being passed on from generation to generation. All religions which try to remove sin have branded and treated adultery as one of the greatest sins. Based on this view of Original Sin, we can understand why the Israelites had to be circumcised to be considered God's chosen people. It was required in order to make restitution for the misuse of the sexual parts, by which man had become Satan's descendants. We may be able to put a stop to all other sins through social, educational or economic improvements, but even though civilization develops and social and economic conditions improve to the point where we can enjoy a more stable life, the increase of sexual promiscuity and of man's inclination toward moral degradation cannot be stopped by anyone.
The reason that Satan is able to break down the proper order of man's love as the Last Days approach is because the first ancestors became husband and wife without the permission or blessing of God and united with Satan an their false father. Their children* were thus born as children of sin, and not of God, and they established a world of faithlessness, evil and war. Consequently, Satan has dominated man as he has seen fit (Jn 8:44).
Despite the fact that God created man and the cosmos, He has never been able to have the central role in any of the world's affairs -- to rule according to his Will alone. Man cast Satan in the starring role, and Satan has been falsely playing the part of the Lord. It is for this reason that Satan is referred to as "the ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31) and "the god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4).
* Although Eve and the archangel united in actual fornication by means of Eve's spirit body and the archangel's spirit body, no childre