In this post, I’ll argue that God intended for humans to know good and evil. God promised the knowledge of Good and Evil in the tree of that name in the garden and then finally fulfilled his promise in Christ.
In his work on the sacraments, John Calvin establishes the following definition of a sacrament:
we perceive that there never is a sacrament without an antecedent promise, the sacrament being added as a kind of appendix, with the view of confirming and sealing the promise, and giving a better attestation, or rather, in a manner, confirming it. [Book 4:3]
Calvin then applies this understanding of sacraments to the Tree of Life:
The term sacrament, in the view we have hitherto taken of it, includes, generally, all the signs which God ever commanded men to use, that he might make them sure and confident of the truth of his promises…in his giving the tree of life to Adam and Eve, as an earnest of immortality, that they might feel confident of the promise… [Book 4:18]
It follows that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil functioned in the same way; the promise being inherent in the name of the tree, as it was with the Tree of Life. We see God making good on his promise, in the first instance, as Adam and Eve eat the fruit of that tree as their eyes are immediately opened and they knew they were naked.
Now, in 1 Corinthians 1:20, Paul writes:
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Christ].
It is clear that the promise of God in the Tree of Life is fulfilled in Christ. All who feed on Christ by faith have eternal life. The promise of the knowledge of Good and Evil must also have been fulfilled in Christ. It is “yes in him.”
If Christ fulfills the promise of the knowledge of good and evil, how does he do this? First, he teaches on goodness and evil. But ultimately, we know what good is through the cross.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us. Titus 3:4
It is also on the cross that the promise of the knowledge of evil is fulfilled.
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart. Acts 2:36-37
The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Christ who was crucified also gives God’s people the knowledge of what evil is.
This knowledge of good and evil will be carried with us into eternity, because as we gaze upon the lamb standing as though it had been slain (Revelation 5:6) we will eternally know what good and evil is. As God’s people were predestined for eternity (Eph 1:4) then it must always have been God’s intention for us to have the knowledge of good and evil and this must make eternity good.