First, let us explain what the two trees in the Garden of Eden symbolized.
We are quoting the following excerpts from chapter 2 of our free booklet, “Human Suffering–Why…And How Much Longer?” :
“When God created the first human being, Adam, and his wife, Eve, He placed them in a garden—the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. God also created two special trees in this garden—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told man that he was allowed to eat from all the trees in the garden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This means that man could eat, and should have eaten, from the tree of life.
“These two trees had special symbolic meaning. They represented two ways of life: Eating from the tree of life would have meant following God in obedience to His Word, thereby reaping the benefits of happiness, joy and peace. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant disobeying God, and listening to and following Satan instead, thereby reaping the curses of unhappiness, sadness, suffering and war!…
“God said that man could eat FREELY from the tree of life. If man had done that, he would have received the free gift of the Holy Spirit of God, and with it, godly understanding and wisdom as to how to live. He would have received a down payment—a guarantee—of future eternal life, and he would have been changed—in due time—to an immortal Spirit being.
“God WANTED Adam and Eve to partake of the tree of life—the Holy Spirit. Today also, God wants us—those He has specifically called for His salvation—to partake of the Holy Spirit, and to teach others about it. When man partakes of the tree of life—symbolic of the Holy Spirit—then he reaps the benefits and responsibilities already in this life, as well as the gift of future eternal life…
“Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree of life, but they did eat, instead, from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God CREATED that tree, too, but He told man NOT to eat from it. He did not tempt man to sin, but He did test man, and by offering an opportunity to man to eat from the tree of life, He enabled man to obey Him. However, man decided to disobey God and to obey, instead, the serpent—Satan the devil.
“In not eating from the tree of life, and in eating, instead, from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man made the decision to reject godly wisdom and eternal life, and to accept the wisdom of this world, which leads only to death. Man rejected God (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13) and became the slave of Satan. God had informed man of the consequences of his decision well in advance. Genesis 2:17 reports that God told them that they would die if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Presumably, He had also told them that they would have to live in sorrow and pain (compare Genesis 3:16–19)…
“Suffering, pain, misery, and even death entered this physical world with Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God and follow Satan instead. And since man has, in general, continued to disregard God’s injunctions, suffering continues to this day.”
In addition, let us quote the following comments from Herbert W. Armstrong’s book, “Mystery of the Ages”:
“What if Adam had taken of the tree of life?… That symbolic tree is offered today to those called and drawn by God to Jesus Christ. There is one difference between the original Adam and the called Christian. Adam had not yet sinned and no repentance was necessary if he had chosen the tree of life. Otherwise the repentant and believing Spirit-begotten Christian is in the same position Adam would have been had he taken of the tree of life.
“Adam would have received the Holy Spirit of the immortal God to join with his human spirit. Of course, since Adam was required to make a choice, he would have rejected the way of Satan by taking the tree of life…
“He would have received the Holy Spirit of God to unite with his human spirit. The man was not mentally or spiritually complete until receiving the Spirit of God. This would have united him, mentally and spiritually, with God. He would have been begotten as a child of God, just as is the converted Spirit-begotten Christian.
“He would have received the Holy Spirit of God to join with his human spirit, begetting him as a son of God, imparting to him the earnest of immortal life, and making him at one with God… the very mind of the Eternal would have been in Adam. But instead the mind and attitude of Satan entered into him and worked in him, even as it has in all his children that have composed this whole world…
“God would have revealed to Adam God’s way of life—which is God’s spiritual law… But, even as a human embryo has been begotten by human parents, and just as the embryo must develop through the process of gestation before being born, so is the Spirit-led Christian, and so would have been Adam.
“But he would have experienced a direct connection and contact with God… So Adam would have had the in-depth spiritual knowledge to live God’s way, and also would have been supplied with the divine love that, only, can fulfill that perfect law of love and put it into action.
“He would also have received by the Spirit of God the very faith of God. He would have received knowledge, guidance and help from God. He would have had reliance on God to intervene in matters beyond his control. In such matters God supernaturally does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves. In other words, God fights our battles for us.”
Also, notice this quote from the Worldwide Church of God’s old publication, “Answers from Genesis”:
“If Adam and Eve would have eaten the fruit of this tree [of life], God would have given them His Holy Spirit and ultimately eternal life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on the other hand, symbolized disobedience. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of this tree, their disobedience cut them off from their Creator and they embarked on a course of false education that produced sin and death.”
Based on this understanding, we see that if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life and refused to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, our world–this world’s present societies–would have been quite different.
Again, let us continue with quoting from our booklet, “Human Suffering–Why… and How Much Longer?”:
“This brings up a hypothetical question. What would have happened IF Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life, while also refusing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus fully obeying God?
“There would have been, presumably, no weapons or war; no killing of Abel through Cain; no hunger, famine, hard labor, misery or pain; no slavery; and no vicious animals. Instead, this earth would have been a happy place—a peaceful, prosperous, free world!
“BUT—due to Adam and Eve’s wrong decision, this world witnessed murder when Cain killed his brother, Abel. It witnessed polygamy (Genesis 4:19); weapons made of bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22); more violence and murder (Genesis 4:23); and finally, grievous worldwide wickedness (Genesis 6:5–6, 11–13).”
God created Adam and Eve with the express purpose of bringing forth offspring. They were commanded to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). If Adam and Eve had shown obedience to God and rejected Satan, then their descendants–mankind–would not have been cut off from God and His Holy Spirit, as is generally the case today. The fact that mankind was cut off from God was God’s punishment for Adam and Eve’s disobedience–a direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s conduct. After they sinned, the tree of life was no longer accessible to them and in general, to mankind as a whole, and mankind was allowed, under the sway and deception of Satan, to create his own societies, which are ALL in opposition to God’s Way of Life.
Today, the entire world is under Satan’s rule. This includes ALL countries, including the United States of America, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, continental Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, including India, Russia, China, Japan and Korea. This means, no human government today is righteous in God’s eyes. This is one reason WHY true Christians are to come out of the “Babylon” of this world and its politics; to be separate; and not to touch or associate with or embrace or adopt or feed on the uncleanness of this world’s economic, military, educational or religious systems.
Focusing on Adam and Eve, this does not mean that they would have been changed to immortal beings immediately upon their partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. As explained above, eating from the tree of life symbolized receiving the Holy Spirit, which is a downpayment, an earnest, a guaranty for eternal life. But they still would have had to continue to live a godly way of life (as we all must do today), to PROVE to God that they were willing to live under His rule. They still would have had to develop godly righteous character, by continuously rejecting the wrong and accepting and living the right–as we all must do. Please read our Q&As [http://eternalgod.org/qa/7809 and http://eternalgod.org/qa/7837] on character development.
Beyond this, it is hard to say what else would have been different. The Bible does not dwell too much on this possibility, as the fact of the matter is that Adam and Eve DID eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and became thereby responsible for a world cut off from God.
Would Adam and Eve have stayed sinless? Would they have continued to reject eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil–that is, would they have been always obedient to God, without ever violating any of His commandments? If they had sinned, we would be safe to conclude that Jesus Christ would still have had to come to die for them and all of mankind, to make possible the gift of forgiveness and eternal life for man, as the wages of sin is eternal death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 6:23).
Since the Bible tells us that there is no man who does not sin, it is to be assumed that Adam and Eve would have slipped into sin from time to time, as we all do today. Nevertheless, the entire situation for them and their children and descendants–the “world”–would have been quite different. Assuming that mankind would have followed Adam and Eve’s good example, the world would not have ended up in total opposition and rebellion to God, as it is today. When we receive the Holy Spirit, after we have shown to God that we are willing to obey Him, we are basically on the same wavelength with God. We WANT to obey Him ever more perfectly. We do not WANT to sin. We do not WANT to live in abject defiance or total lack of interest in His Word.
Maybe Satan would have been replaced and dethroned at the time of Adam and Eve. Maybe God would have used Adam and Eve to rule this world, as He later used David to rule Israel. The circumstances might have been comparable with those which will be prevalent during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment period. At that time, Satan will be banned so that he cannot deceive the nations anymore. The world’s spiritual and mental condition will be very similar then, as it was at the time of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, before Satan tempted Eve to sin.
Still, as it is the case today for called-out Christians, mankind will have to prove to God during the Millennium and the Great White Throne judgment period that they will be willing to obey Him. Those who will be willing to repent and obey God and accept the Sacrifice of Christ will be given the Holy Spirit, but they will not, at that moment in time, be changed to immortality. Rather (as it is true for converted Christians today), they will have to live with the lead of the Holy Spirit within them for a certain amount of time to show God that they are willing to eat continuously from the tree of life, while rejecting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Based on the biblical description of what will happen in the future, when Satan is banned, we can deduct, to an extent, what would have happened to Adam and Eve and their children and descendants, IF they had obeyed God and eaten from the tree of life, while rejecting to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link