You have heard it said that genuine love is only possible when genuine disobedience/hatred is a legitimate option, and that’s why God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This is a common answer, and satisfies many people. Look no further than Lee Strobel’s “Case for Faith“, where you’ll see a number of theologians drone on about this notion – without supplying any verses for support.
But in the new heavens and new earth where we possess new bodies with new hearts, there’s no mention of a new tree nor a new temptation. In fact, not only are we promised that we’ll never ever disobey or do anything that will jeopardize the eternal preservation of the saints, but we’re also promised that we’ll love God fully and completely (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; . And don’t skip those Isaiah passages).
Really? True, genuine love and obedience without a legitimate option to disobey or hate God?
Let me guess: we’re going to be new robots in this new heavens and new earth?
Somehow, I don’t think so.
The point is, the premise is false, and as we all know, false premises beget all sorts of false conclusions. There are no verses that explain how temptation is required in order for devotion to be sincere, or that God is not interested in making robots that have no choice but to love and obey. So at the very least, we should not say these things.
So why was the tree there? If the ability to love God is possible without a tree (ie, in the New Heavens), why do we need the tree in the garden? The Bible doesn’t explicitly say why, and we certainly don’t want to say that God caused or tempted Adam and Eve to sin (), so we say that He put it there in order to get the ball rolling on His sovereign plan of redemption. (There’s probably a more theologically correct way to express the idea, and for every precise way to say it, I’m sure a theologian somewhere will disagree and prefer to express it some other more precise way.)
But the fact that God put it there in the first place makes Him look like something of a bad guy. And we don’t like that, so we invent this other (unbiblical) notion of how He doesn’t want robots that have only two options: love and obey. Curious, then, that the greatest command for people is now to love God and obey Him – the very thing God allegedly didn’t want those ‘robots’ to do.
More to come…
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. (ESV)
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (ESV)
60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
8 Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
9 For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12 For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
22 The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the Lord;
in its time I will hasten it. (ESV)
17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress. (ESV)
22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord. (ESV)
24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. (ESV)
9 “For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples
to a pure speech,
that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord
and serve him with one accord.
10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
my worshipers, the daughter of my dispersed ones,
shall bring my offering.
11 “On that day you shall not be put to shame
because of the deeds by which you have rebelled against me;
for then I will remove from your midst
your proudly exultant ones,
and you shall no longer be haughty
in my holy mountain.
12 But I will leave in your midst
a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13 those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
and none shall make them afraid.”
14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord. (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (ESV)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (ESV)