Most people do not realize that human existence isn’t just some—but all of the following:
- an experiment
- an experience
- an exhibition
- and an exercise
It is an experiment of which our omniscient God already knows the outcome. However, we (humans) do not know everything. Therefore, God allows us to discover things and learn through the following means:
- our senses
- the dynamic relationship between cause and effect
- trial and error
The whole scientific method (which is our method of acquiring new knowledge; new to us) is predicated on all of these.
All acquirable knowledge begins with a question. By nature, we have already started to imagine possible answers from the moment we posed a question. These possible answers are called “hypotheses,” which can only be tested through experimentation. God knows all. Therefore, He does not need to experiment. Human beings, however, are deficient in knowledge despite being relatively intelligent life forms. That is why we must add to our knowledge by testing and observing effects.
God is the pinnacle of power and wisdom, and whether we want to admit it or not, we all aspire to be like Him. Any being we would dare consider a god must have superior intelligence and ability to ours. Furthermore, God (and there is indeed only one god) must have access to all levels of knowledge.
The experiment we call “life” is intended for us—to see for ourselves—the cause and effect relationship of our obedience or disobedience to God. The effects can ripple from an individual to a societal level. Liars lose trust. Adulterers destroy families. Selfish partners take advantage of and hurt each other. Disobedient children dishonor their parents and proliferate rebellion; after all, what offspring of rebellious children will ever learn obedience? Those who are disobedient and rebellious pass on those traits. Also, those who sin with reckless abandon receive in themselves the penalties of their sins. For instance, sexually immoral people perpetuate STD’s and STI’s. With a long enough life and frequent indulgence, it would never be a matter of if, but of when they would catch and spread something unpleasant. While there are many cures and treatments for common sexually transmitted illnesses, the fact remains that fornicators share in the iniquity of all those who glorify their flesh.
This life is an experience. God placed so many wonders on earth for us to see and enjoy. Through the faculties of our senses, we can appreciate the visuals, auditory stimuli, tastes, odors, and sensations of the world, and yet, some pleasures should only be experienced under the right conditions.
For instance, sex was made to be pleasurable but is technically only reserved for married couples. We can get into the debate of what marriage entails some other time, but for now, suffice it to say God never changes, and His word endures forever (1 Peter 1:25). Therefore, His definition of marriage is not based on what year we live in and never will be, but I digress. Those who desire sex outside of God’s definition of marriage are soul harmers, heart breakers, people users, and glorifiers of the flesh which is headed for the grave—and of lust—but they do not glorify love. Sex within a marriage, however, brings glory to God, for He created it for both the enjoyment of marriage and procreation.
Although our existence can be quite an enjoyable experience, it is also an exercise and an exhibition. It’s an exercise in self-control, the acquisition of virtues, and in learning how to balance morality with self-satisfaction. There is not a single type of pleasure God forbids us from enjoying under the right conditions. It’s not a bad thing to delight one’s self in something, because God wants us to be happy. Therefore, finding pleasure isn’t the sinful thing; disobeying God’s law is.
There are ways in which we can please ourselves that displease God. Scripture says, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). We (human beings) will often feed our selfish desires and rationalize our sins. “It’s about time I did something good for me. I deserve to feel good, and it felt right”. Hopefully, this sounds familiar if we’re real with ourselves. This sort of thinking is dangerous as God ultimately visits His judgment upon people in the fullness of His time. In other words, nations and people are eventually made examples of, and their fate is exhibited to others.
God knows all things but still allows everything to run its course. Why He would do such a thing makes sense might only make sense when we come to grips with the way we (as human beings) process things. To help us better understand why God allows things to happen and then judges afterward, please follow this simple illustration:
Imagine you knew a police officer who seemed to know the future. The extent of his clairvoyance was unknown. One day, you were walking down the street with him, and he suddenly burst ahead of you at full sprint. Moments later, he tackled and then arrested a seemingly innocent pedestrian who began to cry out over the apparent injustice. The officer’s reason for this arrest was that two and a half years from now, the individual he had tackled was going to kill five people; therefore, he had just thwarted that individual’s plans. As someone without that officer’s level of foresight, you’d probably think he was insane and utterly unfair because he hadn’t even given the person a chance to exercise his free will to make a choice one way or another! Perhaps two and a half years from now, that person would not have carried out the crime at all. Who knows?
God knows all things with absolute precision, but (because of our limits), we can only understand His decisions when we comprehend why He made them. We always understand after the event that (from our vantage point) prompted His decision. So going back to the illustration, the only way we would appreciate the officer’s actions would be if they had followed the crime.
Our understanding will always be an immeasurably giant step behind God’s own. Yet many foolishly think they would do better as God. If all the rulers of this world cannot bring a lasting, righteous, and orderly culture to the world, not one person can ever take God’s place. All lives are on display for us to see how God blesses those who follow Him and punishes those who don’t; this is the exhibition. Now we also know that bad things seem to happen to good people. Indeed God works all things out for our good so that He can perfect the work Here began in us and so we can be conformed ever more to His image; for who can learn hope and perseverance without hardship? Who can understand the value of joy without sorrow or learn patience if every desire is instantly gratified?
Throughout history, God has demonstrated His consistency in rewarding righteousness and punishing iniquity. For instance, He often blessed the ancient Israelites when they practiced righteousness and disciplined them whenever they forsook Him and practiced all manner of wickedness, namely idolatry (a major gateway sin). Those blessings and punishments weren’t always tangible. One can be wealthy and cursed or lavishly blessed yet poor financially. Disclaimer: I don’t subscribe to prosperity gospels nor teach such false doctrines. Not every blessed individual is going to be wealthy, and if wealth were the only blessing I knew, I would be a lover of money. Money’s a great resource to have, but it’s not more valuable than a soul.
Historically, God has destroyed nations and cities like Sodom and Gomorrah (where not even ten righteous souls could be found)! He punished them only when the “fullness of their iniquity” had been reached so that none could rightly say He had not given them chances. His judgment upon them was displayed to the world so we could understand the right and wrong ways to live.
God’s plan to gradually perfect humankind was 100% contingent upon Adam eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He does not want anyone to perish, but we must choose Him as our LORD and Savior. We must choose Him over sin. Once we’re born, it doesn’t matter if we asked to exist or not. We’re here, and immediately following our birth, we are immersed in the exchange and increase of our Knowledge of good and evil! To become more like our Heavenly Father, we have to align our understanding of good and evil with God’s.
Our reality is easier to grasp when we compare it to, so let’s analogize it to a virtual “world” of our design. Imagine a virtual reality game or a level in such a game that can only begin when two characters have eaten out of a mysterious and forbidden bowl. Knowing that our characters have to eat out of that bowl for them to progress to the next level, we as the world makers have to place this essential object in an accessible location similar to how God put the Tree of Knowledge in the garden. He could have simply not created it, but everything He made serves a function. With that said, the accessibility of the tree of Knowledge made it possible to initiate our process of cognitive growth and spiritual development.
God knows all; therefore, He doesn’t need to learn, and He cannot be taught! It’s hard to fathom that notion, but if knowledge is a form of power, one who knows more can be viewed as more powerful. Ultimately, whoever knows the most must be unteachable because that individual has access to all information. Furthermore, that someone has to be God. Knowing all things already gives our LORD a supreme advantage over all other beings, and this is before we even consider His might (which is the spiritual and or physical manifestation of His power).
To learn, we must often make imperfect decisions. Acquiring new knowledge and gaining experience occur through trial and error. Adam (who represented all of humanity) had to learn the Knowledge of Good and Evil to become more like God, but in the process, He had to fall and mess up somewhere.
The only way for anyone to avoid making a single mistake in life is for that person to know the best ways to navigate and respond to every situation. But only God can know these things! If we are in a constant state of becoming more like God in every way, we obviously cannot already be like Him in every way. Additionally, we only learn what we do not already know. Therefore, in the process of becoming more righteous, we must rely on God’s wisdom.
He made humankind after His likeness, and He wants to conform us (or further mold us) to His image. He will get the glory and honor forever because we need Him. Had we been made self-sufficient, we could boast in our ability, but God didn’t make us this way. Therefore, those who trust the LORD will gladly boast in Him.
Thank you for your master plan Oh LORD, our God. Thank you for setting up the tree of Knowledge so that we could commence the lessons in righteousness and be better citizens of your Kingdom, which is to come.