Reading: Genesis 3:23-24
Mortality in the spiritual realm is all around us. The decline in spiritual virtues and the deadly tendency of the flesh continually bring before us the wretchedness of this life, and with Paul we cry out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
Redeemed by the grace of God and made a new creature in Christ, and having become “like God,” Adam knew that life was restored to his soul. However, he was acutely aware of death in the body. The Lord had made it very clear that “change and decay” was going to be his lot in life. Holding on to the promise of a Redeemer for his soul he realizes that his body is still in the grip of death.
The temptation therefore to “put forth his hand and eat of the tree of life” was very real for Adam as it would be for each of us if we had easy access to it. It seems Adam was reluctant to leave the garden; God had to “drive” (verse 23) him out because he did not go when he was “sent” out (verse 22). The Tree of Life was now the forbidden fruit in order that they might feel the hopelessness of their condition apart from the promise of the Saviour. If Adam had eaten of the Tree of Life prior to the fall, he would have secured immortality in that perfect state. But, perhaps, if he had eaten of the Tree of Life after the fall and in the misery of his corruptible body, he would have secured the immortality of misery in the body of death. Or, perhaps the devil would have used it, as he had used the other tree, as a prop for temptation to pursue the Covenant of Works. In any case it was an act of mercy that God drove him out preserving him from further disappointment.
The tree of life is reserved for those who overcome the thorns and thistles of life (Revelation 2:7). Lord, give me faith to see that one day the body will be glorified and united forever with a perfect soul. Help me to recline on Him who has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).
“Complete redemption places man beyond the possibility of death, either physical or spiritual” W. G. T. Shedd (Dogmatic Theology, p. 541)