The original mistake, also known as the original sin, is when humanity deviated from God’s divine instructions by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God specifically warned them not to eat from.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

For those unfamiliar with the story, God created the whole universe, including the earth and all its inhabitants (Genesis 1). God then blessed every creature, instructing everyone to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22, 1:28a). He gave humans an additional responsibility of taking care of the earth and all its inhabitants, maintaining the way of life that God put into place (Genesis 2:15). God created humans in his own image, giving them everything God has, including authority and responsibility over all creation (Genesis 1:27-28) and God saw that the arrangement of everything was good (Genesis 1:31). The one thing God forbade humanity from doing was to eat from a particular tree because of the disastrous consequences that would follow if they did (Genesis 2:17, 3:3).

For some indeterminate amount of time, humanity lived by faith and walked with God in the garden paradise created for their habitation. But then at some point a serpent tricked humanity into disobeying God’s instruction not to eat from that tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). Human flesh was tempted by the allure of the fruit that appeared good to eat and they believed at least in that moment that God had withheld something good from them. So they ate the fruit and immediately began suffering the divinely forewarned consequences of eating it. They became afraid and hid themselves (Genesis 3:10), which then resulted in them deflecting blame (Genesis 3:12-13), and life soon thereafter was filled with hardship and sorrow rather than joy and peace (Genesis 3:14-19).

Let’s now consider more closely what exactly lured humanity away from our original faith and caused us to become afraid and to lose our joy.

The Wayward Lure

The tree that God forbade humanity to eat from was the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17, 3:3). By some deceptive sorcery, the serpent caused humanity to question God’s motives (Genesis 3:1-5). Instead of continuing to faithfully adhere to God’s instructions, humanity entertained the possibility that God may have held something back from them that is worthwhile and desirable to have. More specifically, humanity believed God had withheld wisdom from them and that eating from the forbidden tree would give them the wisdom they believed they lacked; so they ate from it (Genesis 3:6).

Scripture tells us that wisdom consists in following God’s instructions (Ecclesiastes 12:13, Proverbs 8:33). In other words, wisdom is living by faith and humbly walking with God (Hebrews 10:38, Habakkuk 2:4). When God created humanity, he gave us the fullness of wisdom. We walked humbly with God and lived by faith in the goodness of the instructions God had given us. Then by distrusting God and eating from the tree we were divinely forewarned not to eat from, we acted contrary to the wisdom God gave us and thereby lost that wisdom (Genesis 3:6).

So the truth of the matter is that God did not withhold wisdom from us but rather wisdom consisted of trusting in God’s good judgment not to eat from that tree and instead to live by faith and enjoy the good and peaceful habitation God had created for us and for all the animals. By wrongly believing we lacked wisdom, we acted in such a way that caused us to lose the wisdom we already had rather than gain wisdom we thought we did not have. This is the cunning deception that caused the world to fall into disarray.

What is the way back to God?

The way to regain our lost wisdom begins by submitting our will to God (Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 8:33). We must repent (Matthew 3:2), which quite literally means to turn back, such that we stop living according to our own imaginations (Jeremiah 18:12, Genesis 6:5), according to the desires of the flesh (Romans 8:5;13, Galatians 5:16), or according to the deceptions of the world (Colossians 2:8) and instead live by faith in God’s instructions (John 15:10, Habakkuk 2:4). We are then born anew (John 3:3) and God forgets our past mistakes (Hebrews 8:12, Isaiah 43:25). It becomes as if we never made the mistake to begin with (Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 44:22). We resume living by faith and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8), fearlessly naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25).

Being reborn of God’s spirit and restored to God’s image (1 Peter 1:23), we also become a light unto the world, a beacon that inspires others to likewise return to God (Matthew 5:14-16). The most important thing is to yearn for God wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 22:37) and to look upon every creature as beloved by God (Matthew 10:29, Proverbs 12:10, Matthew 22:39). Let us all pray to regain our first love – our love for living humbly by faith and our joy for divine stewardship of the earth and of all its inhabitants (Genesis 2:15, Revelation 2:4-5;7, Luke 12:42-43, Matthew 6:10).

For a more detailed account of how to restore the earth, read Restoring the Garden Paradise Ideal.