Before sin slithered silently through the open gate, the Garden of Eden was perfect. Adam had his own flawless wife, a garden without blemish, and the responsibility to subdue and cultivate his spacious, well-watered, rural setting.
Adam possessed much. He worked a great job. He enjoyed a perfect marriage. He was at peace with all of creation—no tornadoes, no drought, no pollution, no death, no sickness, no tears. So what could be lacking?
From the beginning, the purity of the garden, the peace among the animals, his relationship with his wife—even Adam’s own life—were all conditioned, conditioned upon his faithfulness to God’s will. God’s will was not demanding, was it? There for the enjoyment of the couple was a small forest of fruit trees, that produced more fruit than probably could be consumed. Only one tree was forbidden and nothing in this single condition diminished Adam’s joy in any way.
But this condition represents something big because it points to the one thing Adam could not possess in the Garden of Eden—certainty.
The condition meant that Adam’s perfect marriage was delicate, the climate of the perfect garden climate was fragile, Adam’s future in the garden was uncertain, and even the duration of his now perfect and potentially eternal body was questionable. Every piece of his situation could be shattered by a single decision divergent from God’s will. And we know that in one single bite this fragility swept into the garden to steal away the innocence. As the jaw of a perfect man clamped down on the fruit that represented man’s disobedience, sin plunged the dagger in man’s idyllic world, and creation fell into a swirling chaos of pain, the beginning pains of the disorder that is the matrix in which we live and breathe.
But here is the amazing fact.
What distinguishes the pre-fall Adam in the perfect garden from me, a post-fall sinner redeemed by the blood of Christ, is as wide as the distinction between uncertainty and certainty. Certainty is God’s gift He gives His children in Christ. Sure, we lack the paradise now, but we do not lack the certainty. Those who have placed their faith in Christ are safe and certain in Christ’s protective power, immune from all the threats in life that could never shake us from eternal life with our Father (cf. John 10:22-30, Rom 8:38-39).
How can this be? How can a sinless man live with temporal uncertainty and a sinful man live with eternal certainty? Simple. Christ is our obedience. It was our uncertainty that was put to the test in the wilderness temptations, it was our certainty on the line when Christ was tempted in every way throughout his 33 year life. It was at every moment, in every thought, deed, and desire that our certainty was tested. Christ was without sin. He was the perfect Savior! And He could say the words that Adam never could—It is finished.
And because we are united to Christ, because he lived without sin, because he lived a life under the law to perfection, he becomes our certainty. The perfect life and death of Christ represents the completion of a perfect life—no sinful actions, no sinful thoughts, no sinful decisions. Once complete, a life of perfection brings with it perfect certainty.
Whatever spectacular dreams we entertain of Eden—and it certainly was a paradise beyond anything we can experience in this life—we possess in the gospel something foreign to Adam’s pre-fall experience. May we thank our Savior for this precious gift of eternal assurance, the one thing even a sinless and perfect garden could not promise.