Notes and Comments Vol. 1.
J. N. Darby.
The loss of innocence closed evidently the simple enjoyment of blessing in thanksgiving. The knowledge of good and evil being come in, God, in saying "the man is become as one of us," has declared that man, to be with God, must be with Him as suited to Himself - as knowing good and evil - in a word, in righteousness. One must, having knowledge of good and evil, be suited to what God is according to it; but there is a certain modification of this to be introduced, not the diminishing or lowering of required righteousness (dikaioma), so as to allow of any evil, for that is impossible - God cannot allow evil, He would not be holy if He did - but the taking the measure of the knowledge of good and evil, according to the real light and moral condition of the position in which he is - I do not mean as fallen in this position - but according to the moral elements of that position in which he is with God. If he is perfect to the level of that position he may righteously live there, and enjoy God there; man never was, but it was put before him - it is the law. If, as man, he loved God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself, he would righteously, as man, be happy with God, because he would meet the mind of God perfectly, as knowing good and evil in the position in which He was, according to the knowledge he had of God; He was perfect according to that - man was never so, because he had lusts - but the case was put. He never de facto could have been so, because he got the knowledge of good and evil in and by sin; unfallen Adam had not a bad conscience, but he had not a good one. The truth is, there was no such position of man, because he set up to be like God, knowing good and evil - he made the measure for himself in desire, and would have risen up to God - by robbery been equal with God; he broke through to be with God, and now he must be with Him or shut out. He cannot, of course, be independently equal, which would be absurd, but he must be morally fit, according to God's presence, or be excluded from it; there is no return to innocence, or to the tree of life on that ground.
The law, however, never took the ground of introducing into the presence of God, as He is, according to the absolute revelation of His nature - Christianity alone does that - it keeps man without, hiding God, "Thou hast said thou wouldst dwell in the thick darkness," and gives to man thus without, but from God Himself, a perfect rule of right for the creature as such, condemning withal all that entered into man's state contrary to this, and, further, putting man into relationship with God on the ground, however, of natural creation, but assumedly in the rest of it - a thing really impossible now that evil was entered, and meant to show this, but still, for this very purpose, established on this ground.
108 The perfect rule was, loving God with all the heart, and one's neighbour as oneself - sin and lust condemned, and the Sabbath added to all. But for a sinner, evidently this had no reality but to condemn, and it did not profess to bring to God; it gave a rule to a people outwardly already brought into relationship with God, but with a barrier, and a double veil, and a priesthood, but it gave the perfect rule of right and wrong to the creature, who had the sense of it according to his nature, in the creation; but he was a sinner, there could be no rule in respect of sin but condemning it, but the law contained, as Christ showed in extracting it, the perfect positive rule; in this respect the perfection of the law's bearing is most wonderful, only it was the opposite of bringing an unjust man to God.
God is unveiled - He was manifested in grace in Christ, but, through His death, the veil is rent, "He suffered, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God" - this accordingly is according to good and evil as known of God Himself; and as walking "in the light as he is in the light," we are to be fit for God as He is - "rejoice in hope of his glory" - joy in Him. Our estimate of good and evil is the divine one - what is fit for God's presence; in view of this Christ has made the expiation, He is sitting, in the full condition belonging to it, as Man at the right hand of God. It is an unspeakable blessing, but the necessary result, we may say, of the work being God's according to His counsel, and wrought by Christ; for where should Christ be, as to His Person, or in desert of His work? Then the Holy Ghost is come down thence, while He is there, according to infinite love, to bring us in spirit into it - to bring us through the rent veil into the Holiest of all.
Such is our knowledge of good and evil, and the fruit of Christ's work - the darkness passes, the true light now shines; our coming to God is "renewed according to his image in righteousness and true holiness." It is an immense blessing. There never was really any being with God on another ground than in the light as He is, as brought by grace, and power, out of the darkness into the light, knowing good and evil. He cannot - and have this knowledge - do anything short of Himself, i.e., what was fit for, worthy of Himself; so that, as when man was ruined, and got into darkness with the knowledge of good and evil, God only could deliver him, He delivered him necessarily for His own glory, according to His own nature.
109 He put man provisionally on another ground - of perfect creature blessing, but as a sinner apart from Himself, to bring out where he was in sin, and which therefore spoke of sin, and a positive curse - but this was by the bye for a special end.
The only thing is innocence or glory - innocence in human condition - earthly; glory in a heavenly, Angelic condition sustained. Hence I apprehend, morally speaking, angels could not be brought back because of the knowledge of good and evil in the light with God; so man, Hebrews 6; but - innocence lost, with the knowledge of good and evil - the work of God according to His own glory, and hence necessarily bringing into it - or, a law, provisionally showing the abstract moral perfection of a knowledge of good and evil in a creature, but actually, relatively founded on a prohibition of evil, which brought in, where really apprehended, the conviction of sin.