'Why?' is a good question and a dangerous question. Be sure to ask yourself why you are asking 'Why?' On the one side it's true that it opens windows, deepens understanding and forearms us against the wiles of evil, enabling us to internalise truth and engage our mind as a support to our will so that we can better succeed in the cultivation of an obedient life. But the danger with this question is that rather than coming from a place of genuine curiosity it is coming from a desire to avoid responsibility: the motivation of our lower self-centred nature. Or it may be planted there by an evil spirit who was once enticed into asking the same question themselves and then lost their place in heaven as a result. That sounds ridiculous when you put it that way, clearly it was not some accidental wobbling mistake. The question may have
merely been the starting point or the ending point of this journey to perdition by the once-was angel.
So beware the way you ask this question because that journey from the feeling of the question to the forming of the question in your mind to the actual verbalisation of the question can invoke the grieving of the Holy Spirit at any stage. Do not be surprised, now that you know about this, to find that the Spirit is sometimes 'at your elbow' immediately and urging you to not even allow the feeling of certain kinds of questions at certain moments. The reason of course is that God has a long memory and remembers that day, the hour and the very moment when the serpent placed the question in Eve's mind.
Howard Hendricks says, regarding this shirking instinct, that we should, 'Learn to do things that failures don't like to do.' No one likes to do them anyway, it's just that in the end these things will only be done because someone loves God and their neighbour and does them out of obedience: naieve obedience or informed and persuaded obedience (that has asked 'Why?'), either way it's obedience—curse-breaking, power-unleashing obedience.
The tree in the garden was one of those moments. There was no obvious reason not to eat the fruit other than out of obedient love for God. 'Why will we die?' could have been an excellent question for Adam and Eve to put to God, and it might have made a difference to the outcome of the temptation. We can only speculate, perhaps they had already asked.
We see the same in human relationships: the child asks 'Why?' and a golden forearming/forewarning moment is won or lost forever; the employee asks 'Why?' and an excellent forearming/forewarning opportunity is won or lost forever. The psalms are full of great agonies and blessings that came from someone approaching God with such questions.
There is much wisdom in not doing something unless you can see a good reason for it, but that can also be a trap for a proud mind—an intelligence trap is the term for it. This is where the luminous-minded undividual, who has been the bane of teachers and parents for years, begins to swagger their way through life like a prize fighter, shooting down one opponent after another. As the years go by they find their niche in a research lab, a hospital or as a lecturer at a university. Here they are able to contribute quite significantly, but along with their settled state there will be a bunch of dumb ideas fiercely defended by the barbed wire and machine guns of their steel-trap of a mind. You can't help suspecting that they know intuitively that these are ridiculous but enjoy having them
there as bait for unwary individuals, because argumentation is now a favourite hobby. But like any hobby it can feed something deeply selfish and harden their heart. The soldiers playing dice at the foot of the cross were enjoying a gambling hobby and the added benefit of a powerful negative emotion called 'apathy', which sheilded them from the horror of what they were doing.
So, what was once a beautiful mind in our lab/uni inhabitant, has become skeptical in the full lifestyle sense of the word. But 'skepticism has been described as 'the father of ignorance', and in it's responsible fear of 'simple obedience' misses a deep truth and falls from an intelligence trap into another much deeper and deadlier trap where witticisms are no longer a joke.
For … one who has never learned to do something out of simple—what might be dismissed as 'naïve'—respect and love for another (eg:their parents or their wife), and will only ever do something because they personally can see a good reason to do it, invariably finds that those good reasons revolve around their own ego. The concept of temptation itself is a nonsense term in that kind of universe. Unless of course we are talking about what some regard as the temptation to be overawed by superstitious fears about God and heaven and hell. What was once called a temptation is laughed at since temptation is synonomous with this feeling that 'I'm entitled to this, this perfectly
normal thing, so get the hell out of my way and let me have it.'
Ravi Zacharias tells of a famous journalist (now a believer) who explains that he was brought up in English academic society to see this world as nothing more than 'nature red in tooth and claw' and anyone who thought otherwise was a victim of weak and fearful superstitions—never able to grow up and know the real joy of manhood in a beautiful, wild and free universe. 'Anthropomorphic religions reveal man at his weakest, not his best,' says Joseph Ratner in his introduction to The Philosophy of Spinoza. 'Man's true granduer is shown when he transcends by his own power of mind his insistent human desires. He can then stand free before the Almighty (aka 'God' as a synonym for nature). He may tremble but he is not afraid. For his strength of soul is grounded not in the external world but in his own ideal.'
The English journalist was a product of such thinking and early one morning, whilst bathing in a river in India, he noticed a naked woman bathing further upstream. Filled with all these feelings of being a free spirit, alone in the universe, he plunged his way through the water over to her to see what fun might be had, but as she turned he realised that half her face was eaten away by leprosy. In an instant his supposedly mature, ethical and honest philosophy was exposed as a sham.
George MacDonald says, 'The only door out of the dungeon of self is to love thy neighbour.' He also says, 'Don't talk to me about what you believe or don't believe. Ask yourself this question: “What have I done or not done out of obedience to God in the last twenty-four hours.” What we believe is important, but you can't help wondering whether there's something devious at work when we behave as if our actual stated philosophy or theology is in the end going to be what matters most of all.