A couple of conclusions can be drawn from Genesis 3. First, the death penalty that God pronounced upon Adam worked at more than one level. The sentence clearly involved more than the death of the body. The judgment of Genesis 3 weaves several concepts together. These include alienation from God, alienation between humans, the corruption of human moral nature, the disordering of the created world, and the introduction of suffering and hard labor to human experience. Second, all of these calamities began with the fall. None of them existed before that time.
God did not create human beings to suffer or die. Nothing in the Bible teaches that pain had any place in the world God made. God fashioned humanity, both male and female, as part of His good creation. He gave them His blessing. He put them in a place of shelter and provision. He understood and provided everything that was good for them.
In return, He required only one thing: that Adam, and later Eve, would not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. Why this restriction? Surely not because anything was wrong with the tree or its fruit! The Bible observes that, “the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Gen 3:6). No, the problem lay in the meaning of the eating. For Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree would signify that he was rejecting God’s judgment of the good and seizing the right to judge what was good (or bad) for himself. For Adam to seize this right could only mean that he saw the Creator as untrustworthy. It would constitute a declaration of independence from the true and living God.
God is the source of all life. Anything that lives derives its life from Him. To declare independence of the Creator is to separate one’s self from life.