God established Adam and Even in a relationship of love. However, for it to be real love, there had to be a choice to return it. Love cannot be forced otherwise it is no longer love and instead obligation. The same with us relating to God today. If that choice is manipulated or forced, we attempt to relate to God by what we do right while avoiding what we deem wrong instead of just being in love with God and trusting him.
When God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree, they seemed to have no problem following his instructions at first. When the serpent showed up, he mixed words to convince them to try to relate to God by their efforts and definitions. The tree presented this choice–relate to God by love and trust his definition of good and evil, or eat from the tree and attempt to do it by our own means.
I use to think I wouldn’t have made the same choice Adam and Eve did. Hindsight is 20/20 right? However, my choices to attempt to uphold “righteousness” by my efforts showed I was continuing to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. I was being fed a steady diet of “this is right and that is wrong.” Even today, we attempt to define what is right and wrong and impose that as the way to God instead of existing in that love relationship that shows others to Jesus. Did Adam and Eve eat from the tree to intentionally be evil? I don’t think this was the case. It seems they ate to know what good and evil was so they could avoid evil and uphold good to attempt to please God more. However, our ways of pleasing God never work.
Yes, Adam and Eve committed an offense and had to suffer the physical ramifications for that. Also they died spiritually when they chose their way over God’s. Today, we still try to relate to God as they did. While our sin has been paid for and we have been made alive spiritually, we still see the physical consequences of our “right” choices in ourselves and the world today.