Why did God put the forbidden fruit or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)
God created man to rule and to have dominion over the earth. If man is to rule, that means he is also mandated to make decisions. If decisions are to be made, then there should be choices or options. And if there are going to be choices or options, then the person who is supposed to make the decisions among the alternative choices must be a free being. So God created man as a free being.
To ensure that man is really a free being, he must have options. So God created the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an option that Adam could choose. If man was created without any alternate option as to whether to obey God or not to obey him, he would be considered as a determined being or an automatic being or a programmed entity with a defined and predetermined way of behaviour. But God seeks authentic, genuine and true worshipers (Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks – John4:23).
For instance, when you are very rich and you are seeking true love, you want to be sure whether the woman you have gone for really loves you or she loves you because of your wealth? So you usually lookout for some indicators or you put out some test to see if the woman loves you or she is just there for the money. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was like an indicator, a test of Adam and Eve’s love for God.
It is because God loves Adam that is why he warned him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God also told him what will happen if he does. God did not hide it from them but he told them out of love. God expected them to show love for him by obeying him instead of listening to the serpent or the devil. “If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15
When it comes to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we usually make the mistake of over concentrating on the tree and its fruits. But it would be trivial to think of it that way. The fruit in itself is irrelevant because the fruit was only there as a symbol. It represented something else which was sin or disobedience. At that time, there was nothing like lies, fornication, stealing, adultery, envy, murder, homosexuality, lesbianism, drunkenness, arrogance, orgies, greed, prostitution, pornography, idol-worshipping, witchcraft, cheating etc. And the tree of the knowledge of good and evil embodied all these evil deeds. So though all Adam and Eve did was disobey God by eating of the forbidden tree, it was like they had committed all these sins. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10). So their act of disobedience paved way for sin to enter the world.