but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."Genesis 2:17(NASB)
God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life, and Adam became a living being created in the image and likeness of Almighty God Himself.
Adam was commissioned to rule over the beautiful earth as God's vice-regent, but responsibility accompanies privilege, and obedience to God's commands was all that was required of this greatly honoured man.
Adam was given free rein to eat of every single shrub and tree in that beautiful garden, including the fruit of the glorious tree of life, but there was one exception: "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
Yes, the penalty for disobedience was instant spiritual death and a slow, gradual, physical death. The price to gain experiential knowledge of good and evil brought with it a high price - the never-ending pain and distress of eternal separation from his gracious Creator God.
Man was the only part of God's creation that was made in His image and likeness, for he was endued with a mind to think, emotions to enjoy, and a freewill with which to make choices.
But God, Who knows the end from the beginning, knew that His finest piece of workmanship would rebel against His sovereign authority, and inflict upon himself eternal separation from his Creator. And so before the foundation of the world, in His grace and mercy, God purposed in His heart to send His only begotten Son to become the perfect Sacrifice for the sin of mankind so that whosoever believes on Him would not remain condemned and perish forever, but be redeemed by the blood of the spotless Lamb of God and receive the free gift life - eternal life - and life more abundantly.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You laid out these clear instructions in the Garden of Eden so that we could understand the end from the beginning. Thank You that the Lord Jesus Christ came to be the perfect sin-sacrifice for mankind, to die on the Cross as payment for Adam’s sin and the accumulated sins of humanity. Thank You that for believers, to live is Christ and to die is gain, because we will gain eternal life and joy without end with Him in heaven. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.