After Adam and Eve sinned Gen 2:16,17; Gen 3:6, eating from the tree of life would have resulted in eternal physical life Gen 3:22 but in an unrighteousness state (separated from the fellowship of God 2 Co 6:14 because of sin Ro 6:23; If this condition is not changed, the result will be permanent separation Rev 21:8—the second death is eternal 2 Th 1:8,9; Mt 25:46 spiritual death), therefore God banished the couple from the Garden to prevent them from partaking of the tree of life Gen 3:23,24.
Let’s examine in depth the process of spiritual death from its inception.
17 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.” Gen 2:17
Adam did not die physically when he ate from this tree, for he lived to be 930 years old Gen 5:5. But, God said when man ate from the tree he would die. Therefore, God had to be speaking of spiritual death. What is spiritual death?
Separation from the life of God.
God originally talked to Adam. He told Adam to name the animals Gen 2:19, gave rules to follow Gen 2:17, and Adam talked with God Gen 2:23. After sinning the couple felt shame Gen 2:25; Gen 3:7, guilt Gen 3:12,13 and fear Gen 3:10.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Gen 3:8
24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Gen 3:24
But more importantly than the physical separation from the Garden was the spiritual separation because of man’s sin. When God breathed into Adam, he breathed in the breath of life (spiritual life). With the rest of His creation, God did not breath out His image but commanded creation by speaking Gen 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24.
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. Gen 2:19
7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Gen 2:7
Both animals and man were created out of the ground (physical life) but since God desired man to be made in His likeness, he was created in God’s image Gen 1:27. God breathed His image into man. This breath was the unsealed (meaning it was not permanent as is the New Testament Gospel sealing Eph 1:13,14) Holy Spirit, giving man the ability to communicate with God, which animals lack. Man has a body, soul and spirit whereas animals only have a body and soul. (For a more in depth study of the “Image of God” click on link).
When Adam sinned the spirit of God which was breathed into him to communicate with him left because of unrighteousness and did not return until Jesus gave us His righteousness through His sacrifice.
Jesus “My, God, my God why have you forsaken (abandoned) me.” Jesus died bodily but died spiritually also, which meant he was separated from the Godhead. My God = Father; My God = Holy Spirit. Jesus gave up His spirit (physical death Jas 2:26).
26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Jas 2:26