This question emanates from an interpretation coming from Genesis 3:22 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:” (KJV; KJ 2000;AKJ; ASV;Darby; Webster)
What did the narrative in the garden of Eden actually convey? What was the temptation that Adam and Eve risked to die for ? Was it to become “God” per se or be like that “specific God in Genesis”? What does it really mean to become “like God”, “as one of Us” ? And how did “eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” make one to be “God”? And why was having “knowledge of good and evil” forbidden when, after their experiential sin, God gave Moses, through a mediator, “knowledge of what is good and evil” embodied in the “Decalogue” ?
To start with, one has to know what “God” is, before one understands what it is to be “like God”, whether a specific God or not. Going back to the original word gives us a rational perspective.
Using the Touch Bible (free download), touch on this English word translated as “God” to see that it comes from the O.T. Hebrew word “Elohim” and from the N.T. Greek word “Theos“. Using the Strong’s Concordance, Elohim (O.T) in general refers specifically to YHVH Elohim or Lord God (as in Gen 2:4 “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”), and “Theos” (N.T.) to Father God, in contrast to Lord as “Kyrios” (as in Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ“).
Also, in Strong’s Concordance, the word “elohim” is a general term that may refer to the Supreme God, but also to angels, man (magistrates, judges, kings). We all know that Lucifer/Devil/Satan is “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), but also other gods and goddesses (1 Sam 5:7; 1 Kgs 11:33; 18:24; 1 Kgs 11:5). Moreover, even Jesus confirmed and defined that humans are “you are gods” (John 10:34; Ps 82:6). Polytheism is a reality. For an extensive exposition of the word, see also,
To be specific as to what particular elohim is referred to, the word “YHVH Elohim“, “Lord God” was used to identify the Supreme God, the God where worship is due and to no other gods, as in Shema Doctrine (Deut 6:4). Even with polytheism being true, that there are many gods, this YHVH Elohim is above all gods (Ex.15:11;Ps135:5) and the only one commanded to be worshipped.
This particular YHVH Elohim was the Creator God as in Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth“. But notice further delineation of the identity of this Creator in John1:1https://www.biblehub.com/john/1-1.htm” In the beginning was the Word… All things were made by him (Creator God)…” And in v-14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us“… In v-16 specifically identified as “Jesus Christ“.
Clearly, this YHVH Elohim in Genesis, the Creator of all, the Word according to John, had incarnated into man as Jesus Christ. It is most important to understand who Jesus was at creation. He was the “Supreme Deity” in Genesis, not the Father God.
So, in answer to the question in the narrative at the garden of Eden, Adam was not actually aspiring to be “god” per se since as a human being he was already classified by Jesus Christ as “god” (John 10:34; Ps 82:6). Instead, Adam wanted to be like that “specific God in Genesis”, the YHVH ELOHIM. Yes, to be “like him/Christ”.
Now, to become or how to be “like YHVH ELOHIM/Jesus” has been explained in the Gospels of the New Testament. And, specifically by the Spirit through the writings of Paul, that the way to “be like him” was not “by our own works” but through the process that Jesus/incarnate YHVH has gone through, on faith by grace as a gift of God and as an expression of love (John 3:16); so that “no one can boast”.
Notice, Rom 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Jesus is the “firstborn of many brethren” and we are in the process (of being) “to be conformed to the image of (him)”.
Notice also, that to find completion for this process of “conformation” the following had to materialize:
1. A template, “temple not made by hands” (Acts 7:48), i.e., ” from above”(John 8:23) had to come as prophesied. Meaning YHVH ELOHIM has to incarnate into Jesus, so the Father God through the Spirit (John 1:32; Matt. 3:17) can dwell in this man-Jesus, as a precursor for “the elect”.
2. Man-Jesus then has to die as a substitution to reconcile us to Father God.
3. Man-Jesus then has to be “born again by resurrection …be pre-eminent (Col 1:18) as our Brother (Heb 2:11), a precursor, as we will also be born again by resurrection from the dead (I Pet. 1:3). Notice, that while we are considered “born again”, the fulfillment of this is actually after resurrection “from the dead”. For those who are alive “their physical bodies will change in a twinkling of an eye” at Jesus’ return.
4. He has to go back to his Father so the Spirit can be sent to us(John 16:7; 14:26; Luke 24:49). The Spirit will not come into us unless the resurrected Christ went to the heavens.
5. At Pentecost, the Spirit was given (Jn 14:26, 15:26; Lk 24:49; Acts 1:5). And John said (the spirit of Christ is) “coming into the flesh”(IJohn 4:3; II John 1:7, NIV,ESV,NASB,NB,Darby,Young). This Spirit is a token sign for us to be identified as “firstfruits” (I Cor. 15:20-23 ) in the same way that Abraham/Israel was identified as His by the sign of “circumcision”(Gen 17:11;. As Israel was “deemed clean by circumcision” we are with this spirit will be “clean” i.e., circumcised in our hearts (Deut 30:6; Rom. 2:29) . This is the fulfillment of the prophecy that corrects the deficiency in the Old Covenant, i.e. the weakness of them, humans. On our own, we can not do it because “the flesh” is weak; it has to be by man-Jesus/2nd Adam, not 1st Adam, (Matt 26:41-42 “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done”; also, Mk 14:38).
Paul said in Heb 8:8 “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: v-9 because they continued not in my covenant. V-10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” The Ten Commandments written in stones as “hardened hearts”, eyes blind and ears deaf”, now with the Spirit of God in the ” fleshly tables of our heart”(II Cor. 3:3)will see and hear the truth and the wisdom to choose “good from evil”
6. This Spirit sanctifies us and is the power that we can use, as Jesus had used it, to overcome evil and have wisdom to choose good from evil.
This is how to have ” knowledge of good and evil”, received by us, not by our works as in “ourselves eating the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil”. Adam & Eve tried mistakenly to get this “by works” and on their own; that is why the fruit was forbidden to eat. It was not for the 1st Adam to do but the 2nd Adam, man-Jesus to do. It is a gift of God by grace as an expression of love for us (John 15:13).
7. With power of the Spirit, we can now be transformed and “conformed” into the ” image of his Son”( Rom 8:29 ). We will “like him”, not the same, but distinct from him yet “one”, like Jesus the Son of God being “one” with his Father so that all of us will be “one”, as the body that composed ” the God-kingdom”.
This will happen as Jesus in Heb 12:2 is the author and finisher of our faith.
In summary, Adam/mankind will be “like him” (not just other gods like angels, but specifically “like” YHVH ELOHIM/Jesus) not by their own works as in “eating the forbidden fruit” but has to be given by grace as a gift through the “sacrificial Passover/Christ”, whose death for the sin of mankind is an expression of love, to reconcile us to Father God. The “knowledge of good and evil” embodied in the tables of stone (Ten Commandments) and given to “hardened hearts, with eyes that are blind and ears deaf”, flesh being weak (spiritually) has to be written in the “fleshly tables of our hearts and mind” by the Spirit. And, the “fruit” or “tool” that will empower us is the Spirit to be given to us ( now here in us since Pentecost) to guide us to truth and enable us with the power to choose and do “good instead of evil”. “Eating or taking in the fruit” is akin to the “Spirit being taken in or dwelling in us/flesh”. As “flesh-Adam” eat the fruit, so will we, who are still “flesh-composed”, be “dwelled in” by this Spirit, which is Jesus Christ. Subsequently, we will all be changed into “immortal bodies” at Jesus’ 2nd coming, as in “we will be like him as we we will see him as he is”(I John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”).
This, in essence, is the narrative conveyed in the garden of Eden. What an awesome “destiny of man”.
11/18/14: original answer given at