First of all, let’s read Genesis 2:9, 16-17 from the New King James Version, “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The TREE OF LIFE was also in the midst of the garden, and the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL…And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but 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.”  Now let’s read Genesis 3:22-24, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

We learn in the first three verses that God had put TWO TREES “in the midst of the garden.” The “tree of life” speaks to us, as the name implies, of LIFE. The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” speaks to us of DEATH, for Adam was told he would DIE if he ate of it. It would seem then (in regards to your first question) that it was NOT the tree of life, but rather the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that teaches us there was a “potential for evil.” God knew that if Adam ate of that tree, he would gain the “knowledge of good and EVIL.” This means Adam was created in a state of INNOCENCE, without the knowledge of good and evil, yet the very moment he ate of the forbidden tree (see Genesis 3:6) he lost his innocence and acquired a CONSCIENCE, which was an “inward voice” that would tell him whether he was doing “good or evil.” We see this truth confirmed in Romans 2:15, “Who show the work of the law written in their hearts, THEIR CONSCIENCE ALSO BEARING WITNESS, and between themselves their thoughts ACCUSING OR ELSE EXCUSING THEM.”

As to the “tree of life,” we don’t know if Adam (and his wife) had ever eaten of its fruit, for Scripture doesn’t tell us. They surely had “access to it,” but we simply can’t say with certainty if they partook of it. Some believe they did eat of it on a regular basis to “sustain their physical life,” which would imply that they might have died if they had not eaten of it. In this view God created this tree to make them “immortal,” yet they had to keep eating of it to live forever. Others dismiss this view and believe they would never had died if they had not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and thus they were immortal “without having to eat of the tree of life.” In this view they lost their “immortality” through the sin of disobeying God and eating of the forbidden tree. One thing seems perfectly clear from Genesis 3:22-24: If, after they fell and became sinners, they had eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have gained immortality, yet it would have been a miserable existence due to their sinful condition. Of course, this could NOT have taken place, for God had sentenced them to death, and since His Word can never fail He “sent him out of the garden of Eden” and “placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden…to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Before we close our meditation, the “tree of life” is also mentioned in Revelation 2:7 which says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to EAT FROM THE TREE OF LIFE, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” The “tree of life” in Genesis was in the middle of the Garden of Eden; the “tree of life” in Revelation is in the middle of Paradise, which is a place in heaven (see Revelation 22:2). The tree of life in Genesis could give one “immortality” (an unending “physical life”). The tree of life in Revelation could give one “eternal life” (an unending “spiritual life”). The tree of life in Genesis was a “literal tree” that could be eaten and digested. The tree of life in Revelation is a “symbolic tree” that speaks of “feeding on Christ, the source of eternal life, by faith.” You may recall Jesus’ words in John 6:35, 50-51, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…this is the bread which comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will LIVE FOREVER; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Lord Jesus was speaking to sinners who needed ETERNAL LIFE and He was teaching them that He would give His life for them (on the cross of Calvary) so they could “live forever.” He went on to say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have NO LIFE IN YOU. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood HAS ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who FEEDS ON ME WILL LIVE BECAUSE OF ME.” Jesus was NOT speaking of literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood (for that would be CANNIBALISM!), nor was He speaking of partaking of the Lord’s Supper; He was speaking of appropriating His death on the cross BY FAITH! To “eat His flesh” and to “drink His blood” is to BELIEVE ON HIM AS YOUR SAVIOR. And after we are “saved by faith” (see Ephesians 2:8), we continue to “feed on Christ” by having communion with Him. This is what we, as believers, will be doing forever in Paradise; we will be “eating from the tree of life”; that is, we will be having fellowship with Christ and thus enjoying eternal life in its fullness.  (435.1)  (DO)