Problems in Life Come From the Tree of Knowledge (the forbidden tree) vs. the Tree of Life
Someone has said, “If you can’t understand something, go back to the beginning, and you will start receiving revelation and finding answers.”
There Were Two Trees In the Garden
Our beginning was The Garden of Eden, where there were lots of trees, but only two of them were special enough to be named:
(1) The Tree of Life, which was free and available,
(2) The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was forbidden.
Soon after he ate, Adam feared God, with whom he had been in constant fellowship before, because he discovered he was naked. He immediately assumed that the problem was him – his flesh – his humanity.
The Lord asked him why he was fearful and hiding. He said it was because he was naked. Ask yourself: wasn’t he naked yesterday too? Sure he was. So what was the difference? The difference was Adam’s perception of who he was. Yesterday he saw himself through God’s eyes: he was the image of God. Today he saw himself through his own human eyes, and he saw he was naked.
Yesterday he saw what was right about him. Today he saw what was wrong about him. They approached the forbidden tree believing the lie of Satan, and they had a self-focused, narcissistic attitude: “I shall be . . .” (Gen 3:5). Yesterday their mindset was humility, today it was pride.
For 4,000 years man lived by The Tree of Knowledge. The law was later given to Moses, and it defined The Tree of Knowledge in every way — it defined everything that was good, and everything that was bad. Before the law was given, man was allowed to decide between what was good and bad – right and wrong. But this only led to a tremendous increase in sin, and sin focus. The last verse in Judges defines the thinking of man: “Everyone did what seemed right in his own eyes.”
The law was then established to define sin, and it defined it ad-infinitum. And Paul said the result was, “No one is righteous – no not one.”
We Are No Different Today
The fact is that today, we do exactly what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. We eat from (or today we might say that we consult) The Tree of Knowledge of Good vs. Bad in everything we do. Especially Christians live by an almost constant stream of thoughts about what is good or bad, or right or wrong. We live under thoughts of reward and punishment, and even the judgment of God.
Today we approach God with the same attitude Adam and Eve did. When we eat and live life by the wrong perception and false belief of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, we think everything has to do with us. We may not be naked, but we think our flesh is our problem.
God does not mean for us to live this way. The Tree of Knowledge was forbidden for mankind to eat from in the Garden, and it is still forbidden today. I can’t prove it in scripture, but I suspect that the ‘tree’ Jesus was crucified on, mentioned in Galatians 3, was The Tree of Knowledge. Jesus says he is the way, the truth and the life. The Tree of Life was made forbidden to mankind after the fall of man, when Adam and Eve left the Garden. But I believe it was re-instituted at the cross of Jesus.
The Tree of Knowledge and the Old Covenant
The Tree of Knowledge represents the Old Testament, and the old covenant of God. But the Tree of Life represents the New Testament, and the better, new covenant we have been given (Heb 11:39-40). The old covenant demanded from us, and could not produce what it demanded. The new covenant gives to us, and produces in us what it does not demand. The two are diametrically opposite.
The old covenant was founded on law that pointed out sin and made everyone guilty before God (Rom 3:19-20). The new covenant is founded upon justification by means of faith that allows access to all the grace of God and results in our righteousness (Rom 5:1-2, 5:17, II Cor 5:21).
The Tree of Life and the New Covenant
The new covenant is founded upon belief. The very first words out of Jesus’ mouth after 40 days in the wilderness with Satan were that we should repent – of all other beliefs – and believe the gospel (Mk 1:15). It was the most important thing on our Lord’s heart and mind. He couldn’t wait to start telling us about this new gospel covenant he was giving us. He said it must be preached in all the world before the end will come (Mk 24:14). It is so important that even angels will preach it from heaven to people on the earth during the end times (Rev 14:6).
The Tree of Knowledge, and the law coming from it, makes us look at ourselves – at our flesh – at what we do either right or wrong, good or bad.
The Tree of life causes us to look at God, and his Son and his finished work. This is what produces intimacy with God, whereby we live in his love and grace. All our flesh does is produces alienation from God, as Adam’s did, which causes us to live in doubt, unbelief and condemnation – and fear of judgment.
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden, and there are still two trees alive and well on the earth today. It’s our choice which one we eat from – or consult and live by each and every day.
The Results of A National Polling Service
A national polling service took a poll of Christians, and the way they live. What they discovered was that about 93-95% of them still live life under the control or influence of the Old Testament law.
Put in the terminology of this writing, this means that pushing 95% of all Christians still eat from forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad. Their focus is still on them and their flesh, and on doing right vs. doing wrong. It is still on good vs. bad. Everything in life to them is defined in terms of good vs. bad, and right vs. wrong. They live a life based on principles and precepts – on methodologies and formulas. They don’t live life based on the Person of God.
Now it is true that we should do good, and refrain from doing bad. But if this is our constant mental frame of reference, we are going to miss everything that God is trying to do in us and through us. Hebrews 7:16 says that the law is a law of a carnal commandment. This means it is directed to our flesh – not to our spirit.
We live in a contest between the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom of self. The concerns of most folks is how to have a better life, have more pleasure and possessions, and avoid any of the bad stuff. Everything in life seems to be defined in terms of their lives, their marriage, their families, their jobs, their free time, their. . . . This is living in the kingdom of self.
Matthew 6:33 says we should seek God’s Kingdom first, and his righteousness that is imputed to us because of Jesus. When we live here, then everything in life turns out good – or at least better than it would have otherwise (Rom 8:28). We reign in life with Christ when we live in grace and righteousness (Rom 5:17).
The Tree of Knowledge calls upon us to take a small step of good behavior that we can understand, control and accomplish. It doesn’t really require God’s help at all. But Paul says it keeps us in bondage because once we start living this way, we can’t stop. The Tree of Life causes us to live in belief and faith and trust in God that is impossible to understand.
We Are Not Called ‘Understanders.’ We Are ‘Believers.’
Jesus says that our ‘job’ or our ‘work’ is to believe (John 6:29).
Taking this step of faith seems hard, but after we take it, everything in life becomes easier. “The just shall live by faith” might be called the battle cry of the New Testament. We who are justified in Christ trust the finished work of Christ on the cross, and God even says we were crucified with him. We live by the faith of Christ (Gal 2:20).
Living the life of Christ in the New Testament opens us up to God like we never dreamed possible.