Whose Opinion Matters?
When I was in business school, I had to work a practicum project for a company outside of school. This project allowed me to travel to another state, meet with the owners, hear their desires, and create a deliverable that matched what they wanted. This project took a few months in total where another student and myself worked together determining assumptions, writing reports, and presenting it to the client.
In the end we created something the client said they wanted and needed, but our professor gave us a low grade on the project. Turns out that while we were focused on meeting the clients needs, we forgot to confer with our professor to allow him to have input in the process. This taught me an important lesson: always try to figure out whose opinions matter on the projects I am working.
Do We Know What God Wants From Us?
I was thinking about this today because I think we often make this mistake with God. We assume we know what He wants from us without conferring with Him in the process.
There Were Two Trees in the Garden
When God created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden, He placed in that garden two trees. We know about the one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which they were told not to eat from. It is interesting that while it was restricted, the tree was placed in the middle of the garden. It was almost like God wanted them to daily decide not to eat from that tree.
While God commanded them not to eat from that tree, that tree was available for them to eat from it. It was restricted but still a possibility.
Things changed once they ate from that tree. Immediately they realized they were naked. They felt guilty and separated themselves from God because they felt separate from Him. They knew what they did was wrong and tried to hide it from God.
God Banned Them From the Tree of Life
God, when declaring the consequences of their actions, says they were to be banished from the garden. And, He placed an angel with a flaming sword in front to completely ban them from coming back. His decision wasn’t so much punishment, but He wanted to keep them from now eating from the tree of life.
Before this, the tree of life was never banned from Adam and Eve, but now that they had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God knew they couldn’t now eat the fruit from the other tree. What was that about?
One Theory Why they Were Banned
The tree of knowledge of good and evil lets us know what is right and wrong. Instead of following what God told us to be right and wrong, Adam wanted to know for himself. We are held accountable for what we know. The more we know and don’t get right, the more wages of death we earn.
The reason I have heard why they needed to be separated from the tree of life after sinning was that the tree of life would make permanent the condition they were now in. One of the reasons this may be true is if the tree of life gave eternal life then there would not have been a way to reverse the effects of sin. Jesus was to come as a man and needed to die to conquer sin and provide a way back to God.
What Else May Be Going On?
While this may be true, I feel there is something else going on. First of all, the tree of life was a tree full of fruit. It wasn’t a magic pellet that with one bite you would be forever changed toward life. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil didn’t give us an immediate awareness of everything that is right and wrong. It opened their eyes; it gave them some knowledge; but the ultimate effect was they disobeyed God and brought in sin to their lives and our world.
Secondly, the tree of life is now in heaven. Once we get to heaven we would already have eternal life, what good would the fruit be there if that was all it did?
No, I think both trees gave either knowledge or life they same way taking vitamins add to your overall health. They are great boast to your system, but taking one pill doesn’t fix you for life.
Why the Two Trees Couldn’t Be Mixed
Why God didn’t want us to mix the tree of life with the knowledge of good and evil? By choosing the one tree, Adam and Eve valued knowledge over life. And, the ability to know right from wrong will keep us from the fruit of the tree of life. While life is not found through the knowledge of good and evil, it also true that life is blocked through the knowledge of good and evil.
Knowledge leads us to trust in our own abilities. Life comes from God. We need dependence on Him to find true life. However we still seem to want to grow in the fruit of knowledge forgetting that it was restricted. Most of us want to know what we are supposed to do. We want to grow in principles.
Structures separate us from life.
Jesus Wants to Give Us Life
In Genesis God blocked our access to the tree of life. But Jesus came to give us life, and that life comes by way of death. He desires to give us back the access to life.
In order for us to get that access back, Jesus needed to remove sin from us and redefined it for us. In the Old Testament sin was not keeping the law. We needed the fruit of knowledge to follow the law. Still even with all the knowledge, we couldn’t keep the law.
In the New Testament sin is anything not proceeding from faith. Life springs out of us from faith in the Holy Spirit, not from doing the right things. Righteous (being considered as without sin) comes by faith. The knowledge of good and evil is not needed. In fact it hinders us because God confounds the wise.
What Are We Trying to Produce?
What are we trying to produce in our lives? Are we striving toward right living or are we striving for life? Do we know which is which?
I started this post talking about my failure in business school. I had worked hard on what I thought was expected of me. In the end, I failed because I was wrong in that expectation. What expectations does God have on us? Does He want us to gain knowledge or flow in life?
What are your thoughts?
Kevin Shorter is the founder of this prayer-coach site and have served for several years in ministry and churches teaching on a variety of Biblical topics. Go to the contact page to request him to speak at your conferences and seminars.