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Are You Still Eating From That Tree?

two treesIn the Garden of Eden was the "tree of knowledge of good and evil. . . . And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat." Genesis 2:9-17. It was the will of God that Adam and Eve should not know evil. The knowledge of good had been freely given to them; but the knowledge of evil was withheld. Why God did not want man to have this knowledge is not known precisely, but it is safe to say He did it in love for His new creation. What is known for sure is, for what ever reason God intended, it turned out to be a great test, one which man failed. Now, as a result, man had inherent access to a form of knowledge, of which in the beginning God either withheld for a period of time, or that man should never acquire or have need of. What matters at this point is that man knew about evil, along with good. The tree of life was that nourishment that man required for life without the problems associated with the death process. With out free access to the tree of life man would die. God forbid, that He would allow mankind to perpetuate the vileness of what he had discovered, to live on without limitations; consequently, all men have to die. Where once free access was allowed to the tree of life now a more restricted way was ordained, a way of faith and belief. This at once appears to be an over simplistic method, but turns out to be a way that would be found by only a few. The aggregating problem turns out to be this new found knowledge of evil which had now incorporated itself into the life cycle of all mankind. Every decision and thought process now had multiple choices, and every conclusion was the result of numerous internal conflicts, of thought and reasoning, dealing with what is right and what is wrong. What had been, once upon a time, “second nature” so to speak, in knowing what the right thing to do ought to be, now became a challenge at every turn. Of course the whole ability to “reason” and make rational decisions became a sort of competition. Those who could explore this new ability and conquer the workings of the mind had a distinct advantage over his fellow man and learned that he could use this advantage to gain power over people and cause them to serve him. History has shown the extent to which men will go to gain an advantage over his brother through argumentation and “driving home a point.” That same history shows us the utter failure of the wisdom of this world to determine God’s will. From the very beginning knowing God’s will or being able to discern truth has been a mystery to those seeking the spiritual life. God has not cleverly disguised His desires on how man should seek and find Him. But, there has always been something that has caused man to miss being able to locate God and enter into fellowship with Him, that “something” is a knowledge that acts to trick or short circuit another kind of knowledge, that allows access to God. The knowledge of evil has provided man with innumerable approaches to any question. Without having the ability to instantly know the right thing to do, man now has to filter through vast amounts of information: good, bad, and indifferent, to come to a reasoned conclusion. Trying to find the right answer, in these days of “knowledge” and information overload, becomes, in many cases, an impossible task for the minds of men, and getting close is most often good enough. The product of the organized/institutional church and what has been birthed from it is the result of the continued application of the reasoning of man to achieve a kingdom for God, who has openly declared that His Kingdom is not of this world. Man’s true efforts are really the feeble attempts of reaching out, when shaken, to steady himself on the foundation of his own thoughts. These thoughts when finished gives him a stabilization or assurance that he understands life and the mind of God. God, through His love, has forbidden us to eat from the tree of life, thereby disallowing us to corrupt eternity with the sin of our most reasonable thoughts. God, the Great Shepard, in a way that limits us severely, is trying to corral His sheep into a pathway that is bordered on either side by the covers of His written Word, the Bible. Truth, as revealed in these pages, is that strait and narrow way, and there is no knowing God’s mind and will outside the confines of these walls. Man in his reasoning and by his own ability plants both feet firmly on shifting sand, and proudly proclaims his discovering of secret ways into the realm of the Almighty. What he has failed to discern is that it is a lie, an illusion, produced by eating from the wrong tree; he has failed to discern good from evil. The discernment he needs exist nowhere outside the Bible, where the corrupted thinking processes of mans mind delve into endless discussions of “what is truth?” The Puritans, among others, knew through the Bible, that understanding was enhanced by a separation from the world. The influence of the world is tremendous in our days and this separation is critical if Christians wish to have spiritual fellowship with God. The less we rely on our own reasonable thinking or wisdom, as prescribed by Scripture, and simply trust the things we read in faith the more we will become convinced that Scripture really is the Word of God (Jn. 7:17). The Puritans understood that they had to close the door to the tree of knowledge if persevering to the end was to be a Godly pursuit. Satan had to be cut off at every entrance to their mind. He could not be allowed to infiltrate their mental processes of decision making. Likewise, we at the end of the age, if we are to survive, must be able to discern from which tree we are eating and if we have allowed intelligence and worldly study to dictate the directions we take in our pursuit of the Holy. All of this has to be done by faith and trust in the One who directs us into this narrow path, and that restricts us to “necessary” contact with those outside the walls of faith. Prodding those of The Faith to walk worthy of their calling is the purpose of the Church. The Puritans had their faults. They thought, by legislation, they could force members to “walk worthy.” Of course legalism is not the solution to Holiness, it has to be a voluntary obedience to the One who loves us. Paul made this clear in Gal. 3:21b  “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” If God’s Law was not adequate to impart holiness, obviously man’s laws will fall way short. Their legalism was a way to try and quicken the process of holiness by forcing their followers into a legal structure, but this only served to short circuit God’s grace and true faith. All this was, in effect, eating from the wrong tree; man’s reasoning applied to missionary work. The idea is to walk in a narrow path and to purposely restrict oneself to the confines of truth, as outlined in the Bible. Through the understanding that comes from life in the narrow way we experience freedom and liberty that are the fruits of faith and trust. This life has to be pursued vigorously, by blocking out or “dying to” the elements related to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and living in the confines of the narrow way, all of your life long. This is not a bad thing, this is a good thing. Perseverance is made easier by disallowing worldly desires to be used to “stabilize” our life. Trying to reason out and solve problems by using the devises and advises of the world, or by a mixture of the world and truth, can only spell failure in the Kingdom of God. When our flesh tells us to grab something of the world in an effort to steady our self we our living a deluded Christian life. Faith, is not doing the things we declare to be harmless by clothing those things in “Christian” garb, or by using worldly methods, and then sanctifying it with a lot of prayer. We cannot or will not understand this as long as we are feeding from the evil tree, which is only promoting our own abilities to think and reason our way to godly thoughts and live a “religious” life.

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