Doctrine


I was reading through Genesis 1-3 again this morning and the thought of what I preached on a couple of months ago came to me again – The tree of knowledge of good and evil. Many often view this as the “bad” tree or the tree of temptation. This often Imagemade clear in drawings and in many sermons, but was the tree of knowledge of good and evil actually evil in itself? To find Biblical answers, we need to search Scripture and let it interpret for us. From Scripture we know that God made everything in the Garden and we know on the 6th Day the Lord observed everything he had made, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen 1:31) Therefore, we must conclude from Scripture that the tree was also very good.

Why, then, did God tell Adam he would die if he ate of the tree? Does that mean that the tree was deadly? According to God, yes, it was obviously deadly to Adam but for the same reason giving my car keys to my 12 year old daughter would be deadly. There are many things in this world that were created for good, but not meant for everyone to handle. Fire keeps us warm and cooks our food making it safe to eat, but I tell my son not to handle the fire in the fireplace.  The tree was in the garden for a good reason, it just was not meant for Adam or Eve to eat or they would die.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is an interesting name of a tree. Good and evil are contrasts against each other and like right and wrong. In Genesis 1 and 2, it was God and God alone who guided Adam to what was good and what was not because Good reflected His nature and Evil reflected everything against His nature. It was God who judged what was the right Complement to Adam as a helper. It was God who judged what was good for Adam to eat and what was not. Adam and Eve were made in God’s image – they were not begotten. This means that they were created to represent His image, but they were not in nature (by birth) his image. Therefore, they needed to follow Him and obey Him to remain in His image. They could not judge for themselves what God is or isn’t. As long as they remained solely devout to Him and His will, they would remain in His image – thus live in Him

As I said before, Adam and Eve did not need to Judge. Everything they needed to know as to what was right and wrong, good and evil, the Lord their God would reveal to them. When Satan tempted them, it was a temptation to break away from relying on God alone and make their own judgment as to what is good and evil. He asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1) This was not only asked to make her (and Adam who was with her) to question their understanding of what God said, but quietly lead them to question God’s judgment as well. After Eve gave a careless response to the question, took advantage of her lapse and said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The whole point of Satan’s deception was to destroy God’s plan of creating a people for his own. Adam and Eve were already “like God” as they were created in His image but they did not possess the perfect righteous judgment of what was good and evil – of that, they needed to completely rely on God’s guidance.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not evil in itself but it was not meant for man to take up and judge for themselves. The judgment seat belongs to God alone. The “victory” Satan had in this scene was to convince Eve and eventually Adam to separate themselves from God and judge good and evil by their own eyes. The death God spoke of when telling Adam that he would die the day he ate of the tree was the spiritual death – the loss of the life breathed in him in his creation, not the physical death that Satan deceived them into thinking and Adam seeing no evidence of Eve experiencing. They actually died the minute they judged with their own eyes God was a liar and Satan was truth.

The moment they died spiritually, they began to make mistake after mistake in judgement -they hid perceiving that God would not see them, that God would not know anything was wrong. They judged the body God created for them was shameful, they judged they could get away from their sin by blaming the other. They made lapse after lapse in judgment and that continues today. The world is constantly judging good and evil and no one can seem to agree with anyone totally. This just proves without doubt that God was right in forbidding Adam from eating from that tree and losing his trust in God’s perfect judgment. Today God’s people struggle daily with Satan’s deception through the media, through other people, and through false teachers sneaking in the church. They all ask the same question Satan did in the garden, “Did God actually say…” This is why God has been ever gracious to present us with His image again through the Holy Bible. Even Satan knows what is in the Bible and he tries to twist it through his children who present themselves as Holy, but we who have Christ in us should always do what Adam and Eve failed to do – seek God’s righteous guidance. If we really want to know what God judges right, we only need to pray and seek his truth. This will not only defend us from Satan’s attacks, but it will also let us drink deep in the fountain of life. Jesus tells us in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” We must always return to the God and seek His counsel in all things or we will fall victim to the deception of Satan also.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)

During the last two Sunday evening Bible classes, we have been studying the much neglected doctrine of prayer. One important thing mentioned in our study was that we should pray according to God’s will. The question arose as to how exactly do we pray according to God’s will. There are two parts of God’s will, the revealed will and the secret will. For example, we can pray according to God’s revealed will by not praying for things he specifically forbids in Scripture or praying for something that would cause others to stumble. But the questions of praying according to God’s will mostly focused on His secret will as we do not know what his plans for us tomorrow are.

Praying

To this, I suggested that we pray for wisdom in dealing with whatever tomorrow brings and, should we suffer for Christ, to give us patience and prolong our faith. What is more precious than the comfort of a child in a loving Father’s arms? Christ prayed that the “bitter cup” be removed from him three times (Matthew 26:29-44) but always ended with “Nevertheless, not as I will, but you will” (ESV). As God holds the future, how will he be using us? This is an exciting thought but, at the same time, fearsome. Will we be prepared when the time comes? Will we be awake and prepared with oil for our lamps, or will we be caught off-guard as in the parable of the 10 virgins (Matt 25). This should be foremost in all our prayers, that our hands never grow idle and our preparation never cease.