God placed two very significant trees in the garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. We are still given the choice of which tree to eat from, and as children of Adam, we naturally want to eat from the wrong tree, but Jesus came to change all of that by making us a new creation and allowing us to eat from the tree of life.
And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9) … And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband,who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:4-7)
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:9-11)
“Who told you that you were naked?” I think this is a very important key verse. Adam and Eve were both naked before they ate of the tree, but they didn’t know it because God did not tell them. Before the fall, God was the only one who determined right from wrong. He alone was the judge. Only God could say what is good and bad, and He had not told them that there was anything wrong with their nakedness. But, after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man “became like God” in that he made decisions about what was good and bad, right and wrong, true and false. Before the fall, only God determined right and wrong, and only God was judge, but after the fall, man became like God to himself – making his own choices, and judging for himself what is right and wrong.
“I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Adam hid from God because he was naked. He hid from the very one who created him. He hid the creation from the creator, and by doing so judged that his nakedness was evil. Adam judged that it was bad, not God. When God created Adam, he said “it is good”. Why was the creation good before the fall? Because all of creation looked to God as their source for wisdom, goodness, guidance, and relied completely upon God’s sovereign word about what is right and wrong. Creation becomes evil when the created being tries to “become like God”, and make his own decisions.
Someone might say, “what is wrong with knowing good and evil?” “What is wrong with making our own decisions?” The problem is when a finite, created, limited being thinks he knows better than the creator.
You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me”? Can the pot say of the potter, “He knows nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:9)
In the beginning, God “created man in his own image”, so that humanity would reflect God. Do what God does, say what God says, and do nothing on his own without God. But Adam and Eve destroyed this relationship by “becoming like God.”
The Bible describes Jesus as the second Adam, who was sent to redeem us, and bring us back into right relationship with God.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:12-14)
Even those who did not break a commandment still sinned. This is the problem with moral influence theory. People claim that by “being good” and “doing good” they can attain eternal life. The Bible says the opposite, and that it is by our own attempts to be good – to be “like God” is our sin. Jesus on more than one occasion corrected people who called him “good”, and he said no one is “good” but God himself. Jesus was not trying to be good, and he did not teach us to try to be good, he was the reflection and embodiment of God in flesh. And Jesus was a true reflection of God, because he did not do anything of his own will.
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
Jesus did nothing on his own, and this is the pattern he established for us to follow. He was not good and holy because he tried hard to obey the law. He was not godly because he lived a strictly moral life. He was not righteous because he adhered to the best ethical teachings. He did nothing on his own strength. He emptied himself, and relied totally upon the Father. He was obedient even unto death on a cross. And this is the life that he calls us to. He asks us to take up our cross and follow him. To die to ourselves, so that Christ can reign in our mortal bodies. This is the Christian life. We are called to die to ourself, and live for God.
For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:19-21)
Jesus prayed for all believers to be united in Christ, and that we would be in Christ, just as Christ was in the Father. We should have the same relationship with Christ that he had with the Father, doing only what we see God doing, and saying only what we hear God saying. In this way we are being a reflection only. We only reflect God, we only reflect Christ, and this is how the Church is the body of Christ on earth. This is how the Church can do “greater works than these”, as Jesus said. We can do such things only if we empty ourselves and become like a slave, doing only the things our master says to do.
To be “like God” should not be our desire, but rather our desire should be to “reflect God”, to bear the “image of God” like a mirror. We do only what we see God doing, and we do nothing of our own will.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2Corinthians 3:18)
We who reflect God are being transformed into his likeness. If we aspire to be like God, then we are continuing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but we can eat from a different tree. The tree of life is available to us through Jesus Christ. The cross of Christ became to us the tree of life. As we follow Christ, we partake in the tree of life. It is only through Christ that we are saved. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is not by our obedience to his words that we are saved, but when Christ is truly LORD of our life, we will obey his words. It is not by our efforts to be moral and ethical and good that we are saved, every religion on the planet strives after those things. This is a heavy yoke that we are unable to carry. We can never be good enough, even if we never break any law, we are still sinful in our nature, because we are not reflecting God Himself. Our efforts are useless.
We must be emptied, so that Christ can fill us. We must be totally and completely submitted to Christ. Nothing of our old self can remain. Doing things “my way” is no longer an option for the Christian. Trying to do what is good is not even an option for the Christian. The only option for a Christian is to do only what we see God doing, and say only what we hear God saying. Anything else comes from the flesh.
Through Christ, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. God has made his dwelling within us. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within us. The Kingdom of God is the sovereign reign and rule of God. When we are completely submitted to God, that is when the Kingdom of God is manifest in us.
Trees bear fruit according to the kind of tree; apple trees bear apples, pear trees bear pears, fig trees bear figs, olive trees bear olives, etc. Jesus Christ is the tree of life, and He bears life. When we eat from Christ, the true tree of life, then we receive His life.
Jesus said, “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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:54-58)
Take, and eat from the tree of life, so that you can live. Eat the bread that came down from heaven, and drink the cup of the new covenant. Feed on Christ! Let Him be nourishment to you, let Him give you life and health and strength and wisdom and peace and joy and rest. Let Christ dwell in your hearts and minds. Let Christ be your head. Let Christ lead you and guide you in everything. Make no decisions without consulting Him about it, and do nothing without Him. “To live is Christ”! Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, and he beckons us to follow Christ.
Every other religion in the world is trying to please God, and do good, and be obedient, but this is from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus, the tree of life, has come and is available for us. Let God be God, and stop trying to be your own god. We must realize that we are merely clay in the potter’s hands.
So, my question: Which tree are you eating from?