28 September 2013

The Way Of The Serpent

In the Garden of Eden, there were two trees – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Surprisingly, out of all the other vegetation, water, animals, planets, space, angels and heaven, these two trees made a bigger impact on our world than anything else. So what’s the deal? Well, there’s more to this story than what's being told. Way more.
The fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Most usually pass over the first three chapters of the Bible like it's some scientific history lesson about how the world was made and the first sin ever committed. Many don't understand that this story is more figurative than it is literal. But, what is the whole point?

Quite simply, it's how to tell the difference between those that eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and those that eat from the Tree of Life. Yes, you can be eating from either of these trees at this very moment.

However, for now, I want to focus on the "bad" tree - the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a bad tree. Nothing God creates is bad. In fact, God specifically said all of it was good. He believed this and mentioned it many times in the beginning (Gen 1:4, Gen 1:10, Gen 1:12, Gen 1:18, Gen 1:21, Gen 1:25). He was satisfied with all he had done (Gen 1:31-2:3). This includes the "bad" tree that was planted in the garden (Gen 2:15-17).

Now, out of all the plants that God made, this tree is clearly the one God didn't want Adam and Eve to eat from. He told Adam to stay away from it. Why? Well, it's simple. Almost too easy. God didn't want Adam to have its wisdom.

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, we clearly see how they began to struggle internally (mentally and spiritually). Once their eyes were opened, they wrestled with this new understanding (Gen 3:6-7). They looked at each other completely different from before. Basically, they gained a conscience and saw that they were naked. This good and evil stuff caused them all kinds of hell.

After they judged themselves, they tried to fix the problem. First, they sowed leaves together to cover their bodies. Then, they hid among the trees (creating the first camouflage known to man) (Gen 3:8). They were bent on trying to hide their unrighteousness from God (Gen 3:9-10).

However, you have to know something before I go on. Just because they became aware of their nakedness doesn't mean anything was wrong. God made them perfect. He made them in his image and it was good (Gen 1:26-27). Therefore, the knowledge they gained from this tree caused them to think very differently from what God wanted. They were beautifully and wonderfully made, but they believed otherwise (Psa 139:14). Plus, God knew they were naked, but he never said anything about it (Gen 3:11).

You see, God already had the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 3:22). He could handle having the wisdom, but it wasn't something he wanted for his only son.

So, why was not having the knowledge of good and evil such a big deal?

Well, it's easy. Quite simply, God didn't want them to know about good and evil. He didn't want them to comprehend it or know its ways. He didn't want them to struggle with the good and the bad, or right and wrong. He simply wanted them to be who he created them to be. He wanted them to continue in the blissful state they were in (Gen 3:11).

However, there was another problem. There was another wise guy in the garden along with Adam and Eve. He's called the serpent. The serpent knew of this tree. He came along and had a conversation with Eve about it. He convinced Eve that eating the fruit was a good idea. He assured her that she wouldn't die and that she would truly become more like God if she did (Gen 3:1-5).

Now, what I'm about to say is going to sound crazy. To be honest, the serpent wasn't lying. He, in fact, never lied. This is what few don't understand. He actually told the truth about everything. Let me explain.

For one, the day when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they did not die. However, God specifically told Adam that the moment he ate the fruit he would surely die (Gen 2:15-17). Yet, this didn't happen. As a matter of fact, they lived for about a thousand more years (Gen 5:3-5). You could argue that the moment they were kicked out of the garden is when they began to die, but this is not what God said. He didn't say, "The day you eat of the fruit is the day you'll start dying."

Secondly, once they ate the fruit, they were more like God than ever. How? Well, they obtained the same knowledge God had. You see, before they ate the fruit, they were less like God (they didn't understand what he knew). They had no concept of what was good and evil. However, all that changed. Suddenly, their eyes were opened (Gen 3:7).

If you really want to get technical about all this, you can say that God was the one who lied. They didn't die the day they ate the fruit. That's a fact. But, I'm not making God out to be a liar. What I'm really trying to say is that things aren't what they seem.

God wasn't lying at all. The day Adam and Eve ate the fruit is the day they died. But, it wasn't a physical death like everyone believes. It was an internal death (a mental one). A death involving a deep struggle and conflict over what was good and what was evil. They began to wrestle with right and wrong; good and bad; black and white; heaven and hell; sin and righteousness; angels and demons; God and Satan.

Also, because of this new found understanding, the very first thing Adam and Eve did was believe something that wasn't true. They saw that they were naked and believed it was wrong. This struggle with good and evil caused them to think they didn't make the cut. Therefore, something had to be done.

Because they didn't believe they were perfect, they immediately tried to fix the problem. They tried to make themselves right (righteous) by covering their bodies and hiding from God. They felt bad about their nakedness (unrighteousness) and tried to hide from the one person they needed most. This good and evil stuff is not to mess with.

Now that I've explained this story in more detail, let's talk about this serpent guy.

Here's where it gets real.

I want to ask you a few questions. I want to help you discover what a person looks like who follows the way of the serpent. I want you to know who you should steer clear from. And, I want you to be able to easily spot those that eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. You can always tell by their fruit (Mat 7:15-20).

  1. Can you name someone who taught you about good and evil?
  2. Who taught you what evil looks like?
  3. Who taught you about what is right and wrong; good and bad?
  4. Who taught you the differences between heaven and hell?
  5. Who taught you not to do evil, but to do good?
  6. Can you describe a person who taught you about sin? 
  7. Did that person show you what sin looks like and how to stay away from it?
  8. Who taught you about doing it right or how to live a righteous lifestyle?
  9. Who taught you about heaven and hell?
  10. Who pointed out that a certain group of people were sinners going to hell and the others were right with God and destined for heaven?
  11. Who told you that you were a sinner; that you needed forgiveness so you could be right with God?
  12. Who made you believe that you were bad and something was inherently wrong with you?
  13. Who taught you to judge other's actions and tell them what they're doing is wrong?
  14. Who taught you about angels and demons?
  15. Who made you believe that demons were out to get you and that angels protected you from harm?
  16. Who made you believe there was a big war between God and Satan? As if Satan had a chance or could influence you in some crazy way.

Does any of this ring a bell? All of this talk about sin and righteousness, good and bad, heaven and hell, angels and demons etc. is all coming from one place.

The people who teach such things are eating the fruit from the tree God said not to eat. These people live and breathe its knowledge. They know nothing else. They know nothing of the Tree of Life. Just like Adam and Eve, these people have not found the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, nor do they know where to look (Gen 3:22-24, Mat 7:12-14, Heb 4:12-14). The Truth is staring them in the face, yet they do not see it.

So who are these people? The answer is Christians. Every. Single. One.

Ironically, the very leaders that so many Christians put their love, trust, money, and energy into supporting on a regular basis are those that are eating from the wrong tree. These people are everywhere. You can find them in any church or on the mission field trying to obey rules and doing things they believe are righteous in the name of God.
Where you'll find those that eat from the wrong tree.

Like me, so many have given their lives to this way of life. Yet, the very message that Christians claim is supposed to give life, really only leads to struggle, sin, and death. It's a mental war of always trying to do the right thing, rather than just being the person God created them to be. In fact, like the Pharisees, the very people who claim to know God the most are the ones who don't know him at all.

The path they preach is not the way that leads to everlasting life. It's the way of the serpent. And, just like the serpent, these people aren't lying to you. They really believe what they're preaching. However, it's just fruit from the wrong tree.

Even though it's too late, and you've already been taught this knowledge of sin and death, Jesus did one better. He made a way for all to see the Truth. He provided a way for those who wrestle with good and evil to escape this train of thought (John 11:25-27, John 12:44-50). How? He pointed us to the path that leads to everlasting life - the Tree of Life (Gen 3:24). Jesus is the Tree of Life. He is the second Adam that crucified all sin, unrighteousness, evil and death. He actually nailed it to the tree from which it came (Col 2:13-15). Jesus provided a way for all believers to rest in the fact that we are good (John 3:16-17).

Jesus did something much greater than you think. He provided a way to bring us back to the place before Adam and Eve ate the fruit. We can stop worrying about doing it wrong and trust that we are perfect just the way we are. There is nothing left to be done.

He who the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36).

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