Bad tree, bad fruit

There was a time when life was perfect. The last verse of Genesis 1 describes a world wholly approved of by God. Similarly, the last verse of Genesis 2 showcases a human relationship at its apex: complete vulnerability without shame. That was the perfect world God created, devoid of the ills plaguing it today. So, what went wrong? In the garden God created for Adam and his wife, He placed two trees; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These trees represented a moral choice. It also gave them the liberty to obey God or rebel against Him. God isn’t oblivious of what we’re capable of doing with our freedom to choose. Yet, rather than restrict our free will, He gives us prohibitions and spells out the consequences of our disobedience. For Adam, that was a simple command: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will die [Genesis 2:16-17]. 

God essentially said to Adam, choose Me as your only source of knowledge. Let Me teach you the best way to live in My world. Astonishingly, despite our waywardness, God continues to make the same appeal to each of us today [2 Corinthians 5:21]. The alternative is autonomy, where we decide we know better than God what’s best for us. God labelled such a decision a death sentence. Sadly, Adam did choose autonomy, and we’ve all followed suit [Romans 3:23]. The forbidden tree entices us with wisdom that promises to equip us to decide our fate without God and trivialises the consequences of rebelling against Him. But are we confident we can live without God? Does history affirm that human beings can accurately discern good and evil without help? If so, are you willing to bet your life on it?

As Scripture points out, the purveyor of the forbidden tree is the devil. Therefore, the tree is fundamentally bad. Since he deceived Eve, this crafty adversary has been studying us and perfecting his technique to lure us into consuming the fruit of that tree. It’s always been an appealing tree with delectable fruits. The Bible records that as Eve gazed at the tree, she desired its fruit and the wisdom the tree could give [Genesis 3:6]. That’s the nature of temptation. Take a fruit from the forbidden tree like lying [John 8:44], even children will reach for it when they’re in a bind because it promises a desirable outcome. I’ve been examining why I think the way I do and the driver behind my decisions. It amazes me how many of my paradigms ultimately come from this tree. The same is true of the broader culture and our widely accepted norms. We become wise in our own eyes because the devil has been quite successful at enticing us to eat from the forbidden tree [Proverbs 3:7]. Indeed, all our problems, individual and global, can be traced back to decisions to eat forbidden fruit [1 John 1:8-9].

As we learn from Eve’s experience, not everything that looks good is actually good for us. Nevertheless, it takes humility to recognise that we don’t sustain the wisdom to discern genuine good from evil that masquerades as good. That said, it helps to contrast the character of God with the qualities of the forbidden tree. God is good and does only good. So, the psalmist says: “teach me your ways” [Psalm 25:8, Psalm 119:68, James 1:17]. We can even probe God’s goodness [Psalm 34:8]. However, we know the forbidden tree possesses both good and evil. The good it offers serves to entice us to eat of its fruit [Proverbs 14:12], but the endgame of its purveyor is our destruction [John 10:10]. Sadly, once we taste the fruit of the forbidden tree, there’s no going back [Genesis 3:7]. We become helplessly enslaved to it [John 8:34, Romans 7:14]. It takes the love and goodness of God to save us from the consequences of our rebellion [John 3:16, Roman 2:4].

Mercifully, God has offered us a way to break free from the forbidden tree and its consequences [Isaiah 53:6]. It requires us to agree with Him that He was right about the tree and then resolve to reject the knowledge that comes from the tree. That means complete reliance on God to decide good and evil for us. That is where His word profits us. Solely for our benefit, God gave us the Scriptures, which teaches us what is good and pleasing to Him and what isn’t. However, per His character, rather than compel us to obey Him after paying the price for our rebellion [Romans 5:6-11], God gives us a simple choice. He places before us a choice between life (obeying Him) and death (rebelling against Him) and urges us to choose life [Deuteronomy 30:19-20].

The choice between life and death is the most important decision we’ll ever make, and it’s a choice we must make daily [Matthew 16:24-26]. It’s a choice demonstrated by ruthlessly eliminating any ideology standing in opposition to God and His word in our lives [2 Corinthians 10:5]. Even those in Church can subscribe to nourishment from the forbidden tree. To avoid ignorantly subscribing to the wisdom from the forbidden tree, a person must actively feed on God’s wisdom through His word [Luke 4:4]. If you willfully eat from the forbidden tree, you can’t call Jesus your Lord [Luke 6:46].

So, I’d encourage you to examine the origins of the paradigms that dictate your beliefs and behaviours. What’s their source? You have two options: If your paradigms aren’t rooted in God’s word, they originate from the forbidden tree, irrespective of how good they may appear. If your diet has forbidden fruit, will you heed God’s warning [Genesis 2:16-17]?

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