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The Two Trees
There were two trees in the Garden of Eden that challenged the course of the entire human race - the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. These same two "trees" continue to challenge us. When we become Christians these challenges do not end -- they may well increase. Many times we will have to choose between the fruit of these trees. Between them lies the focal point of the dichotomy between the Kingdom of God and the present evil age. The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life are symbolic of two spiritual lineages or "family trees." The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is a history of two lineages. Understanding these lineages can help us to understand the most common errors besetting the entire human race, including those that have continually misled the Church. Satan did not tempt Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge just because of the Lord's prohibition. He tempted her with it because the source of his power was rooted in that tree. Furthermore, the Lord did not implement this restriction just to test Adam and Eve; He prohibited the eating of its fruit because He knew it was poison. When He instructed Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, He did not say "If you eat from that tree I'm going to kill you"
but "On the day that you eat from it you will die." It was not just man's disobedience that brought death to the world; it was the fruit from this tree. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is a powerful Biblical model of the Law. As the Apostle Paul declared: "The power of sin is the law" (I Corinthians 15:56). This is because it is through the Law that we that derive our knowledge of good and evil. We may wonder how this knowledge brings death until we see the fruit. The knowledge of good and evil kills us by distracting us from the One who is the source of life: the Tree of Life - Jesus. The Tree of Knowledge causes us to focus our attention upon ourselves. Sin is empowered by the law; not just because the evil is revealed but the good as well. It drives us either to corruption or self-righteousness, both of which lead to death. It is significant that the Tree of Knowledge is found in the center of the garden (see Genesis 3:3). Self-centeredness is the chief malady with which it afflicts us. After Adam and Eve ate its fruit, their first response was self-inspection. Before eating they had not even noticed their nakedness; their attention was on the Lord and the purposes for which He had created them. After eating, the good and evil which they now understood forced them to measure themselves by it. There is no easier way to keep us from the Tree of Life than to have us focus our attention upon ourselves. This is what the Law accomplishes. Because of this Paul called it "the ministry of death" and the "ministry of condemnation" (11 Corinthians 3:7,9). When we define the Tree of Knowledge as the Law, we are not referring only to the Law of Moses. We often think of the Old Testament as the Law and the New Testament as Grace, but this is not necessarily true. The Old Covenant is the Letter; the New Covenant is the Spirit. If we read the New Testament with an Old Covenant heart it will just be
law to us. We'll have dead religion with righteousness that is based on compliance with written commandments instead of a living relationship with our God. The Lord said that He was going to send His Spirit to lead us into all truth. All truth is in Jesus, of whom the Spirit was sent to testify (Ephesians 4:21). The Bible is a most precious and wonderful gift from the Lord to His people. But the Bible was not meant to take place of the Lord Himself, nor the Spirit whom He sent. The Bible is a means, not an end. Knowing the book of the Lord is not our goal; our goal is to know the Lord of the book. The many errors and divisions within the body of Christ are not due to fault in the Bible, but our misuse of it. Some of the laws and principles we have wrested from the New Testament rival anything that the Pharisees did to the Old Testament! This has caused us to try to measure our spirituality by how well we conform to the letter. Our spirituality is not found in adapting to a form, but by the forming of Jesus within us. It was for a good reason that the Lord instructed us to judge men by their fruit. A parrot can be taught to say and do the right things. Satan often comes as "an angel of light," proclaiming Scriptures; and his work will often conform to the letter. But only Jesus can bring forth the fruit that is LIFE. "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (11 Corinthians 3:6). If we read the Scriptures by the Spirit they will testify of Jesus and will come to life. The Scriptures are meant to be a testimony of Him. "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). The Spirit was sent to lead us to Him in the Scriptures and in all aspects of our lives. Reading the Scriptures without the Spirit brings only the knowledge of good and evil, which actually brings death. Satan can counterfeit form but he can
never counterfeit the fruit of the Spirit - which is Jesus, the Tree of Life. Man is able, to a certain degree for various self-centered and deceptive reasons, to change his outward behavior. Only the Spirit can change a man's heart. Therefore, the Lord looks upon the hearts of men, and in them He is looking for the heart of His Son. The Lord's first act of creation was to bring forth light. The very next thing He did was separate the light from darkness. There can be no cohabitation between light and darkness. When the Lord re-creates a man and he is born again, He immediately begins to separate the light from the darkness in his life. Almost inevitably, in our zeal for Him, we try to take over this work and perform it by the only way we have ever known - through the knowledge of good and evil. This struggle between law and grace - flesh and Spirit - is the source of the inner discord afflicting most Christians. It is also the single greatest point of conflict between the truth that sets men free and the lies of the enemy that are meant to oppress and subdue them. On the third day of creation the Lord established a physical and spiritual law that was of critical importance. He ordered that trees would only bear fruit after their own kind and produce seed after their own kind (Genesis 1: 11- 12). The fruit of these two trees is to forever be separate and distinct, as the Lord Jesus also testified. For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:43-44). The Apostle Paul further testified: "whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). We cannot bring forth fruit that is life while we are partaking of the Tree of Knowledge. Likewise, if we are partaking of the Tree of Life we will not bring forth the fruit of the Tree of
Knowledge - death. A tree can only produce fruit after its own kind. Scriptural references to trees are sometimes symbolic of family lineages. In order for Christ to come forth in man, His seed had to be sown in man. Likewise, in order for the "man of sin" to come forth in man, that seed also had to be sown in man. The fruit of a seed cannot be reaped unless it is first planted. When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge, they were destined to perpetuate the fruit of that tree; consequently death spread throughout their descendants. But God, in His grace and mercy determined that He would redeem their mistake. He planted in man the seed that would again bring forth the Tree of Life in man - Jesus. Through Him true life would be restored to man. His seed is a spiritual seed, sown by the Holy Spirit through prophecy. No flesh could beget Him but all flesh could receive Him. The Lord promised transgressing woman that a seed would come forth from her that would crush the head of the serpent that had deceived her (Genesis 3:15). In the first two sons born to the woman, we discern the seeds of each tree.