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.
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 from it you will certainly die.”
I have often read through these passages and wondered what God had against the knowledge of good and evil. As parents, we spend a considerable amount of time teaching our children the difference between good and evil, so why did God want Adam to avoid this knowledge? I believe that our family’s faith journey has given us some insight into why the “knowledge of good and evil” is such a bad thing.
I have written extensively about how I have struggled with the things that God speaks to our family and how we (as a family) have had to unlearn far more about God than we had to learn about him. I believe that is because of the “knowledge of good and evil”.
As “Super Christians”, we had God figured out, although we knew enough to act like we didn’t (false humility). We had “studied to show ourselves approved” and felt equipped to provide Biblical answers for many things. The problem, as Jenny identified in her post “Life Resolution” , was that all of this was head knowledge. It was not knowledge that leads to life. It was simply knowledge gained from years of in-depth Bible study. Am I saying that in-depth Bible study is a bad thing? Absolutely not! I am saying that it is tempting (and common) for a Christian to spend their life studying about God, and feel like they have an above average handle on what God is saying, yet they completely miss what God is saying.
Here is a Biblical example of what I am talking about: In John chapter 11, we see Jesus returning to Jerusalem because his dear friend, Lazarus, is sick. When he gets near the city, Lazarus’ sister (Martha) runs out to inform Jesus that her brother was already dead. Jesus tells her that he is only sleeping and that he will rise again. She was obviously well studied about the things of God, because she says this in verse 24: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Do you see what happened there? Jesus spoke to her from the tree of life and she interpreted it with the knowledge of good and evil. Martha regurgitated her knowledge, and she was correct, there really will be a resurrection at the last day. The problem was that Martha’s knowledge blinded her to the miracle of life that God wanted for her brother.
Once you see it, the struggle between the “knowledge of good and evil” and the “tree of life” becomes evident throughout the Bible. It is most clearly illustrated in Jesus’ interactions with the religious. They knew the scriptures, from a position of the “knowledge of good and evil” and when Jesus tried to offer them fruit from the tree of life, they stubbornly refused it.
Today we refuse to receive the fruit from the tree of life, because it is not safe. We can not turn to chapter and verse for the details of the “living epistle” (see II Corinthians 3:2) that the Spirit (life) wants to write into our lives. As a result, we stubbornly cling to what we know and, like the religious of Jesus’ time, we attempt to justify our powerless state by boasting about what we “know”.
Our family has found that when we allowed God to write the pages of our life into an amazing story, he did not discard our knowledge, instead we find ourselves living the bible verses that we had previously only known, with head knowledge. As a result, we are dedicated to continuing to live, as the Spirit (tree of life) directs, and we want to encourage everyone else that may have fallen into the trap of the “knowledge of good and evil” to awaken to the story that “life” wants to write for them. It is not too late!