In this section we will take a look at what makes mankind today different from when man was created by God in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26), why is God so opposed to the way man lives his life today? A popular saying used by many is “But I’m basically a good person, I do no wrong to others, I do the best I can to be a good person.” We tend to use morality as the basis for defending our position in our belief system, yet this line of reasoning is flawed since it bases our morality on a standard of conduct which man has established today as being acceptable. This we may note seems to change from generation to generation, what we did not accept yesterday as being good and the norm for society is today deemed as acceptable. Man it would seem has no absolutes, only what currently seems right and proper in man’s eyes and reasoning, as he draws upon his own logic in reaching a consensus on morality.
This is what I call ‘Living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and is at the very heart and center of sin. You see morality is not the issue for mankind here, it is only a symptom. When we are sick and we seek medical attention from a doctor or health care professional, we present ourselves with a set of symptoms which the doctor then examines in order to determine the cause of the illness, before prescribing a course of treatment. Likewise morality or immorality is merely a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem which is deeply rooted in mankind’s decision to live from the ‘Tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. Mankind is still faced with the same to choices Adam and Eve were faced with every day; to live from the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’, or to live from the ‘Tree of Life’.
What is this tree and how do we recognise it? I believe we may find the answer in Genesis 3:6.
‘When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate’.
This tree may be found wrapped up in man’s wisdom! Eve chose to seek her own form of wisdom for living life, allowing her to make her own decisions based on her own logical and reasoned conclusions. She would now seek the reasoning of her mind rather than the wisdom of the Spirit of God. She would choose her own finite knowledge over God’s infinite knowledge.
In today’s society there appears to be no place for the knowledge or wisdom of God in the issues of life; mankind is both judge and jury, deliberating over facts of logic and science rather than spiritual truths. Mankind today has an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and the world has many varied religions, each one claiming to know truth and espousing to have high levels of morality and ethics. The first thing we see in sin is man aspiring to know good and evil, to set the standard in deciding what is good and what is evil according to his own knowledge and wisdom. Man now holds the scales of justice, imposing his verdict on society and mankind.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), epitomised the fall of man when he convinced the known world of the value of the reasoning of the human mind above spiritual matters.
Philosophy: Use of rational argument in defining & substantiating beliefs & intellectual concepts.
Ethics: A major branch of philosophy. It is the study of values and customs of a person or group and covers analysis and employment of concepts such as right or wrong, good and evil.
Aristotle attempted to arrive at general moral standards which tell us how to judge right from wrong or good from bad, and how to live moral lives.
In philosophy & ethics man uses rational thinking; that is the reasoning of his mind to arrive at a conclusion in establishing truth or what is right or wrong.
Mankind today establishes truth based solely on the reasoning of his mind!
There is no place for the Spirit of God to impart His wisdom and knowledge, only man’s cognitive reasoning and logic prevail. Knowledge has become a standard of measure and application rather than an integral part of life.
A good example today would be the Western educational system which is firmly entrenched in the impartation of knowledge as a means of acquiring wisdom. All the major subjects taught in schools and universities promote cognitive reasoning and logic in their application, such as Mathematics and Science. The spiritual side of man is totally ignored and the tree of knowledge is viewed as a fountain of truth for mankind but is powerless in imparting the life and wisdom of the Spirit of God to man.
Even in our Church Seminaries many students graduate with a head full of knowledge about the Bible yet they lack any spiritual intimacy with God since Bible knowledge has not been integrated with life in the Spirit and has not led to an encounter with God.
In Genesis chapter eight we read of the Pharaoh of Egypt who had a disturbing dream which none of his wise men could interpret, he is informed of Joseph, an Israelite held in prison who could interpret dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and related his dream to him. Note Pharaoh’s regard for Joseph:
Gen 41:8 now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.
(41:33) now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
(41:38) Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
(41:39) so Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are.
Pharaoh acknowledged Joseph’s wisdom as being of divine origin. Man’s wisdom had failed and God’s wisdom through Joseph had prevailed. Pharaoh’s wise men were men of great knowledge, they had eaten their fill from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but still they lacked the wisdom to deal with the issues of life, only Joseph a man who knew God and ate from the Tree of Life was able to interpret Pharaohs dream. Knowledge without being integrated with Life; the Spirit of God, will leave man wanting and lacking in life.
Jesus had a habit of upsetting the Scribes and Pharisees; they never seemed to agree on anything, always arguing with Jesus about the way He did things. One such disagreement is found in Mark chapter two where Jesus tells a man his sins are forgiven him and is accused of blasphemy by the Scribes. You see the Scribes only ever considered Jesus to be a human being just like the rest of them, the very thought that He might be God in the flesh was inconceivable and reprehensible. They considered only the facts as they saw them; Jesus was a man like them! How dare He equate himself to God! The Scribes had set themselves up as Judge and Jury. They viewed Jesus only with their natural eyes and never with spiritual eyes or they would have seen the truth.
Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?
Man alone cannot discern truth, it is something God reveals to us in the spirit of man; the mind alone is not capable of knowing truth.
So the question you may ask is “How am I meant to reason?” The following scripture gives us the answer.
(Isa 1:18 NASB) “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
We are meant to reason with God and not on our own. When I reason I am employing only the facts as I see them through my natural eyes, but God’s knowledge goes beyond just mere facts, He focuses on life and the heart of man, knowing the very thoughts and intents of our hearts and He knows what is best for our lives. God wants to be a part of our lives in all that we do, imparting His wisdom and so enabling us to live life by the Spirit of God and not on our own.
At the beginning of this section I asked the question “What makes mankind different today from when God created man in His image and likeness?”
The answer as we have seen is man today employs reason or logic by rationalising the issues of life based on his limited knowledge of life and has excluded the Spirit of God from his life, not seeking Gods wisdom, counsel or knowledge. The issue is not whether a man has been a good person and lived a good life, which man considers to be a reasonable argument, but rather has God been a part of his life, has God been a guiding influence in his life, has he lived his life from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil or from the Tree of Life.
TREE OF KNOWLEDGE VS TREE OF LIFE
Self-effort Flow of the Spirit
This table illustrates the differences between mankind today and the person God created us to be.
My desire is to live my life by the revelation God gives me regarding my life, I would rather seek God’s wisdom in making the right choices for my life which will ultimately also honor God, choosing to walk in the counsel of God instead of allowing fear and uncertainty to dominate my life. I would prefer to live my life conscious only of what God is able to do in my life and not be limited by what I perceive by way of human reasoning, allowing His Spirit to accomplish what is impossible for me to do on my own.
Mankind today lives by rationalising his life according to the knowledge he possess, but God requires that we live by the power and leading of His Holy Spirit.
(Romans 8:14) For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
We are living in difficult times where we are being faced with an ever increasing number of challenges, whilst at the same time there are many advances in science and technology, man’s knowledge is increasing at a rapid rate so that man is lulled into a false sense of security in his future, man is becoming increasingly more self-reliant than ever. Doctors and scientist and economists are expected to have the answers to all of mans’ problems, there is nothing we cannot handle; we’ve even walked on the moon! Man prides himself in his social accomplishments, we are becoming better educated, and we are living longer than we have ever lived before. Mankind has been deceived into believing he is wise and knowledgeable and well able to care for himself and has no need of God! He is still eating heartily from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
I would ask you to consider your own life, is there any place for the wisdom and knowledge of God in your life, do you ever seek it? Do you ever stop for a moment in life to ask God for His wisdom in everyday situations, do you seek His counsel or direction for your life, in your relationships, in your attitude towards others? Do you allow God to be God in your life? If not I would encourage you to stop and consider your life for a moment, even as believers we can sometimes still continue to live life in our own wisdom and strength. I would encourage you to seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to fill your life with His wisdom and knowledge in every situation, every day. May Jesus be the Light, Councillor and Wisdom of your life.
(Colossians 2:8) See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
(1Cor 3:18-20) Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”
Jesus died for us that our sins, our rebellion of seeking to live by our own wisdom in life, may be forgiven. God longs to restore His Spirit to mankind, so He may once again fill our lives with His love and joy.