Discipleship in crisis ...

Eating from the Wrong Tree

Frank Viola

The knowledge of good is the accepted counterfeit to living by life.

Christians are rarely if ever taught how to live by the life of Christ who indwells them.  So they rely on their own will to be a "good Christian."  In other words, they live by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than by the Tree of Life.

When the Creator planted the garden of Eden, He put two trees in the center of it.  Today, these same trees stand at the center of life.

The meaning of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can be understood by the serpent's promise:  "By eating from this tree, you will be making your own decision.  You will be like God, determining for yourself what is right and what is wrong."

The fall of humanity was all about women and men assuming the posture that they don't need anyone to tell them what to do.  They would decide for themselves what's good and what's bad.  They would be self-sufficient and self-determining.  Of course, what was ignored in that whole discussion is the tree of life.

God wanted humans to eat from the tree of life.  Eating from the tree of life meant receiving the uncreated life of God into oneself.  The tree of life was God's own life made accessible to human beings.

Today, the tree of life is the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am the true vine . . . .  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

When we receive Christ, we receive the life of God.  Divine life becomes ours.  Receiving Christ is simply taking the first bite from the right tree.

Living by God's life is very different from living by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  A person who is living by the tree of life doesn't sit back and say, "Let me try to do good and avoid evil."  Instead, he allows the life of God to flow within and through him.  He yields to the instincts, promptings, and energy of that God-life.

You see, "good" is a form of life.  And only God is good.  Here are the two choices before you today:

  1. The choice to intellectually know good from evil and to try to do good = the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  2. Living by the life of God, which is goodness itself = the tree of life.

Mark it down:  the knowledge of good is the accepted counterfeit to living by life.

The Christian religion is built on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The Christian religion can be studied using the same categories of thought used to study any other world religion.  It can be analyzed just as Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are analyzed.  The difficulty with the Christian religion (like all religions) is that it makes its adherents think that they have now found the real knowledge of good and evil.

Religion gives people the notion that they have God under control.  Religion says that we can understand God absolutely and completely.  We can predict what the Almighty will do tomorrow.  The Christian religion teaches that the Bible answers virtually every question that's brought to the sacred text. 

The problem with this line of thought is that the true God cannot fit into anyone's box.  God will always end up breaking out of our human expectations and understanding.  Every attempt to capture God and cram and ram Him into a system will ultimately fail.  The true God is an untamed lion.  He cannot be controlled.  The true God is the controller.

Yet many Christians have turned the Bible into a form of the knowledge of good and evil.  They approach the Bible as raw material by which they can gain control over their lives, so life can be more understandable and under control, less unnerving and unpredictable.

This is a profoundly grievous misuse of the Bible.  Jesus didn't misues the Scriptures to gain control and predictability in His own life.  To Him, the Scriptures were simply the joystick on the Father's controller.  They were the instrument through which He got to know His Father better and to discover how to live out His mission.


This is an excerpt from Discipleship in Crisis.  The complete ebook is a gift to those who subscribe to Frank's free email update.

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