Lesson of the Two Trees
Genesis 2:7-9, 15-17; Hebrews 5:12, 14; 1 Kings 3:5, 9-10
The first thing to learn about human existence is that all people must choose between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam was made on the sixth day of creation. God wanted to impress on Adam's mind the lesson of the two trees on that very day.
One of the trees was very good. The other contained a mixture of good and evil. God made humans out of temporary, mortal material in order to teach them to choose what is pure and good, and to refuse evil, before giving them eternal life. God was well pleased with Solomon for seeking the ability to discern the difference between good and evil.
Romans 12:21, 16:19-20
Choose God's way; reject Satan's way! Refuse the influences of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4, 1 John 2:15-17) which tend to lead us astray. Learn to think as God thinks—not as the world thinks.
Keep in mind while reading about Satan speaking to Eve that he had already been corrupted by vanity himself, and that he had successfully persuaded one-third of the angels to join him in his way of thinking. Satan is wily, clever and very good at making a lie seem true, when it is not!
Luke 14:26, Matthew 10:37
If you want to choose God (and reject Satan), then you must learn to put Him ahead of all else in life. This includes family. It doesn’t mean that you hate others. It means that you put God and what He says ahead of what people think. God is infinitely higher than human beings—in wisdom, experience and authority.
This is what the Two Great Commandments are all about (Matthew 22:37-39). The First Great Commandment outweighs the Second. We must learn to put God first, ahead of people. But when we do this, God, in turn, commands us to love our neighbor also. Mr. Armstrong explained the principle this way: we should love God more than we love ourselves, and love other people as much as we love ourselves (it is permissible to love yourself).
There is a time when we should not follow our leaders, even in the church—if our leaders are telling us to do something God says not to. The angels that followed Lucifer into rebellion were just “following their leader“—but they became demons! That is at the heart of what God wants to teach us. We need to acquire the ability to discern when God is not being represented correctly—when “middle management“ goes off-track (Matthew 7:15, 15:3, 9, 14, Mark 7:7, 13).
James 1:2-5, 12-18
Resisting temptation during trials helps us build character. Trials also develop our patience. The goal is to develop the kind of perfect character which God and Christ possess (Matthew 5:48). When Adam and Eve were first created, they lacked character of any sort, good or bad. Today we must learn to resist Satan's attempts to influence us through peer pressure and the society around us. We need to succeed where Adam and Eve failed! We need to obey God no matter what! We need to see through deception and do what God says is right—against all arguments, persuasions and temptations to the contrary!
It is God's desire to give all people eternal life. However, everyone is required to learn the lesson of the two trees before they may receive eternal life. God Himself cannot be tempted to sin—because He doesn't want to sin. He expects us to become just as determined as He is not to sin. That is what real, godly character is all about. Jesus demonstrated that kind of character throughout His human lifetime. He never “caved in“ to the devil's temptations or persecutions.
Romans 5:12-14, 17-21; Romans 6 (whole chapter)
Remember that a universe-wide rebellion of angels had occurred. God restored the earth and placed the two trees in the garden of Eden. He told Adam that it was going to be his job to choose one or the other, and commanded him to choose the tree of life. Paul had this on his mind while writing the book of Romans. (See also Deuteronomy 30:15, 19.)
Think about why God sent Jesus to die for us—in order to pay the death penalty which God imposed on humanity because of sin (Romans 6:31). God wants to forgive our sins, but He also wants us to learn not to sin (Ezekiel 18:30-32, 33:11-20; 1 John 2:3-6, 3:3-9). He will gladly forgive the repentant who cease sinning and turn to doing the right thing (1 John 1:9, 2:4), who seek to build His character—the kind that will not sin (Exodus 34:5-7).
Verse 15 of Genesis 3 is what you could call the ”specific purpose statement” of the entire Bible. It sums up what God is doing throughout human history. He is putting “enmity” into the hearts of human beings, a hatred of the way of evil that produces misery and destruction. God is driving a wedge between those who follow Satan and those who follow God (Revelation 22:11). In the end only those who obey God will live, while Satan's rebellion will be crushed out of existence. God's plan is taking a long time to accomplish because of its vital importance with regard to the security and happiness of His eternal kingdom, which is His family (Ephesians 3:14-15).
The job of those whom God is now calling and educating in His way is to become deception-proof—able to resist temptation to sin, able to see through the devil's lies—so that, like Christ, nothing will cause them to sin (Matthew 4, Luke 4, Revelation 3:21).
2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-15
The church is now the betrothed bride of Christ. Before the full marriage occurs, however, she must “make herself ready“ (Matthew 25:10; Revelation 19:7-9). Paul likened the church to Eve here, the first wife in human history. The church must be a better wife to Christ than Eve was to Adam—she must be able to see through Satan's deceit and not be conquered by it!
In 1 Corinthians 10:20-21, idolatry is linked clearly to demon-worship. Paul declared that there is no agreement whatsoever between God and the demons. This situation is pictured by the two trees in the garden of Eden (and by the First Commandment: Exodus 20:3). God absolutely “draws a line“ between Himself and Satan, and demands that His children choose whom they will follow (1 Kings 9:6-9). Other Scriptures tell us that there is no agreement between light and darkness; that the whole world is in darkness; that the minds of the uncalled people in this world are blind—unable to see God's truth; but that the truth of God is like light which cuts through the darkness and shines into the minds of those whom He has called (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 4:3-6; 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, John 6:44).
Here you will find the ultimate expression of the tree of knowledge of good and evil—a religion of Satan, so cleverly disguised it is thought of as being the one true church. Yet it is in fact Satan's primary tool for deceiving human minds (Revelation 17:1-2, 18:23)! False Christianity looks like a lamb—appears to represent Christ—but it speaks like a dragon. What it says is straight from the mind of Satan, the serpent of Genesis 3, who tried to deceive Eve into believing that what God says isn't true.
This great false church claims to derive its authority from the Bible (Matthew 16:18-19), but it uses that pseudo-authority to nullify the very commandments of God which are revealed in the Bible (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:1-4; Daniel 7:25, 9:4; Matthew 5:17-19, 19:17, 28:20; Mark 2:27-28). Mr. Armstrong called this ”circular reasoning,” a very deceptive practice. The true church keeps God's commandments and has the teachings of Jesus (Revelation 12:17, 14:12, 22:14). The Word of God is the foundation of knowledge! Jesus inspired the Bible to be written for us!
Jesus did not ask God to take His wife—the true church--out of Satan's world, but rather to keep her from the evil that is in it. God's intent is for her to become ”deception-proof” through the experience of living in a deceived world, and overcoming it.
God has allowed 6,000 years for Satan to rule this world invisibly. This will be contrasted forever with the coming 1,000-year reign of Christ and the saints. God wants His family to judge by the fruits. During the 6,000-year period, the saints have been learning not only to resist the present evil world and its ways, but to genuinely come to hate it as Christ does (Proverbs 8:13; Hebrews 1:9; 1 John 2:15-17, Galatians 1:4). Eventually, the saints of God not only will govern humanity but will also judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). These well-educated people who will rule the world with Christ—everyone united in mind and purpose as one cohesive team—will be the fruit of the 6,000-year period, which God has desired to produce.
Satan opposes the saints continually, even while God seeks to form His character within them. His deceptions are prevalent throughout the world's systems—its religions, education, government, science and technology. He makes them seem good, but this world's philosophies are in fact based on a mixture of truth and lies. People see the good, but swallow the lies right along with it. In the field of religion—especially false Christianity—the deception is very powerful. The wrong religion can still appear to be doing good—prophesying, performing good works, even casting out demons—as if representing Christ by using His name (Matthew 7:22-23, 24:4-5), but refusing to teach the strait and narrow way which leads to life that He taught! (Mr. Armstrong said that they want to receive God's grace—to “get“ Christ; to ”get” saved—but that they do not want to give themselves to God the Father in obedience to His Law.)
Jesus will judge those who claim to follow Him but don't keep His commands (Luke 6:46; 1 John 2:3-6; Acts 10:42). Jesus does not “know“ this sort of Christian (Matthew 7:23, 25:12). Jesus knows the sort of Christian who hears what God has to say and who obeys it (Matthew 4:4; Luke 8:21, 11:28)—these are His friends and His family (John 15:14, Matthew 12:48-50).
All people will become either “a house built on sand“ or “a house built on a rock.“ Those who build their lives upon the Biblical foundation—of what Jesus actually teaches and wants us to learn—will become a part of the permanent and eternal creation of God (Matthew 7:24-29, 28:20; John 14:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 12:27-28; Revelation 3:12, 21:5-7). But those who build their lives on Satan's foundation—of “doing their own thing“ regardless of what God says—will come to eternal destruction (Revelation 20:15).
Lastly, let's look at Genesis 6:5-13. Remembering that the tree of knowledge of good and evil did have some good in it to start with (Genesis 3:6), consider the end result of Adam and Eve’s choice: the whole world became totally corrupt (Genesis 6:5). Whatever good God had placed in humanity at the beginning (Genesis 1:31) was completely overcome by evil. A little leaven leavened the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). The world of Noah's time had to be destroyed (Genesis 6:7, 13). The same thing will happen at the end of this age (Luke 17:26-30; 2 Peter 2:5-9, 3:3-12, Revelation 1:1-3).
In due time all rebellion will be eliminated from the universe. Only that which is purely good—as represented by the tree of life (Revelation 2:7, 22:14)—will remain.
We really need to be learning the difference between truth and lies—from God's point of view. We need to learn to discern between right and wrong, and to develop the character to choose what is right, always. Remember what we read earlier in the book of Hebrews, chapter 5, verses 12 and 14: the very first lesson in the Bible is that of the two trees in the garden of Eden. We are going to teach that lesson to others in the world to come—therefore we need to be learning it well now.
This Bible study was given by Matthew Kalliman on 7/3/07