The Bible tells the story of man’s journey from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to the Tree of Life. It is also the story of the pilgrimage from man’s city to God’s city, from Babylon to New Jerusalem. God’s prophets tell and re-tell this story in a myriad of ways. For example, most people believe that Eve’s eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil surprised God and/or that he did not intend that she eat of it. Paul tells us that Eve was deceived by the serpent. Why did God allow the serpent into the garden? Why did he allow the serpent access to Eve, especially when she was alone? Why did God create Eve so “imperfectly” that she could be so easily deceived? Why would God allow his new creation to be utterly destroyed by the very first persons he created? The answer to all these questions is that God planned it this way. Even though he commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of that tree, he intended that they do so. And why? So that they would ultimately become even as he is, knowing both good and evil and choosing only the good. Second, Adam was not deceived by the serpent. He ate the deadly fruit knowingly and on purpose. Why? Because he laid down his life for his friend, his wife Eve. Adam, therefore, was a type of Christ who laid down his life for all of creation, his bride.
Some people liken the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to the Law of the Old Testament and I believe that this would be a correct analogy. The problem with most people’s theology, though, is that they then use this analogy to disparage the Law and to call the Law itself evil. Consider, for example, the following passage from “Prophet” Rick Joyner’s popular book called “There Were Two Trees in the Garden.”
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. (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, pp 17-18, Whitaker House, 1993)
Mr. Joyner utterly and totally contradicts the Apostle Paul by making such absurd statements as those above. Paul said,
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Rm 7:12)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (Rm 7:14)
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being. (Rm 7:22)
Mr. Joyner belongs to the Church of Thyatira, the church that I came out of many years ago. This is the church that follows the Jezebel spirit. The Jezebel spirit is the spirit that pretends to be the Spirit of God, but leads God’s people astray into idolatry and sin. Today we usually call churches of this type “charismatic” or “spirit-filled” churches. I did a series on the Church of Thyatira that you can find by searching this web site. It is also a separate page with a link to it at the left of this page. Many writings on this blog expose and correct the major false doctrines of that particular church. Doctrine like that espoused by Joyner above has been a major reason for the slide into lawlessness we now see everywhere. They have called good “evil” and evil “good” and have thus been subjected to a strong delusion.
On the other hand, I do not teach a dead legalism and a bondage to the Law either. As Paul says, the purpose of the Law was to teach us the difference between good and evil. But, he very carefully teaches us not to become entangled in all of its do’s and don’t's which were required of Israel. The reason is because many of those laws prophesied of Christ and he fulfilled them. We no longer have to slaughter bulls, sheep, and goats to atone for our sin. Neither do we have to wear the Law on our hands or foreheads to illustrate our obedience to it. Today we allow the Holy Spirit to write his law upon our hearts. Therefore our mind conforms to his law and our hands do the good things the law demands. We do this by being led of the Spirit and we shun the leading of our flesh. Please see my recent series on the Law linked under the page entitled “Lawlessness” at the left for a further treatment of these ideas.
Rather than teaching that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is intrinsically evil both Old and New Testaments teach that God commends the man who desires to learn the difference between good and evil and also desires to do the good. When God appeared to Solomon and told him to ask of him whatever he would, Solomon said, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9) Then the Scripture records,
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments,as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 King 3:10-14 ESV)
The writer of Hebrews follows up on this theme with the teaching about righteousness. In his great book he says,
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:7-14)
Now coming back to the topic of God’s fruit, this series has shown that throughout Scripture God likens men to trees. Some trees remain faithful to God and produce good fruit; others fill themselves with all sorts of evil practices and produce bad fruit. The Scripture also teaches that God looks not only to our physical deeds, but also to the motives of our hearts. Therefore he judges the hypocrite who says one thing and publicly does acts of righteousness, but secretly works wickedness. All Scripture teaches the principle that good deeds will be rewarded and evil works will be punished. God prunes the good trees making them more fruitful and God burns the bad trees in the Lake of Fire.
Scripture also refers to us as a “branch.” Jesus said,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers;and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:1-10)
Isaiah prophesies about the good branches several times. In his first reference he says,
2 In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 3 And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 5 Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:2-6)
What is “the branch of the LORD?” According to John 15 it is every branch in Jesus which bears good fruit. And, as we saw in Ezekiel 47 these are the branches which become trees on both sides of the River of Life which bear fruit each month and which bring healing to the nations. These are the same trees which we see at the very end of the Bible in Revelation 22:
Then the angel[a] showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)
And now John calls these trees “the tree of life!” This is the final destination of the sons of God, the overcomers of God, the Bride of Christ. And where do these trees reside? On either side of the river which flows through the middle of the city, through New Jerusalem. So, not only do overcomers become precious stones which make up the walls and construction of New Jerusalem, they also become the tree of life which surrounds the water of life. In other words, at this time our identification with Jesus Christ is complete… we have become one with him. Now we are fully conformed to his image and like him in every way. Like a true prince we will then be fit to rule in the same way as our King Father is fit. And this is why the Book ends like this:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)
Do you see it? You and I will one day share both in the tree of life and in the holy city! How glorious is that?