That Tree Will Kill You!

Posted on February 9, 2010

We have spent a great deal of time, resource, energy and strategy trying to stop Bad Behavior.  What if that is not the real target?  The Problem that entered the human race in the beginning resulted in Bad Behavior.  But many other things also resulted from The Problem.  The Problem was A TREE.  We focus a great deal of attention on trimming one branch of a tree with many branches.

Israel Day two 050

TheProblem, the Big Curse that struck the whole human race was the shift from one root system to another.  A complete reversal.  From one foundation to another.  From one source to another.  The problem was that Adam, as our forefather consumed the fruit from a tree.  Specifically the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Prior to that moment, Adam, his wife, and a whole host of men-to-be were connected to an ever-flowing source of LIFE.   Suddenly they were connected to KNOWLEDGE.  Initally this does not sound like such a bad thing, until we see the insidious root of this new tree, this new source.

Fundamentally Adam disconnected from a source and a foundation that continually flowed with a river of living water, and connected instead to…himself.  Follow these thoughts.

Knowledge may be the trunk of the tree, but it’s root system was in Adam’s soul.  His knowledge.  His power.  His capabilities.  The roots of this tree were Adams humanity…

Growing from the trunk of knowledge are two primary branches.  An evil branch and a good branch.  Remember the root of both branches is not connected to anything that can produce life.  Both branches grow from a single source.  Let’s follow their growth.

The knowledge of evil is an easy one for us to recognize.  In fact recognizing it can sometimes cause a whole set of problems.

Growing from the branch of the knowledge of evil, are several branches.  The first, is the knowledge of our own evil.  For Adam, and for us, the fruit on the end of this branch is shame, leading to hiding and covering up.

Next we see a branch that is the knowledge of others evil.  Growing on the end of this branch is judgment.  When we see others faults and failures we instinctively compare.

Another branch here is the branch of SIN. Not sinful behavior, but the sinful condition of our hearts.  The absence of the presence of God.

When we become aware of this emptiness, again we feel shame and separateness.  Rejection.  Or worse, we begin to ACT in order to do away with this feeling of emptiness.  Busy-ness, drugs, sex, money, religion, you name it we look for ways to not-feel-empty.  And when we act, we try to correct our action.  The fruit of this branch is destructive behavior and self-correction.

This is the insidious branch of the knowledge of evil.  Surely, we tell ourselves, we know how to do GOOD.  But isn’t the knowledge of good just as destructive as the knowledge of evil?  Let’s look.

Picture 5

Growing from the branch of the knowedge of good, comes several smaller branches.  Here is the first.

We become aware of our good.  We do good, we think good, we feel good.  Follow this branch to the end and you will fins growing there the fruit of PRIDE.  I am good.

How about this one?  We grow in our knowledge of others good.  Now the fruit on this branch is comparison, or worse, envy.   

Alright, then what if we grow in the knowledge of God’s Goodness.  Surely this cannot have bad fruit.  But remember, the roots are still buried deep in an empty soul.  No live fruit can come from a dead root system.

When we come to an awareness of God’s good, often the first result is self-effort.  The problem is not what we do, but that we do it separate of God, our Life-Giver.

Next, may be the most deadly branch of all.  From our knowledge of God’s goodness, comes a branch I will call religion. We develop (from a dead root system) strategies and patterns to try to reach God, or please Him.  What was intended as a life-giving system, embedded in dead roots, becomes a death-giving system of rules and traditions.

When we live for a while in our knowledge of evil, we seek to change. The most natural change is simply to jump over to the good branch.  Natural, but still lethal.  God does not ask us to do better, He asks us to come again to the Tree of Life and receive from Him, Living Water.

No wonder He warned us about that other tree.  That thing will KILL you.

 


  • Kristin Donohue

    As usual, I love the way you explain things. This concept is something I’ve tried so many times to explain to others with little success. The drawing of that nasty tree is something I will reference often. Thanks.

  • The revelation of how we have lived from the tree of Knowledge has been life-changing.

    Yes, I know that’s a huge, over-the-top statement. But it’s true.

    The thought is life-changing, but the changing of my thought-life is hard. Truly, after receiving this revelation, my head ‘gets it’, but my heart is so rooted to logic, reason and capacity (all ‘me’) that it’s been quite literally a minute-by-minute choice to not turn back to the root system of man. It’s funny, in a say kind of way; the things I want to do I don’t do and the things I don’t want to do, I keep doing. I think Paul had something to say about that. 🙂

    Perhaps it’s just my own set of excuses, but it seems to me that the more one has leaned on intellectualism, the harder it is to make the simple decisions and turn off the noise from the stream of consciousness in one’s head.

    Nevertheless, I am thankful for this revelation and pray others are as impacted by this chance-of-a-lifetime to re-root into God’s tree of life.

  • Thanks again Bob! I’ve been trying to share this with many now I can just send them to your blog

  • Bob! So glad you’re back to writing! Your entries have been sorely missed, and this one is a gem. Thank you!

  • Love it! I was in the class a couple weeks ago. However, this is supplemental greatness! Thank you Lord!

  • Anthony, that is so true. Whereas I have grown spiritually in exponential leaps and bounds over the last year…there are many areas of the flesh that can be a challenge to change. Surrender, obedience, and faith can be easier said than done at times. Thank you for sharing and being honest and transparent.

  • I, um… I have been working on a sketch of the tree… um not in stick figure. It’s totally cool… I’ve decided to jump outta’ that tree. 🙂

  • Ems

    Wow. Another revelatory post. I was especially struck by the branch leading to pride… How often do we congratulate ourselves for having a helpful thought, action or connection with another, little realising that God authors and allows all such ‘successes’?
    I guess when the blind man saw ‘men walking as trees’ in the gospel account, he may have seen us as really are?!
    Thanks for another provocative and thought-fuelled signpost back to scripture.

  • Richard Symonds

    I just heard you, Bob, at Grace Church north of Orlando on this topic, or more broadly, “What Problem Did Jesus Come To Solve.” So good, so clear, so eye-opening. Wonderful! And I appreciated your visit some weeks ago and the entire series. Some thoughts I would have given you afterwards today, if there had been time:
    Jesus probably did not invite Zacchaeus to join him for a cheeseburger – a little problem with meat and milk.
    God uses WORD – not Microsoft, but Open Source.
    Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved … saved by Grace, saved by sound!
    Proverbs tells us the first step to wisdom is to listen – not to do or act or be. Also, lean not unto our own understanding.

    Thanks for putting together the pieces that we, in our great intellect, manage to miss or scramble.

  • you rock!–(not Tobey-it’s his wife) thank you I needed this. You filled in the blanks that I was looking for today

  • Rafael M. Hernandez

    Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

    Psalms 119:18

  • Such a helpful visual.