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Sermon No: 40111-Genesis - The tree of the knowledge of good and evil



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SERMON TOPIC: Genesis - The tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 2 September 2018

Topic Groups: GENESIS, CREATIONISM, BOOK STUDY

Sermon synopsis: Scripture makes it clear that the trees in the Garden of Eden were actual trees, there is no hint that they were meant to be seen as just symbolic.

In Western Christian art, the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is commonly depicted as the apple, but it is not possible for us to determine anything of the nature of either of the two specified trees in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible does not emphasize there was anything magical about the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The life humankind experienced would be due to their obedience to God rather than any physical results from eating from the tree. 

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The Two trees in the Garden of Eden.

The Tree of the knowledge of Good & Evil

The Tree of Life

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:8-9.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

What was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

What is/ was the tree of life?

I say “is the tree of Life”, because it is referred to again in the future for the overcoming Christian.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:15-17.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Scripture makes it clear that the trees in the Garden of Eden were actual trees, there is no hint that they were meant to be seen as just symbolic.

In Western Christian art, the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is commonly depicted as the apple, but it is not possible for us to determine anything of the nature of either of the two specified trees in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible does not emphasize there was anything magical about the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The life humankind experienced would be due to their obedience to God rather than any physical results from eating from the tree.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:1-5.

Now the serpent ... said to the woman, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden? The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die. You will not certainly die, the serpent said to the woman.

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

In what sense can humans become like God?

Human-beings becoming like God is not acquiring some divine knowledge, but it means that you now can judge for yourselves as to what is good or evil and no longer have to be dictated to by God.

You will no longer be in the position of children, having good and evil dictated to you, you will have your independence from God.

In the way that the Genesis story unfolds, the tree of life is what becomes forbidden, while the tree of knowledge becomes the ever-present companion of human experience.

In what sense can humans become like God?

The tree represented for Adam the choice between submitting to God’s law or pursuing moral autonomy.

The choice made by man in the Garden of Eden was not so much a choice between what was obviously good and what was obviously evil, but between what God calls good and evil and what man calls good and evil.

Today we see a society that calls evil what God’s Word says is good and what God’s Word says is evil, society says is good.

Man has become the decision maker as to what is right and what is wrong.

A Biblical worldview.

A recent survey found that less than 4% of all Americans have a Biblical worldview.

Someone with a Biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God. A Biblical worldview is based on the truth of the infallible Word of God. When you believe the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do.

People with a Biblical worldview are called intolerant by those with other worldviews.

However, the source behind the so-called ‘tolerant’ crowd is actually evil. First Christian Church website.

A Biblical worldview.

Isaiah 5:20-23. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Woe to those... who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.

A Biblical worldview.

We see this passage lived out in our culture today.

Sin is called good, morals and values are called evil, those who are ungodly are honoured, and those who are living for Christ are demonized.

Frequently, we hear about leaders being caught taking bribes, committing crimes, and perverting justice; yet they will be honoured and re-elected instead of prosecuted.

We see justice perverted for financial gain, retaliation against a political enemy, or for changing the values of a culture, but there will be a time of judgment.

Good and evil.

God’s will is good, but we need to have our minds renewed so that we can prove what it is.

Romans12:2.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Our big problem is that many times we don’t want God’s will, we only want it when it suites us and fits into the plans we have to live a trouble free, comfortable life.

Good and evil. (Billy Graham website)

Humanity has always been dexterous at confusing evil with good. That was Adam and Eve’s problem, and it is our problem today. If evil were not made to appear good, there would be no such thing as temptation. It is in their close similarity that the danger lies.

Modern social righteousness often differs from the righteousness of the Bible. Someone has said: A wrong deed is right if the majority of people declare it not to be wrong. By this principle we can see our standards shifting from year to year according to the popular vote!

Divorce was once frowned upon by society, and laws against fornication and adultery were strictly enforced. But now divorce is accepted by society, and fornication is glorified in our literature and films.

Do we know what is good apart from God?

The big difference between Religion and Christianity.

Religion is man in his goodness trying to reach God.

Christianity is God in His Goodness reaching out to man.

Mark 10:17.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. Good teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. No one is good, except God alone.

Jesus wanted to know on what basis this man was calling him good.

You know the commandments...... All these I have kept..

How do you define “Good”?

What is your definition of a good man?

Perhaps it is someone who keeps the commandments.

Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not give false testimony, do not steal.

This rich man that Jesus spoke to fitted into this category and he said he was not going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, that something was still lacking in his life.

(He loved his money more than God)

Good or God.

John Bevere. Do you know what good is? Most would answer yes, but if good is so obvious, why does Hebrews 5:14 teach that we must have discernment to recognize it? As I look at our culture, and honestly, the church, I believe we are substituting a counterfeit good – one devoid of God‘s influence – for the unchanging truth of His Word. The greatest deception the church will face in these last days will not be a blatant evil, but a “good” that is very contrary to God’s ways.

How God views mankind.

The modern society in which we live has undermined all the Biblical principles that we as the older generation have been brought up with.

The western world that once had strong Christian values due to the missionary work done by our predecessors has declined as Christians were told to stay away from politics. In so doing the political power was handed over to humanists who have a set of values that are in direct opposition to God’s Word.

Romans 3:10-18.

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.

How God views mankind.

Our idea of what is good and what is evil is very different from God’s.

Modern psychology states that man is inherently good and that a person’s upbringing or environment is responsible for how they turn out. God’s Word says differently.

Jesus himself said this about us.

Matthew 7:11.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Not only do we as humans not have the ability to differentiate between what is good and what is evil, we ourselves are evil.

God is good.

Paul Washer speaking to an auditorium of atheist students and professors said that man’s biggest problem is “God is good”.

A corrupt Judge posses no problem for the criminal, they can be bribed but a good Judge will want justice and will give you what you deserve.

Knowing Good and Evil Means Making Judgments

Knowing Good and evil is not something that man possesses even though it was promised by Satan. In fact the immature Christian has to be taught the foundation doctrines after conversion so that they will be able to have this discernment as it comes from knowing God’s Word.

Hebrews 5:12-14.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Knowing Good and Evil Means Making Judgments

Knowing good and evil does not refer to the possession of information, like one would know the capital of Peru. It refers to discernment between good and evil, or more simply, making judgments.

Compare for example the woman of Tekoa’s words to King David, when she was looking for him to correct a wrong:

2 Samuel 14:16-17.

For the king will hear and deliver his maidservant from the hand of the man who would destroy both me and my son from the inheritance of God. Then your maidservant said, Please let the word of my lord the king be comforting, for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and evil.

What is the tree of life and what did it symbolize?

Adam and Eve, soon after their creation, had an important decision to make that centred on a special tree.

What was at stake was literally life or death to them.

The test placed before them involved whether or not they would eat of the tree of good and evil he placed in the middle of Eden.

Eating from the tree of good and evil

Symbolized man deciding for himself, apart from God, what was right and wrong (living by his own rules).

Eating of the tree of life

Symbolized having faith in God and deciding to live based on his judgments and rules.

The two trees.

What is the tree of life?

Unlike the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, the Tree of life in Eden and in the New Jerusalem has got some kind of life giving properties.

Genesis 3:22-24.

And the LORD God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.

So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

What is the tree of life?

In Scripture, God did not prohibit Adam and Eve from eating the fruit from the tree of Life before the Fall.

God prohibited them from eating fruit from one tree, but not the other, because it represented the choice of humanity. By making both of the trees, God provided man with a legitimate choice between good and evil.

The Tree Of Life is mentioned again in the future. When God creates a new heaven and new earth, the tree of life will be there.

Is the tree of life a single tree or a tree type?

Revelation 22:1,2.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Is the tree of life a single tree or a tree type?

Ezekiel 47:6-12.

Then he led me back to the bank of the river.

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river.

He said to me, This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea.

When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.

There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.

Is the tree of life a single tree or a tree type?

Ezekiel 47:6-12 (continued)

Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets.

The fish will be of many kinds, like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea.But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail.

Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.

Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Is the tree of life a single tree or a tree type?

Genesis 2:16-17. And the LORD God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die. Genesis 2:9. The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground, trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:2-3. The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Was there the tree of life - Not a single tree, but it abounded everywhere - on the banks of the river, and in all the streets. It was the common tree in this blessed Paradise - of which all might partake, and which was everywhere the emblem of immortality. In this respect, this new Paradise stands in strong contrast with that in which Adam was placed at his creation, where there seems to have been a single tree that was designated as the tree of life, Genesis 3:22-23.

In the future state of the blessed, that tree will abound, and all may freely partake of it; the emblem, the pledge of immortal life, will be constantly before the eyes, whatever part of the future abode may be traversed, and the inhabitants of that blessed world may constantly partake of it.

Genesis 2:9.

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_6086.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ veetz_6086.htm">wə-‘êṣ

וְעֵ֤ץ

and the tree

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Noun

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_2416.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ hachaiyim_2416.htm">ha-ḥay-yîm

הַֽחַיִּים֙

of life

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Adj

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_8432.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ betoch_8432.htm">bə-ṯō-wḵ

בְּת֣וֹךְ

also in the middle

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Noun

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_1588.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ haggan_1588.htm">hag-gān,

הַגָּ֔ן

of the garden

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Noun

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_6086.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ veetz_6086.htm">wə-‘êṣ

וְעֵ֕ץ

and the tree

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Noun

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_1847.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ haddaat_1847.htm">had-da-‘aṯ

הַדַּ֖עַת

of knowledge

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Noun

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_2896.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ tov_2896.htm">ṭō-wḇ

ט֥וֹב

of good

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Adj

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ strongs_7451.htm">[e]

https://biblehub.com/ hebrew/ vara_7451.htm">wā-rā‘.

וָרָֽע׃

and evil

https://biblehub.com/ hebrewparse.htm">Adj

In this passage, the tree of life is mentioned which, curiously, is a singular tree followed by a plural life, חַיִּיםchayyîym, so literally "tree of lives"

Who has access to the future tree of life?

Revelation 2:7.

To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Revelation 22:14,15.

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life . . But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie

What does the tree of life symbolize.

The last three chapters of the book of Revelation pick up the themes of the first three chapters of Genesis.

What we find is that God is preparing the world for the restoration of Paradise and the healing of the nations.

All tears wiped from every human being’s eyes is another way of saying all evils resolved. Humans will have achieved their quest to become godlike with God’s help.

1 Timothy 2:4. states God wills that all humans will be saved, rescued fully from the process of death they experienced as a result of the first man’s free choice, and come to an accurate knowledge (epignosis) of the truth Whereas 'gnosis' conveys the idea of just 'knowing', 'epignosis' is a knowledge that involves a 'full discernment', (knowledge of BOTH good and evil).

What does the tree of life symbolize.

Matthew 4:1-4.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

The tempter came to him and said, If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.

Jesus answered, It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

What does the tree of life symbolize.

John 6:48-51.

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.

I am the bread of life.

Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died.

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.

Jesus Himself is our “Tree of Life “we should be living on “The Bread of Life”, “The Living Word” and not by our own rules, trusting and relying on our own judgments of what is right and what is wrong.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.lockman.org)




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