fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Two trees in the garden

Two trees in the garden by Julie McAllen

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Gen 1:27)

Man was created in the image of God placed on this earth to represent his will. We learn a lot from the Genesis account. It’s here we grasp God’s deepest desire for us–to be a reflection of him, created in his own image.

Later in scripture, he restates his purpose for us through the writings of the apostle Paul who said it was God’s intention to conform us into the likeness of his son.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Ro 8:29)

So we see the truth of the matter. From the very start of our conception as people, the goal of God was stated clearly,

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Gen 1:26)

In the likeness of God. In the likeness of his son. This is why we are here. It is the desire of our creator and therefore the deepest desire within us “to be like God.” And the enemy knew it from the beginning. He knew the truth. And thus, the lie had to be formed around that truth.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)

Isn’t that the expressed desire of God himself? He intended that his creation would be in his image and likeness. But who spoke these words to Eve? Who knew her desire to be like God so well that he convinced her to take a path that her creator had warned against?

Well we all know the story. It was Satan twisting the words of God to conform to his own goal of separating the creation from the creator. And it worked. Was there any truth in the serpent’s lie? Yes, for he promised Eve that she would be “like God” if she ate of the forbidden fruit and this is the result according to God’s word.

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:22)

Man was created in God’s image. And yet God is proclaiming that after their disobedience he has now become like the Divine nature in knowing good and evil?

Let that sink in a moment.

When Adam was created and placed in the garden, was he already perfect? Was he already living forever? Was he already conformed to the image of his creator?

Some have made the assumption that the couple were already perfect and living forever on the earth. Had Adam not sinned, the logic follows that his offspring would have inherited everlasting life on earth through him. But think again. Was Adam “like God” before the sin?

Were there not two choices in the middle of that garden?

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 of it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)

Of all the trees in the garden they were free to partake. There was only one law, one thing forbidden to them. And where was it placed? In the same arena as another very important tree.

And 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. (Gen 2:9)

The tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden and they were free to eat from it. Two trees in the middle of the garden. One was forbidden and certain to bring death, the other was free and certain to bring life. God knew it and so did his enemy. Two choices, both tempting the pair “to become like God.”

Notice in the temptation that there is only reference to “the tree in the middle of the garden” but none is distinguished by name. Neither Eve nor the serpent say “tree of life” or “tree of knowledge of good and evil” they just have a conversation about the tree in the middle of the garden. I’ve often wondered if Satan and Eve realized they were even talking about the same tree?

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’”

4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:2-5)

Eve ate from the wrong tree. She ate from it because she was deceived into thinking it would be good for her and her husband to do so. They desired to be “like God” after all, and the fruit, therefore, had appeal.

The two trees in the middle of the garden are Law and Spirit. Both offered a promise to the couple who were designed to be perfected into the image of God. But perfection did not come for them. Their growth was halted. By their choice of one route to God, they were banned from the other route.

22 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.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 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. (Gen 3:22-24)

What Adam and Eve had come to know was Law. They had become like God knowing good and evil. They had indeed attained the wisdom Eve desired when she gazed upon the fruit. But nothing is made perfect by law (Heb 7:19). And though Law promises to draw us near to God, our source of life, it actually draws us further from him. The separation known as sin.

7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Ro 7:7-10)

Our first parents underwent this separation. They underwent spiritual death. Where they used to walk freely in the garden with their creator, now they hid from the voice that called out “where are you?” Now banned from the tree of life, they would never be brought to perfection through the way God had always intended to bring everlasting life. Law brings death. The Spirit brings life.

Though each one of us is made in the image of God, like Adam and Eve, none of us are born perfect. Though we are sons and daughters knitted together in our mother’s wombs, we make choices as we grow and how we will respond to our innate desire to be “like God.” It helps to understand the first lie because the enemy of life is still telling it. He is the father of lies (John 8:44). Though Jesus spoke of Satan as having “no truth in him” that does not mean he doesn’t have the word memorized and able to quote from it. He basically quoted God’s word to Eve when he said that if she ate of the tree in the middle of the garden she would be like God. He twisted the truth to get her to eat from Law rather than the Tree of Life. The father of our flesh, Adam, fell for the lie. But the father of our Spirit, Jesus Christ, combatted the assault of twisted truth by quoting it back properly.

The first assault on Jesus was to get him to question if he even was a son of God (Luke 4:3) Believe it or not, this lie is often presented within religion today. Lies that whisper “knowing scripture is knowing God…’re not really saved unless you do this….. following the rules is following God…. only certain members within our group are sons of God….” But Jesus had witness born to him at his baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon him and told him the truth.

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 4:22)

Have you also had that witness born to you? Or has someone caused you to question your adoption?

Wasn’t Adam promised dominion over the land? Did he receive it or did it produce thorns in his toil? The devil dared to promise Jesus dominion over kingdoms of the world, but unlike Adam, Jesus did not bow to the way in which Satan promised to give it. And when the devil took Jesus to the heights of religion symbolized by the temple, he quoted directly from Psalm 91. The teachers of the Law were always trying to trip Jesus up by quoting from it, but Jesus said they were from their father the devil (John 8:12-47).

Are you getting the picture? Satan uses God’s truths to tell his lies. By this, he steals your inheritance in the tree of life.

Anyone can quote scripture. Bibles abound for any thief to use for his own glory. No one can stop them. But, only God can reveal truth by his Spirit. Only by his Spirit can we, therefore, be brought into the complete and perfect image of God he intended at our conception.

Adam was a son conceived in the heart of God to be made in his image. However, Adam was never perfect, before or after the sin, and able to bring forth perfect children. Perfection only comes through death (Heb 11:40).

Look at Jesus. How was he perfected?

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:8-9)

Jesus LEARNED obedience and once made perfect, he became the eternal father of all living. And through that obedience until death, Jesus was made perfect forever (Heb 7:28). Adam could never do this, he is only the father of our flesh which is imperfect. But the imperfect comes first and then the perfect. As we all have borne the likeness and image of the earthly Adam, so we shall bear the likeness of the last Adam, the man from heaven (1 Cor 15:42-49). One day, we will be among those mentioned in Hebrews 12:23 as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” but that depends on which tree you choose now. You can be like God, but you are what you eat.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

March 27, 2011 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A New Beginning

ISAIAH 54:1-10

42-16482893While damaged caused by sin may at times be irreparable, we can look forward to a new beginning after having repented and received God’s forgiveness. The blessings that come from being reconciled to the Lord are (among many) a peaceful heart and the help to endure the consequences caused by transgression.

The nation of Israel also had reason to celebrate a new beginning. The Babylonian exile of Judah in 587 BCE didn’t mean that God no longer regarded them as a chosen people among other nations. Rather, it was just the opposite. God is a keeper of promises; He promised that Abraham’s seed would be blessed and the messiah would come from his seed and that of David. Although Judah was in captivity, Isaiah Chapter 54 depicts a time when God’s people would be reconciled to Him. In the meantime, Judah would be considered a “barren one” during her captivity.

 1(A)Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
         For the sons of the (B)desolate one will be (C)more numerous
         Than the sons of the married woman,” says the LORD.

2(D)Enlarge the place of your tent;
         Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
         Lengthen your (E)cords
         And strengthen your (F)pegs.
    3“For you will (G)spread abroad to the right and to the left
         And your descendants will (H)possess nations
         And will (I)resettle the desolate cities.

Barrenness was a considered a disgrace for a woman during bible times.  Not being able to produce a child was comparable to someone useless, unproductive and unworthy; it was considered a curse or punishment from God. Judah was “barren” in a sense that she couldn’t produce fruitage.  However, Isaiah prophesied that Judah would rejoice again; God’s promise of reversal of their dreadful state and of restoration would be realized; they would again be returned to usefulness.  They will have to expand their tents due to the numerous residents in their land.

4“Fear not, for you will (J)not be put to shame;
         And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
         But you will forget the (K)shame of your youth,
         And the (L)reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
    5“For your (M)husband is your Maker,
         Whose name is the LORD of hosts;
         And your (N)Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
         Who is called the (O)God of all the earth.

Many people remain in guilt and don’t allow themselves to be reconciled to God – they remain in widowhood, producing no fruitage. God’s people have no reason to feel ashamed or disgraced.  Being a widow in Isaiah’s day was just as humiliating as being barren, but God promised to restore even the widow. He will give her a Husband, one who will forgive her and redeem her. Letting go of the grip of barrenness is only achievable by repentance. Only then can the Holy Spirit work in us so that we feel God’s peace through his forgiveness.   There is shame and disgrace associated with rebellion, but once you experience God’s mercy, you’ll no longer remember the disgrace; shameful pasts and failures are left behind.

 6“For the LORD has called you,
         Like a wife (P)forsaken and grieved in spirit,
         Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
         Says your God.
    7“For a (Q)brief moment I forsook you,
         But with great compassion I will (R)gather you.
    8“In an (S)outburst of anger
         I hid My face from you for a moment,
         But with everlasting (T)lovingkindness I will (U)have compassion on you,”
         Says the LORD your (V)Redeemer.

I especially love these verses in Isaiah because it paints such a portrait of a compassionate and merciful God. When we sin, we feel deserted and wounded in spirit. God hides his face from us in that he removes his protection and guidance. Our Father is not a dictator; he would never force us to obey him if we choose wickedness over Him.  He thus departs from us in love. However, He promises to take us back and restores us to Him if we turn back from sin.

9“For this is like the days of Noah to Me,
         When I swore that the waters of Noah
         Would (W)not flood the earth again;
         So I have sworn that I will (X)not be angry with you
         Nor will I rebuke you.
    10“For the (Y)mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
         But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
         And My (Z)covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
         Says (AA)the LORD who has compassion on you.

We have a new beginning in Christ; we’re no longer in disgrace or fallen. The peace we experience from being reconciled is wonderful; nothing compares to it.  Let us celebrate the One who called us to repentance and restoration and let us celebrate OUR NEW BEGINNING.   Amen and amen.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A New Beginning


%d bloggers like this: