Way back in the garden of Eden, we find two very important trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Genesis 2:9 says,
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.
Both trees were real trees, but they represented how Adam and Eve were going to choose to live. The Tree of Life represented how God wanted every human to live—dependent on the life of Christ within them. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represented living independent of God. The couple chose poorly.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:6)
The moment Adam and Eve ate from this tree their thinking changed from a relationship mentality to a checklist mentality. Their list was about what is good and evil, right and wrong. This was fake godliness. It was replacing godliness with human good and evil, right and wrong. Before this, everything they did was motivated by the belief that God loved them and had blessed them. Now they believed if they performed well and could check off more right than wrong each day, God would love and bless them. But if they committed more wrong than right, God would reject and punish them. This is when religion began.
We see this illustrated immediately when God came looking for them in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve hid from God because they were afraid of Him. It had never entered their minds to be afraid of Him before they ate from that tree. They had only felt love for God.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (v. 8)
Sin, by its very nature, perverts a person’s thinking to be upside down about God, ourselves, and other people. That’s why God says in Isaiah 55:8–9,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Unfortunately, we all inherited that same thinking from Adam and Eve, and it doesn’t automatically go away once we become Christians. That’s why it’s so easy to make Christianity about right and wrong, turning it into a checklist, something God doesn’t care about at all!
Sadly, a lot of Christian teaching and discipleship fosters Checklist Christianity, using the Bible to focus on doing right instead of wrong. This is simply swinging from the evil side to the good side of that tree. It’s where the false idea of being a good Christian comes from. God wants us to enjoy the fruit of the Tree of Life by living dependent on the life of Christ in us.
Let me be clear. God isn’t interested in right and wrong. What He is interested in is life—you and me living from His life within us!
Excerpt from God’s Best-Kept Secret. Copyright 2017 by Mark Maulding. Published by Baker, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.