The phenomenon of Checklist Christianity is not new. 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 for 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!
(Copyright Mark Maulding, God’s Best-Kept Secret, pages 29-30)
I invite you to attend my first ever, God’s Best-Kept Secret Conference, based on my book. At the conference, I will speak more about the above and on these topics:
- Freedom by Knowing God Is Not Religious
- Release from the Bondage of Check-List Christianity
- Christianity is Easier from the Three Pillars Of The New Covenant
- Christians Don’t Have a Civil War Raging Inside
- Something Better Than Obligation to Keep The 10 Commandments
- Christians Are Forgiven Before They Ever Sin
- We Can Be Controlled by Our Unknown Lies
Live free in Christ,
Mark Maulding, President and Founder