The Two Trees – Why do we vehemently disagree with others?

by Bert R. Hartmann       (definition of "vehement")

Let’s look at why God put two special trees in the middle of the Garden and what they can represent for us. They clearly explain why there is incredible division in man’s thinking. Why is your opinion polar opposite from someone else’s thoughts many times, and how does it affect you? You would not believe something that you thought was evil or wrong…, right?

Let's begin by looking at two verses, 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.  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." 

First of all, God made ALL KINDS of trees, maybe hundred’s, maybe even way more—the point is they were all pleasing to the eye AND good for food. So God provided a beautiful abundance for Adam.

Secondly, in the smack middle of the garden he placed two trees, which he singles out as:

#1  The Tree of Life
#2  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Why do think God provided these TWO trees? 

Yes…choice!!! Anytime you have two of something—you have choice! As human beings we have the freedom to choose unlike animals, which really use the controlling instinct they have.

And that is exactly what God gives us, the Freedom to Choose! We see this in 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 of it you will surely die.” 

This dying, in addition to our obvious physical death, really refers to being ULTIMATELY and forever separated from God’s presence—being forever separated from God’s Spirit—being forever separated from God’s life!**

So a simple choice was given: trust and obey God’s will—His Word, or disobey and do what YOU want!

YOU KNOW what happened in the garden with the serpent! And you are also aware that we INHERIT the consequences of our earthly parent’s actions—do we not?! **But because of God’s grace and mercy, AND what Jesus did, He gives each of us the freedom to choose our eternal destiny!

Some people think that having choice (the freedom to choose) brings confusion, but the correct choice always provides clarity. Do you want to be confused, or do you want to be able to see things clearly?

Let’s start by focusing first on the second of these two trees:  The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

So, let’s consider this tree as having two big branches… the good branch and the evil branch or we can call them the right and wrong branches…

Which branch are you on? Of course most people would say they are on the right or good branch—nobody likes to admit they are on the wrong or evil branch…

Now, it seems in life we have divisions of opinion no matter where you look—there are always different groups of people who just have polar opposite views where agreeing with each other is impossible and disagreement usually results in bad feelings and worse between these two groups…

There are Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Catholics and Jews, Christians and Muslims, church denominations and more church denominations, there are the rich and the poor, (the haves and the have-nots), there are people who go to church and there are the unchurched, there are those full of THEIR OWN spiritual wisdom and those full of secular worldly wisdom, there are the caring and the uncaring, there are those who live together married and there are those who live together unmarried…

We can go on and on forever—isn’t it funny that many of these examples deal with politics or wealth or religion—things we are not even to talk about because people seem to immediately climb up into their RIGHT branch…

So we can say that the majority of people live in this Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Let’s say that most think they are living on the right branch—the good branch, and the rest of the folks are obviously on the other branch—the evil or wrong branch—right!?

If you think you are the right or good branch, all those other people who you do not like or disagree with are on the other branch—right!?

Well here is the huge problem, all the other people on the other branch think they are on the good or right branch, AND that you are on the evil or wrong branch!    Why is this true?  Well, because people will always have different feelings and needs—but they unknowingly display this by accusing others of being wrong because they are right!

So all those in this FORBIDDEN TREE think they are on the good branch and not the evil branch, and we have nothing but division and disagreement among everyone in this FORBIDDEN tree.     

Do you see that?

What hope of reconciliation between the two groups sitting on these two branches is there? What hope of unity is there? Unity means there is no division…

What can we do?? What choice can we make??  We are going to answer those two questions when we talk about the OTHER tree!  WAIT FOR IT! J

Today, most people make their own choices based on what THEY think is best and what THEY want, INSTEAD OF, choosing God’s best for them based on what HE wants—His good, pleasing, and perfect will for us [ref. Romans 12:2b].

Here’s a great sample sentence demonstrating this: “Leave ME alone so I can have fun and do what I want—I am fine by myself!”    Hey, there we have the unholy trinity—“me, myself, and I.”

By the way, have you heard what the acronym BIBLE can stand for? Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Many of us do not like to read an instruction book because we can just do it by ourselves—interesting isn’t it? Do you have a Bible and do you read it?

Well, soon the ugliness of our choices sets in—we can lose everything— we can lose our family, our homes, our health, our wealth, our dignity, etc. (By the way, this is exactly what happens to addicts, is it not?) We can lose everything a loving Father wants us to enjoy [ref. John 10:10b]. And Satan continually wants us focused on anything but knowing God and his will for us.

Let me share something with you. One night, some 27+ years ago, as a result of my bad choices made apart from really knowing the Lord, I took out my 45 caliber pistol and chambered a round while sitting on the edge of my bed…I was at the lowest point of my life, relationally, financially, and spiritually—I could not go any lower (I was just divorced, in unbelievable debt (which is way worse than just having nothing), and wondering who the real God really was—I had a real spiritual void or emptiness…

I felt very wounded and had no hope…   Do some of you feel like that? or Have you felt like that?

Let me tell you about my wounds... But I will not—because they do not compare in any way to the Person I chose to put my faith in that night, who has scars on each of his limbs and His whole body.

The Person… who is intimately associated with the “The Tree of Life!” —Jesus!

“…by His wounds we are healed.” (ref. Isaiah 53:5, 1Peter 2:24).

BECAUSE of a man who always talked about Jesus at business mixers I attended, and who invested some time with me, I was able to put my faith in Jesus based on a little Bible Trac he gave me months earlier that I seemed to be led to read after I put the gun down…

There is more to the story, but we do not have the time….

SO, if we are sitting in our branch of this FORBIDDEN TREE with all our disagreements and divisions, we have no unity with each other

How can we reconcile with each other much less reconcile ourselves with a holy and just God?
How can we make ourselves right with each other and become children of a loving Father, and brothers and sisters with Jesus Christ?

So again, let’s ask: WHAT can we do when it seems everyone is on THEIR branch in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?  What hope of unity is there?

Is there some other way or choice?

Yes!  Knock, knock… Hello!  We need to tell ourselves that we are living in the wrong tree!!

Our unity with each other is only found in Christ. (The absence of division is unity!)

SO NOW, let’s talk about the FIRST tree—The Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life represents Jesus Christ and his resurrected eternal life!

What was Jesus crucified on? (Galatians 3:13)  Yes… a Cross!! (or a stake or a pole—regardless it was a tree)

What was the Cross made of?   Wood
Where did the wood come from?   A tree

In Acts 5:30 the Apostle Peter was speaking to the Jewish leaders… He said, ”The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead — whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.”

Jesus willingly obeyed His Father’s plan and will and was killed on the cross so we could receive and have eternal life bought for us with His body and blood—He paid the price for sin (1Corinthians 7:23 and Romans 6:23).

His death on the cross is also a picture for us as to how we can die to self (i.e., carry our cross) so that Christ can live in us—so we can have His eternal life—the gift of life we receive from The Tree of Life (Colossians 3:3-4).

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” and in Luke 14:27 "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."

How do all these verses relate together?

Well, crucifixion on a tree is a shocking metaphor for discipleship—for becoming a student of Christ. A disciple must do three things: he or she must deny himself/herself (that is die to SELF), and take up his/her cross (that is embrace GOD’S will, no matter the cost—what Jesus did), and follow Christ (that is become a Christ follower, let Him lead and direct you—let your SELF-will always seek to obey God's will—does what you want to do match God's good, pleasing, and perfect will for you?). See Romans 12:1-2...

Here are three other convenient truths to hold on to!

What does this mean for you tonight?

Let me suggest that the power of believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is discovering and knowing what the death and resurrection of Jesus does to the children of God.
First, the cross of Christ convicts of sin and brings forgiveness of sin as well as freedom from sin
And second, the resurrection of Christ brings the power of deliverance from sin and newness of LIFE.

Do you want a new type of life?

Scripture is very clear about our newness of life! All of our wrong choices can be forgiven and forgotten! We can become new creations in Christ—the old has gone and and the new has come! (2Corinthians 5:17) And there is no condemnation or guilt for those in Christ Jesus! (Romans 8:1)

This is what the Lord has taught me and why I am sharing with you tonight! I want to leave you with one of my most favorite verses, Galatians 2:20: The apostle Paul said:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live BY FAITH in the Son of God, [Jesus], who loved me and gave himself for me."

When Paul said “I” have been crucified —I think he meant “I, Paul, the selfish, prideful, and set in my way, Christian killer” has been crucified with Christ—that Paul died, and then Paul was a new man! The new man in Christ who wrote 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament!

Let’s pray: Father I pray that you again have touched hearts who are wondering about you and seeking to be your disciples. Father I pray that Paul’s famous realization the Spirit wrote through him in Galatians 2:20 would become real for many here.   In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

(Teaching for Redwood Gospel Mission Sep 2, 2013; edited & shortened 1/10/19)

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