Tree of Life – Part 8
Matter of Heart
In the table below we attempt to give you an idea of the differences between the two trees. Really what we are talking about is a matter of heart. A direction of spirit. Two believers can look exactly the same, carrying out the same activity, but one may live in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the other in the tree of life. One’s efforts will be a blessing of life to those around them, the other will radiate death to those around them. Use this simple table to help you get the gist of the differences. The table in no way represents actions cast in stone. To think of certain actions as defining the two trees is a big mistake. These are simple examples to help you get the feel of the tree of life. An aid to catch the direction of the spirit of each tree. Please let me repeat myself. The difference between the two trees is a way of thinking, a direction of spirit. The difference is a way of seeing, a world view, and an overall approach to live through that view. A life-view so to speak.
Tree of Life – Leads to Life
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Leads to Death
The reason the Tree of life promotes life is because it points to life Himself. When we speak life, act life, serve life to others, we are touching their very spirit, as well as their heart. The life flow of God has touched them. The flow of blood covenant love is entering their being, and impacting their heart and spirit. That promotes life in us also because life has flowed through us to others.
Death is another story. When we move in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil we are heading for death even when it seems so logical that we are doing what is good. Remember, in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, good leads to death. Amazing! Shocking! Evil also leads to death! So, put it together: Good leads to death, being preoccupied with right and wrong leads to death, evil leads to death. But, life leads to real life in others and ourselves.
Tree of Life Values – Flow of Life Changes People from the Inside Out. Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Value System – See, Know, Judge, Blame. The flesh finds judging and blaming others a natural automatic activity. Speaking death to others becomes an unrecognized natural way of speaking in both business and family. Humor on TV and in movies becomes based on this way of thinking. It is a natural part of the lost person’s world view.
The tree of life individual believes that in the end, truth triumphs over falsehood, right triumphs over wrong, good triumphs over evil, love triumphs over hate. The values of the tree of life individual allow him to be relaxed and trust God because of these triumphs. This person knows the flow of blood covenant love can change hearts and spirits.
Tree of Life – Bless and Forgive
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Hold a Grudge and Justify
In the tree of life we are not interested in “who done wrong” but rather, how can we bless and speak life into a person or a situation. We want to promote life, and the flow of God’s life to others. We will forgive and move on. We will bless those who curse us. We will bless those who spitefully use us.
In the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we tend to get very angry at those who hurt us. We blame them. We hold them responsible for our unhappiness. Even if we made a mistake, it is their fault we are in pain right now. They are to blame!
Tree of Life – Accept Responsibility
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Displace Responsibility
The first two humans who ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil pointed their fingers at someone else for their misfortune. Humans had never done that before. Lucifer had. Suddenly instead of supporting and helping one another as they had in their short past, they now were displacing responsibility on another and claiming innocence for themselves. What a sad scenario.
When you live in the tree of life you accept responsibility regardless of the circumstances. You are now a new creation in Christ, and the fact your mother or father mistreated you when you were a child is a sad fact, but it is no longer an excuse for you. You are new in Jesus and must go forward and do the life-giving thing, and move on. Finger pointing and blaming others is counter productive.
Tree of Life – Live in Freedom
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Live in Victimization
When you do not point the finger of blame at another, when you do not displace responsibility, but rather, take responsibility for yourself completely, you experience a freedom that you can only enjoy when you are in a close walk with the Lord Jesus. You look to Him with optimism, not your enemies with blame. The spirit dimension is the limit, not the earthly lows of blaming and condemning others for your problems.
Victimization is the deepest prison anyone in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can ever live in. It is a state of hopelessness.
Tree of Life – Flow in Unconditional Love
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Struggle in Fear
Tree of Lifers come to know and understand Father’s unconditional love and they rejoice. They walk in love and the freedom Jesus won them, and the wrong kind of fear is not in the equation.
Tree of the knowledge of good and evil people are very concerned about right and wrong and pleasing God, and have a fear that they are not measuring up. If they are not blessed it simply must mean they are failing in some area. Life becomes a guessing game on how to please God and avoid the fear of failure.
Tree of Life – Accepting, Believing the Best
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Evaluating, Suspicious
Is the glass half full or half empty? When one of your major purposes in life is to speak and convey life to everyone around you, you tend to see the bright side of all circumstances. You know even if things are looking grim, by speaking the flow of God’s life into a situation, it can only get better. You realize the most powerful force is God’s love and all that it can accomplish against human odds. When you live in the tree of life you are not naive, thinking everybody honest and fair. You know they are human, and human nature can be horrid. But, with the wisdom of a serpent, and the kindness and gentleness of a dove, you move through life carefully, but positively, because you know God is sovereign and His plan is going to succeed even if the glass is half empty!
In the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are the expert in right and wrong, and you can see wrong far too clearly in everyone else. You become suspicious. You see others as sinners and failures rather than future children of God who are a work in progress. You’re the guy or gal who says, “Watch out for Christians, they will rip you off as fast as anyone!”
Tree of Life – Positive and Encouraging
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Critical and Cynical
With the very life flow of God inside them, tree of lifers naturally speak the words that make for life in a another’s spirit. They are acutely aware of the proverbs that speak about words containing life or death.
Again, it sounds repetitive, but in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil where your focus is often right and wrong, what can I do and what can’t I do, you become critical of others who do the things you can’t, and in time this gives way to cynicism. Elijah stomping around in the dessert saying to himself repeatedly that he was the only faithful one left and everyone else in Israel was a loser is a classic example. God had to remind him there were at least seven thousand others who had never bent the knee to Baal.
Tree of Life – Concerned about Life and Death Issues
Tree of the Knowledge Good and Evil – Concerned about Right and Wrong
Jesus was so concerned that the lost should hear the message of life, he hung out with the biggest sinners in town. He was frequently invited over to their homes for meals and fellowship. He was not overly concerned with their outward appearance and immediate short comings. He knew all things would be taken care of in due time. What mattered was speaking life and love into their being, so that their focus was redirected, and their understanding corrected. Jesus accepted them where the lost presently were, and loved them in a direction toward the Kingdom.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil fellow is very concerned with how circumstances look right now, and he is often self-absorbed wondering how he and others are measuring up in God’s eyes.
Tree of Life – Walk in Innocence/Anointing Flows
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Walk in a Competitive Spirit
The tree of life pastor doesn’t try to make things happen. He leaves that to God. He, his mate and the other leaders in the congregation simply walk with the faithful innocence Adam and Eve had in the garden. God is in charge, and let’s get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do the driving. These men and women are not concerned with how others view them. They stand up and preach life-giving sermons week after week in a childlike innocence, and if someone’s church is growing at a faster pace than theirs, well, so be it, praise God.
Leaders in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil can be very competitive. So competitive it often leads to congregational or denominational politics that are so ugly I don’t want to talk about it!
Tree of Life – Give People their Freedom
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Controlling, Manipulating, Micro-managing
No one really tries to escape America. Some threaten to move away before each Presidential election if their candidate doesn’t get elected! But one problem America does have, is illegal immigrants sneaking into America. They want in because there is freedom here in America. Your creativity and innovation has no limits in America. You can come from a poor country, and become anything you dream of in America! So it is in a church living in the tree of life. People are not micro-managed, but rather, have freedom to develop, be creative, and jump into innovative ministries that help the community.
When a church is micro-managed by a control freak pastor, he will need to build a Berlin wall around the church to keep the people in! Often the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader doesn’t think of the people as a work in progress. Rather, he often is trying to make them over into his own image. He may not realize this fact.
Tree of Life – Let others have Responsibility for Themselves
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Feel Responsible for Others – Interfere
We love and want to help the children of God, but, we can’t live their lives for them. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader doesn’t know that. He’s the interfering fixer of everyone’s problem and concern. It is all part of his concern about how the church “looks”.
The tree of life leader lovingly preaches and teaches the word of God, but he also leaves a lot for Jesus to do for each person. After all, it is Jesus’ church!
Tree of Life – Give People the Freedom to Develop God’s Gifts in their Lives and Ministry
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Others must do it Your Way – the Only Way
The tree of life pastor becomes a coach to help every member develop their gifts and ministries. He or she is an encourager, a trouble shooter in fine tuning members’ ministries. But he is not a dictator.
For the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader, there is only one way to do something. His way. After all he is the ordained leader. If you don’t do it his way you are in rebellion against God’s authority! His leadership crushes creativity and innovation. People with new ideas become discouraged and head for the back door. If the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader does agree to do something like a small group ministry, he will write a two inch thick manual for all small group leaders to follow to the letter, that way he is still in control even if he can’t be present to micro-manage!
Tree of Life – An easy loving Sweet Spirit
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – A Sour Spirit, Controlling, Selfish, Suspicious.
When right and wrong and impressing God are not the main focus of your life, you can relax and be kind and gentle to all people. You’re not hung up on “getting it right” or making others get it right. You love people, teach them the truth, and leave the rest to Jesus. Everyone is a work in progress, and that progress is according to Father’s time table, not yours!
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader may appear very kind and loving on the outside, but inside he or she wants the development and progress of others according to their own timetable. They often become frustrated when people don’t respond to their personal wishes. They become depressed when the attendance at mid-week Bible study isn’t what the leader thinks it should be!
Tree of Life – A Helpful Attitude
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – A Finger-pointing Spirit
A church member presents a personal problem. The tree of life leader is helpful and patient. The member’s problem or failure is not a reflection on his pastoring abilities. He cares and does what he can to promote life and direction in the member’s life.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader points out why the member is having problems with their teens. He has the answers, and he isn’t afraid to point the finger of blame on the dad, and tell him he’s blown his child rearing. The leader justifies treating the member this way by saying he will not compromise with the truth! “I will teach what is true even if it hurts. I will not be a wishy-washy pastor!” Then the tree of the knowledge of good and evil leader wonders why the member will never come to him again for advice!
Tree of Life – Speaking Words of Life
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Speaking Sarcasm, Suspicion, Defeat.
People love talking to someone who lives in the tree of life. Somehow it is so encouraging, yet realistic at the same time. Their words are not exaggerating, but they are filled with hope and inspiration. They remind us of God’s purpose and all that Jesus did for us, and we walk away knowing Jesus will finish what he started in us. Their speech is not filled with why America is going down the tubes, and how everyone at work is a liar and a thief. Nor is their speech filled with who did what wrong at church last week, or how the church would grow faster if we had a decent pastor! That’s talk from the other tree!
Tree of Life – Allowing Differences of Opinion, even Different Interpretations of Scripture in non-Salvation Issues
Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil – Believing or Teaching Your Interpretation as an Absolute
The tree of lifer can sit down in a donut shop with another believer from another church and have a grand conversation and wonderful fellowship, because they focus on the absolutes of scripture. The salvation issues. They don’t get hung up on different church cultures and interpretations. If they pray in tongues and the other person doesn’t, it’s no big deal. Speaking life into the other is more important.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil fellow may not even show up at the donut shop depending on what his church teaches about the sin of eating donuts!
Tree of Life – Focus on the Absolutes of Scripture (heaven and hell issues)
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Make Life and Death issues out of Everything You Believe
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil fellow places everything he believes inside the circle he might call true Christianity. If you don’t fit inside that circle, you may not be in the Kingdom of God. But what if you have a different interpretation on a non-salvation issue? To the tree of the knowledge of good and evil fellow there may not be such a thing as a non-salvation issue! Everything, including which translation of the Bible you read may have to do with salvation!
Tree of Life – Focus Teaching on Life and Jesus Himself
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Focus Teaching on Right and Wrong
When you are hung up on pleasing and impressing God, you end up focused on fence laws. You don’t ask, “How can I keep the law?” Rather you think in terms of, “What can I do and what can’t I do?”
The tree of lifer lives in the reality of two things. Love God and love your fellow man. Living in the tree of life accomplishes both. Decisions are made based on ways and means of loving people toward the Kingdom. Decisions are made by asking if this or that leads to life. Right and wrong, good and evil still exist to the tree of life fellow, but that is not their focus. Promoting life is the focus.
Tree of Life – Believers fall in love with Jesus – Read their Bibles and Pray with great Joy
Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – Religious approach to Prayer and Study
In the tree of life the believer falls head over heels in love with Jesus, and the resulting by-product is a great enthusiasm for knowing Jesus better. They love their Bibles and love reading and praying because it draws them closer to their King.
People in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil read and study because it is a good Christian discipline. The pastor said good Christians read their Bible so you read your Bible, but it can become a chore instead of a joy.
Tree of Life – Use Bible to bring Joy and Hope to Others
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Use Bible as a Weapon of Tyranny to show failure in People’s Lives
The Bible can be a wonderful book of life to the lost, or it can be a weapon of tyranny in the hands of someone whoes focus is right and wrong. In the hands of this type of person, the Bible becomes the source of knowledge upon which the seeing- knowing- judging-blaming value system is based. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil person uses their Bible to turn people away with their judging, self-righteous approach. We can use the Bible to turn people on to God, or turn them off Christianity forever!
Tree of Life – Church Board – Proactive Support of Pastor
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Board becomes Self-Serving god
Probably any form of church government will work, if, everybody in authority lives in the tree of life. A board operating in the tree of life has deep respect and Godly fear of the office God created called, “Pastor.” They work with the pastor, not against him, and they do so in a manner that promotes life. Even when there is disagreement over a plan or an approach, the meetings are handled in a life-giving manner.
There is no talk behind the pastor’s back. There are no huddles in the dark parking lot after the board has left the church and the pastor is not present. God help any pastor who has tree of the knowledge of good and evil people on his board. Let the power struggles begin!
Tree of Life – Parents who Communicate Love and Acceptance to Children
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Parents making Right and Wrong more Important that Relationship
When your parents had to correct you as a child, were you left with the assurance they loved you and you would always be their child? I hope so. Or, after the tongue lashing were you left thinking your parents cared more about other people’s opinions and feelings than your own? Did you feel they might disown you someday?
Tree of Life – A Genuine Unconditional Love for People
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – An Inner Contempt for People
Some people in leadership don’t really love people. They have a problem with people never measuring up to expectations. Deep inside they come to resent people.
The tree of life individual comes to love people in a simple manner. The flow of God’s love into them causes a real love for others, despite the fact people do disappoint them. The flow of life and blood covenant love does make all the difference.
Tree of Life – Lifestyle of Giving
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Lifestyle of Getting that is Disguised as Giving
When life and blood covenant love is pouring into you, the most natural response becomes giving away. You live by the philosophy “What’s mine is yours.” In the story of the Lost Son in Luke chapter 15, the Father lives by this philosophy. The younger son lives by the idea, “What’s yours is mine.” His older brother who gets so upset with the younger returning to the farm lives by the philosophy, “What’s mine is mine.” Only the Father in the story lives in the tree of life.
In the tree of life we come to understand we can not out give our Father. There is no need to hoard. The more we give away, the more the Father fills us with His love and life.
Tree of Life – Live in the New Way of the Spirit
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Live in the Old Way of the Written Code
Even for the modern legalist who claims to be living in the New Covenant, you will find a whole list of do’s and don’ts because of the focus on right and wrong, good and evil. It is important to impress God so the blessings will flow.
In the tree of life the individual understands there is a new approach, a new way to relate to God. It is no longer performance based religion. It is now love and relationship. God blesses us because he loves us. We now learn to rest in His very Spirit (Matt 11:28) and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. We are now life and love oriented, not performance based. We walk in the spirit, not in a behavior modification program of do’s and don’ts.
Tree of Life – Giving Congregation Freedom – Respecting their Adult Decisions
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Keeping an Attendance Sheet at church and calling everyone on Monday to see why they were not in church Sunday
The control freak leader is the one most likely to burnout, or, drive everyone away from himself. In the tree of life we respect people’s decisions, even if we disagree with their opinions. We simply can’t live other people’s lives for them. Remember, God does not force us to do anything. He gives us lots of space, and he allows us to reap what we sow. We must do the same. Our job as believers is to love people into the direction of life.
Tree of Life – Jesus words and actions working with the Woman caught in Adultery
Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Pharisees words and motives regarding Woman caught in Adultery
The Pharisees were technically correct. The law was clear regarding adultery. The penalty was death by stoning. Jesus worked within the framework of the law and gave the Pharisees the right to stone her. He simply asked that it be done in a certain order, starting with the Pharisee who had never sinned.
What is truly exciting to notice is how Jesus worked with this lady caught in great sin. First he writes or draws on the ground, pulling the leering eyes of the men off the woman, who was probably just wrapped in a blanket. Then, at the end he turned to her and made two life-giving statements. “Neither do I accuse you.” “Go and sin no more.” His actions and his words spoke life into this woman. There was no brow beating. No lecture on how she was ruining her life, her marriage and disgracing her children. Those would be natural consequences of her actions. Jesus spoke life to this woman to give her hope for the future.
I think you get the gist of it. Remember, we are not really talking about a set of behaviors. We are talking about two ways of thinking. Two attitudes toward life. Two philosophical views toward the same events in life. One way of thinking inspired by love and the Holy Spirit. The other way of thinking driven by the darkness of human nature disguised by noble ideals.
The best way to move into the Tree of Life is to learn to “rest” in the very spirit of Jesus. Fully stepping into the New Covenant means entering into a rest in Jesus’ spirit, and moving away from living half in the old way of the written code and half in the new way of the spirit. In the next post we will explore this idea.