There truly is nothing new under the sun. The same lie that the serpent used on Eve he uses on us. And we still buy it. We still doubt the goodness of God, still think He’s keeping us from something good, denying us our true identity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So, why do we still buy this snake oil? I think it’s mainly because we choose to eat from the wrong tree. Let me explain.
In Genesis we see that there were two fruit bearing trees (yeah, there were more, but we are only concerned with these two.), the Tree of Life, the fruit of which gave eternal life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Bible says of that tree that it “was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise”. But yet it was deadly.
Both of these trees are alive and flourishing today. Jesus is the tree of life and those that walk in faith with Him are grafted into that tree (Jn 15:5) and will produce the fruits that Jesus did. But the other tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is still with us as well. It is growing in many of our churches, ministries and homes. It can be hard to see, though. It’s hiding in plain sight, camouflaged to be sure, but it’s there, even in the lives of believers. Call it what you will, religion, legalism, ethics based “christianity”. In the end it’s the same thing, an effort to make ourselves more acceptable to the Father by changing ourselves, keeping rules or doing things for God. It’s the age-old desire to be the author’s of our own redemption.
Here’s the catch, though. From the outside, both of these trees produce the same kind of fruit. Partakers of the tree of knowledge can appear righteous, they study the “word”, they can quote scripture, completer with the address, they often are successful, wealthy, responsible. They have all the appearance of godliness, but their inner lives deny the power. (2Tim. 3:5) I would venture to say that most of these folks are like I was, they really believe that they are “good christians” and that they are simply trying to live what they’ve been told is true. But it’s not true, is it? How many times have you tried to quit (insert your sin here)? How many times have you sworn that you were going to study the Bible more, pray more, clean up your act? How’s that working for you? Didn’t work at all for me. In fact, things just got worse, just the opposite of my desire.
So, what’s the answer? How can we begin to live free of our sins, our failings? The only answer that truly makes a difference, changes us from the inside out, is the Tree of Life… Jesus. And we see the fruit of that Tree manifest through faith. (Gal. 3, Ro. 10:4, 8:4) So quit it! Quit “trying” to overcome your faults and sins and focus on Jesus and getting close to Him. Seek His righteousness, not yours, and let bear the fruit that He creates. Our trust in who He is (that’s real faith) will enable Him to manifest righteousness in our lives. You can’t get there any other way, certainly not by focusing on your sin, because we become like that which we behold.