2. Life versus Knowledge
God made us weak, completely unable to do anything, including keeping His law, that's why He doesn't want us messing around with it. God created us to contain Him, to reveal Him, to be one person with Him. The mechanism by which that union happens is the stark presumption of FAITH. Eat, eat, eat of Christ, without any thought of the tree of knowledge.
2. Life versus Knowledge
We must always distinguish between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. We do not know the tree of life well; living in life is not familiar to us. The world and the church live in the tree of knowledge, in what is familiar and common.
You see, the same injunction given to Adam remains upon us – do not eat of the tree of knowledge. At the same time, the tree of life remains invitation only. There is no compulsion to eat of it. The truth is, eating of the tree of knowledge is central to Christian thinking; it is considered a “duty” to do so.
Grace and jeopardy are both part of the nature of God, always circling around each other in dramatic tension. Let me define jeopardy in the New Testament.
Jeopardy is part of life, essential to the nature and being of God. Legalism is part of death, essential to disobedience. Jeopardy is the fact that the tree of life is by invitation only, no one is forced to eat of it. Legalism comes out of the unbreakable grip the tree of knowledge instantly exerts upon those who eat of it.
God put the two trees into the garden BEFORE He put man there. Man stood in jeopardy while he was without sin, walking in fellowship with God. God placed man in jeopardy; there is no sin in jeopardy, nor any legalism. But legalism also comes out of not eating the tree of life.
First, let’s talk about the nature and being of God.
The truth and nature of God are filled with many tensions, seemingly opposing things always present and always circling around each other. These tensions in God are entirely different from those things separate from God that God is opposed to. There is no “tension” between legalism and grace, grace is always at war with legalism, yet not as a cosmic dual, but rather with grace always turning its back on legalism, defeating it by the withering blows of ignoring it.
On the other hand, jeopardy is part of the nature of God: God never forces anyone to love Him. Therefore, God’s creation is always free to love Him or not, as they wish. In the nature of God, grace and jeopardy always circle each other in a dynamic tension, you can never have one without also, fully, having the other.
God is always an unmoving Rock upon which we stand; God is always a Wind that blows we know not where. Not half and half, but all and all; not sometimes one and then sometimes the other, but always both all the time. We are always standing upon a Rock that is sure and certain and never moves; we are always being blown by a Wind to places we do not expect; His mercies are new every morning.
Some people want a free-for-all God, one that is always changing, always fickle; they want that in God so they can direct Him – but He is not. God is an unmovable rock. He never changes; there is no shadow of turning in Him. You can always count on Him never to re-arrange the playing field. Some people want a stuffy God who never does the unexpected, who fits into the normality of life in this world – He is not. He is always doing the unexpected, showing up where you’re not looking, doing wondrous things and then disappearing when you are just expecting Him to do the same thing today that He did yesterday.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; God is new every morning.
Hebrews best expresses the jeopardy of Christ. We learn there what jeopardy means and then apply it from Hebrews to the rest of the New Testament. In Galatians, Paul speaks of “falling from grace”; he is referring to this same thing.
Let us therefore fear lest having a promise of entering into His rest, some of you should seem to fall short of it. Hebrews 4:1
Legalism in every form it takes is falling from grace; it is failing to enter into His rest. Legalism is deceptive and hides itself in many guises.
The greatest problem with legalism is to read the jeopardy of the New Testament and then to define that jeopardy, not as Christ who is our life, but as some some way of “pretending” to be holy. When we understand the jeopardy of Christ, we no longer attempt to turn those verses into obligation and duty.
The best picture of legalism in the Bible is Adam and Eve putting on fig leaves, hiding behind tree trunks, and pointing the finger. Legalism is hiding from the light; it is every form of pretense, pretending, and fakery, of trying to make ourselves look like God on the outside by “trying to do what He says.”
Jeopardy is the nature of God that never binds us to Himself, but always leaves us free to return to pretense, pretending, and fakery, if we prefer that to the abandonment of “self ” in the light and rest of Christ. Standing in the light is jeopardy. Yet jeopardy is only one part of the tension of Christ. At the same time as we stand in the light, we are also seated upon the throne of grace in all fullness.
The blood and forgiveness of sins are essential parts of jeopardy. “If we walk in the light, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Forgiveness of sins comes only in the light; it doesn’t come into any form of hiding. But as we stand in the light knowing we are cleansed by the blood, we are also fully seated upon the throne of grace without any thought of sin/no sin whatsoever, but only the Father’s purpose – both at the same time.
The cleansing of the blood is not what defines us; it is a “negative.” What defines us is the river of life flowing out of us. People say that the reason Jesus came was to reconcile us to God. Well, that certainly was the first task given to Him by the Father, but He performed that task for the JOY set before Him.
The reason Jesus came was the joy of God revealing Himself to His creation through His bride, His body, His company of sons. Reconciling the world to God is the “negative” side of His work; filling the earth with the glory of the Father is the “positive.” “Being reconciled” is part of jeopardy; the JOY of the bride is part of sitting upon the throne of grace.
The cross of Christ is jeopardy; the resurrection of Christ is grace. Neither one has anything to do with legalism. The cross is not part of the tree of knowledge; it is the tree of life.
There is no law given that can give life. Paul in Galatians 3
As Christians, we are in a similar place as Adam was before he fell, but not the same place. Adam had one chance for either the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. If he had eaten of life, life would have made him incorruptible forever.
But life remains invitation only. No one is forced to live in life. For us, even after we tasted of life when we asked Jesus into our hearts, yet life does not grip us as the tree of knowledge did Adam, not yet, not until the resurrection of the physical body. Once Adam ate of the tree of knowledge, he was bound by it. Once we ate of the tree of life, we were not bound by it. “Whosoever will may come and freely drink.” Drinking and eating the tree of life are never compulsory.
When our physical body is swallowed up in life, we become incorruptible, just like God, incapable of knowing sin. We are then bound into life.
But at the present time, if Christ lives in my heart, then Christ is my life; I have no other life. But I am free to live as if I have a life separate from Christ. I am free to continue in the thinking of the tree of knowledge. Because I am in Christ, the tree of knowledge’s hold is broken, yes, but I can still live by it, if I wish. But neither am I bound by the tree of knowledge should I turn my back on life and imagine myself separate from God. I am free to turn and eat of life again.
I am not poised between two natures inside of me. I am poised between Christ, who is my Life, and the imagination that I am separated in any way from Him. In the end, the tree of knowledge is IMAGINATION only.
We live in another aspect of the tension of duality that fills the nature of God – Love and Holiness. Let me explain.
Everyone thinks that Love is nicer than Holiness, I disagree. Love is scary. God’s love for me is always setting me free. Because God so highly regards and respects my person, He never binds me to Himself, but always gives me opportunity to live as if I am separate from Him. God’s love also sets me on an equal plane with Himself, face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart. It is God’s high regard for me that compels Him to give Himself fully to me, and that is even more scary.
In contrast, God’s holiness is so very comforting. Holiness is the grip of God that has seized me and will not let me go. The writer of Hebrews says that God scourges every son whom He receives, but a person who does not know such pain from God is illegitimate, that is, does not really belong to Him.
I am very good at running from God with years of practice. I am a total failure at escaping Him. He has two ways of catching me. The better way for me is when He shows up in the path just ahead and keeps talking with me as if I had never left Him, it’s embarrassing, but not humiliating. But oh so often, He uses the trick of putting out His foot for me to trip over, falling flat on my face in the mud. After which He lifts me up, dusts me off, and on we go. I may “feel” humiliated, but He pays no attention and goes on as if nothing had happened.
That grip, by which God has seized me all the days of my life, is His holiness. Holiness shines the light of God upon all my foolishness and never lets me escape. I don’t know of anything more comforting than that.
God hovers over us with a fierce jealousy. That is His holiness, and it IS our comfort. However, although God’s utter devotion to us has seized our lives in His grip, yet Life continues on as invitation only. God does not force us to eat of it.
We are standing now between the two trees, just as Adam did. There is only one way to stop eating of the tree of knowledge, which comes to us in every form of legalism, and that way is to eat, eat, eat of the tree of life.
Christ is my life; I have no other life. Eating Christ removes all pretense, all pretending, all fakery.
Here are the three words God gave Adam. Let’s consider them carefully.
1. Subdue the earth.
2. Of the tree of life you may freely eat.
3. Do not eat of the tree of knowledge.
We have thought up until now, that Adam messed up when he disobeyed God. That he should have obeyed God’s command: “Do not eat of the tree of knowledge.” That way of thinking comes out of the tree of knowledge.
No. Adam messed up by not immediately taking up God’s invitation and eating, eating, eating, of the tree of life. If Adam had seized upon God’s invitation to eat of the tree of life, then the tree of knowledge would have dried up by the root and vanished and Adam would have proceeded to overwhelm and subdue the earth with the rivers of living water gushing out of his belly.
The more you fight against sin, the more sin will increase. God has not given us the capacity to defeat sin, to “not sin.” He has given us the invitation to eat of life. And He has given us the blood so that we can turn our backs on worrying over sin and simply eat, eat, eat of life.
There is no law given that can give life, Paul in Galatians 3. The law is the tree of knowledge; it is the ministry of death. The law does not create sin; neither did the tree of knowledge create sin. Trying to obey God creates sin, eating of the tree of knowledge creates sin. Sin does not come from either the law or the tree of knowledge; it happens because the one eating of it is NOT supposed to be anywhere near it; the one eating of it COULD BE eating of Life.
Life is NOT found in obeying God. The problem, Paul says, is not the law. The problem was not the tree of knowledge. The problem was not disobedience. Paul said that the problem is that we were never made for the law. We were made only to partake of life.
Let us say that some person has the self discipline to always and only obey what God speaks. God speaks, they obey. God speaks, they obey. Let’s now say that they do this for 10 years without a break, for 20 years, for 1000 years. At what point have they partaken of life? They have not. More than that, they now have a claim against God. “You spoke, I obeyed. You owe me something. I “ought to” receive life because I have fulfilled all Your requirements.”
Paul said that whole way of thinking is death. Don’t live there.
I have no self-discipline. Knowing that, I cried out for years for God to change me so that I could obey Him. Am I prevented from life because He did not?
You see, Paul said that the problem with the law is not the law, it is the nature of flesh. God MADE MAN WEAK. God deliberately crafted man to have infinite capacity, the potential to contain all the fullness of God, but with ZERO ability. The church, then, did something awful with Paul’s teaching that the problem is the nature of the flesh. The church decided that since the flesh was the problem, we must get rid of the flesh. Surely, if we get the flesh underfoot, hammer it down on the cross, then we can do all that God says.
Here is the nature of the law, “All that God says, we will do.” That statement and belief is the loudest proclamation of the flesh as it lives separated from God.
But the church has missed the whole point. The flesh is not a problem. The problem is that it was not made for the law. The flesh is made for Christ. The flesh is made to be filled with another, that is, the Person and Spirit of Christ.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Then, the church came up with something worse, and that is the idea that the Holy Spirit comes to “help us do” what God says. Only, in their minds He doesn’t actually do that. In other words, the Spirit only “helps those who help themselves.”
They are right that the Holy Spirit helps us, but they never actually believe that He DOES. They say He does, but then refuse any idea that He actually does. Yes, the Holy Spirit has become Christ as us, as we find ourselves to be, and thus we know that we are always pleasing to God.
In Galatians 3 Paul contrasts “obeying what God says,” the law, versus faith and life. They sit as the two opposing trees Adam faced in the garden. Galatians 3:21 says, “There is no law given that can give life.” “I will do what God says” cannot produce one ounce of life inside of us, but only a claim of obligation against God.
We partake of Christ by faith. Faith is a powerful human capacity. However, we never think of faith as something separate from Christ because we never think of ourselves as someone separate from Christ. My faith is His faith; His faith is my faith. I can say, “My faith,” and it means nothing other than His faith. I can say, “His faith,” and it means nothing other than my faith.
Faith is the capacity of man to EAT of Christ. We eat of Christ by seeing every part of ourselves in Him and by seeing Him in every part of ourselves at all times. The hearing that is Christ is found only in seeing first. To listen for a “voice” coming to you, while you “see” yourself separate from Christ is not life, it is death. And we “see” by faith, by a bold and presumptuous LEAP off the cliff against what we see with our natural eyes or feel with our human feelings.
God has not given us the task to resolve the problems of the tree of knowledge. God has invited us to eat Christ. All legalism comes from Christians trying to resolve the problems of the tree of knowledge. God said, “Don’t live there.”
But even God’s command to us is not life. There is no life found in the command, “Do not live there,” in obeying that command. Neither is there any life in the invitation to eat of life. We can hold the invitation (we can be born again) all we want. But life is found only in eating of life, not in enjoying the invitation.
Adam could have lived for 1000 years in the garden obeying God by never eating of the tree of knowledge, and he would have remained separate from LIFE.
Granted, it would have been far better for Adam to have obeyed God and not eaten of knowledge. But Adam’s obedience could not have fulfilled God’s purpose, nor brought him any closer to life than when he was created. There is no command to eat of the tree of life. Eating of the tree of life is 100% of faith; it is invitation only.
Faith is bold and presumptuous. Faith strides into the presence of God, says, “I will have some of this,” takes boldly, and EATS of life.
The blood of Jesus allows us always to turn our backs on all the issues and problems of the tree of knowledge. We do not escape sin by not eating of the tree of knowledge. We escape sin and death by boldly eating, eating, eating of LIFE.
God put the trees of life and knowledge side by side. We cannot eat of the tree of life without turning our backs on the tree of knowledge. We cannot eat of the tree of knowledge without turning our backs on the tree of life.
The tree of knowledge was 100% God. God knew everything there is to know about sin and death before sin ever entered the universe – though God Himself does not “know” sin. The law is pure and holy and good.
Angels were created to obey God, man was not. God created man weak.
Our weakness is our glory. You see, God wanted to reveal Himself to His creation. That means that God must live IN ANOTHER. God does not live IN angels; they are servants in His house. For God to live in another, that other must be his own person, yet, that other must be willing to be God’s Person in full and complete union with his own person – by faith alone.
God’s Person does not replace our person; His Person comes into perfect marriage union with our person. That is not a union of “obedience,” but of complete equality. God conforms Himself to us BEFORE we could ever be conformed to Him. God became flesh first.
Angels can do what they were created to do. Man is weak. He is created to contain and reveal God. How can man do that? No possible way.
You and I CANNOT do what God created us to do. God created you to contain God. Can you do that? God created you to reveal God. Can you do that?
That is what Paul meant when he said the flesh is weak. The flesh was made to contain God, not obey Him. One who contains God walks in union with God and God with him, sharing heart with God. One who obeys God walks separately from God, lining himself up with all that God says.
The angels who obey God have a hold on God. God is obligated to take care of them. That’s how angels are supposed to live. Obligation cannot exist in the relationship between God and man. That relationship is found only in invitation on the one side, and the boldness and audacity of FAITH on the other.
So the answer to the problems of the tree of knowledge is so very simple. Eat, eat, eat of Christ. Boldly sit upon the throne of God. See yourself as Christ and as no other. But as you eat of the tree of life, your back is turned to the tree of knowledge; your back is turned to “doing the commandments.”
In fact, when you sit upon the throne of God, you have not turned around to face or to deal with the tree of knowledge in any way. Quite the contrary, now you are poised as the fountain of the river of life that alone can fulfill the other command of God, “Subdue the earth.”
Christians try very hard to deal with all the tangled issues, all the unending problems arising out of the tree of knowledge. They imagine they should move into human government, riding the back of the beast. They believe the whole point of God is to obey His command, “Do not eat of the tree of knowledge.”
No, the whole point of God is for us to EAT of life.
Let me share a story concerning the fellowship I was part of called “the move of God.” The man who birthed that fellowship, Sam Fife, taught the revelation of Jesus Christ. Thus, he was less worried about “sin,” and more convinced of the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ in us. Nevertheless, his word contained a mixture. On the other hand, he preached the defeat of death by FAITH.
Yet he died, killed in a plane crash in Guatemala in April, 1979. I attended the first big convention after his death, at Bowens Mill, Georgia, in July. A dear brother led us in a powerful victory song filled with a mighty anointing in which we continued to proclaim the defeat of death in spite of what our “eyes” had seen.
But the man who became the leader of the move stopped the victory celebration. Right away he made it very clear the direction the move would now take. He said, “You will not defeat death until you defeat sin – until you stop sinning.”
Sam Fife had been seeing LIFE as the victory over everything. There was a brother from Jamaica, Lester Higgins, who was teaching a powerful word of Christ our life, a word that Sam Fife loved. This brother’s word of Christ our life in the October 1978 Bowens Mill convention had galvanized everyone, myself included. The move was poised to go either way. Yet from Sam’s death on, the brother from Jamaica was not invited back again.
The entire fellowship, without realizing it, turned their backs on the tree of life to face the tree of knowledge. “Defeat sin first, then you can think about life.” Yet it was long years before the word of “defeat sin” won out over the power of life.
The furthest extent that “Defeat sin first, then you can think about life,” went in my knowledge was in the words of a sister to me, whom I have known well for many years. “I cannot look at what you are saying about Christ in me, getting rid of anti-Christ in me takes all my focus.”
To eat of the tree of life is to be utterly UNconcerned about “myself.” There is no “myself.” To eat of the tree of life is to leap off the cliff utterly into the person of another. Jesus said, “Not My will, but Thine be done”; that is my only nature. I do not “follow His path” as one separate from Him. He is the only life I am. As He is, I am. Jesus in Gethsemane was simply the eternal showing itself in time. Since Christ is always choosing the Father’s will, I am always choosing the Father’s will; there is no other possibility. I do not have a life separate from the present Person of Jesus in all the revelation of the Father. The cross IS finished.
What is the jeopardy of the believer? The jeopardy is that I am not bound to life. I am free to concern myself with solving the issues and problems of the tree of knowledge. I am free to “try to do God’s will and not my own.” I am free to look for commandments, Old Testament or New, to be sure that I obey them.
The answer to jeopardy is faith. Boldly EAT of life and never stop.
Making yourself no longer to sin – putting the flesh under foot IS eating of the tree of knowledge.
God has given us a window, an open door. We have the blood. The blood does not save us; it redeems us. The cross does not save us; it reconciles us to God. What does that mean? It means that we have this brief window of time in which we are 100% free to worry about the tree of knowledge NOT AT ALL.
So what if you messed up and did something “wrong.” Never do we try to resolve that issue. Asking forgiveness of someone we have hurt is not “fixing sin.” It is the overflow of the river of life. We simply turn our backs entirely on the issue of “did you obey God, did you disobey God.”
As we walk in God, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness. But that is not life, and we are not saved by being cleansed of disobedience. We are saved by His life. Salvation is eating, eating, eating of the tree of life, with no regard for the tree of knowledge in any way whatsoever.
Christ IS my life; I have NO other life. I will boldly eat of Him without any reference to sin versus no sin whatsoever.
Let me explain once more the jeopardy of Christ. The gospel of faith does have ONE requirement, one thing we must DO to live. We must eat of Christ. Eating of Christ is invitation only. The command of the gospel, the obedience of faith are found in these words.
We are partakers of Christ IF we keep the confidence of our joy high all the way through. — Count it all joy when all sorts of difficulties hit you.
Give thanks in all things. — God always leads us to exult boastfully in the victory of Christ in us BEFORE we see it with our eyes.”
Christ lives in our hearts by faith. — Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. — Christ, who IS our life.”
I live, only it’s not me, it’s Christ, yet it’s just as much me, there is no distinction. — Christ and I are one. — As He is, so are we in this world.
God is not interested in the outward obedience of humans walking as beings separate from Him; He wants our person. He wants the Love shed abroad from a shared heart. God made us weak, completely unable to do anything, including keeping His law, that’s why He doesn’t want us messing around with it.
God created us to contain Him in Person, to reveal Him in Person, to be one person with Him.
The mechanism by which that union happens is the stark presumption of FAITH. Eat, eat, eat of Christ, without any thought of the tree of knowledge, without any thought of “doing what God says.” Death comes by following something outside of you, something you “know” God said, and thus departing from your shared heart with the God who FILLS you now with ALL of His fullness.
And groan for the resurrection, as Paul says we do, for when our physical body is swallowed up in LIFE, that is when we are forever bound to life, with no knowledge of sin whatsoever. In the resurrection we are the containers and revealers of the Person of God Himself in all fullness forever.