Eating from the wrong tree

WrongTree“What was Adam’s sin?” was the question that Mark Hendrickson asked us last Sunday. He was the guest speaker at our church.

Besides being an author, worship leader, songwriter, instigator of grace, and founder of Dwelling Place ministries, Mark is a fellow WordPress blogger, and he and Debbie are good friends of ours. 

And Mark’s provocative question got me to thinking about this whole thing, which led me to write. So, getting back to the question, what was Adam’s sin? Was it because they ate the forbidden fruit? Technically, yes, but that’s not at the heart of the matter.

Their sin was that they were trying to be God.

And from this point forward, they started to eat off of the wrong tree. And it has become the default for us to eat from this same tree ever since.

An interesting point Mark brings out is that the serpent told them they would be like God when they already were like God, created in His image (Gen.1:26).

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it
your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Gen.3:5 NKJV)

Their problem was not that they wanted to be like God, they already were. But, like the rebellious prodigal son or his religiously dutiful brother, they didn’t know who they were, what they had, so they were open to counterfeit affections. So they decided to leave a life in their Father’s embrace, trusting another voice over His.

So they ate from the tree that would make them want to place their life in their own hands instead of His hands.

And we are open to this same deception if we don’t know who we are as beloved sons of our Father in Christ.

Because, for us, even though this Tree of Life is living in us as believers, we can still prefer to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We can still prefer to play God in our own life, and other people’s lives, instead of letting God be God in everything.

So what does eating from the wrong tree and ‘trying to be God’ look like for us? Here are just a few examples. There are some similarities to those I gave in my other post

– It’s limiting God to our perception instead of being formed by His

– It’s trying to live a “good Christian life” instead of abiding in Christ’s life

– It’s trying to attain to righteousness instead of obtaining it as a free gift (Rom.5:17)

– It’s trying to act holy by our behavior instead of “be” holy by our new nature in Christ

– It’s trying instead of trusting in anything…

– It’s striving to serve Him out of our strength instead of His empowering grace

– It’s wanting to live by rules and moral principles instead of by the power of the Spirit

– It’s relying on our ability to figure things out in our head instead of His (1 Cor.2:16)

– It’s making decisions based on what we think is best instead of what He thinks is best

– It’s basing our faith on what we can believe instead of what He believes

– It’s reacting to our circumstances instead of resting in Him through them

– It’s preferring to control of other people instead of trusting the Holy Spirit in them

– It’s withholding love unless others meet our conditions

– It’s trying to coerce others to be like us instead of letting them be who they are

– It’s judging others instead of accepting them where they are and loving them

– It’s withholding forgiveness instead of showing mercy

– It’s thinking our anger instead of His kindness will lead others to repentance

Of course, I could on and on.

The revelation we all must face at some point in our life, and not forget, is that we want to make everything all about us, our needs, what we’re going through, what others have done to us–no matter how humble we may want to sound, how pious we may look, or any of the other ways we may dress it up.

Our tendency is to regulate God’s involvement in our life, and we usually prefer to control others instead of ourselves. We’re uncomfortable with others unless they think like us. We do actually want God and what we think He can give us, but we want Him on our own terms.

I know this comes across a bit harsh, and it is, but being open to and awakened by the truth is the pathway to true freedom. 🙂

And this litany of woundedness that exposes our dysfunctional need for self-affirmation is not meant to give opportunity to grovel in shame and self-condemnation but, by contrast, revel in the bright light of the staggering good news offered to us with our new life in Christ! It’s truly liberating and transformational. For we are given the opportunity to leave the dank dungeon where this orphan Tree grows, that feeds our soul’s propensity for self-worship, and walk under the restful shade of the “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” freedom that comes from living Christ’s very own life!

Beloved, the antidote is living in you! Open your heart, let the Father’s love overwhelm your soul and feed it on Christ’s life. For He is the Tree of Life that brings healing to us and to the nations.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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13 Responses to Eating from the wrong tree

  1. Mel, I don’t think this is harsh at all – it is honest and loving and truthful to the heart of our freedom in Christ. You said this so well – we are already made in His image. It is when we attempt to BE God that we so grievously sin, turning our backs on the grace, blessings and love we have already been given. Terrific post.

  2. Great! And the master schemer deceiver has never stopped from Adam and Eve until now trying to get us to believe that we need to DO something to be like God when the Grace of God says that we are “complete”, “made perfect”, “as He is in this world” and “the righteousness of God in Christ” already. And so to try to be like God we resort to our own strength… in other words, ‘being our own god’. Arrgghh. But we’re getting an upgrade in better believing which will lead to better living… and not falling prey to the enemy’s deceptions. Thank you Jesus for Your astounding grace and perfection. How could I ever have a bad hair day when I’m hidden with You inside of God (Col 3:3)!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen! Good stuff, Mark. Yes, the “I’ve got to do something” lie has been out there since the garden. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace upgrade!

  3. TK says:

    I have a question. you list some things like “basing our faith on what we can believe instead of what He believes” and “relying on our ability to figure things out in our head instead of His.” How does that happen. How can we believe or think outside of our own head. I mean, I can feel like my beliefs are inspired by the Holy Spirit, but how do you really know they are (especially when other people who consider themselves religious tell you you’re wrong)?

    I agree with everything you say here, but I struggle knowing if what I know and believe is based on my humanity or based on Divine inspiration.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good questions, TK. And important ones. First, the contrast is against trying to do things in my abilities, my opinions, my limited understanding, or how I perceive myself. It’s all in my head, apart from God. And both points you ask about require faith. And both require that I understand that there are things I don’t know that I don’t know. 🙂 In other words, I don’t have a mental grid for them yet. I talked about this in more detail in my post, “How to know if revelation is from God.”

      So what I mean by basing our faith on what He believes is agreeing with God in how He reveals who we are in His Word. Of course, this is subject to our interpretation. For instance, we may feel like a failure, unworthy, etc., but He believes we’re His beloved son/daughter and more than an overcomer, alive in Him. So it’s His word, His thoughts that define me more than what I even think about myself or what others may think of me. Of course, this takes faith. But applying faith to what He says does change my heart and becomes my experience over time.

      Secondly, we are told we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor.2:16), that we can hear His voice (John 10). His Word says (1 Cor.2:10-16) that my spirit can receive revelation from God’s Spirit. So, besides His written Word, He informs me of things by His Spirit.

      And I can know whether it’s from God or not by the nature and character of what I think He’s telling me. Does it empower me instead of dis-empower? Also, it will never contradict His written Word. This is why knowing what the Bible says about us is important.

      I can get confirmation from others. But there’s a lot of reasons why others may say you’re wrong. It might their own sentiments (they personally don’t want you to do it), or their particular interpretation or bias, or they could possibly be right. (And it’s okay to be wrong. That’s how we learn,) But if it’s God and you’ve developed a relationship with Him based on the things I mentioned, you’ll know in your heart and you’ll have peace about it.
      Hope that helps! Blessings.

  4. Very good points and yes, Adam and Eve sinned because they fell to the deception that they needed to do eat that fruit in order to become equals with God. Ultimately this was driven by their own desire to be independent from God. Isnt that what many people are still doing today? Trying to convince themselves that they can run their own lives just as well, if not better, than God?

    No wonder the bible said that it is impossible to please God without faith, for we need to humble ourselves, admit our inadequacy and believe that only God can play God.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, Stephen. And the crazy thing is, we’re resisting something we really want in our deepest of hearts! We want unconditional love, acceptance, and true freedom. And all of that comes from God’s empowering Spirit of grace. And what a heavy burden it is for us to have to be “God” for other people! LOL! But when we finally give up trying to do His job, we can find true rest and peace for our souls and also be free to love others instead. And the faith required is all in what He’s done, what He says, and what He can do in our life. Frankly, I don’t see the problem in that. 🙂
      Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

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