There are two trees in the Garden of Eden—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. When Adam and Eve ate from the poisoned tree they infected mankind. Before eating they did not even realize they were naked—their focus was on God. The knowledge of good and evil distracts us from the One who is the source of life. It causes us to become self-centered. It causes us to become either corrupt of self righteous—and both lead to death.
The profound thing is—there is just as much death in the knowledge of good as there is in the knowledge of evil. When one trusts in self or in compliance, we don’t need relationship with God. Satan—fighting to keep us from God, tries to get us to focus on self—on our work even to self righteousness. But the truth is that our spirit grows not by adapting to a form but to the forming of Christ in us. The dependence on the letter of the law kills but the dependence on the Spirit gives life.
God’s Word Never Negates the Law
God’s Word never negates the law (instruction) but always teaches against dependence on the law. The law is good and just and perfect–there is no problem with the law–there is a problem with man. Man, with his sin nature, is unable to keep the law AND/OR the dependence on the law (especially for appearance of good)
Cain—tiller of the ground was earthly minded. His sacrifice was rejected because he relied on works, on self-righteousness, while Abel relied on the sacrifice. There is a Cain in all of us –we want to think we are good and don’t need Christ. But even when we are good it can be an attempt to atone for our own evil and not rely on Christ. Turning away from sin is not stopping a few bad habits—it’s turning from our sin nature! True repentance is renouncing self.
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. Phil 3:3.
When man’s devotion is to church or to the Bible rather than to Christ he is in idol worship—worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39. The Bible is a means, not an end. Knowing the book of the Lord is not the goal—knowing the Lord of the book is.
Cain’s anger toward Abel was so intense it led to murder. Why? The sacrifice is the point of the conflict! When your focus is on self instead of God, you are continually trying to balance the good and evil in yourself. Those relying on self are full of insecurity. Deep inside they know they will never be good enough. People who hold this illusion are easily challenged. When confronted by truth their whole foundation is challenged. They are desperate for self preservation. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” John 9:41. Those who rely on good works can’t tolerate those with faith in Christ because it strips away the facade and illusion. Christ’s sacrifice is the greatest threat to self-centeredness. Everything we accomplish is as filthy rags once you have the correct focus of Christ.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3
When we grasp these liberating concepts—our works are as filthy rags—we don’t grow prideful of self. We realize our job is to rest in Him, “Be still and know that I am God. Ps. 46:10). As Corrie ten Boom said, “Nestle, don’t wrestle.”
Photo Credit: http://childrenschapel.org/biblestories/cain.html