The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – William E. Wallace

William E. Wallace

God created the world and spontaneously adapted it to the very needs of the summit of His creation—Man. God placed man and his help-meet in an environment of complete or perfect bliss, efficiency, beauty and security. One restriction was given unto man—he must not partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As long as man was content to live in complete trust in the Almighty he lived in possession of mental, physical and spiritual security. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was an emblem of the ideology that finite characters possess self-sufficiency in the quest of/for truth. The Devil assumed this idea. Members of the heavenly host acquired the error—they were cast out of heaven, Peter said, down to pits of darkness in preservation until the day of judgment. The Devil, more powerful than other fallen characters, not only rebelled against God, he set out to defeat God. His first aggressive act was his deception and corruption of the first woman and the first man. Using a serpent as his instrument or tool he approached the vestal Eve who fell to his attractive dares and then she in return led Adam to sin—they rebelled against God, they achieved knowledge of good and evil and were cast out of the garden, to toil the soil, to propagate the human race.

The knowledge of good and evil constitutes a dangerous thing to finite beings, for without infallible minds they can never of themselves arrive at the absolute truth. God the infallible with the knowledge of good and evil is supremely capable of using said knowledge in the ultimate of accuracy—the fallible finite being cannot. Man is limited in his ability to penetrate into the mysteries of life, but with the knowledge of good and evil he would and does try, and in his rebellion against God he is lost in the maze of uncertainty. That is why God restricted man from partaking of the fruit of the tree—and when man did so God set into motion a scheme that would eventually save man. The plan as it developed called for man to again put his complete trust in God, and its development over and through the centuries of time culminated in the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ and the establishment of his kingdom.

The old serpent received its punishment for being a party to the Devil’s warfare, and Satan himself having his power destroyed through Jesus Christ will receive a due recompense of reward in the judgment.

In the meantime a great battle exists between the ideology of man resulting from his partaking of the fruit of the restricted tree, and the revelation of God. The battle began very early when Cain began to reason of himself in matters pertaining to acceptable sacrifice unto God. His thinking led him to substitute, to become jealous, to hate and to kill. He was cast out by God. As the human race increased into multitudes two great divisions developed—through Seth developed the “sons of God” and through Cain developed the “daughters of men.” When the two met in fraternization they united in marriage and the “sons of God” became sons of men, and eventually the resultant corruption led God to destroy the race with the Great Deluge. But afterwards through the offspring of the eight righteous survivors, this sin of living and thinking without God again emerged. The wisdom of man led them to the building of the tower of Babel, a symbol of the ideology of conquering the great questions concerning the quest of life of themselves. They sought to bridge the chasm between earth with finite knowledge and heaven with its infallibility.

God called Abraham, a righteous man, out of his home environment to use him to develop a nation of people who would place their trust and confidence in Him until the time came to deliver man from sin. In centuries the posterity of Abraham grew into a great multitude but they too reasoned of themselves without God—they murmured against God and so God gave unto them a law “added because of their transgression.” He called for this nation of Jews to flee from the wisdom of men and cling to God through submission to the law of Moses.

As time progressed the Israelites began affiliating with those who lived without God. The more they fraternized with the world the more they submitted to their wisdom of men. They began to forsake God and thus suffered numerous afflictions and suppressions in result. The Old Testament history of the Jewish nation is a history of their being wooed by the heathen philosophies and their being called by prophets back to God. Through a remnant of Israel that did not rebel or deny the Almighty, God developed his eternal scheme of redemption.

When Christ the Saviour laid the foundation and delivered the principles of security in conformity to the will of God he gave to the world God’s system through which man could regain purity and security. When Christ was crucified he took away the law of Moses corrupted by the philosophy of men through the vain tradition of the Pharisees and other parties. He made the supreme sacrifice for man and when he arose from the dead he was victorious over the Devil and thus made it possible for man to have redemption from the curse of sin. The apostles as the ambassadors of Christ delivered the message of God to the world, his scheme of redemption, the Gospel of Christ.

The primary feature of this Gospel was a call for man to put his trust in God through Jesus Christ by submitting to the will of God, the law of Christ, and become perfected in the security that is in Christ. This great new message was to experience a constant battle, for it must combat the wisdom of men from every corner of the earth. Thus it was that the apostles of Jesus Christ called for man, who is unable to solve the problems in the quest of life of himself, to submit to the infinite, the infallible, the omniscient God.

The warfare goes on—between this ideology that man can or has the right to solve the great questions of life without God and reliance upon God as the final authority.

To narrow it down, we have Christianity versus Philosophy. Christianity is the body of principles governing children of God. Philosophy literally means “the love of wisdom” and the word can be used in referring to studies not contrary to God’s will. But generally it is man’s attitude toward life and the universe, a group of theories or systems of thought. Philosophy asks such questions as: “What is truth?”; “What is the distinction between right and wrong?”; “What is life and why am I here?”; “Is there any possibility of surviving death?”; “Can we have any assurance that anything is true?” Philosophy attempts to answer these questions without God. It is the same old evil that has plagued the world since the Devil moved Eve to rebel against God and thus institute this damnable ideology into the world. The greatly respected philosophies of by-gone ages have left their marks upon the world—some good, some bad. Where the philosophies reasoned according to God they gave us expressions of truth but as they reasoned without God they left theories of error. Men such as Socrates, Plato, Cicero, Aristotle, Erasmus, Locke, Rousseau, and John Paine have gained more respect among some schools of thought than has Jesus our Saviour. Why? Because men fall prey to the love of men’s wisdom and foolishly and adventurously set out to solve the problems of life without God. They think without God. What is more egotistical than the ideology that man can understand or survive without the infallible!

Paul a great ambassador of Christ warned the followers of Christ against the ideology: “Take heed lest there shall be anyone that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Philosophy challenges the servants of God and the Devil dares the unqualified to undertake it—and thus many fall prey to the wisdom of men. Who knowing the history of mistakes, the blunders, the whimsical and fickle characteristics of the human mind can put his confidence in the philosophy of man! Who? Thou fool!

Paul wrote:

For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God. But we (apostles, WEW) received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth, combining spiritual things with spiritual words (2 Cor. 2:11-13).

The things of man, his feeling, his tasting, his seeing, his hearing, and his smelling can be known by men of themselves. The things of God; “What is truth?”; “What is life?”; “If a man die, shall he live again?”; “What is the purpose of life”; et cetera, can be known only through the revelation of God. The revelation of God is that impartation of knowledge of things man could never know of himself. The spirit of man brings knowledge of things finite, fallible and human. Men using their finite abilities can operate upon the human body and cure the ailing; they can take the elements of the world that God has given them and make great inventions of mobility, efficiency and luxury. They can harness electricity and use it in the best interests of society. They can build great dams and conquer the forces of nature. They can instill into the minds of youth the facts of the world, giving them a knowledge of mathematics to develop their reasoning, literature to develop their imagination and language to develop memory. But when men get into the field of the things that belong to the Spirit of God they are guilty of partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Only through the word of God can they answer the great questions concerning life, its origin, and its purposes. Science is a great field of knowledge but when turned to the origins its ceases to be science and becomes philosophy, the wisdom of men. There is no science of origins there is no science that answers the questions concerning the quest of life—but the Bible, the word of God. Men today make the same mistake Cain made, the same mistake Israel made, the same mistake Judas made—they reason without God.

Where philosophy speculates, God says: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: For this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). There is an ever growing conflict between the principles of the faith once delivered, and the rudiments or traditions of men. The chasm widens and the wisdom of God opposes modern scholarship.

Philosophy speaks of four sources of knowledge: Authoritarianism—knowledge that is guaranteed or validated by an accepted authority; Intuition—innate or instinctive knowledge or the accumulation of past experiences and thinking; Empiricism—knowledge coming unto the individual through sense perception: Rationalism, reasoning as opposed to superstition. It omits the most important source of knowledgeRevelation. Christ is truth in that it is through him that we truly solve the mysteries of life and live in expectation of a life on beyond the great divide that separates man and the world.

Philosophy is frail because it is not a science. It is no more infallible in its understanding than the mind of man. It offers no sure solid, steady foundation—no anchor to hold one fast in the stormy torrents of life.

Christianity on the other hand offers hope, life and security. It is a safe guide through life and is our only sure foundation, a firm anchor to latch to in a troubled age. Christianity succeeds in every angle where philosophy fails. Philosophy will cease when men die; Christianity will live on in the souls who inherit eternal life. These souls will be those who partook of the fruit of the tree of life, rather than of fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let man learn that he cannot live without God and let him walk in remembrance of his dependence upon Divine revelation, providence and promise.

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