Forbidden Trees

city tree

What are the forbidden trees in your life? This week I looked at the deception Eve experienced in Genesis 3.  Thanks to a study a godly friend lent me entitled “To Stand and Not be Moved” by Fran Sciacca, my understanding of what happened to Eve and how it affects my life has been of great impact.  Some Christians don’t talk much about Satan and this I believe is a real disservice to the church.  Some preachers say the Adversary is behind everything bad and other preachers say He & His evil doesn’t even exist.  I suspect Satan is more cunning than we give Him credit for, more pervasive than we realize, and yet His power over us can be fought.

In Eden Eve was distracted from seeing the bounty of beautiful edible trees that surrounded her because the Adversary got her to simply change her focus. His first communication to her was a subtle yet pointed question: “…Ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden? (Genesis 3:1)”  Talk about a loaded question!  This is literally the original loaded question.  At this point Satan didn’t have to make a promise, do a song and dance, or make the fruit more pretty.  He asked a leading question that she decided to respond to.  Her sin began not when she ate the fruit.  Nor did it begin when she believed His lies about becoming immortal and being a god that knows good from evil.  Her sin didn’t even really begin when she was distracted.  It began when she lost her gratefulness for God’s bounty.

The story of original sin demonstrates some clear points on the road of sin. This is my interpretation & I always encourage you the reader to have a Berean mindset about anything I say.  So with that in mind:

Points on the road to sin

  • Not being thankful to God for His many blessings
  • Distraction, usually by subtle means
  • Doubt in our Lord
  • Attempting to usurp God (ie. There is no God, God is in me, we are all Gods, etc.)
  • Pride in ourselves
  • Becoming less happy
  • Becoming fooled and lacking good judgment
  • Attempting to self sooth with sin after sinning or feeling shame

This is not exact and varies in a given situation but overall some or all the points happen. For example Eve became distracted by Satan and changed her focus to the forbidden tree because she was susceptible to it. She was vulnerable to this ploy because her heart at that moment wasn’t thankful for God’s enormous bounty. From there all it took was the most subtle of distractions which was Satan getting her to change her focus from bounty to what was forbidden and what she didn’t/couldn’t have (what appeared to be missing in her life).

Her doubt wasn’t articulated but was demonstrated when she believed the serpent, rather than obeying God’s commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was at that point she chose to doubt what God told her and believe some-one or some-thing else. When the Adversary told Eve she could be a god and she believed Him, she was trying to usurp God and His authority. Her pride came from the desire to gain wisdom from the forbidden fruit that she was deceived about. She wanted to be smart, immortal, and a god for what purpose? Because she thought it would make her, as we say in the West Coast, totally awesome. Without gratefulness for God’s abundance, without knowing one’s proper place in life, without believing all she needed was or would be provided for, she was ultimately unhappy with her circumstances, though she was in God’s bountiful garden.

In unhappiness, pride, doubt, and deception, it becomes much easier to be fooled and make foolish choices that harm. Eve took that fruit because her judgement was poor. John 7:24 tells us to judge righteous judgement rather than go off appearances. Jeremiah 17:5-12 demonstrates that when man trusts in man (or serpent) above God his heart will be departed from the Lord & he will “inhabit the parched places in the wilderness.” Those that trust God shall not be moved like a tree planted near water that always bears fruit. Eve was not strong like that an unmovable tree because she was weakened first by ingratitude and eventually by a wicked unhappy heart. Eve became a fool, fooled Adam, and experienced the pain that comes from separation from the Lord.

Now I’m sure you dear reader have never experienced what Eve went through so I’ll use myself as an example of what that road to sin has looked like. Now keep in mind this happened rather quickly & quite frankly I had forgotten it until I prayed in repentance for something unrelated. Anyway I was at Trader Joe’s with the wife and checking out with the cashier. As the young man started to scan our items, I saw one item go past the scanner but didn’t hear it make a beep sound as it went by. I looked at that bottle, then looked to see if the price of it showed up on the display, didn’t see it, and thought “I’m not saying anything.” Now keep in mind I pray several times a day and thought that was enough. But in Trader Joe’s I was distracted by all the goodies and at that given moment I was very distracted because I thinking about the conversation I had just listened to between the previous customer and the cashier.

On another post I’ll talk about why I don’t pay much attention to politics and especially this particular presidential election, but for now I’ll just say I was disturbed by what I heard and well, annoyed that I had to overhear the conversation. My heart wasn’t grateful for being able to buy food at such low prices or for the car that brought us to the store or for my wife being there so I didn’t have to push the cart or most importantly, that the Almighty had blessed us with so much at that moment. My distraction was not sought out yet I was tempted by thinking about how different I wished modern day politics would be. I forgot about the Lord and instead of having faith in His plan, in my pride thought of how things should be, according to…well me.

In that moment I made myself into a god and became all the unhappier for it (even if it was momentary). Though I don’t believe I consciously said to myself “hey getting this product for free with make things better” I fooled myself into thinking doing something that is against my morals & values (stealing) was ok because it wasn’t direct. It was subtle and of poor judgement. Ironically when I looked at the receipt a day later it turned out we did in fact pay for the product. But I had already committed theft in my heart and it all started because I didn’t look to “Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2).

Am I saying “the Devil made me do it?” Not necessarily but I’m still working out theologically what such a saying might mean for me. If indeed Satan is more pervasive & subtle than I understood then maybe a Trader Joe’s visit is indeed a lesson on what vulnerability to Satan looks like. Perhaps this is the most boring “confession” you’ve ever read but I don’t care. When I repented this sin my heart became less foolish, unhappy, prideful, and ungrateful (Romans 1:21-22). Yet the good news is that I am more free thanks to confessing to Jesus and so very thankful that he saved not only my soul, but gave us His holy Word to live our lives by.

What is the forbidden fruit in your life? Where does your lack of thankfulness bring unhappiness? What is in the rest of your garden? What has God Almighty given you? For me it is clear being in the world means there will be both times of need and times of abundance and usually they occur at once. I take much comfort in Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he says:

I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound:to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 

 

 

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