RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the Tree of Knowledge

The Power of a Lie

While spending 3 years of my life in full time youth ministry, I attended several conferences, seminars and workshops. One of the most beneficial aspects of these events was learning new Ice Breakers. Although not every idea worked, I found that playing telephone once a year forced my students to become better listeners. Also known as Chinese Whispers, one teenager starts by reading a written down message or sharing a short story. This information is shared via a whisper over and over again until the last person recounts what this initial message has morphed into.

Truthful lips shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is [credited] but for a moment. 20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who devise evil, but for the counselors of peace there is joy. Proverbs 12:19-20.

The first participants of telephone were Adam and Eve. Despite knowing the only rule established by God, Genesis 2:16-17, each were intrigued by what a crafty serpent had to say. As soon as the boundary lines were set in the Garden of Eden, both knew that the Tree of Knowledge was off limits. Nonetheless, Eve began to entertain the thought planted into her mind. Instead of telling this snake to scram, Adam began to second guess God. This is the power of a lie, convincing yourself through good intentions to justify wrong actions. Since this day of deception, human beings have become more and more gullible, falling for lie after lie.

No [actual] evil, misfortune, or calamity shall come upon the righteous, but the wicked shall be filled with evil, misfortune, and calamity. 22 Lying lips are extremely disgusting and hateful to the Lord, but they who deal faithfully are His delight, Proverbs 12:21-22.

Since the death of George Floyd, a few riots have been fueled by false reports posted on Twitter. By the time this lie was exposed, it was too late as city streets, local businesses and neighborhoods resembled a war zone. Instead of double checking sources to confirm the accuracy of a report, cable news and the print media have become sloppy, jumping the gun so to speak. While President Trump refers to these felonious accounts as “Fake News,” the Bible calls this lying. In the passage above, King Solomon doesn’t speak kindly to those who distort, exaggerate or fib a little. If a politician in cooperation with the media tells a lie over and over again, sooner or later the masses will believe this to be the truth. This is the power of a lie.

by Jay Mankus

The Force Behind the Darkness

Whether binge watching a drama, scanning social media or checking for the latest news update, I have become numb to seeing death, destruction and violence. While the expression “pushing the envelope” originally comes from the field of aviation, limits continue to be elevated and raised. This concept also applies to programming as the further the envelope is pushed, the force behind darkness on earth comes into focus.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

While the Old Testament is filled with commands, decrees and rules, God’s initial plan for the earth contained only one rule. This boundary set by the Lord put just one thing in the Garden of Eden off limits, the Tree of Knowledge. Adam didn’t have to guess about what to do or not to do. The summary of God’s conversation with Adam is mentioned above. When darkness came to earth in the form of a fallen angel, Adam was right there with Eve, Genesis 3:6. Instead of correcting the deception and lie spread by Lucifer, Adam remained silent, a willing participant in original sin.

And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind, Ephesians 2:1-3.

Although Adam and Eve did not physically die, the spiritual light within their souls was snuffed out. The apostle Paul speaks about their spiritual condition in the passage above. The consequence of their disobedience was the activation of a sinful nature. Instead of listening to God, human beings are now under the control of a demonic presence. Later on in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul expands upon the force behind this darkness, Ephesians 6:12. While humans can’t see the supernatural realm, there are spiritual forces at work to prevent the light from prevailing.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Let Shame Block Out the Son

Abashment, distress, embarrassment, humiliation and mortification are words associated with shame.  This painful feeling is caused by conviction, an internal alarm alerted by consciousness within minds.  God designed human beings with a sense of right and wrong.  The moment your actions cross this invisible line, spirits of guilt and shame inflict souls with a sense of wrong doing.  While God extends his hand, offering grace and forgiveness to those who trespass against others, shame often blocks out the sun.

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself,” Genesis 3:10.

Shame is a byproduct of sin.  This overwhelming sense of remorse first struck Adam and Eve after breaking God’s only rule, to avoid eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This initial compromising act opened the door for shame to haunt souls for the past 6000 years.  One of the ways the Devil inflicts harm on earth is through preventing individuals from forgiving themselves.  Playing flashbacks of previous errors in your thoughts, perfectionists struggle to let go of foolish mistakes.  The more people think about themselves, the Devil uses shame to block out the son, the good news about Jesus Christ.

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy, Isaiah 61:7.

An Old Testament prophet uses God’s promises to break through clouds of shame.  Since this ancient book depicts an angry and jealous God, grasping the concept of grace, God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense, was difficult to comprehend.  Nonetheless, Isaiah gave a glimpse of the New Testament, an introduction to the abundant life, John 10:10.  Yet, for many believers, shame stands in the way of experiencing everlasting joy.  Therefore, if you are having a tough time letting go of your past, invite the Holy Spirit to break up these clouds.  If you do, the light of Christ will begin to shine through, dissipating any reminders of shame that remains.

by Jay Mankus

 

Overriding the Rules of the Past

The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Torah.  This Hebrew word refers to the law of God as revealed to Moses.  If Adam and Eve didn’t break God’s initial rule introduced in Genesis 2:16-17, this collection of rules and regulations for life on earth would not be necessary.  Unfortunately, Adam’s lack of leadership is to blame, allowing and watching Satan deceive and encourage Eve to take and eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This act of original sin led the apostle Paul to write in Romans 5:12-21 that death came through Adam.  This spiritual destruction was redeemed after God sent a second Adam, Jesus who brought salvation to the world as well as overriding the rules of the past.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins, Colossians 2:13.

This concept is explained by the apostle Paul in a letter to the church at Colosse.  This ancient city of Phrygia in Asia Minor provides a vital message for those individuals stuck in modern denominations that focus on legalism rather than grace.  As a former zealot, Paul uses terminology familiar to God fearing Jews to get their attention.  Without a priest sacrificing an animal on your behalf, first century believers in God were powerless to receive forgiveness.  This co-dependency became a tedious practice that Jesus came to abolish.  As a perfect lamb of God, Jesus embraced death on a cross to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin, once and for all.

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through [he cross, Colossians 2:14-15.

However, this process would not be completed until Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.  The moment Jesus broke free of his grave clothes, the resurrection was finalized.  This symbolic act cancelled the written codes that stood against human beings.  In one magical second in time, Jesus nailed these age old rules to the cross, conquering death and unlocking the spiritual chains of legalism.  May the passages above speak to heart and give hope to your mind.  While the world tends to believe a relationship with God means living by a strict set of rigid regulations, Jesus came to set you free by overriding the rules of the past with free will.

by Jay Mankus

The Consequence of Tasting Forbidden Fruit

As a former teacher, defining class boundaries during the first week of school is helpful to maintain a healthy environment.  This introduction allow students know what’s in play and what’s off limits.  However, once these expectations, guidelines and standards have been laid out, they are meaningless unless rules are enforced.  Earlier on, life on earth was simple.  There was only one restriction, do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  Everything else was accessible and acceptable in God’s sight.  Nonetheless, the little kid in each of us seek to do the very opposite of that which we are told.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,’” Genesis 3:2-3.

Although Eve’s age is not mentioned, she is likely a teenager in the passage above.  Drawn toward a gossiping busybody, Eve becomes curious, pondering the point behind this new ideology.  Sure, a snake speaking would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, yet it appears animals and human beings could communicate.  Sounds strange right?  Well, years later Balaam had a conversation with his donkey.  Anyway, Lucifer begins to speak through this serpent with a slight lisp.  Knowing right from wrong, Eve corrects this being.  Instead of moving on, avoiding this shady character, Eve becomes intrigued with this new thought as lust for the fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge takes over.  It doesn’t take long for irrational thoughts to take over, excusing this decision to disobey God within her mind.  As sin is tasted for the first time, enlightenment follows.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:4-5.

As a child, I believed this to be a literal event.  Years later, many adults refer to original sin as an allegory or metaphor.  However, the real question is why would God want to protect Adam and Eve from this tree?  What is so dangerous about knowledge?  How could enlightenment corrupt mankind?  I didn’t know the answer to these questions until I watched movies like Lucy, a 2014 film starring Scarlet Johansson and Morgan Freeman.  When you add this content with Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull from 2008, I begin to see God’s fears come true.  When individuals become so consumed with knowledge, the most simplistic things in life become lost.  During the Age of Enlightenment, mankind stopped looking for answers to life from above, toward heaven and began to look from within their own minds.  This is why God restricted Adam and Eve from tasting forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This is the consequence God feared, a time on earth when the Holy Spirit would be ignored and replaced by minds obsessed with human consciousness.  This explains the words of the apostle Paul within 1 Corinthians 2, when fools know more than the wise due to this search from within.  Look up, not within.

by Jay Mankus

Adding Love to the Law

From an early age, the idea of boundaries is a turn off.  At birth, human nature introduces a curiosity similar to that which led Eve to break God’s lone law, eating from the Tree of Knowledge.  As a parent, condemnation comes naturally, a common response to children who disobey you.  Yet, Jesus reminds a large crowd during the first century that love should be applied to Jewish law.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? – Matthew 5:46-47

Jesus uses common sense to drive home this point.  Pagans lived by a different set of standards.  Jews were expected by God to be set apart, striving to apply biblical principles.  Yet, if a Christian’s love is no different from a Pagan, what’s the point.  Therefore, individuals should make it their ambition to add love to the law.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

The only problem is this goal requires maturity as love doesn’t come naturally.  This fruit of the Spirit is an acquired trait nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  At some point people have to grow up by developing a will to love.  Hanging around like minded people, growing in your knowledge of the Bible and practicing prayer is a good place to start.  However, if you want to fulfill Jesus’ request, make sure your feelings are held in check, sanctified by love.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: