When Vice Becomes Virtue

According to the Bible, God created humanity to dwell with him in the Garden of Eden. They were to rule over creation. They were to fill the earth. They weren’t to eat of a particular tree. It was the only negative command they were given. Which tree? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we’re told.

Think about that for a moment. God did not want humanity to know good and evil. Why not? I have a guess. I wholeheartedly believe that God didn’t want us to eat the fruit of that tree because he wanted us simply to know him. After all, if God is good, and if we were made to be his image-bearers, as it’s written, then knowing God would be enough to keep us from ever stumbling into evil. Eating that fruit, then, was humanity’s declaration of independence from God himself. Rather than trusting God to deliver us from evil, we thought we’d fare better trying to figure it out for ourselves. And we still do.

Perhaps you can see why I’m astounded when so many Christians insist that the knowledge of good and evil is the mark of spiritual maturity. The way I understand things, it was the gateway to spiritual and even physical death.

We have to ask ourselves: if God didn’t intend for us to know good and evil, but simply to know him and trust him to lead us only into what is good, when did his intention change? Christians constantly speak of having a relationship with God, but shouldn’t that mean giving up our fearful, paranoid obsession with evil? Shouldn’t we stop assuming that there are monsters in every closet and ghouls in every shadow? That anyone not teaching the Bible exactly as we were taught it is a false teacher? Shouldn’t we just trust the Spirit of God to lead us into all truth, just like Jesus promised his disciples on the night he was arrested?

There’s nothing to be gained for being the first to spot the evil lurking around the next corner. Because if God is everywhere at once, then he is around the next corner, too, and capable of delivering us from whatever evil awaits.

Despite the deification of independence in American society, God is looking for people who are mature enough to be dependent on him for their daily bread, not for people who think they can bake it themselves without his help.

But we’ll have no hunger for bread — not even the Bread of Life himself — if we keep filling ourselves with the forbidden fruit.

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