THE DEMANDS OF THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE
Religion, culture, and morality all make demands. They tell you what to do. To ask “What should I do?” is to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To partake of the tree of life is to eat and drink without asking any questions. The marriage vows are a case in point. The bridegroom promises to love his wife unto death. The bride, in turn, vows to obey her husband, never turning back. The pastor exhorts them to be true to their vows, as the Scripture teaches. Do these exhortations and vows belong to the tree of life or to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Demands that are put upon you are from the tree of knowledge. Those who instruct you in how to behave are eating from that tree. When you are invited to a feast, you go there to eat, not to keep regulations! God’s only desire is that you eat of the tree of life, not do this or that. The Bible ends with one call and one promise. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! Let him who hears also say, Come! Let him who is thirsty also come; he who wills, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). The call is to come and drink of the water of life. The promise is in verse 14: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” Those whose robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb may come to eat of the tree of life.
After I was saved, I came to love the Lord. I began to pursue Him. I wanted to be an overcomer. What I had to work on the hardest was my temper. Nothing bothered me so much as my quick temper. Though I dearly loved my mother, when my temper got the upper hand I would say things to her that I would afterwards deeply regret. Because of my longing to overcome my temper, I bought a good number of books on the subject of how to overcome or the way to be holy. When I first read them, they seemed to make sense. When I tried to put them into practice, however, I found they did not give much real help. Only later did I come to realize that books of that type only teach their readers to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
THE SUPPLY OF THE TREE OF LIFE
What does the Bible teach? The Lord Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly.…I am the bread of life.…He who eats Me shall also live because of Me” (John 10:10; 6:48, 57). He did not come as a teacher. He did not come as a pastor, to give you scriptural advice about how to get along with your spouse. He came as bread for you to eat! Eat Him! Do not ask Him what you should do.
But this is a hard word. You cannot take in the matter of eating Him. You want to learn how to deal with your wife. What method should you use? What would be the proper psychology? To use your mind to work out your problems is to eat of the tree of knowledge. The tree of life does not need to be analyzed and understood; it is simply to be eaten.
Many Christians admire the eloquence of their pastor. They enjoy his weekly sermon. Sometimes he talks of heaven; other times, of earth. He talks about the future and about the past. His audience finds his words stimulating, inspiring, and challenging. They think they are receiving sound guidance for their daily path.
Alas! They are feasting on the tree of knowledge. The Lord wants to be eaten, but we refuse. When we read the Bible or hear a preacher, we pay attention and try to learn. The tree of life, however, is for eating, not for understanding. In John 6 the Lord calls Himself the true bread out of heaven (v. 32); the bread of God who gives life to the world (v. 33); the bread of life (v. 35); and the living bread (v. 51). He is to be eaten!
We long to have advice. Formerly, I would easily give suggestions when various ones came to me with problems. What I was really doing was teaching them to eat of the tree of knowledge. Now, if you check with any young people who have come to me for help, they will all tell you I had no advice to give them except to eat the Lord. Nonetheless, you still want to know what to do, what course you should follow, what method you should use. You are probably thinking, “Yes, it is all very well to eat the Lord. But when my husband loses his temper with me next time, how shall I handle the situation? What method will alleviate matters? How shall I react?” When you ask questions like that, you turn back to the tree of knowledge.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)