THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
At this time I would like to impress you with this word: live and walk according to the Spirit. Whether it is ethics, religion, law, or anything else, each one tells you what to do. I want to tell you that as long as you ask what to do, that is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Do not ask what to do; simply eat and drink. That is the tree of life.
In Christianity we see that when a pastor marries a young couple, he says, “So-and-so, you are taking an oath before God today that you will marry So-and-so to be your wife. You have to promise before God in front of the congregation that you will love her forever. The Bible says that husbands should love their wives. Will you promise to do this?” The bridegroom will say, “I promise.” Let me ask you, what is this? Is this the tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Yes, this is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the pastor will turn to the bride and say, “So-and-so, now you are going to marry So-and-so. You also have to swear before God and promise me that you will take this man as your head and submit to him for your whole life. Will you promise to do this?” In that kind of a situation every bride and groom would promise to do so. Some would say, “Yes,” and others would simply nod their heads. Let me ask you, What is this? Is this the tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Anything that requires you to do something is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; only that which invites you to eat is the tree of life.
The Bible ends in a call and a promise. The call is: “The Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who is thirsty come; let him who wills take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). The promise is: “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have right to the tree of life” (v. 14). The call is to take the water, and the promise is to eat the tree. Do not ask, “How can I overcome? How can I be holy? How can I be spiritual? How can I be this? How can I be that?” All of these are the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Let me talk about marriage again. The pastors who marry people do have this experience. Not long after the wedding, the bridegroom will come to him and say, “On the wedding day you told me to love my wife. I tried my best to love her, but I have to tell you that up to this day it has not been possible. I simply cannot do it. This is why I am here to seek your advice. How can I love my wife? You just don’t know; my wife is the most difficult woman in the whole world.” The next day the bride also will come and say to the pastor, “Pastor, when you married us, you wanted me to take him as my head. I want to tell you today that I cannot take him as my head. You simply don’t know what kind of head he is. It is impossible! I am here to seek your advice. What should I do?” Every pastor has to be ready with a reply. The pastor most likely would turn to the verse in Ephesians 5 which says, “Husbands, love your wives.” He would tell the man, “So-and-so, you should not make comparisons, saying that Mr. Chang’s wife is better than your wife, Mr. Lee’s wife is better than your wife, and even all the wives are better than your wife. If you appreciate others’ wives, that is not to love your own wife. But God says that you should love your own wife.” The man would argue, “You don’t know. She is really unlovable; I cannot love her.” The pastor would say, “The Bible does not say that you should love your lovable wife; it only says that you should love your own wife. God has given you your wife. Whether she is lovable or not lovable, you have to love her.” The man would say, “I cannot do it!” Then the pastor would say, “Even if you cannot do it, you still have to do it. You should never get a divorce. Rather, you should pray!” Let me ask you, what is this? This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Formerly, the devil seduced man to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; now the pastors compel people to eat of it.
Let me share a little bit of my testimony. Soon after I was saved, I began to love and seek the Lord and wanted to be an overcomer. First, I wanted to overcome my temper. My biggest problem was that I was quick-tempered; it was so easy for me to lose my temper. The person I loved the most was my mother, but this did not affect how I lost my temper. I did not care; I simply lost my temper before her. Afterward, I felt very sad. I truly wanted to be victorious, so I bought many books with titles, such as “How to Overcome,” “A Guide to Victory,” “How to Be Holy,” and “A Guide to Holiness.” When I first read them, I thought they were quite reasonable, but when I put them into practice, they did not work. Then I realized that those books simply teach people how to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is not what the Bible teaches. What does the Bible say? The Lord Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). He also said, “I am the bread of life….He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (6:48, 57b). It seems He was saying, “I do not come as a teacher to teach you, nor do I come as a pastor to advise you to do certain things. I have come as the bread of life for you to eat. Don’t ask Me, ‘Teacher, what shall I do?’ Just eat Me.”
(Living Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)