16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17, NIV
I’m presently reading an interesting book by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian called, Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1985). In the second chapter of the book, while discussing the fall of humankind, Dr. Bilezikian challenges the view of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as simply a means God used to test Adam’s obedience and thus cause him to fall. Instead, Dr. Bilezikian points to the tree as a “visible reminder to Adam of his humanity and therefore of the necessity to keep himself subservient to God as his Creator” (p. 40) . Dr. Bilezikian went on to say,
“As a source of knowledge, the tree pointed to two possible paths: the way of happiness and the way of misfortune. The way of happiness was to be found in Adam’s discerning the creation rights of God and submitting to them. God had granted Adam total freedom except for one limitation: that his freedom be exercised in dependency upon God. The way of misfortune would open before Adam should he attempt to dismiss God and substitute his will for God’s will. Such an attempt to declare his independence from God would alienate him from the source of his existence and result in death (emphasis mine)… In other words, the tree was a symbol of the one authority structure that permeates all reality and gives it meaning: there is only one God, and to be truly human is to recognize His sovereignty and submit to Him” (p. 40-41).
Of course we know Adam and Eve usurped God’s authority in their lives and were cast out of Paradise. Since then humanity has been in a constant struggle with accepting God’s authority in their lives. Just this morning I finished reading the book of Jeremiah. It is a sad account of a nation of people who refused to submit to God’s authority in their lives and the record of the prophet’s pleadings with the people to turn from their rebellion. God spoke over and over again of His desire to show compassion. But the people would not have it for it meant giving up their personal ideas, agendas and various false idols.
What are the areas of idolatry in our lives today? In what ways are we not willing to submit to God’s authority in our lives? We may not murder. But do we gossip? Are our tongues submitted to the Lordship of Christ? What about respecting and honoring the authorities God has placed over our lives? Do we submit to parents, teachers, bosses, and governing laws? Or do we just do the things we agree with and ignore the stuff we don’t? Rebellion against God’s authority doesn’t make us free. It binds us to destruction.