When God made Adam and Eve, he created them with a curious deficiency. They did not have the ability to make moral decisions. They could not tell right from wrong. They could not distinguish good from evil. This then put them in a position of having to depend upon God. When confronted with a moral dilemma, they could only consult with their Maker who, it seems, frequently walked with them in the Garden (Gn 3:8).
This “deficiency” caused them to be partially dependent upon God. Since they lacked this moral capacity, when they were faced with any kind of moral question, their only recourse was to ask God.
Yet their Lord allowed another option to be available to them. He permitted the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” to grow in the Garden of Eden. This tree offered to this first couple freedom from this dependence on God. It provided the possibility of becoming completely independent and self-reliant. There was a way for them to free themselves from this “bondage” of having to depend on God and make their own moral decisions. They could think for themselves and direct their own way. We have all around us today the results of their decision to have this freedom.
The other tree which stood prominently “in the midst of the garden” (Gen 2:9) was something called “the tree of life.” This tree also offered something to the first couple. It offered some kind of “life.”
Obviously this must have been a variety of life which they did not yet have. This is interesting because they already were alive. They possessed a human life, and it even was a life in which there was no death. It was, in fact, a human, “everlasting” life.
Yet another variety of life was being offered to them. We know from other scriptures that this life was the life of God Himself. Now this offer was not just an unending kind of life – an “everlasting” life – since they already had this variety. Instead, they were offered a superior life – the life of the Creator.
Although some Bible versions call God’s life “everlasting life” this seems to be an inaccurate translation. Any life which begins at some point in time and then lasts forever is an “everlasting” life. But God’s life is very different than this! It is eternal. This means that, not only will it never end, it also never had a beginning. God was never born. He always existed. There was never a time when He was not. In fact, time is just something He created for us to live in.
So we see that only God has true “eternal life,” a life without beginning and without end. We read about God in 1 Timothy 6:16 where it states: “...who alone has immortality, and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen nor can see, to whom belongs honor and eternal power. Amen.”
God is the original immortal being. The only uncreated One. Yet, He made a decision to share this uncreated life with mankind. To Adam and Eve, it was offered in the Garden of Eden in the form of fruit on a tree.
Let us remember that this was not the “jungle of Eden.” It was a garden. While a jungle is full of lush vegetation, it is a random growth which occurs spontaneously. But a garden always has a design. It is planned by someone. So when God planted His garden, He made this life-imparting tree the focal point. In this way, He showed us that the offer of His own life to man is at the very center of all His thoughts and plans.
However, for some strange reason, Adam and Eve never ate of this tree. It was right there in front of them. It was the centerpiece of God’s design. But they chose not to eat it. Why do you suppose this was?
Imagine for a moment that you could ingest into yourself the life of another being who was infinitely superior to yourself. (You don’t have to just imagine this, you actually can.) What would that mean?
Since this new life would be greater and better than yours in every way, it would tend to dominate. It would tend to take over. It would become your master. It would use you to express itself. You, although being a willing participant, would not be the one leading your own life. Instead, you would have to submit to Another.
Don’t you suppose that on some level Adam and Eve sensed this fact? Can’t you imagine that they suspected that eating of this tree would mean a radical change inside of them? No doubt they did. So, even though this tree was there in front of them every day, they subtly avoided it. Instead, when “freedom” and independence were explained to them they jumped at the chance.
Here they were in God’s garden positioned between two choices: On one hand, freedom and independence to make their own moral decisions and run their own lives or, on the other hand, complete submission to and dependence upon Another. Well, we know from long experience what the consequences of their choice are.
Now here we are today with these same two trees in front of us. God through His mercy has again offered us His life. The cherubim with the flaming sword (Gn 3:24), representing God’s judgment on sinful man, has been taken out of the way by the death of His Son. He is again offering mankind His life.
So this decision concerning independence and self-reliance or total submission to Another are still also here in front of us. In this respect, nothing has changed. To make a decision to receive into ourselves the life of an infinitely superior being still carries with it the same consequences. There is still the question of who will be “the Lord of our lives.”
When a person receives Jesus the Anointed One, they must receive Him for who He is. And who is He? He is the Lord. He is God incarnate. Therefore, He must become our Master in every aspect of our being.
If not, then our spiritual progress will be hindered. Our freedom from sin will be curtailed. Our liberty from the evil spirits will be very limited. If we preserve our right to be our own master (and God will always allow us to choose this), then we will never experience the many benefits of His new life.
Far too many men and women are “brought to the Lord Jesus” without this most basic truth being explained to them. They come to Jesus without the “Lord” part.
Perhaps they are drawn to Christianity with the hope of solutions to their problems. Possibly, the hope to be healed from some disease or other draws them. It may be that they hope for success in business or some other kind of “blessing.”
When such people receive Jesus, it is only the beginning of a long and painful struggle about who is to run their lives. Until they reach the point of total surrender to the Headship of Jesus, they will make little, if any, spiritual progress.
While they are still seeking their own pleasure and profit, they will not be changed into the image of Jesus. They will remain bound to their sinful thoughts which produce their sinful behavior. Is it any wonder then that the church today is filled with so many unholy people who call themselves “Christians”?
Yet God is offering humanity something much greater than this. He is offering us a deliverance from ourselves. He is offering us freedom from the dominion of the evil invisible forces.
He is offering us all that He is and has. He is so kind that He is even planning to do this wonderful work for us and in us. We don’t even have to do it ourselves. All of us should take full advantage of this offer.
It is written: “It is he who saves us and calls us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in the Anointed One, Jesus, before the ages of time.
“This purpose has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior the Anointed One, Jesus, who rendered death ineffective and brought the eternal life of God – even immortality – to light through the good news message. It is for this message that I was appointed a herald, a sent one, and a teacher” (2 Tim 1:9-11). This is really good news!
I remember many years ago writing a pamphlet about our co-crucifixion with Christ. As I wrote, I saw with ever more clarity how this would mean an end of me: an end to my “self,” to my independence, and to my “self-realization.” I would end up “merely” being an expression of Someone else. Anything I accomplished wouldn’t be credited to me. All the glory would go to Him. I became offended.
It took several weeks of meditating about this to come to the following conclusion. There is no way I will ever be the supreme being. That position is taken. Some other being (Satan) has already tried and still is trying to supplant Him, but it doesn’t seem like he’s having much success. So being independent (I never thought of being as great as God, but just being “my own man”), didn’t seem like a good option.
But there is another exalted position available. We can become an expression of the greatest, most majestic One in the universe. By submitting to Him, He can fill us with Himself and express Himself through us.
No, there is no room for “self” here. Yet could our “self” ever be anything like this amazing possibility? Could whatever we could become on our own be anything alongside being God’s representative and expression? Of course not! Yet we can be exalted with Him and in Him. All it requires is humility and submitting our entire being to Him. This is a beautiful thing and the only possibility that doesn’t involve our ugly ego.
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit!
He who loves his soul life, will have it destroyed. But he who has a deep aversion to his soul life in this world, will have it preserved [through transformation] into the eternal life of God. John 12:24-25