These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:10-14 ESV
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Our nephew, Henry, has introduced in our church a program called, L.I.F.E. which stands for Living In Freedom Everyday. It’s a curriculum he learned at the Church of the Highlands when he and his family were still in Alabama. Convinced that it is what people need to experience deliverance from everything that’s holding them back in their lives as it did to him and his wife, he embarked on a mission to share it with those who are willing to listen. And having listened to the teaching, our pastors endorsed the program to our church members and made it as a foundation of leadership training in IPJM (In the Presence of Jesus Ministries). He believed that to be an effective leader, one must learn these LIFE lessons for when he does, he will be freed from the encumbrances of the flesh and become empowered by the Spirit.
Though I have attended a few sessions of LIFE, I know I still have to sit down in a few more, not so much to be able to fully comprehend the principle as to be able to internalize it and make it flow freely and spontaneously from within so it could truly manifest from my thoughts into my words and subsequently, in my actions. I therefore wouldn’t discuss the subject according to the process by which Henry teaches it but only in the context of the two choices God has given us since the time of Adam and Eve, to eat of the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or to eat from the fruits of the Tree of Life.
From the Bible, we learned how God had provided Adam and Eve with everything they could ever need in the Garden of Eden. They were free to eat all the fruits in the garden, except one, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil). If they eat the forbidden fruit, God said they would surely die. They ate it anyway and were thus vanished from the garden. From that time on, they had to live from the sweat of their brow and had to suffer from hunger, pain, disease and eventually, death.
The choice between these two “trees” didn’t end with Adam and Eve at the garden. Today man is still faced with these options – to partake of the fruits from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil or to eat off of the Tree of Life. And the consequences of our choice remain the same – “death” for the former and “eternal life” for the latter, i.e. death and eternal life beyond the physical realm.
But why must knowledge of good and evil lead us to our peril? Haven’t we been taught ever since we could start to understand and remember that it’s important to know right from wrong? Doesn’t doing the good thing make things better for both the doer and the receiver of the deed? Besides, in a realistic world, it’s much easier to tell the fruit of the tree of knowledge (of good and evil) than to know the fruit of the tree of life. The latter sounds just as abstract as the former sounds so familiar and tangible.
Like you and many others, I echoed those questions in our meetings and demanded immediate answers. I felt certain of my understanding of right and wrong, or of good and evil and believed in my wisdom to make the right choice, say the right words or do the right thing. Yet my concept of right and wrong is probably just like yours – right or wrong in the eyes of man. It’s our human wisdom measured by a yardstick of man-made laws, ethics and philosophies. The product is fraught with human follies – of pride and prejudices and thus, cannot and will not stand the test of true wisdom, i.e. the wisdom of the Spirit. Human wisdom is of the flesh whereas wisdom of the Spirit is of God, the fruit of the Tree of Life.
At his workplace, Henry was confronted daily with a co-worker who appeared to have an unexplained issue with him. She always complained of his work and blamed him for mistakes in the program they were developing even when it was clearly not his fault. She would even bring her complaints up to their manager every chance she got. She was pushing Henry’s buttons but he always managed to stay calm and focused on his work. Finally, Henry found a way to make the program they were working on to work. He sent her an email congratulating her for a job well done. Knowing it was Henry’s work more than hers and remembering how she had been to him all along, she cried out of guilt and asked for Henry’s forgiveness. Henry’s work environment was never the same again.
Rather than get even, Henry showed his co-worker a friendly and forgiving person she can trust and work with and the result couldn’t be better. Had he been eating off of the Tree of Knowledge, Henry would have told his co-worker off, made her eat her words but earned her lasting fury. There would have been no end to a stressful situation at Henry’s workplace. By walking in the Spirit (showing kindness and understanding instead of anger and retort), Henry didn’t gratify the desires of the flesh (revenge.) Instead of returning fire with fire and get burned in the process, Henry doused her fire with kindness and it earned him her respect.
Has someone – a friend, a loved one or an enemy offended you lately? Do you feel robbed, cheated, misjudged, manipulated, misled or mistreated by someone? Have you cut off ties with your family and vowed never to forgive them for lying to you or hurting your feelings? But have you stopped to see if your thoughts, words and actions bring you any gratification? Or do they make you more fuming mad and lusting for more revenge? Think. Is this how you want to feel for a long, long time? Or, would you rather be in peace and harmony with most everyone and everything around you? Forgiveness is a good place to start. With forgiveness comes freedom.
Life is full of challenges. Big or small, these challenges often show up without warning. Often times, we are caught off guard and so, we stumble and fall. But the real problem starts when we fail to regain our balance or get up after a fall. And sometimes, too, we rely too much on our own understanding (Tree of Knowledge) instead of trusting in God (Tree of Life). The Bible teaches us to trust in the Lord and He will direct our paths.
The strongest typhoon (Typhoon Haiyan) that took thousands of lives and billions of dollars worth of properties in the Philippines and the tornado in Washington, IL that ripped houses and buildings apart and tore them to pieces left many people homeless and helpless. But having survived the storm and in between their grieving, they started piecing together the remnants of their lives, courageously rebuilding from the rubbles where once stood their homes. The greater tragedy would be for them to get stuck on grieving and blaming God for their fate. Instead, they are quietly walking in the Spirit which gives them hope and makes them strong.
To eat from the Tree of Life, that is, walk in the Spirit is to liberate us from the deadly traps of anger, bitterness, pessimism, inaction, unforgiving spirit, frustration, desperation and all unhealthy thoughts and emotions. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re no longer dragging all these heavy baggage with you.
Walking in the Spirit or eating from the Tree of Life is not easy but the rewards can be life changing. I’m not there yet as to be able to make a powerful testimony but I’ve made some inroads in one or two facets of my life. It will take some time to get to where I want to be but I surely am trying. email@example.com