Most of us probably know something about the age old battle in the Garden of Eden between good and evil the consequences of which are still being felt today.
God had provided for Adam and Eve saying… “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Get 2:16,17 (ESV)
God gave them virtually no boundaries about what they could eat. They were permitted to eat anything, except the fruit of just one tree. It was a simple boundary, and God expected Adam and Eve to obey Him.
But then the devil came along in the form of a serpent.
His one goal was to get Adam and Eve to disobey God. And so he presented a dilemma in the garden, requiring Adam and Eve to make a choice to obey God, or to gain the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
And so “…the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4,5 (ESV)
Satan promoted the lie that knowledge of good and evil would make them like God, and that this was better than obedience. Perhaps God had put down that boundary simply because he wanted to provide Adam and Eve with the opportunity to be obedient to what He had asked them.
And so there in the Garden, the battle lines were drawn. Obedience to the command of God or the tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The thirst for knowledge drew Adam and Eve away from obedience. It was so tempting, and it was easier than obedience.
Gaining knowledge just requires a certain amount of intelligence, but obedience requires faith. That’s because obedience requires us to trust God, even when we feel like doing something else.
We know that knowledge is essential to obedience, but “knowledge without obedience seems to be the fruit that the church and many who call themselves Christian continue to eat.” (as D. L. Watson and P. D. Watson say in Contagious Disciple Making, p67)
And so the church and it’s members have often defaulted to basing discipleship around gaining knowledge rather than applying our knowledge through obedience.
As a result churches have gathered attenders hungry to be fed, rather than disciples keen to follow.
God gave Adam and Eve a simple test; to be obedient to what He asked them. They failed that test and so sin entered the world.
By His grace, God offers us forgiveness, to wipe the slate of our sin clean and give us a fresh start. And then He calls us to follow Him living life as a disciple of His; one where we are willingly obedient to His commands.
That’s the kind of loving relationship God wants with us. As Jesus said “If you love me, you will obey my commands” John 14:15. Obedience is God’s love language, and so the way that we disciple people must be to lead them into relationship with Him where we are all lovingly obedient to His commands.
Knowledge and the gaining of more knowledge is a wonderful thing, but it is of no value at all if we are not first obedient to what He asks.
The fruit of knowledge should always be obedient application. And that was the problem in the Garden of Eden, where obedience and knowledge became competing alternatives.
The quest for us today is be disciples who make disciples, by aligning our knowledge of God and His commands, in harmony with the way that we live them out, applying them to our lives in obedience to Him.