Genesis 3 describes the fall of man. This tragic event is the cause of the sin, chaos, sickness, and turmoil that this world has seen for the last several thousand years.

God had created Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden of Eden, and given them responsibility over the earth. There was only one command for them to keep: they must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They could eat from any other tree—including the Tree of Life—but this one tree was forbidden.

Have you ever considered the significance of the name of this tree? The command from God to abstain from it was not just to test them; He was also protecting them from the poisonous effects of eating from it. But Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and ate of its fruit.

When they ate from this tree, they chose to replace the knowledge of God with the knowledge of good and evil. They chose independence from God; they no longer needed Him. Now they knew good and evil and could live without God’s guidance and direction.

Two Branches from the Same Tree

When I think of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I picture a tree with the words “independence from God” written vertically along the trunk. On one side is a branch that reads “the knowledge of good” and on the other side is a branch that reads “the knowledge of evil.”

The knowledge of good is the foundation for works-based religious systems, man-centered philosophies, New Age self-improvement, and other humanistic ideologies. On the surface, these things may seem good and moral. But they are rooted in independence from God. They exalt self as god and reject the gospel of Jesus and His finished work as the only way to God. In fact, our need for salvation is actually denied.

The other branch of the tree—the knowledge of evil—is filled with sinful works such as murder, lust, perversion, the occult, lies, and other acts of disobedience toward God. These sinful behaviors are also rooted in independence from God and the worship of self.

Man was created to live in fellowship with God and dependence upon Him. When they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they declared independence from God. The results have been tragic, to say the least. But it is important to note that the knowledge of good is just as devastating as the knowledge of evil.

Jesus: the Tree of Life

Jesus has made the way for us to be reconciled to God. He is the true Tree of Life that restores us to the place of fellowship with God. By His shed blood we can be forgiven of our sins and inherit eternal life.

But first, we must repent. Repent of everything that is rooted in independence from God. Repent of sin, but also repent of self-righteousness and exalting self as god. Repent of trying to work our way to God, thinking that the knowledge of good can save us.

Through Jesus, we can disconnect from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and live our lives by His grace, as sons and daughters of the living God.

Questions: Have you ever considered the significance of the name of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? What else might this name represent?


6 Responses to “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”

  1. Very interesting. I never thought of the knowledge of good as being as devastating as that of evil, or really of the two being distinct for that matter. Thank you for these thoughts.

    • Glad it was a thought-provoking article for you Emily! It’s a concept I’ve been chewing on for awhile and I hope to receive more light on it.

  2. cindy chesser says:

    Thank you Jake for making it obvious how I was deceived in believing a lie. My self loves to get the attention and make itself feel like it is accomplishing something worthwhile. You have opened my eyes to the truth, in “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is the knowledge of good. I had thought that by not living by evil I was therefore good and acceptable. But you have pointed out that thinking this way is still living by works, gives self the glory, and this is not living by faith in the blood of Jesus.

    Keep up the good work and keep showing me where this false belief in “righteousness by works” is inbedded in me. I pray for death to self. It seems a relentless battle, but everytime I receive a revelation, then I am encouraged by the Love of God and the Joy of the Lord.

    • Cindy,

      I am glad the Lord used this article to speak to you! It is so true that the “knowledge of good” can be a much more subtle deception than things that are blatantly evil. The key is for us to fix our eyes on Jesus and stay in His finished work for us. God bless!


  3. Allison says:

    Great thoughts Jake. I never thought of the knowledge side as sinful before, but this opened my eyes and is so true.


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