The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

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The “Knowledge of Good and Evil” Ruined Everything!

James R. Aist

“…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

For the longest time, I read right through Genesis 3:1-7 not really understanding what the tree of knowledge of good and evil was about. After all, isn’t it essential for us to know what is good and what is evil in order to obey God?  So what is it about us knowing good and evil that upset God so much that He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for it? Then one day, I read in a book an explanation of it that made all kinds of sense to me. And, it truly does explain a lot!

Let’s begin by reproducing Genesis 3:1-7 here: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Next, let’s unpack this passage, point by point, and “Fact Check” each claim:

Claim # 1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. True. This claim that Satan uses subtlety to entice his victims is confirmed elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:14, Ephesians 6:11 and Revelation 12:9);

Claim # 2: And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.’ ” True. In Genesis 2: 16-17, God gives this very same instruction to Adam, before Eve was created. They have no excuse;

Claim # 3: “You surely will not die! False. Satan is lying here, in order to set Eve up for the accusation against God that follows;

Claim # 4: “…God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened…” True. Satan begins with the truth, in order to make the lie that follows more easy for Eve to accept as being also true, but he doesn’t tell her the whole truth;

Claim # 5: “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Patently False and not really True! Herein lies (pun intended) the subtle deception. Satan himself was driven by his ambition to be like God (Isaiah 14:14), so he tempts Eve with the same ambition. But, in reality, no created thing can ever be like its creator; not Satan, not Eve. (I doubt that Eve was aware of that fact.) Then, he says she will become aware of good and evil, like God is, and she did (Genesis 3:22). Well, sort of. God’s awareness of good and evil included His authoritative determination of what actually is good and what actually is evil, whereas Eve’s awareness of good and evil was nothing more than her personal opinion, without any authority to actually determine what is right and what is wrong. In other words, her believing that she had been given the last say as to what is right and what is wrong was nothing more than a subtle delusion. Moreover, now that she was aware of good and evil, she was responsible to God for honoring His moral code. Ouch!

To summarize: Satan lured Eve into the delusion that, if she would eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she would not only become aware that there is good and evil in the world, but that she would also, by the same act, commandeer from God the right and the authority to determine what actually is right and what actually is wrong. That is the delusion that ruined everything!

So, “How has that delusion ruined everything?”, you might ask. Well, in a nutshell, this delusion is at the heart of every manifestation of mankind’s rebellion against God (i.e., sin), from the Garden of Eden until now; this delusion that it is OK for every man to do what is right in his own eyes (cf., Judges 21:25); this delusion that there is no “higher moral authority” to which we will be held accountable; this delusion with which every human being is born, the “sin nature” that we all have inherited, somehow, from Adam; this delusion that has caused the whole creation to groan and travail in pain together until now (Romans 8:22).

All was “very good”  between God and man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:31) until Adam and Eve believed a lie of the devil; namely, that they could usurp God’s moral authority to determine what is good and what is evil. That’s when the trouble began. But, “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and on earth…” (Psalm 135:6). In the fullness of time, He will end all rebellion against His absolute moral authority and reign on the earth in righteousness and peace, forever. The good news for mankind is that all who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will rule and reign with Him. Will you be there?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet… Revisited

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The Parable of the Wedding Banquet… Revisited

James R. Aist

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”

As I read through Matthew’s account of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), I find that a natural reading of it tells me that this is an historically sweeping parable that represents the Kingdom of God from Old Testament times (Part 1), through the times of the early Christian church (Part 2), and right up to the time of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:5-9)(Part 3). Now you may already have a different take on this parable, but if you will humor me for a few moments, I will illustrate why I have come to this conclusion. To do this, I will reproduce (in bold lettering) this parable as it occurs in Matthew’s Gospel, and insert (in parentheses, with italics) my understanding below each portion as it comes up.

Part 1 – Old Testament times

Jesus spoke to them again by parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding , but they would not come. 

(As I see it, this is a largely parallel scenario to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, where, here, Jesus represents the son. The servants represent the Old Testament prophets, who were sent to call to the wedding ceremony those who were already invited: that is, God’s chosen people, the Jews, to whom the Gospel message was first given (Acts 13:45-46); hence, “those who were already invited.” But, they refused to come.)

“Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited: See, I have prepared my supper. My oxen and fattened calves are killed, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

(In this passage, its like God is saying to the Jews, “I have done all that is necessary for you to come in and enjoy the wedding banquet with me. I have already promised you a Messiah who will come to save you from your sins, so come now and rejoice with Me.”

But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his business; the rest took his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. When the king heard about it, he was angry. He sent in his army and destroyed those murderers and burned up their city.

(The Jews mistreated and even killed the prophets of God. For this offense, Jesus prophecies that God will send in an army to destroy and burn their Holy City, Jerusalem, which prophecy was fulfilled by the Roman army in 70 AD. Many scoffed and mocked the invitation, while others were too busy with worldly matters to take heed. But, sadly, the Jews failed again to come to the Wedding Banquet.)

Part 2 – Early Christian Church

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the streets, and invite to the wedding banquet as many as you find.’ 10 So those servants went out into the streets and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

(After delivering the Good News to the Jews first, and being largely rebuffed, God sent Christian evangelists out to deliver the Good News to the Gentiles. All were invited to the banquet, whether righteous believers or unrighteous nonbelievers. And they packed out the wedding venue!)

Part 3 – Marriage Supper of the Lamb

But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who was not wearing wedding garments. He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding garments?’ And he was speechless.

(All the righteous in attendance were clothed in “wedding garments.” At the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the believers will wear white garments, which will be representative of their righteous deeds (Revelation 19:8). By extension, then, only the ones in white garments at the Wedding Banquet were qualified to be there. But one person there had on regular street clothes. He was not a believer, and he had no clue why he managed to get past the guards and into the banquet hall. He probably didn’t even know that he was not really supposed to be there. Perhaps he was a “churchgoer” who had not been “born again” (click HERE).

Then the king told the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(Because this man had never accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he was bound and cast out of the banquet hall and into the Lake of Fire, the Second Death (Revelation 20:14) as his just recompense for the sins he had committed (Romans 6:23). Remember that Jesus said, Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.’ (Matthew 7:22-23).

For many are called, but few are chosen.

(A great multitude, of both Jews and Gentiles, has been able to hear and respond to the Gospel invitation, but only those whom God has chosen for salvation have accepted it. These alone, the ones that Jesus “knew”, will be allowed to participate in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. To more fully appreciate the biblical foundation for my understanding of this verse, click HERE.)

And, here’s the Good News for you: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:19). It would be awesome to have you enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb with us!

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)

God Still Makes a Way!

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God Still Makes a Way!

James R. Aist

“But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea. And the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)

Sometimes God calls His chosen ones to embark on a mission that will put them in harm’s way, only to provide them a way out. Perhaps the parting of the Red Sea is the best-known example of God providing a way out for His people (Exodus 14:21-31). But, to further illustrate this point, here are a few more examples from the Bible of how God has made a way out, when it appeared that there was no way: 1) A prostitute named Rahab hid two Israelite spies from the King of Jericho and gave them a way of escape from certain death (Joshua 2); When King Herod had purposed to have baby Jesus killed in Bethlehem, God sent an angel to Joseph with a warning to flee with his family to Egypt until it was safe to return (Matthew 21:13-15); and 3) When King Herod had Peter put in prison and bound, God sent an angel to remove his bonds and walk him right out of the prison, in the presence of the guards, thus preventing Herod from having Peter executed (Acts 12:6-11).

With that backdrop, I have a story of my own to tell, in which God clearly revealed His hand in making a way for me to miraculously escape a cleverly conceived plan to put me in harm’s way. So that you can more fully appreciate the miraculous nature and extent of this escape, allow me to provide a brief backstory. In the early 1990s, while I was a Professor at Cornell University, I sensed that God was calling me to speak out about the gay agenda. Now, I was already quite familiar with the tendency of gay activists to use force and violence to bully their opposition into surrendering to their demands, even to the point of fire bombing a pastor’s home with his family still inside! Nevertheless, I agreed to embark on this project with the understanding that God would protect me from harm. With that understanding in mind, I did extensive on-line and library research to find out if there were scientific studies of homosexuality, as well as exactly what the Bible did and did not have to say about it. I found out that nobody was really born gay, that unwanted homosexuality could be overcome, and that the Bible repeatedly and consistently condemned homosexual sex acts as sinful.

With that information in hand, I began a local ministry (dubbed “AHA”, for Alternatives to Homosexuality Anonymous) to share these facts with members of the Cornell and surrounding communities. As expected, this ministry was met with outcries of bigotry, homophobia and gay bashing, along with threatening and lurid phone calls to my home phone number, hateful messages written on campus sidewalks and formal complaints to the Cornell administration seeking to get me fired. During the peak of these personal, public attacks against me, there was a clever trap set to corner me in my office and confront me face to face, with the local media invited to show up and publish explicit, front-page, pro-gay articles with me as the culprit. This trap set for me and how God provided a way of escape is the main focus of this article. Here’s what happened.

The Setup

I received a phone call in my office from a young woman by the name of Ariel, a Cornell student. She said that she wanted to meet me in my office to discuss my AHA ministry and help me understand why they wanted me to cease and desist. So, we agreed to meet in my Cornell office the next day at 1:30 p.m.

The “Mole”

About a half hour before the meeting was to take place, I received a phone call from a young man who was also a Cornell student. I had never even heard of him before. He said that he was a member of the Cornell Young Republicans Club. He also had signed onto the e-mail list of a gay activist student group, so that he could function as a “mole”, as it were, to monitor the group’s e-mails and upcoming campus activities.

The Plot

The Mole informed me that I must vacate my office before the 1:30 meeting with Ariel, because a group of gay activists was planning to gather at the lower campus, march straight up the hill to my building, trap me in my office and make demands to the College and Cornell administrators that they forbid me to speak out further concerning homosexuality. The appointment with Ariel was a set-up!

The Counter Plot

The Mole wanted to come to my office ahead of time and escort me surreptitiously to a safe location of my choosing on campus, circumventing the pre-determined route of the gay mob. So, I decided that the best place for me to escape to was the office of my best friend, Bill, a fellow Christian professor. When the Mole showed up at my office door, I immediately noticed that he appeared to be dressed and groomed more like a liberal gay person than a conservative Republican. He said he did that so he could join in with and spy on the gathering mob on lower campus without being outed as a mole! I also noticed that he was accompanied by a middle-aged gentleman dressed more formally, in a tan business suit. It turns out that the Mole had taken the liberty of informing the Campus Police of the mob’s intentions, and they dispatched this Detective to accompany me on my journey across campus to my place of refuge, just in case I was spotted trying to get away and things got out of hand!

The Escape

So, off we went, at about 1:20 p.m., to skirt around the route of the approaching mob and arrive safely at Bill’s office. Once inside, I thanked the Mole and the Detective for their help and protection, and they went on their way. Bill and I then settled in to chat about what just happened, and to wait patiently to learn what the mob did when they found out I wasn’t there. Later, I learned that they were demonstrably upset and surprised that their trap had been foiled. So, as to not be totally frustrated, they decided to invade and occupy the Departmental Offices instead, where, for more than six hours, they held the Department Chairman and his staff hostage while they made their demands to the higher administration, in my absence. Moreover, the gay activists failed to get me fired.

The Point

God still makes a way, when there seems to be no way out of the peril you are in! He will see to it that you are able to accomplish the task He has called you to do. And, in this case, He made good on His promise to protect me from harm as I conducted the AHA ministry.

Truth be told, my friend, we are all born into a world of great peril. “What peril?”, you may ask. The peril that the Bible refers to as the “law of sin and death”: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). But God has provided a way out of this “sin problem”, and His name is Jesus. God ordained that the death of Jesus on the cross would pay the price for our sins (Mark 10:45), and we need only believe in Jesus to be saved from an eternity in hell (John 6:29). Now that is a way of escape that none of us can afford to pass up! Have you let God save you yet?

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Gospel of John 3:16

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The Gospel of John 3:16

James R. Aist

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)

In the New Testament, the word “gospel” refers to the “good news” that Jesus brought to mankind by way of His sinless life and effective solution to our sin problem. The fulfilling of the Great Commission by those who are saved – by grace through faith in Jesus – requires that we share this good news with unbelieving sinners so that God may also save them.  There are several sets of scriptures that have been identified that can serve as a guide to sharing this good news, perhaps most notably the “Romans Road”: Romans 3:10 and 23; 5:12; 6:23; 5:8; 10:13; and 10:9-10, in that order.

Not long ago it struck me that if one is looking for an inclusive, yet concise, summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one need not look any further than John 3:16. This one Bible verse contains all of the skeletal elements necessary to present the Gospel to an unbeliever; just add some details, and there it is! Or, if you are a pastor or evangelist, it presents an excellent outline for a powerful sermon series.

To show you what I mean, let’s take John 3:16 and insert, in italics and parentheses, pertinent key phrases: For God (the doctrine of “God”) so loved (the “love of God”) the world (the doctrine of “man”) that He gave (the substitutionary death of Christ) His only begotten Son (the incarnation), that whoever believes (God’s supernatural gift of saving faith) in Him should not perish (eternal suffering with the devil and his angels in hell), but have eternal life (everlasting fellowship with God in heaven).

I don’t know about you, but I see the makings of an eight-part sermon series right there! And when you’re finished, you will have presented a wonderfully amplified version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with John 3:16 as the springboard! Whether you are preaching or sharing the gospel privately with a friend, you may want to include also a discussion of John 3:17, which completes and confirms the points made in verse 16 by explaining the purpose for Jesus’s coming into the world: that the world, through Him, might be saved. Now that is good news indeed!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)