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)

That They May Have “Life”

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That They May Have “Life”

James R. Aist

“The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

In John 10:10, Jesus was speaking to Jews in Jerusalem who were taking Him to task for healing people. I used to wonder why Jesus would say to people who were obviously living, breathing beings, that He came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Don’t they already have life? Jesus seemed to be saying that He came to give them something that they already have. It just didn’t make sense to me.

But, I discovered recently the solution to this seeming contradiction. It all has to do with the translation from the original Greek to the English language. In the New Testament, there are mainly two Greek words having different meanings that are both translated “life” in the English versions. Sometimes “life” refers to our biological life (“psuche” or “biotikos” in the Greek) here on earth; at other times, it refers to the new or “eternal” life (“zoe” in the Greek) in Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus was referring to the latter kind of life, “eternal life”, not our present, biological life. To help you more fully appreciate the significance of this distinction, here are some pertinent verses from the Apostle John, beginning with John’s definition of “eternal life”: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3); “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11); and “In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind (John 1:4). In all three verses, the Greek word translated “life” is “zoe.” So, now we can see that everyone has “psuche”, or biological life, but only those who believe in the One who was sent by the Father (John 5:24 and 38; John 6:29 and 40) have “zoe”, or eternal life. This is the life to which the angel was referring when he commanded Paul to “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

So, now the question becomes, “In what way did Jesus come that they may have eternal life more abundantly?” I believe that it is in actually knowing Jesus Christ, the long awaited Jewish Messiah, and in knowing that they now possess the “eternal life” that He won for them on the cross. Moreover, this life with God in Christ (eternal life realized) will be far more glorious than the eternal life they may have imagined before Christ appeared. The Apostle Paul described it this way, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”(Corinthians 2:9; see also Isaiah 64:4). That, my friends, is indeed, “life more abundantly”, and it will be yours if you put your faith and trust in Jesus!

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)

The Faith of Demons Won’t Help You At All!

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The Faith of Demons Won’t Help You At All!

James R. Aist

“You believe in God. Believe also in Me.” – Jesus (John 14:1b)

There seems to be some lingering confusion among some who claim to be Christians about whom one has to believe in to be a genuine, born-again Christian. For example, some say of their conversion experience, “I found God.” Others may confess their Christian faith by saying “I believe in God.” And surely one must believe in God the Father to be saved. But, does belief in only God the Father really fulfill the requirements for salvation recorded to the Bible?

According to Jesus, one must believe not only in God the Father, but also in Jesus, His only begotten Son (John 3:16, John 6:29 and John 14:1b) to fulfill God’s requirements for salvation. But its not that simple, because even the demons believe in God and that Jesus is His Son (James 2:19; Matthew 8:9), and yet they are condemned to hell. What, then, is missing from the faith of demons?

The answer lies in the fact that there are two kinds of “belief”: there is mere mental ascent to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and there is mental ascent along with surrender to the lordship of the Son of God. The faith of Demons is the former kind, because Satan is their lord, whereas saving faith – the faith of true believers – is the latter kind, because Jesus is their Lord. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21), and “You believe in God. Believe also in Me” (John 14:1b). As James pointed out, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17); dead faith is the faith of demons and will not solve your sin problem.

So, if you have not yet surrendered yourself to the lordship of Jesus Christ, then you have the faith of demons, and you need to take care of that right away. Jesus is not your Savior if He is not your Lord!

(To read more of my articles on Bible topics, click HERE.)

When the “Supernatural” Is Not of God

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When the “Supernatural” Is Not of God

James R. Aist

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

Fore Word

I want to make it clear, right up front, that I am not among those who, in the Last Days, are content to have a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:1-5). After more than 25 years of affiliation with and participation in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches and denominations, as well as more than 65 years of personal encounters with God (click HERE , HERE and HERE), I have the distinct impression that, often, too little consideration is given to the possibility that a supernatural manifestation may not be of God, but of Satan. The default setting seems to be that if it is supernatural, it must be of God, but that is not a biblical approach at all. The Bible clearly instructs us to test the spirits to see if they are of God or not (click HERE), and to hold onto what is of God. So, in this article, I want to relate some unequivocal examples of when the supernatural was not of God, but of Satan, so that a more balanced and biblical approach to the supernatural might become more commonly practiced be Christians going forward.

Introduction

Let’s begin by defining some relevant terms, shall we? “Natural” refers to things that are of this physical world that God created, often referred to as “nature.” “Supernatural”, on the other hand, refers to things that are above or beyond the natural, or not of this physical world. In this context, “supernatural” would refer to the spiritual realm, and, more specifically, to spirit beings or their activities. From the Bible, we know that spirit beings include God, angels (good and evil), demons and spirits (good and evil). Satan is the ruler of the evil angels, demons and evil spirits. Human beings are also spirit beings, but they have a physical body and a soul as well. God, as the Creator of everything, is ultimately sovereign over all of the physical and spirit beings. Jesus said that God is Spirit; consequently, whatever God does is supernatural. Likewise, whatever any of Satan’s spirit beings do is also supernatural.

Whenever we encounter a possible supernatural manifestation, I believe that the first thing we need to determine for ourselves is whether or not it is really a miracle at all. Many manifestations (e.g., random cloud formations appearing like Jesus or a cross, or rust dribbling down a statue) are easily explained by natural phenomena. Other manifestations (e.g., manufactured Words of Knowledge, messages from the “spirit world” or fake healing) may be nothing more than cruel hoaxes perpetrated by humans. Once such natural or manufactured phenomena have been ruled out as the cause, there are two possible sources of a supernatural manifestation: God or Satan.

Now, I assume that we are all familiar with accounts in the Bible of supernatural manifestations that were of Satan, not God. For example, the Bible says that Pharaoh’s magicians turned their rods into snakes (Exodus 7:8-12), and the Gadarene demoniac broke out of heavy chains and shackles using supernatural strength imparted by a legion of demons (Mark 5:1-13). But, to illustrate the point further, I want to give a more detailed account here of two supernatural encounters that I myself have had that were clearly not of God.

An “Angel of Light”

I was 19 years old, a college student and very naive and ignorant concerning spiritual matters and the Word of God. In my frame of reference at that time, anything supernatural was assumed to be of God.

Now, please keep in mind that I was fully conscious and aware during the entire supernatural encounter I am about to share with you. One Sunday afternoon, I was alone in my apartment praying earnestly to God for His guidance concerning a major life decision that I was about to make. While I was praying, I suddenly felt an invisible force pulling on me, weakly at first, but then stronger and stronger until my entire body fell limp and my upper torso was held upright (i.e., levitated) and literally pulled to the other end of the apartment by this force, with my lower legs and feet dragging along the floor. When I arrived at the doorway to my bedroom, the force released me, and I slumped into a full squatting position on the floor, still unable to move of my own accord. Then I saw, out of the corner of my right eye, a bright, round, white light about the size of a basketball. This light was situated at the juncture of the wall and the ceiling. Next, my gaze was turned toward the light, and a voice spoke into my mind. It told me what I wanted to believe as I had been praying to God, and the message was crystal clear and without any confusion on my part. Then my strength slowly returned and I was able to stand and walk.

In pondering what had just happened to me, I assumed that this entire and impressive spiritual encounter was a divinely inspired answer to my prayer. However, it was a frightening experience, and I have been reluctant to share it publicly until now. Believing it was of God, I acted on the message I was given.

As the years went by, it became more and more apparent to me that this “angel of light” had lied to me, because things were not working out as I was told they would. This development put me into a state of utter confusion, because I was, at first, certain that I had heard from God, who cannot lie. I was even in the midst of praying to God when this spiritual encounter occurred! “Surely God would not allow Satan to bring a false response to my prayer to Him!”, I reasoned.

More years passed, and, by now, I had become a student of the Bible and was a bit savvy concerning spiritual matters. But I was not yet fully convinced that this “angel of light” was not of God, even though what it said to me did not square with present reality. Then one day, as I was reading in 2 Corinthians 11, I came upon the verse that says “…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (verse 14). That caught my attention, but I tried to read on anyway. Each time I tried to read on, my gaze was directed back and glued to “…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Finally, I saw the connection between this verse and my earlier experience with an “angel of light”: that wasn’t God, that was Satan deceiving me and setting my life on a course that did not end well! And, there it is. This supernatural experience was not of God at all, but of Satan, no more doubt about it. (Note: It is not uncommon for the Holy Spirit to quicken, or bring alive, the written word of God to a Bible reader in this manner. In Pentecostalism, this experience is sometimes referred to as an example of the “Rhema word” of God. For a sound, biblical teaching by Watchman Nee on the Rhema word, see text pages 51-59 at this link: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/bfa-media/ebooks/TGC-eng.pdf)

A Slithering Serpent

Early on in my experience with Pentecostalism, I was an active member of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International (Ithaca, NY, chapter). A much larger chapter in nearby Syracuse, NY, invited me to be their keynote speaker at their next monthly meeting, and I accepted. They wanted me to relate my experiences in researching and publishing, on the Cornell University campus and to the Ithaca area, the facts and truth about homosexuality. Of course this was an inflammatory mission I was on, and the area homosexual activists were all up in arms about it, opposing me with every hateful and devious attack they could think of. The devil hates it when someone sheds light on his nefarious deeds of darkness, doesn’t he?

When the day came for my presentation, there was a sizable crowd of about 150 people who showed up to hear what I had to say. No more than about 10 minutes into my speech, I noticed to my left a woman standing in the aisle near the back of the crowd. As I continued to speak, I saw in the corner of my eye that she had laid down on the floor and was moving through the aisle toward me. When she was about half way to the front, I could see clearly how she was moving along the floor: she was face-down, her body taking the shape of a crawling snake and slithering toward me, all the while lifting her head, wagging her tongue at me and hissing audibly – just like a snake! I knew almost immediately that we were seeing a supernatural manifestation that was demonic in nature, so I continued right along with my speech so as not to allow this demon to disrupt my message. When the serpent lady had reached the edge of the open area where I was standing, a couple of the local men of the chapter came and quietly picked her up off of the floor, escorted her out of the auditorium the same way she came in, and ministered to her out in the foyer. This demonic manifestation was very impressive and creepy, but it didn’t spoil God’s purpose for my being there!

My Point

I want to encourage us all to not be too quick to conclude that anything that is supernatural is of God. False prophets can work signs and wonders too (click HERE). While it slanders God when we are duped by “wolves in Sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit to attribute to Satan the miraculous works of God (Matthew 12:22-30). So, we must be very careful to always test any supernatural manifestation before we conclude that it is, or is not, of God (See Addendum, below). Peter and John did not believe the report that Jesus had been raised from the dead until they had direct, physical confirmation themselves, and Thomas withheld his worship of the resurrected Jesus until Jesus gave him the physical confirmation he was holding out for. Perhaps we would be wise to follow the example of these Apostles and require confirmation that supernatural manifestations are really of God, rather than being quick to just assume that they are. I have to believe that if God wants us to know what He is doing, He can and will make it clear to us, if we are willing to inquire, listen, watch and wait.

Addendum

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you, for what its worth, some of the tests I use to evaluate the authenticity and the source of claimed “supernatural” manifestations. So, here is a “short list” of my tests:

  • Is there a verified, natural explanation available?
  • Is there a verified fleshly motivation to fake a miracle?
  • Do the human instruments of the manifestation appear to be trustworthy and reliable witnesses?
  • Does it involve anything that the Bible expressly prohibits?
  • Is it serving God’s purposes or Satan’s purposes?
  • What are my natural and my spiritual gifts of discernment telling me about it, if anything?

(To read more of my biblically themed articles, click HERE)