Experience and Delight

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  (Genesis 2:15-17)

16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word … 24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors … 32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding … 35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.

 (Psalm 119:16,24,32&35)
The English language doesn’t help us when we read about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since Adam and Eve had perfect consciences, unsullied by any sin, many readers struggle to understand what this tree was all about. Surely they already knew right from wrong? But the Hebrew word yada’ carries a much richer meaning than the English word know. It is used in Genesis 4:1 to describe Adam knowing Eve, resulting in her conceiving a son! A better translation would therefore be for us to describe it as the Tree of the Experience of Good and Evil.

The Lord invited Adam and Eve to trust that he knew best what was right and what was wrong. They were to believe the Holy Spirit when he stirred their consciences to distinguish between good and evil. The snake’s temptation was for them to reach out to experience forbidden fruit that would enable them to make an independent judgment of their own. Adam and Eve didn’t want to be judged by God’s Word. They wanted to sit in judgment over it instead.

This is still a big temptation for us today. Think about how you react when you read what the Bible says about other religions, about same-sex relationships or about sharing our possessions with the poor. It is easy to find ourselves resisting God’s Word, instead of trusting it. The Lord wants to help us graduate from judging his Word based on our own experience, to delighting in his Word as the only true basis for our understanding, like the writer of Psalm 119.
1)   Which aspects of the Bible’s teaching do you find it hardest to accept? Why do you think you find it so hard to accept what God’s Word says about those areas?

2)   Is your thinking characterised by an attitude of “I’ll be the judge of that, based on my experience”, or is it more like Peter in John 6:68 – “Lord, to whom else shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

3)   What would it mean for you, very practically, to repent of judging God’s Word based on your own experience, and to commit to allowing God’s Word sit in judgment over all your thoughts and preferences?
Father God. I can see why Adam and Eve reached out to eat from the forbidden tree. I confess to you I can often make judgments based on my own experiences too. Here and now, I commit to believe whatever your Scriptures tell me. Whenever my thinking disagrees with the Bible, I accept that it is always me that’s wrong and never you. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.