Ye Shall Be As Gods
When a team hits on a winning tactic, then logic dictates that it should continue to use that tactic as long as it remains effective. Team Satan is no exception.
Way back in the Garden of Eden, Satan set the standard for false doctrine, outlining in a single sentence the roots from which all heresies spring.
It began with God issuing a prohibition to Adam and Eve regarding the fruit of one particular tree in the Garden of Eden.
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
It was a simple and straightforward prohibition — there wasn’t much room for misunderstanding. Indeed, that was the purpose of the prohibition. The choices were black and white — there was no room for shades of gray.
When the serpent came to tempt Eve, he did several things. First, he cast doubt on God’s Word; (“Yea, hath God said?”) and Eve responded by ADDING to God’s Word.
“. . . Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:1b-3)
What God really said was:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Eve added the part about ‘touching’ it — and the rest, as they say, is history. Once God’s word has been ‘bent’ it is only a matter of time before it gets broken. Eve entered into a battle of wits without knowing she was unarmed.
Note Satan’s reply. First, he calls God a liar:
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die . . .”
Then, to support the charge, he makes God out to be the ‘bad guy’.
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:3-4)
Skeptics often point to the Garden of Eden as an example of the ‘contradictions’ in Scripture. After all, God said that Adam and Eve would die the very day they broke God’s prohibition, yet Adam lived another eight hundred years.
There is no contradiction. In the first place, on the day they sinned, they died spiritually. In the second place, twice in Scripture we are told that a ‘day’ to the Lord is as a ‘thousand years’ is to us.
By that standard, neither Adam nor Eve survived that ‘day’.
Let’s examine the rest of the Lie. First, there is the promise of hidden knowledge — “your eyes shall be opened.” That leads to the second lie; that knowledge will make us little gods. And finally, as gods whose eyes have been opened, we can tell the difference between good and evil.
Good and evil are outcomes — and outcomes are known only to God. There is an old saying to the effect that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ because oftentimes, we set out to do something good for somebody, only to have it blow up in our faces.
For example, you buy your immature teenager a new sports car. You mean it for good. (It is possible to do something stupid with good intentions — I do it all the time)
But when your teenager is killed drag racing, you realize that what you meant for good brought you nothing but evil.
Conversely, you refuse to let your teenager have a car until he is mature enough to handle the responsibility. Because he hasn’t got his own car, he gets picked up hitchhiking and is never seen again.
You meant it for good, but in both cases, the outcome was exceedingly evil.
The day that our eyes are opened to the degree that we know good from evil is the day we will stand in God’s presence. On that day, we will know just how presumptuous we were.
If it wasn’t such a tragedy, I’m sure the angels would be rolling on the floor with laughter. “Ye shall be as gods.”
You’ve gotta be kidding!
We touched on this topic a few days ago, but from some of my emails, there is still some misunderstanding about the point I was trying to make.
We were discussing the controversy about tongues in the modern Church era, and whether or not it is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
But the point wasn’t tongues, it was heresy and heresy-hunting. What is our obligation? Is it to expose the heretics by name? Is it to go among the deceived to publicly proclaim the heresy and correct their doctrinal errors?
One could make an argument from Scripture that is indeed the responsibility of every Christian. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we are sincere in our bedrock doctrinal beliefs, even though we disagree on certain issues.
For example, you are a pretribulational Dispensationalist who believes that the Church Age concludes with the Rapture of the Church.
I, on the other hand, am just as sincerely convinced that the Rapture takes place at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
You’ve been in such discussions where somebody has tried to convince you that you were the heretic. How convincing was that?
You’ve got your Bible, you’ve got your verses, you’ve been down this road a million times — and you are immovable.
Are you right? Of course, you are. But are you right? (Well, you sincerely believe the answer is yes again, but you’d rather not say so out loud. After all, infallibility is what your opponent is claiming).
Here’s the rub. It is possible to be infallible for yourself in matters of doctrine — that is the definition of ‘faith’. I believe with all my heart that I am infallibly correct on matters of settled doctrine — but I also know in my heart that I am NOT infallible.
Logically, I must content myself with the understanding that the Holy Spirit IS infallible, and He has shaped my doctrinal worldview according to His purposes. I must trust Him that I can trust His leading.
The problem is, the other guy believes exactly the same thing, if he is a sincere Christian.
Now, we get to the meat of our debate. Which one of us, in this example, is the ‘little god’ whose eyes have been opened by the fruit of knowledge, so that he can tell good from evil?
If you answered, “both of us” then you’ve pretty much nailed it.
How, then, do we learn? More than that, how do we teach? After all, we learn by discussing various doctrinal differences, taking the insights of like-minded believers and comparing those insights to the Revealed Word.
Having determined our doctrinal worldview, we then teach it to others the same way we learned it ourselves. By discussing the various views and determining for ourselves which view best lines up with Scripture.
But wait! That’s what the other guy did, too. He learned his doctrine the way you did, comparing it to the Scriptures and determining which view lines up best with his understanding of the Word of God.
Having adopted his doctrine as being the correct one, like you, he feels it is necessary to correct the heresy of others for the ‘good of the Church’ — just like you.
Personally, I have absolutely no problem in pointing out doctrinal error. I do it all the time. Where I have to remember to draw the line is in claiming doctrinal infallibility.
I don’t believe that my doctrine is flawed — indeed, if I had any doubts, I wouldn’t teach it. Anymore than I would allow somebody else to teach me if I believed his doctrine was in error.
But there comes a point in a doctrinal debate where a line is crossed — where one goes from being a teacher to a dictator.
And we’ve all crossed that line at some point. No?
Have you ever reached the point where you’ve accused somebody of not being saved because they don’t agree with you? (Or, put another way, that you don’t agree with them.)
Now, WHO is it that has the authority to pronounce someone saved or lost? A little god? Or the One Who shed His Blood that men might be saved?
When Jesus sent the Apostles out to preach the Gospel, He didn’t send them out to browbeat the unwilling, but just the opposite;
“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matthew 10:14)
“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1st Corinthians 14:38)
Many of us take the Great Commission as evidence that our eyes have been opened, and, whether we care to admit it or not, that we are as gods, knowing good from evil.
In a sense, there is truth in that, but that is only true to a limited degree.
Our eyes HAVE been opened (to our sin) we ARE as gods (by virtue of our imputed righteousness) and we know ‘good from evil’ to a limited degree: (ie., God is good, we are evil.)
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
But when we begin to think that WE can infallibly determine good and evil by virtue of our eyes having been opened by our understanding of Scripture, then we’ve crossed the line from heresy hunter to ‘heretic’ ourselves.
It is a fine line, but not really as fine as all that.
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1st Timothy 4:15)
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 10, 2008