Principles vs. Laws
Here are a few somewhat random but maybe connected ideas that are stirring around inside of me this morning.
About the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is the very symbol of Satan's counterfeit system of living apart from complete dependence on God. One thing I learn is that mixing good and evil always produces deception, a vital ingredient for Satan's system. And it makes no difference in the end what percentages are used in the mix. In fact, most of us know that using an extremely high ratio of good with an extremely small amount of evil has the most potential for harm, for it causes us to believe that the evil, if even present anymore, is so diluted by good that it is safe to accept the cocktail. But no matter which way the scales are favored, the end result is always death.
On the other hand the Tree of Life refers to no other element. It is focused on spreading life only. It is pure in its content and can never be diluted with anything without losing its very essence and power. To dilute agape love, that love that is totally selfless, other-centered, life-giving, a self-sacrificial servant kind of love, is to instantly transform it into a perversion that now emanates from the counterfeit tree.
Good (any percent) + Evil (any percent no matter how small) = Death.
That is the surprising truth that emerges from a careful examination of this system. We have been duped into believing that the goodness we are so used to seeing, talking about and even practicing is connected to life. Yet worldly and religious goodness actually ends in death. This sounds bizarre and even contradictory but we must allow God to expose the real truth behind the subtle lies of the enemy. Most of what we call good in this world actually is linked into the wrong system and even though it may appear to produce life, good feelings, pleasure, comfort and many other pleasant results, if it in any way is infected by selfishness then it is not fruit from the Tree of Life.
But this raises some troubling issues and potential diversions that can send us off in wrong directions if we are not very careful and prayerful. It is very easy to react to the discovery that any amount of evil mixed in with a great deal of truth and goodness will result in death. But even more disconcerting, according to God even if we only take the good from this tree and try to only deal with the good and shun the evil, we will still end up with death. This can start to be very confusing, but it was meant to be by the designer of that system who was the most intelligent created being in the universe.
Let me shift gears for a bit here and then come back to see if we can identify a way to expose and move past the cleverness of this master deceiver. I want to talk for a bit about our need to identify principles, natural laws that are truth based.
Some time ago it began to come to my awareness that God's laws are all based on, or more correctly understood as descriptions of, natural principles upon which everything operates and that govern all of creation. When we think about science, physics and other parts of our lives it is easy for us to grasp how natural laws affect our lives. We classify them into categories and call them health laws, laws of physics, laws of motion, etc. I wonder sometimes if even our segregating these into categories does more to confuse us than to help in some cases, for to think of them as disconnected from each other is to open a door to missing their counterparts in other aspects of our lives.
I am starting to be convinced that all the laws of the physical world, the natural principles as I prefer to term them, may be reflections of nearly identical principles that operate in what we call the spiritual realm. I cannot prove that and I don't even understand much of that connection. But I have seen enough evidence to convince me that this pattern itself may be a natural principle at work. In my curiosity I have spent years seeking to synthesize and capture descriptions of these laws as much as my little mind can wrap around in order to improve my own spiritual perception. I don't think I have made a lot of progress in identifying very many, but my awareness and curiosity have helped me to notice when a natural law or principle is evident in some teaching of Jesus or from some other inspired source.
Something new came into my mind this morning. Whenever a natural law is 'papered over' with an unnatural law, our perception of it becomes infected with the poison of legalism and our heart becomes confused. Taking a cool shower after a hot shower or bath is based on a natural principle of health. Limiting oil intake in our diet, separating fruits and vegetables as to when we eat them is connected to a natural law. Avoiding excess sugar, going to bed by 9 P.M. and many other things that could be mentioned are all based on natural principles.
Whether you happen to believe in these practices I mentioned or not, or even if you have never even heard of them is not the point here. What I am trying to say is that part of the nature of principles is that they are not something imposed artificially; they are simply the way things are. They are descriptions of how creation operates and we cannot vote them out of existence or even expect God to suspend them for us. That is not to say that He never employs other principles to apparently override them that we may not know about in what we call miracles. But what He desires is that we be brought into complete harmony with all the natural principles of reality that we were designed to live under from the start.
A problem arises though, when good-intentioned people (or otherwise) turn these descriptions of principles into imposed rules with artificial enforcements. What then happens is that our perceptions and appreciation of the true nature of these principles becomes confused. Applying force, fear and punishment over God's natural system of cause and effect (which is how natural law functions) generally causes people to become confused about the principles themselves. We need to make decisions based on what is most in line with natural principles for the purpose of receiving life in order to spread life to others. When principles are obscured by arbitrary law, the person being subjected to such treatment develops resistance and even rebellion and finds themselves having a much harder time believing in the true freedom in God's system of natural principles. This is a clever scheme of Satan to keep us in dysfunction and sin.
One of the first things we have to do when getting free of this trap created by perverting natural law into imposed law is to recognize what has taken place and not allow guilt and shame to numb us. Such things are designed to block us from taking action that will set us free. Removing the condemnation, shame, guilt, fear and all the other blinding, hardening effects of the counterfeit system is key to releasing our hearts so that we can become aware of our true condition without feeling paralyzed. When we are freed from these inhibitors to growth we then can confess (agree with what is real) and then repent (change the way we perceive reality) and allow God's Spirit to empower us to escape this trap of Satan in our minds.
As long as we are suffocated with the confusion of imposed law masquerading as natural law, it will be very difficult to entice our heart to open up to grace, love and truth. Our head may be very excited about truth, but until our heart begins to embrace it, experience it and begin to thrive with new life from God, our progress and maturing will be minuscule at best.
Living with a fear-based religious mentality creates great trepidation in the heart when these ideas are suggested. I know, I lived there for many years. When new concepts about God came along that challenge my long-established assumptions and the traditions of my people, there was a built-in warning system that was not necessarily in harmony with the warning system of God's Spirit.
It can be terrifying to have strange new ideas about God, about reality and especially about religion confront our traditional view of things. And it is true that there is often danger in many of the notions that are presented to us. We must have a reliable measurement system, a virus checker so to speak that can guide us in the right direction under the influence of God's Spirit. But the problem is that because religion is most often an external-focused experience rather than an internal, spirit-based system, we spend far too much time and effort seeking to argue about facts, proofs and logic and too little time tuning our own hearts to the frequency of heaven.
God says to test every spirit. If we are afraid to test a spirit for fear of offending God because we might be found testing His Spirit, we are likely living under the intimidation of a delusional spirit ourselves that intends to keep us in darkness. God has not given us the spirit of fear. So if we find that our motivation for determining what is best, what is true, what is life-giving is intimidated by fear, then our very measurement system is faulty and we need serious remediation at a deeper level. God is a Spirit. And those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. There is a place for accurate facts and knowledge; but the far more important knowledge that we must have is the other kind of knowledge that is not acquired from the Tree of Knowledge. It is the personal, experiential knowledge of intimacy with God's heart and rooted in the Word of God that is most needed in order for us to successfully test every spirit and discern what is right.
It is so much easier to rely on our intellectual prowess or even our emotional impulses to determine what is good for us. But both of these miss the point that we must to learn how to operate in our spirit connected with God's Spirit. This is not an emotional experience I am talking about here. Neither is it an intellectual achievement that can be learned in a classroom. Too many people are ignorant that they even have a spirit and even more confusing, many Christians teach that we are a spirit and that our spirit/soul can separate from our body at death and keep functioning. All of these are diversions to keep us from living in proper connection with God's Spirit. Satan doesn't care which counterfeit option we choose as long as we don't get too close to God.
God wants us to both come to know Him intimately and to also be re-conformed into harmony with all of the natural principles embedded in creation for which we were designed. It is not a legal problem we have with God but an alignment problem. We are out of harmony with true reality and it is only because of the grace of God suspending the natural consequences of our many violations of natural principles that we even remain alive. But this is a terrible state of affairs and God will not have it this way forever. He is seeking as many as possible to be willing to have Him realign their hearts, minds and lives back into conformity to the immutable laws of life and love. Yet, he gave all those who did welcome him (all those who believed in his name) the authority to become the children of God. John 1:12 (2001)