Knowledge: Bondage or Freedom?

Knowledge will set you free. So, we believe. Our jobs, our relationships, our future, our faith, if we just know enough about it all, where it is going and what it all means, then everything will turn out all right. If we do not find ourselves taking that wrong turn down the path we thought we knew about, then we will fulfill our destiny. If we know, then we should succeed.

And surely, knowledge helps us advance in some things; those things we can control. The choices we have learned to make. The situations we have learned to appreciate.  But knowledge has a deceptive dark side that we forget to talk about. Knowledge sometimes does more harm than good. And in the eternal end, knowledge will not conquer.

Especially when it comes to God. Knowledge about His works and His ways is not always simple. There are times when great and amazing wonders appear before the eyes of His chosen people, that they may know He is the Lord their God. But other times, God does insane things that we can only make up reasons to try and understand (take the book of Job for example). So, to know, to grasp at a knowledge even if it is given by God, this may be a gift not meant for us.

Somewhere, before we can ever imagine, man and woman ate a fruit so they would know. They took and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They unknowingly ingested truths and lies, what is good and what is bad, weights and scales and measurements of what they would learn to be righteousness. They would suddenly hear and distinguish the world in categories of laws and commands, pleasing and disappointing. Interestingly enough, before they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge, man and woman were created to not have to know any of that. In fact, God forbid them to know, to eat, it would mean their death.

But they did not know, before. So, they took, they ate, and then they knew. Yet we cannot go back to before. We cannot wisely tell them to un-eat. Because we already know. And we cannot do and will not do any different, because we already know. Good and bad. Law and command. Righteousness and sin. It is now known.

The question is, now that we all know, does it help anything? Now that we understand that man and woman would surely die from this knowledge, does it make any of us better now? Now that we perceive the knowledge of the unchanging law and order of God, can we put ourselves on the right path? Now that Moses has spoken the 10 commandments from God, does that advance our ability to do them? Now that God’s people know how much they continually fail according to His strict judgment, did that alleviate the need for constant sacrifice? Knowledge, distinction, discerning God’s Law is not enough to make it right.

God knew. He saw His creatures who now knew. He watched His creatures hide who now understood. There is no one righteous, not even one, especially not the ones who now know.

Knowledge of good and evil was not a gift meant for the creations of God. After consumption, God sadly led His people away from the Tree of Life, the one gift meant for them. Their knowledge of good and bad, follow and disobey, now kept them from the incredible gift of life that stood in the center. The Tree of Life was their undeserved sustenance, unknown and unappreciated, given freely by God. Eating-up life, unquestioned was who they were created to be. That was what their carefully crafted bodies were made to feed on. But now they knew, and the unwavering law ordered reality.

The Law, things which must be done because of the righteousness that is God. He commands it, it is so. The Gospel, the mercy given because nothing can be done. God’s incredible, unfailing love even to the ones who continue to fail. Distinction between the two, laws and promises from God in every time and every place. Worry and discussion about death and life, shame and honor. The heart wrenching story continues from the exile out of the Garden of Eden until today, balancing the truth that every man and woman is now cursed to know. 

There is a point in this story, however, when our ancient knowledge is confounded. Where law and gospel are unfairly united. Where the transaction of repentance for righteousness is reckless and completed. Where prostitutes and law breakers are the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Where self-controlled church leaders are living as if dead. Where the understanding of right and wrong, proper application of law or gospel, responsibility of binding and loosing, all of that is overtaken by something different than our knowledge of good and evil.

Christ knew. He spoke and they did not understand. He marched to a death that would be misunderstood, mocked, and feared. He swallowed up Eden’s oppressive knowledge of good and evil in a final sacrifice. God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Set free from the measures and distinctions. No longer bound by the knowledge of good and evil. Returned to the identity meant for God’s creatures, feeding only from the Tree of Life, undeserved and unmerited. The knowledge of good and evil was never meant to bring you back to life. The knowledge of good and evil was never meant to be balanced and dispensed against God’s mercy. The knowledge of good and evil had ruled this world for a time, until Christ renewed the paradigm.

Knowledge will never set us free. It has only bound us, from the very beginning. The whole story from God points to the undoing of our knowledge of good and evil. The wisdom of God is Christ, a tree of life, a restored identity, an undeserved eternal life freely given, apart from knowledge.