Text: Gen. 2:16-17

Title: "Two Summer Trees"

Subj: The tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the cross

Intro: I know that none of you are looking forward to summer vacation! In fact, most of you are sad to see another school year coming to a close! Even the teachers wish they could spend 3 more months with you. I know that because I could hear great sobs of grief (or was it relief?) coming from the teacher's lounge!

Out of curiosity I looked up the word "vacation." It is the "act of vacating," which comes from the root word "vacant." What does "vacant" mean? "Empty, void, not occupied, unintelligent." In other words, you are looking forward to the summer so you can spend time being "empty, void, unoccupied, and unintelligent." Obviously that is a blueprint for trouble and temptation, which can be summed up in the word "god-less-ness"! As grandma used to say, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop," and she was right! Now if you are planning to go "on vacation" from God this summer, Satan and the world have already planned a full roster of temptations for the "empty, void, unoccupied, and unintelligent."

Gen. 2:8-9, 15-17 -- "Two Summer Trees" -- prayer

Note: You know the story. God planted a garden, and in the garden, God planted Adam. In the garden, and all around Adam, God caused trees to grow. These trees were a delight to the eye, and their fruit was delicious to the tummy. Though these trees were freely available to Adam and Eve, God separated out two other trees that were restricted. One was the tree of life, or a tree that apparently imparted eternal physical life (3:22). The other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which imparted the experience of good and evil, which ended in physical and spiritual death, or separation from God. The descendants of the tree of life exist today, in Heaven, growing along side the crystal river that proceeds from the throne of God (Rev. 22:2). The descendents of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil exist in type in every temptation that crosses your path, and it is also typified in the cross of Jesus Christ.


A. The First Tree: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

1. God created it (it was a test of man's will to resist sin) (v9)

2. God endowed it (pleasant to the eye, good for food) (v9)

3. God position it (in the midst of the garden) (3:3)

Note: It is not God's purpose to hide temptation from us, nor us from temptation. Temptation is a part and parcel of life.

4. God pointed it out (it looked just like the other trees) (v16-17)

5. God forbid it (shalt not eat of it) (v17)

a. There are things God gives and things that God forbids

6. God explained it (thou shalt surely die) (v17)

a. It is only God's mercy and loving kindness that warns the sinner, even though His justice demands punishment for sin

B. The Second Tree: the Cross of Calvary (Jn. 19:16-18)

1. God created it (it was a test of man's will to confess (agree with God)) (v19)

Note: Do you realize that the Cross of Calvary was once a living tree? Yet God not only created the living tree, but He allowed the hand of man to fashion that cruel instrument of death to which His Son would be nailed.

2. God endowed it (with Christ, the all sufficient sinless Son) (v18)

3. God positioned it (v18)

a. In the midst of the world as the centerpiece of time

b. In the midst of the chosen people (Jerusalem)

c. On the spot where grew the tree of the knowledge

4. God pointed it out (it looked like any other cross) (v18)

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:2

5. God forbid it (the cross was a curse, and man could not procure his own salvation on it)

Gal. 3:10 says, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree"

6. God explained it

Lk 24:45-48 (turn)


A. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

"Knowledge" = knowledge gained by the senses or experience; awareness of all things good and evil

"Good" = of benefit to self; morally and practically

"Evil" = being/doing wrong in God's sight and according to God's standard.

Through this tree man could learn by experience what was beneficial to self, and what was destructive to self. He could learn it, but he could not unlearn it!!

Note: The way God wanted man to know good and evil (which He did!), was by not eating the fruit! God was saying that it was good for man not to eat the fruit! God wanted man to know of evil, not by experiencing the evil, but by recognizing it in contrast to good! When God finished creation, He looked around and said that it was very good! To know good, all Adam and Eve had to do was to look around, they didn't have to eat that fruit! And when they did, they fell, and so will you!

God says it is good for you not to be immoral, not to steal, not to covet, not to hate, etc.! He does not say, "Well, go be immoral, steal, covet, hate, etc. so you can see what it is like so then you can be good! We are to know good by experiencing it and by resisting evil temptations when they arise, not by experiencing the evil! There is a common expression that goes back to the Garden of Eden: "Before I settle down to marriage, I want to sow some wild oats." In other words, "I want to be immoral, to taste as much forbidden fruit as possible before I commit myself to one man/woman." And after they have tasted the fruit, found that it is bitter to the stomach, then they want to marry a virgin!! No, you be good, and you find someone else to marry who has been good!

What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree! What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree! Is that what you are determined to do, or do you want to know what is good by tasting the evil, and finding out later that it ain't so good? Here is the so-called "liberty" many want in their Christian lives today, the "liberty" to taste the evil to see if it might have some good in it, or to say, "It ain't so bad," instead of resisting the evil because you know the good! This summer you will be tempted to do things that "aren't so bad." But if it isn't so bad, isn't it still bad? And if it is bad, it isn't good!

So God set apart the tree...

1. To test man's will (are you willing to believe God?)

2. To test man's obedience (are you willing to be obedient to God?)

3. To test man's resolve/determination (are to determined to be faithful to God?)

Note: God knew exactly what man was made of, but man didn't! God chooses the means of temptation to declare to man, man's true condition.

B. (The Purpose of) The Cross of Calvary

1. To make it possible for us to resist temptation

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. 10:13

2. To give us the good (Christ, and all He represents, now and in the eternal future) that we may focus on it

3. To set a road block in our way when considering giving into temptation

Note: To do wrong you will have to step over the cross of Christ!

Concl: Two trees--two choices! One is a temptation, one is a transformation. This summer you will be making daily choices that will not only effect your future, but the future of others. Not too long ago I preached that the world is a jungle, and that you had better watch out for the lion! Well, the jungle is made up of dense trees, temptations that will dog your summer days from May through Aug. Yet in the midst of the trees of temptation, "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved [Christ] among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste". Song 2:3

Young people, commit to Christ your summer, to do good and not evil. Commit to the tree of transformation, not to the tree of temptation. The lion lies in wait beneath the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Don't allow a time of sin to cause a lifetime of shame and regret! 

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