A Tree of Evaluation
By John Van Tuyl

If, as I have put forward that the “tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil” is a tree of evaluation, then it is a tree by which the natural mind through exploring various branches of thought, decides what is good and what is evil. And rather than in an absolute sense, these distorted evaluations are made according to one’s personal perception of advantage. An extreme example of distortion, would be criminal thinking, where that which is good is seen as weakness (evil), and that which a more balanced individual would normally see as evil, is esteemed as good. Therefore, understanding the natural mind’s handling of the Knowledge of Good and Evil will go a long way toward understanding Jesus’ sayings in the seventh chapter of Matthew.

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Tradition will tell you outright, or suggest that this “broad way” refers to the world at large. Yet as oddly comforting as some may find that, it will not bear up under a closer examination. The world at large is not on any kind of a path, be it a broad or a narrow one. They are not seeking to enter the Kingdom. Now I am compelled to address the fear factor associated with this verse because of traditional distortions. First off, the verse is not dealing with salvation. By setting aside 1700 years of dogma, a truer understanding is found. Please, carefully read the following verses.

Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—“

Romans 5:15 “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

Please notice that death spread to all men in Romans 5:12, then in Romans 5:15 we find that the all men who died are then referred to as the many. This is the same description that later is used to describe those to whom grace abounded. Jesus Christ is the “Savior of the World”. Just as the penalty of the first Adam applied to all men so the Grace of the second Adam applies equally to all men! Jesus accomplished “salvation” for all men on the cross. Jesus’ title as “Savior of the world” is meaningless without actually saving the world! The magnitude of Calvary’s victory is so much greater than man-made doctrines have allowed!

John 3:3 is describing a progressive quality of relationship not salvation as commonly taught! Jesus said: “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being born of water is a broad gate and it is characterized by self effort. In the end it leads to a destruction of relationship. Jesus went on to say “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The narrow gate is characterized by a life lived in an ongoing expression of our Father’s will. In Matthew 7:15 an additional admonition was given to all who desire to enter the Kingdom.

Matthew 7:15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Yet the question does remain, why are there so few who find the narrow way to life?

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'”

2 Timothy 2:5 “And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down).” (Amplified).

Really there is no way out of a system of thought that originates from within a carnal system of knowledge! No matter how religious the natural mind may become, it can never see past its own perceptions. Truly, this mind is not capable of anything but self serving thought. In the end any effort put forth to better oneself only entangles the hapless victim.

However, there is another way. This providential way has been represented to us in another tree: “The Tree of Life.” However, access to the LIFE inherent in this tree has been granted to an expression of another mind the Mind of Christ. And although this mind has been freely given, few will come to an awareness of its power and grace.

The presence of God remains for most an experience that happens externally to who they are. And while I do not mean to infer that this experience is invalid, it is adolescent at best and not the highest expression of God’s presence. Ideally, our Father is looking for an internal relationship that is mature and in such close communion with the Spirit, that it enables us to say in agreement: I only say what I hear my Father speaking and only do what I see my Father doing. Any relationship falling short eventually will prove itself superficial! It is superficial because it leaves room for the natural mind to strive for perfection, rather than resting in the sure knowledge we are accepted in the beloved. It is not possible for the natural mind to coexist with the mind of Christ and come to know rest! “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.

It has been said that at Jesus’ baptism, the wonderful pronouncement of: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” came before Jesus had done any mighty works. While this statement is true, technically speaking, Jesus performed no mighty works either before or after his baptism.

John 14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”

John 5:30 "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Let us keep in mind that the baptism that John offered was a baptism onto repentance. This is why John responded with such incredulity when Jesus came to him.

Matthew 3:13-15 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

There is nothing that Jesus did that was without reason or great significance! Therefore I ask, what Jesus had to repent of? By the way, this also was John’s vexing quandary. Knowing John was without some frame of reference, Jesus would not answer his inquiry. So again I ask, what manner of thinking was it Jesus needed to turn from? The answer will require a bit of background.

Jesus was raised as a Jew both culturally and morally. Prior to his baptism, we read this testimony. Luke 2:52 “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Jesus increased in favor with God and men because in respect to Mosaic Law, great integrity was evident in His conduct. Yet the schoolmaster of Law was given to restrain and instruct the lawless – it was not given for the obedient. As Jesus matured he saw how law stood between himself and his developing relationship with his Father. Now I know that this runs contrary to contemporary thought, but Jesus saw that true obedience has nothing to do with LAW! True obedience is the spontaneous expression of love to our Father, not an allegiance to a code of conduct!

The Old Covenant was of an inferior order to the one which Jesus knew he was destined to inaugurate. Yet before His revelation could progress He had to repent of the natural mind’s preoccupation of law. After all, law is merely a codified version of the knowledge of good and evil. Repenting of a life lived according to law is the small gate that leads to the narrow way.

At His baptism Jesus was immersed as a natural man, although one who walked perfectly before God and man. He was raised up a spiritual man who enjoyed true fellowship with His Father’s presence. It is here that the mind of Christ had found its first expression in the flesh of man!

John 10:30 "I and the Father are one."

Luke 3:22 “and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

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