Chapter 16 The Tree of Laws

Chapter 16

The Tree of Laws

The special Tree which God showed Adam and Wo-man was the Tree of Laws.

On the Tree grew books with writing. They were made so that Adam and Wo-man could read them by picking them up and turning the pages; or, to thoroughly digest their contents, they could be eaten.

VerseScout: Edible Books. Revelation 10:9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

Ezekiel 3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, [scroll], and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

VerseScout Relevance Report: The Tree of Knowledge was not the only time God created edible books. (See also Job 23:12, Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 2:8.) Not only were there subsequent edible books, but those, too, were metaphors of Adam’s Fall: sweet to eat, but bitter in the belly! Such is the experience of sin to the soul.

We angels, of course, could read them from a distance, without touching them. In their pages we read many stories from the future, of a race of many men, as innumerable as angels! We read of wonderful relationships which God has designed for the descendants of Adam and Wo-man: governments, families, and gatherings to fellowship with each other and God.

On the front covers of the books grew the official title “The Book of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. We asked God, “Is that the Book you spoke of writing for men?” But even before God answered, one of us scolded, “Brother angels, didn’t you hear God tell the man and woman not to eat of the tree? How then could this be the Book God spoke of?”

God answered, “No, this is not The Book. But much of what is written here will be included in that Book. On the pages of these books are recorded my holy standards of right and wrong.

These pages are my Book of Laws. They will teach mankind about sin and its dangers.”

VerseScout: The Names of the Tree and of God’s Laws. Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 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.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

VerseScout Relevance Report: “The Knowledge of Good and Evil” is what the word “Laws” means. “Laws” are “the Knowledge of Good and Evil”.

”The knowledge of good and evil” and “laws” mean almost the same thing and may be exactly the same thing. Laws are definitions of which actions, words and ideas are good and which are evil, with penalties listed for doing evil and not doing good. If “the knowledge of good and evil” is any different, it could be the absence of any understanding of penalties. But normally any explanation of rules to anybody, by anybody, under any circumstance, is accompanied by some understanding of consequences.

Romans does not say the law against lust is not for us any more now that we have the Gospel so now it is OK to lust. Neither does the Gospel of Jesus Christ nullify the rule from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil against running around naked.

#1: The Tree’s very name defines “law”. This is the first of a dozen similarities between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

“This Tree of Laws that I have made for Adam and Wo-man will be very good. It is holy and just. It can’t keep them from violating the laws (a condition I call “sin”), but it will warn them what to avoid. Although humans are unable to escape every sin, they will avoid many more than if they are never informed.”

VerseScout: Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [CEV: “to give them their full meaning.”] 18  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [examples follow of righteousness, as measured by compliance with God’s standards, exceeding the goals of the scribes and Pharisees:] 21 …it was said [in the law and prophets]...but I say unto you [don’t just follow the letter of the physical actions which human courts are able to judge: live by the principles which God’s standards embody, even in your words and thoughts].… (See also sections starting from vs. 27, 31, 33, 38, 43)

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is [the goal of] the law and the prophets.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Genesis describes the Knowledge of Good and Evil as “good”, being part of the Creation, after each step of which God concluded, “It is good.” Romans 7:12 describes the Law as “good”.

God’s laws are no less “profitable” to mankind because of their misuse by Adam and Eve eating before “dinner time”; or by the Pharisees in Jesus’ time trivializing them into grievous mindless restrictions enforced by human courts; or by church leaders during the Reformation who brutally executed Christians with sincerely held variant interpretations of Scripture; or by Christians in our time who reduce The Gospel into belief in a few Doctrines claimed to identify the One True Church whose members are going to Heaven.

The New Testament attacks the misuse of God’s Laws, not God’s Laws followed as God intended. The New Testament explains how God intended them to be followed.

#2: Both are good: a second similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

God warned them not to eat the books yet, or they would die instantly.

“I have great goals for Adam,” God continued, “written on this Tree. But before Adam is ready for them I want to establish his faith in Me to help him reach them. Goals – even My goals for man – without faith in Me, will cause instant spiritual death, and eventual physical death.”

I raised my hand. “What is ‘death’?”

We had indeed been confused how to respond when demons had mocked, “they could eat the whole tree and they would still be just as alive as we are!”

“‘Death’ for a plant or animal”, God said, “means the end of its existence. Its body dies and eventually returns to the elements of the soil, which by the way contains the building blocks of Life. Its awareness of anything is over. Its ability to do anything is over.

“Of course, I have made you and humans so that you will exist forever, and remain conscious forever. So for you, ‘death’ can’t mean what it does for plants and animals.

“I gave humans bodies which will be capable of dying like plants and animals, if they eat of this Tree. If they do, their bodies won’t die instantly, but the degeneration of their bodies – the process of aging – will instantly begin. The more profound ‘death’ which will occur instantly, for them and for you, means when one disobeys Me – cuts himself off from Me.

“In the same way a vine sustains its branches, I sustain souls. A branch cut off from the vine is still a branch. It still exists. But it is dead. It no longer lives and grows and functions the way it was designed to function. A branch, cut off, very quickly uses up its tiny store of sap, and withers. That is, its wood doesn’t wither, but only its fruit. It can bear no fruit. A dead soul cannot be fruitful.

“Dead wood dries, loses its strength, and loses its resistance to weather. While weather made it stronger while it was alive, weather causes it, after it dies, to disintegrate into the soil.

“Even so, every soul which ceases trusting Me for wisdom and guidance very quickly uses up its tiny store of wisdom, and begins to stumble in intellectual darkness, emotional chaos, and spiritual emptiness. The fruit he bears turns hard and tasteless. It can no longer nourish others. Such souls cease functioning the way I created them to function. This is the definition of ‘death’.

“All the indicators of spiritual life depart from them: love, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and even reason – to the extent they cut off Me and My Standards. Physically, they continue, just as a broken branch continues to exist physically. But spiritually, doubt – that is, mistrust in my guidance – suspicion that leads them to reject my guidance and stumble along by their own pathetic guidance – results in instantaneous Death.

“The purpose of the Tree of Laws is to secure Life”, God said. “It shows humans how to live safely, happily, successfully. It warns them of life’s dangers, so they may be safe. But pray Wo-man will resist Beelzebub’s version of how to use it, because its misuse causes death.”

VerseScout: Instant Death. Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 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.

Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, [BBE: “whose purpose was to bring life”] I found to be unto death.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Both the Tree of Knowledge, and Law, cause instant “death”, which is not physical.

Genesis said eating the fruit of the Tree would cause death the same day, and yet Adam and Eve physically lived many more centuries.

Romans says the Law was sin’s opportunity to “slay” Paul, which left Paul absolutely dead, even though he physically lived many more decades, and was “reborn”.

Romans 7:10 says the purpose of the Law was to bring life, even though its misuse brings death. The Law was “ordained” (KJV) to give life, though it was the tool of Paul’s “death”. Because Paul disobeyed it, he “died”.

Genesis only said the misuse of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil brought death; it was not clearly said that its purpose, properly used, was to enhance life, but this was implied, since God had said “it is good” after creating it. God had a “good” purpose for the Tree. But Adam disobeyed, which killed him.

Although there is a theology (Annihilationism) that says wicked souls die and cease to exist after some time in hell, most Christians insist it is not possible for a soul to die, in the sense of ceasing to exist and remain conscious.

But on the same day Adam and Eve sinned, they experienced a Death as real as death is possible to be, for a soul which never ceases to exist: they were driven from Paradise.

Like the fallen angels separated from fellowship with God, like branches broken off a vine, like a hand cut off, like a computer unplugged, they did not cease to exist; they did not lose their theoretical capacity to be reunited, grafted in, sewed back on, plugged back in: but for the duration of their separation, they were/are cut off from the source of fellowship, sap, blood, electricity, which allows them to function as designed; so they are considered “nonfunctioning”, or “off”, or “dead”.

#3: Both, misused, cause “death”, though their purpose is Life. This is a third similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

Monitor #45.5 lit up.

“God is so cruel!” Slimey told his buds. “Get this: he makes up laws the humans have to obey, and doesn’t let the humans find out what they are, and then punishes them if they try to obey but don’t obey perfectly!”

“Yeah! If God really cared about the humans he wouldn’t create consequences. He wouldn’t punish anybody.”

The screen faded.

God turned to us.

“I want you to understand how disobedience to me would be deadly even if I had created no consequences.

“There is no greater love than mine for them. Were it not so, they might not die by turning from Me. But it is so. To turn from me will require either that (1) they know my love for them and yet hate it, or (2) they do not believe I love them.

“If (1) they actually know how perfect my Love is for them and yet spurn the sweetest love they can ever know, how can any soul be any more ‘dead’ than that?”

We smiled, thinking this an abstract discussion and not about real souls who might actually behave this way. “That’s as dead as dead gets”, we chuckled. But God said “There is a greater death.

“If (2) they do not believe I love them, that is only possible if they do not sincerely weigh the evidence. And that is only possible if they do not care where Love is sweetest.

“The essence of Life is interaction with environment. He who may consciously reject Love at least interacts with it. He who does not even care is wholly inert! Such a spirit is wholly, absolutely dead! How much rather I would be hated, than ignored!”

VerseScout: Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

“However,” God shouted, “it is possible for the dead to rise!” God pointed to a seed which had just fallen, and died, and was now sprouting! Beside it was a twig which had broken off a tree but had fallen into some moist soil and was now taking root!

VerseScout: John 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

When we stopped cheering, I thought about the unique gift that a “thou shalt not” is.

God had not given any command to any animal! To no animal did God ever say “Do this”, or “Don’t do that”! What a blessing God saved for man!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Monitor #13 sprang to life. Beelzebub again. We watched the screen with sorrow.

“I have a plan”, Beelzebub told his co-conspirators, as we groaned at the cruelty of his “plans” against God, and rolled our eyes at the futility of trying to trick God.

“I’m going to tell Wo-man that eating those law books will make her as wise as God! She’ll fall like an over-ripe book!”

We winced at the laughter of Beelzebub’s buffoons, realizing how sore it made their poor throats.

VerseScout: Shortcut to Wisdom. Genesis 3:5 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. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Satan told Woman (Eve was her name later) that eating of the tree would make her wise. Paul acknowledged an appearance of wisdom from a certain kind of misuse of laws.

Certainly God’s Laws lead to wisdom. But it is “the fear of the Lord”, or faith, that is “the beginning of wisdom”, or the foundation of wisdom, as Psalms 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10 tell us.

#4: Both promised wisdom: a fourth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

“First bit of ‘wisdom’ Woman will acquire”, laughed Beelzebub’s 2nd lieutenant, “is that she is naked as a songbird!”

Beelzebub savored the expectation as the others guffawed. But Beelzebub frowned that someone else had figured out what he had.

VerseScout: Lust. Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Exodus 20:17  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Paul “knew” lust, or knew it was wrong, by reading the Law. (Romans 7:7) Adam knew he was naked, by eating of the Tree. Lust is the only example in Romans of a sin revealed by The Law which leads to Death. Nakedness is the only example in Genesis of a sin revealed by The Tree which led to Death.

Lust and nakedness are two perspectives of the same problem. The right response to the problem of “nakedness” was clothes. Why? Because clothes block the sight of nakedness, inhibiting lust. Each person has a responsibility to wear enough clothes to not tempt others to lust. However, each person likewise has a responsibility to discipline his own eyes. (Job 31:1 “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”)

Thus if everyone else fulfills their responsibility to wear clothes, and you find that insufficient to restrain your eyes from “seeing” the nakedness underneath them, then you have the further responsibility to pluck out your eyes. Matthew 5:28-29.

Although we hope the alternative of plucking out our own eyes will be enough motivation for us to discipline them, [indeed this has been universally enough understood as hyperbole from “turn your eyes away from temptation” that there is no uncontradicted record that any saint ever did that] the point is, this is not some frivolous matter. This is serious. In both Genesis, Matthew, and Romans, this is a matter of life and death.

Yes, Eve’s eyes were “opened”, Genesis 3:5. But to what? To her guilt! To her own death!

Caveat: the connection between “nakedness” and “lust” is not quite so exclusive as has just been written. Although sexual lust is the most common meaning listed in English dictionaries, the term is broader than that in Greek dictionaries, and Bible commentator Albert Barnes writes, “The word ‘lust’ here is not limited as it is with us. It refers to all covetous desires; to all wishes for what is forbidden us.” So the “lust” discussed by Paul certainly includes “coveting thy neighbour’s wife”, as the 10th Commandment puts it, but it also includes wanting anything that is not rightfully yours.

On the other hand, of all the things of our neighbors which humans covet – wife, house, employees, cars and pickups – surely the one that causes the most fights, emotions, and broken hearts is when a man covets another man’s wife. Coveting another man’s pickup drives a few to steal, but short of that point the pickup’s owner does not feel harm from his pickup being coveted. Not so with his wife! And a whole house is pretty hard to steal unless you are fairly rich.

When a man is obsessed with his neighbor’s truck, that disturbs his own family. But when a man is obsessed with his neighbor’s wife, that destroys his own family.

“Lust” is the only example of the “Law” Paul is writing about in Romans. His message about the “Law” in Romans is that the “Law”, by itself, can’t “justify” us, which means it can’t make us innocent. His message is not that because it can’t “justify” us, therefore we needn’t even try to meet its standards, so we can go ahead and lust now! Rather, it is to explain how the help that Jesus brought is not just new, different rules, but help from our Living God.

Parents are a common metaphor in the Bible to help us understand how God deals with us. Obviously, a parent’s rules, by themselves, can bring no child to maturity! It is the parents, themselves, who must bear the costs of cleaning up messes, providing food, clothing, shelter, and education, and continually explaining the ever-expanding expectations required of growing up. It would be absurd for a child to imagine that following his parents’ rules are all he needs to grow to maturity – he doesn’t need his parents! That is the New Testament message about the “Law”. Not that God’s guidance need no longer be followed as well as we can!

In Galatians, circumcision is the only example given of the “law” that Paul is writing about, but there Paul speaks against doing it. The message about the “law” is the same: it, alone, can’t “justify” us.

Actually “circumsion” isn’t even a requirement of God’s laws for Gentiles. It is an example of “the commandments and doctrines of men”, as Colossians 2:22 puts it. Some verses seem to flatly say getting circumcised is a sin for a Gentile, but their sense is that of Galatians 5:2 “If you are counting on circumcision and keeping the Jewish laws to make you right with God, then Christ cannot save you.” (The Book translation) Verse 15 flatly says it doesn’t matter: “It doesn’t make any difference now whether we have been circumcised or not; what counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people.”

What is rejected is not seeking the inspiration for how to live from everything in the Old Testament as well as the New, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16, but the letter of a man-made misapplication of a rule of God made a substitute for actually living by the spirit of God’s Laws. As Galatians concludes, “And even those teachers who submit to circumcision don’t try to keep the other Jewish laws; but they want you to be circumcised in order that they can boast that you are their disciples.” Galatians 6:13, Book.

Most of the discussion of “The Law” in the letters of Paul in the New Testament don’t specify any particular law. The Book translation is notorious for adding “Jewish”, and Hebrews explains how the sacrifice laws were fulfilled by Jesus’ sacrifice and therefore their literal observance has ended. But the lessons about “Law” logically apply to every kind of law; certainly to every one of God’s rules in the Old Testament, as well as in Paul’s letters about “The Law”, and these principles even apply to our observance of human laws which we find to be lawful.

#5: God illustrates both with the same sin: a fifth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

God continued, “Innocence is my goal for Adam and Wo-man. I make my directions simple enough for them to have the capacity to obey, and to never fail. Pray that they will.

“Innocence is what is lost when a human realizes that what he has been doing, and is continuing to do, is wrong. It isn’t the doing of wrong that ends innocence, but the realization that what one continues doing, deliberately, after he knows better, is wrong.

“Maturity” is the process of mastering the goals of human youth and being presented with increasingly more difficult goals which make humans more helpful to each other and less of a burden.

“Even after learning a new standard, it takes time for a human to discipline his body, mind, and memory to consistently meet it. It takes time, because I have given humans the power to choose every step they take. That requires each step towards maturity to be far enough apart in time for choices to be considered. That requires a human’s initial capacity to avoid messes to be far below his eventual potential.

“Therefore it is impossible for a human to never make those messes; but it is possible to never intend to make them. To never intend harm is what I mean by ‘innocence’.”

VerseScout: Innocence Lost. Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Before Paul knew the law, sin was dormant, inoperative – even though his lust was just as shameful before as after: Romans 7:8. Before Adam ate the Fruit, he was sinless: innocent, even though nakedness justified shame even before he knew it – Genesis 2:25, 3:11.

Both create guilt for the same actions which were “innocent” before. Both in Genesis and Romans, “death” is distinguished from mere mess-making by one’s knowledge that one is wrong and still making the same mess. It is the opening of one’s eyes, Genesis 3:5, to one’s guilt that is “death”.

A baby who messes in his diapers is “innocent”. If, 20 years later, drunk, in a bar, he still does it, he is no longer innocent, though it is the same kind of mess – just bigger and more publicly shared.

In those years between, “maturity” is the process of mastering the goals of infancy and being presented with increasingly more difficult goals which increasingly identify the “sins of youth”, which really were destructive, requiring others to pay the costs and clean up the messes, as “wrong”.

When Paul says sin was dormant before he heard the law, he only states the obvious if he means “disobedience is dormant before you are told anything to obey.”

The Greek for “sin” is ‘amartia (hamartia), which means, in part, “missing the mark [target]”. Obviously one cannot “miss” a target before one is shown a target.

Paul’s narrative proves it is not particular actions that are sin, since even though he lusted, he was not guilty of lust before he knew it was wrong. There is no reason to assume his actions became worse after he knew it was wrong, and every reason to expect his actions became at least slightly better; but rather, the important difference was that now that he had been told it was wrong, he was now guilty of disobedience as long as he continued repeating the same actions.

In Adam’s case, he was naked before and there was nothing “wrong” with it; but after he knew nakedness wasn’t quite “on target” in his walk with God, then it was “sinful”, that is, disobedient to the Law, to remain naked, even though he at least tried to minimize his nakedness with a coat of leaves. He still hid because he lacked the resources to clothe himself effectively.

#6: Both opened eyes to the loss of innocence. Which is “death”: a sixth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

Why are human babies programmed to wait months before they can crawl and years before they can run, while many animals can run right out of the womb or egg?

Animal programming is set to “automatic”, or “default”. They have no Choice about how they walk, run, eat, sleep, or even mate. Only humans get to “customize” their settings for all these things and more, their whole life long. Programs always take longer to load when you take time to customize them.

It only makes sense, then, that the Customizable Human Moral Development software package should take far longer to set up than the Animal Instinct Genetic Codes with no customization options for animals.

Obedience to God, respect for reality, and engagement of intelligence invites an unlimited range of choices, which should proceed one careful step after another to allow Adam and Woman time to consider each setting. This extra time, therefore, is the key to Freedom.

“When I created you angels,” God continued, “I created you with all the knowledge of that Tree, except adapted to angels. I created you in Heaven, and I created no other place for you to prefer. I did not show you how to leave Me if you tired of Me. Beelzebub had to invent his own alternate reality.

“With humans, I create a new work. I have created Adam and Woman in Paradise, but the first thing I have clarified for them is their choice: I have shown them how to leave. Obviously I want them to choose to remain with Me, but not as prisoners. I desire that they choose to remain with Me.

VerseScout: Matthew 18:14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Many “perish”, by their own choice – not God’s. God lets us do things that grieve Him – that are not His Will, Psalm 78:40, Ephesians 4:30, because it is His Will that we “choose” (Exodus 17:9, Deuteronomy 23:16, 30:19, Joshua 24:15, 2 Samuel 24:12, 1 Chronicles 21:10, 11, Job 9:14, 34:4, Proverbs 1:29, 3:31, Isaiah 56:4, 65:12, Ezekiel 21:19).

Some say that is impossible for us to have any more choice than a robot, because God is “sovereign” (a word not found in the KJV version of the Bible), so everything that happens – everything everyone says, thinks, and does – is God’s Will. But if our filter for interpreting Scripture is our assumption about what it means to be “sovereign”, consider that managing robots is relatively easy, compared to what our sovereign God chooses: to create free will in billions of souls, yet still make “all things work together for good”, Romans 8:28

“So I give them first only one rule. That rule is: ‘no more rules for now.’ As they grow I will teach them more of the rules that show them how to participate more in managing their lives, in the same way they will teach their future babies. Until then I will shelter them from the consequences of not knowing the rules – I will personally pay the costs of their clumsiness – just as they will, for their children.

“All their children will need to do is trust their parents to want only the best for them, and all Adam and Woman need to do now is trust Me.”

VerseScout: Hebrews 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. …4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. …9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Matthew23:23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 11:42  But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Israel could not enter God’s “rest” – the Promised Land – because of unbelief. Adam and Eve had to leave Paradise because of unbelief.

Unbelief in God, that is; not believing that what God says is true, and is said for our own benefit.

Careless theology says we are shut out of Paradise because of Adam’s sin, but Hebrews says not so: we are invited back in, to the extent we will do what Adam did not: “believe”. (And obey – which of course we will do if we believe.) If we do not enter Paradise, it is not Adam’s fault, according to Hebrews. It is ours. It is our own choice.

It is common for Christians today to simplistically think the Old Testament is “the Law” while the New Testament is “the Gospel”. But notice that Hebrews 4:2 indicates both are “the Gospel”. The standards – the spiritual goals God has set in each – are not what is different. “The Gospel” was perverted into the misuse of “The Law” that was condemned by Paul, by being applied without mercy, faith, or love.

Notice also that Jesus calls “judgment”, “mercy”, “love”, and “faith” the heart of “the Law”.

“It is only a curse, for a soul to learn more about how much harm he causes than he has faith in Me to forgive and help him overcome.

“But all the knowledge of right and wrong – all the laws of nature – the highest standards of human achievement, are cleansed of any curse to the extent of faith in Me!”

VerseScout: the Reverse of the Curse. Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law [who depend on following the law to make them right] are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things [everyone that does not always obey] which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The [law says that the] man that doeth them [what the law requires] shall live in them. [the only way a person will find life by the law is to obey its commands.] 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law [for not always obeying it], being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: [Clarifications in brackets are from ERV translation.]

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Galatians 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: …

Genesis 3:17  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

Luke 12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? 25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Adam and Woman had so little trust in God to help them overcome their faults, that they hid from God! They sewed leaves together, which God did not tell them to do, hoping that would make up for doing what God told them not to do.

In the same way today, people make up rituals which are not in the Bible to make up for not doing what is commanded in the Bible.

Faith in ourselves instead of in God is not how Paradise works; so it drove Adam out, and keeps us out of that same Hebrews 3 “rest”.

However, the curse, which is triggered by our unbelief, is not against us, but is for our benefit, to restore us to belief! Galatians 3:10 repeats the warning of a curse given in Deuteronomy 27:26. However, the curses themselves are listed in Deuteronomy 28, and they are progressive. In other words, the “curse” is proportionate to our unbelief. And the chapter makes plain that the purpose of its punishments is to restore belief! It is like the “consuming fire” of Hebrews 12 which is designed to correct us so we can grow to maturity.

Similarly, Adam is not cursed for his unbelief, but the ground is cursed, for Adam’s benefit!

Genesis 3 is commonly misunderstood to say that hard work was the curse placed upon us all. But Genesis says it was the ground that was cursed, for our sakes. Hard work itself is a blessing, Ecclesiastes says; life’s greatest blessing, even! Luke 12 tells us the kind of hard work that is most blessed: “seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven”. That doesn’t mean that we should not work at all for our physical needs, but when we put that second, giving them only second priority on our time and money, God will take care of our physical needs.

That is literally the reverse of the “curse” in Genesis 3 where Adam refused to obey God so God told him now he would have to work hard for his physical needs.

#7: Unbelief triggers the Curse, which is for our benefit. This is the seventh of 12 similarities between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

God explained the benefits of His laws. “My Rules define the path to success. The ability of Adam and Wo-man to accomplish things will be limited until they learn them.

“However, many of them require skills which they need more time and living to acquire. It makes no sense to tell a baby about a rule he is breaking, before his skills have matured enough that he can begin following it. It can only be discouraging, to learn of faults – one’s distance from one’s goals – which one is powerless to work on.

“Discouragement – unbelief that one’s goals (standards) will ever be reached – is deadly. Ignorance of My Standards shields them from responsibility for meeting them.

“Once they learn My Standards, they must choose whether to meet them. But if they are too discouraged by the difficulty, they may choose to give up trying. They may even choose to resent Me for laying upon them such burdens! They may even lose their trust in Me to lay upon them only the lightest and happiest of burdens that are far less burdensome than the consequences of not bearing them!

“For example, while growing up is burdensome, the consequences of not growing up are far more so!”

VerseScout: Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Luke 11:46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Unlike those lawyers, Jesus bore, and still bears, the costs of our immaturity and stubbornness. The Cross was not the first or last time Jesus suffered for us. The scene outside Lazarus’ tomb was not the first or last time “Jesus wept”, John 11:35. The nearly two hundred verses about God’s “wrath” (literally, strong emotion) and the two dozen verses about provoking God to anger (literally, to trouble God) indicate the trouble God chooses to bear out of love for us – certainly not because God needs us or because we can hurt Him!

“The deliberate choice to stop trusting Me ends my ability to guide and teach them. When they push themselves away from My Table I can no longer feed them Wisdom. Their souls are dead, as surely as a branch broken from a tree is dead, cut off from receiving life-sustaining sap, or a human body through which blood no longer flows is dead.”

I thought of my own growth as an angel and historian. Even though my existence began with more knowledge than humans have, there has been much to learn. I can now comply with rules I had not even heard of not so long ago. Rules which, had I understood them then, would indeed only have discouraged me. But before I learned them, God sheltered me from responsibility for compliance. Even though those rules existed from The Beginning.

“Once they know a law, they will be able to choose whether to obey it, and there will be spiritual consequences of choosing not to. I want to spare them those consequences until at least they have developed the discipline to be able to obey.

​“The easiest and safest first lesson is to wait on the rest of the lessons until the first lesson – waiting – is mastered.”

VerseScout: Sin is deadly only when it is chosen. Genesis 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; ….10…I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Romans 7:7 I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion [Gr: a “base of operations” from which an attack is made] by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

VerseScout Relevance Report: It was knowledge of the Law against lust that gave sin its opportunity within Paul; it was the “opening” of Adam’s eyes that made him unfit for Eden.

But is it only the “opening” of our realization that we have been sinning that is “death”? Or is it our continued sin after we know better – our conscious disobedience – that caused Adam’s and Paul’s “death”?

Adam’s continuing disobedience through unbelief is clear not only from eating of the Tree in the first place but from his hiding from God after the Tree taught him that nakedness was bad. But did Paul continue lusting even after he learned it was wrong?

(As explained at similarity #5, “lust”, in the Greek, is not as narrowly associated with sex as it is in English. However, sex-associated lust is the kind that most troubles society. For that reason that is the kind meant in the following discussion.)

The Bible does not directly say either way, but general male experience with sex-related lust is that it is not a simple decision, but a goal requiring much time not only to master, but to define.

Exactly where is the line between looking, and lust? This involves how long you look, what you look at, and what you are thinking while looking. You may find your confidence that you are within safe boundaries challenged by feedback from others – feedback which is not clear and articulated but vague yet emotional, making it embarrassing without even being sure what to be embarrassed about, or whether there is anything to be embarrassed about.

And all the way through this long, tedious learning curve, hormonal pressures defy restraint at least through the gray area where we have not yet located a safe “line”.

After giving lust as Paul’s only example in Romans of the “laws” he was explaining how to use, in that same chapter, 7, he wrote for quite a while about his difficulty struggling to remain faithful to goals he really wanted to reach.

This tells us clearly that Paul continued struggling with “sin” (from the Greek word meaning to miss your goal) long after he recognized it.

The conclusion: both in Genesis 3 and Romans 3-9, “death” is not alone the realization that one has been sinning, but continuing disobedience.

Most “sin” is surrounded by these gray areas where we are uncertain where exactly freedom runs into disaster. It is in these gray areas where all of us are most vulnerable. To the extent a sin is clearly unthinkable to us – for example, for most of us, murder is unthinkable – it is not much of a temptation. Meditation on the commandments of God, along with faith in God to author commandments only for our own benefit, slims down those gray areas and makes more sin unthinkable.

#8: Knowledge of sin makes it possible to choose sin, and die. an eighth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

God added, “It would even be wrong to burden humans with requirements beyond their capacity to understand and obey. You have noticed that some of the laws in those books are against humans doing that to each other.”

VerseScout: Luke 11:46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Matthew 23:14  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

John 7:23  If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?

“Burdens too great for one’s capacity not only discourage, but their unreasonableness justly provokes one to anger.

“Unreasonable expectations undermine one’s ability to obey, by presenting obedience as something impossible. The anger this provokes undermines willingness to even try to obey, and to throw out even those reasonable goals which are within one’s capacity. Worse, trust in Me is poisoned, which is Death.

“Even when the burdens one faces are not willed by Me, the belief, that they are, poisons trust in Me, causing one to separate from My spiritual blood which gives life to their souls.”

“But even without externally imposed penalties, the very knowledge of how to behave and how to think creates pressure to comply.

“Any goal not reached is failure. Failure is disappointing. I want to spare Adam and Wo-man that, for awhile. I want them to enjoy the same freedom from pressure that I enjoyed when I was alone.”

There’s that allusion again! What, indeed, was it like for God, before He created us? Will God tell us the story?

“There is a time for pressure. There will be for Adam, as there was for me. But for Adam, that time is not yet.”

Great. Now I have another reason to be anxious for God to tell us that story!

Eaten without faith in Me, laws are poisonous”, God said.

High standards, without hope of reaching them, can only mire humans in depression over their failures.”

VerseScout: John 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (1933) comments on John 16:12:

But ye cannot bear them now The literal sense of βασταζω [bastazō], to bear, occurs in 12:6 [where Judas “bore” – carried – the money]. For the figurative as here see Acts 15:10 [no one could ever “bear” the burden of The Law]. The untaught cannot get the full benefit of teaching (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:11–14). The progressive nature of revelation is a necessity.

VerseScout: Standards can be too high. Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. 21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Luke 11:46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: …18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, …22 … after the commandments and doctrines of men?

VerseScout Relevance Report:

Adam did not have the means to clothe himself; it required killing animals and processing their hides, requiring skills which Adam’s grass skirt indicates Adam lacked. God had to show him how to do it. (Which may have taken days, if God walked Adam through all the steps, carefully training him. Hides today have to be painstakingly cleaned, then stretched and dried for days, then smoked for hours to keep bugs from devouring them.)

Likewise, Paul, as the young, spiritually immature Saul arriving at puberty with more sexual than theological maturity, lacked the skills to discipline his eyes and thoughts.

It is wrong for a young adult to go to the toilet in his shorts, but no one calls it “wrong” for a baby to do it, who has never heard of such a crazy rule.

The physical consequence is just as big a mess whether one has heard of the rule or not. Thus the rule is righteous. But to impose a righteous commandment on a soul lacking the spiritual capacity to understand and obey it, would be a spiritual mess itself. According to the principle of Luke 12:47-48, it would only subject people to punishment for actions they cannot help.

This may be the point of the many arguments of Paul against subjecting Gentiles to the same rules which Jews follow. They simply could not, for several reasons.

One reason was that Moses’ law included a criminal code. It is a very good criminal code: its principles, extracted from the technologically different circumstances of the time such as using oxen instead of cars and tractors, are the foundation of Western Civilization today. But the Gentiles had no power to impose such a model upon their pagan governments.

Another part of Moses’ law was the hygiene and healthy meats laws. Meat designated by the Bible as “unclean”, cooked thoroughly, may be as safe today as “clean” meat – some debate remains. But there is no debate that in ancient cultures with less control over cooking, the terrible diseases in “unclean” meats must have shortened human life spans. So the prohibitions were a blessing. But In the filthy pagan cultures, such hygiene and healthy meats were not only unavailable, but would mark people for persecution, which shortens life spans even more.

Circumcision, in a culture without private toilets, was an especially short road to persecution, and not even Moses’ law required it for non-Jews.

Even today, with American criminal and civil laws remarkably patterned after the principles of Moses as well as of Jesus, American Christians struggle to understand how Christians ought to apply Biblical principles to their political involvement. How much more then, when Gentile governments were thoroughly pagan and totalitarian! The very demand must have thrown Gentile minds into confusion!

Not that Moses’ laws offer no guidance at all to life under tyranny, but when it was asked how they are to be applied, the Pharisees appeared to answer, “Well, at least get circumcised, and then we’ll figure out the next thing to make you do.”

#9: Incapacity to obey after a law is known challenges faith: a ninth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

Screen #13 lit up again. “I’ll talk to Wo-man”, Beelzebub told his fawning gathering. “Adam is too logical, but Wo-man doesn’t suffer that disability. She will be easy enough to deceive.”

Guffaw, guffaw.

VerseScout: Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled [deceived] me, and I did eat.

1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

“In fact there will be no need to talk to Adam. He loves her more than God, so he’ll do whatever she says.”

VerseScout: 1 Corinthians 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

There were sighs of relief when the screen went dark.

“Why do they think Woman is more gullible than Adam?” I wondered.

“I don’t know”, Serious answered. “The two occupy my thoughts about equally.”

VerseScout: Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Paul, who took Eve’s word for it that she was the one deceived, when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2:14, describes, in Romans 7:11, when he himself was deceived.

Except that Paul was more deceived than Eve. Eve, he writes, was apata&w, cheated, or deceived. But Paul himself, he writes, was ecapata&w, “seduced wholly”!

God answered, “Beelzebub has no power to actually deceive anybody. Deception begins inside the will. It begins with the desire to be deceived.”

VerseScout: James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

“Beelzebub has little more power than to lie, which has no power over anyone with faith in Me, since Beelzebub’s first lie is always that I, God, am the liar! The lies which Beelzebub attributes to me are no larger than his victim’s doubt, but as doubt grows, the lies grow – until Beelzebub’s victim, if Beelzebub’s dreams come true, will have chosen never to receive My Love again, but to prefer Hell!”

#10: Both Eve and Paul were “deceived”: a tenth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We watched the last rays of the sun light up the darkening sky with ever darker reds and oranges as we waited for the evening Q & A with God.

We watched a new litter of baby kittens, their eyes not yet open, suckling. They don’t have teeth yet, so they can only drink milk. But milk tastes wonderful! And they don’t need eyes to find it.

VerseScout: 1 Corinthians 3:2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Genesis 3:5  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.

We were discussing several reasons Adam and Woman were not yet ready to enjoy the fruit of the Tree of Laws.

We discussed three reasons.

1. Future challenges are frightening.

God pointed out, “There is information in My laws about dark things Adam and Wo-man do not even need to know about yet. For example, My laws say not to murder or steal – evils which have not yet occurred to them. There is no need now for such dark thoughts to disturb their peace.”

VerseScout: Ecclesiastes 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

“A glimpse of the dark possibilities that are possible in their future may only sadden and disorient Adam and Woman. Seeing that they, themselves, are capable of choosing such evil may poison their hearts with fear.

“A preview of future challenges terrifies people who do not yet have the skills necessary to meet them, or the faith to trust that I will provide those skills and will help them.”

2. Curiosity leads us down every path we are shown.

Our discussion was put on hold as we watched some older kittens who had just discovered a nest of dragons.

Naturally, whatever a baby kitten sees, he must play with.

And just as naturally, whatever a dragon sees, especially if it is cute, excites a dragon, making him breathe heavily.

The singed kittens quickly acquired wisdom. But not happiness.

VerseScout: Ecclesiastes 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Part of the fun of watching the kittens was watching how long the kittens watched the dragons before pouncing – their eyes wide, their bodies still as stones except for their waving tails. Their every movement was so predictable, yet so funny.

God said consciousness is like kittens. God said He gets the same enjoyment from watching our minds at work that we get from watching kittens.

“Consciousness is the most curious and careless when it is the most clueless”, God said, grinning.

“Consciousness naturally explores whatever it sees, like these baby kittens poking their noses in everything with no sense of danger. It doesn’t matter if it is murder or mayhem: if consciousness sees it, consciousness seizes it, and takes it home for a playmate.”

The grin left as He added a detail I could never have imagined: “That is, when a soul does not trust My warnings against evil. Because there is nothing inherent in murder or stealing, or anything else that will destroy a soul, that will warn consciousness to stay away.”

3. Forbidden pleasures are tempting.

“The longer imagination is allowed to play with any idea, the more opportunity it has to recast it as something sweeter than reality. Which is why it is so essential to establish trust in Me before too much information is given.

“That is true of any activity. It is especially true of activities which promise rewards and pleasures. These law books tell of many wonderful pleasures ahead for Adam and Woman, but which will only bring tragedy if they are sought before the skills and maturity are developed that are needed to handle them responsibly and safely.

“Comunicus, how are you coming on your Wing Surgery manual?”

“I’ve just finished editing it”, I answered.

“Can anyone read it?”

“Well, it wouldn’t make much sense to someone without surgical skills. Its instructions assume considerable training.”

“But with dictionaries and patience anyone could figure out all the directions, couldn’t he?”

“Maybe. But it would be foolish to attempt wing surgery without careful training, and it would seem useless to read how to do something you don’t plan to do.”

“Does your manual warn of the dangers of surgery without preparation?”

“Well, it says not to try it”, I said. “It shouldn’t require a lot of words to warn angels not to try what surely every angel already knows better than to try.”

“So then you don’t explain in exhaustive detail what is likely to happen if it is attempted without preparation?”

“It says ‘don’t try it.’ Surely that’s enough.”

Monitor #34 sprang to life. Sneaky and Dirtsy didn’t think the Tree of Laws should be so “negative”.

“All it has in it are things you can’t do! ‘Thou shalt not’ is how every sentence starts!”

“God doesn’t want anyone to have any fun!”

“Every time I read a ‘thou shalt not’, I want to scream, ‘WHY not?’”

“You got that right! God doesn’t like to explain himself.”

“God wants his puppets to just accept whatever he says by blind faith.”

“The blinder the better.”

“Dumb and dumber. God likes his puppets dumb, like dolls for his doll house who will sit and smile wherever he puts them.”

The screen went dark.

There were puzzled looks across the assembly. Why, indeed, are there not more explanations in those law books for their prohibitions?

God addressed me. “Comunicus, why indeed do you not go into exhaustive detail, in your manual, about what will happen when angels do surgery without preparation?”

“So many things can go wrong,” I answered, “that such a record would be longer than anyone would ever read. I like your word choice, ‘exhaustive’. That much detail would exhaust readers!”

“But how can readers trust that your instructions are necessary, and for their benefit,” God invited me to explain to the Host, “when you skimp on the consequences of operating poorly?”

“If brief, concise, readable warnings are not trusted, why would exhaustive warnings be trusted any more?”

I added, “Any angel who doesn’t trust the manual to be in his interest, would not be more likely to trust it if it were ten times longer! Without trust, longer directions wouldn’t even be read.”

Monitor #34 flickered again, but as quickly went dark. In that brief instant some of us noticed the title of a video and a link. The link was https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm065g3cCa0. We had no idea what the title meant. It read “Fornication isn’t the delight you thought.”

VerseScout: Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

Psalm 119:37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Proverbs 4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

VerseScout Relevance Report: Young children want to be older because they want the opportunities that come to those who are more responsible – not because they want that much more work. They are anxious to light a fire, and drive a car, before they can do either safely – safety being a lower priority for them – danger being hard for them to grasp.

Young adults have more desire, to drive and have sex, than fear. Their ears are naturally closed by their inexperience to testimonies of horrible crashes, diseases, broken families, and broken hearts. Parents don’t let children drive, except occasionally on private property a little bit, and parents would never show a child how to drive at all if the parent couldn’t completely trust the child to not take the car out on the highway.

Sex education has destroyed many young souls, by tantalizing children with delights deadlier than driving with no higher concept of responsibility than using a condom – no Biblical teaching about lifetime commitment to one spouse, and none of the photos of the horrible diseases that result from violation of God’s laws, nor information about the emotional harm to children and parents from breakups of the marriage bonds.

But worse, even when it warns children what not to do, it does so before it occurs to children what sex even is, bending the child’s attention to the temptation. The promise of forbidden pleasure is naturally more tantalizing than the warning of certain danger.

God continued, “But Adam and Wo-man will be safe if they follow my advice and stay away from even learning about temptations they have not yet learned how to control.”

VerseScout: 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee fornication….

1 Corinthians 10:14 … flee from idolatry.

1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Matthew 12:43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

VerseScout Relevance Report: It is for our safety, that we flee what tempts us. We do not invite it in for tea or try to stare it down. When we do flee, the Devil flees from us.

But it is not safe to just do no evil or good either – to flee sin and leave our minds empty; we need to fill it with trust in and obedience to God. We need righteous activity. We need greater goals than we can reach by ourselves.

To some extent “fleeing” temptation means remaining deliberately ignorant about it. For example, avoiding pornography means not even looking at it, and if it sneaks into our field of vision, turning away. But in another sense even the Bible informs us about sin; so absolute ignorance of temptations must not be God’s goal for us.

Inoculations are probably a good metaphor for the right balance: just enough knowledge of sin that our spiritual “antibodies” recognize the danger, but not enough exposure to overwhelm them. The kind of information we need to focus on is information about the consequences of sin from which God wants us safe. That is what we need to study very thoroughly.

So your plan is to teach Adam and Woman all the laws on the Tree of Laws, but just one line at a time, beginning with ‘Wait patiently until you are ready for the next line’?” asked Joy.

Exactly.” God smiled.

And can you figure out where I am planning to write all those laws?”

We were puzzled. “You wrote them on the law books on the Tree”, Sparky said. “Are you going to write them again somewhere else?”

Yes”, God answered. “Where, do you think?”

Silence.

Where are the laws written, that govern you?” God asked.

Well, they aren’t written anywhere, literally. But we know them, somehow, I reasoned to myself. So how do I put that in words?

On our hearts?” I asked.

Very good. So what is the difference? Suppose instead, I wrote the laws that govern you in a book kept far away from you, and I made them longer than you could possibly find time to read, in a technical language difficult for you to understand, and I put just a few angels in charge of looking around for angels violating some law or other, and punishing them? How would that be different?”

You mean,” asked Serious, “how would that be different than our present system where you put just one law at a time in our hearts, allowing us to understand it and agree that it is in our interest, and leaving enforcement to our individual conscience?”

Yes”, God answered. “That’s the difference I am asking you to describe.”

That’s pretty much”, I answered, “the difference between Heaven and Hell.”

Joy analyzed further: “Were enforcement up to other angels, only external physical actions could be prosecuted. Because we can’t read each other’s minds. But because Your Laws are written on our hearts, by our consent and with our blessing, we understand the principle behind each law and delight to follow it also in our words and thoughts.”

And there is little or no need of police”, added Joy’s friend, Joe.

That is My goal for Adam and his children. Not to see enforcement of My Standards imposed legalistically, superficially, or by others. But imposed by conscience, by choice. Embraced in love. I foresee them becoming spiritually mature enough to understand the principles illustrated by My laws, and to broadly apply them in their lives, because they want to even if there were no consequences.

VerseScout: Hebrews 8:10  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

“In fact the time will come when they will give me the password to their hearts, where I will download my laws.”

I thought about the penalties that are part of the laws on the Tree. Some consequences must be carried out by angels or other humans, while others are natural and carry out themselves.

“Penalties oppress. Oppression is their mode, even though their purpose is to dissuade men from worse oppression. But I did not create man to be oppressed! But for delight!

“So the goal of My Laws is to become the goal of human hearts – to be ‘written’ not just in the law books on that Tree, or on tables of stone, but on human hearts. Their purpose is to be obeyed voluntarily, gratefully, not just to the narrow external physical letter of the laws but in the spirit of the laws – the principles behind them – broadly applied to every area of life.

“The goal of My Laws, in other words, is that there be no penalties. The purpose of penalties is to dissuade the lawless who would have no intention of obeying any laws, without penalties. Penalties serve no purpose for the law-abiding who honor and treasure My Laws so much that they love to obey them even if there were no penalties.”

I asked God, “You say You will write Your laws on human hearts. Will that require the participation of the humans?”

“I mean that I yearn for man to choose to trust Me. I long for trust in My guidance to become the desire of their hearts. I want it to be their will to obey Me.”

“That makes sense even to me”, I answered. “But I am still fuzzy on what You mean by misuse of your law, which you once described as being ‘under’ the Tree of Laws.”

“For one thing, to the extent a human obeys because he fears the penalties, he does not obey because it is in his heart to obey. They are not written on his heart. He obeys not out of love, but out of fear.”

VerseScout: 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. …5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

God concluded, “Adam and Wo-man have no business under the Tree of Laws! Even when they are ready to eat of it, they have no business under it! These laws are not made to judge them – to measure and document their failures – but to guide them to greater success than they can imagine!

“These laws are not here to fill their stomachs, but to be written on their hearts!

“These laws define their choice: love or hate? Life or death? Slavery or freedom? Beelzebub’s Outer Darkness or My Fellowship?”

VerseScout: “Under” the Law. Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. …17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart [it was your intent/it was in your heart] that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: [Also 10:16]

VerseScout Relevance Report: Notice that “that form of doctrine which was delivered you” is in fact a law of God. The phrase is a way to describe a law of God. It is, in this case, a commandment/law about how to interact with other laws of God, just as “do not eat of this Tree” was a commandment/law about how to interact with the rest of God’s “knowledge of good and evil”.

If this is so, then in v. 14 we are told to get out from “under” God’s laws, but in v. 17 we are told it is right to “obey from the heart” God’s laws. Romans 2 agrees that there are people who never saw a Bible but who were justified because God’s laws were found written on their hearts; and Hebrews 8 and 10 says this writing of God’s Laws on human hearts, which is a goal of the New Testament, is a fulfillment of prophecy.

We followed God’s glance to Beelzebub who was working on his new “religion” in which “worship” is measured by fear. He doesn’t have God’s capacity for reading hearts, so he can never be sure whether anyone’s flatteries are genuine. But he can sense fear. By demanding fear, he shows that he could care less whether anyone’s admiration of him is genuine. But by creating such a strong incentive to pretend, he greatly increases the number around him who pretend.

He doesn’t seem to care. He savors fear. He would rather be feared than loved. In fact, being loved torments him. He doesn’t understand it, is suspicious of it, and is troubled by the stirring deep within him, suppressed by years of habits, of conscience.

VerseScout: Proverbs 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.(Quoted in Romans 12:20)

“Human hearts is where My Laws belong – obeyed voluntarily, not enforced externally. Writing them on hearts requires time enough to experience the passions they are designed to bridle, to study my laws themselves, and to discern how to apply their underlying principles to the situations at hand.

“But the first thing men will need to experience is My Love.

“As men learn I love them, and that all My laws are for their benefit, they will welcome all My wisdom into their hearts.”

VerseScout: Psalms 119:98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

God observed, of Beelzebub, “Knowledge of Good and Evil cannot save. When knowledge of My Laws exceeds readiness to obey them, knowledge can only blind!”

VerseScout: Luke 12:48 “But he that knew not (his Lord’s will), and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…”

Isaiah 29:10-15 “For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed…And the book is delivered to him that is not learned [literate]… Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men [their reverence for me has been replaced with routine observance of the rituals of men]: Therefore…wisdom …shall perish….” 15 “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? And who knoweth us?”

VerseScout Relevance Report: Isaiah said that because God’s people “hide their counsel from the Lord,” (29:15) God will mercifully reduce their guilt (see Luke 12:48) by making them so ignorant of the difference between right and wrong that they will be less able to consciously do wrong. (29:10-14)

Hiding from the truth leads to ignorance, quite naturally. Does God have to give them any stronger “Stupid” Pills than those natural consequences, to make them ignorant? Perhaps God refers to some fine tuning and management, with the “heavy lifting” left to those hiding from reality.

Maybe we finally understand why God made man with such limited intelligence; or rather, with all the potential of angels and more, but with a kind of blindness to the things of Heaven, as if man saw spiritual things through dirty quartz.

VerseScout: 1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

But we still struggled with the premise upon which the entire stream of logic was based. I wanted to ask God, “But how is it possible, in the first place, for the man or the woman, or any of their future children, to not want to obey you?!”

VerseScout: 1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

VerseScout Relevance Report: 1 Timothy says law is not for the righteous, but Hebrews 8 says God will write His Laws on our hearts. Is that a contradiction?

It is if we can’t break our habit of writing “Jewish laws” or “ceremonial laws” wherever God writes simply “law”. It is if we translate a number of verses to mean our faith in Jesus is compromised by seeking guidance from anything in the Old Testament.

We see the fulfillment of the Hebrews 8 prophecy on a national level in the United States of America, to a degree not seen elsewhere, according to the testimony of America’s Founders. They organized our government on the degree to which God’s Laws are written on Americans’ hearts, minimizing the need of police to maintain order.

For example, President John Adams said

we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams, To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 1798 Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.)

Samuel Adams, second cousin of President John Adams:

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty, — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind; — examples of men of a distinguished attachment to this same liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken. The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.” —Samuel Adams (Essay published in The Advertiser (1748) and later reprinted in The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams, Volume 1 (1865), by William Vincent Wells)

James McHenry, a signer of the Constitution, explained:

[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.” (Source: Bernard C. Steiner, One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society Work in Maryland, 1810-1920 (Maryland Bible Society, 1921), p. 14.

Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, added

Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” (Source: Robert Winthrop, Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1852), p. 172 from his “Either by the Bible or the Bayonet.”)

Benjamin Franklin, who signed both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, explained,

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.”

“[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. (The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 297, April 17, 1787.)

Jedediah Morse, pastor, patriot, and “Father of American Geography”, preached,

To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them. (Jedediah Morse, Election Sermon given at Charleston, MA, on April 25, 1799.)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled,

No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country. (Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 1824. Updegraph v. Cmmonwealth; 11 Serg. & R. 393, 406 (Sup.Ct. Penn. 1824).)

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled,

Man’s laws cannot be very far out of the way, when they align with the laws of God.” (The ruling gave child custody to the father in a divorce proceeding, by the reasoning that the Bible gives responsibility for educating children to fathers.) (Hunt v. Hunt, 1854, Iowa Supreme Court)

President James Garfield said,

The people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities….If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces” – James Garfield, 20th President, March 5-September 19, 1881.

Just as God had much to teach Adam and Woman but began with just one rule, Jesus and Paul had much to teach us today but refrained because we are not ready. God has taught mankind a line at a time. Over the centuries, that has added up to a level of freedom on a national level to which people flee from all over the world. But God offers more than Americans have so far cared to accept.

#11: Laws are created to be written on hearts a line at a time. This is the eleventh of 12 similarities between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

We followed God’s gaze to the Tree of Grace, which had already cost so much.

“Sin’s natural consequences destroy the sinner. The sinner can only survive if Another steps in to help offset those consequences. Every human parent will experience that cost of raising their child. Every human – like every angel – who struggles to help another will experience that cost, because no one who needs help makes it perfectly easy to be helped.

“If they did they wouldn’t need very much help!

“The consequences of every sin cause someone to ‘bleed’ – the sinner, or Another. ‘Bleed’ is a metaphor for paying the cost; it is an apt metaphor, because often the cost includes literally bleeding.”

VerseScout: Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. [Persecution you have suffered, for your witness against sin, has not yet made you bleed.]

The last rays of the setting sun faded. We counted millions of beautiful stars. The Tree of Laws was lit, in addition, by fireflies. But the Tree of Grace was lit only by eyes of Faith.

Adam and Woman were asleep. Most animals were asleep. The sounds of the night animals was pleasant and soothing. We leaned back and rested.

“I want humans to choose carefully”, God resumed His explanation. “I want them to review their choices again and again, and to confirm the millions of details of their choices one at a time. Before any human enters Heaven, I want him to be so sure he is where he wants to be, that he will never change his mind.

“Not that my concern ends with a choice for Heaven. Heaven is infinite freedom, but freedom is Hell without commitment to choose carefully and wisely. I want people to create alongside Me, and I want people to create well, so what they create will give them joy!

“Freedom has a cost. I have made the cost pleasant and exciting, but though slight, for the present, it has a cost. I don’t want to force it on anybody; I want humans to choose it, or it isn’t Freedom. The choice must be an informed choice or it isn’t a choice.

“Nobody can count the cost before he has any idea what it is. Much of the cost is the need to choose, itself. To study. To research. To concentrate. To think.

“And in order to create something very, very good, to think very, very hard, a cost I first accepted when I was alone.”

VerseScout: Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, …33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

When God was alone! There is that teaser again! Will God tell us of that time? And what He means by calling intense concentration “costly”?

“You understand that violation of My laws doesn’t hurt Me. Not directly. Obedience to My laws doesn’t benefit me. My laws are for you and all your people. It is only My Love for you that drives me to pay whatever cost it takes to restore you.”

VerseScout: Job 35:6 If you sin, what will that do to harm him? If you add transgression to transgression what will it do to him? 7 If you are righteous, what will you add to him? What can God receive from your efforts? 8 Your wickedness affects only yourself; and your righteousness, only human beings. [ISV]

“Therefore it is for the sake of your people, not for My sake, that I punish the disobedient and reward the obedient. Since you are the ones hurt, not Me, you merit a say in My judgment of those who hurt you, as I explained before. [Chapter 7, “Judgment”, regarding Revelation 3:21 and 1 Corinthians 6:2. Also see Appendix, “Judgment by Consensus”.]

“The fact that it is other people who are hurt, not Me, affects My judgment in another way. ‘The Law of Liberty’ is what I call the principle I want to explain. It is the law governing how violations of all other laws are judged.

“The degree of harm done is appropriately counted from the perspective of the one harmed.

“So when the one harmed forgives, less punishment is required for the one who caused harm before the two can resume their cooperation and fellowship in love.

“Conversely, when the one harmed will not forgive but demands “payment in full” for every bit of harm he suffered, if not double payment, fellowship between them is delayed.

“Don’t confuse ‘forgiving’ with the need you all have for enough correction to restrain you from being harmful. If you love and forgive someone who harmed you, you still want him to receive whatever correction may help move him to repent, for his own benefit. To not forgive means that even when the one who harms you repents early, you still demand ‘payment in full’.

“Therefore, to not forgive delays restoration of fellowship unnecessarily, which is a serious cause of harm, itself needing correction.

“The ‘Law of Liberty’ is the principle by which I judge unwillingness to forgive.

The ‘Law of Liberty’ is a standard I judge by, and that I want people to judge each other by, to encourage restoration of fellowship as quickly as possible, by forgiving consequences of harm beyond the point necessary to encourage repentance.”

VerseScout: James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Sin’s Cost. Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things [penalties for sins] are by the law purged [cleansed, purified] with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. [pardon, parole, freedom]

VerseScout Relevance Report: God’s clothes for Adam and Eve, to partially “cover” the consequences of their lack of faith in God, required shedding of (animal) blood. Jesus’ eye removal requires shedding of blood. The sins of us all required His shed blood on the Cross.

The clothes God made for Adam and Eve restored them to Life from “death” after the Knowledge of Good and Evil had exposed their nakedness as sin.

Jesus’ shed blood, in the words of Romans 7:7, restores to Life someone “dead” from lust after lust was exposed as sin by the Law.

To forgive another – to require no more repayment than is necessary to heal the offender, even when that is before the offended has been fully compensated – is to pay part of the cost of restoring another to fellowship.

This sounds vaguely like the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “merits of the saints” that are added to the “merits” of Jesus’ death on the Cross, to help save everybody – a doctrine strongly repudiated by Protestants. What is pointed out here is enough different from that controversy that it hopefully won’t be mistaken for participating in it. The point here is simply the obvious fact that by definition, to forgive is to accept a bit of the cost of another’s restoration. Jesus requires that of not just officially canonized “saints”, but of all men.

#12: The Shed Blood of the Law of Liberty: a twelfth similarity between the Tree of Knowledge, and Law as presented in the New Testament.

Chapter Seventeen: Beelzebub Introduces Himself

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