When my oldest son was born, he became the first-born grandchild on both sides of the family. Naturally everyone doted on him and, frankly, spoiled him rotten. He was given a multitude of gifts from family members, as was his mother who was presented a particular plant. She proudly placed this plant in the middle of the coffee table in the living room so that everyone could see it. My son, who had many different toys and playthings with which to entertain himself, became fascinated with the plant – even more so than his toys. He became so fascinated with it that he started picking the leaves from the plant. That’s when I told him, “You may freely play with all of the toys here in the living room, but of the plant that’s in the midst of the coffee table, you shall not play with it, nor shall you touch it. For in the day that you touch the plant, I will swat your little behind.”
What do you think he did? He continued going after that plant. One day it all came to a head when he went to the plant and, without touching it, stretched out his hand to get just as close to the plant as he possibly could without making contact. Then turned to me and looked to see what would do. The point of the story is this: where did a little child get this inclination to disobey? Here’s what the Psalmist says:
“Behold, I was brought forth in inquiry, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)
Each of us were born with the nature that wants to experience the knowledge of good and evil. We came into this world born of a corruptible seed that we inherited from our father, Adam, which is why we must be born again of the incorruptible seed, that is the Messiah. Having been born again, we must still be on guard against the nature that wants to stick its hand just as close as it can to the plant. At one time or another, we all have adopted the attitude that says, “I want to get as close as I possibly can to the knowledge of good and evil without actually transgressing God’s command.” We all know where this leads. It never turns out well which is why we’re told to flee those things that appeal to our carnal desires. Paul said to Timothy:
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
It is the things that pertain to righteousness and life that we are to reach out and grab and hold on to. We have to fight the natural inclination to reach out and grab the forbidden plant in the middle of the coffee table. Unfortunately, this is going to be an ongoing struggle until this mortal body puts on immortality and corruption puts on incorruption. We will to have to face this inclination within each of us and, every day, determine to crucify our flesh while setting our focus on the Messiah. If we do that we’ll be more inclined to occupy ourselves with the gifts Heaven has bestowed upon us and stay away from those things that are going to get us in trouble.