The concept of two runs throughout Scripture. The storyline of Genesis 2 speaks of two trees in Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jesus speaks of two “ways”; the narrow way leading to life, and the broad way to destruction. Paul speaks of two vessels: mercy and wrath. There are two spirits – the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error, and two “gods” – the one true God, and the false god: He that is in you (Christ) and he that is in the world (the god of this age).
There are also the two soils of Matthew 13. “But wait,” you say, “Aren’t there four soils?” Well, yes, but they are really two sets of people – those in whom the seed takes root and those in whom it doesn’t.
There are many more sets of two in Scripture but now of all things because of Russ I’ve got to think of brevity.
God said to Adam in Gen 2:17 “…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” ” I looked up the Hebrew phrase “you will surely die.” What it actually says is “dying, you shall die.” That’s one more “two.” Death, and then death. Two deaths – a first dying, and then a second dying.
Revelation 20:12-15 speaks of this second death: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Emphasis mine).
According to their works. The second death comes from being judged according to our works, and then our name not being found written in the book of Life. “Sorry, Perfection is required. Are you in Christ?”
Eden’s death-death tree can be charted like this:
It is obvious that “good and evil” here are relative in many respects. Both good and evil as charted here end up in an evil place – forever. In that sense people quite rightly say that “good and evil are relative.” We can easily see Death 1, at the end of the earthly life, and Death 2, after the Great White Throne judgment. Hooked into this Tree, it won’t matter what we chose in the end; it’s all relate-ive to the finality of separation from God – that is, being eternally cut off from all that is truly good.
This is the unbeliever’s choice between good and evil on this temporary plane. Worldly success or sensual sin. His identity as a person comes from what he does or doesn’t do; it is based in his performance. Thus we have people who get their identity from being “good” (“I am successful” or “I do a lot of community service”) or “bad” (“I’m a Hell’s Angel” “I am an alcoholic”). The unbeliever has no other options until his mind is illuminated by God choosing to bring the man’s will to its knees. The lie of “human potential” on this chart is obvious. The potential only goes so far, which is not nearly far enough.
This is “the spirit of error,” the mindset that drives the “vessels of wrath.” It is a performance-based, avoid-pain-and-find-pleasure mindset. Whether that means indulging forbidden sensual pleasures or the intellectual and spiritual pleasures of “being above the sensual rabble” is of little consequence in the end, though of course societally it makes a big difference. But Pharisees and philanderers alike will face the second death. Those on the left of the chart are actually in more danger, because worldly success and “goodness” of any kind can blind us to our need for redemption. Those on the right of the chart are often aware their lives are not working out; that’s why Jesus hung out with “such awful people.”
The unbeliever can opt out of this system: Jesus said in John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If we have been doomed to die twice in Adam, we must be born again in Christ to die only once, to escape the second death.
This satanic system, this kingdom of death-death, is shown in the first two soils of Matthew 13:18-21 – those from whom the Word is stolen, and those who don’ t go deep enough to have the Word really take root. These first two soils are unbelievers; the next two are believers.
We’ll dig into how this satanic mindset infects the thought life of the believer and the third soil of Matthew 13 in Part II.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.