I try to make spiritual life about my feelings, or fairness, or even my faithfulness, but it’s been about knowledge since the very beginning, hasn’t it?

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:16-17

In the Old Testament, the phrase “knowledge of good and evil” means more than simply knowing what is right and what is wrong. It means determining what is right and what is wrong — defining good and evil for ourselves.

The sin of the garden wasn’t disobedience. It was distrust and dissatisfaction with the Word of the Lord.

It was defining a new way to be holy.

The trouble with just being myself is that myself is all I get, naked and ashamed.

This is the sin of our day too, letting our experiences and conversations and feelings shape our hearts more fiercely than the truth and order set in place by our Lord. He couldn’t mean that — He probably meant this. He would never want me to feel this way — He would want me to be myself.

You will not surely die… you will be like God, [able to define for yourself] what is good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5

The trouble with just being myself is that myself is all I get, naked and ashamed (Genesis 3:7).

But God promises something more:

(you) have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Colossians 3:10

In His grace — when we surrender to what He wills — when we submit to what He has declared righteous even when we think we know better — God covers us and crafts us in the knowledge and God-image we grasped for in the beginning.

In this new year, there is no daily decision more important what we listen to, who we let in, the voices to which we hand the keys to our souls. Will we be shaped by the knowledge of fear — or Facebook — or the latest feel-good rants — or our own self-righteous thoughts? Or will we surrender to His Word and His ways?

We will be renewed in the end, whether by His knowledge or our own. We will look more like ourselves, or more like our God.