What is it about Him that makes us want to hide instead of reveal who we really are, deep down?
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There is darkness lurking around, and we are hiding it, hiding in it when we don't allow the Spirit of God to come and shine the Light of Christ within us. When we hide from the Light of the World, we are allowing darkness to have a say in who we live to be (but not who we really are!!).
I must admit, I've never read any Rupert Stroud, but this quote seems so fitting I had to share it with you. "If you don't let go of the darkness, it won't let go of you." And that's satan's game, isn't it? He wants us naked before him rather than before our Lord and Maker. He wants us writhing in our pain, sin, grief, sorrow, when that isn't where we are called to live. We are called to a higher purpose, and a higher life!!
Like a peacock, we walk onto the world scene plumed up and pretty for all to see, don't we, sometimes? Look at what I can do better than that guy! See what I bought last week? Guess who I met last night!
A feather for your cap, sir! The world salutes you... but does your Maker? That is the question.
If we are to learn to walk in the ways of Christ, we must learn to be naked before Him with our hearts. We must learn to be naked before Him with our emotions and thoughts, in our prayers and hopes and dreams. We must be naked before Him is all that we are and say and do, as he was before the Father, for He was our example.
We can never impress God. Ever. With anything. And nothing we have done or can do can save us, either.
Galatians 2:16 (GOD'S WORD Translation) tells us, "Yet, we know that people don't receive God's approval because of their own efforts to live according to a set of standards, but only by believing in Jesus Christ. So we also believed in Jesus Christ in order to receive God's approval by faith in Christ and not because of our own efforts. People won't receive God's approval because of their own efforts to live according to a set of standards."
Blunt as that is, it's the truth.
There are several places this is emphasized in the Word of God. Those most well known are likely Job 1:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:15.
In Ecclesiastes 5:15 (New Living Translation), we read, "We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can't take our riches with us." 1 Timothy 6:7 reiterates this in the new testament, saying (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) "For we have brought nothing into the universe, and we know that we can take nothing out of it;" The GOD'S WORD Translation of Psalm 49:17 tells us, "He will not take anything with him when he dies. His greatness cannot follow him." And, of course, Job testifies in Job 1:21 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) "saying: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh."
So if works cannot save; if following the rules cannot save; if obeying the law doesn't save, then what does? Faith alone.
Now, for some of you that is a no-brainer. You've heard it before. And yet, maybe it hasn't reached into your heart yet. Maybe it has tugged at your heartstrings, and you believe it for others, but not for yourself. Maybe you have believed it for SOME areas of your life, but not others.
We can only be as free as we believe what is true... about life, about ourselves, about others, about Jesus. We can only be as free as the freedom we allow ourselves to be granted! Like a butterfly set free, we can fly into the destiny god has created for us!
Galatians 3:10-14 (NASB) tells us, " For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
"For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God." (Hebrews 7:19, NLT)
"And all who believe in This One are justified of all things from which you cannot be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:39, Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
"We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are." (Romans 3:22, NLT)
By faith, we are called to be naked before Him, heart and spirit and soul, bearing all of who we are before the throne of God. As has been mentioned already in various ways, we come into this world naked, and we will depart it with nothing created in or from the world. What will stand is faith, and that which is done through faith. We come before the throne of God's grace authentically, as ourselves, without pretense, naked from all that is worldly, without any masks, without fig leaves, and we listen to what is said in Heaven about how we are to live life on earth. We come naked before the throne of Him Who died in our stead because of His great, consuming, unprecedented and unquenchable love; His unconditional love, for us.
During the Old Testament times, the people of Israel covenanted with God through the means of priests and layers of veils; through treatise made in blood from animals, but under the new Covenant, we are made one with Jesus Christ through the shedding of His own blood. When He ascended to Heaven after being raised from the dead, the Spirit of God alighted upon the hearts of those who believe in Him, and as such, the Spirit of God guides, teaches, helps, and comforts us.
The Amplified version of Hebrews 8:12-13 reminds "For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do."
Now that Jesus has risen from the dead and the Spirit has come, we have a greater High Priest than in the Old Testament, and both the Son and the Spirit testify and intercede before the Father on behalf of those who believe.
"Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help." (Hebrews 8:14-16, Message)
Going back for a for a minute to the idea of being bound by sin, I thought I'd give a more visual example.
Most of us have seen a choker necklace, but how many of us know the significance evil has placed upon it? I would wager that not everyone reading this understands the implications such a necklace had in years past. You see, the choker was a symbol - not just sometimes, but always - of slavery to certain arenas of sexuality. If it were a red ribbon, men would know she was open to doing them favors. If it were black, whether woven or ribbon, it was a sign of lesbianism. Today, it is sometimes a sign of being a follower of Wicca or someone who participates in violent sexual acts.
Does this mean a Christ-follower shouldn't wear a choker necklace? I'm not saying this at all, but I am pointing out the history so that people are aware of the implications that can come from such a simple and often innocent act. Men as well as women today wear these, and don't always have a fleshly intent.
But this simple choker, for some, is a picture of absolute bondage. It is a prison just as much as if they were behind bars... and many don't consciously even know they're trapped until it is too late.
That's the way the enemy of our souls does things: sneakily, with simple things, sometimes. yes, he can be a roaring lion, but sometimes he is a slithery snake or a pretty bauble or an innuendo spoken at someone's moment of vulnerability.
Being naked before Christ is the answer to freedom from such bondage!
He alone can make us clean, and make us shine for the world to see the True Light that radiates from within, Jesus Christ. Only He alone can renew and refine and rejuvenate; only He can refresh and revitalize and revolutionize our lives!
How do we come before Jesus, naked and unashamed? We come in prayer, as Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden when the voice of God walked in the garden with them, communing with them, refreshing them. When we have been washed with the blood of the Lamb of God; washed in the Water of the Word; when we have trusted God to deliver, heal, save, renew us by faith in Jesus Christ, we can be naked and unashamed... and we can shine for Him.
Many of you reading this have probably at least given your life to Christ by praying a simple prayer of faith. Others of you, perhaps not. But if you want to find the freedom I've been talking about... if you want to yank off the choker the devil put on you... then feel free to pray with all your heart, just speaking to God something like this:
I may not know everything, but I know I've been in bondage too long. Now I know that Jesus came to set me free. I believe He died to do that, and that by faith, I can indeed walk into freedom. Remove the choker the enemy of my soul has placed on me; take control of my life. I know You are a kind Master, and that there is no evil in You. You have plans for my good, and a beautiful destiny for my life, and I want to start walking into that destiny right now.
Thank You for all You have done on my behalf. Though I might not fully understand all the implications of what Jesus did on the cross right now, I believe enough to ask that my sins be forgiven me, that they be removed from me as far as east is from west. Please send Your Spirit to clean up the mess I've made of my life, and to create in me a new heart in accord with Your promises.
If you have just prayed that prayer, or one similar to it, would you either leave a comment letting me know, or tell someone that you love and trust today! Testify to the goodness that has come upon you this hour to signify that you are released from the bondage of darkness and have been brought into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ!
"Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified)