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When the person we love is dying of cancer we pray for healing.  We pray fervently.  But even if God grants a miraculous healing, what then?  Do we dare to ask for ten more years of health?  Twenty?  What about a hundred?

How long do we want this kind of life prolonged?  For how long do we want God shuffling around these cursed conditions?  Is it just a case of ‘holding back the tide’ of death and decay for a little while longer?  Or does the LORD have something better for us?

The good news is that God is not reduced to “postponing the inevitable.”  He’s into resurrection.  He’s not much into death deferral.  He’s into death-defiance.

So because of this He needs to close off our attempts at “making the best of a bad situation.”  Once humanity opens the door to death and chaos, He bars the door to eternal life.  Because this kind of life must come to an end.

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.  (Genesis 3:22-24)

Our future will not be a perpetual life-in-defiance-of-God.  God saves us from that by barring fallen humanity from the tree of life.  He draws a line under this kind of human life.  It will end in death.   And He makes sure of that by guarding Eden with creatures far stronger than us – cherubim.

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I don’t know what you think of when you think of cherubim?  What is it to be cherubic?  Or angel-faced?

Art rarely captures what the bible describes.  When the bible reports of angelic visitations they usually have to reassure the cowering humans with words like “Don’t be terrified.”  Angels are fearful and awesome creatures.  And their first mention in the bible here does not describe them as heavenly eye-candy but as deadly security-guards.

These armed bouncers will ensure that fallen life will not be eternal life.  Adamic life will end.  Anyone seeking to regain paradise will have to pass through the cherubim and their fiery sword.  Only through death will life ever be opened up.

The resurrection life we hope for is not this kind of life prolonged.  Instead the LORD Jesus joins us East of Eden and then marches back up the hill to win us life.  The cross was Jesus passing through the fiery, death-dealing guard and taking the sword into Himself.   In this way the old Adam-life is killed.

But Christ, and only Christ, has the strength to pass on through to the other side – to immortal life.  And this is the life He offers us.  Not an extension of Adam-life with all its disease, decay and despair.

Our hope is not for life-this-side-of-death.  We hope for life-the-far-side-of-death – the life that only Jesus can offer.

East of Eden

All but cursed, the men of dust,
From garden’d bliss dejected thrust.
Cast down to blood and tangling thorn,
Flat-faced in mud, bereft, forlorn.

Unmoved as ages droned along,
Resigned to sighing pity’s song.
To mouth their sadness with each breath,
In love with self and sin and death.

Then glancing back, a glimmering sight,
Through gnarling weeds, a shaft of light.
The tree untouched, of matchless type,
Engorged with life, effulgent, ripe.

It lay beyond the thorny wall,
A tantalizing siren’s call.
All wrong reversed, all tears made good,
All hunger filled with holy food.

New drive possessed the men of dust,
They set to work with primal thrust.
To have the fruit at any cost,
If failing this then all is lost.

And so they pressed against the wall
Of thorn and blade and jagged sprawl.
Their eyes aglow with mad intent,
Their bodies pierced and torn and rent.

Their flesh sliced through by razor wire,
Could not abate their one desire.
No hurt could halt their desperate zeal.
“Once through, the tree alone will heal!”

Their bodies strewn along the route,
Their hands outstretched to reach the fruit.
Yet none would cross this death-divide,
Their hope lay on the thorny side.

Behind them in the other way,
Another tree for sinners lay.
It stood apart and unacquired,
Gnarled and grim and undesired.

It did not catch the eye of men,
Who sought a ripeness there and then.
Yet this one pledged a golden yield,
To all who ceased and turned and kneeled.

For hanging lone across its form,
The Lord of Life enthroned in scorn,
Was off’ring all a bloodied balm,
With up-raised voice and out-stretched arm.

Thus from the midst of cursèd death,
Is raised His call with rasping breath.
“Come every man, leave off your quest
Find life within my piercèd breast.”

“He lies!” they shriek through raging tears,
They scoff and mock with angry jeers.
“What life could this cadaver give?
What guarantee that we shall live?”

“Just this” He says with pity’s call,
“I’ve come direct from o’er the wall.
All bliss that moves your frenzied glee,
Such fountains first begin in Me.”

At once they splutter daft disdain,
“No wounded Man or tree of pain,
Will be our well or way of life.
We’re free! You pledge us only strife!”

“Dear friends!” He pleas, “regard your plight,“
Your freedom bonds you, blinds your sight.
Your wounds for self, for self are loss,
Come lose them in my wounded cross.

“Your life is death, My death is gain,
Now trust the word of Paschal slain.
Come hide in Me through darkest night,
Soon heaven’s dawn shines fresh delight.”

Just so His promise stands above
All men, inquiring which they love:
To seek the fruit and Him defy,
Or heed Life’s call to “Come and die!”


First Eve receives her life and then her name from Adam.  But in between these two events the whole world falls apart.

Between Eve’s creation and her naming, the couple rebel, death and curse are unleashed and the LORD pronounces fearful  judgement.  Yet the most hopeful verse comes next:

“Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”  (Genesis 3:20)

“Eve” is very similar to the Hebrew verb “to live”.  And that’s what Adam calls her.  He doesn’t call her “Woe” or “Death” or “Suffering”, though all those words would have been ringing in his ears.  He calls her “Life.”

Just previously he’d blamed the whole sorry mess on “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me!”  (Genesis 3:12)  But he’s forgotten the blame-game now.

Now he looks at her and sees a source of universal blessing!

How was that possible?

The great 16th century reformer, Martin Luther, commented on this verse:

[Adam] looked to Eve as mother of all the living – he saw through to life when everything around him was being subjected to death.

This is such a remarkable fact it demands an explanation.  And Luther points us towards the only possible explanation. Something must have happened between the blame of verse 12 and the name of verse 20.

And that “something” was Genesis 3:15.  Luther calls the verse, “This first comfort, this source of all mercy and fountainhead of all promises.”

In verse 15 the LORD speaks of “the seed of the woman” who will bruise the serpent’s head.  He will crush the oppressor and reverse the curse.  He would strike the serpent’s head even though he himself would be struck in the process.

There would be a birth – a miraculous birth.  And this child would deal a costly but decisive death-blow to Satan.  He would crush Satan’s head, but he’d be injured in the process.

Here the Christ-child is promised and this changes everything.  Even in the midst of terrible judgement Adam knows that the LORD is not finally against us, but for us.  And soon to be with us.

Therefore, now when Adam looks at the woman he doesn’t see “this woman you put here.”  He sees Eve.  She would be the source of blessing not curse.  From her would come the Seed who would put to rights what they had done wrong.

Because of Christ, Adam saw through to life when all around him was death.

Sweat of your brow

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Ok, the Authorized Version can’t take credit for this one.  It translates Genesis 3:19 as

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”

If they were even more literal they might have said “In the sweat of thy nostrils…”!

But, unsurprisingly, it’s the more idiomatic translation “By the sweat of your brow” that has passed into common usage.

It means hard graft, exertion, labour.

And this is part of the curse.  This is something new.  Adam was called to work in Genesis 2, but now his work will be sweaty work!

Sweat is mentioned three times in the King James Bible.

Once with Adam.  (Genesis 3:19)

Once with the High Priest.  (Ezekiel 44:18)

And once with Jesus.  (Luke 22:44)

And tracing through the history of sweat will tell us the story of how God works redemption.

Let’s think about Adam.  Before the fall, work was “no sweat”.

But with sin comes sweat.  And this speaks of two things at least.  First, there seems to be an added dimension of struggle.  But also of ‘leakiness’.

When you read through the priestly laws of Leviticus, people are unclean when they ‘leak’.  So often it’s when stuff comes out of us (I won’t elaborate any further than that!) it’s ceremonially unclean.

This is confirmed when we think of the high priest mentioned in Ezekiel 44.  He’s meant to wear robes that breathe well.  Because it wouldn’t do to have the high priest sweating.

We have that saying, don’t we, “Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow.”  Perhaps we’ve retained something of this priestly distaste for sweat.  We feel it’s unladylike – it’s undignified, unrefined – to sweat.

Well with this background in mind, let’s think about Jesus.  When Jesus comes, what should we expect?  Should we expect Him to sweat like the rest of us – to put His shoulder to the wheel and engage in the struggle?  Or should we expect Him – as the ultimate High Priest – to say “no sweat”?

Will Jesus be a fellow-struggler or will He float above it all, not a trace of perspiration?

Well come with me to another garden.  Not Eden, but a garden called Gethsemane.  It’s the night before Jesus would die to atone for the sins of the world.  He was in the midst of performing the ultimate High Priestly act:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  (Luke 22:44:)

Christ put His shoulder to the wheel harder than us all.  His work as the true Adam and the true High Priest would be an intense, costly and sacrificial labour.  He joins us in our cursed state, rolls up His sleeves and gets to work.

Jesus doesn’t say “no sweat.”  And He doesn’t simply “raise a sweat”.  In His work for us, He pours Himself out in blood, sweat and tears.

From the BBC news magazine…

No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of phrase have permeated the everyday language of English speakers, whether or not they’ve ever opened a copy.

The Sun says Aston Villa “refused to give up the ghost”. Wendy Richard calls her EastEnders character Pauline Fowler “the salt of the earth”. The England cricket coach tells reporters, “You can’t put words in my mouth.” Daily Mirror fashion pages call Tilda Swinton “a law unto herself”.

Though each of those phrases was begotten of the loins of the English Bible, it’s safe to say that none of those speakers was deliberately quoting the Bible to people they expected to be familiar with its contents….

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Dust to Dust

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Today I will stand beside a grave as they lower Fred’s coffin.  I will say these famous words:

“earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

Each phrase picks up on biblical imagery.

Adam was made from adamah meaning earth.  And humanity is “dust and ashes” as Abraham would say (Genesis 18:27).  But “dust to dust” is fairly much straight from Genesis 3:19.  The LORD is pronouncing curses on sinful man and He concludes with:

For dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return

At funerals people often want you to read quaint poems that airbrush out the stark reality of death.  They’re full of empty platitudes about our loved ones not really going away and living on in our hearts, etc, etc.

I always liked Woody Allen’s comment when a journalist asked whether he took comfort from the fact he would live on in people’s memories.  He said, “I don’t want to live on in memories, I want to live on in my apartment.”

We want real, tangible, physical hope.  But death puts pay to that.  Violently.  Uncaringly.  Finally.

And so actually the bible’s words are totally realistic.  Dust we are, to dust we return.

It almost sounds like a modern cry of despair.  Or of nonchalant nihilism.  But it doesn’t come from a depressive or a cynic.  This is the LORD who loves His creatures – man in particular.  He’d only just given the kiss of life to Adam.

But now, with Adam severed from the LifeSource, here comes the judgement:  You are dirt, and you will crumble to dirt.

Have we understood the hopelessness of our plight?  Left to itself our race is headed for the compost heap.  No amount of saccarine sentiment can soothe away that reality.  No amount of earthly achievements will change it.  The children of Adam cannot change their destiny because they cannot change their constitution.

If we are dust we can only expect to become dust.  Those born of Adam have no right to expect any other future.  We could have a future hope only if our fundamental constitution could be changed.  Only if we could come into another kind of humanity could we hope to come into another kind of destiny.

But that is exactly the Christian hope.

After I say “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” the next words I say are these:

in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who will transform our frail bodies
that they may be conformed to his glorious body,

There is another kind of life that comes “through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The LORD Jesus was the One who pronounced the curse in Genesis 3.  But it’s not His final word on human mortality.  His plan was always to come and establish a different kind of humanity.

In Genesis 3:15 He had just promised His own birth into the human race.  He would become the Last Adam.  He would be the Man of heaven to answer the frailty and sin of the man of dust.

And in the fulness of time, He took our crumbling dust-to-dust-life and reunited it to the LifeSource in Himself.  He took our humanity and, through death, planted it in the ground like a seed that dies and rises to produce many seeds.  His new life from the dead is not dust-life but Spirit-life.  And He gives it as a gift to all us crumbling dirt piles.

Fred knew this new life.  He knew Jesus and had His Spirit within Him.  And just as Fred has been spiritually born again, so we look with hope to the day when he and all believers will be physically born again into Christ’s immortal, bodily life.

Dust to dust, yes.  But in Jesus there’s also Spirit-life to spirit-life.  And that’s our enduring hope:

The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)

Fig leaves

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In popular usage the phrase “fig leaf” refers to a hasty and inadequate cover-up for something shameful.  And that’s precisely how fig leaves function in Genesis 3.

An hour earlier, Adam and Eve were walking around paradise as king and queen.  They were naked and unashamed.

But the minute they eat the forbidden fruit, sin and shame enters their world and brings a third power hot on its heels – fear.  This fear drives them to something that would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic.  They sew fig-leaves together to make coverings for themselves.  Hasty and inadequate in the extreme.

When they ate from the tree they invited death, severed their relationship with the LORD, forged an alliance with Satan, and unleashed chaos and curse on creation.  Fig leaves were not going to solve their problem!

Their paltry coverings are as ridiculous as their attempt to hide from the LORD in His own garden.  Fig leaves are fear-driven attempts to deal with the problem of shame and guilt.  But they are ridiculous.

Interestingly the Quran also has a story of Adam and Eve’s fall.  In Sura 7:26, Allah has a solution to the inadequacy of the fig leaves.  He tells the couple that the best covering they can strive for is “piety”.  They should clothe themselves in good deeds.

But in the bible “piety” – our own moral efforts – is not the solution to our inadequate coverings.  Our moral efforts are the inadequate covering.  As Isaiah the prophet will say later, All our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Human morality is not the answer.  Human morality is a fig leaf on fallen man – a vain attempt to cover our shame and reverse the curse.  The solution is not to clothe ourselves in good deeds.  The true solution is modelled in Genesis 3:21

the LORD God made coats of skins, and clothed them.

The LORD determined that our covering would not be something we produce.  It would be the gift of the LORD.  And it would be through the death of another that we are clothed.  Blood would be shed.  An animal that didn’t deserve death would be sacrificed to cover those who did.

And in this way the true covering is modelled.

God does not want us to sew together the paltry fig-leaves of do-good-ery.  He wants us to receive a perfect and enduring covering:

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 13:14)

Pride goeth before a fall

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There’s something so fitting about an arrogant fool cut down to size.

The Bond villain declaring “I am invincible” seconds before his grizzly death.

The cocky athlete slowing down for the cameras and then tripping before the finish line.

The deluded despot, overstretched and finally overthrown.

At these times we love to quote from Proverbs:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  (Proverbs 16:18)

Usually we just abbreviate it to “pride goeth before a fall.”

But there’s one scenario this phrase describes better than any other – the fall.  The fall of humanity.

Because in Genesis chapter 3 we see the ultimate pride and the ultimate fall.

In verse 1 the serpent appears on the scene.  The prophet Ezekiel assures us that he was not wicked when he was placed in the garden (Ezekiel 28:14-15).  What we see in Genesis 3 is not only the couple’s fall but also the serpent’s.  Genesis 3 is the fall of both men and angels.  It was in fact an alliance of earth and heaven against God.

Isaiah 14 puts the serpent’s desire brilliantly:

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

To be with the Most High was not enough.  Lucifer desires to be like Him – as a competitor.

And this desire is precisely what the serpent tempts the couple with.  When they eat the forbidden fruit he promises, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).

That was an offer too good to refuse.  So the couple trust Satan’s words over the LORD’s.  The alliance is formed.  The pride is sulferous.  And we are set up for the biggest come-down ever.

Well, perhaps not.  Perhaps we shouldn’t call Genesis 3 the ulimate fall.  Because there has been an even greater climb-down than this.  And from an even higher throne.

But how utterly different is Jesus Christ to all this!

We went from nothing to dust to delusions of grandeur. He went from eternal glory to flesh to crucifixion.

We amounted to nothing and laid claim to everything.  He had everything and made Himself nothing.

Our come-down was deserved.  His come-down was deliberate.

Our uprising was demonic.  His uprising was divine.

Our story is self-exaltation then humbling.  His story is self-humbling then exaltation.

Our pride brought the fall.  His humility brought salvation.

Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:5-11)

Forbidden fruit

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Just the phrase ‘forbidden fruit’ makes our mouths water.  And that fact tells us everything we need to know about the kind of humanity we have inherited.

“Forbidden fruit” is not a phrase directly from the bible but it has become a shorthand to refer to “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  (Genesis 2:17)  This was the one tree from which humanity was not to eat.

The LORD had said:

Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat (Genesis 2:16)

But there is one exception.  One tree.

There weren’t any maps with “out of bounds” areas marked in red.  There were no commandments nailed to trees.  No lengthy orientation presentations from human resources, no health and safety videos to watch.  Just one tree off limits.

It’s very common to re-imagine the God of the garden as a petty Law-maker.  But the atmosphere of the garden was not law, but freedom, fruitfulness and fellowship.

You might ask, Why have even one boundary?  Well imagine if there was nothing forbidden at all.  There would be no opportunity for humanity to express either trust or mistrust of the LORD.  With the tree there is such an opportunity.  But only one.

So, what did this forbidden fruit represent?

This was the issue: would humanity leave knowledge of good and evil to God, or would they grasp it for themselves?

But perhaps you’re thinking, what’s so wrong about grasping this knowledge?

Well, think for a second about “knowledge” in the biblical sense.

We will soon consider that evocative phrase from Genesis 4, “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived.”  “Knowing” is a deeply relational term.  Adam took Eve to himself in a profound union.  That’s the sense of “know” in the bible.

So what does it mean for Adam and Eve to “know” good and evil?  It means taking the terms “good and evil” to themselves – being in a profound relationship with “good and evil” as possessors of those concepts.  Essentially it means playing God, making the ultimate declarations of right and wrong.

So actually Adam and Eve weren’t brave rebels fighting a petty Law-maker.  They weren’t overturning legalism with their sin – they were buying into it.  They were grasping at law-making themselves.

To put it in the kinds of terms the Apostle Paul would speak in, they bought into self-justification (“justification” is the declaration that someone is good/righteous/just).

The LORD in His kindness wanted to keep declarations of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in His hands.  But, insanely, we wanted such declarations in our own power.

From this point onwards, the children of Adam have borne a heavy burden.  Adam’s race carries goodness and evilness on our own shoulders, as our own doing.

And we see its dreaded results in Genesis 3.  All that hiding, all that shame, all that fear and self-justifying and blame-shifting – it’s all the natural outcome of a humanity that takes ‘good’ and ‘evil’ into its own possession.

There were very good reasons why this fruit should be forbidden.  Such a burden is not for man.  Or at least, not this man.  But when Christ was “born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4), He did take this burden onto Himself.

As true Man and true God He could ‘know good and evil’.  The yoke fit.  And He carried it to His own tree.  There the Righteous Man took the Evil verdict.  And He tasted that long-threatened death.  But He rose again to give us His Good verdict.

Good and Evil is known by Man, but it’s safe in the hands of Christ.

Therefore, humanity is divided into two.  Some continue to follow Adam and the forbidden tree.  They take heaven’s verdict into their own hands.  And shame and curse and death is the result.

But there’s another way.  There’s another Man with another tree.  And He’s the One we need to ‘know’.  Then we can leave our verdict, our shame, our curse and our death entirely with Him.

They were naked and were not ashamed

Genesis chapter 2 is a very common wedding text.  And then at the rehearsal the minister has to coach a blushing bridesmaid through the final verse of the reading.  Gulping, they exclaim, “Is this really in the bible?!”

“They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  (Genesis 2:24)

It just goes to show how very fallen we are.  What was so natural and liberating in the garden is felt to be too embarassing to even name in church.

It sounds so foreign – nakedness with no shame.  For most people, being naked before others is the stuff of nightmares.  We hate the idea of being so exposed.  We want to cover up.  And even if we’re all by ourselves we feel our nakedness.  It’s rare to be naked and not be very aware that we’re naked.

Not so for Adam and Eve.  While they were in innocence they didn’t even know they were naked.  “Who told thee that thou wast naked?”  asks the Lord in chapter 3 after they’ve sinned.  Before they sinned they were just themselves.  They had no concept of lacking anything.  What’s “naked” when you’ve got nothing to hide?

But then, once sin enters in, their very atmosphere is hiding.  Immediately they hide from one another and the Lord.  Immediately they sew together coverings.  That’s what clothes are – portable hiding places.  And they sew them out of fig leaves.  Fig leaves! I can only hope they had a very good moisturizer.

It’s ridiculous.  But it’s so recognizable.

There’s a story that Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a telegram to 12 London gentlemen as a joke.  The telegram read “Flee, all is revealed.”  Immediately 6 of them left the country.

We are deeply afraid of exposure.  This fear is driven by shame and since Adam’s sin it’s been the drum-beat of fallen humanity.  Sin => Shame => Fear => Hiding.  We run around planet earth hiding ourselves from God and each other.  Both physically and emotionally we work hard at concealing our ugliness and adorning our best features.

We’re afraid of our defences being stripped away.  We fear to bare our souls.  We may shrink back in ‘shyness’, or we may step forwards under the cover of humour, intelligence, looks, good manners, etc.  But being naked and unashamed?

Could we ever step out of our hiding places and find freedom from these fear-bound, shame-driven urges?  Could we ever be seen by the LORD and others and know complete rest and acceptance?

Well in Genesis 3, the LORD does something shocking.  He clearly doesn’t think the fig leaves are adequate coverings.  So He makes His own.  From skins.  Animals had to die.  Blood had to be shed.  And humanity is clothed in the sacrifice of another.

All this was modelling a deeper truth.  The Apostle Paul speaks of Christians having clothed themselves with Christ.  (e.g. Galatians 3:27).  Rather than hide in morality, religious observance, busyness, comfort, pleasure-seeking, achievement, fame, worthy causes, etc, etc, – the Christian is hidden in Christ.  We no longer seek to be known for our achievements but His.  Not our life but His death.  Not for our shame but His glory.

Once we give up our own coverings and “put on Christ” we can know tremendous freedom.  Christ Himself covers over our sin and shame.  This is not a man-made covering.  This is the LORD Himself offering to be my hiding place.

And once we grasp this we can know true freedom.  We can step out of our little hiding places – where we rob God and the world of our presence.  We can stop dancing to the beat of fear.  Instead we have Christ, the ultimate covering, who goes with us wherever we are.  And, most importantly, who looks very good in the eyes of God Most High.

Confident in this covering, we’re enabled to be honest about our sin.  And so, with Jesus, we can be ‘naked’ before God and trusted Christian friends.  No more shrinking away from God and others.  No more self-justifying, no more mask-wearing.

Transparency.  Openness.  Naked but not ashamed.  Glory!

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.  (Isaiah 61:10)