Sunday, June 08, 2008

Before The Lord Naked, A Faith Pleasing To Him.

Adam and Eve were naked before the Lord at the first but were not ashamed. However, after they ate The Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they became aware of their nakedness. That they were fully exposed for examination, they saw themselves as they were. Beings who fell far short of the Glory of God, and they hid.

God says of King David that he was a man after His own heart. And while I'm sure that there is depth of meaning in that statement beyond what I understand, there is one thing I can tell you. David knew he was “dark but lovely.” David knew he was a terrible mess of a man. Sinful in desire and practice. But he loved God and sought after Him. At times David would be in great peril with enemies surrounding him. Instead of taking the few moments of refuge available to sleep and rest David would stay awake through the night watches to be in the presence of the Lord. To praise Him.

At one point we read of David's wife catching him dancing naked before the Lord. Dancing. Naked. What was David doing? He surely wasn't hiding his “nakedness” from the Lord God Almighty. David was making the Lord his refuge. David was coming to the Lord God in full knowledge of his own lacking. If we read about David we clearly see that he was not what some might call a “Law keeper.” His life is not marked by “radical obedience.” It was marked by “radical faith.”

In some settings 2 Cor 13:5 is used to teach that Christians ought to be constantly examining themselves to ensure they are in the faith. This examination is then explained to be about “fruit” and “obedience.” For it is explained that we will “know them by their fruit” and if we love Him we will “obey His Commandments.” Yet it is completely ignored that the Apostle Paul's topic in 2 Cor 13 was not IF these were Christians. He had already addressed them as such, and assured them of as much. What was being discussed is their questioning of his Apostleship. We read in 2 Cor 13:3

“since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.”

He then makes a parenthetical statement about the Lord being crucified in weakness but now living in power. But he says “since you seek proof.... test yourselves.” The Apostle is saying, if you are indeed in Christ, and I was the one sent to you, and what I told you you received and you were saved then I am an Apostle and you ought recognize me as such. But what sort of test is the Apostle talking about? Surely if he instructs them to “test themselves” then a Christian ought to be able to test their salvation right? Read 2 Cor 13 and tell me if the Apostle tells them to look at their strengths or their weaknesses. Does the Apostle tell them that their strengths ought to assure them of their position in Christ? Or does he tell them to be assured by the power that Christ now works because He died in weakness?

Of judgment, either of others or of self the Apostle Paul tells us that we can not be “justified” by our own judgment or the judgment of other men. In 1 Cor 4:1-5 we read;

1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.

What does this tell us? That even if we see nothing wrong in ourselves we are not justified. Even if we see ourselves as perfect we could be completely missing the mark. Not ourselves, but the Lord is the Judge. Because we do not see clearly. We do not see as the Lord sees. Therefore our confidence CAN NOT come from what we see. We are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” In fact it's impossible to please the Lord without faith. Judging our salvation by our performance is not faith. It's “fact finding” and “fruit counting.” But what is this that the Lord says that we will “know them by their fruit.” I want you to take note of what the Apostle Paul, who received his doctrine directly from the Lord Jesus Christ says in 1 Cor 4: 5

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.”

The Lord says we “will” know them by their fruit. A future tense. And the Apostle tells us not to judge “until” these things are revealed, right after showing us that we do not see clearly enough to judge right now.

But what of this teaching of the Lord that says we will know them by their fruit? In Mat 7:15-20 we read

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

We're told to “beware” to be on guard as it were, and so we should. But when will we “know them by their fruits.” Well the Lord says that a good tree can't bare bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” I don't know about you but I know MANY godly men who do both good things and bad things. Who teach good things and bad things. Who have godly moments and ungodly moments. Is a person a false prophet if they ever do something or teach something wrong? Since a good tree “can not” bear bad fruit? Or is a person automatically a “true prophet” the moment they do or teach something good, since a bad tree “can not” bear good fruit? I think we have this messed up. I really do.

When will the fruit be revealed by the only One who can honestly see it clearly now? When the trees are tested by fire. In verse 19 &20 He says

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

When does this happen? Read on in Mat 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

In that day. What day? The Apostle Paul says in the day that the Lord comes He will reveal all. That's why we must “beware.” Must one beware not to pick a pare when you're looking for an apple? They are plainly visible are they not? But the Lord warns us that we must beware of false prophets. Why? Because they are not plainly visible. We can not now always see their fruit.

Before I get too far off track, why was David a “man after God's own heart?” Because he danced before the Lord naked, while our normal nature is to hide that nakedness from Him. Because when men seek to justify themselves, or to put it another way to seek assurance of their justification in themselves, they are not acting in faith in the One who died in weakness on our behalf but now moves powerfully in life.

Holiness. Being separated for the purposes of the Lord is something we need to focus on. But you know what we need more than holiness? More than obedience? More than doctrine? More than knowledge? More than anything else? We need faith. The faith that looks at the Cross and sees your full debt paid there. The faith that causes us to DANCE NAKED before the Lord Who has justified those who have repented to trust in His finished work on the Cross and His resurrection unto life.

That's why when we properly share our faith that we allow the Holy Spirit to expose the sinner's sin to them. So that they can see their nakedness. Not only to show them their desperate need, but also so that they can actually exercise their faith. That is repentance. To see your need and trust that it's met in Christ.

Then we see we are truly naked before the Lord, and that though dark, we are loved. If we have really repented we can dance before Him, even in that nakedness. That is a faith that pleases Him, because we come before Him fully Dependant on Him. Only by His righteousness. Thus we are truly vessels set apart for His use because He will truly get the glory for every good work. Our works won't be proof of us, but will be proof of Him.


Leanne said...

Amen & amen. Glad to see you're still writing, Kev.

Leanne (onamission)

Kevl said...

Hi Leanne! How are things? How is your missions work going, or are you still in Canada?

What a blessing to hear from you!