Before the fall we were in a perfect relationship with God. We walked and talked with Him. We were co-creators with Him. He made stuff and we named it or gave it a reputation. We were completely dependent on God, lacking nothing and put in charge of a breathtaking creation. Still we had no thought of self. We were “naked” and not ashamed. The Hebrew word translated naked comes from a root word that means – to be subtle, be shrewd, be crafty, beware, take crafty counsel, be prudent. Our “nakedness” was freedom from or lack of the desire to be shrewd or prudent. The Hebrew word translated ashamed can also mean disappointed. Isn’t that exciting? Free of a desire to be selfish in any way and no fear at all of disappointment. I really like that. We weren’t stupid or simple-minded or lacking intelligence. We named the animals not like a child would say “look at the cute little raccoon.” No we said “I declare this creature is Procyon lotor. It will live in trees and roam the forest at night for food.” (Or something like that)
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil didn’t make us smart. It made us aware of self. We were now ashamed, disappointed, hiding, critical, and shrewd. We no longer trusted. Our survival instincts dominated. Our desire for approval was so profound that we would kill to rise above another. That doesn’t sound like intelligence. That sounds like selfishness and pride.
Then fast forward to Israel just freed from bondage and now positioned for an intimate relationship with God again. The effects of the wrong fruit had become permanent. The result of our fall was law. Perfect as the law was we were never positioned to follow it because of our fallen nature, our selfish desires, our pride, or as Paul calls it our Sin nature. The law was to show us how much we need a savior. It was never intended to change us. It has no power to change only condemn and bring death. It is what we get when we insist on a relationship based on a fallen condition.
Romans 5: 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV)
Still we want to process Grace through the same understanding as a law relationship. It doesn’t make sense. God said He gave us the mind of Christ and our thinking is being renewed when we surrender to Him as a living sacrifice. We have to” come out of the bushes” and expose our nakedness in trust knowing that we will not be ashamed or disappointed by our total surrender to Him. When I say surrender I don’t mean behavior. That is looking in. That is self. That is more of the wrong fruit. I mean surrender your thinking because that is where our believing resides. We have to learn to trust to believe to see. That means we give up the right to understand. We give up the right to keep it all in a nice little manageable fig-leaf-covered box. God’s ways are bigger than ours.
Imagine if you had a whole bunch of speeding tickets. You can justify every one of them because you were late for something and had to make it on time. Of course the police don’t care and are after you to take your license as soon as they catch you. Then the president of the United States steps in and pardons you for all your speeding offenses but he tells you “don’t speed or you will lose your license again.” I guarantee that you will be driving as fast as you can before very long because you will be late again for something. It is a law. The law gives power to sin (Rom 7:8). Now imagine if the president pardoned you and then gave you a jet and helicopter with a full-time pilot, a limo with a driver and a police escort to go wherever you needed to go. Do you think you would get in your car and speed again? Maybe you would jump in your car and give it a try but the thrill would be gone. You would see that it was a stupid waste of time. Instead you jump in your jet, take some time to catch up on reading, maybe take a little nap, maybe just spend some time with Jesus and ponder the mighty works of God…worship. That sounds pretty awesome, right?
THAT IS A PICTURE OF GRACE! When we try to fit Grace into a law paradigm it just doesn’t work. Can’t you hear all the lawyers out there saying “not fair, how come he gets so much, it can’t be that good, that is prosperity teaching from the devil, they need to feel the pain of learning to drive the speed limit like all the rest of us.” It goes on and on and on. Sorry Mr. lawyer, it isn’t my fault. It is Jesus. Take it up with Him. He paid the price. He did it all.
My desire to do it myself is born out of fear. It is living in the bushes covered with fig leaves. We have to learn to trust our Abba in our thinking. We have to stop trying to make Grace fit a pattern it was intended to break. We are free from the law! We are free from ourselves! And guess what, it doesn’t lead to chaos, it leads to Him. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. He brings us to the Father. That has absolutely nothing to do with law. That is a description of Grace. Jesus is the truth and He came in truth and Grace. He came to bring an end to our need for law keeping. The law is good and holy but it does not bring you to the Father. It brings you to the end of yourself.
For the speed racer out there, tell me, what is it about “not speeding” that makes you aware of an awesome God? What about keeping it under the speed limit glorifies God? He is not impressed with your law keeping. It is actually an affront to Him for you to claim success. It is what the Pharisees were doing with Jesus. Can’t you hear the lawyer, the rich man, and the scribes declaring their success in law keeping? Then Jesus shows them how wrong they are, how far they are from success. He puts the law mirror in front of their eyes and says “take a long look, what do you see?” Then He shows them Grace in action. He saves, heals and delivers all those “sinners.” Everyone He touched got a one-on-one revelation of the Grace of God. They may have been “speed racers” but now they know a better jet-powered way, Jesus.
I pray we all get a continually increasing revelation of Grace. We are way overdue.