ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE GARMENTS OF EDEN
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. And when the woman saw that the tree was...a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make COATS OF SKINS, AND CLOTHED THEM" (Gen. 2:25; 3:6-10,21).
If we understand how a machine works, then the most intricate mechanism in the world is simple, but if we lack this understanding, even the simplest device can bewilder us. Well do I remember my fascination as I listened to a friend who works at the nearby White Sands Missile Range explain the almost incredible performance of our missile and anti-missile systems. When I expressed my astonished admiration, he smiled and said, "Well, really it is quite simple when you understand the principle of it." Any who have received specialized training and have become proficient in their specific field, will not doubt the truth of that statement. I recently watched the frustration of my nine year old daughter as she tried to connect a tire pump to her bicycle tire. Not having connected anything like that before, the harder she tried to screw the pump connector on to the valve stem the more difficulty she was in. After a short period of observation I went over and pointed out to her that it is necessary to hold the connector absolutely straight over the valve while turning it on in order for the threads to join. A very simple lesson, but how important! So whether it be a multi-million dollar missile or a three dollar pump, both are quite simple when you know how they work. The way a bumble bee flies with wings disproportionate to its body size and shape is a mystery to man, but to the bee it is merely his way of life.
The same thought of understanding was in the heart of the apostle Paul when he wrote, "I cease not to make mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING BEING ENLIGHTENED; that ye may KNOW what is the hope of His calling..." (Eph. 1:15-18). When men earnestly seek the face of the Lord, He sends His Holy Spirit to dispel the darkness of the natural mind that ever hangs as a shroud over us that He may reveal to our spiritual minds the things that pertain to higher realm of His Kingdom. In all matters of revelation and spiritual understanding it is impossible to overestimate the importance of the Spirit, who comes to take the things of God and show them unto us. Two worlds, indeed, two realms exist all about us - the natural world and the spiritual world. The natural realm is the realm of man, but the spiritual realm is the realm of God. The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.
Men of the world have told me that the things recorded in the Bible are ridiculous, and I suppose to them they are, since God has declared, "it is foolishness unto them" (I Cor. 2:14). I do not hesitate to say that the Bible could be read ten-thousand times over without shedding a single ray of light on an unregenerated and unbelieving mind. The truth of the matter is that many skeptics, agnostic and atheists have read the Bible through countless times, yet, because they read depending entirely upon their natural minds, unquickened by the Holy Spirit, the Lord withholds His light and understanding from them. Thus, they find themselves more in the dark and more unbelieving afterward than they were in the beginning.
There is not the slightest uncertainty in my mind that although the mind and heart of each and every child of God has been quickened by the Spirit of God, yet, in our spiritual immaturity we have oft times understood only a minute portion of the things that pertain to the vast and marvelous realm into which we have been birthed. Like Israel of old, even in the reading of the Scriptures, a veil has been over our minds and we have been limited to that which our carnal mind could interpret, so that we have seen the things of God from the limited view of human understanding rather than seeing things AS HE SEES THEM. Understand this and you will understand a great truth: Divine revelation always carries one beyond what the natural mind can grasp. Read any chapter or verse in the whole Bible, and if you can understand what you read with your natural mind then you have failed to discover the TRUE MEANING which lies hidden deep beneath the apparent meaning. If you do not see any truth above and beyond what is obvious to the natural understanding then you have not been touched by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God and what you do understand is not a living revelation of truth to you at all, but merely a DEAD LETTER.
This is no more the case anywhere than when we approach the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis with their story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The vast majority of God's people have never progressed beyond what the carnal mind beholds in that wondrous scene: An earthly paradise flourishing with fruit-laden trees, abounding with babbling brooks, grassy slopes and secluded dales; inhabited by exotic animals and one naked human couple who had nothing better to do than spend their days sampling the luscious fruit, romping and playing over the sun-kissed hills and across the valleys, bathing their flesh in the invigorating waters, and petting the animals. But can you not see, beloved friend, that if you were to give the story of Adam and Eve to the vilest sinner on earth, and to the meanest man in the country, and to the wealthiest business man you know, and to the most depraved drunk in the gutter, along with the most fundamental pastor in your city and the most lettered scholar from the seminary, after all have read and studied the story with great deliberation, ask each of these men to relate what they have learned, and one and all, having read with darkened natural minds, will have perceived precisely the same things, will have reached exactly the same conclusions, and the ungodly drunk will recite the same set of facts as the preacher!
Ah, beloved, it does not take one ounce of revelation from God to interpret the story of the Garden of Eden with the natural mind! Because God is God, because God is Spirit, and because His Book is a spiritual Book, we must expect Him to say many things and state many facts that the human mind cannot comprehend nor pry into. "It is the inspiration of the Almighty that giveth understanding" (Job. 32:8). It is a great fact that simplest, most uneducated and unlearned among saints can comprehend the deepest things of God in that moment when divine light from above shines upon them. "Open mine eyes," said David, "that I may behold wonderful things out of Thy law" (Ps. 119:18). So you see, spiritual understanding is not given to the learned and lettered of this age, nor to any who read and study with natural minds, but to those blessed ones upon whom God has breathed the Spirit of understanding from on high.
There is one thing about which the Lord's people must be very clear. The Bible is not primarily intended to teach history, or biography, or natural science. It is intended to teach THE PURPOSES OF GOD and SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES AND REALITIES. It deals primarily with states of being and the laws of spiritual activity; and anything else is only incidental. Each of the principle characters in the Bible represents a kind of nature, character, or state of being that any of us may experience and walk out; and the events that happen to the various characters illustrate the consequences to us of walking in such realms of nature and character, either good or bad.
May the Holy Spirit stir up our spiritual minds to see that the story of Adam and Eve is not merely the historical tale of an original pair that leaves us more or less uninvolved. Adam is mankind. Adam is everyman. Adam is you and me and every other man and woman that have ever lived or shall live. What happened to him happens to us. What he was we have been. His experience is our experience. May God now give enlightenment to the eyes of your spiritual understanding that you may see and know of a truth that what was happening to Adam in the Garden speaks of SPIRITUAL REALITIES even in the beginning of history, before history, beyond history and yet in history; it is we ourselves of whom the Garden speaks, it is we ourselves who are confronted, intended, addressed, accused, expelled, and redeemed. It is our pre-history, truly our own. It is the beginning, destiny, guilt, redemption and perfection of every one of us. What happened to Adam there is exactly what is happening to us here!
NAKED IN THE GARDEN
This is the essential significance of the Garden of Eden drama. Every detail is extremely important and instructive. The thing most Christians seem to have forgotten, if indeed they ever knew it, is simply this: The Almighty Creator of the universe said, "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). The initial step in the process, which would require ages to complete, was to make a man in God's image, but not wholly so, for the man He made was to begin in innocence. Intelligent as he was, he was dreadfully ignorant of good and evil, life and death, wisdom and vanity. In respect to these weighty matters he was but a child, immature, undeveloped, inexperienced, unprepared, unfinished, and therefore incapable of assuming the authority over the creation that God has destined him to have when the process is finally complete.
Have you ever heard people say that it is "cruel and unusual punishment" to spank a child? You should "reason" with him, the psychologist tell us. But the simple fact is that you cannot reason with a child because a child has neither experience nor understanding from which to reason. He comes into the world void of either experience or knowledge, and in his innocence he must learn to obey by suffering the pain of correction when he disobeys. This is the God-ordained method by which the child eventually comes to understand the reason for your demand. The foolish refusal of parents to apply the rod of correction is the one cause above all others for the terrible wave of disobedience, disrespect, hate, delinquency and rebellion spewing forth from so many millions of our young people over the past two decades. A child does not know good or evil, neither does it understand right from wrong anymore than Adam understood it. Don't waste your time reasoning with children who as yet have no basis from which to reason. I can assure you that if you do not break a child's will, that child will break your heart.
Adam was created in innocence, then given a command, and when he disobeyed the command God did not sit down and reason with him. No! For six long millenniums Adam's race has walked under God's chastening rod as every sorrow, tragedy, pain, disappointment, heartbreak, and funeral procession has served to administer the Creator's correction to mankind. It is not my purpose in this article to go into a discussion of the ages-lasting processes of God's disciplines upon man by which he shall be finally brought from original innocence to the image of God, but let us note here that the first thing the Lord did in making man in His image was to make him innocent and without experience. The record states of man in his original innocence, "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). Adam and Eve were both naked and were no more ashamed than a day old infant is ashamed. This proves that man was created in innocence.
"And they were both NAKED, the man and his wife." It seems to the unenlightened mind that this little statement could have been omitted. Of what importance is it whether Adam and Eve moved about in Paradise naked or clothed? Yet it is an important and necessary little statement; it uses a rather insignificant fact, as it appears to us, to show forth something wondrous in the whole economy of God. Ah, beloved, the story of Adam and Eve in Eden is far too intricate and wonderful for my little mind to fully grasp, but I am able to see that the Holy Spirit has been very faithful and remarkably specific in recording the exact state of being of man in the beginning and of us IN OUR BEGINNING!
Adam and Eve were both...NAKED! I do not see, as some teach, that Adam walked in the Garden clothed upon and enveloped in some kind of effulgent light. There is not one verse of Scripture in the whole Bible that indicates that Adam was originally CLOTHED IN HEAVENLY LIGHT, or that he last his vesture of light when he sinned. What is stated, unequivocally, is that he was NAKED...and was not ashamed. Following the fall there was one great difference, man was still naked but...was ashamed!
Among all the creatures which God made, Adam, man stands out unique...stark naked...which means devoid of true wisdom and knowledge, with his inner nature revealed, opened up, exhibited, and made bare. Oh! that God may give us understanding to see that to be naked simply means to have THE FLESH UNCOVERED AND EXPOSED!
THE EXPOSURE OF THE FLESH
What is this "flesh" which can be "exposed," making a man "naked"? The word "sarx" is the Greek word translated "flesh" in the New Testament. Sarx means the meat of a physical body, whether it be man, or beast, or birds, or fishes of the sea; not the outer layer of skin immediately visible to the eye, but the raw meat under the skin. To physically have the flesh "exposed" in this sense would mean to have the outer skin removed, causing the raw meat underneath to be visible. Thus, the flesh speaks of more than just our physical body with its normal needs and desires for food, clothing, comfort, rest, exercise, etc. God made our body, He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are but dust, and there is no condemnation for being tabernacled in this body of clay. But "THE FLESH" literally speaks of that inward nature which is earthy-minded, with its lusts and self-centeredness, its ego and I-will which are in rebellion to the Spirit. Thus, the flesh is not the outward, visible man of meat, muscle and bones, but the inward nature.
The flesh is the name by which Scripture designates our HUMAN NATURE - soul and body. The soul at creation was placed between the spiritual or divine and the sensible or worldly, to the end that both soul might be raised up into that perfect union in the Spirit which would result in man attaining his destiny - a spiritual body. When the soul yielded to the sensible (senses), it came under the power of the body - it became flesh. And now the flesh - human nature, soul and body united - is not only without the Spirit, but even hostile to it: "The flesh lusteth (wars) against the Spirit!" (Gal. 5:17).
In this antagonism of the flesh to the Spirit there are two sides. On the one hand, the flesh lusts against the Spirit in its committing sin and transgressing God's law. On the other hand, its hostility to the Spirit is no less manifested in its seeking TO BE RELIGIOUS - to serve God - apart from the Spirit! In yielding to the sense realm, the soul sought itself instead of God. Self-effort, self-expression, and self-development prevailed over God's life. And now, so subtle and mighty is this spirit of self, ego, and I-will, that the flesh, not only in fulfilling its own lusts and desires and sinning against God, but even when the soul comes into contact with God, still asserts its power, refuses to be led by the Spirit alone, and, in its self-efforts to be religious, is still the great enemy that ever hinders and quenches the Spirit! It is because of this deceitfulness of the flesh that there often takes place what Paul speaks of the Galatians: "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Unless the surrender to the Spirit be very entire, and the holy waiting on Him be followed in great dependence and humility, what has been begun in the Spirit, very soon passes over into confidence in the flesh.
All the world lives after the flesh, human nature, with its propensities for good and evil. Both the depraved and religious aspects of the flesh are referred to as "the works of the flesh." Paul says in Gal. 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall bot inherit the Kingdom of God." It should not be difficult for any man to perceive the strange mixture of bodily-sensuality and soulish-religiosity in the above listed catalog of fleshly works!
Because the natural man is so prone to magnify the "good" which he does, insisting that God should pay attention to his efforts, to offset his bad, it is only natural for man's "good" to become the enemy of God's best. How many times have you attended a funeral of an unbeliever only to hear someone say, "I know that Joe wasn't a Christian, but he surely was a "good man." Then they awkwardly rattle off a list of his "good deeds" which he managed to accomplish in spite of the fact that he was unregenerate. The idea, of course, is that his good works give doubly-dead Joe a chance to be justified in God's sight! But I do not hesitate to tell you that even the great Patriarch Abraham could not count on his "works" to run up a good "score" with the Lord. Paul says, "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; BUT NOT BEFORE GOD. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:1-3).
As the revelation of Sonship breaks upon our believing hearts we shall come to be led by the Spirit of God, and not by the flesh (Rom. 8:1-14). This means that we shall earnestly seek the face of God to direct us His INDWELLING SPIRIT in all things. We cannot any longer choose our life's occupation with the carnal mind which asks, "How much will it pay? Will it make me famous?" No, we will live to know that the Father would have us do, even if it offers us little in terms of gold or fame. The carnal mind makes its own plans, chooses its own mate, seeks it own comfort and security, fulfills its own desires, follows its own wisdom, holds its own opinions, does its own thing, and is totally alienated from the Holy Spirit of God. It cares nothing for God, or His will, or His way.
Lest I fail to make the message clear and plain let me reiterate that even when the flesh produces a good work, humanly speaking, it is just as much "sin" as the bad which it does, because it does not bring glory to God and is not an expression of HIS LIFE. The English word "sin" translates a Greek word which comes from a root meaning "to miss the mark; to fall short." If any motive, thought, word or deed, falls short of the GLORY OF GOD it is sin. Sin is made up of anything which satisfies the SELF and glorifies the CREATURE and not the Creator. Can we not see by this that money given to any "cause" that is not CHRIST EXALTING is sin money? Can we not see by this that time spent in doing that does not redound to the glory of the Son of God is time spent in sin? Is it not clear that any talent used to bring praise to the talented, rather than to magnify the Name of the Lord, is corrupted talent and constitutes a work of the flesh? Yes, all the good religious works of programs, meeting, ceremonies, rituals etc. which are not products of HIS LIFE are JUST AS FLESHLY AND SINFUL AS THE MAN WHO MURDERS HIS WIFE!
To be "naked" means TO HAVE THE FLESH UNCOVERED AND EXPOSED. Good flesh or bad flesh, it really makes no difference. Adulterous flesh or religious flesh, it matters not. I can guarantee you that I've been seen naked a few times! Oh, yes, I had my natural clothes on, perhaps my finest J.C. Penny suit, but I was nonetheless caught naked! Have you ever been caught naked? Have you ever had someone slip up from your blind side in a moment when you were not expecting them and you did's reveal anything to them but what you are in your flesh, by some ungodly act, or an angry outburst, some un-Christ-like attitude, or some carnal self-assertiveness, and you could only hang your head in shame and confess that for whoever saw you, you didn't leave one ounce of witness of the life and nature of the Son of God and they did not behold the glory of God at all in you? Then dear brother, precious sister, YOU WERE CAUGHT NAKED, you were discovered with YOUR FLESH EXPOSED, you were found with YOUR CARNAL NATURE DISPLAYED! You may have had your store-bought clothes on, but you were no less naked than Adam and Eve in Eden.
It means that in moment you inner state of being was made bare, laid open, brought to light, and men did not see the Lord's life, all they saw was your life. They beheld your nakedness and then you felt ashamed when you realized what you had revealed unto them. At times like that how conscious we are that we have dishonored THE CHRIST in our lives! In innocence there is no shame when our flesh is exposed. Before God has dealt with us and laid His requirements upon us, there is no shame. But after He speaks and deals, there is always the sense of shame when our nakedness appears before men. If you get mad, fly off the handle, blow your stack, slam the door, throw things around and yell and fuss and fume and cuss, don't tell me that is the life of Christ coming out of you, for if you do are telling me that Christ acts that way. Not so! It is only your nakedness being revealed, your inner nature being unrobed, your flesh being exposed to be gazed at by all around. We feel shame and embarrassment strikes us when our nakedness is uncovered, and that is God's divine order! GOD HIMSELF is a great "flesh exposer." And never forget, dear ones, that ministering without the anointing, serving God with human zeal and man-made methods, going through the religious motions of singing, clapping, dancing, praising, worshipping, or any ministry performed by rote rather than from the spontaneous arising of His life within - all this is as much an exposure of OUR FLESH as if we were caught in bed with our neighbor's spouse!
One of the greatest truths to be gleaned from the Garden of Eden is the truth that Adam was first created in the very condition in which every son and daughter of Adam comes into the world - in a state of nakedness, coupled with innocence. The Lord God so ordered it, that in and by the fall man should get what previously had not, and that was, a conscience, the knowledge of good and evil. By means of the conscience "the eyes of them both were opened," but, alas! to what a sight! - it was only to discover their own nakedness. They opened their eyes upon their own condition, which was "wretched and miserable and poor and blind naked" (Rev. 3:17). Suddenly "they knew that they were naked" - they knew that their flesh lay bare and exposed - said fruit of the tree of knowledge. No sooner does a man discover his nakedness than this knowledge gives birth to the impulse to make an effort to COVER the nakedness. Thus, in the case of Adam and Eve, the discovery of their nakedness was immediately followed by an effort of their own to cover it, - "they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons" (Gen. 3:7).
This is the first record we have of man's attempt to remedy, by his own device, his condition, but this was not the single act of Adam of old, it is truly the act of each of us, yes, OUR VERY OWN! The Spirit would make it very real to your heart, dear reader, that Adam's effort to cover his nakedness was not a mere moral act, it was a RELIGIOUS ACT. Our attentive consideration of what transpired in that Eden of long ago will afford us wonderful instruction as to the character of human RELIGIOUSNESS in all ages. In the first place, we see, not only in Adam's case, but in every case, that man's effort to remedy his condition IS BASED UPON THE SENSE OF HIS NAKEDNESS. He is confessedly naked, and all his "works" are the result of his being so. This can never avail! I must KNOW THAT I AM CLOTHED, before I can do anything acceptable in the sight of God.
And this, let every man know, is the difference between the walk in the Spirit of God and human religiousness. The walk in the Spirit is founded upon the fact of a man's being clothed; religion is founded upon the fact of his being naked. All that a Son of God does, is BECAUSE HE IS CLOTHED; all that a mere religionist does, is a self-effort to be clothed. This makes a vast difference! When a man comes to look at these terrible realities straight in the face, by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God, he will discover that the religion, works, traditions and observances of men is a bed too short for him to stretch himself upon, and a covering too narrow for him to wrap himself in.
Can we now open the eyes of our understanding to behold what it means when the Holy Spirit states that "they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons"? The Authorized version does not express all that is indicated by the Hebrew word "taphar," translated "sewed." The true meaning is that they tied, twisted, platted, or fastened together the leafy twigs and small branches of the fig tree, so as to form a sort of girdle, somewhat resembling the laurel wreath worn upon the head among the Romans. The same word occurs in Job. 16:15 where, although it is rendered, "I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin," it can mean nothing more than applied, fitted, and adjusted; and so in Eze. 13:18, "Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes." The leaf of the fig tree is large and broad and well adapted to the purpose set forth here. Note, they made "aprons," the Hebrew meaning is "things to gird about." The word strictly denotes a girdle, covering the loins of the body. Their sense of shame prompted them to hide among the trees of the Garden while they attempted to sew fig-leaves together that they might in some pitiful manner create an ARTIFICIAL COVERING for their abhorrent nakedness.
What happened to Adam happens to us. What he was we have been. His experience is our experience. Ah, child of God, may the blessed Spirit give enlightenment to your mind that you may know of a truth that what happened to Adam in the Garden IS EVEN NOW HAPPENING TO EACH OF US. Every man from Adam to this day has been naked and, at some time, in some manner, has been busily engaged in weaving together his very own fig-leaf apron to try and cover his nakedness. No one wants to appear as what he is, even though he is a thief, an adulterer, a murdered, a liar, or a religious hypocrite. In an effort to appear other than he is man sews together very wide leaves of the fig tree; that is, he tries every device he can, including multiplied religious works, to gloss over his true condition. But all the garments which men device to hide their nakedness become mere "spider's webs" when the dazzling light of God's presence and glory shines in upon them.
The first thing God does is strip away all the artificial, man-made coverings, and presents His own glorious covering, the slain Lamb, the Christ of God. "For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins, and clothed them" (Gen. 3:21, Amplified Bible).In the symbolism of the Garden of Eden story Adam and Eve silently and sorrowfully watched as the Lord God selected a lamb and slew it there, fastening it to a tree before their wondering eyes, the victim then being made naked, stripped of its skin, that a covering might be provided for the naked ones. Thus, with this one wondrous act does the God of heaven introduce THE CROSS into Eden's lovely Garden.
I now invite you to meditate deeply upon my words. In the process of changing our garments and covering our nakedness God brings us to the CROSS, which has its base in the foundation of God before the world began, for Christ, the Lamb was "fore-ordained before the foundation of the world" ( I Pet. 1:20), and He is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Interesting that the Lamb in Eden was slain not merely for the sinning man and woman, and not only for the naked man and woman, but for the man and woman CLOTHED IN FIG-LEAVES! The "skins" of covering from the Lamb were given to replace the fig-leaves of mans self-effort, and not only was the man himself brought to the cross but all his self-made religion of works as well! Ah, yes, the cross shall deal not only with sin and nakedness, it shall deal as well with our fig-leaves!
Hear now this remarkable statement by the apostle Paul as to what was nailed to the cross of Christ. "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us...and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS. Let no man THEREFORE judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but THE BODY IS OF CHRIST" (Col. 2:13-17). Yes, beloved, God took not only man's sin and man himself to the cross in Christ, but He took the fig-leaves of EXTERNAL ORDINANCES which stand in meats and drinks and holy days and divers washings (baptisms) and rituals and ceremonies and rules and regulations and (hallejujah!) NAILED THEM ALL TO HIS CROSS! In their place He now clothes us in the covering of the blessed Lamb, a righteousness which indeed is seen externally, but is the product of THE INDWELLING LIFE OF THE LAMB!
Fig-leaves righteousness is so shallow, limited to outward observances, appearances, works, regulations, do this, don't do that, go here, don't go there, etc. But for those who have become identified with the Lamb, having discovered HIS INDWELLING LIFE which produces HIS IMAGE, who now live in the wisdom and righteousness of His LIFE-FLOW, it is no longer a matter of regulations - do this, and do that, etc. It is not a matter today of so many do's and don'ts, but entirely a matter of THE LIFE OF THE LAMB.
How vain have been our strivings about externals and our insistence upon little technicalities which we in ignorance deemed so very important! How often my own heart has been saddened as I have listened to brethren wasting their time contending over baptisms, communion, foot washing, meats and drinks, holy days, dress codes, long hair, short hair, women preachers, and petty doctrines of every kind, and when they were through with all their pietistic wrangling, they had accomplished nothing but to prove that they knew everything about the dead letter of the Word and absolutely nothing of the LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT! When I consider the vastness of God's great plan and the awesome majesty of His eternal purposes, my soul grows weary with the petty quibblings of earth-bound, tradition-ridden men who are never able to deliver themselves from their own trivial opinions about heaven and hell, what we must or must not eat or drink, what we must or must not put on, how we must observe this ordinance, that ceremony, and the other ritual, who can or cannot minister, and as a result are not able to see who God is or grasp the wonder of His ways or the ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF HIS INDWELLING LIFE. Men do not need any external ordinances, ceremonies, or regulations. They need Christ! They do not need to know doctrine. They need to KNOW HIM as their INDWELLING LIFE AND LAW.
When I know GOD AS LIFE, then, as the SPIRIT OF LIFE WITHIN leads me to eat, I will eat. When the LIFE prompts me to drinks, I will drink. When the LIFE anoints me to fast, I will fast. When the LIFE quickens me to sing, I will sing. When the LIFE commands me to speak, I will speak. When the LIFE orders me to be silent, I will be silent. When the LIFE stirs me to go, I will go. When the LIFE tells me to stay, I will stay. When the LIFE directs me to work, I will work. When the LIFE guides me to rest, I will rest. When the LIFE impresses me to wait, I will wait. When the LIFE draws me aside for a season of separation, I will turn aside. When the LIFE speaks that I should go here or there, to this meeting or that gathering, I will go. When the LIFE reveals that I should give, I will give. You see, with Christ there are no regulations, no rules, only the indwelling rule of HIS LIFE. Today it is not a matter of the law, or ordinances, or observances, or tradition, or regulations, but wholly a matter of Christ. As long as the Christ life within directs, you are safe - for Christ today is the present, instant, up-to-date, indwelling LAWGIVER. Hallelujah!
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; UNTO HIM SHALL YE HEARKEN" (Deut. 18:15). Christ it today's real Moses, and we are His followers. Christ is today's real Lawgiver, and we have Him WITHIN US and we are learning to do all things in His presence and by His life. There are no regulations today, but the real Moses. There are no external observances of ordinances, ceremonies etc., but the indwelling life. As long as I am following my Moses today, as long as I am ONE SPIRIT WITH MY CHRIST, whatever I do as a product of His indwelling life is both the will and the work of the Father. What ever I do of myself, or because I have always done it this way, or I feel some responsibility to do it, or it is traditional to do it, or my friends and family wouldn't understand if I didn't do it - I am decking myself out with naught but withering, rustling fig-leaves.
ALL must be brought to the CROSS, washed away in the life of Eden's Lamb, and replaced by the righteousness WHICH HE IS. Someone will say, "What do you mean? After doing service for God all these years, being baptised, taking communion, keeping all the rules of the Church, faithfully teaching a Sunday School class, holding street meetings, jail services, youth rallies, passing out tracts, singing in the choir, serving on the Church board and various committees, attending all the meetings, do you mean that all this is fig-leaves and I must now be 'stripped' and reclothed?" I do not want to belittle or depreciate anything that has been done as unto the Lord and has brought blessing to others. Do not cast away the good that God has done in spite of our weakness and unprofitableness, but do, I pray you, cast away all self-satisfied belief that all your works have been pleasing to God and performed at His bidding. It should be self-evident that many of our works have been mere fig-leaves of our own invention, for I am confident that in the vast majority of our service, though sincere and well-meant, and successful in measure, THE FLESH HAS SHOWN THROUGH!
Human energy, soulish zeal, carnal planning, selfish ambitions, doing by rote what we have been taught and programmed by the religious systems to do, has produced a fig-leaf condition that must be dealt with, stripped away, and replaced by the living breath of God. Ah, yes, self has enjoyed the recognition that men give for our service to the Lord. And how often has our service for the Lord been "natural" rather than BY THE SPIRIT. We become accustomed to doing it OUR OWN WAY, and out of habit. I do not see how any child of God can ever become an overcomer and enter into Sonship by following the ordinary course of Church activity. There is something about the continual VAIN REPETITIONS of the Church systems that keeps saints in a state of spiritual infancy.
When the Jewish offerings and sacrifices got to be nothing but a ritual which they performed every week, God turned His face away in disgust and said it was a weariness to Him and a stench in His nostrils. What more is there to the wearisome repetitions into which today's Church activities have entered? Do they not go through the same ceremony every week as they sing their sermons, and wait for the benediction? This is not the WAY OF LIFE nor is it the path that leads to Sonship. Ah! and how we need to watch our own little "Spirit-led" traditions! You know: three peppy, hand-clapping choruses followed by two slow worship choruses followed by three minutes of singing in the Spirit following by two prophecies followed by teaching followed by prayer requests and personal ministry. I feel that I cannot be too strong in my earnest exhortation to all who read these pages that regardless what form our traditions may take, they are the path to stagnation and infancy.
I know whereof I speak. In my early ministry in one of the Pentecostal denominations I ignorantly practiced all the religious tomfoolery. I taught things as they came from the Bible schools, from the Sunday school materials. I received materials from the Headquarters and put them into practice without ever asking God about them. We had a Ladies Auxiliary because that is how we were taught from the Headquarters. We had the Young People's Life-liners because that is how we were taught from the Headquarters. We taught the Sunday school class from Mat. 11:1-19 because that was the lesson in the Sunday school quarterly sent from Headquarters. Everything we did was because it came from the Headquarters! We had our name, our board, our District Conference, our State Conference, our Stationing Committee to move the pastors around like chessmen on a chess board. We never stopped to ask the Lord whether this was from Him or not! And I doubt if the Headquarters of the denomination ever stopped to ask either. We just kept going, doing the same things for years, never stopping to seek the face of God to find whether what we were doing as His will or not. So few people have ever learned that our relationship is WITH CHRIST and without Him we can do nothing. Thank God for the day when I learned this one simple but basic truth and began at last to break out of the smothering cocoon of tradition. The Spirit of God is calling you to lift up your eyes to the heavenly hills to behold a place IN CHRIST where Christ becomes ALL IN ALL. In these heavenly places in Christ Jesus there are no more chains of self-effort, man-made religion, or external observances, for here we walk with God and learn of Him, being indwelt by His life, led of His Spirit and, being thus led, we grow up into full Sonship in Him.
In all the dead works of religion MAN'S FLESH SHOWS THROUGH and it is manifest that his covering is insufficient - for when God clothes a man with the covering of His Lamb NO FLESH WILL BE SEEN - ONLY CHRIST! When God clothed Adam and Eve in the skins of the slain Lamb, yet dripping with the precious blood, He showed that they were COVERED WITH LIFE. It is a wonderful day for a child of God when he becomes so conscious of the indwelling and overshadowing presence of Christ and the ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF HIS LIFE that he no longer makes any effort to cloak himself with anything that is not a product of that life. When once you know this life experimentally, you no longer care one whit about silly forms, procedures, methods, external observances or regulations. The true cause of spiritual dryness and fleshliness among Christians is that they strive and contend so much for the letter of the external trappings of religion that they never discover the blessedness of His quickening life. Everywhere we see Christians busy, running here, going there, promoting this program and that project, fighting for this and that cause, doing, doing, doing, and in it all literally billions of dollars being spent on outward show, glass cathedrals, fine buildings, comfortable pews, lettered and famous preachers, popular and glamorous speakers, programs and schemes of every imaginable description. It is not difficult therefore to understand why the spirits of so many Christians are as shriveled as prunes and as dry as a hay stack. All this outward show is but a sepulchre void of life and full of dead men's bones.
Fig-leaves! Fig-leaves! Fig-leaves! Cursed covering of man's own devising! And any man with eyes to see can see the flesh shining brazenly through it in spite of all the intricate design and superficial appearance of life. Oh! how men try to conceal the corrupt flesh underneath, and indeed they may partially hide it from men, but the fig-leaf apron can never screen a man from the eye of God! But, blessed be the name of the Lord, God has reserved to Himself in our day a people who is completely different, a people who is wholly HIS, a people who dwells in the light which Christ Himself is, elect according to the foreknowledge of God, sanctified by His Spirit, obedient to their heavenly Father, sprinkled with the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and CLOTHED IN THE GARMENTS OF THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD'S ETERNAL LAMB, who now WALK IN AND LIVE BY HIS LIFE.
It is completely impossible to even introduce such a subject as The Garments of Eden in these few pages. It would be impossible to exhaust such a subject should we fill the whole world with our writtings. We shall stop here and follow on next month from the flimsy fig-leaf girdle of Adam's design to the greater and more glorious garments of the Lord's provision.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
If you would like to receive these studies write to:
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
All writings are distributed on a free-will offering basis.
Pathfinder Homepage | Elwin's Articles | Margit's Articles | Ministry Links | Misc Links