Can you imagine, after Adam and Eve had known God, and He knew them, how quickly the spiritual climate changed? As a result of their disobedience, they experienced instantaneous barriers to their intimacy with Him. Walls shot up. After their sin, they plucked leaves off the nearest bush as quickly as they could and sewed coverings for themselves. They were hiding from the Lord their Creator for the first time in their lives.
But God, in His passionate pursuit, was still drawing close. A new reaction stirred within them as He drew near. Previously they had run toward the sound of His footsteps. Now they ran in the other direction. Before, their response had been joy: “Oh, wow, it’s Father!” Now it was dread and fear: “Oh, no, it’s Father!” They were guilt-ridden. Never had they had such an emotional reaction or even such a thought before! They had not known condemnation or fear or shame. Now, as a result of their disobedience, they ran and hid from the voice of God.
Obviously these were real leaves they picked and sewed together for their coverings, we pick and choose covers and hiding places as well. And the moment we hide behind our defensive “fig leaf” mindsets–from the revelatory voice of God, the heart of God, the acts of God and the power of God–it starts getting extremely complicated. We might not sew actual fig leaves, but the obstructions to fellowship over our hearts and souls shield us just as effectively (or ineffectively) from God’s approaching presence.
May I point out some of the leaves we hide behind? They are progressive; hiding behind one set leads to our concealment behind the next as well.
The Ditch of Guilty Feelings
The first set of leaves that many hide behind is guilt. This hiding place is the breeding ground for condemnation, accusation and other ugly attitudes. But all these can be avoided through old-fashioned confession of sin and cleansing by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are various categories of guilt: real guilt due to real sin; exaggerated guilt due to the combination of real sin and the work of “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10); and false guilt as a result of the voice of the destroyer, releasing condemning, lying spirits (1 Kings 22:21–23; John 8:44; 10:10). All these forms of guilt are very real in the realm of our emotions.
The cure is simple and direct. First John 1:7 gives us the remedy: “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Step into the light. That is where we find cleansing. So I have a “word from the Lord” for you; climb out of the ditch and run to the light of God’s Word. “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Forgiveness, cleansing and healing love are waiting for you there.
The Masquerade of Hurts from the Past
The second layer of leaves that hides us from the love of God and keeps us from intimacy with Him is the religious masquerade, concealing deep-seated hurts from the past. Religious people wear masks quite well, pretending all is well with their souls while holding the Lord, the very Lover of their lives, at arm’s length. We become pretenders, masquerading in the parade of hypocritical “churchianity”.
But the real Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and set at liberty those who are bruised (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18–19). Jesus is our Healer. We must take off our masks and let Him dig deep at times, touching the very source of our pain. Let Him probe and even pierce through the festering wounds to allow the light of His unchanging love to penetrate your being. Expose it to the light. Surrender. Forgive. Sow blessings to others instead. This is the way out of the masquerade—remaining open-faced before God, releasing mercy and forgiveness for hurts from the past and letting Him do the same.
The Onlooker’s Bench of Fear
Let’s consider a third tier of camouflage. At times our woundedness–made more raw by the taunts of the enemy–keeps us on the bench looking on while others are enjoying being in the middle of the game. We become cautious observers afraid to run onto the playing field.
This is the area I have struggled with the most. What will I look like if I do this? What will others think of me? How well will I perform? But if we allow ourselves to be held back by the fear of rejection or the fear of authority or the opinions of others, eventually we will become people-pleasers, strangled by the anticipation of their opinions.
Hear me in this; if God can help me off the spectator’s bench, He can help you, too. Fear can paralyze us while authentic faith propels us forward. So trade in those fears and exchange them at the cross (Isaiah 8:12–13). Be bold like a lion for Jesus’ sake. Jump off the bench, tread on those spirits of intimidation (Luke 10:19), and be more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
Truly, the remedy is our Father’s great love. Bask in the light of His unfathomable devotion—what the King James Version calls lovingkindness. Soak in the reality that “if God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31). He does not just tolerate you. You were created in His image and for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). You are the object of His consuming love.
There is a fourth layer of fig leaves that we can use to protect our image. Before you know it, you are not only a spectator sitting on the bench, you are the umpire of the games. First you develop an old wrinkled-up prune face, then you begin operating out of a religious spirit called criticism. You have your ten points by which you judge everything around you. Like the judges at the Olympics, you even give scores to the participants of the games. You leave a particular gathering or event and say, “Well, it could have been better, if only. . . .”
Sorry, but these are the has-beens of yesterday’s moves of God. They stopped moving forward and now they hold the job of negative, critical overseers of the playing field of today.
Ouch! Those are some tough words, but it takes the penetrating light of truth to blast away our protective shields. Truth may hurt for the moment, but when it is prayed and spoken with the motivation of love, it cleanses and sets us free.
The Stronghold of Imposed Limitations
This brings us to the fifth layer of leaves we hide behind; that of imposed limitations. In this stage we start believing the ridiculous lies of the devil about ourselves, and those lies become negative strongholds of the mind (2 Corinthians 10:4–6). Words not in alignment with the will and Word of God are transmitted from the enemy’s camp to attack our minds. Their effect is to confine us in spaces with low ceilings and false expectations. As we believe those evil reports or actual word curses spoken against us as “the way it will always be,” we are shut into cramped, dark boxes.
A spiritual stronghold is “a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable situations that we know are contrary to the will of God.” (Rev. Ed Silvosa)
As we acknowledge as hopeless what God declares is changeable, we have come into alignment, at least in part, with the devil’s thought processes and plans for us. In this fifth stage, we go way past the realms of guilt, woundedness, fear, and criticism. We no longer want to step out into the light. We flat-out don’t even think He accepts us, loves us or has any plan for us; not even a Plan B.
But this is simply not true. God loves you and He loves a fighter. You need to know that there are times you will have to wage war with the name and blood of Jesus to break out of your box of imposed limitations. But there is a way out. The gateway is the cross of our lovely Lord Jesus!
Opportunities and Temptations
As we back up in the book of Genesis, we hear the serpent telling Adam and Eve, “God knows that in the day you eat from [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .” (Genesis 3:5). So what did Eve do? “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise” (verse 6), she partook.
There are three statements here that represent both opportunities and temptations: the forbidden tree was good for food; it was a delight to the eyes; and it was desirable to make one wise.
We find similar enticements in 1 John 2:16–17: “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” The original temptation is still centered in these very things: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life.
The Lust of the Eyes
God wants our vision to be clear and single. He wants His eyes to burn brightly through our own (Ephesians 1:17–19; Revelation 1:14). But when we give our eyes away to the enemy’s camp, we are allowing tainted filters and visual obstacles to block the prophetic presence. We are hiding, and the revelatory seer dimension in which the Lord wants us to walk becomes hindered. As we give ourselves to the lust of the eyes, the seer realm starts getting cloudy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” Jesus taught in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5:8). This it why it is imperative that we guard the “eye gate” and keep the eyes of our heart clean and pure. This is why the god of this world (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4) is sending a barrage of filth for the eyes of the world to behold. A battle is raging, the battle of passions. Will we let our eyes get filled with junk and poke out the prophetic gift of the seer in our midst? But if we keep pure eyes, a realm of visionary revelation will open up with greater clarity for us.
I am not trying to advocate earning God’s grace and gifts. We cannot earn a present. But we must keep ourselves clean from the lust of the eyes in order to gracefully receive what the Father has to offer.
The Lust of the Flesh
The second tempter mentioned is the lust of the flesh. Oh, the impulses and temptations that this body creeps up and speaks to each of us! We must go through the cleansing and crucifying of the lust of the flesh. Do you know why? Because God wants His power to move through human vessels. He wants our hands to be clean and our hearts to be pure, as Psalm 24:3–4 describes: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. . . .”
Romans 6:13 exhorts us not to “go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The issue becomes one of presentation. To whom you present your members, they become a slave. If unto the Lord, then they become a slave to the Holy Spirit; if unto sin, they become slaves to sin. What a promise! What a warning!
Yes, what a promise. God wants to use our little hands to impart the power of His great presence. Isn’t that crazy?—your hands and mine used to release the power of His presence!
As we present, He sanctifies. What He sanctifies, He empowers. Then, like Isaiah, as we are touched by authentic fire, He will touch others through our lives with His miraculous fire. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The Boastful Pride of Life
Then there is the boastful pride of life. Who gets the credit? Who receives the glory? Eve saw that the fruit was desirable to make one wise. But wise in whose eyes? Wise in comparison to ourselves, yes, and wise in comparison to others, but not wise in comparison to God.
If you are walking in the boastful pride of life, ultimately it is an issue of self-exaltation. The basic meaning of worship in the Hebrew language means “to bow down in prostration before.” Pride is the antithesis of worship. Worship exalts another, while pride sits on its own self-appointed throne.
The act of worship is one of our most powerful tools of spiritual warfare. It builds a throne in the heavenlies where Jesus’ rule can be released and the demonic powers of darkness dismissed. Worship displaces darkness. So when you are walking in extravagant, passionate worship, guess what happens? Your passionate praise of our Lord pushes the throne of pride out of the way, and He comes to take His seat of honor. He draws near. Worship is prophetic action that releases the spirit opposite to the boastful pride of life.
Praise and worship has a whole lot to do, therefore, with a prophetic lifestyle of intimacy and ministry. It is connected with our giving God His rightful place in our lives, in our congregations and even in whole cities. In fact, extravagant praise is a key that unlocks His presence with us.
Take and Eat
As we close today’s reading, let’s return to Genesis, where the first “take-and eat” is given in the Bible. “Take and eat” was first spoken by the enemy to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1–5). They disobeyed God and did as the sly serpent connived them into doing. Sin came, and with it, barriers to intimacy. But the next “take-and-eat” in the Bible is the remedy for us all: Jesus is talking with His disciples.
Jesus said, giving them the bread, “Take it; this is my body” (Mark 14:22). The one great cure for all the barriers we hide behind is the take-and-eat of the cross of Jesus. It is “Take and eat” of the life of God’s only Son. “Take and eat” of this glorious Man, Christ Jesus. He has already done it all. He gave His blood to purchase us all. As we revel in who Jesus is, God the Father wraps His arms around us, and we have this warm presence called passion within our hearts, and this thing called revelation that starts bubbling up and happening.
Jesus’ friends will draw close to His chest to hear His very heart beat. The lifestyle of a prophet is marked with intimacy, and an intimate life with Christ is available to you.
Jesus is looking for new recruits who will hear the passionate sound of His love beating through their beings. Do you want to lean your ear His way?
Dear Father, I desire to lean in with eager anticipation when I sense You are drawing near to me by Your Holy Spirit. I have covered myself in the past with my own version of fig leaves. I am now coming into Your light—the gracious light of Your countenance that shines upon me. I confess that I have been enticed by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Forgive me. In response I praise You and thank You for the body and blood of Jesus that have been given for me so that I can walk in newness of life for the glory of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
James W. Goll