The Leaves We Hide Behind

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 from 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 (the prophetic, we could say).

Obviously these were real live leaves they picked and sewed together for their coverings. But 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. Why? Because now we automatically filter the voice, presence and power of God through screens. If God’s word does finally penetrate our hearts or minds, it seems as though it has become diluted due to our abundant rationalization, analytical skepticism, theological theories of cessationism or traditional emotional barriers. 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. Some seem to stay there all their lives, like a car that has been sideswiped and is still sitting in the ditch years later. Sinful acts or mistakes from the past or present loom in their faces, but instead of running to their loving Savior and admitting their fault, they sprint in the opposite direction and hide out in the darkness of 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. I 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 sleazeball 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. Pretenders we become, 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. We want to be part of things, enjoy life, step out and be used by the Lord. But 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. My mind was numbed by the belittling notions of what I expected others were thinking of me. Hogwash! Fear paralyzes us while authentic faith propels us forward. So trade in those fears; exchange them at the cross (Isaiah 8:12–13). Be bold like a lion for Jesus’ sake. Do something! 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. Do a word study on it. Ask for a revelation of it. 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 not an accident waiting to happen. You were created in His image and for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). You are the object of His consuming love. That is hot stuff! It is revolutionary!

Prune-Faced Criticism

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 judge 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….” But you offered nothing to help it to be better. Why should you? You have already been there, done that and even gotten the T-shirt.

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.

Some of you might have just said, “Ouch!” Or maybe you said, “You sound as though you’re spitting nails.” 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 free. I might be speaking a bit pointedly, but honestly, I want us to be delivered from all entanglements so that God can usher in the coming prophetic revolution. I know you do, too.

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, idiotic 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. At times those thoughts are even planted by people in authority. Their effect is to confine us in boxes 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. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us of the promise and the problem: “As [a man] think-eth in his heart, so is he” (KJV).

Ed Silvoso, in his marvelous book That None Should Perish, has given us a good working definition of such spiritual strongholds. They represent “a mindset impregnated with hopelessness that causes us to accept as unchangeable situations that we know are contrary to the will of God.”

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—even a leftover plan.

But the light of God brings with it an invitation to honesty and humility. “Oh, yeah,” you say. “You mean so I can look ugly, like a mess in front of everybody.” No, not at all. If you demonstrate honesty and humility, you won’t look ugly; you will look beautiful, particularly before God. He loves the humble and afflicted, and shines His grace upon them (Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5). Nothing is more beautiful than the grace of God. As you let Him shine His grace on you, you will look beautiful, too.

Now realize this: God also likes a fighter. In fact, God 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 and stinky thinking. But there is a way out. The gateway is the cross of our lovely Lord Jesus!

So this week in our Global Prayer Storm, let’s pray the Holy Spirit identifies in our own lives the hindrances to greater intimacy with Christ. This will help create a revival in the church. Let’s make our prayer times personal this week. Let’s call forth God’s word to be like a hammer to shatter any rocky places in our hearts. (The writing above is an excerpt from the first chapter of my book, The Coming Prophetic Revolution.)

Blessings to You!
James W. Goll