The letter is only that; theory. It is something outside me that I somehow try to relate to but I do not know it before it comes alive in me. We can discuss theory and we can discuss the letter, but knowing is beyond discussion. You can relate to someone what it feels like to have sex, but to that person it is only words until sex becomes flesh to him by experience. The letter is a dead thing with no life of its own, but when the knowing comes it becomes a vital life force. It is the Spirit’s job to put us in positions where the letter can become flesh in us.
A verse we have read hundreds of times suddenly comes alive and becomes a part of us. It truly is a miracle every time this happens. You, for instance, have no deeper idea about what “mercy rejoices against judgment” means until it becomes flesh in you – melted together with you so that you and it are one. You can have a vague idea, perhaps some theories concerning its meaning, but that’s all. This is truly poverty. We “buy” our richness by our experiences which always, as it seems to me, start out in some sort of negative graciously given us by our Father. That negative is the springboard to knowing. How else can we, for instance, know that everything works together for good, but by personal experience?
It never ceases to amaze me how many fig leaves I still have preserved. I don’t like my nakedness much. In fact, that old man detests nakedness, because it is indeed shameful to him to have his weaknesses exposed. But, how else can God be our strength? It is equally painful each time a new fig leaf is plucked off of me. I thought I was well hidden among the bushes, but His voice found me. “You don’t need those fig leaves. You need me.” So there I suddenly stand out in the open with nothing to hide behind. The enemy is making as much as possible out of the situation. His mockery and ridicule is almost too much to bear, but then I ask Papa to make him shut up. Papa is an embracer.
Do new creations need fig leaves? Aren’t they only an impediment? Something that keeps us from possessing our new freedom to be? Those fig leaves certainly make us keep a certain distance to God. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, because He makes dead people come alive and that sometimes hurts bad. He is a God who desires intimacy and who hates everything that makes us hide in the bushes. Another thing, do dead people need fig leaves? What can a dead person be ashamed of? What strength does a dead person have? None, of course! His strength and sufficiency is a Person in whom he is resurrected and ascended.
Do these things I am so ashamed of and protect like holy cows disturb God in any way? Of course not! He chose me long before I began looking for Him. He has accepted me and now He asks me to accept myself as a new creation in the Son. A Christ! As an “I am” person! Death always leads to life. That’s a law. You can discuss it and dissert it as much as you please, but until it melts together with you that’s all you can do. Jesus wasn’t speaking vain words when He said that when we lose our life we will find it again. In Him! And it is one-time done deal thing! But, all those illusions the old man still hold dear will irrevocably be exposed for what they are. That hurts sometimes.
What about emotions? I sense this almost irresistible temptation to control them, but find that is just as impossible as Paul trying not to covet. This is the last stronghold in a string of strongholds that has been laid in ruins when the trumpet sounded. To live is Christ. Okay, hard to admit, but my emotions are subjected to Him as well. And great was my surprise when I discovered He uses them to die and resurrect for others as me.
Christ is the word made flesh and He sure works Himself out to become flesh in us, and that’s what we are: good flesh – goodly flesh. In my flesh I shall see God, Job exclaimed. But, that didn’t come easy, did it? First everything had to be taken away from him – his little personal sense of life. Agony and death became flesh in him and the accusers piled up. Then God shows up on the scene and in so many words demonstrates to Job who is His life, and now with the riches of Christ given him Job discovers that this life far outshines his former sense of life.