Now in our post about shame we showed that the result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was shame. For prior to eating, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed just like every creature God had made. But as soon as they ate, their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked, and they were ashamed. Furthermore, the Bible does not say they felt guilty for their disobedience. Guilt is remorse for what we do; but shame is directed to what we are.
Therefore, shame is poisonous to the spirit. Now, there are things in the world that are poisonous to the flesh, so that if you eat them you may die. But there are also things that are poisonous to the spirit so that they weaken the spirit and prevent a person from receiving God’s greater gifts. If you read 1 Corinthians 2:10 – 16, you will see that Paul sets forth the result of an unspiritual life. This is also what the Lord referred to in John 9 when he said he had come into the world for judgment, to take sight from the seeing and give sight to the blind.
It is also the problem Nicodemus had with grasping the concept of being born again. Now, Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a man whose life was dedicated to studying the Scriptures of the “Old Testament.” Jesus pointed out that all the Scriptures in the law and the writings of the Prophets spoke of him, yet the priests and the Pharisees did not (for the most part) believe him. This is sad. If you reread the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, you might consider these were the invited guests who refused to attend. Why?
Worldliness is a big part. Because of their worldliness, they were blind. Paul says it plainly in Romans 8:5 – 8. “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” NRSV See also again Romans 8:13 – 14. “For all who are led by the Spirit are children of God.”
Blindly rule following is another symptom of the same illness. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:4 – 18. The Pharisees studied the words chiseled in stone all day long. “… For the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6, in part. NRSV. Jesus also spoke to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well saying “… the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” NRSV
Why is this important? Because the Torah is specific. The Hebrews of old had to travel to the place designated by God on festival days and to make the sacrifices commanded in Leviticus, and there was no other way to maintain the covenant they had made in Exodus 19.
So now, Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24, NRSV.
Paul says in Romans 7:6 “… but now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the spirit.” NRSV.
So where does that leave us? I will write more on this as time passes if God allows me to do so. For now, though, please pray with me for the Holy Spirit to come more fully into our daily lives; for us to be open to hear his voice and for us to be obedient in all things and in all ways. For, we know that only by living a life following the Holy Spirit do we free ourselves from the legacy of guilt and shame.
For, eyes that see only the physical world and ears that hear only the words of the wise are deaf and blind in the spirit. And Christians who try to live according to a formula of merely going to church, saying the words they are told to say, giving money when asked, and doing what they are told, are both near and at the same time far from the spirit.
It was not until I was brought down low that I saw, and having been crushed like grapes in a wine press and refined like silver in a crucible that my mind and my heart opened, and I saw and felt the spirit. And immediately I felt the calling to which I obeyed. And, once you are fully submitted and obedient to the spirit, your life is so much more; your joy and sorrow so much more keen; your depth of love and understanding so much greater that you are subsumed in the tide of the spirit. It is liberating. It feels almost like having superpowers, because you do things you never imagined and go places you would have been afraid to go. And sometimes the results totally take your breath away! So that even as my body may be dying, I am more alive than I have ever been before.
Blessings, peace, joy and love to all.