The fall of man brought about a great deception. Since we were all in Adam, we are all born with a false sense of independence. We think we are our own boss. Even if we have the inclination for good, we actually believe we, independently, can perform it as if in and of ourselves we can. The good news is, the Bible not only reveals our deception, it also shows us the great lengths to which God has gone to restore His former glory to us.
God created man in His own image which means he was covered in God’s glory. When Adam sided with the lies of the enemy, believing himself to be “as God”, the glory departed. Since then, God has been working for His glory to be restored.
Genesis 3 tells us after Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked: and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Their glory covering was now gone so they were left to find covering for themselves. Man has been attempting to cover for himself ever since but to no avail.
In Exodus chapter 40, we read about the Lord telling Moses how to construct the Tabernacle and all it’s utensils. Once Moses finished, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” From then on the presence of the glory cloud lead Israel in all their journeying.
Later on after Israel had entered and settled in the Promised Land, King Solomon had the Temple built. When the time came to dedicate the temple and pray, an amazing thing happened. We read, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2).
In yet another unprecedented move, God revealed His glory but this time it wasn’t in a tent or building made with human hands. This time it was within one particular man named Jesus. In the gospel of John we find out Jesus is the Word and “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He shared with His disciples what God’s plan had been all along. He said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). Then He said something truly astounding. He said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father abiding in me does His works” (John 14:10). Did you catch that? Jesus, himself a man, declared “the Father abiding in me does His works!” In other words, throughout the Old Covenant and all of God’s dealing’s with man, He has demonstrated our inability to obtain His glory independently.
Moses couldn’t enter the Tabernacle, meaning he couldn’t do anything because it was God’s glory, which represents His presence, who would perform all that was required. And again in the Temple, we see the priests couldn’t enter to do “their” work because God’s glory filled the Temple. Are you starting to get the point? Only God can do what God commands.
Jesus, God in the flesh, demonstrated for us how mankind was always meant to operate. He repeatedly told His disciples “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something he sees the Father doing..”, “I can do nothing on my own initiative”, “I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.”
We can’t stop with Jesus though. God intends for His glory to be returned to all who call on Him in faith. Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:16-20).
While there are many things throughout the Bible which seem a bit obscure, God’s intention to give us His glory is not one of them. In Jesus’ amazing prayer found in John 17, he clearly tells the Father, “The glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and you in me, that they may perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
After the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was poured out. The Apostle Paul wrote extensively about the Spirit dwelling within us. In fact he told us in Colossians 1 the message of Christ “in us” was his message. He said it was a revealed mystery “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
In short, man turned from God’s glory but God is love, and He wasn’t going to let us go without a fight! No matter what it took, God was going to restore His glory in man. Once God’s glory is restored in your life, you will cease from your own works and enter into rest. Entering into rest means we cease from our own works just as the glory cloud forced Moses and Solomon centuries before. Now that Christ has entered man, man ceases from his “so called” independent works and learns to trust Christ in him to perform all of what God requires.
I recently talked with someone I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. He just came from shooting pool in a bar, and I just came out of Bible study. Oh what a difference Christ makes.
As Tracey and I spoke with him he asked, “What are you guys doing?” I thought to myself, well I sure am glad you asked. Tracey said, “We just finished Bible study!” then she invited him to come next week. He immediately seemed to glaze over and said, “I don’t have any use for the church thing.” I spoke up and said, “We’re not talking about “church” we’re talking about Jesus Christ.” We then proceeded to share a brief version of our testimony with him. As I shared with him about how I had become extremely addicted to pills and was basically killing myself, he said, “Now, that’s because of choices you made!” I quickly agreed with him and said, “You are exactly right! It was choices I had made but thankfully God rescued me and saved me from myself”, and Christ is now my life. As we ended our conversation, we shook his hand and let him go on his way. We may never know what kind of affect we had on him, but I’m believing our words will ring in his ears for a long time. My prayer is God will never stop pursuing him until he relents. He didn’t seem to have any hope but because of God I could see what God wanted for him.
The Bible clearly tells us “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” While most seem to focus on the fact we’ve all sinned, I think God’s attention is probably more on the missed glory. It seems God’s plan was for us to be joined with Him in His glory. That begs the question, just what exactly is His Glory? The Strong’s concordance tells us, the Greek word for glory is (doxa) meaning–“dignity, glory, honour, praise, worship.” If you look into the root word for doxa (dokeo) it is defined “to think, to seem truthfully, be accounted, please, be of reputation, seem good, suppose).
What can we learn from the idea that we have fallen short of God’s glory given this definition? I suppose one could say we have all fallen short of God’s dignity, honour, praise and good reputation. So, in other words, we have all failed to live up to what God designed us for. The good news is, while we failed it didn’t have to be for good. God didn’t give up on His purpose and plan for humanity. His plan was to get us back into His glory and to get His glory back into us. This is where two of the Apostle Paul’s favorite phrases come in to play:”In Christ and Christ in you.” Christ is our only hope of glory.
You see God’s plan all along was for us to be His representative on the earth. God said, “Let Us make man in our own image and let them have dominion.” So we were designed to be the visible expression of the invisible God. Of course, after the fall we found ourselves quite a bit less than God’s intention. We became earthly minded creatures who became distracted with basic animalistic needs and desires. Rather than being God-conscious we became self-conscious. Rather than being heavenly-minded we became earthly-minded and death was the only way out of the fix we were in.
So, God became a man, an earth creature, in order to rescue us from the fall and lift us back into His glory. Through Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, God joined us to Him in order to convey us back in to His glorious kingdom. Ephesians tells us, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, (He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” Since we have been raised with Christ, we are told in Colossians “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
The salvation offered through Jesus Christ is so much more than a ticket to heaven. God’s idea of salvation is for us to be fully restored to His former glory. We are told “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus Christ), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross…” (Colossians 1:19-20). It doesn’t stop there either. If you read a bit further you’ll discover “in Him you have been made complete…” (Colossians 2:10). Christ in you, is the hope of glory! When God’s Spirit moved back into you through your regeneration, the Glory returned and His image was restored!
Sometimes I like to do something I call skipping a rock through the Bible. Today I would like to trace how God moved through history to find His permanent dwelling place. Of course God is everywhere all the time, but His manifested presence can be traced through the Bible.
In Genesis we read where God lived with man in the Garden of Eden. In fact it appears they may have taken walks together from time to time. Just after man’s fall though, Adam and Eve hid themselves and they “heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). Man found himself separated from God and His glory, but the good news is God didn’t give up. He set out to reunite with man.
Years later, as you read through the story of the Exodus, God still wanting a relationship with man, moved into a tent. In Exodus, after reading of the very specific details God gave Moses concerning how to build the tabernacle, God’s presence filled the tent. We’re told, “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34-35).
Moving on into the Promised Land we see where the Tabernacle was traded for a more permanent structure called the Temple. King David wanted to build the Temple but God wouldn’t let him. Instead God gave that privilege to David’s son Solomon. After Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. The priests could not enter into the house of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chronicles 7:1-2).
Up to this point we can see God must really love man and want to be with Him. He already went from living in a Garden to a tent and then a building, but there’s something even greater than this! As you look into the New Testament you’ll discover He wanted to be yet closer even still.
In the gospel of John we read, “And the Word (God) became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Wow! So God became a man and dwelt among us. I can’t resist saying this: the Greek word translated here as dwelt is actually the word “tabernacled”. Isn’t that amazing? God was now located in a man and moving about with them eye to eye. Later on in the Gospel of John it’s recorded that one of Jesus’ followers, Philip said to Him, “Lord show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9). The Spirit of God was dwelling within the human Jesus.
Once the time came for Jesus to go to the cross, his disciples were understandably fearful; but Jesus comforted them saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:16 &20). So here we have a promise that God would actually make one more move. This next move was going to be a doozy.
After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, he ascended into heaven right before the disciples very eyes. Jesus had told them to go to Jerusalem and wait until they received power from on high so that’s just what they did. In the second chapter of Acts we can read where the Holy Spirit came rushing into the room the disciples were waiting in and they were filled with the very Spirit of God Himself. This of course was the plan God had all along. His plan was always to dwell in man. He wasn’t going to be satisfied just living in a Garden, tent or building. No, He wanted to take up residence within the man He created in His own image.
The Apostle Paul was God’s chosen vessel to spread the word about this amazing deeper understanding of the Gospel. Paul said it was a “mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27). He asked the Corinthians “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…(1 Corinthians 6:19). So it seems God’s plan all along was to inhabit mankind and live His life through them. What an amazing plan from an amazing God!
In Genesis 17 God said to Abraham “Walk before me, and be blameless.” If that’s not enough, Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Are you serious? Blameless and perfect? What does this mean to me? Is God dangling the proverbial carrot in front of us, all the while knowing we can never measure up, or is there some way for us to fulfill these over-the-top demands?
I think most would agree the God of the Bible is a perfect God, right? And the Bible tells us Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). So, a blameless, perfect God telling us to be blameless and perfect seems to be valid, right? The problem then isn’t on God’s side, it’s on ours. What are we going to do then?
If you think about it, this perfect God gave us the Ten commandments and they essentially are telling us the same thing. When the commandment says, “Do not lie, or bear false witness, it means not even one! When it says, “Do not commit adultery, and Jesus said, “don’t even lust in your heart”, it means what it says. It’s the same with the rest: don’t murder, covet and so on. So for those of us who are honest with ourselves we eventually come to the conclusion that left to ourselves, we’re doomed. It may seem odd to some but that’s the conclusion God intends. Left to ourselves we have absolutely no hope of being blameless and perfect, yet the command still stands.
This is why God Himself came here in the flesh. John told us, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). You see the perfect God became the perfect man, in order to live the perfect life, die the perfect death, to perfect all who receive Him. According to Hebrews 10:14 “By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Did you catch that? He (God in the flesh) gave Himself as an offering for sin once and for all in order to fulfill His own demands on humanity.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he declares “those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death.” He then goes a bit further saying, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). After establishing that we have died to sin he goes on to declare we have also died to the Law (Romans 7:4).
After discovering we have been crucified with Christ, died to sin and died to the Law, Paul then drops another big revelation on us. In Romans 8 he tells us the Law couldn’t do the job anyway because we simply couldn’t obey. He said, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-5). Did you catch that? What we couldn’t do, “God did.” So what God has done is moved into us, by way of His Spirit, and He now lives out the blameless, perfect life He requires of us. Once we see that we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, we will begin to walk in the very blameless perfection He demands.
Jesus Himself said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The key here is nothing. As long as we are attempting to live the Christian life, as if independent of Christ, we are doomed to feelings of condemnation and failure, which is as it should be. The Gospel means “good news” and the good news is Christ in you, is the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27). Paul said, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete (perfect) in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). So you see perfection is possible, but only to those who are in the perfect one who is Christ. This is why the Bible admonishes us to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).
Romans six teaches us: those of us who have placed our faith in Christ, and his work on the cross, are to reckon ourselves dead to sin. You see, just as all were originally born in Adam and are therefore sinners, those of us who have been born again have been born into Christ and made righteous. In other words, the cross is the means by which God transfers us from the first Adam to the last.
Human beings have never been independent we have always been in union with another spirit. For instance we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. Notice we are always a slave and never our own master. The good news is in Christ our old boss is out and our new one is in. This is what Paul means with his frequent use of the term “Christ in you” and “In Christ.”
As we move from Romans six into Romans seven we read about a wife who simply cannot please her husband and needs to be separated from him, but the law won’t allow it. You see unless he dies, she has to remain married to him and the truth is he simply will not die. This is a picture of our relationship with the Law/sin meaning the Law isn’t going to die, and it is the means by which sin gets its power, so she/we are in a quandary. How will she/we get away from her old husband if he won’t die? God has a solution.
You see God has always known the husband wouldn’t die, but His plan involves the wife/us dying instead. If God crucifies us with Christ and raised us back up with him there would be legal grounds for divorce from the old husband, and we could then be joined to a new one, namely Christ himself. That’s exactly what He did.
The reason Paul uses a wife here as an illustration is because God is looking to produce fruit through His people but like a wife we have to have Him to do it. Just as a wife needs a husband to produce children we too have to have God in order to produce fruit for God. This analogy is teaching us that there is absolutely no way for us to produce fruit for God by way of the Law. Us attempting to produce fruit for God by the Law is the same as a wife trying to have a baby without her husband. It just simply cannot happen. The fruit bearing process requires the husband. Just as a wife has to become one flesh with her husband we must be one spirit with the Lord.
Essentially Romans six and the first part of seven is telling us we have died to sin by being severed from our union in Adam. Through the cross, and our being co-crucified, dead, buried and risen with Christ we walk in newness of life. Now that we are in union with Christ He can produce His fruit through our lives.