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The Unfolded God
By David A. DePra
In Christian teaching, we often speak of God, "unfolding Himself," to us. Or perhaps we say God REVEALS Himself to us. There is a lot of Truth to this, and it certainly is an appropriate way of describing one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus used those terms. But if you really think about it, saying that God UNFOLDS HIMSELF to us really isn’t what happens in the strict sense of the word. Rather than say GOD UNFOLDS HIMSELF to us, we ought to say that God is unfolding US before Him.
Human beings are folded up from God. We are wearing the masks, disguises, and we are playing the religious games with God. For many of us, this is not conscious. It is rather automatic. We think that when we deal with the Lord that we must put on our best face, wear our best attitude, and give Him whatever we think He wants, in order to get from Him what we want. Again – this kind of thinking isn’t necessarily conscious on our part. We have devised no plot, nor are we trying to deceive God. It is just about all we are capable of before God sets us free.
At the root of this routine is unbelief, based in deception. We don’t know God, and until we do, the natural mind of man is going to be AFRAID of Him. This applies to Christians as well. And if you are afraid of a God to whom you are accountable, and from whom you must find your needs met, you are going to live before Him wearing masks – masks that you construct for the purpose of appearing good to Him.
Adam and Eve did this. Before the sin they were naked and unashamed – because through their oneness with God they were completed and whole. But after the sin, they saw they were naked – a nakedness that was always their condition. God made them naked – dependent upon Him. But now they were ashamed of this nakedness – because they were no longer completed by God; no longer dependent upon Him. So what did they do? Well, they tried to fix their nakedness with FIG LEAVES. "Fig leaves" are whatever we use to make ourselves presentable to God – instead of confessing we are naked and have no hope other than His grace.
We continue this today – religious flesh always does. We have our masks and our fig leaves, and for Christian people, these are often religious ones. We fold ourselves up from God, in order to cover our true condition, and make us presentable. And again, this is because we are afraid of God. We don’t really believe He loves us, although we might have the doctrines of the Bible which says He does memorized.
But there is a funny thing about a folded up person: They are hiding parts of themselves from God. But because they are hiding themselves from God, neither can they see Him.
Almost every little child, at one point or another, thinks that if they cover their eyes, that no one can see them. Ever have a child do that? They put their hands over their eyes, or pull covers up over themselves, and because they cannot see you, they don’t think you can see them. But you can see them. What they are taking comfort in is the fact that they cannot see you.
It is like this between man and God. We hide from God thinking He cannot see us. All we have accomplished, however, is to close ourselves off from seeing Him. We cover ourselves with a mask, or a veil. We fold ourselves up from God. And we think that this solves a problem. No. It creates one. The very thing we do to try to hide from God, in fact, conceals Him from us.
Picture ourselves standing face to face with God. Through the fall of Adam, we are standing there covered from head to foot with a big sheet, or if you prefer, a giant fig leave. We are totally VEILED. Because we are born like this, from our perspective, we think God is hiding from us. After all, we cannot see Him through this veil. But in fact, it is WE who are hidden. Thus, the work of the Holy Spirit is to UNCOVER US, not God. But as we are uncovered, God is revealed to us.
This same Truth is illustrated through a folded up piece of paper. If you, as a person, are folded up like a piece of paper, how much of the paper is being hit by LIGHT – light being God Himself. Well, not much. Yet from the perspective of the paper, there is no light, is there? No. But this perspective is wrong. The LIGHT is actually there, totally out in the open. The problem is the paper. The PAPER needs to be unfolded, and to come out INTO THE LIGHT. Again – the problem is US, not God.
Actually, this picture of a folded piece of paper is used in the Bible:
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat 6:22-23)
The word Jesus used for, "single," means, "free of folds." He is saying, "If your eye – your heart and intent – is free of folds, i.e., open and exposed to the light, then your entire body, your entire life, will be flooded with that light. But if your heart and intent is folded up and focused on something other than God, darkness will result." The point is this: The issue here is not whether God gives light. The question isn’t whether God wants to unfold Himself to us. No. The question is whether we will unfold to God! THAT is the question.
There are going to times in the Christian life when the Holy Spirit will come and seek to unfold us. To put it another way, He is going to open and expose us to the Light. If we will allow Him to do this, two things will happen. First, we will be expose for what we are. That is not likely going to be an enjoyable experience. But secondly, we will be opened to the Light Himself. In other words, we will see Jesus Christ to another degree.
The fact is, there is no other way God works. Seeing Jesus Christ is not the product of study, degrees, and credentials – although we ought to study the Word of God all that we can. But INFORMATION alone won’t do it for us, because we could still have what Jesus calls, "an evil eye," and end up interpreting what we study using it. No. We need, not information, but REVELATION. Revelation is the result, yes, of seeing Jesus Christ. But the only way to see Him is for US TO BE UNFOLDED.
All of this, of course, is just another way of describing the work of the Cross. It is describing the Holy Spirit’s conviction. God must deal IN US with all that blinds us to the Truth in Jesus Christ. God must do surgery on OUR eyes, and renew OUR minds, and open OUR hearts. The part we have in this is to let Him by believing, obeying, and surrendering ourselves to Him in whatever He uses as His, "surgical tools."
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us into all Truth. But can we see that this requires change IN US? We are born with NO TRUTH IN US. There is nothing about us that is compatible with Truth. When we are born again, we begin the journey. We must be unfolded, renewed, and have all of our fig leaves peeled off. Why? Not because God wants to condemn us for what He finds underneath – my goodness, doesn’t He already KNOW what is under our mask? Sure. No. Condemnation is never God’s goal. Illumination is God’s goal. He wants to remove the obstacles to OUR knowing Him.
The next time you and I face a great trial, remember that the problem is NOT that God is hiding Himself. No. God is out in the open. The problem is that WE are hiding ourselves. The trial may well be geared to getting us to come out in the open and to surrendering to God so that He can remove our blinders. God wants us unfolded to Him so that the true knowledge of God in Jesus Christ might govern our lives.
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