16. A Body Prepared Prepared for Me
I believe more clearly than I ever have that the body of Christ is the body of Christ. In fact, obtaining for Himself a body through which to live is the whole purpose of God in all creation. God Desires a body; He calls that body, “many sons.”
16. A Body Prepared for Me
I believe more clearly than I ever have that the body of Christ is the body of Christ. In fact, obtaining for Himself a body through which to live is the whole purpose of God in all creation.
God Desires a body; He calls that body, “many sons.”
The whole purpose of creation, the whole purpose of the story, the whole reason the accuser has cast his shadow upon all, is that God might have a body, many sons, through whom He can live and be seen and known by all.
This is the Desire of God that burns in our hearts.
I insert this letter here, in between the judgments coming in the revelation of Jesus Christ, because we must keep ever before our eyes the MAIN thing. That main thing is not the judgment; it is “a body prepared for Me.”
Judgment is never the main thing. In fact, all those who would make judgment anything more than the vanguard of life are set aside by God for this season. He will never trust such people, those who condemn.
The primary outward characteristics of the two witnesses are a brokenness of heart, tears streaming down their face, and tender love out-poured. That's what “sackcloth” means. No shadow of condemnation or superiority ever comes from them. They are as Christ; Jesus said, “I will give to My two witnesses.” He gives nothing other than all of Himself. As Christ is, so they are.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 1 John 4:17
Every word in Revelation MUST BE read through 1 John. 1 John 4:17 is speaking specifically about the two witnesses of Revelation 11, about you and me. It is speaking specifically about the normal Christian life.
1 John 4:17 is Christ as us. It is Boldness in the Day of Judgment. It is Rooted and Grounded in Love.
A body You have prepared for Me.
Let's bring in the larger context. Feel free to read the whole thing, I have reduced it only to increase the focus.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’”
...By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ...this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:5-14
We must pull in some more verses before we can see this wondrous thing.
For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. John 6:55-57
The mystery which has been hidden... but now has been revealed... Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-27
The Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 3:20-21
The word “conformed” is the Greek symmorphos, a word invented entirely by Paul and used only twice in the human experience, here and in Romans 8:29. “Overcome” may be the action of the great story of God and the meaning of the universe, but the action verb, symmorphos, is the action most important to us.
Overcome is God outward, symmorphos, is tucked away deep inside the heart of God, yet its full meaning will swallow all things. In the end, overcome will bow itself before symmorphos.
Sym means “with,” yes, and morph means “form.” Thus conform means to “to take on a like form” in its outward connotation. But this is not a human word, it is a Paul word, it is a Spirit word.
It means that we are the body of Christ. We become what we eat.
I would refer you back to my article “Resurrection Life” in The Covenant.
Symmorphos, spoken as a Spirit word by Paul at the center of Paul's gospel, does not mean that our body becomes “like” Jesus' body; it means that our body becomes Jesus' body.
Let's re-word Philippians 3:20-21. The Lord Jesus transforms our lowly body so that it becomes His glorious body, according to the mighty energy by which He subdues all things to Himself.
For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “...the two shall become one flesh.” ...I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:30-32
Do you see how wicked getting your flesh under the feet of self really is.
God does not want us controlling our flesh; He wants our flesh filled with the life of Christ. That happens only by faith, only through the Spirit flowing through our heart-conviction that God speaks true. That the life of Jesus also may be apocalypsed in your mortal flesh.
I said in an earlier letter that there is no command of the gospel for us to “get our flesh under our feet.” We do not “subdue the flesh.” Now, as I wrote that, you can be sure that Romans 8:13 voiced itself in my mind. I do not set aside what God says whether I understand it or not.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:13-14
We have established beyond question that for God there is only one death – the Lamb-slain. Any other death, any other offering, is an abomination to Him, contrary to His will. To offer God a death, your own for instance, other than the Lamb-slain is the height of arrogance; it is the sin of Cain.
Romans 8:13-14 is central to “A Body You Have Prepared for Me,” in more ways than one. Let's look at it a piece at a time, and every portion of Scripture we look at, we see out from Jesus eyes' by all that He speaks, governed by the most important verses in the Bible.
First, “If you live.”
Here are the two possibilities: He who feeds on Me will live because of Me – versus – The man who does them (obeys the commandments) shall live by them.
To live “according to the flesh” is to live by obeying the commandments of God. It is to live by the tree of the knowledge of good (and evil). No one is ever commanded to eat of Christ; it is an act of will coming out of the boldest audacity of faith. Our faith is Christ as us.
Most Christians I know live “according to the flesh.” That means they see by outward sight, and they judge themselves by a knowledge of right and wrong. Most Christians judge themselves and others according to “self” and not by the eyes of Christ. To judge by outward sight, “Oh, look, I sinned,” to judge by a knowing of what is right and what is wrong, is to be the judge, the “el,” the “god” that the serpent offered Eve in the garden. It is to live “according to the flesh.”
In complete contrast, we live by the knowledge of God. And try as hard as He might, God simply is unable to remember “sin.” He has forgotten all about it; He does not know it; He cannot find it. And the main reason He can't find sin is that He never looks for it. God sees Christ alone; God sees all things through One offering.
Now, understand, God not seeing sin is not a license for us to sin. It is the only way by which sin is eliminated.
“You will die.” When we call ourselves a “sinner,” we are defying the knowledge and life of God. We will not have Him. You see, this goes back to Fred Pruitt's definition of evil that I quoted in “From a Word to a Lamb.” Death is willful separation from God, a separation that takes place in imagination only, yet it occurs entirely as a willful act.
Now, looking at the Greek words, I see that “you will die” is not the meaning of the phrase. Here is a more complete paraphrase: “You are about to be dying away from.” That is exactly Fred's definition of evil. It means that by judging ourselves according to human knowledge and outward sight, we are engaged in willfully pulling ourselves away from God-in-life-in-us in the imagination of our minds, in which place all we can know is the full and awful sense, the experience of “cut-off-from” that must follow.
“But if by the Spirit.” Here we must bring in the second most important negative verse in the Bible followed by the first.
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Galatians 3:1-4
For I bear witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:2-4
Every step of Jesus from the upper room to the right hand of the Father IS the path of the atonement, that includes Gethsemane. Every step of that path is our atonement, our way out of death into life. There are two ways only to walk that path. Either we walk that path utterly inside of Jesus' having already walked it, inside the Lamb-Having-Been-Slain utterly carrying all that we are, having become us – it is finished. OR we attempt to walk it in some human way ourselves.
Look at the contrast: Are you now being made perfect by the flesh? – versus – For by one offering He has perfected forever. Those who attempt to get their flesh under their own control, who have their eyes focused on the imperfections of the flesh, see perfection as a condition of the flesh, that is, perfection to them means to make the flesh “look like” God.
Conversely, all that is the Holy Spirit is by the hearing of faith. And what is the first thing faith does as it hears? We believe, therefore we speak. – The Word is in your mouth.
Remember that God has spoken Christ over us in all the speaking of Christ that exists in all the realms of heaven. Christ is the only thing we hear; Christ is the only thing we speak.
“You put to death.” Having passed through the Spirit coming as God speaking all of Christ over us, having heard Him speak and then, turning, speaking Christ ourselves over all that we are and over all that comes our way, the “you” here cannot be any other than Christ as me. It's no longer “me,” it's Christ. Jesus and I are one.
There is only one death; it is finished. Christ dies no more.
This entire phrase, “you put to death” is one Greek word, the action of the sentence. It means, simply, “kill.” Kill what? “The deeds of the body.” NOTE: it is the deeds of the “body,” the soma, the physical body, NOT the “flesh” that Christ as us kills.
Now, let's consider this word literally. People like to say, “I believe the Bible is literally true.” They don't, of course, otherwise they would know that we ARE Christ's body. Let's make this word literal. There are three deeds entirely “of” the body, one involuntary, the beating of the heart, one (pair) that is mostly voluntary, eating and drinking, and one that appears voluntary, though it is not, breathing, the body WILL breathe. You can “put to death” eating and drinking, but you won't live as a result, you will die.
Now, I'm not being ridiculous here. If someone wants to treat this statement literally, let them do so. There is not one second of our lives, awake or asleep, where we are not “doing” something entirely of the body. You cannot live except by the deeds of the body; yet if you try to kill yourself, that also is a deed of the body.
Paul did not say “the works of the flesh,” here; he said, “the deeds of the body.”
You see, if this is not a Spirit Word, central to the reality of Paul's gospel, that we are utterly inside of Jesus and He in all that we are, then it is pure existentialist absurdity, the myth of Sisyphus. I know many people who have tried “to die” for decades. They have never succeeded; they have never won life. Thus “go to” heaven, in the end wins as the only answer left to those who refuse to enter the life of God by faith, that is by calling God true against outward appearance.
But we know that this is a Spirit Word, that is, Christ Jesus our only life.
“You will live.” And that is the telling point.
He who feeds on Me will live because of Me. We become what we eat.
The death of Christ never exists in the present tense. “I am He who lives and WAS dead.” The death of Christ is always past tense, and there is only one death. If Christ died for all, then all died.
Yes, in the present tense, we put all that we are into that past tense One death – BUT!!!
Here is the whole point of Romans 8:13 – what happened to Jesus' dead body lying there on that slab of stone?
The moment, every single moment, that we place all that we are – by faith – especially our physical body, into that One death of Christ, the only death God knows, we are instantaneously catapulted into the living Body of Jesus, alive forevermore.
And all we can say is, “I am alive INDEED unto God. My spirit is alive to God; my soul is alive unto God; my body is alive unto God, His dwelling place forever. I am alive unto God.”
And our body becomes that very body that arose from that slab of stone.
We ARE the body of Christ. Christ HAS become us.
And we know that it is true as we allow this incredible exchange Paul lays out in Romans 8:13 to have its full way in our knowing.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
I want to talk about the Body of Christ, this Body we are; a body You have prepared for Me.
In a letter a few months ago, I made the statement that the concept, “hear and obey,” is found in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I believe I removed that phrase as I turned the letter into a book chapter because I have no desire to prevent any dear heart from finding Christ their only life. Yet I stand by that statement completely.
Let me explain.
I lived for many years under the continual teaching that we are to hear God speak to us, not just by words on the page, but by the Spirit, and then, having heard God tell us to do this or that, we were to obey exactly what we heard, immediately. “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” In the last few years before I left that fellowship, the requirement of “hear and obey” became more stringent. That is, we were to do nothing unless we first heard a word from the Spirit. Furthermore, this “hear and obey” requirement must be proven out in our lives BEFORE God would ever grant us life. It came always on top of the firm conviction that our own hearts were evil and that our own wills were always opposed to God's will, and that “hear and obey” was the only possible way out of our darkness. We were taught that we had to convince a reluctant God to grant us life by proving “hear and obey” to perfection.
I honestly and sincerely believed this way of living to be of God. Except!
I had a huge problem. Never in all those years did God ever tell me to do anything, not the slightest thing. However, I did hear, “No!” so very often. A “word,” an idea, would come to me. I would hold it before the Lord in my heart, testing it. When I came to believe it might be the Lord speaking to me, I would move forward in it, attempting to “obey,” and then the “No” would come and with it humiliation before the face of other people as I had to retract my steps.
But I also knew a brother, an elder, one with whom I walked closely for a number of years, who always treated me as his equal, who did “hear” all the time, this or that. He would move forward in what he “heard,” doors would open, blessing would flow, connections with others would bear much fruit. He would share with me in great joy all that the Lord led him in, and I heard him gladly.
But I have never known such a thing, not once in my entire life.
You can understand how, in my last years in that fellowship, I had come to know that there was some dark, unknown, and utterly twisted thing wrong with me. I could not hear, and if I “did,” I was always too frightened to obey. I just do not do “voices.” I have never been subject to external control. I am unable to violate my heart.
Yet, as I have shared, I am partly analytical, and I do require evidence. So while I was sitting in the elder's meetings, an equal with them, I used a certain request of mine to test this “hearing from God” that these others seemed to be so capable of. From that one experiment (certainly not conclusive), I saw that much of the time “hearing from God” was nothing other than the workings of group think.
In complete contrast, God did speak to me now and then over the years. But God's voice speaking to me was never a “command to obey,” but a promise of goodness and life. One thing He spoke to me was: “Maureen will be your wife.” That was a promise of hope, a promise for God to “obey.” He did what He promised.
I left that fellowship in the dark and cold conviction that there was some nameless and twisted thing wrong with me all through the fabric of my being, that I could not “hear and obey” like all the other brethren, so anointed by God, with whom I had walked for many years. I still trusted in God with all my heart, but I was frozen inside, my psyche in utter ruin. I continued fully frozen and numb for a couple of years. As the thaw came, it came ever so slowly, as God spoke a new word into my life, “I love you, Daniel.” I could hardly hear such a word at first.
Then, once the thaw had come to the right point, God set me aside with John Eldredge for a few years. The re-working that God did in me through every page of John Eldredge's books, over and over, in tears, in probings, in opening up so many, many places of pain and confusion all through the days of my life, and placing Christ, one by one, in every single place, that operation of healing was a BIG deal.
The year of 1998, I held myself close at the edge of madness and despair. By God's grace I did not fall into that abyss. At the same time, between that darkest of human abysses and my joy right now are four years of endless surgery, cutting me wide open and healing untold hundreds of bleeding wounds.
Today, I am so filled with the joy of my Savior; I see God like I never have before. He shows me His secrets; He opens my eyes to see out from His. So many “besetting sins” that once held me down have just dried up and vanished away. My insides are so different from what I have ever known, filled with the goodness of God. I woke up last night concerned about one of my children. I felt momentary distress. Then I gave thanks, and as I gave thanks, BLESSING flowed out of my heart. All I felt, all I knew, all I thought, was the impartation of blessing. My distress vanished into the joy of seeing God work in my child's life, seeing rivers of blessing flowing out of me.
And I still never hear anything that I must obey – ever. I still do not do one thing to “get my flesh underfoot.”
Could I be honest with you? You know what I think? I think that “hear and obey” is mostly bunk. I think it is often little more than religious bluff. Whenever I have heard anyone talk about “hear and obey,” (instead of the joy of walking with the Lord) all I have ever felt from that is religious condemnation, the sense that no one ever “measures up.” (Now please don't take that wrong. If you are one who hears a voice that you follow, IF you do so only in joy, don't allow Christ as me to deflect you from Christ as you.)
Yet I remain convinced that most of “hear and obey” is inside the arena of separation. With “hear and obey” comes the absolute other, “fail to hear – or – disobey.” That is the tree of good and evil. If you hear, you will “not hear.” If you obey, you will disobey. Such a way of living operates only under the curse. Disobey? Curse, curse, curse. Most who say, “Hear and obey,” also insinuate with it, “Curse, curse, curse.”
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
I simply do not find “hear and obey” in the tree of life. I find something quite different, something real, something God. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
You see, here is the reality. We ARE the body of Christ. Not “ought to be,” not, “should be, could be, would be,” not “make yourself be,” not “get with it loser and make Christ your Lord.” No. Simply, we are the body of Christ.
(The teaching, “now that Christ is your Savior, you must make Him your Lord,” I simply cannot find, in the Bible, in my heart, inside of Jesus. I can't find it.)
He IS Lord; we are His body.
How are we led by the Spirit of God? Two very definite things. One, by the hearing of faith, that is, God speaks Christ. (God never speaks anything but Christ, the law carries curse, therefore the law, though it comes out from God, cannot be the speaking of Christ. That's why it was carved on stone tablets, tablets Moses then shattered.) God speaks Christ over us, we hear, we believe that God is telling us the truth, so we also speak Christ, our only life.
(Wow! The law came through one man, Moses. No one else ever heard God speak any part of law. All that is law comes to all by the testimony of one man, appointed by God for that purpose. Yet that one man shattered the only concrete expression of that law, written by the finger of God, as the first and only thing he did with it.)
And second, God ALWAYS leads us in triumph. Never once does the Spirit of God ever lead us in any other way. There is no triumph at all in “hear and obey,” because that whole way of thinking places our human performance first, and God's life and triumph AFTER. With God, triumph is the only thing; triumph always comes first.
Look at these words: For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Notice that our present state, what we see outwardly, is the “being sanctified” part of things. God NEVER leads us there. Thus “hear and obey,” as it is known by most, cannot be God's leading. God always leads us inside of perfected forever, that is, triumph.
The Spirit leads us from joy to joy, from goodness to goodness, from glory to glory. Yes, God speaks to us, but it is a walking together, Person inside of person, the closest of friends living life together. It is never “I have spoken; you will obey Me or else.”
Now, do not even think to look at yourself and say, “Well, I guess it's obvious the Spirit is not leading me.” No, it is not obvious. It is obvious that He is. Why is it obvious that He is? Because God says, “You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit,” and it is quite obvious that God always speaks the truth. Your own seeing, your own feeling cannot mean anything to you. Your own judgment CANNOT be true; stop thinking yourself so “wise.”
We first KNOW that God always leads us in joy. Sometimes, every now and then, we feel it. But once in awhile, we see it, and when we do, God takes our breath away! But when we do feel, and when we do see, it comes as no surprise. We knew it was true all along.
I want to get at a view of the Body of Christ, to get at what we are together from a different perspective than most have ever heard inside the separated arenas of in-part Christianity.
I just read a book by Michael Crichton, The Prey. The story is focused on the development of intelligence in nano-particles through “evolutionary” processes. Crichton simply took what scientists were working on more than ten years ago and expanded it into fictional possibilities. I want to bring in a few paragraphs from The Prey. [My words in brackets]
If you want to think of it that way, a human being is actually a giant swarm [swarm – think a flock of birds, all moving together, with no actual “control”]. Or more precisely, it's a swarm of swarms, because each organ – blood, liver, kidneys – is a separate swarm. What we refer to as a “body” is really the combination of all these organ swarms.
We think our bodies are solid, but that's only because we can't see what is going on at the cellular level. If you could enlarge the human body, blow it up to a vast size, you would see that it was literally nothing but a swirling mass of cells and atoms, clustered together into smaller swirls of cells and atoms.
Who cares? Well, it turns out a lot of processing [thinking and decision-making] occurs at the level of the organs. Human behavior is determined in many places. The control of our behavior is not located in our brains. It's all over our bodies.
So you could argue that “swarm intelligence” rules human beings, too. Balance is controlled by the cerebellar swarm, and rarely comes into consciousness. Other processing occurs in the spinal cord, the stomach, the intestine. A lot of vision takes place in the eyeballs, long before the brain is involved.
And for that matter, a lot of sophisticated brain processing occurs beneath awareness, too. An easy proof is object avoidance. A mobile robot has to devote a tremendous amount of processing time simply to avoid obstacles in the environment. Human beings do, too, but they're never aware of it – until the lights go out. Then they learn painfully just how much processing is really required.
So there's an argument that the whole structure of consciousness, and the human sense of self-control and purposefulness, is a user illusion. We don't have conscious control over ourselves at all. We just think we do.
Just because human beings went around thinking of themselves as “I” didn't mean it was true.
Let's bring these realities into the thinking of the New Testament.
First, it's no longer “I” who lives, but Christ. This word is the beginning of the gospel for us, the entrance into all that is Salvation. The “I” was the creation of the serpent's deceit, and it took place only in the imagination of the human mind, the telling of an untrue story. The cross of Christ allows us to escape that non-existent “I.”
HOWEVER, I, me, Daniel Yordy, do not cease. God never merges me into some amorphous glob. Thus He commands me to say, “I am alive unto God.” Here is the proof that God maintains the integrity of my person, even while He merges me into the One body of Christ.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. John 10:2-4
To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. Revelation 2:17
We exist always as a highly regarded individual inside of God BECAUSE the Shepherd of the sheep, the Lamb of God, calls us by our name, by a name that is ours alone. Yet, as that fully regarded member-in-particular, we find our place and reality only as a full member of Christ.
Jesus knows my name, a name known only by the two of us. He calls me by my name.
There are two visions of order in the universe. These two visions of order ARE the two lambs. Michael Crichton is describing for us the nature of order that flows out of the true Lamb. Order defined by the other lamb is command and control. Thus, Christians have always defined the body of Christ by that false lamb, by the order of command and control. This false vision of God's order is the source of the idea that the Lamb, at the top, barks out commands, and we peons at the bottom obey. If we obey, the body functions as a body. If we do not obey, the body of Christ is all in disarray.
Hogwash! But more on the other lamb in the next letter.
The body of Christ has never been in disarray.
They that are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God is the most radical political statement in human history. It defies all tyranny, including the cruel and seductive tyranny of democracy. It means that every human being must be led only by that which is inside of him, by the light in his own spirit; it means that force imposed from outside by any means, especially by face, cannot ever be right or true.
When a flock (swarm) of birds flies in beautiful formation, every individual member of that flock is doing only what is entirely in its heart, in conjunction only with those birds closest to it. The fact that the whole flock moves as one is entirely the order of God.
Owe no man anything except to love one another is the second most radical political statement in human history. It means that I never owe you or anyone else a thing. The concept of a “social contract” by which I owe some nebulous society something is a delusion from the fetid swamps of Rousseau’s and Plato's brilliant nightmares.
I love you and you love me BECAUSE the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. And thus the entire body moves as one by that love and not through any obligation or duty of “hear and obey.”
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the third most radical political statement in human history. It means that I never aggress against my neighbor, but hold him and his in the highest respect and honor. It is the totality of the definition of a “libertarian” political philosophy. I have never seen pastors or elders moving in a definition of “top-down” authority as the body of Christ treat the least and the lowest as they would be treated themselves. It doesn't work that way; any form of power over others always corrupts.
These three statements together define the entire political spectrum of the Kingdom of God, of the New Covenant. No man shall say to his neighbor, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest.
These three statements together define the entire ORDER of the Body of Christ.
Full and complete freedom IS the mother of order. Command and control is the mother of all disorder and chaos.
You see Jesus IS the head of the body, AND He is living as each member in particular. I don't need to hear a thing from outside of myself to move together with you as a body. Jesus as me knows exactly what to do on the inside of Him on the inside of me. If I am constricted, Jesus and I are constricted together. If I am free, we are free together.
We ARE the body of Christ and members in particular. Both/And. 100% one and 100% the other.
Jesus calls us each of us by name; we are members of one another. We are the Body prepared for God.