11. Custom Made
God created man with incredible capacity, but no ability whatever. God made man like a glove; He created man to contain Himself in the same way that a thin, flexible, fitted glove is made to contain a hand. When the hand moves, the glove moves. When the hand grips something, the glove grips the same thing. It is the joy and purpose of the glove to be filled with the hand.
11. I Am Custom Made to Fit God
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5
God created man with incredible capacity, but no ability whatever. God made man like a glove, to contain Himself in the same way that a fitted glove is made to contain a hand. When the hand moves to grip something, the glove moves to grip that same thing. The purpose of the glove is to be filled with the hand.
When the hand is working in the glove, whatever the hand might be doing, the glove is fulfilling its created purpose in every way. Everyone knows that it is not the glove doing the work, but the hand in the glove. However, you do not actually see the hand; all you see is the glove. The glove does not take glory to itself, yet the hand shares its glory fully with the glove. As everyone admires the hand that did this great work, they also admire the glove through whom the hand worked.
But our picture of hand and glove contains a limitation: the hand is only a part of a greater being. Not so with man. God created man to be filled with all the fullness of God. It is not the hand of God that fills me, but all of God.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-20
In truth, I am much more than a glove. I am the temple of the living God. I as an individual believer and we as members of the corporate body of Christ, we together are the temple of God.
We could look at the modern picture of a superhero suit. I contain the Creator and Savior of the universe. He expresses Himself through me. But if He is not filling me, then I sit there useless on the shelf. I can only do that which He does through me. Without Him I can do nothing.
On the other hand, if you saw Mr. Incredible without his superhero suit, he is just a plain man, not incredible at all. But when the suit goes on, Mr. Incredible looks incredible. He fills the suit with all of his ability.
God is invisible. Without a suit on, a temple, God cannot be seen. In a sense, that is embarrassing to God. He wants to be seen, touched, and handled. But without His superhero suit on, no one even knows He is there. Without His temple, His dwelling place, He cannot be seen and known.
I am God’s superhero suit. I comprehend the height, the depth, the width, and the length to which God is able to stretch inside of me. I contain all the fullness of God.
However, this is not the whole picture. I, as an individual, am created to contain God. But God is too vast and complicated a being to be expressed through one individual. It takes a body, the body of Christ, countless multitudes of individuals, each containing all the fullness of God, each expressing their measure of His fullness as an individual. The whole body, worn by God as His superhero suit, His temple, together make God visible to the universe in such an incredible way that all the universe drops to the ground in awe and worship. They had no idea God was so incredible; they had never really seen Him before.
To God it is both/and. I am the temple of God, and I am a member in particular. If each individual member is not him or herself filled with all the fullness of God, then the whole body cannot exist. I am filled with all the fullness of God, and I am a member of a glorious and precious body that reveals God the way He wants to be seen without limitation of any kind.
Man is created different from all other created things. Both angels and animals are complete in themselves. Everything they need, to do and be what they are created for, is inside them. The same is true of rocks, plants, and planets, every facet of God’s creation is created complete in itself, able to do and be what it was made for. Everything except man!
Man was created with incredible capacity. Filled with God, man can do everything God can do. If God can reach to the far end of eternity to touch what God alone knows is there, than man, whom God wears as a suit that reveals His invisible being, can reach there as well.
God can speak to us through a story like the movie, The Incredibles. Story has the ability to reveal truth like no other illustration can. In a particular scene you see the construction of the superhero suits. If the hero needs to run ultra-fast, the suit can flex at that speed. If the hero needs to burn, the suit can sustain those high temperatures. If the hero needs to stretch great distances, the suit can stretch with her and yet keep its appropriate shape.
In all things the hero needs to do to accomplish his purposes, the suit is right there, bending, flexing, and moving with the hero in all things the hero is doing.
But, if the suit does not contain the hero, then it is worthless in practice. Great potential, but worthless in practice, lying there on the floor in a crumpled pile. Great capacity, yes, but utterly unable to do anything in and of itself. This is the nature of man.
Filled with God, man has all the capacity of God. But empty of God, man is unable to accomplish anything of value. Great capacity, but no ability.
However, the superhero suit is an inanimate object. As such it does not mind being folded up and put away. Not so with man. Man was not made ever to be folded up and put away. Man was created to contain God all the time and forever. Man is not inanimate. I am a person, created in Gods’ image to be filled with His person. I am custom made to fit God.
When God says that I am made in His image, it means I am custom made to fit God. Therefore, as a person, when I am not being filled with all the fullness of God, when I am not stretching where God stretches, touching whom God touches, defeating what God strikes down, healing what God is healing, then I am frustrated. I am bored. I am empty. I want what I do not have.
Every human being in the bottom of his or her heart knows they were created for more than what they presently experience. That sense is one hundred percent correct. A human is made to be filled with God. No life of God equals emptiness, boredom, and missed opportunity. A human empty of God is a big problem.
All human endeavor on this earth apart from those filled with God in present experience consists of two things. The biggest effort is to animate the glove sufficiently to make it feel that it has a hand inside it. To activate the superhero suit just enough to make it imagine it has a hero inside. To make the suit believe that it is being what it was meant to be even though the superhero is not inside it.
Then there is Buddhism, and eastern mysticism and Western asceticism and much nonsense proclaiming itself as Christian thought, that says this. “The problem, dear glove, is your desire to be filled with a hand. The problem, dear suit, is your desire to be filled with a hero. True peace comes when you simply accept what you are – nothing! Everlasting peace comes when you no longer desire. When you no longer want to do or to be. Your desire is your enemy. Die to yourself. A good Christian never wants anything.”
Yet, no matter how much a Buddhist kills desire, or those who practice Buddhism inside Christianity, they never succeed. No matter how much a Christian dies to self, self never dies. Why? Because that is not how it works. A glove can do nothing without a hand in it. Yet the glove itself is not nothing. It has enormous capacity, it can do wonderful things, but only when it is filled with a hand.
Satan and his demons provide an alternative for man. Satan cannot fill the glove as his hand. The glove was not made for him; there is no relationship between the glove and the nature and person of Satan. Man was made to contain God. Satan is an angel – not even close. But God gives Satan this license and power. Satan can trick the suit. He cannot fill the suit, but he can make the suit think that twitching a little bit is it’s purpose. Just enough to make the suit think, “Glory of glories, I’m being filled with a hero, I am getting all my desire.”
What a pathetic picture. Superhero suits, unwanted and discarded, twitching and jerking, imagining that by doing so, they are experiencing life as it was meant to be. This is an accurate picture of man.
But we are not discarded. We are not unwanted. We have been found, washed, and fully repaired. We, as we are right now, are filled with God. We are now learning the depth, the height, the length to which God can move through us. We are not just filled with God, God reveals Himself through us.
Now, we must look at another place where our story metaphor is limited. Super hero – super hero suit. Slide a knife between the two and all that happens is the suit is separated from the hero.
Not so with man and God. There is an organic spiritual bond between man and God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him. You put a knife between God and man and both will bleed. Although God will hurt more, yet man will be severed in that place. Unless the wound is quickly healed, man will have the sense of that dreaded empty-suit experience. The life flow is cut off.
We could even say that man is created to be God’s skin. To so fit God’s shape, to so flex with God’s movements that all creation can look at man and see God. All creation can be touched by man and feel God. I, as a human, with all the inability of a human, am made exactly the way God intended me to be. He made me weak but with great capacity, and therefore great desire that is answered only when I am filled with God. Don’t ever squelch your desire. Your desire is to be filled with God. All human desire, even that which turns itself in lust to the wrong directions, that desire is really a desire to be filled with God.
Everything that man wants is found in God. Turn your desire to Him, all desire, even what you would call lust; turn it to Him because He is what you desire. God can change and redirect only what you give Him.
But a superhero does not wear a superhero suit in order to go around looking like a superhero. A superhero is always at war. God is at war with His enemies, and He fights His war through us. A superhero is also, at the same time, helping people and meeting their needs, saving those who are lost, healing those who are hurting, protecting those who are being attacked.
God heals people who are hurting through us. He saves people who are lost through us. We must understand the nature of God’s war in order to understand exactly how He wins through us. We must also understand the nature of Satan’s power so that we know how he fights against us. Peter says we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices, of his strategies, his methods of manipulation and control.
First we must know the nature of this war. God is not fighting Satan on an equal level. The contest of Satan against God is focused entirely on the suits. Satan has two purposes, having removed and separated the suits from God, by bringing sin into the picture, now Satan’s focus is either on the one hand, to get the suits, the empty suits, to twitch and jerk, imagining in their minds that they are now fulfilling their purpose. Or, if he loses some of those suits to becoming Christians, then His goal is to convince them that the whole focus of the Christian life is not to twitch and jerk with Satan’s anointing. That they are to die to their flesh. He gets God’s people focused on sin, but never to consider being filled with God. “How can I be filled with God if there is something terribly wrong with me.”
Satan cannot fill the superhero suit that is man, because man is not made to fit an angel. Fallen man is still the image of God, he is made to fit God only, he cannot fit Satan, because Satan is not like God. If God is absent, man is empty. But Satan and his demons breath a certain “anointing” upon the superhero suit that is man. Just enough to make man jerk and twitch, just enough to make man think he has found the meaning and purpose of his life.
“Sin” is not the jerking and the twitching. The doing of those things separate from God and animated by Satan, those are simply the expressions of sin; they are not sin itself. A man could, theoretically, cease all that twitching and jerking and yet be fully in sin. A Christian can hammer self down into the ground so thoroughly that self cannot squeak, yet that Christian is still a separated self.
Sin is being empty of God. Sin, for man, is the absence of God, never the presence of something else. This is Satan’s triumph over God, by getting man, who is created to be filled with all the fullness of God, who is capable of showing every nuance of God’s character, of demonstrating every aspect of God’s ability, to now jerk and twitch in this pathetic manner, believing that by doing so he has found the purpose of life.
Satan’s triumph is the mockery of God’s image.
The Greek word sarx is translated throughout the New Testament as “flesh.” But the word “flesh” in the New Testament is used for two completely different meanings. Much harm has come into Christianity through confusing these two definitions. First, there is the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul says that the life of Jesus might be revealed in our mortal flesh. On the other hand, Paul says in Romans, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
These are two different uses of the word “flesh.” When we look at the superhero suit as a way to see the image of God, we see the difference between the two uses of this word, “flesh.”
The superhero suit is man in his humanity, created to be filled with all the fullness of God. God created my flesh to reveal Christ. My humanity, exactly the way God made me, is designed to reveal the character and power of God Himself. That is why Paul said, I boast in my weaknesses. My humanity is designed by God to reveal the power of Christ. My humanity, my human flesh, contains God, even though it is mortal at the present time. My human flesh is holy, the temple, the dwelling place, of Almighty God.
However, Satan can enable human flesh to twitch and jerk a little bit. When I believe that I exist separately from God, then I imagine I have my own wisdom and my own strength. That anointing, that enablement, causing me to imagine I have my own human nature is called “the flesh.” That enablement cannot come from inside me, from my heart. Jesus lives in my heart, not Satan. I am in the Spirit; I am never in the flesh.
Only if I put my mind on the things of the world, that is, when I believe the enablement of Satan, would I be found “in” the flesh in the wrong way. The emptiness of Satan, his separated thinking ruling in my mind, is the flesh God is at war with. But my humanity, redeemed and made new by Christ and filled with the Spirit of God is clean, holy, beautiful, and filled with all the ability of God.
I do not struggle with the flesh as a battle against something evil in me. No way! To believe that is to deny the gospel and to dishonor Christ. I am not fighting against the flesh. I am fighting against demon spirits that are trying to get me to believe something false about myself and about the gospel. It is a battle in the mind. It is a fight against thoughts that are trying to get me to forget God and to turn and find any fulfillment in the emptiness of life without God.
When I believe what God says about me, Jesus is revealed in my mortal flesh.
But when I try to find fulfillment for myself in this world apart from Christ, then what is visible is only the twitching and jerking that is a mockery of God. That is “the flesh” in its second meaning. The enabling emptiness of a separated serpent is the flesh. I keep the thoughts of Satan out of my mind, and I do so only by keeping my mind filled with God’s thoughts, with what God says about me, that I am just like Jesus.
But we have this treasure (of the glory of God) in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
This is the truth. The superhero suit, without being filled with a hero, is just an empty suit. But the treasure is the Hero inside filling our earthen vessel. Then, verses 10-11:
Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus sake (that is the outward condition of life in this world), that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
In our dying bodies. This is what God is after. The goal and purpose of God is not to get you out of this mess where He can’t do anything with you and get you off to heaven where He can clean you up there.
No! God is determined to triumph in the midst of the darkness, the difficulty, the hard-pressed-ness of this world. God is determined to reveal the very life of Jesus in your dying body. Your mortal flesh is the revelation of Jesus Christ, as His power triumphs in the midst of the hard-pressed-ness, the perplexed-ness, the persecution of this world. We reveal the power of Christ, all that God is and all that God can do, right here, right now, in this present age.
We were created by God to be filled with all the fullness of God, to contain God in all that He is and all that He does, because God comes into this world seeking and saving that which was lost. God comes into this world in the midst of darkness. Light will triumph when night is the darkest; love will win when hatred is most pronounced. God will demonstrate here, in the middle of our human experience, that He triumphs, that His word is sure, that everything He says is fulfilled and wins right here in this earth. God wins here!
You and I were created to contain all the fullness of God. To stretch into every dark crevice of this world and bring the light and the healing and the life and the victory of the Savoir who fills us.
This is the purpose of God.