During Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the mere quoting of scriptures did not force Satan to run away with his tail between his legs. Jesus’ Bible knowledge was powerful because his character and actions were fully formed by it. If all we have to do to ward off temptation is to press the Bible app on our phone, then one tap on an appropriate verse would assure a trouble-free existence!
The incarnation was not only an event; it’s a vital principle.
EVENT: God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus, he “embodied” his word. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus not only came to explain Scripture; he personified it, he realized it, he incarnated it. He is the living Word.
PRINCIPLE: Christ intends to “embody” his word within the very fabric of your character so that he can reveal himself to others through you. To use C.S. Lewis’s words, the incarnational principle is “an experience so momentous that … [our] whole consciousness is changed. We become what we were not before.”
The incarnation principle penetrates deeper than application. Let’s look at some examples.
“Do not murder.”
- APPLICATION: don’t kill anyone
- INCARNATION: everything in you works to sanctify and protect life
“Do not commit adultery.”
- APPLICATION: don’t have an affair
- INCARNATION: everything in you works to sanctify and protect marriage
“Show no partiality.”
- APPLICATION: treat everyone equally
- INCARNATION: everything in you works toward justice and dignifying individuals
Notice how difficult it is to apply some verses without the incarnational principle.
- “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” (Yeah, just do that, right.)
- “In humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit need to rewrite everything in you for that to happen?!)
How does God’s word get so deeply into you that it becomes who you are? How does this happen? Not overnight!