The Good Dentist wisely creates “crowns” for our “teeth” that become “armor of light”, empowering us to prevail in our struggle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil”! (Ephesians 6:12).
Have you ever had a crown made for you?
I’m not talking about the kind of crown you wear on your head as if you’re a king or a queen.
I’m talking about the kind of crown that a dentist prepares and places over your tooth.
Recently, I endured several weeks of dentist visits to prepare and place a crown over my aging tooth. It had become too weakened by time and decay to be merely “patched” with another filling.
The process reminded me how God acts to renew areas of our life when there’s been too much “decay” in these areas of our life to be merely “patched”.
The first step was determining the extent of chipping and decay in my tooth.
The dentist’s assistant checked my teeth and gums using a sharp steel point. She spotted a dark spot on one of my teeth. She thought it might harbor decay.
She poked it!
As soon as she removed the sharp steel point from my mouth, I told her the obvious:
What spots in your life have ever weakened, chipped and decayed to the extent that—when the “sharp steel points” of life strike—you flinch and say: “That hurt!!!”.
The list is different for each person.
The list changes at different times in each person’s life.
When Jesus preached in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he gave a good summary of many of the “sharp steel points” that hurt us.
By quoting the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus proclaimed the purposes of his ministry:
“The spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
As we know from many examples in the Gospels, Jesus healed the “decay” in people’s lives from literal poverty, literal imprisonment, literal blindness, and literal oppression.
Furthermore, Jesus healed the “decay” in people’s lives from spiritual poverty, spiritual imprisonment, spiritual blindness, and spiritual oppression.
Before she could heal me, my dentist used modern technology to determine exactly what was wrong.
She took traditional x-rays.
She also used a technology I’d never seen before.
She moved a wand all around my teeth. It went click-click as it quickly took multitudes of images. With modern, powerful computing power, she was immediately able to show me a 3-D image that she could rotate and tilt to show my teeth and gums.
She highlighted areas with problems.
Similarly, God knows everything about our lives in the past, the present, and the future—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The author of Hebrews warned us:
[T]he Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrew 4:12-13).
As the Psalmist realized:
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely. . . . .
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in
before one of them came to be.
After she fully understood my problems, my dentist prepared my tooth to receive my crown. She had to remove ALL the decay before she dared to put a crown over my tooth.
Because, if any decay remained under my crown, it would continue to eat away at my tooth.
Eventually, the decay would undermine my tooth from the inside. There would be infection. Great pain. A root canal. A pulled tooth.
Such hidden decay in my tooth is like hypocrisy in my life.
Hypocrisy can only be removed by “deep cleanings” of our hearts and lives.
As I said in my blog “The Good Dentist: Deep Cleanings”, I hope we get our “deep cleanings” by God sooner in our lives than King David did!
David didn’t get his “deep cleaning” until after he raped Bathsheba and murdered her husband. (2 Samuel 11:1-27; Psalm 51:1-19).
David didn’t get his “deep cleaning” with the ideals of Moses and of the Prophets, until after he did irreparable harm to his “teeth” and “gums”—to his life, to his family, and to his civilization. (2 Samuel 11:1-20:22; 1 Kings 1:1-2:46).
And so, before placing my crown over my tooth, my dentist made sure my tooth was completely free of any decay.
She poked with her sharp steel point. She ground my tooth down using her drill.
Similarly, God answers our prayers to be cleansed from “decay” when we pray as David did after raping Bathsheba and murdering her husband.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from all my sin. . . . .
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; . . . .
and blot out all my iniquity.
Similarly, the Apostle Paul told us that, as followers of the Way of Jesus:
we must “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” such as “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like.” (Galatians 5:24,19-21).
We must not “offer any part of [ourself] to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer . . . every part of [ourself] to [God] as an instrument of righteousness.” (Romans 6:13).
A word of caution here.
God is the Good Dentist. I am not. You are not.
Therefore, concentrate on removing the planks from your own eye.
Do not get distracted by hypocritically looking for planks to remove from other people’s eyes. (Matthew 7:3-5).
Do not go astray looking for planks in other people’s eyes by holding “Inquisitions” or “Witch Trials”! (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43).
Having removed all the decay from my tooth, my dentist next determined what shape and color my crown should be.
My dentist used an impression of my teeth and the 3-D image of my teeth to make my crown the best possible shape—a shape that fit well into my gums and with my other teeth.
She checked color charts to determine exactly which shade of white would make my crown look as natural as possible.
My dentist followed good, general principles to design my crown. She applied these general principles to the specific facts and circumstances affecting my specific tooth, my specific gums, and my other specific teeth.
For example, my dentist made sure I would be able to bite and chew smoothly, taking into account the size and shape of my mouth, my gums, and my teeth.
This reminds me of how the Spirit of the LORD works in our lives, our communities of wisdom, our families, our businesses, our nations, and our civilizations.
The truths revealed by the Spirit of the LORD are eternal and unchanging.
The Spirit of the LORD reveals:
“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands [of generations], and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the wicked unpunished; he punishes the children and their children to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7).
The Spirit of the LORD reveals:
“Hear, O [Humanity]: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
Yet, when the Spirit of the LORD reveals these eternal, unchanging truths, each person, community, family, business, nation, and civilization hears the message in a “language” they can understand.
For example, on the day of Pentecost, the believers in Jerusalem “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4).
People from throughout the Roman Empire had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Pentecost. They spoke many different languages.
Nevertheless, each of them heard the message about the teachings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in their own language.
“Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’ . . . . Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does it mean?’” (Acts 2: 5-12).
It means that the Spirit of the LORD is a Good Dentist. Eternal, unchanging truths are expressed to each of us in our “native language.”
This doesn’t merely mean the words in which the eternal, unchanging truths are spoken.
It means the wisdom revealed in light of all the applicable facts and circumstances—past, present and future; good, bad and ugly.
It means that these eternal, unchanging truths are expressed in a “language” that each of us can understand and apply in specific ways given all the applicable facts and circumstances—past, present and future; good, bad and ugly.
It means that these eternal, unchanging truths are expressed in a “language” that our communities of wisdom, families, businesses, nations, and civilizations can understand and apply in specific ways given all the applicable facts and circumstances—past, present and future; good, bad and ugly.
For as the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Rome, even some of those who do not say that they follow the ideals of the Law of Moses and of the Prophets, as fulfilled by Jesus, nevertheless “show that [these ideals] are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” (Romans 2:14-15 (emphasis added); Matthew 21:28-32).
Such people say “Yes” to the Way of Jesus by their actions, rather than by saying the “right” words—by “nodding their heads” to signify “Yes”. In contrast, some people who say “Yes” to the Way of Jesus are actually saying “No” by their actions—by “shaking their heads” to signify “No”. (James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46).
Finally, my dentist carefully chose the best materials for my crown.
Similarly, God has chosen the best materials for our “crowns”—for our “armor of light.”(Romans 13:12).
To build our armor of light, the Apostle Paul told us: “[C]lothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:14).
Paul told us:
“[B]e strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10).
[P]ut on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13).
What materials does our Good Dentist use to make this “crown”—this armor of light?
—the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14);
—the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14);
—the footwear of peace (Ephesians 6:15);
—the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16);
—the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17); and
—the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
No wonder that with such “armor of light”—with such “crowns”—created by our Good Dentist, we shall surely prevail in our struggle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil”! (Ephesians 6:12).
No wonder that with such “armor of light”—with such “crowns”—created by our Good Dentist, we can “bite and chew” smoothly, conquering the very “gates of Hades” itself! (Matthew 16:18).
For more of my thoughts about the Good Dentist, please read my blog “The Good Dentist: Deep Cleanings”.
For more of my thoughts about the dangers of looking for planks in other people’s eyes, please read my blogs “Building Houses on Sand: Specks and Planks” and “Building Houses on Rock: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.
For more of my thoughts about applying eternal unchanging truths to specific matters, please read the Appendices: “How To Apply the Word of God Authoritatively”, “How To Apply the Bible to Specific Matters”, “The Accuracy and Reliability of the Bible”, and “The Spirit in Which To Study and Apply the Bible” in my book The Promised Land, at pages 153-184.