Part 11: Man Shall Cleave Part 1

Letters on Spiritual Formation #11

Man Shall Cleave - Part 1

This is article is part of a series of letters on spiritual growth and maturity. To read the previous letter in the series, click here.


What happens to a man as he is united to God?

What is the natural outworking of this Divine union?

Is it a sinless state?

Is it becoming like God?

It is as simple as an esoteric experience?

Our answer can be found if we turn back in scripture to the first few pages of recorded history.

In Genesis 2, God leads Adam to become aware that Adam is alone. They have searched everywhere and have found no one suitable to live alongside Adam in his role towards creation. It is at this point that the bible records that God puts Adam to sleep and removes something from his side (the original language is actually unclear on what it was exactly, though many have assumed it was his rib). This is then fashioned into woman, who is found to be a suitable mate for Adam.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast (cleave) to his wife, and they shall become one flesh".” Genesis 2:21-24

Man and woman, who are of the same flesh, then cleave to one another. God who is Spirit (John 4:24) creates man with a spirit, and calls man to also cleave to himself.

“My soul clings (cleaves) to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8

“You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast (cleave) to him, and by his name you shall swear.” Deuteronomy 10:20

“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast (cleave) to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4

In the same way a man would cleave to his wife, we have a picture of how mankind ought to cleave to God. Paul even seems to state that the things we become intimate with are what we are cloven to:

“Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.’" 1 Corinthians 6:16

Where there is intimacy there is union. Cleaving, whether it be man to wife, or man to God speaks of this union. “Two becoming one” is a union of flesh, then a union of spirit, and finally of union of offspring.

The Union of Flesh

This union creates new physical and emotional intimacy. Man begins to change the physical world around him. His actions change, his view changes, he sees people differently. Everything in the life of an individual experiencing this union begins to revolve around the person who they are being united with. In this case of the believer, this union and reorientation is around God's Spirit.

In this union, the individual becomes aware of the felt presence of God, and is assured of his existence. There now exists in the individual the sense of another. This is bodily union, the presence of God touching the soul of his creation.

The Union of Spirit

The union of spirit is primarily one of inner formation. The individual's spirit is joined to the Holy Spirit, and is thus pulled into the direction of the holy. This is the straightening that was spoken of earlier. In this union, mankind enters into a life of prayer and encountering Him who is Spirit. As in a union of a marriage a man and woman begin to form their inner thought life around each other, so the newly christened spiritual man begins to form his inner life around Christ. Those who grasp a hold of this union become radical beacons for the passionate pursuit of God to those around them.

The Union of Offspring

The union of offspring is when the life of the believer begins to mimic the life of Christ. He is filled and continually walking in greater levels of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5. As when two people become physically intimate, offspring is born, so when two become one in Spirit, spiritual fruit is born. The life of the individual begins to bear the fruit of the spirit he has been intimate with, the Holy Spirit.

It is in cleaving to God that mankind is reborn of Spirit. He who has joined to the Lord and become one spirit with him (as 1 Corinthians 6:17 states) is he who has cleaved to the Lord. Mankind bears his image (flesh), bears his law (spirit), and bears his offspring (fruit). Jesus seems to make this connection in John 3:

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’  Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.   Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ “ John 3:3-8

Continue Reading Part 12…