Who Are You? - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 5 - DISCERNING GOOD AND EVIL
"But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14).
"For we are not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).
God is not the Author of evil, of confusion, of darkness. When God bids His people to come to that place of maturity where they are able to discern both good and evil, He is not asking them to understand that He is, in some sense, the Author of both. Rather He would bring His mature ones to that place in God where they know, discern, understand the nature of both, so they will know where to draw the line between good and evil, between light and darkness, between order and disorder, between truth and falsehood. And then in union with Him they shall be able to confront the forces of evil in open battle, and bring them to nought. As we walk in His ways and learn of Him He will show us how to walk in the wisdom of the Cross, and how to face every onslaught of the Evil One against us, clothed upon with "the armor of righteousness". He shows us how God, in the wisdom of the Cross, reaches forth and takes the devices of the Enemy which he had devised for our destruction, entwines them into His own glorious purposes, and uses them to ensnare the Enemy in his own trap. It is the teaching of the Cross,--
"That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil" (Heb. 2:14).
We have observed in all these illustrations we have used from the Old Testament, how time and time again, as His people were brought face to face with certain and imminent destruction, and they sought Him... God came on the scene and brought the hordes of evil to destruction by their own evil strategies.
The Origin of Evil
Now if we understand that God is PURE LIGHT, and that "in Him is no darkness at all" (1 Jn. 1:5), there is no way we can go along with some current teaching that God made the Devil just as He is now: a liar, a murderer, full of hate, full of sin, full of darkness. I believe Satan's strategy in this is to promote a little sympathy for himself, knowing that in a short time he is to be crushed under the feet of the people of God. Can't you hear him pleading for a little understanding and sympathy from God's people? "Christian friends, don't be too hard on me. I can show you from the Bible that God made me just the way I am. The Bible says that I sinned from the beginning... God made me like this: to kill, to steal, to deceive, and to destroy. So if I cause my servants to slaughter the innocents on my altars... if I drag your young men and women down into destruction through drugs and liquor... if I pervert their minds with filth and wild intoxicating music, and degrade them utterly in spirit, soul, and body... with all manner of sexual and immoral perversity... I can't help it. You say it is not good. How would I know? I never knew the meaning of GOOD. How could I tell the difference? Can't you see? God made me this way... God made me do it!"
Some are teaching that Adam was 'the shining one' ...the Lucifer that Isaiah spoke about. True, Adam was made in God's image, but never was he in the full expression of "the image of God". This was reserved for the Last Adam, even Jesus. The first Adam was but a "figure" or "type" of the Last Adam (See Rom. 5:14). Adam was never a heavenly one; nor did he fall "from Heaven". He was "of the earth, earthy". It was the Last Adam who was "the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor. 15:47). Jesus said He saw Satan fall from heaven "as lightning" (Luke 10:18). Lucifer is clearly identified in the Bible as the king of Babylon:
The King of Babylon
"Take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased!" And after describing his greatness and his pomp the prophet goes on to describe his sin, and his fall:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer..." (See Isa. 14).
As we come to understand what Babylon is, then the identification of the king of Babylon is readily apparent. It is not too difficult for us to understand that the original Babel, and the later kingdoms of Babylon (under Nebuchadnezzar and other kings) were but the first expressions of a great antichrist system that would come to ultimate fullness in the earth, and over which Satan would rule as "the prince of the power of the air", ...and as "the god of this world" (See Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4). For Babylon is seen again in the Book of Revelation, in its ultimate form, as the kingdom and domain of the "whore" that rides the scarlet-colored "beast". All the nations are seen as dominated by the Babylon system, as the ally themselves together to "make war with the Lamb" and His chosen ones. (Rev. 12:7-9; Rev. 17:1-18; etc).
It is not strange, therefore, that the prophets would speak of the earthly and the heavenly kingdoms in the same breath, in the same context. And here in Isa. 14:1-15, it is evident that there is the blending of the earthly with the heavenly. Daniel also speaks of the earthly and heavenly princes, and how Michael the archangel got involved in warfare with the Prince of Persia. It was at a time when the earthly Prince of Persia (king Cyrus) was favoring the people of God, and helping them rebuild and restore the temple in Jerusalem. God in His sovereignty holds absolute power and authority in His hands, and knows how to frustrate the purposes of the Evil One who may be working in both the earthly and the heavenly realms. The heavenly counterpart of the earthly ruler is against God and His purposes, and will do what he can to put pressure on the princes of this world to hinder the work of God. Michael therefore stood up on behalf of God's people, and warred against the heavenly Prince of Persia (See Dan. 10:13). There are "principalities and powers" in the heavenlies that are counterparts of kings, dictators, presidents, prime ministers... whatever they may be designated down here; and these heavenly powers are not at all favorable to any kind of law or decree that will help the cause of God's people in the earth. That is why we are exhorted to pray for these earthly rulers, that the purposes of God will not be frustrated by the Enemy; because Satan knows how to take advantage of the people of God in their ignorance, or disobedience. Getting involved in the political arena solves nothing. God has no problem dealing with earthly governors and rulers. He can turn their hearts any way He will--be they evil and perverse, or seemingly good and benevolent. God's problem is with His own people. And let us be assured of this, people of God: if our nation, or any other nation comes to the place of hopeless apostasy... and if God's people who are scattered among them, are not walking in the ways of truth... our prayers will not penetrate the heavens, and God's earthly rulers will be pressured by the Enemy to go his way, whether that ruler be Christian or pagan. On the contrary, a people walking in the paths of truth can penetrate the very heavens and cause even the heart of an oppressive ruler to bow to His will. Be they presidents, or prime ministers, or iron-handed dictators, or kings... God knows how to deal with them when His people are walking in obedience and interceding for the Church of Christ according to the will of God. And when His people turn away from God, and go their own way, (it matters not how they vote), God will give them the kind of ruler that is compatible with the heart of the nation, and with the Church that has "lost its savor". We had better know and recognize that this is so, and stop blaming the evil rulers that abound in the earth today. God sets in power whom He will, according to His own righteous decrees--and He knows how to cancel out the vote of zealous Christians, if they are not seeking Him earnestly and their hearts are not prepared to walk in obedience before Him.
Is God the Author of Evil?
There is this passage in 1 John 3:8 that some are misconstruing to make God the Author of evil. "The Devil sinneth from the beginning..." Notice in the very same breath John says, "This is the message that ye heard from the beginning" (vs. 11). What beginning? The day they were born? No! It was another beginning, many years later when they had come to years, and the gospel came to them. If you will take your concordance and examine the various "beginnings" mentioned in the Bible, it becomes clear that there are many, many beginnings, and it all depends on the context in which they are mentioned. The disciples of Jesus, we are told, walked with Christ "from the beginning" (Jn. 15:27). You mean from the first day they were born? Or from the beginning of creation? No! But from the beginning when Jesus called them to become His disciples. Mark speaks about "the beginning of the gospel" (Mark 1:1)--referring to the time when John the Baptist came on the scene. Paul also speaks about "the beginning of the gospel", and he is referring to his own ministry, when he ministered the gospel in Macedonia and in other parts, which was perhaps 30 years or more later (See Phil. 4:15). It was not the same "beginning of the gospel" that Mark spoke about. We could go on and on in this. And because the Devil sinned "from the beginning" it is a great error to say that God created him that way. Rather from the time he chose the pathway of self-exaltation and disobedience to his Creator--that was the beginning of his role as Satan, or Adversary of God.
Does God Use the Devil?
Certainly God is Sovereign, and even Satan is under God's control. Much to his displeasure he does not have liberty to perform his evil works except the Lord permits it, or authorizes it. Then why not just confess that when God created him, He gave him these evil attributes? Because this would be maligning God. The apostle Paul preached the glorious gospel of the grace of God, and boldly declared that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound". And so his accusers slanderously reported that Paul was preaching: "Let us do evil that good may come". What shall we say then of this slanderous teaching, "Let us make a Devil... full of hate and murder and deceit...that good may come"? It is totally contrary to the Spirit of Truth, because it makes a holy God to be the Author of Evil. Paul reminds us that even though God may use our "lie" to show forth His glory--this in no way implies that the "lie" is excusable because of the glory God will bring out of it. And if it was a slanderous report when men accused Paul of teaching, "Let us do evil that good may come..."--what shall we say of those who are teaching that God Himself created the greatest of all evils, when He made the Evil One--that "good might come" out of it? "Shall we (that are prone to sin), do evil that good may come?" Or shall God, who is awesome in holiness, create an Evil One "that good may come"? The apostle Paul refuses to even argue the point, because it is so obviously a charge against God's holy character. He simply says it's a "slanderous report" against God, and that God will righteously judge those who accuse him of teaching a doctrine like this. (See Rom. 3:5-8).
We know that God is in charge of all His creation, and that any power Satan has, God gave it to him. We would naturally suppose God should have stripped him of his power when he fell. But who are we to question God's wisdom? God has never relinquished His absolute sovereignty in the heavens or in the earth; and we can be confident He never will. When questioned by Pilate (who reminded Jesus that he had power to release Him or to condemn Him) Jesus told him plainly that he had no power, except that which was given him from above (John 19:11). God is certainly in control, and He knows how and when He will turn all the devices of Satan against himself, to bring about his destruction. But let us not slander God by accusing him of creating this Evil One and endowing him with sin, murder, hate, and deceit in the day He created him.
God made Everything Good
Even in the natural world about us, what God made was so good that His own Godhead and attributes are to be seen in "the things that are made." Much of it has come under the curse, and signs of decay and corruption abound in all of His works. Yet in and through it all there is enough evidence of Himself in His handiwork to make all men "without excuse."
A quick scan through your concordance will show there is a clear distinction between the evil deeds of men or devils, and the evil that God Himself creates for the punishment of evil doers. God "creates evil" to judge the wicked for their wickedness--by sending wars, famines, pestilence and the like. He may even send evil (or the Evil One) against His own chosen vessels, as He did to Job, by way of refining them in the furnace of affliction. Satan knows he is under restraint. He complained that God had put a hedge about Job, and that if God would remove the hedge, Job would sin like any other man. So God took the blame for Job's afflictions, and removed the hedge--without obscuring the fact that Satan was himself the author of his own evil deeds. (See Job 2:3).
It is not true that God created the world, or anything in it, out of "nothing". Everything God made, He created out of attributes or powers or qualities that are inherent in Himself... so that "things which are seen were not made of things which do appear"--but from invisible things (Heb. 11:3). And these "invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse". (Rom. 1:20).
God is Light
Hear this very clear statement of the apostle John: "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn. 1:5). God is Light, total Light. If you and I carry a light with us, we cannot avoid casting a shadow, because our body is the dark area that casts the shadow. And so Jesus said that if our eye be single, our whole body will be full of LIGHT, and He emphasized it further by saying, "having NO PART DARK" (Lk. 11:36). If we walk in the total Light of Him who is Light, the only 'shadows' or 'projections' that we cast about us, will be rays of light. No wonder Peter's shadow, as it were, healed the sick as he walked by them. It was not merely the 'shadow' cast as he obscured the sun, but the SHADOW OF LIGHT that emanated from a man that was walking in the full light of God's presence. He was living in the presence of God, and abiding "under the shadow of the Almighty". God has no dark areas in His Being, and therefore even His SHADOW is one of pure light, total light.
"Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of LIGHTS, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Jas. 1:16, 17). Yes, God may "turn" in different directions, in response to the righteous, or the unrighteous acts of His people. But never is there any shadow of darkness cast about Him by reason of His "turning"...because there are no dark areas in His Being. All that comes out from His own Being is Light, Goodness, Love, Truth, Mercy, Long-suffering, Patience, Kindness, Righteousness, Justice--and because of these and other virtues, He will at times show forth His wrath, and create evil in the land to judge the workers of iniquity. James tells us: "God cannot be tempted with evil" (Jas. 1:13). The thought is that EVIL is foreign to His nature. One translation reads: "God is unversed in evils". God does not have those kinds of skills, to create and bring forth creatures of sin and darkness... God does not have in His holy, righteous and awesome character, the ability to create a murderer, a thief, a liar. The scriptures tell us that "God cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). Are you telling us then, O man, that God who cannot lie can nevertheless create a liar, and the father of all lies?
As far as I am aware this teaching was introduced into the Church in modern times. Yet even Calvin the reformer saw fit to mention how perverse such a thought would be. He knew God well enough to know that in Him there was no such perverted expertise and wisdom. He writes in his Institutes, Volume I, Ch. XVI:
"But since the devil was created by God, we must remark, that this wickedness which we attribute to his nature is not from creation, but from corruption. For whatever evil quality he has, he has acquired by his defection and fall. And of this the Scripture apprizes us; lest, believing him to have come from God, just as he now is, we should ascribe to God himself that which is in direct opposition to him. For this reason Christ declares, that Satan, 'when he speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own;' and adds the reason--'because he abode not in the truth'. When he says that he abode not in the truth, he certainly implies that he had once been in it; and when he calls him the father of a lie, he precludes his imputing to God the depravity of his nature, which originated wholly from himself. Though these things are delivered in a brief and rather obscure manner, yet they are abundantly sufficient to vindicate the majesty of God from every calumny. And what does it concern us to know, respecting devils, either more particulars, or for any other purpose? Some persons are displeased that the Scripture does not give us, in various places, a distinct and detailed account of their fall, with its cause, manner, time, and nature. But, these things being nothing to us, it was better for them, if not to be passed over in total silence, yet certainly to be touched on but lightly; because it would ill comport with the dignity of the Holy Spirit to feed curiosity with vain and unprofitable histories; and we perceive it to have been the design of the Lord, to deliver nothing in his sacred oracles, which we might not learn to our edification. That we ourselves, therefore, may not dwell upon unprofitable subjects, let us be content with this concise information respecting the nature of devils; that at their creation they were originally angels of God, but by degenerating have ruined themselves, and become the instruments of perdition to others. This being useful to be known, it is clearly stated by Peter and Jude, 'God,' say they, 'spared not the angels that sinned, and kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation'. And Paul, mentioning the elect angels, without doubt tacitly implies that there are reprobate ones."
Whence then cometh EVIL?
When we see God as One who is Light, in every ray of His Glory--suddenly it becomes apparent where evil comes from. EVIL is simply DARKNESS in all its various forms and intensities. And darkness is simply the absence of light.
Then sun sets, and I am in darkness. Is the sun the cause of the darkness? Not at all, but the sun moved away, and I am in darkness. I have power lines coming into my home. When darkness falls, I am totally dependent upon the Electric Power Company for light in my home. But one day I decide in my heart, "I do not want to live in this kind of dependence... I will have my own light... I will cut those power lines". Suddenly my home is in darkness. Where did it come from? From the Power Company? No! Rather, I excluded and severed my connection with the Power Company, and the result is simply NEGATIVE. I excluded the light, and suddenly I am in darkness.
God is LIGHT, not just a light-bearer. He is total LIGHT, and "in Him is no darkness at all". He gives light, because He is the source of truth, of goodness, of grace, of mercy, of long-suffering... for the facets of LIGHT are many. But we as creatures of God, made to be light-bearers, can only retain that light as we walk in union with Him. We in earth, and all celestial beings, are totally dependent upon Him for the life we have, and for His sustaining grace to maintain that life. If we choose to cut the channel of LIGHT, then immediately there is DARKNESS. Now we mentioned that there are many facets of light, and so...
Exclude Light, and you have Darkness.
Exclude Good, and you have Evil.
Exclude Mercy, and you have Cruelty.
Exclude Truth, and you have Deception.
Exclude Love, and you have Hatred.
IT IS JUST AS SIMPLE AS THAT, AND JUST AS AWESOME.
And need we point out again, that to expel the Darkness, we need only to come to the Light. To overcome the Evil, we can only do it with Goodness. To defeat the Cruelty, we need to show Mercy. To banish the Deception, we need to walk in Truth. To overcome the Hatred, we need to walk in Love. And are these not the very pillars of the Sermon on the Mount? And the secret of being made heirs of the Kingdom of Christ?
And so John tells us, "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light... he that hateth his brother is in darkness" (1 Jn. 2:10, 11). If you exclude Him who is LIGHT, you do not have to go anywhere looking for darkness... it is immediately THERE. God is Light, God is Love, God is Truth. Leave God out and you have Darkness, Hate, and Deception. Where does Evil come from? JUST EXCLUDE GOD AND YOU HAVE IT!
God is Sovereign over all the works of Evil
But when we understand how God entwines the devices of the Evil One into His own purposes, and for His own glory--then we can praise Him in the midst of any torment that Satan seeks to bring upon us. God says, "I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy" (Isa. 54:16). And so God wants us to know that inasmuch as He created that evil man or devil, He knows how to deal with him. For a season God may let him rage against us, but He gives this assurance: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (vs. 17). As Pharaoh persists in his darkness and rebellion, God sends still further darkness; for He tells us, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isa. 45:7). In Adam's disobedience and fall, we are all from the same lump of fallen humanity, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). From this "same lump" God sees fit to choose a perverse Pharaoh, as a "vessel unto dishonor"; or by sovereign grace to make others to be "vessels unto honor". We all deserve His wrath--let us make no mistake about that. We are, of course, an inquisitive lot, but He doesn't feel obliged to tell us why He will tolerate and use "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction", and shower abundant grace on others, that do not deserve His grace. Where we cannot understand, let us be content to know that He is indeed the Potter, and we are but the clay. And therefore we have no right to say, "Why hast thou made me thus?" (See Rom. 9:18-23). (But He does give us a little insight as to His purpose in all of this, which we will enlarge upon in the last chapter).
The Nature of Adam's Transgression
Adam was never a heavenly being, and when he transgressed he did not fall from Heaven, as Lucifer did. Paul tells us he was "of the earth, earthy" (1 Cor. 15:47). Nor did he aspire to be "like God" as Lucifer did; for he was already made like God, in His image. Never as an equal, in the sense of being another god. But as one "like God" in the nature and character of his being, because he was created in God's image. Like all of God's creatures, including the heavenly hosts, he would always be totally dependent upon God, and upon every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God, if he was to retain this life and this glory. He was aware of that, and was not deceived into thinking that if he partook of the forbidden fruit he would "ascend" into a place of lordship in Heaven. He knew he was made to be lord of planet earth, and there was never a hint about any conspiracy with Eve or with the Serpent to be like God. He was created like God in the first place. Not to say he was "perfect" in the sense that he had come to the full stature of God's intention; for he had not yet been approved in a trial of obedience. And yet, though "made of the dust", he was given a very high position as lord of this planet, with all creatures subject to him. Still, he was on probation, and his trial consisted of a simple matter of obedience to the God who created him. He was forbidden to eat of "the tree of knowledge of good and evil". But notice this, "ADAM WAS NOT DECEIVED" either by the Serpent or by Eve (1 Tim. 2:14). EVE WAS DECEIVED; but in Adam's case it was a deliberate transgression. He failed in the test of obedience. The Serpent came to Eve in his subtlety, and "deceived" her with a promise of great knowledge--something that would elevate her to a position of a god, if she would eat of the tree; and Eve fell as a result. But Adam knew better; his was a deliberate act of disobedience. Eve was the only companion he had in that beautiful Garden! Now she had fallen! He made a deliberate decision to disobey God, and to share the fate of his wife who had fallen.
Now we are told that Adam was "a figure of him that was to come", even Christ (Rom. 5:14). The One to come was to be another Adam, and He too would be subjected to a test of obedience. So in a very unique way the first Adam is a figure or pattern, of the Last Adam. The "pattern" of the first Adam is portrayed again in the Last Adam, but in a very remarkable contrast. The first Adam was tested and tried in a simple matter of obedience, and deliberately chose the pathway of disobedience. The Last Adam was tested and tried in much suffering and rejection and humiliation,--and ever and always remained faithful to the Heavenly Father. In His ultimate test of obedience He was required to go to the Cross. He likewise had to make a deliberate choice. But "for the joy that was set before Him" ...the joy of bringing many sons to glory, He chose the pathway of obedience. He chose to partake of the curse of His fallen Bride, not as the first Adam--in disobedience... but in obedience to the Father as our Kinsman Redeemer, to bring us back to God. Where Adam failed to come to perfection, the last Adam triumphed, and was made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10). For let us understand that perfection in the general use of that word in scripture, is not only a state of goodness and moral uprightness-it goes far beyond that. Ultimately it is that blessed state where one has been tested and tried, and has come forth an approved vessel, complete and entire... lacking nothing. And so the first Adam was a "figure" or "pattern" of the Last Adam--but it was a pattern that showed very distinct contrasts: the first Adam bringing death and condemnation to all in his race; and the Last Adam bringing righteousness and life and peace to all in His race. O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
It is this glorious plan of redemption that occupies the heart and mind of God all through the scriptures. He drove man out of the Garden, but He will bring him back again. One Man has already come forth in God's perfect image. There will yet be a new race of men, after the image of the Last Adam, of a far higher order than the image of the first Adam. And they will eat of the Tree of Life "which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (See Rev. 2:7).
Satan will continue to war against the holy Seed that God promised Eve, ...a Seed that would "bruise the Serpent's head". The true Seed did this at the Cross, and He will yet crush him under His Feet. "O Lord, How long..." has been the cry of His suffering Church throughout the ages. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!
The Process of Apostasy
The Bible mentions 3 phases in the process of apostasy, and let us consider briefly each of these, for it shows us clearly what brought us to the state we are in today. It is explained by the apostle Paul in his writing to the Romans.
He begins by stating that in the early days of the human family, men knew God. True Adam had sinned, and fell away from his Creator. But a certain knowledge of God was still there, and persists to certain degree until this day. It is not true that in man's earliest history he worshipped many gods, and finally eliminated them all but one. Early man was monotheistic. He only recognized the true God who created him. How then did he apostatize? Paul sets it forth clearly:
(1) Step One:
"When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful" (Rom. 1:21). This may seem very insignificant to the world about us, and even to many Christians. But this was man's first step downward into the darkness of apostasy. Man said, "I will not give God His Lordship in my life. I refuse to give honor to the God who created me..." Paul couples this with UNTHANKFULNESS. Let us remember, we who profess to know God, that when we refuse to give God His Lordship, and to thank Him for His goodness, and for who He is, ...this is the first step away from the light, and into darkness. And so what happened when men took this step of independence from God, and no longer honored Him as God, nor gave Him thanks? They went into further darkness. "Their foolish heart was darkened". Where did this darkness come from? They refused to give God His Lordship, and became unthankful. With what result? God who is pre Light begins to withdraw His restraining grace from their lives, and "gives them up" to uncleanness, to "dishonor their own bodies between themselves" (vs. 24).
(2) Step Two:
Man now "changes the truth of God into a lie" ...and worships and serves the creature, rather than the Creator (vs. 25). Unless man returns to his God this is inevitable. Truth is perverted and becomes a LIE. Forsake Him who is Truth, and you accept a LIE. And so man begins to worship the creature, "an image made like to corruptible man" as well as "birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things". He worships "corruptible man", a species considered to have been a mere animal, but now evolved to the top of the ladder. He feels he has developed and evolved to a place where he is sufficient in himself. Who needs God? Well, He may exist; but we don't really need Him anymore. And so once again God lets man go his own way into further darkness. He says, "If you can do without Me, I will create still greater darkness for you. I will give you over to greater evil, and leave you to the perversity of your own heart." "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections" (vs. 26). And then the apostle goes on to describe some of the vilest expressions of moral behavior ever known in man's history, ...perverse things like homosexualism and lesbianism. (See Rom. 1:26, 27).
(3) Step Three:
"They did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (vs. 28). Notice the steps: First, I will not give God His place of honor as my Creator. Secondly, I am sufficient in myself, I don't really need God, I will be my own god. And now thirdly, "I don't want God in my thoughts... I will seek to eradicate Him from my very mind". And God says, If you do not want Me in your thoughts, I will create still more evil for you... I will withdraw from you completely. I release you to walk in total darkness and depravity. And so "God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (vs. 28). The reprobate mind (Gr. 'adokimos') is the mind that cannot stand the test; it becomes worthless, rejected. The man who once had an awareness of God, no longer has that awareness, nor does he even want to have God in his thoughts. The reprobate mind is one that lacks moral discernment. IT DOES NOT KNOW OR RECOGNIZE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL.
Do you see, then, where we have come to in our society, and what we are up against? So why march, and protest, and try to legislate proper morals, and argue with people as to the pros and cons of the evils that exist in the land? They do not have a mind that is capable of making a proper judgment in matters of righteousness and morals. It is the last stage of man's apostasy... and I think we are there. Nothing but the proclamation of the Gospel of God, and His holy fire and anointing in our midst, can reverse this trend of our apostasy. If ministers in the "Church" and intellectuals in our schools continue to teach atheism, and humanism, and evolution... that man is a mere animal (but perhaps the most highly developed in the animal kingdom), God says I will create still greater darkness for you. And it all began when men became unthankful and denied God His Lordship, and changed the truth of God into a lie. And finally in man's last downward step of apostasy he now wants to eradicate the very thought of God from his mind. Our legislators, and our educators, and our psychologists are cooperating in all of this, and yet are baffled and confused because they sense how hopeless it is getting to deal with delinquency and perverse behavior. And while they are searching for solutions they are spending millions to fortify the educational system that has caused all the problems by saying: "Just leave God out of the picture, and let knowledge and science be exalted". God is saying to this highly educated and scientific generation: If you are going to leave Me out, I am going to create such darkness, that you will not know which way to turn. If you are going to turn the truth into a lie, I am going to send strong delusion, so that you will believe the lie. God says if you want to eradicate Me from your thoughts, I will eradicate every trace of light that you have ever known, and create more darkness and evil than you will know how to handle.
And so we are very quickly coming to the full expression of Phase III of man's apostasy. Men are being given over to a reprobate mind: the mind that cannot tell the difference between Good and Evil. Light becomes Darkness, and Darkness Light. Good becomes Evil, and Evil Good. Truth becomes Error, and Error Truth. They just do not know the difference.
When "Church" councils convene, as they are doing, for the purpose of coming to a consensus as to whether or not they should ordain homosexuals to the "ministry" or condone the practice of it in the Church, you know that we are right in the middle of ultimate apostasy, no matter what their final decision may be. When people begin to surmise, "Well, perhaps these are not sins after all... let's be open... let's get together and talk about it..."--you know their minds are already in the process of becoming "reprobate".
The Temptation of Jesus
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matt. 4:1).
We want to consider briefly this threefold temptation of Jesus:
The temptation to turn the stone into bread.
The temptation to fall headlong from the temple.
The temptation to take the kingdoms of this world.
Paul tells us that Satan will come masquerading as an Angel of Light. How could he successfully counterfeit the light, unless he once knew what the light was? How could he produce seemingly good things, if he had not once known what was good? He must certainly have known that here was Once who came to regain what the first Adam had lost through listening to the voice of the Tempter. He got a foothold in the first Adam, through his subtle approach to Eve. Now he would attempt to get a similar foothold in the Last Adam.
Why is it Wrong?
Why would it have been wrong for Jesus to turn a stone into bread, if He was hungry. Or to fall headlong from a high building, into the upholding arms of the angels? Or to take the kingdoms of this world into His dominion?
We are not going into great detail concerning these temptations; but we want to emphasize that Satan was looking for a foothold in the life of the Son of God, and any manner in which he could do it would be acceptable to him. He simply wants a place of recognition and honor. He wants worship. He wants to be "like the Most High". He would gladly give to the Lord Jesus, or to any of His followers, anything over which he has control, if we are prepared to give him a little honor, a little recognition, a little worship.
God help His people to understand that when we submit ourselves to the Lord and take His Name in Christian baptism, we are there and then "joined unto the Lord"--and from this day forward He wants to be the Lord of our lives, to lead us and guide us, and direct us in the ways of God. He wants us to know that He is requiring of us, as He required of His Son, such subjection unto His will, and such a sensitivity to His voice, that we will do only what He is doing, say only what He is saying, and get involved only in what He Himself had ordained as His particular and specific purpose for our lives. And in order that we might come to this kind of relationship, He lays the pathway out before us in clear, unmistakable terms:
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). Satan is not too deeply concerned how involved we may become in religion, in Christian activity, in gifts, in miracles, in social programs, in politics... just so long as he is able to retain a little foothold in our lives, and by so doing get a little honor out of it all for himself. True, he will pollute and twist and demoralize and pervert the human life, if given the opportunity. And how does he go about that? He just teaches man to leave God out of the picture, as we have shown. As long as God is left out, he is honored. And so if there is some religious inclination in any of us, or a nature that aspires after wisdom and knowledge and respectability and moral uprightness, he will seek a place of honor there. If there is a true Christian heart, and one that seeks the extension of the Kingdom of God in the earth, he will seek a place of honor there. His ultimate hope and ambition is to get honor and worship from all people, and lordship over God's creation.
Satan's Quest for Worship
Did Satan request, or insinuate, that Jesus should deny His Divine birth, repudiate His heavenly Father, or forsake the idea of regaining man's lordship over creation? Not at all. He just wanted a little part of the honor. And so he does not hesitate to advertise and popularize God's men of the hour. Did he take Jesus over to the brow of some hill there in the wilderness, and encourage Him to fall headlong into the arms of the angels? No glory for Satan in that. But he took Him to the wing of the temple in Jerusalem. This would make Jesus famous. Imagine what great advertising He would have from this tremendous miracle, were He to fall headlong from the temple into the arms of the angels, in the sight of all the people milling about in the temple courts!
Satan did not hesitate to advertise Paul and his company as God's men of the hour. In this way he might get a hold on Paul, and eventually strangle him. The damsel at Philippi had a "spirit of divination". Literally it reads, a "spirit of Python". Python was a serpent in Greek mythology that battled with one of the gods. The Python kills his prey by strangulation; he cuts off the flow of the breath of life. Now this damsel boldly announced:
"These men are the servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17). Right, was she not? Buy why was Satan advertising a man like Paul, who was becoming a threat to the kingdom of darkness? Because he might be able to influence Paul to become his ally; and because a man or woman is no threat to the kingdom of darkness simply because he is preaching, or healing, or extending the knowledge of the Kingdom of God throughout the world. Satan's kingdom is only threatened when he beholds a people walking in the way of the Cross! A certain minister told me one time that the Devil appeared to him and said, "I will make you to be the greatest healing evangelist in the world..." But he discerned the voice and resisted the Devil, and he fled from him. If God's men can become greatly known down here, and receive the praise and honor of men, it is no threat to Satan's kingdom; because he holds lordship over this world system, and he will know how to handle that situation a little later on. Sooner or later the pressure will be applied: "The world loves me... the world hates the way of the Cross... what am I going to do?" And so a confrontation is inevitable, and the pressure will be great to relapse into the arms of the world. Jesus said, "The world cannot hate you: but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (Jn. 7:7). Why did Constantine take away the reproach of the Cross, stop the persecution, and elevate clergymen and bishops to high political offices in the Empire? Because Satan realized he could not destroy the Church that walked in the way of the Cross, and he came up with a new policy that was designed to cause "the offence of the Cross" to cease... by bringing men of God into positions of authority and esteem in the eyes of the world. And his strategy worked! So well, in fact, that even to this day involvement with the world, with a mixture of politics and religion, is considered to be the proper approach for those who seek the betterment of society, and the removal of our social ills. God's people must learn that they can only be a blessing to mankind as they manifest the presence of Christ in this evil world, without becoming a part of it.
The Nature of Babylon
"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a NAME, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Gen. 11:4).
The purpose of the first Babel was not to find God, but to make a NAME for themselves and to promote unity. The tower was intended to keep them together, not as a means to find God. As they moved about they would not get separated one from the other; the city and the tower would be the focal point that would enable them to keep together as one people, as they moved around on the plains of Shinar. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. As "god of this world" Satan wants WORSHIP; and as "prince of the power of the air" he wants DOMINION. Therefore he will continue to keep both religion and politics firmly in his grasp. And not only so, but his purpose is to unite the two in an alliance of great unity and power. The new World Church will be very much entrenched in politics. God will permit it, will even promote it... in order to bring the whole political and religious systems together, and to bring both to total destruction in the great Day of God Almighty. Notice what this warfare is all about: It is warfare with the Lamb, and those who are with Him... those who have His lamb-like nature, who are "called, and chosen, and faithful". And notice how God puts it in the heart of political Babylon to destroy religious Babylon, so as to "fulfill His will". Once again, as we have been emphasizing, the enemies of God bring about their own destruction. (See Rev. 16:14-19; 17:1-18).
A New World Church
Jesus told us that in the day of harvest He would send forth the angels, and that they would gather all the "tares" of the harvest field into bundles. Not only will the angels be involved, but so will the hearts of men, and the evil spirits that dominate them. We are going to be amazed how quickly all this could happen. But let us not think this to be incredible, when we realize that spiritual forces are at work to bring it about. As the day of harvest comes upon us, God commands the separation of the WHEAT from the TARES. There is a separation coming between the true and the false. He commands that the tares be bound together into bundles for burning, and that the wheat be gathered into the garner. (See Matt. 13:30). We understand that in the growing process the wheat and the tares are hardly distinguishable to the undiscerning eye. NOW IF THE WHEAT SPEAKS OF THE BLOOD-WASHED PEOPLE OF GOD, THOSE WHO TRULY KNOW HIM... WE KNOW THAT THE TARES ARE A RELIGIOUS PEOPLE, WHO PASS OFF AS TRUE CHRISTIANS. The tares will seek to be like the real thing, as best they can; and to all appearances they are humble, sincere, and godly Christians. But they know nothing of the cleansing of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fruit of His Spirit.
All false religions will be gathered into BUNDLES preparatory to the Day of the LORD. Does this mean there will be one large "Church" embracing Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus... and so forth? Not necessarily; but God says "BUNDLES". Whether all are brought under one structure or not, we do not know. But God sees no difference in any of them if the blood of Jesus Christ is rules out as the only way of salvation; and if He, the Lord Jesus, does not have His Lordship in their hearts and lives.
Remember, the building materials of the first Babel were "brick" instead of "stone". And they used "slime" instead of "mortar" to put it together. Not the binding together of true born-again believers who have received the free gift of God's grace, and have been "washed in the blood of the Lamb". But they are bound together in a different kind of unity: with the "slime" of church structures, church dogmas, church traditions. The "Church" has supreme authority over the hearts and minds of the people, and one's individual and personal relationship with the Lord matters little or nothing. ...Keep your cultures, keep your devil-worship if you must, just so long as you belong to the "Church"! Just join us, and belong to us, and pay your dues into the "Church"... and we can forgive you all your sins!
They use "brick" instead of "stone". Not each stone carefully shaped and chiseled by the hand of God and His redeeming, transforming grace... and fitted together to form "a habitation of God by the Spirit"... But they are "brick", cast into a mould, and therefore all the same, all in strict conformity to the rules and regulations of the "Church". All made from the clay fields of Shinar, and cast into a mould of religion. Your conscience toward God, and your relationship with Him is only incidental. As long as you give unswerving loyalty to the CHURCH, the SOCIETY, the DENOMINATION, the ORGANIZATION,--whatever it may be called... this is all that really matters. But the true children of God must love and honor Him as their Father, and give unswerving, personal allegiance and loyalty to the Lamb, and follow Him wherever He goes.
We do not need to become extremely knowledgeable in areas that relate to "the mystery of iniquity". But the Lord will give us from time to time what we need to know and understand concerning GOOD AND EVIL; for God does not want us to be ignorant of Satan's devices.
The Two Women of Shinar
"And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, this is Wickedness. And he cast it (her) into the midst of the ephah: and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof" (Zech. 5:7, 8).
God said the "mystery of iniquity" would continue to work until the day when "the man of sin" was to be revealed; and that throughout this age of the Church there would be a restraining power that would hold back the secret workings of evil, until we drew nigh to the Day of the LORD. (See 2 Thess. 2:3-8). Then the restraining hand of God will be lifted, and the "mystery of iniquity" will come to fullness, and will be revealed in the earth.
Zechariah saw a weight (a plate of lead) that was lifted off the ephah, and then he saw the "Wickedness" inside. From time to time God has lifted the weight of lead, and his people have had a glimpse of the workings of the "mystery of iniquity". It was lifted for a season during the Reformation, and men who loved the truth began to cast off the shackles of religious bondage, as scales were removed from their eyes. The very heavens were shaken as Luther, and Calvin, and many other reformers, began to walk in the way of truth, and identified themselves with the Lord Jesus rather than with the religious system. They taught justification by faith, and salvation by grace... rather than by many religious dead works, and penances, and indulgences, and all manner of idolatry.
But the Day of the LORD had not yet come, and the lid was thrown back upon the Woman in the ephah.
"Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, there came out TWO WOMEN, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven" (vs. 9).
Suddenly there were TWO WOMEN. As we have pointed out on several occasions, the number "two" speaks of the corporate expression, and therefore the Body of Christ. Our human body is made up of TWOS... the part, and its counterpart. We have two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, two lungs, etc.
We believe there is going to come into being a very definite counterfeit of the Body of Christ, and many, many are going to be deceived by it. Jesus did not say that any of His elect would be deceived. What He said was that the deception would be so great, even the very elect would be deceived IF THAT WERE POSSIBLE! (See Matt. 24:24). Do we not detect in this statement that God will have special grace for His own, lest they too fall into this horrible deception? We have to walk very close to the Lord Jesus in this hour, if we are going to know what is light and what is darkness, what is truth and what is error, what is good and what is evil, what is Christ, and what is Antichrist...
The ephah was a measuring basket, a vessel for measuring grain. But this ephah is filled not with wheat, but with tares, with wickedness. A plate of heavy lead covers this wickedness, this working of iniquity. False religion, including apostate Christianity, has always been cloaked in dark mystery; and that is why Babylon is seen in the Book of Revelation as "Mystery, Babylon". She, the Mother of false, apostate religion, was revealed for what she was, and then thrust back into the ephah, and covered with the heavy plate of lead; and the "mystery of iniquity" continued on in its secret workings of evil. Protestantism shone as a great light for a season, but the "mystery of iniquity" had not yet come to fullness.
"Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, TO BUILD IT A HOUSE IN THE LAND OF SHINAR: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base" (vs. 10, 11).
This new Babylon that is coming forth out of the ecumenical movement, with Roman Catholics and Protestants working together (and often with the support of evangelicals and the Charismatic Movement), will be an awesome counterfeit of the Body of Christ in the earth. And it could happen very quickly, because we are told that the "two women" have strong wings like the wings of a stork. And that "the wind was in their wings". The wind was favorable! God is seen holding back the four winds of the heavens for a season, until His servants are sealed in their foreheads with the seal of the living God, even the mind of Christ. (See Rev. 7:3). But when the winds of Heaven are released we are going to witness some very dramatic unfoldings of the "mystery of iniquity", and this new house in the Land of Shinar (where Babel began) will be established, and "set there upon her own base" (vs. 11).
Many outstanding men of God are being subjected to great pressures to lend their support to this movement. But more terrifying than that, mighty signs and wonders will be done in the Name of Jesus, and great will be the delusion of those who feel that if there are healings and miracles, it must be of God. All whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be caught in the snare. They will honor this new "Church", which may well have a new name, one that would be acceptable to most areas of apostate Christendom and other religions. But is will all be according to the working of "the man of sin", and those who are caught in the net will perish with Babylon, in the day when she falls under the mighty impact of God's warriors from Heaven... whose only weapons will be the armor of Light, and the Sword of the Spirit. "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Rev. 17:14).
Chapter 6 - Penetrating the Heavenlies
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