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ON DEVICES OF THE DEVIL and their
IMPUDENT IMPOTENCE in the End
These can be shriveled in the Christian Pilgrimage
by the Power and Wisdom of the LORD
A New Look at Old Wiles ... since the Creation!
with a Supplement Germane Added at the End
Psalm 23 is rather comprehensive in outlook. The SUPERVISION of the Lord is there, the PROVISION of the Lord, the PROVIDENTIAL leading of the Lord, His REFRESHING of the inmost sources of one's life, with His specific leading in RIGHTEOUS PATHS in covenantal certainty, His GIFT OF REST in heart, all is there. So too is His munificence in the midst of difficulty, not merely supplying but defying the dynamics of this world and its prince, the devil with his stoodges; and in particular, how comfortably in His presence does He wield His ROD AND STAFF, His PROTECTION against all the wiles and devices of the devil, by HIS OWN POWER.
What shepherd would lack the means appropriate, and with God, it is not UNDER the circumstances, but IN them, to protect. Is it an electric fence nowadays, or a mesh netting, or worm medicine ? What it takes, is to be done.
With us however, the wilds are still present, for the devil is always wild (cf. Revelation 12:10,12, 20:10 being in prospect). Cast out of heaven, his lust is to take over the place. It has been that for time immemorial, and was that before man's downfall.
This insane, insanitary and unspiritual lust is found in many of his chief devotees, many of whom, in view of the fact that their principal is given to and gifted in lies, do not know whom they serve! As Christ put it,
"If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God;
nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
"Why do you not understand My speech?
Because you are not able to listen to My word.
"You are of your father the devil,
and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning,
and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie,
he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
"But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin?
And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words;
therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
( This is found in John 8:42ff. and it is scarcely a presentation for a beauty contest or a
curriculum vitae. This time the part for our current emphasis is put in blue).
He would not be the leader of evil if he were not gifted enough to make it hurt!
Profoundly sad is it to see so many so deluded by this evil one, whose ways are not merely to deceive the world against Christ, against God, against truth, but against peace, since he wants what he quite simply not only does not have, but CANNOT get, the place of God. They deceive his followers also, in whom his unsublime hatred may present itself in the almost (but not quite ...) infinite subtleties which he has learned since his own fall (cf. Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:11).
As to the Ezekiel reference: The king of Tyre was not in Eden, nor was he the anointed cherub who covers, nor was he perfect in his ways from the day he was created; but his boss was. This is partly the irony: in exalting themselves to the heights (and Hussein for example was no mere paranoid case, for his intelligence was considerable and his methods, although the depth of abomination, were crafty and crafted very often), they imagine they actually ascend.
What is it like ? It resembles someone on a para-glider, floating gloriously off a cliff-top, and wafting in the most satisfying and apparently satisfactory manner about the countryside, with an excellent view, it may be, of the ocean. All seems most elevated. Only a little later, when the jagged rocks loom 10 feet away, and the oceanaut perceives his plight, does he take his abstracted gaze from the skies, which in fact STILL do reach sublimely upwards, to realise that he has in reality been moving on a downward path. Still sky ? still in the air ? of course. Still floating ? observably. It is just that the movement not detected in the drama of the occasion, was the downwards one. The clouds were still SO picturesque, stretching - more and more, actually - above!
So do they float in their ONE WORLD,
their ONE RELIGION (unification of religions ? you prefer that
tag ? it is more wafting ? very well). Again, ORGANIC EVOLUTION (the name for the actual descent, in the clouds of the mind, upward cf. Secular Myths and Sacred Truth Chs. 7 and 8, with Earth Spasm ... Chs. 1, 7, Wake Up World ... Ch. 5, Spiritual Refreshings... Ch. 6, 16, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 29) wafts most inanely without any power of its own, forced by gravity to the rocks. Pasion gloats over them as they cry, decry, stigmatise truth, align themselves with the pragmatically obsessive, empirically absent caterwauling of deception. Many are self-deceived, and the whole gamut of graceless pretence has as its President, the infernal strategist whose depths still aspires to toying with man, in the hope of making something really VIOLENT as well as VILE his overlord, by WILE and GUILE!
In the process, there are many LITTLE THINGS to observe. Just as birds could be preoccupied in the sheer beauty*1 of their flight, so the descending para-glider, on his way to soft destruction, soon finds the rocks to be sharper than his wits were.
Such things are no less than the gloatingly vainglorious, devilish devices. Let us look at some of them.
1) Gloating over Trial and Tribulation/Test
In this case, we shall trace out with the particular, some general issues which will be useful also in the later cases listed.
You see a case of this in Job 2:9-10. Job is under test. The reason for this test of course, as is the case with many tests, is simple. It is however not known to Job. It is not some metaphysical marvel which clouds its purpose from his eyes: it is far simpler than that. The reason why it could not be known (as for a Chemistry exam) is this. In this case of Job, IF he knew, it COULD not be a test, for then he would have known that the devil was challenging God to let him, the so-righteous saint, be soundly tested. Then, the devil declared, Job would crack, and revealed would be his true nature of mere, hideous self-love.
Such was the devil's design, which God allowed him to test.
In passing, one might note many who are fallen LOVE to see others join them, and so aspire greatly to produce a good 'downfall for the moment' and one sometimes wonders whether the case of the current Governor-General in Australia is at least in substantial part, of this kind. The sparsity of facts and the volumes of cartoons and quips, this certainly rather suggests it. Gratifying to many long fallen, is to see another now join them, and at times, the desire for it can appear as a ravening lust.
Returning, however, to Job, assuredly if there was ONE THING in this conversation with the Lord that showed itself, from the infernal one's position, it was an acute and rugged DESIRE that Job should be SHOWN up as really, not so much different from the devil himself, in his selfish ambition, his self-seeking devices and his moral barrenness. It is SO much easier, some seem to feel, to kid yourself that you are pretty good when it is hard to show anyone else better! In the case of Noah, of course, he had FAITH and so BUILT an ark in a way which was so obviously insane, from this world's viewpoint, since it had failed in the main to consider the reality and therefore the judgments of God at all: which were coming!
THAT simple act of nautical construction on the part of Noah, it could not be overcome, so perhaps they just called him a preacher of righteousness with a sneer, and marvelled he had the funds for the job. However, as you see with Abraham, those with riches in those days, could really have them; and for that matter, the case is not so far different today, is it!
Now as the test developed, the devil, finding that Job sounded like an outstanding Sunday School boy delivering his saintliness in a way quite intolerable to the squirming fauna and flora of wholly corrupted dwellers in Sinland as their home, and that he had taken his losses with continuing grace and trust in the Lord, wanted to 'up the ante' as some put it: that is, he felt driven to ask for a sorer trial. Job got it. This time it was to include the point that his health, though not his life, could be harmed (if you die, it is harder to test you, and in this world, rather a demanding feat to perform!).
Now when Job was reduced to a scratching, humbled resultant by disease, with wealth gone, then his wife was possessed by what to her might have seemed rather a fine idea.
"Do you still hold fast to your integrity ? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9) -
this was her feminine thought on this occasion. Job justly rebuked her. Curse God! far from him was such folly.
She had fallen into the tongue massage of the foolish women. There was no point in this. His integrity ? it stayed, though he was really tried. He strayed at moments of acute grief, but did not collapse. Overall, he sustained faith in God, though he sought to find out, to understand, and at times lapsed into passig moments of bitterness. That is, for him, his preferred principles are kept irrespective of their rewards, pains or sorrows, because they are right, and his suffering does not defile them, merely tests him.
For our present purpose, then, let us summarily abstract the relevant point. JOB was TEMPTED by being TAUNTED. The wrong path was suggested, in gross caricature of ANY wisdom, in a cool way which could make it seem even thinkable. HIS WIFE suggested it! It was short. It would fit in with the possible mood for this mode of test! When you think of Solzhenitsyn enduring his decade of imprisonment for daring in private conversation to criticise Stalin, or something such, you can see that he had a test. What could he have done ? Instead of smuggling out work to become famous in the West, and indeed providing an exposé and exposition of some of the unmitigated horrors of the godless stupidity which ruled USSR at that time, with the devil smirking and waiting, and God expressly having been TOLD to GO!
Solzhenitsyn, as someone enduring suffering, the devil seemingly flicking his fingers with energy and unconcern, could have decided to curse God. He declined the opportunity in order to glorify the Lord. He observed, he wrote, he collected facts, conserved them, relayed them. He made his contribution to the case against what Reagan was to call the 'evil empire'!
How often the 'unbearable' becomes the most lustrous contribution, and the 'impossible' the fascinating opportunity to serve God really well! However, not all who engage in this solution to a test see it that way. They may simply give ... vent to volcanic eruptions of words against God. In the Solzhenitsyn case, courage mixed with wisdom, and he was able to threaten or imply the threat that if he were harmed, then the West by secret signal could be free to PUBLISH what he had already sent.
In the mercy and providence of God, Solzhenitsyn was eventually freed. In THIS test, he seemed to have won over the very devil; and indeed, the Lord extracted much for His kingdom from it, reinforcing the perception of gross darkness in the USSR, with the play of light on that abyss. Faith and courage are always relevant in ANY test, but especially when the temptation is to CURSE GOD and die! It may come in lectures from the godless, in a temptation not to divulge that they are wrong when the topic comes to this point in examination time, as of course it does in organic evolution, deterministic psychology and the ridiculous like (cf. Spiritual Refreshings ...Ch. 9, *1).
For oneself, whether in sermon where a seminary did not like the biblical emphasis, or in a paper where the secular professor was an atheist, in lectures and challenge in liberal theological classroom, in debate or in duly ordered controversy, one has sought to give what it took. There was no question. Truth must be stated frankly and clearly. Too bad if it robbed honours. This did not seem in the least courageous; for it would be OUTRAGEOUS not to be willing to do this. There are some things which are minimal duty, as when a wife cooks a meal. Is it marvellous if she does it! Does the husband faint with surprise ? When, as Christ put it in a parable, you have done all, you have but done your duty.
|"And which of you,
having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come
in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?
|"But will he not
rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and
me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant
because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.
"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’ " (Luke 17:7-11).
To be faithful is NOT an option. It is normal, natural and proper in the Christian life. To be sure, you may then become PROUD of your obedience; but then, does a wife not cook a meal in case she should become proud of such an accomplishment! It is necessary to preserve some reasonable perspective for one's LORD! (Luke 6:46).
Is God so meanly to be served that his truth is suspended pending operations! Did Christ, for example - and let us be very frank here - decide that ONLY FOR THE DURATION of the intemperate Sadducaic attack and assault on Him in Jerusalem, would He shut His mouth ? Not at all. He could have done so, but He did not. He replied in answer to the trick question, ARE YOU THE CHRIST, as Mark shows, with the words, I AM. Not only so, He further told them of the day of His coming judgment as well, and linked this to the prophecy of Daniel.
What then follows from this in dealing with the wiles of the devil in his taunts and tests ? This: Do not be abashed by his sheer impudence, audacity and lèse-majesté against the Lord. This is his WAY. Simply keep to your course in Christ. Do they gloat who would torment you ? Do not glower back. Instead, trust in the POWER OF GOD, and proceed. If you love the Divine Redeemer, love duty for Him! Is He to be loved, but not with the back put into the labour ? Is He to be worshipped, but not when He speaks!
Such duty is also highly adventurous, for His power is far more wonderful than is the atomic bombs devastation. That spoils; but this foils the devil, a most desirable outcome. Incidentally, notice how MOSES not once, not twice, was troubled by the ironies of the people whom he was leading out of the slavery of Egypt (just as pastor may be treated abusively while seeking to help people along the road to Zion, to heaven, out of the unsavoury slaveries of sin).
As to Moses, it started before he so much as left the land of Egypt, despite an array of miracles to make the modern world's weapons of destruction look miserably ineffective by comparison. These divine devices, these plagues on Egypt were ironic, they were religiously devastating, openly laughing at the gods of this and that, whose names were soiled in the dirt as plagues showed their ineptitude, whether of cattle, frogs or flies. Still the people failed to believe, and openly criticised Moses as if he were inept! He did not yield but TRUSTED in the name of the Lord, and in patience proceeded, though it cost him much! and took them out of the land.
As to HOW much it cost him, consider this passage from Numbers 11. Here a body of millions of Hebrews is on the way to the promised land, and their impatient impenitence is growing. What is the situation in the popular mind, then, on their way to the promised land ? They want MEAT, and they want it NOW! - not this manna stuff which the Lord had graciously provided to meet their needs.
They did not ABIDE, and as Hebrews 4 puts it, their work not being mixed with FAITH. Hence flesh made its outbursts. One of these was a massive complaint about Moses for giving them such a tough time! Moses laboured and pitied and surrendered his life for his work in the Lord, prominently at work, having given up his Egyptian prominence earlier, in his strong concern for his own people. He persisted in the thrust for rescue and deliverance of his brethren, once slaves in Egypt! Instructive therefore is this passage, which gives the exact feeling and sense, so that the test and the trial of Moses (in the exact sense, of an assaying!) can be realised and applied to other cases, perhaps including one's own ?
"Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: 'Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!' Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its color like the color of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it, ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil. And when the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.
"Then Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord was greatly aroused; Moses also was displeased. So Moses said to the Lord,
"Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me?
"Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!"
"So the Lord said to Moses: 'Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.
"Then you shall say to the people,
'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt."
'Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat.
'You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, 'Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?' "
"And Moses said, 'The people whom I am among are six hundred thousand men on foot; yet You have said, "I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month." Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to provide enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to provide enough for them?'
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'Has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.' "
In this biblical citation, the crucial words, for our present purpose, are in red, and another aspect of current importance is in bold blue. You see first of all the ungrateful and unrealistic attitude of the people.
Is it moaning and forgetting the mercy and the sheer prodigality of divine intervention in their favour ? Is it confusion of the merely circumstantial, the nature of the feeding, with the far more important point, if there is discipline and desire: the gift of an adequate diet at all ? Is it careless use of Moses' time and talent, already heavily taxed for what could almost literally be called 'belly-aching' ? Was it indeed not a further development in the lack of faith shown as recorded in Exodus 14:11ff., when, in the very midst of a staggering deliverance, following that from the great plagues, even on their actual exit march from Egypt, the people pertinaciously rounded on Moses, complaining in this way:
"Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness ?"
Thus the people at this late time noted in Numbers, received their correction, and meat, flesh indeed, they got and in great amounts from quail. In fact, they gobbled it and found its attraction all but irresistible, until they found it diseased and that their lust cost. Thus, as has happened to so many others for so long, can lust for some comparatively small thing (that might not seem so at the time, but still was so), lead to a crisis or even catastrophe in some great thing.
However, even if the people in general failed THEIR test (though not all were characterisable as in this category), what of Moses himself ? Their failure is instructive negatively, to remind one to keep a perspective in true gratitude based on reality. Moses' success in this instance, in his test, lies in his patient dealing with the detail in the very presence of the Lord, to enquire what He wanted. He did not pretend that it was some kind of magic. The matter of food needed reasonable investigation, so that Moses enquired about the way in which the Lord would provide the food needed. However, when told that it was so, that God did INDEED mean to deal in a large and remarkable manner, then MOSES ACCEPTED THIS. He received it! Communication to clarify is not at all the same as that to query or rebel! Faith is ready to accept; perversity queries in order to flail and fail, not to prevail.
This teaches us the need in the PILGRIM WALK to ACT in terms of the faith. If you do not, it is irrelevant in terms of Christian Apologetics. If you do, it is relevant, and it is consistent.
Thus, GOD decides what HE will do with matters concerning His intentions and name and power and ways. He is SOUGHT, not told. He is REASONED with, not treated as if some kind of telecom buzz word producer. It is a PERSONAL and reasonable relationship, but one based on the fact that GOD IS INFINITE in power, as well as reasonable and kind. It is therefore not put in the group of limited power products of man, to ponder, but where God alone CAN act to the point in view; and in this instance as often, that is the case. Further, it is GOD who chooses His way, as a Field Marshall might do in a campaign, but without limit, in His truth and in His mercy, His goodness and His wisdom. In Christian Pilgrimage, this needs to be remembered, so that it becomes sheer joy to follow, not drudging grudging.
Psalm 78 makes the point that the children of Israel, the nation from Egypt by God's appointment, LIMITED God in their lack of faith. Their minds baulked at His grace, His power, His presence, His presidency over the whole universe... For HIS kind of action, they were not ready. For HIS kind of call, they were not attuned.
Some were; most were not.
All this is just as one would expect where God is concerned. You HAVE to act in accord with Him, with a faith which does not pre-empt His power by your refusal to expect it. This is seen in Mark 11:22ff., in terms of 'moving mountains'. They will not move with steam-shovels normally; though they could: yet they will MOVE, where they constitute some prevention of godly living, by faith.
This is what one finds, without exception. Pain may come; trouble; penalties of man; persecutions aplenty (as predicted - cf. II Timothy 3:12, "All who desire to live in a godly manner in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution"). However what is ALWAYS removed by faith, is any obstruction to godly living. In this author's own case, it involved an amazing 'finding' of a volume in a very aged gentleman's library, which led to my new seminary in the USA, to preaching in the Maritimes in Canada, in New Zealand in both North and South Islands, in the USA in Cleveland, Indianapolis, in Chicago, in a site near Los Angeles, in Denver, to teaching in various Australian States, to conflict in Assembly in New Zealand on behalf of the resurrection of Christ's body, apostately not there affirmed, to challenge in the Australian Assembly and so on. God provided, the testimony was given, the warning, the reasoning, the glory of the Lord held high.
I did not die. It cost. I still live. Indeed, it has indirectly led to all these writings, as the Lord has directed. Historically, one of the most notable exhibits of the power of God in prayer intimacy is shown in George Mueller of England, whose mission work over decades was a very inventory of specific needs and equally specific answers, for the cost of his mission, so that he became a kind of parable of being literal about the thing: if you need it, ask for it, and specify (Philippians 4:6). Naturally, it is appropriate to make sure of one thing, that you are DOING the will of God (Matthew 7:21). Since having some other life in view is an exclusion zone from Christ, if you are NOT doing it, such a case is not systematically relevant, however grievous and sad may be the result!
Another work may be noted. It is one of great texture in explicitly and expressly presenting not just one prayer or even one series of a given sort, as with Mueller, but one life-paralleling total in the mission requirements, family needs in correlation with this, and physical needs for service comes from Rosalind Goforth, whose Moody-published classic, "How I Know God Answers Prayer" is discerningly presented to meet the verification criteria, with great aptitude and acuity. The emphasis here is empirical: life is not lived in little bits. There is a texture, a continuity, and inter-relationship of parts, a growing discernment, a continued use of principles, an application of divine promises, a continuity of divine action, not always of one type, miraculous, providential, suffering one to suffer, delivering before it is too much, allowing it to soar, intervening in the process. Always there, is the power of God, always there is the love which must show its depth by suffering. Comprehensive in coverage for His children, His presence is in the heart of life, and His work is original, unconfoundable, making the mind expectant, while He is delivering dynamic, willing for quiescence in peace, able to deliver in war.
The situations she covers, included massive, multiple onslaughts during the Boxer Rebellion, in which her husband's neck was in serious condition from a sword blow. While they and their children sought to escape from the mounting fury of the anti-foreigner campaign forwarded by decree from the Empress, over weeks of journeying, we find a constant coverage in events. These are of the utmost interest and scope, bathed in continuity that did not omit sorrow but did prevent obstruction of their task. All these things did not prevent the noble pair's continuance BY FAITH (as merely one of numerous correlative incidents in the total life occupancy of this role in China and later back in Canada).
While deaf people may not hear music, and blind people may not see visions of beauty in front of them, so similarly is it that unspiritual people, non-Christians who by definition do not know God (John 17:3, 14:6), in terms of biblical Christianity, these do not see the matters in view. Yet the empirical facts can be construed and considered. Some, who worship pleasure minus pain, may be unimpressed; but this too is irrelevant, since the work of God, the ways of the pilgrimage in His purity donated in Christ, are not even ABOUT pleasure, but about God, His service and His care, His directions and His power. It is like someone in the Stock Exchange, whose only interest is money, who cannot understand how a colleague not nearly so rich, not nearly so able to imbibe pleasures through monetary power, yet seems to feel a vast content which he does not.
Why is it so ? It is because the pleasure from money is one kind of thing, enabling visible satisfactions to the desires of flesh; while the service of God enables the meeting of His criteria of love, peace, joy in service, power to prevail in His work and deliverance for and in their tasks, of the people who receive His gifts.
Consider such people. IF that is what you want, then in receiving it, naturally you are content. Pleasure is not your desire. It is not able to cover the case of the human spirit, any more than endless fairy floss confection covers the gastric needs of children. Pleasure is mere consequence. Vision and purpose may lead to it, or not; but they are of a different mould, model and thrust altogether. The objective of the Christian is GOD HIMSELF (cf. Genesis 15:1, Philippians 1:20-21, 3:7-13, 20-21).
Let us look at these.
"...according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing
I shall be ashamed, but with all
boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
"But what things
were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also
"Not that I have already
attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of
"Brethren, I do
not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those
citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior,
Are you however SEEKING CONTENT ? If a Christian, then is not true of you, by definition any more than empirically. That is a self-centred thing; you are seeking to know and serve God. IF this produces love, and joy and peace and content, so be it; it also produces pain and sorrows and stricken result of persecution in large amounts. Though no Christian is perfect, this is the mode, the model and the character of the thing.
As to the pains and pangs, these are borne for the purposes of love (cf. Colossians 1:24), which seeks others to find Him, their OWN Creator and the ONLY Redeemer, even if it hurts to bring it, or rather contribute to helping to bring it about. Content, like the bloom on peaches, is NOT the object of the exercise. It is the result. That is the difference. This verifies the peace presentation process from God; but it does so only where the OBJECTIVE is God. You get it if you do not seek it, but seek the Lord. What would you expect ? That God would enable hypocrisy to find contentment in His presence! It all fits as do the five fingers of one's hand. All matches, correlates, is covered with a unity and a purpose that is manifest. It works moreover!
Some may say, with Satan, Is it not all for yourself ? Hardly: for oneself, there is the money that would have been retained if one had not sold land to finance things; the place one could have commanded if one had not refused to sell Christ or His word for various 'church' bodies. There are the friends one might have retained had one preferred them to Christ. But someone may say, Is it not that you prefer Christ to all this and so merely serve your own preference, as selfishly as anyone else does the same thing in his or her own way ?
Of course not. Unless Christ had opened my eyes, I COULD not have preferred Him in PRACTICE to all things, whatever I felt, for He was not the first. WHEN He opened my eyes, it was to truth, not my preference but His. Since He is the truth, His preference became mine, and since He is God His mercy became mine, to receive it as He gave it. He was not there to meet my criteria. I was changed to meet His. Truth does not bend to will, and where it is God who is in view, truth IS His will, for HE IS the way, the life and the truth. Will may see the truth, but its modelling power on it is NIL. It is received as such, or not at all.
Old ways were replaced, not for my pleasure, but for His. When you capitulate, surrender, it is not in order to make your terms, when God is concerned! You receive His.
Is pleasure the objective ? Far from it. It is not even relevant. Truth is not pleasure and pleasure is not truth. But one may say, If your pleasure is in the truth, then is it not pleasure still, to choose it even if it costs you in various dimensions ? But my pleasure was not the truth until it took me over; and further, I had to provide myself for its purposes, in fact for His, since Christ IS the Truth, irrespective of outcomes, costs and results. This was done because nothing compares in truth, actuality, mercy and goodness with God; and it is His right. Yet you may still urge, Did not the love and mercy of God cause you more pleasure than anything else ?
This is like asking an athlete bent on running a marathon, if the pleasure*2 of the grind is what moves him. It is not. But what of the pleasure of the reward ? Some may find this worth it: it would not be so for myself. The expenditures would be too deep in SUCH A SPHERE, and too demanding coincidentally in others, to be worth such an action for athletics. But what of God ? He is worth it, not as some extraneous reward, but because His truth is necessary to life. To live in a lie, in a diseased estrangement from the truth is not even a matter of pleasure at all. It is a matter of horror on the one hand, and its opposite, reality, on the other. Did you take me out for pleasure for dinner ? asks a young person of her young friend. If he says, Yes! I do not care about you but about the sensation of pleasure which I gain when with you: then she would know he loved himself passionately, and perhaps did not even understand love of another, and certainly did not have it for her. You do not USE people for your pleasure, if you love them. On the contrary, you endure pain for their sakes, gladly.
The very use of such a category regarding friendship and love debases what it is, ignores what its functions are and distorts the reality. There is such a thing as pleasure and as love. They often move as far apart as poles. Thus someone for pleasure dumps a 'partner', since more pleasure is gained in another, while someone else, very different, lays down his life for his wife, amid crucial agony for extended periods, and considers the pain IRRELEVANT to the issue of faithfulness, to the equations of love.
Love disdains pain and laughs at pleasure. It is its own category. It shows it by what it does. There may be pleasure in someone, but its loss is not the end of the love: as when a father loses the son's good name and good work, through some folly of the boy, but still brings out amid his grief, all manner of effort and endeavour to deliver the son he loves. Pleasure does not motivate; pain does not move. For the Chrtistian pilgrim, it is God who is loved for His authentic, intrinsic truth, mercy, kindness and faithfulness, the actuality that He is there, and thus He is present irrespective of all human desire, thought and hope, folly or pettishness; and for this, that He, being like this, is not only a marvel, but is God. In Him, therefore, there is supplied all good in one, with Himself over it as the clouds over the earth, eminent, prevailing, beautiful, as irrepressible as irreproachable; and goodness itself gains its name from Him!
This then is the case of Job. Although the EXTREME nature of his sufferings UNDER TEST made him creak and groan at times, as you see in Job 19 there is in the end a FAITH that he places in his Redeemer whom he believes will one day come upon the earth (as He did, and as He will), whom he would see face to face.
Such, in the midst of Job's multiple and acute sufferings was his declaration, and such was his faith.
Job does realise his limitations (9:21), sees his own failings as those of his friends (9:30 - he does despise 'washing' his life), but it is to God that he looks past all pleasure (Job 13, 19), amid all pain, longing for more understanding, often tempted, sometimes falling, but in the end standing. The pilgrimage for the Christian serving the Lord, then, is not without test, in which to all the world the result is shown; and some of it to spiritual powers only, for the man may not disclose some things. SATAN moreover may try to show up what is fraudulent, and often does; and he may distort any small crack, and often does, as if it were an abyss. He is committed to evil, and lies are one of his methods.
The answer, then, in terms of the love of and faith in the Lord, come as these qualities, supported and endued from the Lord, function and the power of God operates for the deliverance, either through more strength and patience, through a "way of escape" (I Corinthians 10:13), or some combination.
Not all students pass all tests at all times, and if the Christian falls in some matter at some time, then the forgiveness of the Lord is sought, the matter covered, the discipline received, while the overcoming power of the Lord then resumes its normal course, wisdom having increased in the more experienced saint.
However the Christian has the power of God which raised Christ from the dead to aid him or her (and young or old, for that matter - Ephesians 1:19), and one finds that this is perfectly adequate! Suffering, yes; loss of non-essentials (like, for analogy, losing weight as you climb Mt Everest), yes; sever testing ? yes. But opportunity to serve God meaningfully and functionally with the removal of EVERY STUMBLING BLOCK ? Yes and yes again.
So great is the power of God, that you see cases like David who made one and only one massive fall in his reign, corrected VERY carefully by the Lord, with trials to show him and sensitise him in the very area where he hurt others in his fall, over and over again. So does the wisdom of the Lord shine. How marvellous to be able to BOTH correct and discipline (as a Principal may discipline a student of much value, but with a dangerous weakness), and yet maintain purity and power overall in a person, for the Lord. In this way, neither is the correction inadequate nor is the result poor! Such is the power of the Lord!
Discipline for its own part has value. SEEING the answer to a confusion, or the strength for a weakness, or the structural grounds - to use an engineering metaphor - for the weakness, all this is enlightening, a surge into more truth and adds to the relish of development where no lies are, where only truth rules, and pretence finds no place. Thus, truth is loved not for the pleasure it gives (to some!) but for WHAT it is. If it incites pleasure, so may a difficult task in accounting in your books, when you solve something seemingly intractable. Yet to be very sure, it was not for that pleasure that you toiled! You wanted it right because rightness matters and is inviolable.
Satan, then, in his various wiles and tricks may try firstly, to assail, to taunt, to subdue and to dismiss the unwary from the scene. Failing this, he may try deviously to make the soul proud of its success - which in fact, is wrought through the power of the Lord, and the strength of His moulding; failing this, he may try simply to discourage in the midst of the rigours of the tests; and failing that again, he may try to break patience, so that the time element is simply too much.
However, the point in Christian Apologetics is twofold. Firstly, for EVERY trick, there is a remedy which is found ONLY by trusting God in His word and finding the power from His person. THAT is more than merely therapeutic, since it means this, that the person becomes more practised, and hence, other things equal, more usable and more mature in truth, more like a growing oak, a thing of beauty, but also able to stand winds. Secondly, for every lapse, there is a DISCIPLINE, and so great is the mind of the Lord that He is able not only to discipline a member of His team, but still despite all of that (but ultimately in part because of the good done in it!) to USE the person as well, against a VITAL and crafty enemy. OPne reason for this is simply that the earnest disciple of Christ is KEEN to improve, to be corrected if need by, to learn if he may first, to grow. Enthusiasm, in such a case, breeds humility before God, and correction more skill.
Finally, lapses in concentration, can be met by increased realisation of one's drift, which can mean that failure begets knowledge, knowledge hope, hope faith, faith power, and power from God, the victory (Romans 5:17-18).
What John says in I John 5:4 is truth indeed: "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world - our faith." SO is it, so it has to be, for without faith you cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), and without pleasing Him how can you co-operate! While with it, there are no limits, but the plan of God unfolding, as does an embryo unfold ...as birth approaches. There are standards and there are ways! Thus does the power and principle, the word and the work of the living God overcome Satan in this test, and the WAY He does it, attests Him in His entire consistency with His written word, the Bible, and with His loving nature as one finds it.
Biblical Christianity, focussed on Christ, featuring His word, empowered by His Spirit, alert to the history of what God has done, aware in His word of what is His plan, is a great laboratory. As He says, so one finds. It does not age; it is never out of date; science in philosophic bondage at times challenges, but the 'wisdom' of the day becomes infantile in a little while, while the enduring factual, objective, historical truth of the word of God smiles at the touching adolescence of the misplaced enthusiasms of the flesh, vaunting themselves always to fall. Cover-ups do not remove that fact. The laboratory loves such Christianity. They are friends for life (cf. SMR pp. 208ff., 140ff.). Indeed, God claims it to be so, not once, not twice (cf. Isaiah 41, 43, 48).
2) Glowing with Spurious Light
Here now is another of the methods of Satan. While satanism is folly, to KNOW the wiles of the devil is wise (cf. II Corinthians 2:11).
This is the case of II Corinthians 11, where it is pointed out that false ministers with another lord and another Gospel who nevertheless use Christ's name are mere artificiality, and though they may have appeal, this is nothing strange since SATAN HIMSELF can transform himself into the very appearance of an angel of light!
How often does the young man become the young monster, as in a case coming to one's attention some years ago. One young man of another race told us that he had been dearly loved by a particular family, an Aunt, and had been brought up virtually as a son; and that there would be virtually no limit to their provisions for him. In spite of this, he dealt evilly with them, failing to pay something for them from money supplied, from memory, so that this led in due course and many steps, to their losing the home they had.
How many fathers' hearts have been broken by young people, brought up for hope, and with much sacrifice, but achieving merely their own pleasure, in drugs, in complete dissociation, in betrayals, in common degradations innumerable! What takes them ? Some young face, some new thrill of drug, some pride of philosophy, some laziness that has the varnish of self-fulfilment. You have corrupted yourself by reason of your brightness, God chides one of the evil kings, and through him, the devil! (cf. Ezekiel 28:17). Brightness which is only the sheen of reflected light can dazzle, both the one concerned and those who see that person; but how often is the rind unlike the bacon, hard, tough, in need of immediate expectoration, before one should choke.
The spurious like the furious, these are marks of deceit from the devil; the pseudo-authentic, as in many churches, where in recent years, ever more specious pretences for the gospel are waved in the light of 'love' and without truth, before the afflicted people.
The remedy ? It is simple. Keep your eyes on the Lord, follow His word and pray, and the idle glamour of the spurious will seem worse than horrible, and so lacking in all attraction. Keep your eyes on the road, and not in the clouds, if you want to drive. There is time to admire the clouds, when one is free from pressing duty. Seek the Lord so that He send FORTH His light and His truth, to lead you; and do not supinely wait for the seduction of indolence! (Psalm 43:3). Remember, "Light is sown for the righteous" (Psalm 97), so reap. Act as if you meant business, if you do; and if you do not, then the due result is an ulterior commission from an ulterior source, for without the wisdom of God, the devil's astute work is without barrier.
As to the LORD, as are His words written, they cohere beyond components of any nucleus: for as they are in principle, so are they in practice; and so it works itself, the Lord taking care of His own, and the fraudulent, albeit rich and popular, come to their sterile ends. The suffering is often confused with the consequence! It may hurt to build a sky-scraper, but the building remains.
The test is often in the motivation which leads some to admire what is palpably false in logic, in psyche, in spirit, because their motives are divided and their minds accordingly unclear. Let not, says James, the man of double mind think he will get anything. Secular psychology is full of such things. It lacks power because it lacks reality, because it lacks God, so that psychologies multiply, as do biological secular theories; but they merely conflict with each other in ways at once instructive and educational. One sees not only the flaws, each asserting this or that of the other, but the frustration, the intemperance, and from a philosophic aspect, the disingenuous sterility as barriers break, and irrationality holds hands with intemperance in grand displays of anti-scientific method in the midst of ungoverned imagination.
This is, in itself, this failure
amid contest and frustration, with mounting unreason, and laughable divergence
from scientific method, like government employes in some corrupted regime, where
the rules are the form, and connivance with other things is the fact. (Cf. SMR
Secular Myths and Sacred
7 and 8, with Earth Spasm ... Chs.
1, 7, Wake Up World ...
Ch. 5, Spiritual Refreshings...
Ch. 6, 16, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 29)
Without God there is no verification; and with Him, there is nothing else.
The power however of deception is very great; so that things of all but incredible confusion and corruption proliferate like SARS! So they are written to do, and so it would be expected, when powers beyond man help his pride to dig his pit, with automated equipment which man invents.
3) Causing Bitterness and Not Peace -
after an upset.
Here is a further diabolical device.
You see the principle of this in II Corinthians 2:9-11. If the people of the church had forgiven someone for a truly outrageous sin, and he had repented, so then did Paul also forgive. He did not want the person who slipped into this sin, to be "swallowed up with too much sorrow." The purpose is health, not death.
Otherwise, Satan might have acted to bring down what was fallen, into his pit. This is not to be; the test is not greater than the power to meet it, for nothing is permitted to try you beyond your power to meet it. You may be strengthened, or the way of escape as for the Exodus, may come. What is sure is this, that GOD WILL NOT FAIL YOU (I Corinthians 10:13).
How wise the pastor who knows when to stop; how wise the one who knows that there has to be beginning in such case, BEFORE it can stop. Purity and compassion join hands, link arms, and good is done. As to Satan, he would have excess, but says Paul, "we are not ignorant of his devices."
In a way, it is like defensive driving on the road: you KNOW what some drivers, with drugs, with emotions, with vying, with aggression repressed now expanded, in the guise of anonymity, may do. Hence you prepare as you might expect!
4) Accusing Blatantly, Brassily, Belligerently
The "accuser of the brethren" Satan, has many who love to follow his ways. He was cast out of heaven. It is Christ who has access (Hebrews 6:19-20, 7:25), so why fear what that feckless spirit contrives ? In himself he is assuredly mighty; in comparison with Christ, he does not even register on the scale. This is an empirical fact in the laboratory of experience. When you are falsely accused, or some prodigy of caricature of the failing or fault of which you might indeed be guilty, is casuistically prepared in false action against you, you do not need to fear the favour of the crowd, but committing your spirit to God who made you, to your Saviour who keeps you, you KEEP ON doing His will, admittedly imperfect. Yet his children never fall where He cannot reach.
Look at Peter ? HE RECOVERED QUICKLY. If you are a spring, then rebound. If not, find in Him the power to do so, and delight in doing so, for this has the bounce of His blessing, God who works in you both to will and to do (Philippians 2:12).
In so doing, however, have genuine fear, clean and loving fear, delighted and radiant fear of God, not presuming into your own strength or name. HIS is the glory; HIS is the power; and of course, HIS is the word to follow. Do not LEAN TO YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING (cf. I Chronicles 21); for that is singularly unblessed (Proverbs 3:3-5). Remember that it was Satan who stirred up David, the Lord suffering it, permitting it as a test.
Meet tests. At school, college or university, do you expect no tests ? Therefore be ready, and rejoice in Him who can conduct you through, with far more security than those who run the bungee jumps. Be exhilarated in the Lord, as you trust, and delight as you fear; for in Him is power inimitable, purity immiscible and love that is tender. He hears that cry because He has the heart that listens (Psalm 145:14).
There is nothing comparable in practice or in theory. God is the Lord and the rest is pretension.
The devil is nothing if not subtle
How beautifully Genesis 3 shows this process! There is Eve, told not to use the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, on pain of death. In ANY test, there are implements in this world, for there is a physical aspect to it. Even in thought, the thought has a physical realm to consider. Here it was in the MIDST of natural beauty and competence and peace, a POSSIBILITY which was waived in front of Eve's nostrils, like meat before the snout of a dog.
Some dogs, yes it is known in detail of one, CAN stand to be in FRONT of a DELICIOUS morsel, and sit at table, or by it, until it is indicated that it is time to receive it. Not many ... It is enough that it can be done. In the case known, the dog was intelligent, loved, serviceable to an amazing degree, part of the company, appreciated and capable of remarkable adaptations when need arose (it was on a farm).
Eve had the opportunity to avoid such things as those above - of one translates them into human terms with the obviously vast scope for expansion into whole new dimensions. What would she do, when tempted ? Of course, it applied to Adam also, but the INITIAL phase of the test was allowed to reach her first.
So far, before her fall, everything is OBVIOUS, OPEN and in the midst of the most gracious circumstances. Now enter the devil in terms of a beast's body, in fact that of a serpent, something glossy, exciting in a subtle sort of way, looking deep. The test comes with the devilish probe:
"Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden ?"
What a ridiculous exaggeration, one designed doubtless to encourage resentment in its vast sweep! Eve corrected this, indicating that they could eat the garden fruit, that there was not a total prohibition, but merely a small exclusion zone. However, in conversing with such a beast with his arbitrary and unjust aspersions, she was starting her straying, as many often do, slowly, slowly. The devil for his part, though in serpentine form, in functional reality, was starting his baying. It was a slithery baying, and an asinine braying, wrought with desire, expressed with subdued fire.
What was this exclusion zone of which Eve spoke ? It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as shown in Genesis 2:16. Eve however, perhaps stirred by the sense of revolt and 'free-thinking', so that as is usual in such a case, the truth of God and this alone is arbitrarily excluded, here becomes openly derogatory in distortion of the facts. She exaggerated in her own way, in response to the initial exaggeration of the devil. She added that not only could they not eat of this tree; they could not touch it: lest they die. How oppressive this is made to sound, already! She is on track for a fall, which will thrust her far from the track altogether. But there is more action yet to come.
Eve, in her exaggeration in response to the insinuation of the devil, perhaps intended to gain sympathy, or merely to echo the grandiose sweep of the sense of resentment that the devil was angling to create, though its basis was not true.
Let us sense the development now, graphically.
In a milieu increasingly one of subtle sympathies and evocative hubris, the devil then imparts in his own way, a stealthy and covert suggestion. You will not REALLY die ... (Genesis 3:4).
There is the first DIRECT tilt at God. It is a little swervingly put, You will not surely die! Notice the surely. The devil does not quite voice a direct contradiction, in this, that not ALL of the divine pronouncement is flatly disavowed, merely that it is not SURELY so.
The devil now sows that intimate and succulent sort of thing that so many people seem to like in manufacturing slanders, to which the Christian must surely become accustomed! 'God knows,' the infernal spirit declares, so making himself able to read the mind of God, which philosophy normatively seems to make its own terrain as well, except seeking to ignore the 'God' part of it, or to use the term without the reality, so verbalising ignorance on the basis of nothing at all. Indeed, 'all unknown' nowadays becomes a model, with its parameters and ways ready for declaration, except that IF it were ALL unknown, then it could not be known that it was unknown, for then THAT knowledge would be of a most comprehensive kind! Let it rest however in its normal moribundity, contradicting God and itself with equal verbosity, as school clashes in vain with school, in a kind of coronary occlusion of the mind, distant from God, and loving to declare without truth available on its model, the truths it desires to impart.
How little we have moved! 'God knows,' said the serpent in its formatted provision for the devil; for in BEING as it were an animal, it had NO right to give wisdom to its divinely declared mentors, man! Already Eve was failing the test.
What did God know, in the opinion,
or rather in the declaration of that lord not of lives, but of lies,
the devil ?
God knows, it slithered its words into the glorious environment, that when you eat, your eyes will be opened and you will be ... One could here imagine the glinting eyes of the savvy serpent, or if you prefer, that enchanted vehicle of supernatural but debased power, the devil, as it continued ... "YOU WILL BE LIKE GOD, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL." How ironic it all was! "Your eyes will be opened," said the serpent. That much was true. But what would they see when they were opened ? It would be this: that they would know good and evil not in some lordly fashion, above it all, divine in aspect almost, but as WRONG DOERS, as EVIL PEOPLE: as fallen into the bog, they would know what mud meant. The promise far surpassed the reality; but it has just that little element of truth which Satan loves to use as bait.
Eve, however, though clearly entering into the spirit of rebellion, and thus forfeiting wisdom, did not know this. On this advertisement module, she now saw a certain attractiveness about the fruit. This means that the sort of knowledge in view became an enticing thing, like the meat for the dog mentioned above.
Would she 'snap' at it, thus breaching the social, domestic and delightful relationship with her Master ? Yes, she would and she did.
The results were, and have for millenia, been painful. Now we have to seek to RETURN to the Lord, for we are not born in and with Him, but outside. Hence the Gospel provides the way back. There has been a long outing for the race. Some of it has returned; always not a large percentage, yet in some cases in the 19th century, there were amazing scenes and larger than usual proportions in the USA, at certain periods, during revivals, nor has this been confined to that once relatively godly nation.
The GIFT of the Gospel, in the very midst of these painful results, shows the FRANK STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS of God in contrast to the stealthy slither of the serpent. It is even pre-announced in the protevangelion*3 in Genesis 3:15
CAN THIS BE OVERCOME ? Certainly. If Eve had not first LISTENED to the SORT of creature, the serpent, as was her due, the test would have been successfully aborted, yes and simply too, at the outset.
Yet she listened.
If she had not exaggerated in apparent response to the devil vastly distorted suggestion, she might then have seen the delicious dangling 'meat' he provided, in his negation of the divine word, as wormy and not at all appetising.
Yet she did exaggerate.
If she had not done so, again, the devil might have had to be more circumspect in his stealthy insinuations, intended to show that Eve could join the high levels, rather than run an obviously soon to be aborted campaign of rebellion against her Creator. But she did it; and the devil proceeded. THAT was the difference.
Thus not to START the environmental work for evil, is the first rebuttal. If you are alcoholic, not to PASS a pub is relevant as an aim. Not to exaggerate is next. If you are oppressed, down-trodden, dismayed: then do not exaggerate because of feeling. Let the facts be neither more nor less than they are, and bring THESE to God in the CONTINUATION of serving Him, and then, like healthy rain in dry seasons, the necessary wisdom is systematically provided. In answer to faith only ? But of course. This is, to change the figure, the necessary connection between you (the fighter plane) and the Lord (the tanker flying to replenish your fuel). You have to fly near... What does James 4:8 tell us ? It includes this:
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
Never start an evil mood, or suffer it to begin; even mentally it can produce compromising physiological stimuli; and why should it not, if you decide to allow a folly to move. Do you let elephants from the Zoo into your own back yard ? Then neither let moods dominate your thought. Joy is a strength (the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, Nehemiah 8:10 declares); and when you are at peace in the work of the Lord, this joy is like a raincoat in a shower. It stops things from penetrating. God has His own means; and the devil's circuitous provisions and procedures are not able to participate where his means are excluded.
If in the plan of God, as in the temptation of Christ, you are allowed to face the devil, then in Christ and not in yourself, you have to face him down: for this is humility, to know what you are and what you are not! (I John 4:4). It is because He who is IN the Christian life BY the Holy Spirit, is GREATER than the devil, that the devil is beaten for sure, as you wait on the Lord. Do not give PLACE to the devil! says Paul (Ephesians 4:26-27), and so do not let the sun go down on your wrath.
How many have inherited arthritis because of such lurking smouldering ... rubbish! A medical work, "None of These Diseases" covers this point in excellent detail (authored by Dr S.E. McMillen).
In other words, if you are to be angry, it may indeed be fitting to display righteous indignation, and even Christ could show this (Mark 3:5); but do not sustain it, as a boil within. You seize the evil, but are not seized by it, as when dealing with a serpent! Why ? God is able to deal with the issue. Respond, relay and proceed. Don't leave the cursed thing in your hand: despatch it sharply, as the Lord acts for you. Handle this, as all things by faith; and again why not, this IS the medium of exchange with Him who is invisible to the naked eye, just as He is visible in naked truth.
Such a procedure works because it is truth. In general, millions regard God's provision in words, His directions, as poetical licence, or needless care; but it is simple. You do it or you do not. If you do not, there is trouble, perhaps depression, guilt, need for cleansing.
It is rather like driving your car through thick mud. There are results. You do not need to do it; but if you do it, there are MANY lessons to be learned. That too is good, for the discipline resulting helps a sense of the realities too much neglected earlier, for test and character building, aiding correction; and so development proceeds. It is divinely simple and simply divine: it brings closer to Christ, and teaches the willing spirit more care at the same time. Correction ? is it because of sin that so many so often construe this as merely painful. When my French in Matriculation, was painstakingly corrected by the Vice-Principal, did the red ink bring sorrow or joy ? I think rather the latter. NOW one could SEE what was correct!
On this topic, however, let us end with one feature. WHY was Christ angry as shown in Mark 3:5 ? It was because of a group of issues. First there was a man who was afflicted with a withered hand. Now the author once had a 'frozen' shoulder to a large extent. It was utterly appalling. One could still use it, but a whole heap of movements were compromised. How could this be ? It felt so stifling, so weak. An enthusiastic and gifted physiotherapist decided to use a painful technique she would employ, she said, only on some of her clients. It was at times intensely painful; but what is pain, when function is available! She persevered until one day, after weeks, one could actually hear a sort of 'plop', internal yet audible in character. Something, apparently an illicit attachment, was now broken. I was liberated. It was wonderful: praise the Lord.
Thus when a poor man with a withered hand was present before Christ on a Sabbath, the powers that were decided to test HIM! Imagine that, test God! How does man fail to change, for that is precisely what Adam and Eve did, when they ate... It is a foolishly dangerous and a dangerously foolish action. Christ seeing their hardness of heart, more interested in their own exaggerated conception of the point of the Sabbath, than in the underlying love, was angry.
Fancy ABUSING the rest graciously provided on the Sabbath which God gave as a present to man, by making it seem to EXCLUDE help, unplanned in character, to someone who had opportunity for his whole life to be altered for the good, in a great way! Was it possible that the good, the provision of rest, was not realised in its intent, while another good was to be suppressed, so breaking the essence of two commands ? Was it not the WORK which one normally did for a living which was excluded ?
Did not priests also labour on the Sabbath ? Did one, as Christ later pointed out, not take an ox fallen into a pit, out on a Sunday ? It is unplanned ? Certainly, but if it happens, that is what you do.
He healed. The anger was a divine response. The healing was a divine initiative. The resentment of the blind religionists was a human accentuation of sin. This very issue was one of those most bringing wrath from foolish and misled religionists, against whom ? It was against God Himself!
He did not cover Himself with anger. He did not ignore the issue. He resolved the issue, at once after the anger; and the anger was for righteousness' sake, NOT FOR HIS OWN personal sake...
So does it all work out in its classic beauty and simplicity: when you follow the rules, and the rules ? these are to be understood, not in crimped and blind fashion, but with due respect to their environment in the God of love, and the general rules which over-rule, to love GOD with ALL your heart and mind and soul and strength, and THEN your neighbour as yourself. This is found in Leviticus 19:18 and in Deuteronomy 6:5. It is there. It was there. It is to be done. It was to be done. Christ did it.
The whole household of divine graces and wisdom, example and direction is beautiful in its elegance, ample in its coverage, challenging in its searching of the heart and of its motives. All this is as it should be, for the development of disciples being one divine intention, this ministers to that, while equally testing. Tests in turn have one great feature: they reveal to YOU where you are. This is important if you care ... where you are GOING!
6) The Engineering of Blights to Incite to Impatient Excess
This can aid fast action.
Job 2:3-7 is the classic illustration. Distressed at Job's MOST correct response to the initial testing disasters, probing his integrity or corruption of motivation, his true love or mere self-serving conformity to divine directions, Satan indicates that health is no small boon. Go a step further in the test, he requests of God, and then we shall see where the heart lies. Of course, it was his wish that this bodily trouble would so hurt Job, that any veneer (which he professed to believe was all that was there) would almost literally be ripped off! Such was his leering desire, his sneering intimation, his feckless jeering leaking out like petrol from a rusted fuel-tank.
Job trembled, Job's mind erred, but he stood fast over all, as we have just seen; for a moment he seemed almost cynical, but then his surmises dropped in the face of faith in the righteousness of God, past all problems and probes; for he was sure that when all was done, HE would be KEPT by the POWER of God through the intervention of his own PERSONAL REDEEMER as in Job 19. This was true, and divine love indeed covered a multitude of sins. Job's famous utterance comes out like a missile from its in-ground silo, traversing the skies of time to bring its not destructive, but dynamic message of uplift in truth, to the nations. Does pain evacuate truth ? Does God cease to be true because we are tested ? Is trial the same as denial ?
Temptation will suggest positive answers to the negative thrust of such questions; but truth does not blush at rush, is not crushed by psychic pressures, or the apparent complexity of simple plans, which like bits of jig-saw puzzle only seem impenetrable because they have not been put together. What IS put together is the divine certainty (SMR 1, 3, 5, 10), and so far from trembling because we may suffer some blight, the latter is merely the occasion for the attestation that the One who called, keeps, and the One who created, contains the suffering and brings blessings out of cursings, divine good out of human evil. You may need to 'hang on' as Joseph did in Egypt, but the result is the more delightful in the end.
While faith has indomitable reason back of it, reason does not replace the LIVING of the faith; it merely supports it. Faith in one sense is its own reward, for the divine blessings of the spirit, enabling of the heart, reinforcement of the mind, stability for the soul, rock for the excursions and home for the habitat of holiness is made available to it. If one loves one's country, how much more one's Creator. Is some trial the 'end' ? Not at all. It is the beginning of the blessed work of attestation and construction which exhibits the reality in which one lives.
Further, patience under provocation is a stirring of strength, a beautifying of hope, a lustre for delight for those who have the privilege of dealing with those now so endued. This is athletic work, and the result is apparent, pleasing and functional. Love also has then its opportunity, for it does not hasten to declare itself too superficially; but in the treks for truth which may need to be endured, it has outlet and scope, expression and field for its desire to bring blessing where it may. Patience is a trial (for faith - to show it), but an avenue to exhiit the glory of the purpose of God.
Look at Moses, Joseph, Job ("you have heard of the perseverance of Job," says James), Daniel, David, what colossal patience each showed (despite the failing in this or that, with one or another). Daniel always, with Joseph especially appeals in this, but all of them are monuments, not in green and yellow melancholy smiling at grief, but in red and blue dignity, rejoicing in faith. How they waited! How they worked as they waited!
With what divinely inspired exuberance they continued, continued, continued ... not in the rut of resignation, but in the vision of the holy purposes of God! Consider John Bunyan, and what he produced in his 12 years - yes and more - in prison, years of injustice, oppression: for there was f eat in faith that ennobled the world, feeding good later, to millions, while receiving evil without acceptance, its power its only place, his perseverance his own contribution. What results! What wisdom in the Almighty, so blazingly to show such a case, with its fruits!
The term in James, as above, can be translated, 'steadfastness, constancy, patient endurance.' With faith as enlivening, hope as burnishing, heart as vigour, spiritual blessing poured out as vision and victory, what things have been so wrought by God. It is not mere power; it is purity: it is not mere performance, it is what is lastingly beautiful, attuned to reality, contributing in vision to truth, as manifested to man. If the examples are not all perfect, this but the more by the contrast with the evil possibilities thus emphasises the virtue (we are not dealing with angels).
Such things are not the realm of Satan, though HOW he lusts, HOW he seeks to dim, to diminish, to damage. How delightful that he be entirely frustrated; and how wonderful that there is NO WAY for this, but in the power of God through faith in HIM according to HIS promises, HIS Messiah and HIS merciful faithfulness. Thus does strength (in achievement) lead to strength (in stirring faith to burn brightly in others), and this to more strength (in the faith of those so led). God is most wise, and His ways are exceedingly sufficient.
7) Misdirecting Innocent Thoughts of Service for God to Self-Praise, Self-Confidence
I Chronicles 21:1-4, the famous foolish census of David which apparently showed pre-occupation with power instead of occupation with divine duties, as a trend, illustrates this. Remarkably, many suffered, but perhaps there was a NATIONAL trend to glory in one's own nation, as seems to have seized Germany in World War I; just as for RESTORATION OF GLORY as may have contributed to World War II. Certainly leadership was astray, but who is led that wants the opposite, and how quickly is softness revealed in the under-belly of desire, when opportunity for the grandiose is provided!
King David, then, erred. Plague broke out. But what did David then think, and more than that, DO!
How beautiful, in the wisdom of God, is the compassion of David for his people, after his own error, when he said to the Lord:
"Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered ? I am the one
who has sinned
After this protestation, David was commanded to erect an altar, sacrifice was made, and then the plague was stayed, which rebuked national pride. Here came to be used, the famous temple site. Here was compassion, altruism, unselfishness, realism, sacrifice, love, deliverance in the midst of dire evils. It spoke of the coming compassion of Christ, of HIS coming sacrifice.
This, it was not in the holy of holies, for He was refused His place, but outside the city, His concern for the sheep who had indeed sinned, but whose sin He DESIRED. The differences ? David was man as man, Christ God as man; David had sinned, Christ had not. The similarity ? the compassion and the desire to bear sin that others might go free. With David, it was to bear his OWN, with Christ, to bear that of others. For both, there was the pity that loved to deliver.
So can Satan's wiles (for it was he who had stirred David to this foolishness) can be turned to God's glory, and the evil overcome with the good. This, it is biblical wisdom, and wisdom it is testimony of God.
8) Consummating a Seduction by Snapping Resistance
Judas then is the outstanding case. First he was 'offended' by the prodigal seeming contribution to Christ's love made by a woman who poured out precious fragrances on Him. It in this case 'the disciples' who protested at the waste and the 'competitive' needs of the poor; but presumably Judas was one of them, in view at least of what followed. Now here note that seemingly all of them felt the sense of waste, as one may at first ingenuously react to something unusual, without perhaps due thought.
Six days before the Passover, then, in a flurry of signals and devotion as the awe-inspiring event drew near, like light snow on the ground as Spring passing, Autumn begins its bite, at Bethany there was an anointing by Mary, on the feet of Jesus which she wiped with her hair. It is here that Judas stands out as the protester, and he is rebuked by Christ who declared, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial: for the poor you always have with you, but Me you do not have always" (John 12).
However it is Judas who made a feature of the thing (Matthew 26:14), perhaps unwilling to learn of the significance of this action. This action was two days only before the Passover (Matthew 26:2ff.), where Christ at last took over officially from the pile of dead animals, by becoming the due and fitting, the adequate and pure, the human and yet divine sacrifice HIMSELF! Indeed, so great is Judas' offence at the whole business of the cross, fragrant oils and coming sacrifice that he even betrayed Christ, in the very shadow of that anointing event and its interpretation by Christ. The horror of it is worse, for not only did Judas betray in the light of the devotional reality and the sacrificial act, but he was willing to receive money, enough to buy a field, a block, for it; and then he schemed, to find a way to do it (Mark 14:9-11).
How would he seek this way ? It would be one which would occur 'conveniently'!
There is more. We read of a woman pouring precious oil on Christ's head in the house of Simon the Leper at Bethany. Here it is Judas, perhaps as chief spokesperson, or even leader of thought, who protests. At all events, he is in strong focus in the event. Certain it is that one such event occurred two days before the passover, at the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany, and another six days before, the former occurring when the flask of oil was broken and the contents poured on Christ's head (Mark 14:2, Matthew 26), while latter came when Mary of Bethany herself poured the oil on His feet (John 11). In the later case, as Calvary came close, like the bomber which was flying with the atomic bomb for Hiroshima, it is Judas who vocally complains and explodes, even amidst the considerable exposition which Christ gave, and Christ declares briefly the point, whereas in the six day occurrence, the explanation was briefer as recorded.
Judas would not learn, take the point, not even when the event loomed near, not even when the depiction was made extensive, refusing correction, but instead, aggravating his verbal persistence in derogation of the infinite value of what Christ did and the devotional expression of appreciation for this in the oil pouring, he pursued the point and took action, as they say, and in his case, it was to the odium of Christ's detractors that he took it, taking money for crime, and participating in judicial murder, indeed facilitating it crucially.
Thus can Satan seduce a spirit in steps. First he learned to steal from the disciples' money bag; then to resist instruction; then to persist vocally, then in action, then in desperately degraded action, then to do this for personal advantage. So is the matter being wrought in stealthy steps, in outbursts, in progression!
The worst is yet to come. We read in John 13 of one who was not clean, whose heart had not related to the symbolic cleansing which Jesus performed in washing the disciples' feet. This was the action of preparation which reminded one of Exodus 40:31, where Moses and Aaron and his sons would wash their feet and hands, whenever they came into the tabernacle. Thus Christ declared that hands and feet were enough that they be all clean. In other words, there is no need to pretend that the literal washing is the point: it is a spiritual phenomenon, and slavish desire to imitate in flesh the wholeness of it can merely detract. But washing IS needed, for the symbolic meaning is cleansing in heart. So Christ not ONLY washed their hands and feet only, but REFUSED on vigorous pain, to wash Peter's face!
After all, sprinkling was the routine, and this also is highly partial in format, and is not only a feature with leprosy cleansing, but with many routines as noted in Hebrews 9, under 'baptisms'; and it was this which crucially was performed on the great day of atonement (Leviticus16:15), when the blood was actually sprinkled on the mercy seat, that vastly significant moment (cf. Hebrews 8-10 exposition of it, and the personal Christian application in 10:21), while the same was done in the classic case recorded in Exodus 24 when Moses sprinkled blood on the altar, the book and the people, in their solemn covenanting with the Lord. Peter also is vast in his distancing of any relationship in the nature of symbol and reality, as if the ceremony in itself signified anything except its referent, so that it had no intrinsic power at all, in I Peter 3:21.
Thus there was this continuation of the preparation in symbolic form for the coming of Calvary. Christ washes the feet of the disciples, as if they were preparing for a better priesthood for a better sacrifice, being spiritual Levites sent in spiritual terms, not ceremonial constraint. Mary washes His feet with fragrant oil and tears, preparing for the burial. Judas cannot stand all this.
Christ knows this and points out that one is not clean. He has long known it (John 6:70), and observed earlier that ONE OF YOU IS A DEVIL! It was indeed predicted in many of the psalms (cf. Joyful Jottings 25).
Now comes the crucial point. The disciples, learning of this betrayal at Christ's lips (John 13:18, 21), and finding this in infinite divergence from their own sending (13:19-20), seeing indeed the vigour of His utterance mounting as the spiritual power of revelation moves in their midst, ask: IS IT I ? Each considers the awful possibility, a priori. A posteriori however it is empty. Vigorous as was their enquiry, vigorous is the removal of doubt. It is but one who is responsible. John, a youngster loving the Lord, leans back on Him and asks, WHO IS IT ? Christ indicates that it is the one to whom He will give a piece of the feast, as if a token of hope and a symbol of love; for love does not fail.
What happens to Judas then ? This: "Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said, "What you are doing, do quickly!" How speed loves to reduce the significance of things by mere scurrying! Satan entered into him. The romance of betrayal became the catastrophe of devil possession. He was no more his own. A superior power now invested him with infernal duplicity. He was gone. Judas went to the priests, got his mercenary reward in order, made them happy, and then went about seeking a convenient time, as Satan did when he approached Eve long before.
The appalling degradation of reality in all of this, the use of means for ends, the prostitution of religion for gain, the inward reaction to beauty of holiness, it is there. It is there from earlier days, from the devotional pouring out of most precious fragrant oil on Christ. In this, we do not find the disciples unwilling to follow Christ when all of this is so dramatically brought to them, whatever their initial reaction, or sense of misplaced values. They learned, if slowly. Judas did not. He went from symmbol to sacrifice, not to receive it, but to IMPLEMENT IT!
What then do we see ? There was the PREPARATION over time for this act of execration. Now we have come to the relevant point in its setting, the consummation of the rebellion by snapping Judas' resistance. Like a polluted piece of flesh ready for bacteria, here come those unpleasant microbes in spiritual form!
How can such things be avoided ? It is not frightening to those who consider in the Lord. HOW OFTEN did Judas have opportunity to repent ? When Christ declared that one would betray Him, as shown way back in John 6, he could have taken the hint. When the 6 day event occurred, before Passover, he could have reflected. In the two day event, he could have considered rather than leading evil superficiality. Even in the Supper, he could have said, Lord, I perceive you have seen the shadow in my heart, and I bitterly repent (and he could have wept, as Peter did, later, as recorded in Luke 22:60-62), and he might have been recommissioned as Peter was, as seen in John 21. Indeed, consider what PETER DID (Mark 14:66-72).
Not only did he deny knowledge of Christ, but he repeatedly did so on one night and further cursed and swore to help establish his 'case'! It was not the failure which counted, but persistence in it, growing with it, heedless of advice, ignoring opportunities. Peter not only first used his sword in Christ's defence (foolishly and with rebuke, but not without courage and spirit), but even after running off, confused since he was not allowed to follow that path (and would that millions of others had realised this in the last two thousand years), he did not persist. One part of one night was enough. When the LORD LOOKED ON PETER in the very midst of His trial, to lead to the crucifixion as sacrifice for sin, this was enough. Peter not only repented, he not only wept: he wept BITTERLY.
There is the open arm of Christ, the glorious sufficiency of His power, the wonderful grace of His compassion. If it is ignored and people play about with Christ as a means, then you have the Hebrews situation as in Chs. 6 and 10. Having defiled the only sacrifice, and trodden it under foot, they have no more. It is not a question of falling away and coming back and so on: ONCE they mess the reality, it is all over. The seed which comes into the ground that is shallow, or full of thorns, dies. The word of God is no more effective. Mercifully, GOD IS JUDGE, and this great thing He judges, that WHEN you come to Jesus the Christ for salvation, HE DOES NOT REJECT YOU. The fatal thing is to refuse to come. Peter came in the midst of failure, and was recommissioned. Judas proceeded and proceeded, in the very midst of the Gospel, not really accepting it, never a Christian but STATEDLY A DEVIL, way back in John 6.
The heart becomes scarred and scarified. The anchor (Hebrews 6) which is sure and steadfast within the veil was not for him. He never received the sacrifice, for all his proximation to it, all his hearing of words: he was a devil and constantly acted like it, whatever the forms and norms to which he exposed himself over years. He was like those who DREW back, not having faith, of which Hebrews gives the model in 4:2. It is NOT ACTUALLY coming which is the evil, playing about, testing and wondering and betraying and idling. It is necessary to come in faith, not founded on one's own will, but founded on God's mercy. HE deals with the depths; YOU come. On the other hand, IF you come, HE does not cast out, and further, HIS sheep, who are those who by Him enter, WILL BE SAVED.
Thus there is not only the absolute guarantee, but the mercy and tenderness of eliciting and seeking the lost on the way; and then again there is the colossal merciful beauty of His attitude that all might be reconciled, and His slowness to anger. All these barriers are expressive of His love, and of His power. If however someone wants to gallop about and gambol, gambling indeed with life, then there is an end. Freedom is not fancy; and liberty is not licence. It is beautiful in all its parts; and the evil one is inveterate in hatred, in ambition, in confusion. He is, in short to be avoided. So is the midst of a blazing fire. There are things to avoid...
9) Waylaying a Saint through Mere Ferocity
You see this picture in I Peter 5:8-9. The devil seeks to intimidate, as first of the beasts, as that once so glorious creation of God, and in this ferocity, this uplift of the head, this shaking of the mane, this roar as if a king of the beast in the jungle of writhing souls, serpentine situations, he acts in gross and outrageous power. Yet it needs resistance. If Christ is INFINITELY more powerful than the devil, as God is above to that degree, all His creations, then what is there to fear ? Greater is he who is in you than the prince of this world, whose pathetic little dramas for a day are mere preludes to the pit. Fear that ? Why ? It is mere flurry. RESIST him is the message. Call on the Lord to MEET him and displace and disgrace him, foiling all his plans. He is well able. It tests faith and enables its exercise to increase strength and by experience, aid further penetration into the realm of the evil one, in order to rescue the fallen, the forsaken, those who feel hopeless.
10) Securing Glory to his own name, by misdirecting what is Due to God
The devil's lust here is shown both in Revelation 12, where he even sought to fight in heaven, though naturally without success - but it shows the inveterate crazed lust in that being, and in Matthew 4, where with equal pertinacity and absurd hope he sought to waylay Christ Himself. It is one of the glories of God that HE EXPOSES His own being to such assaults, in the form of a servant. HE SHOWS the way, as when Christ simply by the written word, the Bible, nailed Satan to the mast of his own pirate vessel, and left him for dead! He is decisive, biblical, dismissive, and apt in his dealing with the satanic force. It lusted for him as for a pearl; He dismissed it as a serpent, poisonous, pretentious and vain, clearly and visibly counter to grace and truth, to God and glory.
So do in His name, who lends HIS OWN POWER for the purpose. NOTHING is too hard for the Lord (Luke 1:37, Genesis 18:14). As the latter text shows, right back when Sarah was to have a child at a seemingly quite impossible age, this power is endemic in the kingdom of heaven, always there, and the purposes of God offer themselves. Being received, they have this power to back them; and the devil is only one of the evils which are overcome by this power.
How delightful it is to see empirically, in all nations, in all churches, in all situations, in all confrontations, at all ages in the CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE, in examination by hostile atheistic examiners, in assault from erratic 'isms', that II Peter 1:3-4 is true. It is verified continually in life, just as is Hebrews 12! There is a provision of ALL THINGS NECESSARY FOR GODLINESS. Give me that, IN THE LORD, and what more is needed ? That however is precisely what is given. It needs merely the faith to receive it. The devil and the world, to give them their justice, try hard but fail to prevail against the life in Christ (cf. I John 4:4, Hebrews 2:14,15, I John 3:8, 4:4): that is the negative side, negating the negative! And how delightful is the program for growth as specified equally in II Peter 1:5-9. If athletes can delight in developing their work and finding the access to its proper strengths, how much more the Christian to grow where eternity is the repository, and life is the issue! (Cf. Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 7.)
The use of faith in the process, of integrity, of love of the Lord, it is like tempering steel, assisting its quality by such work. And quality ? is it not WORTH developing ?
11) Attacking with a Feeling of Indomitability
This is very similar to 9) above, but has this distinguishing feature, that it is not mere ferocity which is here in view, but the feeling that there is also a power which CANNOT be quashed. It is like a 40 ft high tank (to imagine such a thing) looming over the broken body of some soldier, who is almost ready to surrender to a mouse already, such is his pain.
Why worry! this is the message. It is hopeless. Just surrender.
This can come in one episode or in a series. Look at Job: there was a series, loss of wealth, of the respect of his friends, false accusation to belittle him to the dust, disease to assist the process physically, concern about the meaning of his challenges (since he did not know the plan for testing as we do, having been shown it in Job 1). Jointly these things had a cumulative effect like this indomitable confrontation syndrome. You see it for example in Job 10. He is ready to quit, to halt. However he does not do so, for he has a vast UNDERLYING FAITH IN GOD, whatever the dissonance of his thoughts, and while he does utter some occasionally outrageous things (like Peter for his short fall), that faith is apparent as he constantly seeks to grasp the nettle, face the firing squad of apparent condemnations facing him in his diseases, distresses, pains, losses, all cumulative. In Job 19 he comes out with the pressure of this faith, like a giant geyser attesting the depth of that product, in the underlying ground, in this case the ground of his confidence in God.
I KNOW, he cries, that MY REDEEMER IS ALIVE and that HE will STAND in the latter day UPON THE EARTH. MY EYES, he declares, pointing to his resurrection, will see Him and not another. There is no intermediary, there is no substitute. HE himself will see God, and there is no confusion. He cherishes this coming time, when all horror is past and the reality of God will glow with His actual beauty.
Faith surrounds circumstances like a surrounding army. It is better to deal frankly and face the problems than to deal covertly. The 'indomitability' of evil can do what its foolish little heart wants, but it is mere appearance, failing before faith and prayer, since these things touch the heart of God, who gives what is needed. It may be that a TEST is needed as with Job. It may well be that the test is GREATLY TO HIS HONOUR, as it was with Job, despite his deficiencies. The root of the matter was indeed within him, and a searching enquiring spirit likewise. For his excesses, he repented in sackcloth and ashes; but God blessed him prodigiously, and had his friends come to him, those who had imagined evil falsely against him, and seek him to pray for them!
Only God is indomitable. A small nuclear missile will despatch that tank. The nuke ? It is faith in the God who acts for those who wait for Him, yes and meets the one who rejoices and does righteousness (Isaiah 64:4-5). Further, that meeting is delightful, inimitable; and the very teeth of persecution, they can remove idle fat from the body. The spirit of God and of glory indeed rests on those who so suffer for Him, whether in instructive tests, as with Job whose example thrills and has thrilled the world for millenia, and taught millions, or in other anguish (I Peter 4:14). Why worry about these other things ? They are only self-important!
Remedy: "Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator" (I Peter 4:19). Such things are inspiring also! They are not in vain.
12) Utilising Anger so that he can come in, as bacteria where viruses have been
Ephesians 4:26-27 shows the principle: DO NOT let the sun go down on your wrath. If not, the aggrieved spirit, the wrathful torment, the seething torrent may become an opportunity for piratical invasion by Satan. It is like the virus which leads to the bacterial infection, the weakening in folly which allows the disturbance that whittles, that whines, that presses.
The answer is simple: be angry with righteous indignation if it seems good, but do not stay in that elevated emotional state. You have said it: live the good, condemn the evil but do not become a sort of flare of flesh, ever burning, so that ashes become your odour. What ? "Do not give place to the devil."
13) Multiplying Blows as if to Overcome by Number
This reminds one of the apparent indomitability of the devil case, where appearance becomes the issue, not reality. Christ had to confront the devil, overcome vicious resistance, endure misrepresentations innumerable, yes and be rejected in his home town (Luke 4) which all but achieved the distinction of being the first in all history, past and future, to outwit God and foil His plans. That was quite a thrust, but it failed of course, as they all do. It is however in the midst of such robust assaults, more and more, in this and that part and place, as if a boxer landed blows not only on the left ear, but the right, not only on the chin from this angle, but from that, not only in the stomach, but in the abdomen, not only with genuine cleverness but foul evil, always pretending, always lying, always a fraud; and then cumulatively, what is the result ?
The result has of course to be a knock-out, and this is what Christ did to the devil in HIS OWN temptation, as in Matthew 4. The devil loves to appear religious in this, that it gives access to churches which, if not properly founded on the Rock, the ONLY ROCK which counts (Psalm 62), God Himself, Christ the Redeemer (Isaiah 28:16), can fall readily. The word of God answers any test, and when used by faith is like a sword (Ephesians 6). That has a punch which brings a knock-out, when faith is wielding it, and the power of God is sought and obtained for the work (Ephesians 1:19); for assuredly, it is available to Christians. There is perhaps a danger that you may begin almost to admire the sheer pertinacity of the punches, but when you consider the fouls, it is enough. Let him be knocked out, as lies before logic, as disease before healing, as darkness before light; and when Christ is your light, the light of the world, there IS no darkness (John 8:12). "He who follows Me," He said, "shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." That is an empirical fact.
That is the way it is; and the more one is tested, the more evident it becomes. That is one of the advantages of the unholy war from the devil: it shows the power of God in practice.
14) Acting as Ring-leader of Lies so that their Appeal can be Touted
Inveterate in hate (Revelation 12), the devil fights for his life, only to achieve death as dismal in dismissal as once passionate in pride.
Doubtless, as you see in Rev 12, it is because he KNOWS that his time is short, that his appeal is limited, that his day is coming when night falls fast, that his desperate measures can be so absurd; but then, sin forever seductive, is often inclined to overlook the obvious. Thus, as scripturally described, does the prince of darkness, the lord of the lie, the agency of untruth, the passion for self-love and advancement, necessarily filling with envy, strife and pride whereever he goes, given time, mark man with the flesh-singeing brand of every mad and disingenuous futility, extending the life of earlier lies by the passion for self-rule in man.
How abundantly is that scripture fulfilled which speaks of man in sin being unable even to SEE the kingdom of heaven, let alone enter it (John 3). Borne on the wings of maddened sin, or born again are the only two options. First, the extent of the former is seen readily in the world, developing like the smell of a super-ripe pear. Secondly, its evil ways are seen to be overcome by, and only by the power which is in Christ, for even if strength seems adequate, wisdom is not, and even if both were, pride is lurking, and even if this were not, to fight in the name of the Lord without the Lord is like trying to remove an ocean breaker as it surges, with a tea-spoon. The things are simply disproportionate.
However for one in and with the Lord, the disproportion is on the other side; but not the pain, not the suffering. Christ was crucified, and his people SHOW their love in suffering, not this time to ransom, as no sinner can do this, being already in need of the cover of Christ, but to achieve, to illustrate, to empathise, because sin involves suffering, and the Christian pilgrim is no more able to divorce himself or herself from suffering than is a doctor who, in the midst of a plague, like SARS, can divorce himself in advance from its impact.
Swallows which can fly about one's feet in dozens, circling, swooping, nearly touching the ground, like a moving carpet of avine flowers, are fascinating. For all that, they do not seem to lose concentration; and in this, man with his conscious sin can leave beasts behind, in the downward direction! As God says in Jeremiah 8:7:
"Even the stork in the havens knows her appointed time;
And the turtle-dove, the swift and the swallow,
Observe the time of their coming:
But My people do not know the judgment of the LORD.
How can you say, 'We are wise...' "
It is one with some affinities to the topic just examined. Some assume that people are selfish or operate by maximising pleasure, and a few aspects of such thought need attention. As Professor Boyce Gibson, at one time Chairman of Philosophy at Melbourne University, pointed out: How can pleasure be 'the good', if we can have good and bad pleasures; and the sense of 'good pleasure' is not redundant (*4)! Obviously, 'good' prescribes what is non-identical with pleasure and what is not deducible from pleasure: it does not direct to the same as 'pleasure' terminologically; and an argument for the one will not ipso facto establish the other. For those interested, a substantial footnote is dedicated to analysing some of the features focussed in this domain.
It was Freud who made great play on this topic; we will in this setting revert to him. He wanted to relate the human mind to something deviously, dubiously or subterraneanly controlled from strange sources (not just pathological cases, but all minds, with minds limited to a peak with man). We have already seen that if this were so, then the mind (of Freud etc.) which says so has the same defect, which will automatically destroy in advance of any other thought, the Freudian theory to that effect. The objectivity of the thought of the theorist (say here Freud) is destroyed by his own theory, ensuring at once the invalidation of this psychology from its own heartland. Delving into our minds qua human, means allowing us to delve into his mind qua human, with the same "I really know" technique; or more realistically, with the same sense of subjectivistic invalidation. If he is right, then he is wrong...
Now just so is this prescription of pleasure. If you knew that these poor, deluded human minds were really motivated and activated by pleasure as the dominant, rancidly dismissing all other thoughts, then it is as easy for your victims to allege that if you were right, you would be wrong. The very weary-seeming cynicism which tiredly tasks man so, is so tasked itself; and the very sophisticated sounding assurance which knowingly dismisses all protest, is in advance dismissed itself; if men are wrong in thinking they are not so, then the theorist, once again, is just as invalid in making the theory itself, which must be dismissed just as radically, as it would lead him to dismiss contrary views. His distinction is very simple, and is this: he invalidates himself. Others may have no need to do so; and where logically worthy of thought, do not invalidate themselves in any similar wary.
As noted in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, which traces the presentation of the Gospel from early times, there is a special importance in the announcement of Genesis 3:15, which like a star in the blackness of extending night, shines with sympathy.
At once, then, not merely the curse, but the Gospel set foot on the earth. The seed of woman, as shown in this verse, would conquer the seed of the serpent, the race of evil-doers: but clearly not just ANY seed of woman, for the curse degraded man far from the power of God.
Again, there is even more to it as noted in ... Immovable Faith Ch. 3, when dealing with Isaiah 51:16. It will prove helpful to have this matter at hand. (For internal endnotes, and the full coverage of the point, turn to the chapter itself, through the above hyperllink.)
What then is to be said of THIS, the transformatively triumphant Prince of God, THAT Israel, and what is heard in Isaiah 51:16 ?
It is this:
“And I have put My words in Your mouth” –
as in Isaiah 49:2 for the Messiah, precisely.
But what is the purpose of this having this “arrow” so pregnant with program, so versed in word, so hidden in readiness ? It is this.
The Lord has done this, and in addition,
v “I have covered You with the shadow of My hand,
v that I may plant the heavens,
v lay the foundations of the earth,
v and say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ”
THAT is why He has so hidden Him, so that it would be not an earth without program, without solution, without ground in purpose and reason, spiritual knowledge and coverage, jutting jauntily at first, then in tired and dispirited displeasure descending into its worn out frame: it would not be this, that would be made. Better NONE AT ALL than that! Do you not agree ?
No, the Lord had the Messiah in mind*4, and the words and plan (John 12:48-50) ready, before there was or COULD BE ANY question of founding, establishing this earth. It would have been a pointless, an unspiritual exercise in travesty, a dream of the professor-class, a tittilation for the savant. Not thus did Almighty God who KNOWS the end from the BEGINNING and declares it (Isaiah 46:10), not thus did HE proceed! From the first as in Genesis 3:15, in the protevangelion (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17), He had known it and declared that from woman would come that seed which, unlike the fallen man in general, would for the general body of mankind, make available the solution.
If any of the generality of mankind prefers the establishment of the devil, so be it (John 14:31). He will be crushed anyway (Revelation 19). It is all planned,and continues triumphantly to occur, step by step. So does liberty’s vast plan, and love’s enormous enterprise enter into its splendid and awesome way, and in all this, do you not see it, predestination is the guarantee that there will be NO omissions and all being called, none will be damned for being unaware! (cf. Colossians 1:19ff.) or for any other reason in the face of the DESIRE of the Almighty that having made peace through the blood of the Cross, He might – He might through the Son, yes the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity might – “reconcile ALL things to Himself …”
Most will not come (Matthew 7:15), but ALL are invited (cf. Matthew 25:1-10).
2) From ... IMMOVABLE FAITH
Chapter 6 - adapted a little for the present purpose
ON THE DEVICES OF THE DEVIL and the OVERCOMING POWER OF CHRIST
These are near; SO is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you alerted for His Advent ? It is not a seventh day matter, that chatter to the detriment of the glory of the Cross in which and not in the creation as such, we are rather to glory (Galatians 6:14 cf. TOAN 2, End-note 1A, BB 12, Appendix I, II and III )_. Better yet, are you personally ready for His Coming!
It will be SUDDEN, UNEXPECTED, GLORIOUS, a cause of DELIGHT for His people, at last delivered, just as HE was from the tomb; and of weeping for the rest, who refuse to know Him, whose end draws near, without any finish to it!
Today, our topic is “There is a war on, and it is not with Iraq!” and in that context, the wiley strategies of the devil and the necessity to overcome and overpower them in the dynamic deliverance of the Lord. As to THIS war, you see that in Ephesians 6, but in many other ways. Let us look at it.
Looking throughout history, at 25 battles against the Lord and His will, plan and way, or constituted by outrages that required response, we see
10 before Christ
5 directly concerning Christ Himself, and
5 in our present era.
GREETINGS THEN and Blessings in the Lord!
to our present era, see it now below, in its historical, biblically outlined
look to the Lord and live; seek to the Lord and grow; love the Lord and know the way
of life. Start the year with wisdom, and know that light is sown for the righteous
(Psalm 97:11), perceive how blessed is the one to whom the LORD does
not impute iniquity (Psalm 32, Romans 3:21ff.),
covered by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11),
that Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:7)
Himself propitiated the wrath of God (Romans 3:25)
by His redemption, covering as with a robe with rejoicing (Isaiah 61:10),
broken the back of death by removing its call
and claim (Hebrews 2:8-15),
v who through death has destroyed the power of death,
the power of Satan to accuse, inoperative his blustering
claims, destroying the works of the devil (I John 3:8),
v being disfigured more than any man (Isaiah 52:13-15), that His people,
themselves come to Him freely (Psalm 110), might be regenerated,
restored and walk in the light of the Lord, for in His light, they see light
is these (John 1:12) who have received Him, who have taken His word which is
(John 17:17, 14:21-23), who therefore love Him, who know that this, it is He, God
manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16, John 8:58, 14:9), who can declare, and should:
v “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory”
73:24), and seeing this bridge, their brother who became man FROM glory,
to bring them TO it (Hebrews 2), declare,
v “Whom have I in heaven but You ?
v And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You!”
v (Psalm 73:24).
He who made the ear, not listen, the mouth not speak, the mind not know
(cf. Psalm 94), the ground not be able to walk, the future not declare His will, and it is
well, for the door is not shut, and you do not live among the dead, who read this: therefore enter this Door, Jesus Christ (John 10:9) and do not delay; and being then within, do not fear (John 10:27-28) for nothing depends on you, but all on Him, even for ever, as He expressly declares again (I Thess. 5:9-10).
v Yet depend upon it, the fear of the Lord is clean (Psalm 19), just as the Rock of life, the only one, is sure (Psalm 62). Walk therefore in this light, as children of the light (Galatians 5:16, Ephesians 5:8). Why worry about the unwisdom of the world (I Corinthians 1:20-30) ? merely seek to find those who will come, that more may be borne to the kingdom of God and born into it, and to walk in wisdom with them; for God has not forgotten His people, and as you abide in Him, and He in you, you shall find that power and presence, that practicality and spirituality, that wonder and that grace which being His, is always to be found in Him.
God bless you who heed, in the coming times; for the blessing is in Him only,
just as the righteousness who counts, is HIS ONLY (Psalm 71:16), for of all
works, ONLY HIS are acceptable for admission to His presence (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians
2:1-10), and adding your own is like adding the cooing of a child, to the work
of a maestro. GOD ONLY is
your sufficiency if you are His; and this alone is your call, your basis and your adequacy
(II Cor. 3:5, 4:2-6, Romans 10:1-13). It is GOD who is the Saviour, and none else
(Isaiah 43:10-11), and it is Christ who is the Saviour who in bearing sin (Isaiah 53:4-11), dismissed its claims and dispensed with its judgment; and it is He alone, who as judge
and sacrifice, risen from the dead, breaking the bars of death through perfect
innocency and sublime deity (Acts 2:23-24, Isaiah 50), confers your place without
your aid, just as He made you Himself (Psalm 100, Isaiah 45:12,18): if you receive it!
v Receiving then so great a salvation (Hebrews 2), rejoice in it, relish Him and reason with Him who is reasonable, but do not chide with unbelief which is treasonable against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), for mischief is in the division from God, and the full fruit of harmony, of mind, of heart and of spirit, is to be found nowhere else. Heaven has no other door; no other ground; no other way. If God is not enough for you, however, then being your own pilot, contend with Him to your damnation, which is only just, then deserved, you being without excuse, arbitrary in appetite, and groundless in pretence.
v God bless you then in this time of challenge, and know that the blessing, it is His. Then remember Ephesians 3:20 and rejoice again, and yet again (Eph. 3:17-18, I Philippians 4:4, I Thess. 5:16).
Now let us attend to history, to find our contemporary place within it, as a generation!
THE MANY EFFORTS OF SATAN TO RUB OUT
THE ROYAL RULE OF CHRIST, THE PEACE OF GOD
AND THE JOY THAT GOES WITH IT
1. From the First
A) ATTACK on MAN’S NATURE.
Think of it! There was the war on Eden, ON FREEDOM. Freedom simply to love and follow God, rejoice in His creation and delight in His way ? Not at all, sneers Satan. Listen buddies, you need to know that the Lord looks after number 1, see, he leers, and that all this stuff about the fruit and all that, it is just a ruse, a snarl. He wants to be top and He knows that if you get that stuff, you’re going to be up there, right up there with Him. Be wise! Look after yourselves!
One might have thought that anyone with such base thoughts would not himself be a good one to follow! and that when God said to RULE the beasts (Gen. 1:28), He did not mean to follow nature! But then, sin is never reasonable. It lusts!
B) ATTACK ON HUMAN LIFE.
Then there was war on the very character of godly living in peace. Sinners now ? Yes, but this went far further. Now not only was God to be ignored in His requirements, but man would kill one of God’s other fabrications, more indeed, one of His other works in His own image: Cain killed Abel, because he was not able to please God, with his offering; and when God indicated to him that it would be well if he had done well; but if he had not done well, the sin, it lay crouching ready to spring, at the door, this did not please Cain at all (Gen. 4:5ff.).
Instead of finding out what God DID want, or DOING it, he killed Abel, so preparing the sort of thing al Qaeda is engaged in, the attempt to rub out what does not join you in your own rebellion against the living God, whose redemption holds life on this earth from obliteration, pending its complete spreading upon the earth (Matthew 24:12, Isaiah 51:16 – see Ch. 3 above, 51:6, Romans 1:16ff., 3:19ff.). The “propitiation” in Romans 3:25 is that the wrath of God should have effect not in the condign judgment on man, but on the Redeemer, so that holiness being vindicated, justice being wrought, mercy might have play.
It is this which gave God the victory in this battle; but its cost was infinite (Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Matthew 26).
C) ATTACK ON ALL VIRTUE.
Genesis 6 shows that when the time of the great Flood drew near (cf. News 1), man’s thoughts and imagination were perennially evil. He was engulfed with the flow of it, captivated with the show of it, hooked with the pull of it, entranced with the way of it, as if a flower show had everything in the way of irrigation, fertilizer and water, but no flowers. They were all – DE-natured.
The universal flood would have wiped man out; for justice has good cause to remove the waste paper basket, residing in the library shelves with its presumption. However God found NOAH who found grace in His sight (Gen. 6:8), and so THROUGH Noah, the history proceeded to that then still coming Saviour, adumbrated in the protevangelion of Genesis 3:15, the God-given entry into man’s history which would bear the evil and give the good the ONLY way that man was now fit to have it: by PURE DONATION (Romans 6:23, 5:15, 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-12).
God won that battle, through grace enlightening judgment.
D) ATTACK THROUGH MEANINGLESS SEXUAL LUST.
Then there was war on Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham’s relative, Lot, was living. Abraham reasoned with God (a lovely practice) and sought help on the topic of anyone in the doomed city who might belong to the Lord (Genesis 18:16-33). Do ALL go ? Then God rescued Lot (but his wife was longing for the ways of Sodom, it seems, and could not get on with the escape!). Abraham saw the smoke, but did not die.
Rescue in urgency was the means, and God in His compassion won that battle against defilement as a strenuously acceptance insistence, corruption as culture, sexual depravity as de rigueur (not unlike the direction of the present in many societies, which has now its own looming answer, with multi-dimensional fires, in the coming judgment, not for time only, but for eternity – cf. Matthew 24:12-14,29ff., I Timothy 1:10, Romans 1, I Corinthians 5:7, 6:9).
E) ATTACK VIA ENVY, DIVISION BY DECEIT
There was war on the line of Jacob, when Joseph by pure jealousy on the part of his brothers, was sold as a slave to Egypt. God won the war, used Joseph to become great in Egypt, and so SAVE his own people by forgiveness and power, in inviting them to Egypt where it was then safe. This account was far more than one of mere deliverance from envy, even than a case of testimony of mercy in the heart of Joseph: it also kept Israel intact, until the Messiah should come, without whom NO-ONE among our race, could be saved from exclusion from God, intrusion of evil and consignment to judgment.
F) ASSAULT BY ENSLAVEMENT
ATTACK ON THE FUTURE LAW-GIVER MOSES
There was war on the people of Israel in Egypt, seemingly by now millions, when they had their boy babes killed, and their bodies set in the sweltering heat, to make bricks in cruel circumstances. God won that war. ONE particular boy babe, Moses by name, was left in a basket in the bulrushes, and God enabled an Egyptian princess, possibly one who later became Queen, to find him. Attracted, she bought him up as an Egyptian cultured prince, and it was this Moses who came in the power and name of Israel’s God, the God who made heaven and earth, to demand an EXIT visa, which being denied, let to the destruction of much of Egypt’s power … AND Israel’s safe exit.
G) ATTACK THROUGH MARAUDING FAITHLESSNESS.
How hopeless it seemed when Israel simply baulked at the open door to victory, peace, rest and realization of the meaning of God’s promises in their new premises! It was as if they had the old timer’s short memory, and forgot about the great miracles by which God had brought them out of the vast power of Egypt’s malice, to follow Him.
Thus, this time there was war from INSIDE Israel, when they refused the faith by which to enter the PROMISED LAND (see Numbers 14), and so had to live in the desert until the next generation grew up, when they went in. Joshua, who was ALWAYS WILLING to go in, then was the leader and they received their land in marvellous ways, just as they left Egypt in wonderful ways. God won that war too.
More than this, just as Joseph gave a lesson in pardon, as a type of Christ, so Joshua gave one in leadership, a type of Christ leading His people to their refuge, rest and joy in heaven (cf. Isaiah 54:6).
H) BATTLE BY DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL, the northern segment.
Wrought by Assyria (II Kings 16-17), this would have ended the race and the plan of God, had it not been for the fact that Hezekiah in the southern segment of the nation, called JUDAH, through faith and grace from God, matched the power of Assyria with faith, sought the Lord and gained a victory of epochal dimensions, God Himself using His own power to decimate the Assyrian army, which returned empty from its hot-mouthed threats and psychological warfare against Judah. To finish the rebuke, the king himself, Sennacherib, was murdered in his temple by his sons! Isaiah 36 gives the contempt of faith for Sennacherib’s devices and intimidation, before his overthrow, as also the record of his ruin at the hand of the Lord, honouring mightily the word of the prophet, spoken in His name.
of course is a pre-run, a trailer if you will, covering what is to happen
Israel at last is returned from its exile (Deuteronomy 32),
still blind in its unbelief in Christ (Romans 11, Isaiah 42 cf. Heart
and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 5),
is even rescued by divine intervention (as made clear from Moses on – Deut. 32)
v from its snarling aggressors.
Then, when the nations wrack their brains in finding ways to put Israel once more on the rack (the situation in history has here caught up with prophecy and we see it beginning to develop before our eyes), in their unutterable greed and lust against the true and living God (Zechariah 12), they meet the same opponent as did Assyria! God will act decisively, then, just as He has already done in the preliminaries of 1948, 1967, 1973 and 1991, preserving the newly returned and often menaced Israel, in dazzling and predicted victories (cf. SMR Ch. 9).
Indeed, as Zechariah 12:2ff. with 12:10ff. shows, this at its height is to be associated with a massive return to the Lord within Israel, now returned not only physically, and geographically, but in large measure spiritually*1A precisely as forecast in Ezekiel 37.
This is in the realm of the present; but let us return to the past, and the victory over Assyria, which mirrors our day, both in things already come and coming (cf. Isaiah 30:27-33, Micah 5:1-6, Romans 11).
This epochal victory over Assyria meant that though Israel to the North was gone, yet Judah continued and the line of David continued; the line of Abraham was not lost; and the Messiah in His time, came through that line.
God won that battle using the faith of His people in a time of vast decline, and His own power in response. It also drew attention to the value of the leadership of ONE KING. Then it was the good kin Hezekiah, a type in this of Christ; but in the end, and past all endings, it is Christ the sinless, sovereign Saviour, whose compassion is never divested from truth, whose love is never divested because of shortness of breath, but whose judgments do not swerve, nor do His ways change (Daniel 7, Ephesians 1:10, Revelation 21-22).
I) ATTACK THROUGH DEVITALISED, VITAMISED
CONTINUATION EVEN WHEN THE LAND WAS LOST!
CAPTURE THEIR LAND
Even this was not the limit. Judah too was later exiled in large measure.
Sloppily going through religious motions without the knowledge of God, they joined other ‘faiths’ with the truth, so making it all one stench of incompatible folly, throwing the words of men into the mouth of God, as if some insane dentist gone into reverse gear! (Cf. Hosea 6:4-7, Jeremiah 23). This is paralleled by the Gentiles today, as in ‘W’ below.
They spread folly in the land, worshipped idols and fell into virtual unbelief (in varying degrees, over hundreds of years, after David, and to some extent before that), so that the North was lost, and Judah was overcome by Babylon, as Jeremiah predicted (Jeremiah 25). Yet God gave them mercy as He promised beforehand that He would by sending Cyrus, the famous Persian king, to conquer Babylon, which had taken Judah captive and many of its people, to dispatch home as many as wanted to go (the prediction is in Isaiah 44:25-45:5). They rebuilt in marvellous ways (Ezra and Nehemiah tell you how the Lord arranged it), and God won that war.
J) ATTACK BY DEFILING THEIR SENSE OF THE
EVEN BRINGING IDOLS INTO THE TEMPLE, THAT TEMPLATE OF TRUTH.
Later, terrible things happened, when one of the quarters of the Empire of Alexander the Great, in Syria, had a king, Antiochus Epiphanes who brought an idol into the temple, and sought to TRICK the people into following his INCLUSIVIST ways, in which religions and things were all made into some stew, and this was done so subtlety, just as Satan, weak but wily, loves, so snaring many.
Paralleled in recent times by ‘U’ below, this shows the repetitious surge of this evil in world history.
In the ancient case before us, following this assault on the Temple, wars arose (the famous Maccabaean wars) and a mini-Empire for Judah was gained. Meanwhile, this evil Syrian king died, Israel escaping and resuming control of its religion and temple. Thus God won that war also.
2. In the Messiah’s Day and Way
K) ATTACK BY SEEKING SIMPLY TO ELIMINATE THE MESSIAH.
Now was the time. If MOSES could be rubbed out, what then of the Law ? If Christ could be rubbed out, what then of salvation! Moses was rescued by amazing novelty when the princess found the abandoned child, as if to show that God is quite willing to use tiny little events, where space and time meet like lapping waves, to accomplish mighty wonders!
Let us see how this next and more ambitious step arose: KILL the Messiah.
Worse came. Priesthood could be sold for money; power was lusted after; and soon Israel was beaten by Rome. How could they proceed ? a subject people! Many sought deliverance in violence, and died. Then the Messiah, long predicted by God in the Bible, came and died at the date predicted in Daniel 9, and rose in the third day, as also predicted repeatedly. Israel made war on Him, in its religious and state bodies, and murdered Him. But the resurrection won that war*1B, and Christianity, based on the Messiah promised from Abraham, not only to the Jews but as a light to the Gentiles also (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), continued the work of presenting God to the world, in which Israel for the time utterly failed.
However, the apostles were Jewish, the Bible and nearly all the New Testament came from Jews, through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, and the church STARTED with thousands of Jews, even though the nation was against it. The Christian Church of Jesus Christ has continued for millennia, and the Gospel, also predicted in Isaiah centuries beforehand, has continued unchanged, penetrating to all the world, as Christ said it would (Matthew 24:12), and Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 42,49-55). God has won that war too.
L) KILL THE BABY: EXPLOIT THE VULNERABILITY.
But let us not forget one other war, mentioned in Revelation 12, where you see Satan standing by, ready to murder the baby who, not now Moses but the Son of God, would bring deliverance: not this time by the nation, but by HIS VERY SELF (cf. Isaiah 9:1-7). God moved the baby Christ to Egypt while Herod the King slew many babies near Bethlehem, a horrible child massacre which God also predicted (Jeremiah 31, as we saw earlier). Christ the child was brought back when it was safe, grew to manhood, did His wonderful works and spoke His wonderful words, confirming in power, His salvation; and God won that war, bringing many to health and holiness, faith and joy in Him.
M) MUTILATE HIS SANCTITY: MAR THE MESSIAH MORALLY
Nor should we omit the TEMPTATION, of Christ (Matthew 4), when Satan sought to show that God Himself, if only He were put in trying circumstances, could be turned from purity and truth, single-minded dutifulness and nobility, from the beauty of holiness. The test was severe, the temptations subtle; but Christ did not fall. God won that battle.
N) KILL THE MESSIAH
PREMATURELY, SO THAT HIS SACRIFICE WOULD HAPPEN, BUT IN VAIN!
This time, the Messiah journeyed to His home town of Nazareth, announced as the scripture was read, that this day this prediction concerning the Messiah was fulfilled, and then faced the raging frenzy of rejection. They sought to throw Him over a cliff, so that then His whole ministry would be aborted, His testimony shut down before it was well set up, and the predictions of the murder on the Cross (cf. Joyful Jottings 25) would be falsified. It was a magnificently thought out effort; but it was woefully a flop!
God has all knowledge, and Christ passing through them was gone. It is marvellous what a peace and grace can do in horrific circumstances. People can be stopped in the midst of rage, disoriented by sensing, savouring wonder or simply gaining the supernatural impact of goodness and grace. In this instance, God turned their eyes from their target, just as when Elisha calling on God, had the army of Syrians temporarily blinded (II Kings 6:8ff.).
It had to happen, this acme of all assassinations; but not yet. God is in charge of all timing.
God won that battle also.
O) OVERTURN THE WORDS OF THE MESSIAH
How often this was tried! (cf. Matthew 12, 22, Luke 11)! Vehemently they lay in wait, trying to find fault, to discover error, to overthrow the words of the Son of God, while He was Son of Man! In the end, they simply gave up! (Matthew 22:46). Then of course they tried to kill Him on the ground of truth, that He SAID He was the Messiah. The thought of SHOWING that He was wrong in this claim (it was even at the right date as predicted by Daniel – cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), did not seem to occur to them; but then, crime is not good for clarity of thinking.
The other point is this: if you simply CANNOT show a fault in someone, one method remaining is to murder that person – starting with his reputation. This apparently seemed fitting; and it was the natural enough focus WHEN and BECAUSE FAITH was not present, just as it had not been present in the time of Joshua and Caleb, when the people refused to take the promised land when it was offered to them, much earlier! Now it was Christ, the Messiah Himself, whom they refused to take. This for Israel, as now for any, is as costly an action as it is possible to make! History has shown the former; eternity will expose the latter.
God won that war. Murder is easy. Resurrection is no problem to the One who made human life in the first place. It is like an architect with unlimited means, simply rebuilding Sydney Harbour Bridge, if it fell! He even was bold enough to STATE that the murder, which He predicted (Psalm 22, Isaiah 49-55), would be followed by bodily resurrection, as in Acts 2:22ff., cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25.
The embarrassment at being unable to keep Him in their possession, even having killed Him! This was like Nagasaki, like Hiroshima, to the World War II Japanese Empire.
So far we have seen 10 battles before Christ, and 5 upon Him personally.
Now we find 5 more till our own time, and 5 within it.
3. From the Messiah to Yesterday
P) TARGET THE CHRISTIANS.
Then Satan, having failed so often, tried yet once more. Could he intimidate, scare, kill of the CHRISTIANS: and so then, without a Church, where would the Gospel be ? Sure, he failed to get Christ, and when he did murder, he could not keep Him down. Still, hit the Christians!
As Peter declared of Christ:
“Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him:
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
“Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”
Too bad! says Satan. Lost again!
Still, let’s get the church. You see that in Revelation 12:14-17. He sends out
a flood to drown the church, a flood of evil power, evil nations, evil people,
to kill (John 16:2 shows Christ warning that people will kill Christians, even
thinking they are pleasing God as they do it! for HE KNEW!). Satan tried with
deceptive teaching, divisions, challenges, he tried with murder in masses, with
Rome and its lions and arenas, with mad emperors and sane ones, kill! Kill!
Kill! but in the end,
Q) ATTACK THROUGH THE “I WANT TO BE FIRST” SYNDROME
Then Satan tried to USE the fact of Rome, that great city, to make more trouble. If he could not make it simply suppress the Christians, and if it was in fact starting to think of itself in Christian terms, why not use this very fact. After all, much of the ‘Christianity’ it now began to adopt was superficial!
Why not use Rome to distort, disturb and in the end, almost eliminate Christianity!
This time, Rome was to become puffed up, and call itself the centre of Christianity, and its bishop or minister, was to become first, just as James and John had seemed to think about this, when they were soundly rebuked by Christ for it (and it appears all the disciples were all discussing the topic – Matthew 21:20ff., 18:1ff.).The pope in his day, has called his words the “voice of eternity” and other proud pseudo-plenipotentiary posturing, and Romanism, or Roman Catholicism began to arise, especially after 1000 A.D. roughly, inventing the ‘Mass’ and the infallible papacy, the immaculate conception of Mary and other non-biblical rubbish ready to be trashed in judgment (Revelation 17-18 cf. SMR pp. 946), even making Mary the Redemptrix, female version of the redeemer! though Christ alone paid (Hebrews 9), “not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Pace once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…” (9:12 cf. SMR pp. 1032-1088H).
Romanism in the Inquisition, which effectually lasted for centuries around 1200-1700, and in its wars when it tried to manipulate kings to serve it, became as bad a scourge as the Roman Empire ever was.
Ø But the Reformation exposed it,
Ø great nations left it,
Ø Britain helped spread it through the earth,
Ø while Italy had a revolution,
Ø the papacy being shut up to a tiny portion of Rome called the Vatican;
Ø and God won that war also.
R) ATTACK BY FALSE PROPHETS, especially MUHAMMAD
Islam with its lamentably simplistic concept of SUBMIT, then came on the scene, as did many false prophets and distortions, which the early Church fought in its early Councils, resulting in such things as the Nicaean Creed, and the Chalcedon Creed.
However in the 7th century, a man using some Jewish non-scriptural traditions, some knowledge of Christianity and much imagination, made up a book which though it at times seemed almost to reflect the Torah of the Jews, yet failed to be consistent either either with itself or with the prophets who went before, whom it contradicted woefully (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff., More Marvels … Ch. 4). Surging into Africa, where the great Augustine had been so prolific a writer, and yes, into central Europe, it went storming its wrath against the Christians, making these either dead, or ‘converts’ or else, subjected peoples, held like second class citizens on sufferance, so that if they sought escape from this humiliation and submergence, they were to gain terrible vengeance!
The sheer folly of so using force (cf. SMR pp. 50ff., 65ff., 977-996, 1186Aff.), in this sphere and so acting as if to denature man in the offshoot and outcome of such presumption is not limited to Islam, or for that matter, to its two great partners in historic crime in mass execution in this way, Romanism (cf. SMR pp. 912ff., 949ff., 1032ff.) and Communism (cf. SMR pp. 684, 925ff., 911ff., 927ff, 971ff., 955ff., 649). Nevertheless, these religious or thinly veiled religious explosions, as in the last case, putting man’s ideas, or man’s messiahs*1c or man’s imaginary clockwork for the universe, complete with good and evil, into the place of the truth and provision of God, have done one outstanding thing. What is that ?
It is this: they have greatly fulfilled the predictions of Christ in Matthew 24, just as the sects in this time, in the last century or two, have amplified that fulfilment to the same radical dimensions so liberally revealed in the Bible, for the last time, that before the return of Christ. In this, they give real glory to God; for God, He makes the wrath of man to serve or even praise Him. Here is one of the great divine prerogatives, that just as a cricketer can snick a fast ball to the boundary, so He can use the energy of folly, to achieve glory, blessing for His people, and exposure for His enemies (cf. Psalm 76:10).
They thrust their lightning; they press their follies; they expose their pretence with their pretension; they become old, like departed race-horses, idly grazing on trembling legs.
All these have failed, and all are growing stale, Russia itself becoming weary*1 of Communism, the new President, Putin, seemingly keen to foster the Russian Orthodox religion, one of virtual Romanism minus the pope. Islam, sent back at Tours in 732, and thereafter, became a wonderful self-non-fulfilling prophecy of shrinkage, until the present, at which we look shortly. Romanism, even now pondering the strange silence of Pius XII in Nazi days, and long lost in its birth non-control procedures, from much of the world’s favour, just as in its worldly substitutes of papal power for Christ’s spiritual power, is faring no better, priests in this country being in exceedingly short supply.
What has not failed is God’s repeated forecasts of JUST SUCH A SITUATION as this with false prophets and prophecies, for of a truth, they infest the earth so that it is difficult to avoid their impact. In His word versus man’s, God has won this battle also.
S) ATTACK BY NATIONAL CHURCH CONCEPTS in conjunction with social universalism
If however, as we saw in Q above, Britain was one of those who helped the spread of that massive corrective action against the wild excesses in word and deed, of Romanism, yet the devil aptly saw how to use this to make yet another assault. As with Rome, when first it attacked Christianity, and then, this failing, became a centre for a specifically confused spiritual assault on it, so here, Britain helped in the overthrow of the worldly power and domineering violence of Romanism, helping that return to the faith on the part of many which was so vital; but then the flaw appeared.
Had not Britain itself a NATIONAL church ? Had it not in part been supported by tithes from many not of the Church ? Was it not the case that the State had large say in the running of the Church ?
Very well, make its help a hindrance. It remained only
v to use the decline of the religion of purity and godly passion in Britain,
v to reduce the attendance in the national church,
v to make the bishops increasingly worldly in doctrine,
v to seek to wed this national Church to the World Council of Churches,
have it seek alliance with Romanism (all of which happened cf. A Question
of Gifts Section VI):
v and behold, the very universality of the national church (in the sense of ALL the State being involved by various powers)
v became its weakness.
NATIONAL religion became all but a mockery of religion, and the exposure to ‘Christianity’ in Britain, often in the se ways, became more like an inoculation than a fortification.
Other trends in this direction in Europe fared little better, and the loose alliances in the World Council of Churches were made the easier, in Britain’s decline and fall from biblical Christianity, by the very populousness in concept, and increasing unspirituality in kind, of the national power structure. In one sense, it was germane to, in another crying for its international counterpart. If reality is to be lost to a body, then its leaning on others can markedly increase, and its spirituality of the past can be degraded and decried as insularity.
What then might be the diabolical counsel concerning Britain ?
Harass her as a nation far from holiness, and then let her populace and institutions lead a decline in emptiness, till even Romanism may seem a desirable item! Then, when her power is weak, make NEW institutions, international, irrational, contemptible in kind, secular in trend, and let the living church of the God of creation be exposed and collapsed, like a lung that did not breathe.
While at this point, our interest is in the Church, rather than the Empire, the close and even intimate relationship needs attention.
Such then appeared the diabolical desire for the dismemberment of the British Empire as a power surge or at least protector from the worst of insurgencies against the faith, and then the disfigurement of Britain herself, till she should wane into Europe, the off-shore Island, and wax international, in the WCC, her song too long and no longer pure, at least to the extent that it had been. The improper mixture of church and State and the laxities of convenience could thus join together to ensure her departure as a valuable national dynamic in the international scene, for Christ.
The United States, which for long sipped at German theological glasses, and even made excursions into such absurdities as liberalism and neological spiritual neuroses as Barthianism in its neo-orthodoxy, and debilitations such as neo-evangelicalism in its modern dress (cf. Dawn of Light Ch. 2, The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, *2, Appendix III), proliferating sects and excavating the foundations of centuries in many large bodies, could now see whether her spiritual zest could decline, comfort and continuance (things like ‘national interest’ that selfishness expanded into national waistline, of a billowing character) becoming crucial concepts, and confusion a master product of the indulgence.
Nevertheless, all was not quiet in the spiritual street, while some of its structures did indeed fall. Rubble was to be seen around the site of the Presbyterian Church, USA (News 10, Lead us Not into Educational Temptation Ch. 4) in its deplorable Confession of 1967, which theorised instead of proclaiming the very Gospel, and adhering to the word of God not as an index but the word of God; of the Lutheran body which split abruptly in Missouri; of the Baptists competing in segments of no small hostility where there had been more unity, the Southern Baptists ceasing their hegemony of zeal, and tolerating the ecumenical horrors of the Graham movement (cf. News 118), by retaining the leader in their ministerial ranks.
Yet while large numbers of churches permitted membership even in so gospel-deficient and rambling a body as the WCC (cf. SMR p. 743), other bodies and a large percentage of American churches challenged the WCC, formed other organizations, and multiplied Protestants worldwide did not accept the surge of Anglicanism back to Rome, or for that matter, of some of Lutheranism (cf. Stepping out for Christ Ch. 4), but continued as they came, on biblical lines.
What glorified God once more, was this, that the words of Christ,
“I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth ?” (Luke 18:8),
were being meticulously fulfilled, while equally,
the Church of the living God was continuing magnificently operative,
despite all this betrayal and decline.
In other words, the massive structures which at one time seemed by their wealth, the exalted character of many of their members in the land and their operating ability, to have immense influence, have been eroded not a little, and what is faithful to Christ in the way of churches, is now less likely to appear wealthy, or imposing, or spectacular in social power. For example, this is seen in Australia with the appalling decline of the Presbyterian Church*2A leading to the loss of most of its members to the Uniting Church and the failure of the residue of the Presbyterian Church to return to clear biblical teaching, but rather always here a little, there a little, conceding this and that. Even more is it seen in the arising of a Primate for the Anglican Church who specifically denies that faith in Christ is needful for entry to heaven!*2A
Other movements of absorbing kind, and various developments in terms of biblical Christianity withdrawing much of what virtue remains, out of their contributors, are considered in News 121, 122, Beauty of Holiness Ch. 4 and Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8. (cf. *1C below).
Ø It is not the massifs of vulgar wealth and power which constitute the undying church of Christ:
Ø it is the “faith that works by love” (Galatians 5:6),
Ø faith in the Gospel of Christ (Galatians 1),
Ø faith according to His written word (I Peter 1:22-23, 2:2, John 17:17, 14:21-23, I Corinthians 2:9-13),
Ø not vacillating in law and phrase to preserve a structure, but clear in word and deed to express one;
Ø faith in His living supervision and illimitable power (contrary to the decline specified as to come, in II Timothy 3), which raised Christ bodily from the dead (Romans 10:9, Luke 24), and will complete the task on His body, the living Church on His return in royal glory (I Cor. 15);
Ø faith which being operative in Him, is associated with the washing of regeneration and the sanctification which results in those who are His own:
Ø it is this which is the mark of His people, His church, though its blood, and not its cheque books become its record.
This work continues vigorously and courageously, we read*2, even in China, with tremendous upsurges of evangelical Protestant faith, and despite ever new methods of seeking to suborn the realities into the vexations of ultra-scriptural substitutes, such as multiplied tongues, debased doctrine, political control and the like. This, rather than the formally authorised and watched church, this is this church, often underground but never silent, suffering no Lord but Christ for its spiritual work, just as did the Scottish Covenanters in their own land: this with all those in every land who do likewise, it is this which continues to shame the world, expose its shams and call its people, while there is time, to repentance.
Thus the efforts to invalidate, inebriate and bring in the asthenic debasements of State Churches or other social bastions and generic directives, merely attest what is wanton and expose what is spurious. The church of Jesus Christ continues, and God has long won that battle in blood and by the word of testimony; but not this time, in other people’s blood, rather in the blood given freely by the saints, like so many infusions to the failing world, to stir its heart, or rather, the hearts of those who live in it, are of it, and do not know the difference. It continues as did the faith when the prophets were slain (cf. Matthew 23:30-36), with that refined purification and love which is its place (John 16:2), even when pollution smiles in false glory, over a disastrous tinsel-false church of tipsy glory, a harridan of years, inviting the lost to share her bankrupt estate.
Such was the way of Israel, before its fall (Ezekiel 16, 23); but the faith did not falter, nor its prophets, nor did the word of God, nor its impact, nor did the coming of the Messiah, nor His power, nor His resurrection, nor did His predicted Gospel, nor yet His way with the world. There is only one march which is always in step, the word of God and what receives it.
The more it (the world) changes, the more it (the way of the word of God in it) is the same!
Even in its sickness, its prognosis is constantly verified, and the path of spiritual health is invariably attested from the same word which God has given for millennia.
T) ATTACK BY REMOVING THE BRITISH EMPIRE PER SE
So there was this assault on certain churches.
At the same time, it is often valuable to have a two-pronged attack. If one prong fails, the other may succeed; and even if both succeed only partially, their joint effect may be such that each part magnifies the other, and the joint weakness achieved in the victim, may lead to total or at least partial collapse. It is virus PLUS bacteria approach, as in disease!
Thus while whittling the national Anglican Church down, using for example its amiable inclusivism (where this was mere tolerance and not true abuse of power) to enable ghastly denials of the faith, by including its contrary! the evil one also sought to bring down the British Empire. Did not its long existence and remarkable power, mixed with loyalty and courage, organisation and that famous sense of duty, lead to a period of much abasement for the haughty fist of totalitarian command! Clearly, its demise was desirable, a thing for lust to seek for this reason alone.
Thus both the power and the precept, both the authority and the purity of the Empire, for the purposes of Satan, that self-aggrandising bully, would need to be damaged.
Churchill, though not evidently enjoying the position of ‘presiding over’ the fall of the British Empire, did in effect something very close to it. Church and State had much free falling together*3. The Queen in her majestic formalities, is doing much of the rest, as an increasingly undefined British Commonwealth, or simply Commonwealth of Nations involves itself in ever more disparate actions. Australia has no formal requirements relative to the British base, nor is Canada markedly dependent, and in fact both are pursuing their own increasingly diverse and inchoate preoccupations; while South Africa is twice departed, and India is very much its own, though with Moslem and Hindu, it is not clear who it is that owns.
No more do gun boats settle issues, and even little North Korea is now rattling its sabre, as if to show the scimitar that it does not have it all its own way, however much oil it may use to caress the blade. The cat is otherwise engaged; the mice play; and there are other rodents to gnaw away at international order, sobriety and seek force as their pleasant friend and desired comrade.
In addition, Northern Ireland has for decades progressively, in the illusory name of peace, but really as a surrender to violence, giving up its specifically Protestant character, and the US as we have noted several times, is now more an amalgam of many religions, not merely in tolerance, but in principle, so that there is little left to secure against vicious and militant attack, the rescued church of the Protestant Reformation. A little more, a little more, Romanism may be telling itself, and we shall be BACK!
As with Communism and Islam, being back is not far removed from using force in the realm of religion. Neither is there lacking example either from their ‘sacred writings’ or counterparts in each of these world conspiracies for rule, or in history; nor are they hard to find, nor have they failed repeatedly to be shown on this site (see Index).
The world however is not greatly fascinated by these exhausted bogies, and though they have raised themselves in the days of their power, Islam being overtaken by Romanism, and then this by Communism prior to its fall*3, their claims are not verified, let alone vindicated. Their mandates are not for man! Their surge to FORCE THE WORLD is broken. God has won that battle. The devil will – as God also foretold, be constructing a new synthesis, and Rome will have no part, nor will the old heresies rule. It is NEW, NEW, NEW as in the New Age, nomenclature. As to that body, its name is what the spirit of the Age wants, though its nature is as yet too vague to achieve anything, for all the full page advertisements of this, or allied movements.
The world clamours for the new, intoxicated with the idolatry of evolutionism, courageous for a brave new world, though alas it is still lamenting for its weakness and its vexatious contours, by sin transmitted from evil heritage to evil, like the spots of the leopard, which however it uses special psychological glasses to obscure from its vision. Thus, for the better exercise of voluntary blindness, a little this new regime will appear, evidently an exalted and pseudo-religious form of humanism, seeking for divine powers for itself, while not enamoured of acknowledging them in God Himself! (cf. News 5).
The shameless arrogance, empty-headed nubilous dizziness and illogical confusions of the endeavours will, as is normal in such cases where ambition is sufficient, merely aggravate the debased lot of the subservient, so essential for the totalitarian mind! Looking in hope for this or that, and trying to find, or to contribute it, man soon finds his intolerable masters! Forsaking God, he forsakes also himself, and finds the shame of his loss, in the decline of his soul, debasing of his personality, accretion of passions, increase of immoral pragmatism, and the Jesuitical ‘end justifies the means’.
It is its own disaster. Hitler, Muhammad, Stalin, papacy, yes or the grab, grasp and rule passion of Alexander the Great, indeed the evil possessiveness that lowers over mankind in the devil himself, unable to create man but seeking like a vexed territory, to take him over, continues its sultry flames, always like some vast bushfire, awaiting the conditions for its ruin, in prospect often mistaken for royalty, but in retrospect more likely equated with the devil. Like a constantly wrecked car, surrendering purpose to inane aspiration, and declining wisdom to stay on the road, that highway of holiness which enables the full nature of man to operate in its proper resource, man thus goes where even now he is pointing, to the sacking of his spirit, ignored, but no more happy in that state, than the stomach laden with alcohol, or surfeited with fat.
His loss becomes his sentence; and the sentence on truth on the life of the lie, the deliberate avoidance of God, is severe. Like life in prison, its parameters become the more apparent as the day passes.
That battle is won when Christ returns, unmasking the fraud of this unfraternal, uncreative, abuser of technology for a new serfdom of the masses (Revelation 19). The point of suffering this final crop, this acme of enormity, is never mere display of power; God lacks nothing there. It is not least the USING the situation to DISPLAY the NATURE of power abusers, moral abusers, spiritual abusers, and the whole formal fiasco of lust riding freedom to the dust. Eternity is not mere authority; the lessons, the lectures, the realities are being abundantly displayed in history. As each lesson is depicted, whether or not man cares to read, the rank spiritual squalour of the options taken is its own message.
As to the coming Ruler (II Thessalonians 2, Daniel 7), his allied rulers (Revelation 17), fraudulent religious pretences and pretensions (Revelation 13): Breach of trust is exposed as just that, as the system stiffens, seeking by authority and power to push man where he simply does not fit.
It blooms like a black day lily; but its power is cut short (Revelation 12, 19). When it is clearly evaluated! then its fraud fully exposed (Revelation 19).
The victory of God then resembles a garbage collection (cf. Matthew 13:36-43).
U) ATTACK BY CONFUSION .
We move from the power vacuum as Britain declined and its Empire was dismantled, to the present.
Now in addition to all the other ingredients, the sects and liberalism – efforts to have a new Christ with a changed bible and a new gospel, using the name of Christ however – and the whole burden of illusory philosophy, these things came with ever more subtlety. They even tried to use and re-define biblical phrases, and so sneak and steal people from the churches, in the interests of an orthodoxy very properly called ‘neo-’, but only by illusion, orthodoxy. They touted the Bible, but declined its commandments, clarity and control, as in neo-evangelicalism’s insurgencies. Permission for other proclivities, psychological protectorates, communal concentrates, these become increasingly the order of the day, the Bible set in an authority which extends less and less to what it SAYS (cf. News 116, 118, Answers to Questions Ch. 8 and *1C).
Talk is made of literalism when the meaning is decommissioning of the demonstrable text. The very term becomes a diversionary tedium, a mere taunt, as if a non-revised, culturally unsuppressed word of God were a mere outrage, while yet they rebel. Doctrinal debauchery confuses in its inebriation, the testimony of the biblical text as authoritative, with the interpretation, as if rejection were some species of meaning, and rebellion were a kind of reasoning. DO NOT becomes DO if it seems helpful; IT HAPPENED becomes, it failed to happen, but it meant well.
The ludicrous character of this seeming inheritance of the debased and dispatched insurgencies of irrational liberalism, its defilement of the quality of beauty and integrity in the biblical predictions and power, this becomes part of the modern day equivalent of Balaam. It will continue and progress; it has to do so for two reasons.
The infection is prized, instead of being treated by the divine antibiotic of contextual fidelity, word with word, theme with theme, context with context, concept with concept, thrust and purpose, outcome and definition in the word of God itself; of reason for the faith; of fighting valiantly for the faith, of living the faith, savouring the faith and following Him whose it is; and what prized infection departs! The second reason ? It is predicted. If they love to have it so (as did Israel – Jeremiah 5:31), the Lord knew of it before they did; and it is so.
He said, they do, His word is fulfilled even in this nonchalance and default, this hazy dizziness and this statistical business, continuance being set above purity, acceptability in this world, above commission from the King of eternity, whose crucifixion was not a phrase, or for that matter a piece of bread in untimely suicide, but a fact! That was to be done, it was done. This, it was also to happen, it does. The contemporary profusion of confusion, the infusion of delusion, of philosophy from the syringe of make-believe, the mockery of what is written in terms of gnostic knowledgeability that might just as well write the text anew, and save time: it is all there, marked, “TO COME!”
Come it has...
The form of godliness of II Timothy 3 has become as deformed as it was to be. Truth lies fallen in the vestry, while the sacraments do not cease.
That, it is His majesty! He always does it. Nothing stops His forecasts. Foreknowledge gives the enemy no advantage. As to him, he is powerless. As to God, He proceeds. For man, who could not weep; for his audacities know no end, his lust for life becomes his love of death, his self-expression becomes his new confession, the Confession of the 21st. Century. Written in imagination, it lingers in holy places, and defaces them, imprinting its own face by laser techniques, on the columns that support, like artists at work in spiritual graffiti.
They are (Revelation 13, 17*4), to make an image as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, though more sophisticated, and seek to MAKE people worship it. They overcame him (the devil), said Revelation in prophesying of these days,
“by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
This war, too, God will win. The fealty of love attests itself, and the inspiration of it, Himself. On the other side, degradation is the fateful testimony of misalliance.
As Christ returns with great glory to receive His people, those by grace in alliance with Himself, the Redeemer, He comes in timely fashion, before this world gets its due! (Matthew 24:29ff., Acts 1:7ff.). If He did not, life would prove impossible (Matthew 24:21-22). Already, it is becoming increasingly implausible, and requiring for full spiritual operation, more and more provision from the Lord for His people, as when He guided Joseph to Egypt. His power knows no limit, His provisions are fascinating, His love wonderful and His rescues marvellous.
Meanwhile, the screws tighten on the robotic arms man is making for himself, so that being served, he may be directed by the deadly dynamic of a free spirit, bound to its own confines, menaced by its fraudulentt master, unrecognised in its midst very often, the Satan of stupour, so that this generation might mimic the earlier one in Israel, of which the prophet cried this, as cited and applied by Christ (John 12:14-15):
Ø “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
o ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
o And seeing you will see and not perceive;
o For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
o Their ears are hard of hearing,
o And their eyes they have closed,
o Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
o Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
Ø So that I should heal them.’ “
This is the day of confusion; and that is the day. In the meantime, it is necessary to live as those who are soldiers of the Lord, not lounging about in Sodom, or being paid by Moab with Balaam, or living in dangerously foolish places, like Lot: but close to the Lord, much in prayer, bold in spirit, courageous in heart.
What then ? Tests are good: take gold, refine it and the beauty has no mean appeal. That ? It is not meant literally as the context shows! The PURPOSE here is PURITY, not wealth. It is not so hard to understand, really, when one is ready to listen… (cf. Proverbs 8:30, see The Biblical Workman Ch. 7, A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 9, Ch. 4, TMR Appendix and Answers to Questions Ch. 8).
It is so easy when one is weary, perhaps of well-doing ? to allow the eyes to be blurred and to find in the book before one, what is not written, but rather supplied by the unblessed transfiguration of ‘second sight’, the mind supplying what the text does not (cf. Galloping Events Ch. 7, The Biblical Workman Appendix III, Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8). The word of God is its own control, and the mind must accept its discipline. The alternative is a far worse discipline; and in any case, what is so bad about the discipline of facts, whether written in the earth, or in the word of God, those two columns of consistency and twin pillars of such delightful conformity. Violence to the integrity of either is known as pollution, and the theological is far more advanced than the physical, though as John’s book of Revelation so singularly attests, the latter will leap on its appointed path, in its excited retrogression shortly (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Value ? There is also the love of righteousness, not for its product or profitable monetary or social consequences, but for itself (cf. Proverbs 8:18); for GOD IS RIGHTEOUS (cf. Psalm 89:14, Deuteronomy 32;4). To keep a straight course in the mist is a challenge of no mere sporting kind. It causes the eyes to rest on Him, invisible, indomitable, irrepressible, the Lord of Creation and God of glory. Such focus is like that on a flower show, an orchid display; but it is spiritual, its perfume like life to the spirit.
When the examination is over, THIS examiner is worth waiting for, and even now, His presence is unsubdued by the meretricious, and unmesmerised by the little prodigies of man in his godless arrogance, using nature as resource for lawless leverage, the word of God as a launching pad for ever new but oh so old escapades in the heavens, and his heart as energy for endless take-over bids for human glory, which alas, take over merely his own soul.
V) ATTACK BY FALSE IDEALISM
Meanwhile The United Nations, in association with various other forms of international power (cf. SMR pp. 743, 750Bff.) produces for us a CONGLOMERATE of captious morals, wrought in heart, produced in mind, defined by desire. They are not kept, and in much (cf. Mystery of Iniquity) it might be well that they are not. Shirley Hazzard’s Death of an Ideal, and People in Glass Houses abundantly expose the nature of this idealism, its privilege, its littleness and its diffuseness. Nevertheless, this type of SOCIAL and INTERNATIONAL conglomerate increases the feeling of ordinariness about INTERNATIONAL CONTROL, and so paves the way for the junta of the antichrist to perform his deadly, nugatory task (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 18).
When, as is normal in all illusion, the velvet glove yields to the stainless steel fist (Revelation 13, 17), and the glorious liberties of our hour, as in occasional preliminary hours before, are lost in the grip of the gaunt deceiver, it will expose itself for its ruthless unrealism. Why will it so show itself ? it is because what is not the truth, but yet rules, always must do this. When dynamic, desire and delusion rule, reality supervenes. Facts appear like sparks from rasping metallic surfaces. They do of course then hurt; for the friction is terrible.
When the arrogancy of evil rule is international and terrestrial in dimension, its fraud will be even more conspicuous than was the deluded tantrum of Hitler, and its dismissal as part of the armoury of the antichrist, will be one more victory for God, first in the revelation of quality, then in power (Revelation 19, II Thessalonians 1).
W) ATTACK BY FUSION
This partly seen in the above, in S, U and V, but here is isolated in type.
v for EVERY CHURCH to be one (organizationally if not spiritually, so debasing its very nature and essence, as in the WCC cf. SMR pp. 743 and Index),
v the world of NATIONS to be one,
v the political OVERSIGHT to be one,
v for the ANTI-TERROR structure to be one,
v for ALL RELIGIONS to be one,
is found in the grip of world movements often traced before (see references in S above, for example).
HOW IMPORTANT, they say, to have all differences removed; and so confusing forgiveness with homogeneity, they merge or seek to merge the State watched churches (as in China) and the confused conglomerates of indifferentist chatterers in their various and ever-changing theologies which have only token resemblance to the Bible, though they DO mention it: and so they seek that oneness which has appeal. It is very epitome of bleary theories, confused and diffuse concepts, the rationale of the irrational, the reliance on the contradictory.
But WHY does it have appeal ? It is simply that we are MADE from one GOD, on ONE IMAGE as humans (ever more attested by scientific investigation) and are in one WORLD, so that though the oneness be in large measure, merely that of diversified rebellion against God and His own words, yet the underlying instinctive appeal is still there. Codifying the rebellions into some form of resemblance is a good work for the false prophet, a worthy scenario for his sweat, and doubtless he will adduce wit to the process, such as having a God who both has a son and does not, and who is one and who is not, and who lives and who does not, until the only thing left is the speaker, who in the end, is the antichrist.
As if making a discovery (the irony in II Thessalonians 2’s prediction is delightful and intense), he concludes that it really must be … himself! – “showing himself that he is God!”
Already debunked by its ludicrous misuse of force instead of logic, of pragmatism instead of purity, this satanic trinity, the false prophet, the devil himself and the antichrist are debunked in impotence, once fully exposed, thus having lost both in power and in purity.
God wins again, and this time there is little fight left, but much wisdom! (Revelation 19, II Thess. 1).
X) ATTACK BY SEEKING TO SINK
Most conspicuous in our own Age is this: the Arab and Islamic desire, as in the days of the Phoenicians, to remove Israel from the map, or at last so reduce its power and geographical integrity that its existence is by consensus, not independence, so that being manipulable, it presents no problem to the lust for power and Islamic domineering.
Deeming Israel’s very (re-) existence a calamity, the Arab world in general, is moving rather concertedly in an anti-Israel mode, acting with its various Islamic adjuncts and sacs, in Iraq (the leadership now seemingly more religious as all efforts need unity to stay intact!), in Iran (devotedly concerning itself with atomic power by some reports), in Egypt (always good for an attempt at Islamic putsch), in Lebanon (much inclined that way), in Syria (strongly of this persuasion), in Chechnya, in Georgia, in Azerbaijan, in Libya, in Morocco, in Algeria, yes in quite an assortment of countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Pan-Islamic meetings recur, the protestations of help for the Palestinians (wanting to bomb themselves into citizenship where though so placed by the million, they do not already have it in Israel), the clamour for the removal of the Jew, these things are now heightened as an art form of oratory by al Qaeda.
Specifically at this time, it is making its presence to be announced in Israel, where it is staking its claim to the evacuation of the Jew, entirely from the area, as was the desire of Hitler (from Europe). A similar pre-occupation seemed to enthrall the pogrom workers in Russia, just as it was to the taste, in no small part of the Romanist Inquisition in Europe (detailed so well by Hosmer in his History of the Jews). It is not a small issue, to make the Jewish share of Palestine (once WHOLLY to be given to it, in the internationally accepted Balfour Declaration), ZERO. That, it is the new arithmetic, one by report, meticulously advocated by al Qaeda. Here we have in concert dastardly dynamics, delirious daubs, wandering woes (like wandering in a nest of mines) all at once! It is the very taste of the times (except you know where the Lord’s fruit is)!
This, it is really invoking the wrath of the Almighty, and He HAS GIVEN nearly three and one half millennia of notice about His thoughts on the subject of ACCORDING LAND AS HE CHOOSES. After all, HE made it! The gods that have NOT made heaven and earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens, God intimates in Jeremiah 10:11; and just how such perishables will perish is for one instance, expressed vigorously in Ezekiel 38-39, following the close coverage of the return of Israel at the end times, in 36-37 (cf. SMR Appendix A).
The chance, once more, to use human power to thwart God will prove appealing; and Israel is so concrete. The thing will charm the churned (Isaiah 57:19-20); and as usual, it will fail, after much suffering for many.
Ignoring God, as is the custom of false religions per force, since as the Bible indicated even of sinning Israel, many had set up idols in their hearts (Ezekiel 14:3), and this the more when the idols are the official image accorded to God, the false religionist and the secularists may find much in common. Then, with whatever portentous and ludicrous words, in their desire to end the embarrassingly anti-oil presence of Israel in the Middle East, the times comes when their action sees a divine response, much as when Israel was established in the land in the last century, in the first phase of the two-stroke, predicted action (Ezekiel 37).
As in an examination, this is a matter of simple fact: God put to the test, does not hesitate to fulfil His word (cf. Isaiah 44: 23ff.).
God will win that battle, in no uncertain terms. It will not be tendential, as Ezekiel shows so clearly (cf. *1A below).
Y) THE FINAL ATTACK ON THE CHURCH
In Ambon, in Sudan, in China, you see it openly and with raw physical power, as well as sometimes, with subtlety. In Australia it has been if not subtle, at least hidden and kept away from scrutiny, partly with the co-operation of those not too concerned about being deceived, it might seem (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 11). In Islamic countries, you often hear of the assault on churches, or the arrest of Christian pastors. Ludicrous substitutes for reason and freedom arise, so that if someone is alleged to have said something which is not very helpful to Muhammad, this may make death unregrettably necessary as popular fury seeks to support the prophet whom no logic can attest. At times, it does not appear so important whether the thing actually happened, as this, that it is thought to have happened. The very thought seems at times sufficient to arouse multi-dimensional furies. But is this wisdom ? is this reason ? is this truth!
The attack on the church is by social control, political oversight, death to missionaries, bureaucratic methods of reducing liberty, property, dignity, through taxes or fines, through deaths sudden and violent, or imprisonments and vile orgies of degradation against all that is human. That is what one would expect. What a thing is, is in the end, what it does! A tree is known by its fruits.
The Church of Jesus Christ, as noted above and seen in Rev. 12:11, overcomes by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of its testimony.
God wins that battle too. It is all, however, very costly; yet there is a beauty in the payment, as in all love, for the issues are not this or that body, but the faith in the living God, attested, verified, validated, consummated and clear, without which there is loss far worse than that of mere body (cf. Matthew 10:27-39:
§ “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
§ “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
§ “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Heaven is not made into hell in order the better to accommodate those whose hearts are not in accord with truth. On the other hand, earth is not the ultimate loss for those whose hearts are with the Lord of their creation, the God of their redemption. Deliverance from the rigours of unreality is no small task; the Gospel is free but its proclamation is not. It costs! It is a blessed cost and many pay.
In a world of sin, love is costly; in a world of rebellion, faithfulness is costly. In a world ruled by the prince of this world, living and looking to the true and living God who is invisible is always going to involve a cost. That is one reason why it is necessary to forsake ALL in order to follow Christ. It is not that the funds are needed; they may in fact be best left in your own control. It is that at any time the final test may come to you, as to your mouth, and its sponsor (cf. Luke 9:23-26), as to your property, as to your liberty, as to your career.
Think of Tyndale, carting his printing press about Europe, escaping the blood-thirst of the papacy, while translating the Bible, or preparing its format for print. There is an example. Tenacity of purpose, abundance of toil, purity of intention, labour in love, joy in service, peace amidst storm: these are expressions of that Christ who “gives us the victory” – I John 5:4, I Corinthians 15:57-58).
5. THEN … Z
What then for Christians ? and what is to be noted
for those who look and consider these things ?
THEY waited for the FIRST COMING of Christ.
WE wait for the Second Coming.
Meanwhile, walk in the Spirit, realising that God gives the Holy Spirit in special nearness
to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). There is a beauty about the clothing, the covering in Christ (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 7:14, 1:5, Matthew 22:1-14). Better yet is its tailor.
Now we know in part, then as we are known; now we see more dimly as in a glass, or mirror, THEN we see Him face to face (I Corinthians 13, Revelation 22:4).
You may care to read at this point, News 87.
*1C See SMR p. 862, where reference is made to a systematic presentation of the religious aspect of Communism, and its messianic posturing, as exhibited in the analytical work of Lester de Koster. This reference has other links on the same topic.
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 4 gives a survey of many of these things, with qualifications and indications relative to the development to the final format of corrupted rule, humanistic religiosity and prophetic fulfilment, noting also the excellent track record the world is providing for the fulfilment of prophecy which in this, as in the past in many other matters, will soon be anything but academic study!
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.
Beauty of Holiness Ch. 4 and
Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 8,
Lead Us Not into Educational Temptation Section 4,
Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 2,
Spiritual Refreshings Ch. 3,
News, Facts and Forecasts 8,
Repent or Perish Ch. 5,
Dawn of Light Ch. 2,
Answers to Questions Ch. 8, as also in
Biblical Blessings Ch. 11,
there are traced some of the relatively recent movements into synthetic syncretisms, debased parodies if not burlesques of Christianity and departures from the faith, including insidious substitutes that are not only cracked cisterns, but neither logically nor in life, have any water to hold.
*1 A work by a journalist who stayed for some time in Russia during an Olympic Games focus made fascinating findings long before Communism in Russia fell. His interchange with Russians and observations showed a vast ennui, boredom, cynicism, disgust, aversion developing. He could see no way that Communism would not, and seemed to feel COULD NOT continue in that land for many more years.
He was right. It did not. His book ? The Games War (Christopher Booker). Its date ? around 1980!
The point is maximised when we recall the reported action of numbers in the Russian Parliament personally seeking the Bible! (cf. That Magnificent Rock, Ch. 8).
Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 7,
On the latter, see also Biblical Blessings Ch. 11.
There have been not a few accounts over years, of Chinese barrenness, of spiritual oppression and courageous work and Church growth outside the heavily silted official channels; and Harry Wu has been noted elsewhere on this site, in his exposure and exposé on oppression that can hide its dealings with a skill that is an art, or perhaps better, a black art. Such are the reports, and such is Wu’s testimony, given before the US Senate some years ago. As an inmate for several years, in one of the aggressive cover-ups that seek to disperse opposition, and continue commerce through the abuse of political or religious prisoners, Wu has made one contribution amongst many to this exposure.
On the other side, the exuberance of the Christian growth is making some, looking at millions of Christians with considerable audacity, often backed by entrepreneurs in the location noted in the report, incline to degrees of leniency, compared with the forcible oppression elsewhere. In some ways, it reminds one of the early days of the Roman Empire, clinging to its power, fearful of being downgraded, with flushes of evil excess, followed by times of comparative moderation. The fact that Jiang Zemin, when President, could say that religion might outlast both the State and the Party is illustrative of the penetration being made in this land. This is one of the intriguing exhibits in this named article, which has been available on line.
The URL of
this Report, at present is this:
Concerning the fall of Communism, the Gorbachev era (“Gorbie! Gorbie!” the oppressed East Europeans were chanting as the nineties left their wharves, and Russia left its dry dock to return to some kind of national life), for all its apparent weakness, instituted a liberating period. It was one with its revelations concerning Lenin, one acknowledging the need of vast international aid in kind and funds to avert appalling disorder and areas of poverty, as in Siberia; and it was soon to leave the much vaunted Marxist Communism a mere ripple in the receding waters.
In China, the procedure is different, but the result is not far distant from being the same.
Thus, although the love of power may protect the Party which so mistreats religion, and even assails Falun Gong for speaking of human spirit, or acting on a contrary basis to the irrationalities of materialism: which after all has no morals by which to object to anything, for description is not prescription, and the obligations of laws concerning religion or anything else, are mere personal preferences of the rulers, dictatorially insisting on their vacuities (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7).
However it is getting things done with foreign money no less than is Russia, except in this, that it is coming in willingly, in search of markets, while China is even allowing regions to have sizeable liberties in order to capitalise on the opportunities. Wealth accumulates in relatively few and powerful hands; commerce is useful. The place of profit, the rise of entrepreneurial leadership, indeed the RECOGNITION in Jiang’s final days, of this very thing, are not at all the work of Marx. The dynamic comes from the contrary of Communism, and very much of it, from the realms of free enterprise on Chinese soil, often merely slightly harassed by the bureaucracy; as in much they proceed from foreign invention, ingenuity and foreign funds.
This is not at all to deprecate the Chinese people (for whom one has a considerable penchant), but to expose the source of the developments within, the nominality of the pretence and the severity of its delusion.
Should the nation use the code word ‘nationalisation’ for a grab for foreign industries in its midst, this would be simple brigandage, exploitation, and operation by the systems of other nations, plus fraud. It could happen. It could say nothing about Communism, except it be pretence.
The realities are that there is a wand of free enterprise, in an authoritarian base which got there by talk, and now continues to get where it wants to go, by more and different talk and walk, simply omitting to change the name. However, when a cabbage is being replaced by even a mini-rose, creeping along the ground, the name ‘cabbage’ has only historical relevance.
That, the cabbage, is not what we now behold! but increasingly imported botanical splendour, ways and procedures, yes, and not always with wisdom, values.
Communism is dead; though it may, as with Gorbachev’s Earth Charter, seek to resurrect itself in different clothes, yes as per Jiang, with a religious consignment, as the world moves towards the new concoction of follies, making more attractive the velvet covering of the iron underneath.
When God is omitted, there is no place for the nurture of the soul; and the soil, as ever, is deemed a convenient place for the dispatch of those whose exercise of their spirits, is not met with favour by the exercise of the spirits of those in control of the nation (cf. SMR pp. 348ff., It Bubbles … Ch. 9, Little Things Ch. 5, Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Chs. 1 and 9).
So does the awful irony proceed; and the equally awful iron replace thought, truth and reason in a soil if not Red, yet still red.