ECHOES FROM EDEN
THREE TREES IN THE GARDEN
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow EVERY TREE THAT IS PLEASANT to the sight, and good for food; the TREE OF LIFE also in the midst of the garden, and the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL" (Gen. 2:8-9).
One of the many Oriental symbols which, when understood, opens the door to a storehouse of marvelous truth is the word TREE. It has pleased God, on the unveiling of His great plan and purposes to couch His truth in Semitic symbols which are so natural to the Oriental mind. Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of a pictorial symbolism which, when understood, is far more expressive than a thousand words in many instances. However, the symbolisms of Scripture also force those who would understand to plunge far beneath the surface to see its more profound meanings. Two things are absolutely essential to understanding of the great truths of God contained in symbols. One is to search out and understand Oriental customs and the characteristics of the Hebrew mind. The other is the SPIRIT OF REVELATION from God!
Jesus employed this method of teaching - using symbols. In fact, the Scripture says: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in PARABLES, and without a parable spake He not unto them" (Mat. 13:34). The word "parable" is translated in the Old Testament from the Hebrew word "mashal" which means "a similitude or likeness." In the New Testament it is translated from the Greek word "parabole" meaning "a pithy and instructive saying, involving some comparison and having perceptive or admonitory force." Another Greek word translated "parable" is "paroimia" which is "a symbolic or figurative saying which shadows forth some didactic truth."
It is interesting to note exactly when Jesus began to use this method of teaching. So abrupt was the change in His form of teaching that His disciples asked Him why He did this. Jesus answered, "Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to THEM it is NOT GIVEN" (Mat. 13:11). It has pleased God to set forth much of His deeper truth - the mysteries of the Kingdom - in such a manner that it becomes revealed to the Spirit-anointed mind while at the same time remaining concealed from others. And so it was that Jesus often closed His public teaching with this statement: "He that hath ears to hear, let HIM hear!" May God give us ears!
TREES REPRESENT MEN
Trees are used to represent men all through the Scriptures. In Isa. 61:1-3 the trees represent God's chosen ones at the end of this age. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me...to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the PLANTING OF THE LORD, that HE might be glorified." In Ps. 1:1-3, speaking again of God's elect people, the Spirit declares: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly...but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a TREE planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Again in Ps. 92:12-13: "THE RIGHTEOUS shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be PLANTED IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God."
Pointing to the day when the Lord shall come forth to deal with all the nations and bring His glorious Kingdom to pass in all the earth, the Spirit says: "Say among the nations that the Lord reigns; the world also is established, that it cannot be moved; He shall judge and rule the people righteously and with justice. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice...THEN SHALL ALL THE TREES OF THE WOOD (the people) sing for joy before the Lord!" (Ps. 96:10-13).
Of wicked and impious men David said, :I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree" (Ps. 37:35). Jude described certain apostates in the early Church in these terms: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness...these are spots in your feasts...TREES WHOSE FRUIT WITHERITH, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots" (Jude 4,12).
FRUIT AFTER ITS KIND
The word "tree" makes its first appearance in the Bible in Gen. 1:11. "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind...and it was so." At first glance it would seem that this is simply a declaration that God is the creator of fruit trees, but such is not the case. It is true that God is the creator of all things, including fruit trees, but this verse has much more to it than merely a declaration of origins. The statement of particular interest is that the FRUIT TREE is to yield fruit "after its kind." This is, of course, a statement of scientific fact and natural law. Apple trees produce apples and orange trees produce oranges and so on. But if we stop there we fall short of all this means in the symbolic language of Scripture. For this "after its kind" law is a fact not only in the physical world, but in the SPIRITUAL WORLD as well!
Jesus spoke of this "after its kind" principle when he said to Nicodemus: "That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH, and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT" (Jn. 3:6). Jesus explained to Nicodemus that in order to enter the Kingdom of God human beings have to be born again - becoming the offspring of a NEW STOCK.
James has a great commentary on this principle in the third chapter of His epistle, as he comments on the unbridled tongues of men: "Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives? Either a vine, figs? Neither does a fountain yield both salt water and fresh! Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good life his works with meekness and wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. Such wisdom is descended not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demoniacal, for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easily entreated, full of mercy and GOOD FRUITS, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. The FRUIT of righteousness is sown by them that make peace."
Finally, Jesus says, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. WHEREFORE BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM" (Mat. 7:16-19).
THREE TREES IN THE GARDEN
It is abundantly clear that different kinds of trees are used in the Scriptures to represent different kinds of men. It is, therefore, of special interest to examine a little further the significance of the three kinds of trees in Eden. I have explained in previous articles that these three kinds of trees are: (1) all the trees of the garden (2) the tree of life (3) the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The three kinds of trees stand for THREE KINDS OF MEN. Now, we know that in the beginning there were not three kinds of men, for there was only one kind of person. However, in the one man Adam we do have three POTENTIAL kinds of men! Adam was a particular kind of man, yet he had the POTENTIAL to become an altogether different kind of man - either a higher and better kind, or a lower and worse kind. So in Eden, while we have only one man, we have three potential kinds of men in that one man.
It is plain to all who see with spiritual eyes that the tree of life represents CHRIST who IS our life. Christ has been manifested on earth as a man, the second Adam, and Christ is THE TREE OF LIFE KIND MAN! "Therefore if any be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). All of those who make up that blessed company of men and women who are "in Christ" are the TREE OF LIFE KIND OF PEOPLE, the kind Adam could have been if he had appropriated his POTENTIAL upward in God. "All the trees of the garden" represent the realm of life, the living soul, in which Adam lived before the fall. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man become a LIVING SOUL" (Gen. 2:7). Man did not come forth from the hand of God as a glorious shining spirit-being, neither did he begin his existence as the depraved, sensual, animalistic creature he is today. Man was created neither a beast nor a god, but a LIVING SOUL. The realm of perfect human life, the living soul, was a plane of life which far transcended the realm of corruption and death which passed upon man through the eating of the tree of carnal knowledge. But it was also a plane of life lower than, and inferior to that glorious realm of DIVINE LIFE which was available to man in the tree of life.
The next point we have to note is nature of the fruit that Eve ate. It is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). Note this very carefully. What kind of tree is specified? It is the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil; and so the meaning is obviously allegorical. No such tree grows literally on the earth, even as no such literal trees as the "tree of life" or the "tree of the living soul" grow on earth. There is a popular notion that it was as apple that Eve ate, but the Bible knows nothing about this. The truth of the matter is Adam and Eve did not eat an apple or a pear or whatever kind of fruit that grows on natural trees. What kind of fruit, then, did they eat? What they ate was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There are many today who are not conscious of the fact that they are eating of the same tree Adam and Eve partook of in the garden. And it has been much too recent, beloved brother, sister, that you and I have eaten of that tree!
God told Adam and Eve that in the day they ate of it they would surely die. There was death in the tree. The spiritual mind has no trouble whatever in understanding that Paul was speaking of that very same tree when he wrote to the Roman Christians, saying, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God...if ye after the flesh YE SHALL DIE: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:5-13). Ever since that fateful day in Eden man has been feasting on the tree of the flesh and the carnal mind. When our foreparents were banished from Eden's fair portals they were cut off from access to the tree of life and for four long millenniums mankind trudged through the slime of corruption and death without hope and without life until the day which Christ stood again upon the earth declaring, "I am the LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever!" (Jn. 6:51). But nowhere does the Scripture indicate that man was ever cut off from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fall of man is more than an historical event in the past, it is a constant and present reality. The past is absolutely meaningless unless it relates to the present.
The reader should be aware that we do not discuss the garden of Eden or the fall of man with any idea of merely drawing an historical sketch. The past is meaningless unless it relates to the present. It is because we see repeated all around us, day after day, generation after generation, the same sins of the flesh that brought about the initial fall, and in the repetition of the sin, there is also the sickening repetition of the departure from Reality and from the anointing and the presence of God, even among God's own people. So much has this awareness been pressed upon us that we could even venture to say that the garden of Eden is not so much a past event as a present and continuing event. Much like the Greek perfect tense, in which the action occurs in past time with a continuing result, so do we see the tragedy of man's first departure from God. It happened back there in the past...but it continues to happen because the spirit of Adam is within us all! It is, then, for our own instruction that we draw on the lessons brought to us by that past event, which though it occurred almost six thousand years ago, still finds a place of relevancy not only in our modern society but within the walls of the Church and, sadder to say, within the "move of God" that is outside the camp, as well.
Seeing, then, that the three kinds of trees in Eden represent three potential kinds of men, I want to point out that they also represent the three potentialities WITHIN MAN. Adam once walked as a living soul when he abode in the undefiled life in which he was created. Man now walks in the corruptible realm of the carnal mind as he follows after the lusts and desires of his flesh. Men are able to walk as spiritual men only after Christ's life has been impregnated within by the renewing of regeneration. These three states of being are the three trees of Eden, and all three are INNER POTENTIALITIES and INWARD REALITIES.
The man who is born of God is a tripartite being - spirit, soul and body. The spirit (which is dead until regeneration) is the realm of GOD CONSCIOUSNESS, the soul is the realm of SELF CONSCIOUSNESS, and the body is the realm of SENSE CONSCIOUSNESS. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that man is spirit, soul and FLESH, for who on earth can say that the body is not flesh? Long centuries ago Jesus declared to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh" (Jn. 3:6). These three parts of man, indeed, these three kinds of men, are revealed in the three kinds of trees in the garden.
When one understands that the man who is born of God is a triune being, then it is easy to see that such a man possesses a set of THREE of ALL HIS FACULTIES. This is a most wonderful truth, not generally understood. For example, let us look at the heart. The Scriptures give almost endless detail concerning the hearts. The Bible makes the heart to be the secret of life and expression. "AS A MAN THINKETH in his heart, so is he," is a widely quoted proverb (Prov. 23:7), but few there be who actually know what is meant by the word "heart." This saying, like "Let Jesus come into your heart," is used again and again by persons who have not the slightest idea where the biblical "heart" is located. Yet, if we compare Scripture with Scripture, it is quite clear that the word "heart" is a Hebrew word picture for the inward soulish nature; the seat of the volition, emotions, and intellect which we might call the "control center" of the inner being. It signifies the center or inner part or seat of thing. Therefore the Holy Spirit says, "My son, attend to My words; incline thine ear unto My sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thine with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:20-23). The heart is used to describe that area of man's soul life which determines how he will think, what he will do, or what he will become. The heart is thus the nature, the genetic code contained in the soulish life. In man's soul the heart is the central power. As the heart is so the man. The desire and the choice of the heart prove what a man is already, and decide what he is to become. Just as we judge of a man's physical character, his size and strength and age and habits, by his outward appearance, so the heart gives the real inward man his character; and the hidden man of the heart is what God looks to when rendering a judgment in regard to man.
THE THREE HEARTS
Man does not have more than three main parts in his whole being. As human who have been born of God's Spirit we have a spirit, soul and body. We do not have a fourth and separate part such as the heart. However, each of our three main parts has a heart! I do not hesitate to tell you that it is a fact that you actually have THREE HEARTS! Firstly, within your body you have a biological heart. This heart is the hollow pear-shaped muscular organ located in the left of the middle chest that pumps the blood through your body. It is about the size of your fist and weighs from ten to twelve ounces. The life of the flesh is in the blood, therefore all the physical senses are dependent upon the faithful work of the heart. When your biological heart stops beating your body is dead.
Secondly, within your soul you have a psychological heart. Psychological comes from the Greek word "psyche" which means "soul." In looking at this psychological or soul heart, let us bear in mind that the soul of man is now polluted because of the fall. When Adam transgressed the satanic spirit entered him so that the whole nature of man became defiled and took on a satanic character. God, by His indwelling Spirit, reproduces Himself within the regenerated man "after His kind." It is equally true that Satan has reproduced himself within the unregenerated man "after his kind." The spirit within a man is revealed by his words, actions and mental attitudes. The seed of God is known, and the seed of Satan, which is "The Spirit of Disobedience," produces another kind of fruit whereby the child of the devil is recognized. While God is omnipresent, filling all things with Himself, yet He is perfectly formed and expressed as a life and nature through His children in whom He dwells. Likewise, though Satan is the prince of "the power of the air," yet he is perfectly formed and expressed as a life and nature through his children in whom he dwells and is revealed to be "the SPIRIT that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
The fallen man and the serpent are today so ONE that you cannot distinguish between them. I will go into this in great detail in future article on THE SERPENT, but suffice it to say that it is most enlightening to read the words of Jeremiah who said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that "the heart is deceitful ABOVE ALL THINGS, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). We should not find this so amazing a passage of Scripture if it were not for one important thing. Jeremiah did not list an exception, saying, "The heart is deceitful above all things, PERIOD! Since Jeremiah spake by the Spirit of God this could not possibly have been a slip of the tongue or something uttered before it was thought through. If the heart is deceitful above all things, it naturally follows that there is nothing more deceitful. The heart of man, then, is the MOST DECEITFUL THING IN THE WORLD!
There is no doubt whatever in my mind that Jesus had this very scripture in mind when He spoke the words recorded in Mk. 7:15-23. "There is NOTHING," He said, "from WITHOUT A MAN that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, these are they that defile the man." Having said that, He uttered the statement that so often followed His teachings when there was contained in them a MYSTERY. "IF any man have ears to hear, let him hear.! If we will be honest with ourselves, we will have to admit that we have fostered and taught for generations a concept that directly contradicts the words of Jesus Christ, for we have, indeed, declared that there IS something from without a man that can enter into him and defile him. We have called him Satan (an adversary), and so he is! We have called him a murdered and a liar, and so he is! We have had much truth about him - but the one thing we have NOT known about him is his LOCATION! We have said that he was without - Jesus said that he is within! If there is NOTHING from without a man (and in the Greek that reads: "not one thing") that entering into him can defile him, then we must conclude that Satan's activity is not primarily without but within.
As we continue to read this passage, we hear Jesus say, "For FROM WITHIN, OUT OF THE HEART OF MAN, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, coveteousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these things come FROM WITHIN and defile the man." Every sin category imaginable is contained in this discourse. Everything that a man could ever think or do that is evil is said by Jesus to come - not from outside of man but from within! In our consideration of this passage, there is one all important phrase that we must be careful to note, for it is the key to the true nature of Satan and the heart of man. Jesus said, "For from within out of the HEART OF MEN..." It is imperative that we notice the grammatical number of the two words here. The word "heart" is singular being in the Greek in the genitive SINGULAR case. The word "men" however is plural being in the genitive PLURAL case. We have, then, ONE HEART - but many men! This heart is the heart of the corruptible soul life, the self, the inward nature of man inherited from fallen Adam, one great nature shared by all the inhabitants of the earth, the very heart of Adam shared with his many-membered body!
There is nothing holy or God-like about this soulish heart. There lie scattered throughout the Bible no less than forty titles for this heart. Let us run over their names. It is: a stony heart, a trembling heart, a hypocritical heart, a deceitful heart, a proud heart, a backslidden heart, a fearful heart, a deceived heart, a rebellious heart, a whorish heart, a despiteful heart, a bitter heart, an uncircumcised heart, a beast's heart, a hard heart, an obstinate heart, a presumptuous heart, a warring heart, a fretting heart, a haughty heart, a desolate heart, a despairing heart, a discouraged heart, an erring heart, a hating heart, a mischievious heart, a mad heart, a fainting heart, a divided heart, an exalted heart, a veiled heart, a blind heart, a naughty heart, a lying heart.
Over the soulish heart of every unregenerated man or woman there hangs an impenetrable veil of outer darkness that keeps men blinded to the glory of all spiritual thing. Even in reading of the Scripture the veil is over their eyes, and they sit in blindness and outer darkness until a totally NEW SPIRIT and NEW HEART is given them. Then and only then does the light shine upon them. This is what Paul was saying to the Corinthians when he wrote of unregenerate Israel that "their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away" (II Cor. 3:14-18).
Thus far we have seen that the body of man has a heart known as the biological heart and the soul of man has a heart that can be called the psychological heart. There is yet the third kind of heart, the spiritual heart, which resides within the regenerated spirit of every born again child of God. The unregenerated man DOES NOT POSSESS A SPIRITUAL HEART, only a biological heart. Jesus said, "That which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT" (Jn. 3:6). How can any man possess a spirit which is the offspring of God if he has not been born of God? I never cease to be amazed at how many people have the foolish notion that humans are born into this world with some kind of immortal spirit comes from God, possessing God consciousness and with an inclination toward God. If man enters this world already possessing spirit-life then he must come into this world having already been born of the Spirit, and if such is the case then why would Jesus tell Nicodemus that he must be BORN AGAIN, that he must be BORN OF THE SPIRIT in order to BE SPIRIT? Nothing can be plainer than the simple words of Jesus when he declares, "That which is born of the flesh IS FLESH, and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT." You can no more produce spirit life from the fleshly union of a man and woman than you can produce angels by breeding white mice. Humans are not born into this world of corruption and darkness and death with either spiritual life or spiritual hearts. This is in harmony with Paul's teaching that before we were regenerated we were "DEAD in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1).
Our heart is the organ of our inclination and affection toward things. All our inclination, affections, delight and desire are functions of the heart. Before we were regenerated, our soulish heart was inclined toward sin, loved the world, and desired the things of the flesh; toward God, however, it was cold and hard, without inclination and without affection; toward the things of God and spiritual things, it had no delight and was void of any desire.
The prophet Ezekiel, foreseeing the days of this remarkable regeneration, prophesied, saying, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh" (Eze. 36:26). When a man is regenerated by the Spirit of the Almighty he receives both a new Spirit and a new heart. The new heart is contained within the new Spirit, for it is the heart of the Spirit, which Spirit is the Spirit of the Lord. God Himself is Spirit and God Himself has a heart. The Spirit of God spake through Jeremiah, prophesying of these last days, saying, "And I will give you pastors according to MINE HEART, which shall feed you with understanding and knowledge" (Jer. 3:15). On another occasion the Lord said to Israel, "And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which thing I commanded them not, neither came it into MY HEART" (Jer. 7:31). These verses show that God has a heart. His heart is a SPIRITUAL HEART, the seat and center of His own divine nature from which proceed all His thoughts, attitudes, desires and actions. When we are born of God's Spirit we inherit GOD'S HEART. This is the spiritual heart, a heart of the same nature and quality as God's own heart and becomes the heart of the NEW CREATION MAN. This is an altogether new heart, one that we did not possess before. The new creature which God has created in Christ Jesus is a new creature because the Lord has given him a new Spirit and a new heart! Glory!
THE NEW COVENANT AND THE NEW HEART
The new Spirit and the new heart bring us into a new covenant relationship with God. The object of a covenant is to define and settle the relationship between two parties who enter into it, and to secure the fulfillment of their commitments to each other. Hear now what the Lord says about the new covenant and the new heart: "But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, He saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel...not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead out of Egypt; because they continued not in My covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their heart: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people" (Heb. 8:6-11).
Let us meditate deeply upon this new covenant and its wonderful provisions. The fault, weakness and unprofitableness of the old covenant stood in the fact that it was merely an external law given to men with desperately wicked hearts who were completely without strength to perform that which was demanded of them. Here is the difference! The new covenant stands in the power of an INNER LIFE. The former is impotent, the latter is mighty. The promise of the new covenant is to convert the external law into an inner life, to put it so in the heart that it shall be the inmost life, so that, as naturally as the heart wills and lives and acts on earth, it shall will and live and do what God demands. Why does an acorn so spontaneously grow up into an oak? Because the law of the oak is written in the heart of the acorn. The life of every creature on earth acts with delight in accordance with the law of its creator, that is, its inner nature. God and His holiness, Christ and His Holy Spirit, if they belong to us, must be as near to us, as essentially within us, as truly inherent in our own life, as our own thinking, willing, and doing. And so God promises that He will put His Law in our minds and write it in our hearts, in such a way that it shall be our inner nature, our very life, and we shall act according to it as naturally as we think or live. Yes, He will do it! So that we can say, even as His first-born Son did, "Thy law is within My heart; I delight to do Thy will, O God."
God does not change His laws to suit man's wicked heart. He gives man a new heart which is in harmony with His law so that the heart of the converted man loves the law of God. Yea, he so loves the law of God that he need no longer receive the command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," for his regenerated heart already overflows with love for his Lord, and such a command would be both superfluous and dishonoring to him. Therefore the law is said to be done away. No longer need he be commanded to love his neighbor, because the love of Christ in his new heart causes him to love all mankind. Such a man need not be told, "Thou shalt not steal," because the very thought of robbing those he now loves is repulsive to his pure heart. He would freely give and give again that his neighbor might be blest, but he could take nothing from him by stealth or guile.
In these evil days, when all the world and most Christians are eagerly making the lusts of the flesh their plaything, it is my heart's desire and earnest prayer to God that those elect saints who read these words will lay hold of them by faith. The Holy Spirit, through the power within your NEW HEART, will conquer that old heart of deceitfulness and wickedness and change you from glory to glory until you reach that same image of Christ if you earnestly walk in the life and power of the new heart. How easy it is for any of us to reveal in the glory of this blessed hope of Sonship that shines before our eyes like a diamond in the sun, only to turn around and become absorbed with our business, our toil, our earthly pursuits and pleasures, thus neglecting the hope and failing to ENTER INTO the promise! If we are hearers of the Word only and do not experientially lay hold upon the promises and make it part of our very existence, we are deceiving ourselves as James has pointed out: "For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was" (James 1:23-24). Such a man is a forgetful hearer, and I see no promise that such a sluggard will ever attain to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. Look into your new heart, my brother, and you shall see the image of Christ. Let us continually yield ourselves to the PURPOSES OF THE NEW HEART (Acts 11:23; Heb. 4:12).
WALKING IN THE NEW HEART
It is the Spirit that quickeneth. It is the Spirit who overshadows our being, forming the Christ-life within. At the time of our regeneration THE CHRIST LIFE, planted within by the creative energy of the Holy Spirit, is the only pure and holy and undefiled thing within our beings. The body is still flesh and the soul is still corrupted. The body is yet mortal and the heart of the soul is yet deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The most zealous saint on earth will have to admit, if he be honest, that though he has become alive unto God in the Spirit, this wonderful new life is concealed within a womb of flesh and carnality. Simple proof of this fact is easily gained by observing some of the thoughts and desires that pass through your mind and emotions in unguarded moments. The object is to bring the soulish heart to death so that the soul may live solely as the expression of the Spirit. The body, likewise, must become the temple of the Spirit as we are admonished in I Cor. 6:15-20.
It is a great truth I declare to you when I say that whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, all these things without exception will be found in the new Spirit and in the new heart. When Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God," He was not speaking of carnal heart changed by some scheme of self reformation into a good heart. The only change that can come to a man is TURN FROM the soulish heart UNTO the spiritual heart, for the only heart on the face of the whole earth that can be pure is the spiritual heart! Some translators have changed the word "pure" to "clean" - that is, "clean in heart." But the word "clean" is not adequate. It is wonderful to have a clean heart, and the spiritual heart is a clean heart, but a pure heart is something more than that. We may be clean, but mixed, and therefore not pure. To be pure means not only to be clean but to be single - unmixed. You can take a cockapoo dog, which is a cross between cocker spaniel and poodle, wash him and groom him and he will be "clean," but he can never be pure. He is clean, but he is mixed in his nature. To be pure in heart means to not only have a clean heart but to have an "unmixed" heart. To be mixed does not mean just to be dirty, but to have more than one aim and goal.
This is the problem with many of God's precious people. They think they have nothing wrong with their hearts because they are clean and without condemnation. But they are not truly pure, because they have more than one goal, more than one aim. Yes, they are aiming at God, but at the same time they aiming at several other things. They may be aiming at God and the prestige of a doctor's degree. They may be aiming at God and the building of the largest or most beautiful Church building in town. They may be aiming at God and material prosperity with its luxury of fine home, cars, clothes, etc. They may be aiming at God and the promotion of "their ministry." Our hearts, brethren, must be purified until we have only one purpose and quest in life - the Lord Himself! Only then can we stand among that blessed company of the pure heart who SEE GOD.
No greater tragedy can ever overtake a man than that, after he has been saved by God's grace, cleansed by the blood of Christ, made a partaker of God's Holy Spirit and given a new heart, he should then mingled his affection with things on the earth and not set them entirely on things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. What a tragedy that he should forget that his old self, yea, his old heart is to be reckoned as dead, and his true life is hid with Christ in God to appear and become manifest as Christ becomes manifest in his believing heart! Listen, my brother, and hear, my sister! The children of God are so busy! They are running here and there as though the Lord could not get along without their officious help. One would think that the Lord is not as interested in His own Vineyard as they are. They are organizing, and bringing together all kinds of machinery to run the Lord's business; they are inventing intricate and clever systems to get men saved, and to entertain them so that they will remain saved (?). Everybody feels that they should be "doing something for God." This sounds reasonable to the natural mind; so men mingle the thoughts, schemes, ideas. plans, purposes and ambition and zeal of the SOULISH HEART with the new inclinations and affections of the SPIRITUAL HEART; consequently Christians rush about in every direction like ants on an ant hill, doing this and doing that, going here and going there, organizing this and organizing that, promoting this and promoting that, praying, preaching, planning, toiling, giving their money, working themselves into nervous wrecks, even neglecting their families and homes, cultivating the vineyards of others and letting their own experience remain on the surface. They find no time to wait upon God in earnest prayer, to sit at His feet in yielding submission and sweet communion, to learn of Him. They spend no time in learning to KNOW the Lord of the Vineyard!
Child of God, if you feel that something is lacking in your life, if there seems to be a barrenness, if you yearn to be filled with more of God's fullness and to put on the mind of Christ, do not try to work harder for the Lord than you have ever done before; do not try to occupy your time in self-appointed tasks in His Vineyard, or in caring for all the needs around you. Let the conviction sink deep into your heart that your greatest need is for GOD to do something for you. YOU are the one who is in need of having something done, and not God. He is not in need of your sacrifices, for every beast of the forest is His and the cattle on a thousand hills. If He were hungry He would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are His. It is the sacrifice and service of surrender, of communion, of thanksgiving and worship which alone are acceptable to Him. It is not in the life of someone with whom you think God is using you, that something needs to be done; but in your own life there is dire need and shortage, which only God can remedy as you enter into the secret place of the most High to sit and receive at His feet.
Without exception, this barrenness and void in our lives is a sure proof that we are in great need of God's dealing hand. Therefore, let us leave everything that we can leave; let us drop the busy overseeing of those about us, and let us get still before God that He may speak to us and work in us, and for us, to His glory. Then shall we go forth with the presence and power of God upon us, and while we shall be used of Him with those around us, we shall have learned to watch for His movings and dealings upon our souls, and to always yield for Him to work in us first. Thus shall our hearts become truly pure, unmixed with the carnal zeal and scheming of the soulish heart. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall SEE GOD - at work!"
What a marvelous and incomprehensible potential, this: to see God! Now, we know, of course, that God has no corporeal form. "No man hath seen God at any time" (Jn. 1:18). Therefore, there is no question of "seeing" God in the ordinary physical sense in which one might see a human being or a mountain or an airplane. If one could see in this way, He would have to be limited, and, therefore, not God. To "see" in the sense referred to here, signifies spiritual perception, and spiritual perception means just that capacity to apprehend the true nature of GOD'S SPIRITUAL BEING which most Christians so sadly lack. We live in God's world, but we do not in the least know it as it is. Heaven lies all around us - it is not a distant locality afar off in the skies, but all around us now - but because we are lacking in spiritual perception, we are unable to recognize it; that is to say, we are unable to experience it; and, therefore, so far as we are concerned, we may be said to be shut out of Heaven. We do contact a tiny fragment of it, and that tiny fragment we know as the spiritual experiences we have received, but even that little bit, we see for the most part, all awry, distorted by the dimness of tradition and the outer darkness and wearisome senility of doctrines and methods of the Babylonish Church system.
Heaven is naught but the biblical name for the REALM OF GOD'S SPIRIT, the invisible and omnipresent realm of Spiritual Reality. And it is all around us. We are one with it by virtue of our Spiritual Life. We touch Heaven as we touch God, we dwell in Heaven as we dwell in God and we experience Heaven as we experience God. Heaven is eternity, but what we know here and now, with our spirits imprisoned within these walls of carnal minds and bodies, we know only serially, in a sequence called "time," which never permits of our comprehending an experience in its entirety. All true Christians have touched Heaven when they touched God, but all of our experiences have been limited by this physical world. We have known and seen God through experiences, but no limited by experience can enable us to SEE GOD AS HE IS or to know Him as He is. Men speak of the experience of salvation, the experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the experience of healing, or of a vision, or a dream, or a miracle, or a revelation. We rejoice in each of these blessed experiences, each one bringing an "experiencing" of something of the life and glory of God, yet in none of them do we truly see God AS HE IS in the unbounded fullness of His glorious and eternal reality.
Remarkable, the words penned by the beloved apostle John: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall SEE HIM AS HE IS" (I Jn. 3:2). He than hastily adds: "And every man that hath this hope in him PURIFIETH HIMSELF, even as He is pure" (vs. 3). The pure in heart shall SEE GOD, and every man that hath the hope of SEEING HIM AS HE IS purified himself. To purify oneself is to "unmixed the heart" so that there is no mixture of that which is soulish and that which is spiritual. It is to depart from every goal and aim in life except the Lord Himself, to cease all activity except that which is produced by the Spirit, to have an eye single to God's glory and the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. All things must low before the will of God.
So many saints are very much in the position of a blind man in a beautiful flower garden. All around him are glorious colors; but he is quite unaware of them. If we suppose him to be also devoid of the sense of smell, we shall see what a very small part of the glory of the garden exists for him. And if we further suppose him to have no hands, we shall see how the garden practically does not exist for him at all. Yet it is all there, if he could but sense it! Have we not all been condemned to a far greater tragedy in that we have been planted by the power of a new Spirit and a new heart inside the very portals of the Kingdom of God and have walked in the very midst of the eternal glories of Heaven, but our hearts have been so mingled with the clatter of this world that our eyes have not been able to see them, our ears have been dead to their sounds of joy, our nostrils unable to smell their fragrance, our hands unable to lay hold upon the eternal glory.
The closer we come to the Kingdom, the more will those destined Sons of God know what it is to be lifted beyond the pale of natural things to behold the glory of the realm where God lives in the Spirit. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). The mixture is even now being removed from the hearts of a first-fruit company and many are being enabled to SEE HIM in a new and living way. It is beholding Him that changes us from glory to glory, from corruption to incorruption. The new Spirit and the new heart are THE TREE OF LIFE, for they are naught but Christ living within. It is the glory of His presence that transforms the ragged garments of our mortality to raiment which is white and glistening. Fantastic changes lie ahead for all who separate themselves unto God. Tremendous changes will transpire as soul and body come under the dominion of Christ, for mortality shall be swallowed up of life. This corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality. Oh glorious victory! The Sons of God shall arise into that blessed realm beyond time, and space, and matter, and the carnal mind, and realize and walk in the fullness of God's glory forevermore. Oh glorious and wonderful realm! It is the realm beyond the veil where we may enter and tread the highways and fields of our heavenly citizenship. It is the realm of the Son of God. It is the inheritance of the Sons of God. It is REALM OF THE TREE OF LIFE. The Sons of God are the tree of life kind of men, and these are they who shall become the government of the world in the blessed age before us, a government of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. From the life of those who enter that realm shall flow forth such glory and blessing that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea and nothing shall hurt nor destroy in all God's holy mountain.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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