“And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared…for to slay the third part of men. And thus I saw the horses in the vision…and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths” (Rev. 9:15-18).
These truths are presented with soberness and prayerfulness, and the fervent desire that the verities unfolded here may grip the spirit of God’s elect with such forcefulness that we may yield ourselves unreservedly unto God to accomplish in us and through us His marvelous work, which work is the full unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is clear that the four angels which are loosed from the river Euphrates are also the great army of horsemen which numbers 200,000,000. A careful perusal of verses fourteen through seventeen leaves no other alternative. It is to be observed here that the strength of this army seems to be the cavalry. Every man in this army is riding a horse. And what a mighty army it is!
The locust army and the angel army are two armies that face each other! It takes two armies to have a battle! Both are said to be prepared for battle! And how wonderful the knowledge that everything about the army of the Lord is greater and more powerful than the locust army of Babylon! It is significant to note that under the fifth trumpet, repeatedly stung by the locusts, men were tormented by the false doctrines and condemnation and threats of judgment as proclaimed by the church systems of man, yet they could not die. But here there is a difference! The army of the Lord is prepared, John says, to slay the third part of men. Here, thank God, they do die! The word of the Lord, once released from its captivity at the borderland of Babylon, refined and made pure and strong in the anointing of the Spirit of God, is able to finish the work in us, to bring the old Adamic man, the carnal mind, the natural life, the flesh, the old human consciousness and identity to its end within us! This does not denote a literal, physical killing of vast numbers of humanity, but the bringing to death of the old Adamic life within God’s elect. These are spiritual realities! The word out of Babylon cannot accomplish this, but the living, energetic word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit is fully able to bring forth the triumph of the Christ life within us! By the living and burning word (fire, smoke, and brimstone) of God in the mouths of this great army of saints the rule of the flesh, the spirit of Babylon, and the bondage of sin, sorrow, limitation, and death within us shall be eradicated and destroyed. Aren’t you glad!
It is in the sounding of the trumpets that we are introduced to the term, “a third part” and the expression is used almost exclusively in relation to the work of the trumpets. In the symbolism of John’s vision of the sounding of the trumpets the first trumpet metaphorically brings God’s work of judgment and dealing upon the earth, the land mass. The second falls on the seas and oceans. The third falls on the rivers and their sources. The fourth affects the light-bearers — the sun, moon, and stars. In each case, a third of their power is destroyed. The expression “a third part” occurs as many as twelve times in this passage, surely indicating that the Lord would have us pay special attention to this particular feature. A third part of the trees are burned up; a third part of the oceans becomes blood, so that life cannot exist in them; a third part of all ships on the seas are destroyed; a third part of fresh, flowing water becomes so bitter that men cannot drink it; and a third part of the light of the heavens is darkened. Surely, there is reason for the question: What is indicated by this “third part” occurring so often in the text? One third!
I have mentioned previously that John saw three series of dramas, each with seven parts. There is the drama of the seals, that of the trumpets, and finally the vials. As we meditate upon these great truths, surely we can see that the opening of the seals is the revelation of Jesus Christ! A revelation is an unveiling,and it is Jesus Christ, the firstborn Son of God, who is unveiled unto us and within us as the seals are loosed. Thus, Jesus is the first of this trinity of dramas. The further truth is that all our glorious Father wrought out in the life of Jesus in order to reveal the fullness of God in Him — in sonship — must now be wrought out also in God’s firstfruit company of “many sons” brought to His glory. God’s elect, grown up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, is the second company to be brought to full and complete redemption, restoration to the life, glory, wisdom, and power of God! The third company brought into perfection and the fullness of God is the rest of the Lord’s people who are presently enslaved in the bondage of religious Babylon.
The point I wish to make is just this: As the loosing of the seals brings the revelation of Jesus Christ, the first Son, so the blowing of the trumpets accomplishes the very same work of God in His called and chosen elect, the many-membered body of Christ, or the manifest sons of God. And just as the trumpets show the work of our Father in His chosen firstfruits company, so the pouring out of the seven vials depicts the deep and awesome dealings of God with the rest of God’s redeemed people — the church! Thus the seals represent the work of God in and through our Lord Jesus Christ, the trumpets show the work of God in His many-membered son company, and the vials reveal the work of God in the rest of the Lord’s saved people, the church. Three series of dramas, each with seven parts! Three is the number of completeness, seven the number of perfection. These three dramas with their seven parts reveal the great truth of God’s complete redemption and restoration of His people, bringing perfection, life, and glory! There are three stages in the redemptive program (in relation to the church), and a full and complete redemption wrought in each stage. Jesus has already been perfected, resurrected, glorified, and enthroned! Multitudes who read these lines are even now in the process of full perfection, redemption, and glorification as sons of God! And our Father has a wonderful plan and purpose to restore all His precious people back into the perfection and glory of God! He will, in fact, restore the whole creation, but the three series of dramas now under consideration speak of His dealings with His church prior to the restoration of the world and all things and all realms.
It is my deep conviction that the “third part” mentioned so often in connection with the second drama, the sounding of the trumpets, bespeaks of the work of God in His firstfruits son company in contrast to all the rest of the Lord’s people who are dealt with later at the pouring out of the vials. When this third part,or the manifest sons of God, has been thoroughly processed by the Lord, when the work of perfection and maturity has been fully accomplished in them, there remain yet multitudes of the Lord’s people who are still babes in Christ and slaves to the man-made religious systems of Babylon. But their day will come, too!
The next thing we need to understand, in order to understand this great mystery, is the fact that here in our text John says that this great army of the Lord, which is also the four angels that have been bound in the great river Euphrates, is raised up with the burning word of the Lord in their mouths for the express purpose of slaying or killing “the third part” of men. What a mystery that is! In all the preceding visions the reference was to “a third part,” whereas here it is “the third part.” It can only mean that “the” third part identifies this third as the very same third referred to in all the previous scenes! This third part is God’s called and chosen elect, the manifest sons of God!
Most Bible teachers interpret this passage to mean that one third of all the men living on the face of the earth will be physically killed, wiped out, by the horrendous wrath and judgment of God. They completely miss the fact that this action originates from the four horns of the golden altar which bespeaks of the ministry of prayer, intercession, praise, and worship! God has commanded us to pray for all men that they may be saved, and to make intercession for all the saints according the will of God, but nowhere has He commanded us to pray for His vengeance and destruction to be poured out upon mankind. Oh, no! The word of the Lord in the mouth of God’s elect in this hour is not given to bring physical death to men, but death to the man of sin within us, death to the old Adamic consciousness with its carnal mind and fleshly ways. It is fire, smoke, and brimstone which issue out of the mouths of the Lord’s great army, by which “the third” of men are slain. Paul speaks of this same dealing of God when he writes, “And then shall that Wicked (man of sin) be revealed (uncovered, exposed), whom the Lord shall consume (kill, burn up) with the spirit of His mouth (words, authority), and shall destroy with the brightness (truth/light) of His coming” (II Thes. 2:8). That this man of sin is not outside of us, some demonized individual reigning over in Jerusalem in the land of Israel, is evident from the words which follow those just quoted wherein Paul says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan…with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish…” (II Thes. 2:9-10). Oh, yes! The man of sin is within! This man of sin in us is what has troubled us, he is the working of Satan in our lives through deception and unrighteousness, and now God is going to deal with him and slay him finally and forever in His “one third” company. Oh, the wonder of it!
The burning word and the fiery presence of the Lord are so strong in the Lord’s remnant in these days until the man of sin will be choked to death and silenced forever by the Holy Ghost fire of God! There is no sin, no carnality, no evil imaginations, no demon spirit that can stand before the manifest presence of God! That this is precisely what the “smoke” that issues out of their mouths signifies is confirmed by the description given by John, “And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth (hot bluish color), and brimstone (purging, purifying sulphur): and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, WHICH ISSUED OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS” (Rev. 9:17-18). How is this “third part” of men killed? By the burning, authoritative word of God proceeding from the mouths of God’s elect! By His Holy Ghost fire and the power of His flaming word He consumes all that is not of His nature and the man of sin in us which keeps us from the perfection of His mind and life. The smoke is the glory cloud of the fiery presence of the Lord which appeared in Solomon’s temple on the day of its dedication, when the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God so that the priests could not minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord (I Kings 8:11). That the glory of God in His temple of living stones is indeed the “smoke” that slays the man of sin in God’s elect will be confirmed in Revelation 15:8: “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God,and from His power; and no (natural) man was able to enter into the temple…”
ADAM CAN’T REPENT!
“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).
The message is clear — every son of God must repent! I have heard it said that sons do not need to repent, only those in the old-order church systems, or the sinners out in the world, must repent. But “he that overcometh,” he who is part of God’s great army in this day of the Lord certainly will repent or he will neverbe an overcomer nor a soldier in the army of the Lord! By repentance the Lord is leading us to change our spiritual directions, and causing us to walk in the new paths of His will for those called to be conformed to the image of Christ, to reign with Him in His kingdom. Every son is even now repenting and preparing himself for the changes that must take place as we put on the fullness of Christ. We repent every time the Father brings changes in our lives, as we qualify to be His instrument to bring the new order of the kingdom of God to the nations of earth. We repent of clinging to anything other than HIS HIGHEST for us!
Because we have repented we are no longer concerned about being nominal Christians, or demanding gifts, or grasping after ministries, or the positions of apostles, prophets, or bishops, or getting to heaven when we die. Because we have repented, we have taken another mind (for that is what repentance means in the Greek), and we now desire only GOD’S HIGHEST AND BEST! Because we have repented we are putting on the mind of Christ and seek only those things which are above at the right hand of God, where Christ sits (Col. 3:1). We are being changed into the image and likeness of the firstborn Son, and we shall be priests of God after the order of Melchizedek, for that is what Christ is doing at the right hand of God in the heavens of the Spirit! We shall be kings with Him, for He is a king and a priest after the order of Melchizedek! As a king and a priest of God in the glory of His kingdom we shall minister that same Life, which we received from Him, to the masses of humanity, delivering them from the curse of sin and death. This ministry is reserved for the overcomer. And the overcomer is the one who truly repents of every lower realm and seeks only and always the fullness of Christ!
When Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom He didn’t say, “Repent because you have been sinning.” No! He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Sin is not the issue in the kingdom. The issue is allegiance. Repentance means to repudiate something you have believed in and clung to in order to believe in and cling to something else. Repentance is the call to change our minds about the rule of our lives. Repentance is the call for us to change kingdoms! The kingdom of God is spiritual, it doesn’t work in the carnal mind. So whether a man is sinning or being religious he must repent, because the kingdom only works in the spiritual mind. Kingdoms clash. Every kingdom wants to rule, for that is what kingdoms do! When one kingdom is in power and another kingdom comes to take the dominion there is warfare. The message of the Christ is repentance unto another kingdom! Another rule comes into our lives which will cast out the demons of religion, the idols of our false concepts of God, our fornication with the spirit of the world, and establish the mind of Christ and the rule of Christ.
God has called upon us to repent of the rule of the flesh, the rule of the carnal mind, the rule of the world, the rule of man’s religion, the rule of external laws and ordinances, and all that pertains to the old church order. Repent of sin? Yes! But much more. Those who only know repentance from sin have only gotten to first base in God. It is a whole economy, a whole mentality, a whole way of life, an entire system of things that we must repent of in order to enter into the kingdom rule of God! When we talk about entering the kingdom we are changing many things; there must be a change in our whole world of existence, where we think we came from, who we think we are, what we think we are, what our purpose is in this world, how we live in this world, and what we think our destiny is in God. All our concepts and realities change! In our natural birth we came from the earth. In our spiritual birth we came from heaven. We are shedding that Adam identity, that Adamic delusion, the Adamic mind, the Adamic life-style, the Adamic wisdom, knowledge, and ability.
It’s not news to any who read these lines that we are in the midst of a war between two kingdoms. Neither is it news that WE are the battleground! More particularly, the major focal point of the battle is our mind. There the battle rages at its greatest intensity, because the war is a struggle for our hearts and loyalties — the very souls and lives and beings of men. Adam is dust, the natural, sensual, sense-oriented realm. In that long ago Eden, when God gave dust to be the serpent’s meat, the earthy man became the rightful food for the serpent. This means that the serpent now finds his base of operation and fulfillment of his nature, desires, and purposes in and through the natural, earthy life of mankind. By the very nature of things, when the serpent eats, he seeks to satisfy his appetite and gratify his desires. The curse of “eating dust” means that the serpent nature is only gratified in and through carnal-minded men. Today the sphere of Satan’s activity is earth, and the object of his devouring is the man of dust. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Can you not see the mystery? He devours you by overwhelming you with sensual lusts and carnal-minded pursuits, including the carnal religious realm where men serve God in a fleshly way, until your whole being becomes consumed with things and activities that are not of the Spirit nor of Life.
You will find men and women who claim to hate the devil and all he stands for, but no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. In so doing he gives place to the devil! It is the flesh that wars against the spirit! The flesh unceasingly wars against the King and His kingdom that is within you. Just as the religious leaders of the Jews cried, “We will not have this man to rule over us,” so the flesh, your flesh, and my flesh, desperately striving to perpetuate the corrupt nature of Adam within, would push Christ from the throne of the heart and reign in His stead. The energy force and motivating power of the flesh IS theancient serpent of Eden! He now crawls upon his belly, restricted to the realm of man’s earthiness, the dust realm. He is the spirit and nature of the carnal mind! Multitudes do not understand this mystery, and few will proclaim this truth. The sacred mysteries of God are revealed only by the Holy Spirit of Truth.
Adam is dust. If you want to keep the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of the earth realm alive in you, then just feed the serpent that crawls there! If you don’t feed him, he’ll starve! When you proclaim the kingdom of God, and the message is rejected, shake off the dust of that realm, don’t let anything people say or do against the kingdom cling to you, let them keep their earthiness, let them continue on in their carnal religious and worldly foolishness, and you be a testimony against that realm by continuing on progressing into the life and reality and power of the Christ within your spirit! SHAKE OFF THE DUST, sons of God!
Our text says that men “repented not.” Now what does this mean? Does it mean that God is going to pour out the fury of His wrath upon the world of sinful mankind, and instead of realizing that God is punishing them for their wickedness, and repenting, they continue on in their sins? Does it mean that all the humanists, communists, thieves, murderers, and prostitutes will stand up in defiance of God and curse Him to His face for tormenting them? This term appears only five times in the book of Revelation. Once it is used in relation to the symbolic woman Jezebel in the church in Thyatira, of whom the Lord said, “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not” (Rev. 2:21). Twice the term is used under the sixth trumpet, and twice when the vials are poured out in chapter sixteen. All of this is very significant! You see, we are prone to apply this to that wicked old world out there, outside of us, but the book of Revelation is addressed to the church — it is not addressed to Russia, China, Africa, Hindus, Buddhists, witches, serial killers, prostitutes, drug lords, or terrorists! Jezebel was a condition and a people in the church, she was told to repent, and repented not.
Many deep spiritual truths of scripture remain locked up to man and cannot be understood with the natural mind. It is significant to note that no statement is made regarding men “repenting not” under the opening of the seven seals. The reason for this is abundantly clear! The seals represent the unveiling of Jesus Christ, the firstborn Son of God. There is no repentance required in the unveiling of Jesus Christ! The glorified Jesus needs no repentance. Therefore, the only repentance in the book of Revelation is on the part of the church in chapters one through three, and on the part of God’s firstfruits company who are brought to perfection and the full stature of Christ under the sounding of the seven trumpets, and on the part of the rest of the Lord’s people who are purged, purified, and perfected through the pouring out of the seven vials.
While it is true that every son of God must repent, it is also true that there is a part of each of us that cannot repent and will not repent! Truth has been revealed, and the truth is that “human beings” never become spiritual. The spiritual progress we make is to “die” to our human identity, our ego, our natural life, and Adamic consciousness, and be made alive to the new creation life of the Christ within. No human being has ever been spiritual or ever will become spiritual, because the Adamic man is flesh and blood, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We are not trying to save our humanhood, nor can we put it under the laws of God and make it righteous, for the word of the apostle Paul is incontrovertible: “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). This old earthly, human, natural, Adamic mind and nature must be put off, for it cannot repent nor can it be redeemed. Adam can only go to the cross!
Our repentance means that we no longer identify with the first man, the earthy, but we consciously identify with the second man, the spiritual, which is the Lord from heaven! We are putting off the old man, and are putting on the new man. The old man that we are putting off cannot repent, will not repent, therefore we die to that man and are raised up in the new man, Christ. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. To try to change, or improve, or save the old earthy man is an effort in futility. It cannot be done! And that is the great truth and the deep mystery the Lord is revealing to us when He tells us that “the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues (that is, that part of us which has not yet been fully brought to death) yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols…neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” It simply means that ADAM CANNOT REPENT! One fact only dominates the life of man upon this earth, and Paul articulates it when he says, “…in Adam all die.” By the word “Adam” Paul means everything “human,” everything natural, everything earthy; he means himself, his history, his language, his institutions, his works, his hopes and dreams, his abilities, his world, his ethnic identity; and over “Adam” hangs the inevitable sentence of death. Adam comes to an end, he passes out of existence, he dies, he ceases to be.
We have borne the image of our earthly father, Adam, and still carry that image about in our natural life, in spite of the efforts of many to say that it was all put to death at Calvary and doesn’t even exist anymore. The simple fact is, if you have a soul and a physical body capable of lusting, cursing, hating, lying, revenge, bitterness, or even being “religious,” then Adam is still walking in you regardless of all your protestations to the contrary. Let’s get real! The nature we were born with in our natural life was not heavenly, divine nature, but the carnal, corrupted, degenerated nature of the first Adam, and what a detestable thing it is! When we see the old nature in its true light how we hate it and long and travail to be completely delivered from it. Some think this is impossible and cannot be accomplished, “No one can be perfect in this life,” they say, but I want to tell you that it has been accomplished in our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is now being accomplished in a people who are putting off the old man with his deceitful lusts, and are putting on the new man which is created in the image of God and in righteousness and true holiness. Oh, yes! This work has to be fully accomplished within us, for it is part of God’s great purpose in His sons, and nothing can prevent it from being accomplished.
God is in the process of raising up in us the new creature, not a revamped, remodeled, renovated old creature, but an entirely new creation. It is not really a new creation, for it has existed all the while within our spirit, but it is new to us, and new to mankind, because we have all walked only in the consciousness of the outward Adamic mind and life. The old has to go until there is nothing left of it at all, and has been replaced with that which to us is entirely new. The new creation is not a remodeled version of the old one, for the new is spirit and life whereas the old is flesh and corruption. “Behold, I make all things new,” saith the Lord! When God is finished everything in the heavens and in the earth will be absolutely new, there will be no place for the old. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Rev. 21:1). “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind” (Isa. 65:17). God has no notion of salvaging the old nature, it is necessary to have a new nature that comes from God! He has no program by which it can be remodeled for use by Him. He has no program for it at all! It is condemned, my friend, destined to pass away, not even to be remembered anymore! It does not please God when the flesh lifts itself up and boasts in itself. God says that no flesh is to glory in His presence at all. It is an atrocious thing!
Gary Sigler once put it so well when he wrote, “You see, those who are ruling from the earth are still trying to take this earthly image of themselves, and make it more acceptable to God. I tried this for years. I prayed every day. I read ten chapters in the Bible every day. I prayed in the spirit for at least an hour a day. I did all of those things that I supposed I should do to take this image of myself that was so alienated from God, and make it acceptable, make it more godly, make it presentable to God. That is the spirit of antichrist! It is a hard concept to accept, but if you are taking a human image of yourself and trying to make it into God, that is the abomination of desolation! That image of yourself will never become God. Oh, you can make it better. You can dress it up. You can quit smoking and chasing women. You can go to church, sing and dance, clap, be all you want to be. You can improve it a little. But you’ll still be the abomination of desolation because it is a human image of yourself sitting in the temple of God trying to be like God. Well, when you realize that all of the old creation Jesus took to the cross and raised us all up as the new creation, then there is nothing you need but the unveiling of who God is in you. The new creation is not a human being; you are a spiritual being. You are God manifesting in the flesh. Now if you say that out of your ego or your carnal mind, that is the abomination of desolation the scriptures talk about. But if the ego or the carnal mind is removed, what else can you be but a manifestation of God?”
In our understanding of redemption, it is important that we recognize that there is no redemption for the Adam man, that is, the earthly nature and life. God has not asked the Adam man (the natural man) to consecrate himself to God, because that is the worse thing that could happen! The Adam man tried to make his nature pleasing to God when he sewed fig leaves together to cover his nakedness in the ancient mists of Eden. But that does not please God, because that Adam man was sentenced to death, and die he must! That is why God sent the “second man” and the “last Adam” — to replace the “first man” and the “first Adam.” Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is an entirely NEW CREATION; old things are passed away, and behold, all things are become new! Can you not see the mystery? God did not save the old Adam, He replaced him. We are redeemed and saved by having the old Adam brought to death, and being raised up into the new Adam. So when Christ sends His Spirit, he does not come to the natural man, for the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit! He comes to the new creation man! “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” It is His Spirit joined with our spirit that makes the new creation man! Therefore, he is a spiritual man! And yet, most of Christianity deals with the natural man, because they want him to live before God. In order to get him restored they lay the laws on him, try to get him to conform, force him to go through the motions, train him and give him a call from God. But the problem with dressing up and training old Adam is illustrated by the story I read once in a tract.
A young boy, on a certain occasion, was walking with his father through the streets of Manchester, England. His attention was suddenly drawn to a man standing before the door of a building, announcing loudly, “Come in, ladies and gentlemen, and see the great American pig!” Having his curiosity aroused, he paid his entrance fee and entered the building. There, sure enough, was an amazing pig performing feats and giving evidence of an intelligence no pig had ever before exhibited. At the command of his trainer, he would pick out, from the alphabet lying on the floor, the letters “G-O-O-D P-I-G.” He would also walk about on his hind legs and shake hands with those who stepped up to greet him. This pig had been washed and scrubbed until he was perfectly clean and he was dressed in a beautiful garment. Of course, he commanded the highest admiration and no one could deny that he was well-educated and well-behaved in every respect. But in spite of his remarkable culture and his attractive appearance, HE WAS STILL A PIG — better off, perhaps, than most other pigs — but yet, after all, only a pig and a pig to remain, however advanced his learning!
Ray Prinzing expressed this same precious truth when he wrote, “A NEW CREATION SPECIES IS NOW IN FORMATION! The new life is HIS, for He is the Source of all the new! ‘It is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved — He has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with Him in Christ Jesus in the heavens’ (Eph. 2:5-6, Phillips). This is not a recycling, or a redesigning of the old. In the natural world there is a strong emphasis being placed upon recycling — it’s the environmental thing to do. And it does seem that a lot of people in their religious activities have taken up with the concept of trying to recycle mankind — keeping the same form, the same expression, but giving it a religious flavor. But God is not revealed in the Word as One who just ‘patches up’ something gone bad. Nor is He just trying to dress up the world with a ‘Jesus garment cover’ to give a better appearance. Before He is finished with His creation He will have totally transformed it — to bring forth ‘new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness’ (II Pet. 3:13). Thus we are challenged to yield to His handiwork as He dissolves, strips away the old, burns up the chaff with unquenchable fire, that He might make all things new. ‘Draw me, we will run after Thee’ (Song of Solomon 1:4), is a far better response, than having to be pressured into relinquishing the old realm.
“Jesus told it well, in His parable illustrations. ‘No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old wineskins: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new wineskins’ (Mk. 2:21-22). A piece of new cloth — the word ‘piece’ is the Greek epiblema, from the word epiballo meaning: to throw upon, thus, a patch, imposed upon a cloth to mend it. But the piece that is applied is new,agnaphos, literally, unfinished, unshrunken, just raw material. So if it be securely fastened to the garment, as it gets washed and then shrinks while drying, it will pull away from the cloth whereon it was sewn, and the rent is made worse. The old does not blend with the new! A worn out garment with a new piece sewn on, makes for quite a contrast, and is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, Jesus says, you cannot put new wine which is still in its fermenting stage, into an old wineskin (bottle) that has become stiff and unbending — the build up of the inner pressure will burst the wineskin, resulting in the wine being lost, and the bottle ruined. The specific point Jesus was making, emphasized by double application, is that you cannot mingle the old with the new, it renders them both useless” — end quote.
“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols…”
Upon hearing about men worshipping devils and idols our thoughts immediately travel to other lands, and other times; either to the idolaters of ancient civilizations and empires, or to religions very alien to our own. We envision tribes performing strange rites and sacrificing animals, or even human lives, to grotesque images of hideous gods whom they seek to appease. Many times these images resembled men, or beasts, or some exotic combination of features of both. The spirit behind these were the spirits of devils, as the apostle Paul tells us: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God” (I Cor. 10:20). In this case, however, these literalistic notions keep us from remembering that the book of Revelation is a spiritual book, addressed to a spiritual people, and concerning spiritual realities — THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST! We may feel that we do not behave so foolishly as the pagans who served devils and idols made with hands, but we are wrong. Idol worship is just as widespread as ever, but now appears in subtler forms. I am not talking about such possessions as homes, bank accounts, pleasures, etc., which many people call idols, but about something much more cunning.
Much that goes on in Christianity and within the walls of church buildings and in the name of God is little more than a refined form of idolatry. An idol is anything that usurps the place of the living God, of His living reality in our lives. In their crudest form, idols are fashioned by men according to their own imaginations out of whatever material they are pleased to use. Christianity’s “refinement” for this practice is still to worship a god manufactured by their own imaginations, emotions, traditions, and will, merely abolishing the manufacture of an artifact. In short, those who present a god who is different than the God revealed in and through the firstborn Son of God are guilty of idolatry. No matter how religious the depiction, how appealing the description, how supposedly “orthodox” the assumptions, any church, minister, or movement that presents a god other than the One revealed in Jesus is guilty of making an idol.
No man lives without a God. The real question is, who or what is his God, or gods. The pronouncement in the fifties and sixties that “God is dead” did nothing to God. Instead it simply attempted to assert that a certain God or kind of God was dead. It was a false image of God that men were endeavoring to cast away. All of us have had false images or concepts of God that we have had to cast aside! If you listen to people speak, and hear what they say, it is easy to see their image of God. The fact remains, our Lord Jesus Christ is the true image of God! Any characterization of God that deviates from the revelation of the wisdom, nature, power, compassion, mercy, love, truth, and grace revealed in Jesus is a demon God and idol image! God has caused us as His called and chosen elect to repent and empty our minds of the remnants of false beliefs and inadequate concepts of God which most of us had accumulated in our early childhood, or perhaps carried over from an elementary stage of spiritual understanding and experience of God.
The only true revelation of God is in His sons. It is sonship that reveals the Father! The only valid “image” of God is the living reproduction of His character and attributes in and by the Spirit. Every man reflects within himself the kind of god he serves. Let him think of a god who delights in blood, and he will be a brutal, vicious man. Let him worship a god who is lacking in holiness, and he will either live wantonly in immorality or settle for imperfection as the norm. Let him think of a god who is pleased with rituals and ceremonies, and his practice of religion will center in external pomp and pageantry. Let him think of a god who can be paid by service, and he will become a hypocrite. Let him conceive of god as a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and he will be a legalist and a spiritual tyrant, lording it over other men’s lives, laying heavy burdens upon them, enforcing upon them the bondage of external laws, commandments of men, and traditions of the elders. But let him know God as his Father in Christ, and he will become a king with a priestly heart of unconditional love, mercy, reconciliation, goodness, blessing, and redemption for all mankind! It is my conviction that the highest mark of sonship is found in the view one has of God. Sons know the Father! Sons, above any other calling or relationship with God, know what God is really like!
The God created by the morbid imaginations of the carnal minds of religionists, and preached in most of the churches of the world, is a God who is less than the best human we know, and in most cases even less than the worst. Adolph Hitler is demonized by the whole world because he killed several millions of innocent people, but the God of Christianity is presented as one who will torture billions who somehow failed to hear of Him, or believe in Him, or who committed the slightest of offence against Him, in the unending flames of eternal hell-fire, without any mercy whatsoever! In this view God becomes a monstrous tyrant, a subtle and celestial sadist, a vindictive and vicious power poised in retribution over man. The idol images of the pagans were exceedingly grotesque and frightening, yet I do not hesitate to tell you that the “image” of God revered by the church systems of this world is even more grotesque and frightening!
We here perceive how it is that the Holy Spirit faithfully instructs us that Adam cannot repent of worshipping devils, or of paying homage to idolatrous images of God. You see, my beloved, all the false ideas about God are creations of the carnal mind — the mind and imagination of the natural man! That part of any man, that part of you, that part of me, that is earthly, human, carnal, sensual, and therefore devilish (James 3:15), will create a false idol-image of God. There is a tremendous distortion of deity made in the producing of graven images, because they come forth in the likeness of men and beasts, the earthly, bestial nature. Man always makes images of his god in the form of himself — human nature — or other creatures. The carnal mind cannot help doing this, therefore until it is put to death within us we cannot repent of this error! “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues (dealings of God) yet repented not of the (religious) works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols…” That is the mystery! How vitally imperative that God strip away from us all the religious imaginations of the flesh wherein we boasted. Yet the “religious beast” fights hard to retain its own place in the temple of God — to create a false image of God. The natural mind, the Adamic mind never repents of this!
“Neither repented they of their murders…” The subject is not homicide, not the bloody murder that will land you in prison. Let us keep our minds in the Spirit! Again I remind every reader of these lines that the Revelation is a spiritual book, and its realities are spiritual realities! The very same John who on Patmos penned these portentous words is also the one who wrote, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I Jn. 3:15). No one knew better than the beloved John what, in its spiritual meaning, “murder” signifies! The message is clear — If old Adam is still alive in us we cannot help hating our brother, we are in our heart a murderer; to boost our own ego, or enhance our standing with others, we will whisper behind people’s backs, repeat a negative report, carry a tale about someone, engage in idle gossip; we will assassinate the character of any brother who appears as a threat to us, or whose place we wish to usurp — that’s the way the carnal nature works, and the Adamic nature cannot and will not repent of the murder!
“Neither repented they…of their sorceries…” We know what sorceries are in the occult world — divination through the assistance of evil spirits, black magic, enchantment, witchcraft. The word for sorcery in the Greek language is pharmakeia, the same word from which is derived our English word pharmacy. Its true meaning is “the mixture of drugs which stifles the senses and puts the mind in a hallucinatory state.” Spiritually it signifies the doctrines of religious Babylon which dull the spiritual senses of the Lord’s people, giving them a false hope, and causing them to live by religious superstitions, myths, traditions, legends, and folklore. Doctrines about the power of the devil, financial prosperity, the rapture, a mansion over the hilltop, along with the supposed virtue of rituals, ceremonies, sacraments, and a hundred more delusions drug God’s people into a spiritually hallucinogenic state. They live in a false, starry-eyed fairy-world of soulical imaginations which they suppose to be spiritual realities! When this great religious Babylon falls and is burned with fire, the apostle John declares of her, “And the light of a candle (the little light you had) shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom (Christ and His body of sons)shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants (ministers) were the great ones of the earth (carnal realm); and by thy sorceries (enchanting doctrines of men) were all nations deceived” (Rev. 18:23). What a word!
“Neither repented they…of their fornication.” The fornication here is a symbol, not the fornication of the flesh, but something spiritual, a joining to that which is not Christ. Women in the Revelation are likewise symbolic, either positively of the bride of Christ, or negatively of the soul, or of religious organizations and activities which are soulish rather than spiritual. These are those ministries, and multiplied millions of believers, who daily sow their seed, deposit their spiritual life of Christ, into man-made religious systems, mingling the reality of Christ with the commandments of men, joining themselves to carnal programs, promotions, methods, and worldly religious activities, as well as with the political systems and governments of the world, satisfying their own soulish appetites and lusts in the name of the Lord. It is spiritual fornication!
The church is imitating the world! Christians regulate their devotion by the clock. The church schedule is packed with flesh-appeal programs and activities that run day and night. They feel that unless every night of the week is taken up with some sort of activity, the ministry is an ineffective thing. They have the strange idea that nothing is being done unless someone is talking! So they fairly swarm to conferences, seminars, workshops, committee meetings, platform discussions, concerts, plays, and programs of many kinds.
It is distasteful to have to admit it, but the plain truth is that the vast majority of Christians live their lives in soulish lusts. The further truth is that God’s purposes are not accomplished by intellect and soulical activity! The church systems go forward today like a little Samson shorn of its locks of power. It parades up and down, boasting of its accomplishments, and like Samson, it knows not that the Spirit of God has departed from it. But even as Saul and his armies tremble in fear before the mighty Goliath, the Lord is raising up a little David with a slingshot of the spirit of sonship to meet the enemy with all of his stratagems and come off with a mighty victory! The David company is still in preparation, far out in the solitude of the green pastures of a living word, and beside the still waters of the quickening spirit, learning by faith and obedience to slay their bear and kill their lion. But we are gaining new victories every day and learning within ourselves the power of God and the ways of His kingdom! Saul’s armor will not do! The sons of God are being prepared to step forth in the majesty of the name of the Lord God of Israel! The preparation does not take place with the seven brothers who appear so tall, handsome, articulate, charismatic, and accomplished, nor in the hustle and bustle of the streets of Bethlehem, but alone with God in the pastures of HIS choosing, outside the camp, in the secret place of the Most High!
Amid all the religious ruckus of the hour, and all the fuss of those who run after many lovers, fornicating with the flesh, the world, and the carnal mind, there is a little flock that has climbed the mount with Jesus. They care not for the flamboyant humbug of the gaudy harlot’s house, but, having beheld the glories of the kingdom afar off, they are pressing through surging waves of flesh-oriented believers to come apart to receive instruction from the King of the kingdom. At His feet they hear the call to the heavenly mark and find a door opened for them to enter in and lay hold upon the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
These are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth! They lean hard upon Christ! They keep themselves unto Him, and to Him alone! As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pant their souls after God! The spirit of sonship to God dwells within them! They are partakers of His mind! They have been given the knowledge of His will! They comprehend His great plan and purpose in the earth, in His sons, and in the unbounded universe! They have laid aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset them! They are running the race with patience! They esteem the hope that is set before them higher than all the pleasures of Egypt and greater far than the prestige of Babylon! They are patient in tribulation, knowing that through much tribulation we shall inherit the kingdom! They continue instant in prayer to God, and He comforts them and upholds them with the right hand of His righteousness! To them the voice of the Father speaks in words of everlasting hope and assurance, “Fear not, little flock; it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Aren’t you glad!
“Neither repented they…of their thefts.” Consider now the remarkable statement of Jesus found in John 10:7-10. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” The firstborn Son of God stood one day in the center of the religious world and made the astonishing statement, “ALL that ever came before me are thieves and robbers!” Did He not take into consideration Abel, who “by faith brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous — and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet he is still speaking” (Heb. 11:4). Did He not take into consideration Noah, that preacher of righteousness, that man perfect in his generation, who “being forewarned of God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness” (Heb. 11:7). Did He not take into consideration that great man of faith, Abraham, who “when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance” (Heb. 11:8). Did He not take into consideration that mighty man, Moses, who “when he had grown to maturity and become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, because he preferred rather to share the oppression and bear the shame of the people of God than to have the fleeting enjoyment of sin. He considered the contempt and abuse and shame borne for Christ to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward. By faith he left Egypt behind him…urged on by faith the people crossed the Red Sea as though on dry land” (Heb. 11:24-29).
When Jesus uttered these extraordinary, audacious words, “ALL who ever came before me are thieves and robbers,” did He not know of all the patriarchs and prophets, and men of faith and exploits? Yes, He did! Furthermore, when Jesus was on earth there was already here Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Zoroastrianism, and many other religions, and the founders of them all, men renowned as the great teachers of mankind. All of those were before Him! Can we believe that Jesus was calling all these good men THIEVES and ROBBERS?
The Jews were greatly offended when Jesus said that HE was the door to life and ALL who came before Him were thieves and robbers, and the thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. They understood not the words that He spake unto them! Oh, how good it would be if God’s dear people would only seek to understand the vital message contained in the words which fell that day from the anointed lips of Jesus the Christ! To those who can receive it, our Lord was saying that ANY MAN OR ANY MESSAGE THAT BRINGS TO MANKIND ANYTHING BUT L-I-F-E IS A THIEF AND A ROBBER! All who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers because the revelation and message they bore led to death. They gave mankind great teachings, inspiring philosophies, wonderful laws, noble moral and ethical precepts, but not one of them possessed eternal, incorruptible, immortal life, and not one of them could minister and impart that life to those to whom they were sent. Therefore, though they were valuable teachings on one level, yet, in the final analysis they robbed men of what they needed most — LIFE! Many centuries ago the apostle Paul penned an inspired assertion when writing to the saints at Corinth, saying, “for HE must reign, until HE hath put all enemies under HIS feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is DEATH” (I Cor. 15:25-26).
Good men, holy men, great men like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, men who heard the voice of God and by faith did exploits in their generation, DIED AND PASSED INTO CORRUPTION. The Holy Spirit witnesses with absolute certainty that “These all died in faith, not having received the promises” (Heb. 11:13). Jesus looked at all these men with their message and ministry and works and saw that not one possessed life or the ability to impart life into mankind. They all, in very fact, deprived mankind of the most precious gift of all — LIFE! The law that came by Moses was a ministry of condemnation and death, and the message of every other holy man, Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, and all the rest, fell short of life, incorruption, and immortality. Jesus came bearing a truth, a reality, a power never before possessed by any man who came before Him! He came with LIFE, eternal life, incorruptible life, abundant life! Life enough for Himself and all mankind! Confucius is dead; Buddha is dead; Moses is dead. I have stood by the tomb of king David on mount Zion in Jerusalem, and by the tombs of other great men, and I testify that they are both dead and buried and their sepulchers are with us to this day. But Jesus Christ is alive, and all who believe on Him are transformed by His Spirit! We have been quickened in our spirit, we have risen with Christ, we have been made alive unto God, we have been raised up and made to sit together with Christ in the heavenly places! There is coming forth from the tomb of our death, of our separation from the life of the spirit, a new kind of life, a new nature, a new mind, a new heart, a new consciousness, a new identity, and a new kind of experience which we have not known before. Unto quickened men today Jesus is speaking these magnificent words: “I am the resurrection and the life: He that believeth into me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth into me shall NEVER DIE. Believest thou this?” (Jn. 11:25-26).
The natural man, the carnal mind, the Adamic life, the human consciousness, and all that streams from the realm of the soul is impotent to impart spiritual life and reality to any man. All the noble philosophies, science, education, vocation, entertainment, social work, business, economy, government, and every other esteemed pursuit and profession of this world are honorable and have their place, but one and all are in the end found to be thieves and robbers, for they all fall short of true life and rob those men who center their lives in them of that which is of eternal value — divine and incorruptible LIFE! The natural man continues on, however, pursuing and promoting the fleeting things of this world, including the carnal religious realm, all of which pass away, with the lusts thereof, and he “repenteth not of his thefts!” Oh, yes! The Adamic mind and way of life will rob you of the mind of Christ and the divine life of the spirit! That is why every son of God who has been called by the Father in this great hour has now repented, has taken a new mind, adopted a new lifestyle, and lives in the new reality and power of the kingdom of God on earth! It is indeed wonderful!
To be continued… J. PRESTON EBY