Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Deathly Spark of Speculation

Dear Father,
  Thank You for Your glorious Gospel. We believe that You will rescue us from every evil attack and bring us safely to Your heavenly Kingdom. Yet at the present time we are persecuted and tried, day after day, by our enemy. Your enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us and we need help, Father. There is no one like You to protect the powerless against the mighty. We rely on You because You are our Lord. Do not let the evil forces prevail over us. It would be better for me to be locked up in a manhole with You like many of Your other servants have been than to succumb to evil. He who is in us us greater than he who is in the world. We proclaim times with weeping "Lord, come to our aid"
In Jesus Christ's Name,

Theme Song: Spoken For

     Dear beloved, you must be feeling like me to some degree. Not a week has gone by for so long during which my soul has not been sifted like wheat, and tried to the utmost in new and unexpected ways. Every noble purpose and desire has been opposed and threatened by the devil and demonic forces. During the worst times, doubt and confusion cloud the heart. And yet it has been almost a year since a week has passed during which He has not displayed His glory in a life changing, soul purging, and joy-bringing way. This letter is deeply personal and I pray that God uses it to minister to my own soul and yours. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5 This letter is about the deathly spark of speculation that results in sin and eventually destruction. In the moment that we question the Character of God's goodness to His people and we speculate that perhaps good may be found outside of His Command, the deathly spark of speculation arises. If we continue in unrepentance and let the spark run its course, we would surely fall away. But His will for us is that we would repent and continue in perfect faith. We will be taking a broad look at the events of the fall of man and the restoration that the Trinity displays until the time when we are again able to eat from the Tree of Life. 

I. The First Fall of Man

 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing 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

     The state of the mind, spirit, and body of Adam and Eve prior to their fall was unlike that of any other human. In the middle of the Garden were placed the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Hebrew word for knowledge, da'ath, means knowledge or awareness. Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve's minds were not aware of the presence of sin. All of the disobediences and breakages of the Laws of God known to us were hidden from them. In their largest pondering, they could not contemplate or mentally innovate such acts of rebellion. Because there was no sin in them, their spirits were not separated from God, but rather they were able to stand in His Presence and fellowship freely with Him. And in their body, they felt no shame. God had instituted one Law to them: they were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for in the day that they ate of it they would (and did) surely die. 
16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”Gen 2

     In Light of God's character of loving-kindness towards all those whom He has made which renders every command and act regarding the elect mankind as having a good purpose for them, there are two aspects of this command. Firstly God knew something about the effect of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that caused Him to forbid them to eat from it because it would be harmful to them in some way. And secondly God in His foreknowledge knew that they would not remain sinless through obedience to His command and that He would intervene at the Cross. In the first case let us consider how the awareness of evil may have been harmful to them. God Himself is aware that sin exists and it has not harmed Him. The knowledge of the existence of sin has not harmed Him because He is God.  21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5 These Words indicate that Jesus did not know sin in His inner parts. Certainly He was aware that sin existed, but He did not contain an inkling of a sinful thought or attitude within Himself even as God in flesh Form. Whereas, in the case of Adam and Eve, God knew that if they were aware of the evil that existed, they would not have chosen the way of righteousness. Why? Because they are not God. How can we know that they would not have chosen good over evil if they had known of the choice of evil? We know because they have disobeyed God's Command to not eat from this tree. For in their act of disobedience in eating from the tree they proved to the world that they [and all humanity with them] were not not able of handling the awareness of evil for they would have certainly chosen the way of evil and been destroyed in it. 

     Let us take a look at the manner in which the serpent tempted Eve. His first statement was that "You surely will not die". This was a lie, for death refers to a separation from God and in the moment that Adam and Eve sinned they were separated from God (until they were restored) due to the presence of sin within them. The second statement of the serpent was "God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened". Yes, their eyes would be opened to become aware of sin and their own shame... His final statement was "you will be like God, knowing good and evil". They certainly became aware of evil, but they did not become like God in doing so. For in their awareness of sin, their hearts fell far from the righteous glory of His perfect character.

4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3

     Now let us look at the response of Eve. We will see in her response that a deathly spark of speculation originated within her. Eve saw that the tree was good for food. God had given them free access to the other trees of the garden for food. The fruit of these trees were good for food. In believing that the forbidden fruit of this tree was good for food, Eve believed the lie that God would withhold from her something that was good. Secondly Eve saw that the tree was delightful, or pleasant, to the eye. Because Adam and Eve were not separated from the Lord, they were able to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. Eve's heart's worship of the forbidden tree's beauty showed that she, at that moment, did not exalt the beauty of the Lord over that of His creation. Finally Eve saw that the tree was desirable for making one wise. Though in God's Command, it was clear that God intended to withhold the knowledge of evil from them, Eve supposed that perhaps she would be better off with this wisdom. Furthermore, rather than worshiping and exalting the mysterious wisdom of her Creator, she sought to acquire knowledge for her selfish purposes. The heart of the fall of Adam and Eve was doubt and speculation. They speculated that perhaps God's Command was not in their best interest. They considered that perhaps there was some greater pleasure or wisdom outside of what God intended for them. Their act of disobedience showed that in their hearts they exalted themselves above the throne of God. They desired to be on the throne rather than to have God on His throne in their hearts. They committed the act of great blaspheme. And in our conception into wickedness, we have failed to acknowledge God. We have all been borne into the great blaspheme: the belief that God's Commands are not given in love...that God is not the righteous God who He truly is. In the smallest inclination of an evil desire, we sought to exalt ourselves and we blasphemed our Creator. 

6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Gen 3

     As God's children, we look back and we understand in part the love in God's Command to Adam and Eve. We understand that they would have been in the Presence of God, delighting in His loving-kindness and perfect creation even now, if they had not disobeyed. God knew the devastating effect that their knowledge of evil would have on them. He knew that their eyes would be opened and they would feel their shame. Though they were united as husband and wife, and no other humans existed, still they felt shame in their flesh. And the other devastating outcome was the absence of love, grace, and forgiveness within themselves, the fallen sinners, to cover over the offences and shame of one another. For apart from the knowledge of His grace, we all would have been like Ham, who would have rather exposed the shame of his father than to cover it. Not only were we filled with shame apart from His intervention, but we were not helpful to one another to cover over it in any way. 

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.Gen 3

     Following the first fall of man, God immediately revealed the Gospel to Adam and Eve. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Gen 3 God sacrificed an animal to indicate that without the shedding of blood there could be no forgiveness of sin and covered them with the skin to show them that the righteousness of the future Messiah covers them. Furthermore, He stationed a cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life. For in their human form, if they had lived forever, though God has forgiven their sins in Christ, the day when they saw Him Face to Face and became perfect like Him may have been eternally prolonged. They would have existed as we are today, free from the penalty of sin, but still in the presence of sin...the troubling presence of the consequence of sin forever. 

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.Gen 3

II. The Deathly Spark of Speculation

     The deathly spark of speculation, the doubting of God's character and exaltation, is described in James. We are tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust. When lust conceives, it gives birth to sin. And we know that the wages of sin is death. Lusts, or desires and longings, originate from the affections of the heart. When our hearts have desires and longings that are contrary to the Commands of God, the acts of outward sin are sure to follow. Now that we are in Christ, we are given new hearts that fear God and are filled with righteous and holy affections. Remember the way Your heart longs for Him and seeks to obey Him when you are instructed in Godliness. Remember the look in the eyes of the beloved around you who are moved by the Spirit in conviction and awe at the righteous love of the heavenly Father shown through Christ. All of these acts of the Spirit are saturated with righteousness, purity, love, reference, worship, and peace. For when we live by the Spirit we do not gratify the desires, that is, the lusts, and longings of the sinful nature. It is of great importance that we set our hearts and minds on what the Spirit desires. In the letter "Royal Rectification" I described that when God's children momentarily sin, He still delights in them because Christ's righteousness covers them and He knows that He is bringing them to perfection. But in another sense, when our minds and hearts are set on the sinful nature, the Spirit is grieved. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). In this manner, Jesus wept at the unbelief and sorrow of His chosen people when they grieved over the death of Lazarus though He knew that His purpose was to reveal His glory by raising Lazarus from the dead and that many would believe in Him on account of Christ's resurrection power displayed in Lazarus's life.  

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.  James 1

     We ought to guard our affections with utmost zeal and earnestness. For it is a certainty that the domains of our hearts and minds will become the domains of our outward behaviors, life styles, and words. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death. But the mind controlled by the Spirit is Life and peace. As Paul wrote to the Philippians "8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phil 4 As we set our minds and hearts on the desires of the sinful nature, we are living in the lusts of the flesh. And taking into account the mentioned James model of temptation, we understand that the lusts of the flesh drag us away into temptation, sin, and eventually death if we refuse to repent. As we doubt the promises of eternal Life in knowing Christ and walking with Him, we start to long for survival or pleasure from worldly things. Without the Spirit's circumcision of our hearts, we will certainly commit whatever act of immorality that we had set our hearts and minds upon. 

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “ Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”Gen 4

     Oh dear saint, may we guard our affections and thoughts with utmost zeal. The moment our heart are given to the desires of the flesh, we have already stepped onto horribly unstable territory. Sin is crouching at our door and our enemy is fiercely seeking to destroy the people of God with immorality of all kinds. This enemy is crouching and we often do not see his presence or know when and how he will strike. There are many who had not consciously pursued the way of evil, but the moment they had ceased to walk with the Spirit, they had opened the door and the sin that was already crouching behind rushed to corrupt, pollute, and destroy. Do not open the door, dear saint! Guard your self in your heart and do not break faith with Him. Unless we continue to love the Truth of His glory, we would surely fall away to the wiles of the enemy. For as we walk by the Spirit, our hearts are secure, and though we face earthly trials, we are able to praise and thank Him, we are able to forgive, we are able to fellowship with one another. But the moment we have gone out of step with the Spirit, regardless of how closely we had walked with the Spirit in the past, we are powerless. Regardless of the extent of His glory and the manner of holiness and purity that He had allowed us to remain in for perhaps even prolonged periods of time, if we were to fall out of step with the Spirit, the enemy's war will be far too fierce for us. For when we walk in the Spirit, we often do not realize the safety and peace that is protecting us from all sorts of wiles. I know I have taken for granted the purity and freedom from temptation that He has granted me when I walk with the Spirit. But the moment any of us fall out of step with Him, even for a moment, we are fair game for the attack of the enemy. And if we are truly God's children, even if we fall, He will restore us to repentance, but the consequences are devastating for us and for the Body of Christ around us. When we walk with Christ, His power prevails infinitely more than the powers of the evil temptations thrown at us. It is our faith in Christ that overcomes the world. Our conscious faith in what Christ has done to save us from our sins keeps us in step with the Spirit and free from the lusts of the flesh that result in sin and death. But when we are momentary letting our minds and hearts dwell on the sinful nature, and forfeiting the power of His grace, the battle is far too strong for us to win. There is no way we can destroy the desires of the flesh unless we replace them with the greater desires of the Father implanted by the Spirit through the blood of Christ. 

     For Christ did not come only to remove our passionate evil desires, but to replace them with far stronger desires for His glory and His Agape. Would we believe the devil's lie that passion is only to be found in the domain of the satisfaction of the desires of the flesh? Certainly not! If the desires of the sinful nature are strong, how much greater and more intense are the desires for the glory and love of God that are implanted by the Spirit! We are not like the demon-possessed man who is emptied of one demon and filled with 7 additional even more wicked spirits which make the final state of the man worse than the original (Matt 12:44-45). 

18 that they were saying to you, “ In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jude

     In the end, Christ will give to the one who overcomes the right to eat from the Tree of Life that is in the Paradise of God (Rev 2:7). Yes, the door had been guarded by the cherubim with the flaming sword but we know that "He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens" (Rev 3:7). God had guarded Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life and living forever in their human state. But when we are purified when we see Jesus Face to face, He will open the door and we will eat from the Tree of Life and we will live forever with Him. May we never doubt the Character of our God! He is faithful and His love is so very great. In the midst of the Spiritual warfare of temptations that we face, let us remember the first fall of man and the effect of the deathly spark of speculation within the hearts of our ancestors. May we also remember that if we overcome, we will be able to eat from the Tree of Life. His commands are given in love, dear saints. There is a greater zeal, a greater love, a great desire, a greater promise, and a greater exalted One than the evil deceitful promises of earthly passion and devil-worship. 
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
15 I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
“ Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.” Hos 5-6
III. Two Outcomes of the Deathly Spark of Speculation

     When mankind denies the Character of God and exalts themselves in their hearts above the throne of God, disaster results. Now we will briefly describe two examples of the outcome of the deathly spark of speculation.

1. The Unified Purpose of Sinful Mankind

     In the Tower of Babel incident, God described that the people were one and they had the same language. God saw that they had begun to build a tower to reach heaven and to make a name for themselves. Thus, God saw that the people were unified in a godless purpose and He saw that nothing which they purposed to do would be impossible for them. God's destruction of the tower, confusing of their languages, and scattering them over the earth was an act of grace. For if He had let them continue in their unified sin, they would have together been destroyed under the wrath of God. But in their isolation and scatterings, I believe that some would have cried out to God for forgiveness and salvation as the Spirit revealed to their hearts that one day a Deliverer would come who would save their people from their sins. 

5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 TheLord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.Gen 11

     In a sense we see, at least in part, the manifestation of the unified evil purpose of mankind in the present time. We are apt to feel in our sinful nature that if there is a general consensus pertaining to some belief or some general way of living, that the average of the populus constitutes sufficient goodness and reasonableness. But God confirms here and elsewhere in His Word, that often times the consensus of the people is exactly contrary to His good purposes. In fact, it was precisely the unity of sinful mankind that God worked against in His destruction of the tower of Babel. Even among the churches within modern day America, we must seek out His good Truth and not assume that the consensus is true. As believers, we are promised the unity and fellowship of the people of God, but the Words of Christ convey to us that there will be times when we sense hatred from the world, times when we are alone in our standing for Truth, and times when we will have no resort but Him. But He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work in us and nothing is impossible for God. No temptation has overtaken us except what is common to man and God is faithful: He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able. With the temptation He will always offer the way of escape so that we may be able to stand under it. (I Cor 10:13)

2. The Fleeing from God-given Authority or Responsibility

      In our sinful nature we are so willing to leave behind yokes of either authority or responsibility. As the Angel of the Lord told Hagar when she sought to flee from Sarah, her mistress who had been ill-treating her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority" (Gen 16:9). I have seen myself and so many of my fellow family of Christ seek "freedom" from these God-given yokes. Little did we realize that these yokes were put in place to test and refine our character, to show us that we are dust apart from Him, and ultimately to conform us to the Image of Christ. Sometimes these yokes are an environment where we feel hated or disrespected. Often the yoke is the relationship with family or other people. In many cases the affairs of the heart that exist within marriages originate from a broken relationship between the individual and God and result in a fear of authority or responsibility. The power to overcome in all of these circumstances results from a conforming of our souls to the Image of Christ. Our circumstances, our surroundings, and people around us are truly not our problem at all. Our problem is our own self. For as we submit to God's will in the place or position which God is calling us to remain in, and receive our lot from His Hand, we will find contentment and peace. The yokes may appear to be bleak, hopeless, and meaningless, yet God has a history of revealing His brilliance during such times to His dear children. Remember dear saints, true justice for the people of God is a state in which their knowledge of Jesus Christ is so great that no earthly disaster, trial, or temptation can touch them.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “ I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
But he who trusts in the Lord, loving kindness shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. Ps 32

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