THE DEEDS OF THE BODY ARE PUT TO DEATH
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“The Deeds of the Body Are Put to Death” is taken from Christ In You, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
The Deeds of the Body Are Put to Death
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (Colossians 3:9)
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Ephesians 4:22)
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)
The physical body is “dead.”
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)
Our physical body remains dead in the sense that it still contains in itself the centuries-old tendency toward rebellion against God and subjection to the will and ways of Satan. It therefore is spiritually dead.
The physical body (even of the saint) is an artesian well of adultery, pride, hatred, idolatry, covetousness, lying, murder, occult practices, and every other filthy action, word, motive, and imagination that is an abomination to the God of Heaven.
Only the Spirit of God working through the cross of Christ possesses the wisdom and power to deal with the passions of the flesh and fleshly mind of mankind. As soon as the physical body and the soulish nature begin to express themselves, all the religious principles and resolutions of the self-righteous person are as so much debris flying about in a hurricane.
While our new born-again inner man is receiving eternal life from the Holy Spirit, as we walk under the lordship of Christ, our mortal body remains dead in the bondage of sin. Our body is protected by the Passover blood and therefore is not destroyed by God as His Spirit moves throughout the earth, bringing judgment upon sinful deeds.
The blood of Christ makes an atonement for us so God can restore us to a state of fellowship with Himself. By faith we assign our old nature to the cross with Christ in order that we may be raised with Christ in the full power of His resurrection life.
If we give the Holy Spirit our full attention and cooperation He will enable us to put to death the deeds of our physical body.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Our task is to confess our sins, as the Holy Spirit leads us into an awareness of them, and then to renounce the sins, to draw near to God, and to resist the devil. It is not God’s will that we should remain in captivity, in subjection to the sinful urges of our own body.
We walk in the power of eternal life as we continue to confess and forsake our sins. The Holy Spirit provides the wisdom and strength that we need. If we walk each day in the Spirit of God we receive the peace, joy, power, sound mind, and victory over sin that are the possessions of those who follow Christ.
If we, Christian or not, continue to live after the lusts of our flesh and mind we will die spiritually. Also, we may come to an untimely end in the present world (I Corinthians 11:30). It is possible to be born again in Christ and then to die spiritually because the new life was not nurtured adequately. “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” (Romans 8:13, Luke 8:14).
The sin of Adam and Eve. Death, spiritual and physical, is the direct and certain result of the breaking of God’s laws.
The Lord God said to Adam:
… Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16,17)
Eve and Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They knowingly and deliberately broke the commandment of God, Eve having been encouraged to do so by the serpent and Adam following the leadership of his wife.
The consequences that have flowed from that one act of disobedience have been so horrible that every creature in Heaven and on the earth ought to have learned the lesson for eternity: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
In the day that Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil she died in spirit, in soul, and in body. The Presence of Christ is life. The absence of Christ is death. The Presence of Christ left Eve. She continued to breathe, to eat, to think, to speak, to walk about. These activities are not life. Christ Himself is Life. Apart from Him there is no life, no light, whereby people may live.
In the day that Adam ate of the tree he also died in spirit, in soul, and in body. Adam’s body did not cease to function until many hundreds of years later. Adam’s body was dead because of sin just as our body is dead because of sin.
Thousands of years of history reveal to us that the death of Adam and Eve, their loss of the Presence of Christ, their impoverishment and anguish, their assignment to backbreaking toil, were only the beginning of the sorrows of mankind. Each of the billions of persons who has been born since that time has come into the world as a slave to sin and a victim of the consequences of sin.
All of mankind is under the dominion of sin and as a result under the dominion of death. Also, the remainder of the animal kingdom, and the vegetable and mineral domains as well, are all under the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). The authority and power of sin are total and there is little that any human being can do about it except to turn to the Lord Jesus.
This incredible anguish has occurred because of a single disobedience to God Almighty. Let each of us have the lesson engraved on our personality so that we never can forget it.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not the only tree that the Lord God made to grow out of Eden’s ground. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:9). The trees of Eden were “pleasant to the sight and good for food.”
Two of the trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were not the kind of trees one usually finds in an orchard in that the type of fruit they bore affected the personality and not just the digestive system. It is tragic that Adam and Eve did not eat of the rest of the trees and leave the prohibited fruit alone. The good we should do we do not do, and the evil we should not do—that is what we do (from Romans 7:19).
It was the Lord God, not the adversary, who caused the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to grow out of the ground in the midst of Eden. God wanted that tree there and He had in mind to use it along with the other trees to bring about the full growth and development of His offspring, Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve were children. They were in the image of God, but only in the sense that a human baby is in the image of its parents. It takes a long time for one of God’s “babies” to grow up in His household and to begin to look and act like an adult.
In order for Adam and Eve to grow up and become a son and daughter of God they had to eat a proper diet, just as all children have to do if they are to be healthy and grow normally. Part of that diet consisted of the fruit of the tree of life and part consisted of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or those two trees would not have been “good for food” (Genesis 2:9). (One wonders what other kinds of trees grew in Eden!)
As an infant grows older his diet changes. The food that is nourishing at one age is not adequate at another. God had every intention of having Adam and Eve eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because apart from such knowledge they were not in His image (Genesis 3:22).
God’s timing in our lives is important, and food that is good for us when presented at the right moment is not good for us if it is eaten ahead of schedule.
God knew that the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would produce shame and would separate His children from Himself. Also, God will not accept willful disobedience on the part of His children even if they do blame someone else for their disobedience.
The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the wisdom of judgment. It is the ability to discern what is good and what is evil. Such discernment is an important ability of a son of God. Being able to discern good and evil is a sign of maturity.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
Adam and Eve were naked, and to be naked is shameful (although this is the state in which God placed them in the garden). Where there is no law there is no consciousness of sin or shame. The knowledge of good and evil comes to us through God’s law.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the personification of the highest working of God’s law. The law of God gives us knowledge of the good and holy and of the evil and unholy. Such knowledge makes sin exceedingly sinful.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence [covetousness]. For without the law sin was dead. (Romans 7:7,8)
Adam and Eve were without law except for the one prohibition concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their nakedness was shameful, and in God’s time they would have been clothed (as is true of babies to this day). As they had grown in God they would have been given the knowledge of good and evil as soon as it was profitable for them.
It is a fact of the Christian redemption that when we first are born again we are to a certain extent ignorant of the good and evil in our personality. It is only after we have reached a certain level in Christ that our “eyes are opened” and we begin to see, area by area, the presence of sin in our personality and behavior.
Each time the Holy Spirit enables us to discern an unholy, unrighteous area in our personality He has ready the appropriate righteousness with which to cover our nakedness (Revelation 3:18).
God does not desire that we be foolish, ignorant, or innocent concerning righteousness. We have been commanded to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). In malice we are to be infants but in our understanding we are to be mature (I Corinthians 14:20).
Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature dwelling in their flesh as we do. There was no law of sin inhabiting their bodies. They were not being driven by the spirit of their age or by their own inborn or acquired tendencies to lust, to murder, to lie, to amass wealth, to worship idols, to slander, to criticize, to disbelieve God, to talk filthy language.
The kind of life the tame and wild animals were leading did not guide Adam and Eve into sin. The created heavens and earth were declaring to them the Glory of God. Also, the Presence of the Lord God was in the garden with them so they could model their behavior after Him.
Everything about them and available to them was working to enable them to grow up as righteous and holy children of the Highest. There was no reason, other than the counsel of the serpent plus their own lack of experience in godliness and in dealing with temptation, why they should have broken God’s one commandment.
If they had waited until God had given them His Divine Nature they would have been brought successfully into the ability to discern good and evil.
Exalting their self-will over God’s will always opens the door for uncleanness and lawlessness to enter human beings.
We understand that the first sin was the sin of self-will rather than fornication or lying or stealing. The self-will of Adam and Eve opened the door for the sins of the flesh to enter and bind mankind to their compulsions.
Adam and Eve lost their opportunity to eat of the tree of life.
The Lord God said:
… Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis 3:22)
God was not pleased with the condition of Adam and Eve at this time and He did not want them partaking of the tree of life and living forever in their state of alienation from their Creator. Therefore the Lord posted a guard to keep His children away from the tree of life.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)
As we think about the moral purity of their environment, and the lack of sinful impulses in their nature, the reason for the disobedient actions of Adam and Eve seems to be clear. The wicked rebellion in the heavenlies had brought the personalities involved there to a high level of subtlety and skill in creating and practicing every evil work. The counsel of the serpent to Eve was adapted perfectly to the purpose of leading her into discontent and rebellion against the Lord God.
Apart from that evil suggestion Eve would have been content to follow her husband as he followed the Lord. But, child that she was, she was led easily into disobedience just as little boys and girls are lured into the automobile of a stranger by the promise of some candy.
Adam, who was anxious to please his wife just as men are to this day (I Corinthians 7:33), joined with her in rebellion against God’s commandment. By their actions the first husband and wife brought all their descendants under bondage to Satan, to sin, to death.
The damage done to the earth and its inhabitants as the result of the original sin of Adam and Eve is so vast in scope, so ugly, so painful, that the human mind cannot grasp it.
All the wars, all the acts of violence of people against other people, all the grief of relatives and friends who have seen their loved ones wasted by sickness or mangled in accidents, all the agony of mental and physical sickness, all the human, animal, and mineral resources wrecked by the lusts of men driven by the unquenchable thirst for riches, all the madness, perversion, perversity of word and action, and wild restlessness of spirit that keep the human race in an uproar to this day, every last treacherous, obscene, murderous behavior of mankind is the direct result of the unwillingness or inability of Adam and Eve to obey God.
Human history portrays for all time, to the earth and to the heavenlies, that God is righteous, that life lived apart from Him is a disaster, and that absolute obedience to His Spirit and law is the only way in which His creatures can attain love, joy, peace, and every other desirable goal.
Human beings stagger forward under the crushing burden of the chains of spiritual oppression that are far, far heavier and more grievous than those imposed by any human master.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:28-32)
The poison of sin affects each person born into the world.
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)
For all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
The act of disobedience of Adam and Eve brought every one of their descendants under bondage to death.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
One of the worst results of the original sin is that we humans now have a strong tendency toward sin. The bodies of Adam and Eve were constructed from chemicals found in the earth and therefore were neither sinful nor righteous. Their bodies were houses for their soul and spirit and were neutral as far as any tendency toward sin or righteousness is concerned.
Unfortunately such neutrality is not the case with our bodies. The bondage of which God warned Cain has come to pass: the desire of man is to sin and sin rules over him (see Genesis 4:7).
Because of the thousands of years of sin that have preceded our lives on the earth, we now have in us powerful urges toward lust, murder, covetousness, lying, and occult practices.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:18-20)
The poison of sin has corrupted all that is in the world. Not only have we been born into bondage to sin because of the rebellion in Eden, but we are under the power of death as well. Sin, when it matures, brings forth death.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:… (Romans 8:13)
The heavy hand of sin and death grips every man, woman, boy, and girl born into the world. The entire creation of God has been affected by the original disobedience.
It was impossible for Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of life after having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because sin had been committed by them and no atonement was available to take care of their sin.
A sinner cannot come to the tree of life and receive eternal life until an atonement has been made for him, until he first has been washed in the blood of God’s Lamb. First comes the washing in the blood, and after that the eating of Christ, who is the Tree of Life.
The pursuit of eternal life. Eternal life must be sought diligently by the Christian. Accepting Christ is the beginning, not the end, of the pursuit of eternal life. Christ is Eternal Life, and He must be sought out and followed each day with complete attention and dedication.
Coming out of Egypt (the world) brings us into the “wilderness,” not into the land of promise, as far as eternal life is concerned. The gate is narrow and the way is compressed and difficult that leads to eternal life, and it appears that there are few people who persevere in Christ until they find it (Matthew 7:14).
Paul advised Timothy to “Lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:12). The exhortation of Paul is in the context of a strong admonition to “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” The pursuit of eternal life is related to the pursuit of the holiness of the Holy Spirit of God.
Eternal life has to do with the holiness of God. If we do not lay hold on the righteousness and holiness that God has provided for us by the various Divine resources (the Scriptures, the body and blood of Christ, the gifts and ministries of the Body, the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer and guidance) we can expect to have little or no eternal life in us now or given to us in that day when the Presence of the Lord fills His people and the conquerors are given their houses from Heaven filled with the substance of eternal life.
We must pursue diligently the Life of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. Eternal life is the result of sowing to the Spirit of God. “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:8).
This reminds us of Romans 8:13: “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
It is a misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ to claim we will not enter the holy city in our own righteousness but in His righteousness, and therefore if we sin we are in no danger. It is true, rather, that we must draw continually on His righteousness and holiness of Substance and Spirit until we become righteous and holy in thought, word, and deed. If we do not we will be among those who cry Lord! Lord! and do not practice the things He teaches.
The only way in which we can gain the right to the tree of life is by doing His commandments.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
A man or woman can start out in Christ and then reap corruption rather than eternal life. The Book of Hebrews, the Book of I John, and many other passages in the New Testament confirm the fact that accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior is but the beginning of the quest for eternal life.
Jude presents the concept as clearly as anyone, in the following admonition: “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not (Jude 1:5).
If there is a message from God to the Christians of today it is the letter of Jude, the “servant of Jesus Christ.” It ought to be posted in every shop window.
In order to get past the cherubim and the flaming sword that guard the way to the tree of life we must partake of the holiness of Christ. The cherubim are God’s servants, and the flaming sword is the Word of God that discerns good and evil. As long as there is sin in our life we do not have access to the tree of life (Revelation 2:7).
The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil stand side by side in the middle of the Paradise of God. Until we mature in the Lord and are able to perceive the difference between good and evil, and then voluntarily (by Christ’s ability) cleave to righteousness and despise and reject evil, we are not fit to eat of the tree of life and live forever (Hebrews 5:12-6:2).
We are speaking now of the fullness of life in the Presence of God, including the overcoming of physical death in the body at the appearing of the Lord from Heaven. Our pursuit, as was Paul’s, is directed toward the redemption of our body.
There are many passages in the New Testament that indicate the relationship between the living of the sanctified life now and our status during the Day of the Lord. For example:
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (I Thessalonians 3:13)
A little further in I Thessalonians we find that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming with “sudden destruction” and “they shall not escape.” We are “children of light” (meaning we are walking in righteousness) and therefore that Day will not overtake us as a thief).
Our deliverance and salvation in the Day of the Presence of Christ, according to this context, does not depend on our profession of Christ but rather on our conduct—on our bringing the righteousness and holiness of Christ into our daily living.
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)
The precious promises of Christ enable us to partake of the Divine Nature and to escape the corruption that lust always brings.
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (II Peter 1:4)
The hope of being received by the Lord as His children must lead us to holiness of personality and behavior.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
The closeness of the Day of the Lord should move us toward a holy manner of living.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct] and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto [hastening] the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (II Peter 3:11,12)
When we first accept Christ as our Lord and Savior we are saved from the coming wrath of God and we receive eternal life. Notice, in the following passage, where our new life is located:
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [desires], and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Colossians 3:3-5)
The concept of these verses from Colossians is that since our “life is hid with Christ in God” we ought to be seeking the things that are above. In keeping with our heavenly position we must put to death the lusts of our flesh.
It would be useless for a person to attempt to live at the right hand of God in the spirit realm and at the same time to pursue the lusts of his flesh on the earth. Either his new born-again spiritual nature will prevail or his flesh will prevail. One shall conquer the other.
Either his life at the right hand of God will result in his putting to death the desires of his body and his fleshly mind or the desires of his body and fleshly mind will overcome the new life from Christ that is working in him.
A Christian who continually indulges his earthly passions may well succeed in destroying the spiritual side of his nature to the extent he loses his eternal life. “We are not of them who draw back to perdition [destruction], but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39; Romans 8:13).
The Apostle John, in agreement with Paul concerning the absolute necessity for righteous and holy behavior, associated our hope of being like Jesus at His appearing with a present-day attention to the cleansing of our personality.
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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:2,3)
A faith that does not bring about a holy manner of living is not a strong faith—not strong enough to raise us in the first resurrection (Philippians 3:11).
To maintain that we all shall be raised at the next sounding of God’s trumpet and all receive the same reward, all rule as kings and priests, even though we are not learning to walk in the Spirit of God, is unscriptural. Our common sense and our conscience, as well as the Scriptures, teach us differently. Yet, many Christians act and speak as though this is what they believe.
It never is God’s will that a Christian walk in known sin.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (Romans 8:12)
The physical body, even of the Christian, is dead because of sin. The mortal body is cut off from the Life of Christ. The body is bound by the law of sin in its members. God has in mind to save the body of the Christian just as He saved the body of Jesus. Therefore we do not owe the body any servitude at all that we should be bound by its lusts.
The commonly-accepted belief among Christians that we are required to sin because we still are in a body of flesh and blood has no foundation in the Scripture. There is power in the blood of Christ to “forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”—all unrighteousness!
We no longer can be forced to live in the lusts and bondages of the flesh and fleshly mind. We are free to choose to become a servant of righteousness. (Romans 6:18).
In order to live in the Spirit of God and not in the appetites of the flesh we must give ourselves wholly to the discipline of the Spirit. We must obtain the power of resurrection life. We must have the upward pull of the life of Heaven. The attraction of sin is so strong it is necessary that the Holy Spirit impart the Life of Christ to us in sufficient quantity to overcome the earthly passions that drive and bind us.
We must walk in the Spirit of God every moment of every day or we rapidly will be drawn into the concerns of the flesh. God’s grace always is available in the kind and amount needed to solve our problem; but we ourselves make the choice continually as to whether we will indulge our flesh or follow the Spirit of God.
In God’s sight we owe the flesh nothing and Christ everything.
Living according to the flesh means spending one’s time and strength each day in the ordinary pursuits of people without a consciousness of the Presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to be a disciple of Jesus and to lead the customary life of the pursuit of material gain. Such a life leads to spiritual weakness and death.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14)
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your heart be overcharged with surfeiting [weighed down with dissipation], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (Luke 21:34)
Paul warns us: “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” The materialistic sex-money-fun-oriented way of life may seem harmless to us but it leads to the spiritual death of the Christian.
Paul continues: “If ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
In what way shall we live? First, the life of the Holy Spirit in us will increase until our spirit and soul are transformed into the image of Christ.
As the Holy Spirit leads us into all kinds of experiences, pleasant and painful, He works in our nature and in our mind the likeness of Christ. Prayer, reading the Scriptures, being ministered to and ministering—all lead to the developing of the life of Christ in us.
Our spiritual stature grows from the baby state, to the child, to the adolescent, to the mature son of God. There is a difference in righteous strength of character between a new Christian and a disciplined saint of God (Hebrews 5:14).
Growth in spiritual stature is leading directly to the coming adoption of the body (Romans 8:23). It is the “deeds of the body” that are at issue. The physical body is an enemy of the Spirit of God and of the Christian. The body of the Christian as well as of the unsaved has an insatiable appetite for self-indulgence of all kinds.
The body lusts after sexual excesses, violence, murder, pleasure, drunkenness, and every other abomination. The deeds of the body must be put to death. We owe the body nothing except to keep, through the Holy Spirit, an iron hand on all its lusts so that it serves God in every situation.
Each time our fleshly nature causes us to sin we must confess the sin to God. When we are leading the life of victorious faith we are able to hear the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us concerning a sin of deed, word, motive or imagination. With the Spirit’s help we are able to name the sin before God so we can receive the authority and power of the blood of Christ for the forgiveness and complete cleansing of the sin.
Sin must be confessed as we march forward in victory. We are putting to death the deeds of our body with joy because the physical body is the last stronghold of sin and death in the battle of redemption.
The eternal judgment of unclean spirits. As we are discussing the relationship between holy living and the gaining of eternal life we need to keep in mind that one of the most important dimensions of the relationship is that of God’s judgment on evil works in general, and on evil spirits in particular.
The area of the conflict in our life between sin and righteousness is related to the past rebellion in Heaven and to the law and judgment of almighty God that rewards His creatures according to their response to His will. The fact is, no one will receive the fullness of eternal life until the work of Divine judgment has been completed in his or her life.
Hebrews 6:2 mentions the doctrine of “eternal judgment.” It is this doctrine to which we are referring when we state that no one will receive the fullness of eternal life until the work of judgment has been completed. You may notice that eternal judgment follows the resurrection of the dead, and precedes the “perfection” of verse 1 of the same chapter (Hebrews, Chapter Six).
As far as the saint of God is concerned, the “resurrection of the dead” of Hebrews 6:2 is the resurrection described in John 11:25,26; Colossians 3:1; Romans 6:13; and Colossians 2:12,13. We are not claiming that the bodily resurrection is past already (II Timothy 2:18) but are speaking of the spiritual aspect of the resurrection that occurs before the resurrection of the body.
Some students of the Scriptures believe that Paul in Philippians 3:11 is referring to the spiritual and not the physical resurrection. There is an attaining to resurrection life that we are to be pursuing now.
The eternal judgment of God follows the resurrection. This is demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus (John, Chapter 11) on the fifth day. Had Lazarus been raised on the third day his raising would have been typical of the resurrection of Christ.
The raising of Lazarus on the fifth day portrays the fulfillment in us of the Levitical Blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24), the blowing of Trumpet being the fifth of the Levitical observances. The bringing forth of Lazarus from the grave depicts the Christian who has been raised by the Holy Spirit and who now is ready to walk in the newness of resurrection life.
Lazarus was “bound hand and foot with graveclothes,” even his face being “bound about with a napkin.” This was in contrast to the Lord Jesus who discarded His graveclothes in the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.
Jesus called forth Lazarus in a condition of bondage just as He calls forth you and me to walk in the newness of resurrection life although we still are bound by the “graveclothes” of the sin in our flesh.
Lazarus was raised from the dead but still bound, still not judged as to the tendencies of his body, to speak figuratively. Jesus directed those standing by to “Loose him, and let him go.” The graveclothes represent the bondages of sin that hinder the Christian believer. Those standing by symbolize the people that God uses to set us free. Sometimes people minister to us by the power of the Spirit of God. On other occasions people cause us pain and frustration. But if we will look to God in each instance we will be set free from sin.
The authority and power of judgment, based on the blood of the atonement, reside in the Church of Christ. They are keys of the kingdom. When Christ, the Head, is directing His Body, through the Holy Spirit, the Body has the authority and power to retain sin and to remit sin.
Sin is not a force that springs from the earth or from the physical body, as they were created originally. Sin is alien to us. It is not inherent in the physical creation. The earth, the sun, the moon and stars, and the physical body were created by the Lord God. They were formed in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. They were brought into being without any tendency toward sin.
Sin entered the garden of Eden in the form of a living, intelligent being. Sin always is related to personalities, not to nonliving matter. Sin always is of the devil no matter how entwined it may become in the fleshly nature of a human being. “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:8).
The moment mankind was persuaded to sin, Satan took over the controls of human nature (Genesis 4:7). Sin and death then reigned over all persons born into the world (Romans 5:12-14). There is no way of escaping the authority and power of sin (Psalms 51:5). The mind of the flesh is an enemy of God and cannot be reconciled to God (Romans 8:7).
God has revealed Himself to mankind in the glory of the natural creation, in man’s own conscience, and in the Law of Moses. These revelations only magnify the wrongness of sin; they cannot remove sin because they do not bring the authority and power to deal with the devil.
It is the lords of darkness who are the cause of sin (Ephesians 6:12). These lords at one time were angels of wisdom and authority in Heaven. We cannot deliver the earth and its people until God is able to execute through us His eternal judgment on unclean spirits. A strong man’s house cannot be invaded until the strong man himself has been rendered incapable of resistance.
The Lord Jesus Christ brought into the earth the perfect and complete atonement for the sins of people. In order to make an atonement for sin, two aspects of the problem must be taken care of. First, the guilt of sin must be forgiven. Divine justice must be satisfied. Second, the dominating power of sin must be conquered. Both of these aspects must be provided for or the atonement, the reconciliation, is only partial.
In Christ full provision has been made for both aspects. In the Lord Jesus we receive forgiveness of our sins and also the authority and power to destroy the works of the devil in the heavens and on the earth (I John 3:8; Matthew 28:18).
God the Father has given to Christ full authority to forgive sin and to retain sin. Christ holds the keys. He can declare whomever He will to be forgiven of sin or to remain guilty of sin. Christ’s authority is absolute.
The Father has given to the Son all authority to declare blameless whomever He will and to give eternal life to whomever He will (John 5:21-30, 17:2). There is no personage who has the authority or power to call into question the judgments of Christ. Christ has offered full pardon to each individual who comes to Him. The complete forgiveness of sins is the first half of the atonement.
The forgiveness or retention of the guilt of sin is the beginning of the exercise of God’s eternal judgment on sin. The judgment is eternal, in the case of the Christian redemption. Once a Christian has confessed and repented of a sin and Christ has forgiven that sin, the guilt of the sin never again can be held over the Christian, provided he does not turn and practice it again.
The sin has been forgiven and now we are able to deal with the power of it. Sometimes the power of a sin over us is broken immediately. In other instances we have to endure a fierce struggle against some particular sin. However, total victory shall come if we keep calling on the Lord for help, naming the sin as sin and assigning it to the Lake of Fire.
The authority of the accuser, Satan, is weakened because he cannot hold the guilt of the sin over the saint. God has forgiven it in Christ.
The individual who keeps on pressing forward in Christ proceeds from deliverance to deliverance. Likewise it is possible for an individual to refuse the grace of God until the door of mercy is closed (Revelation 22:11; Luke 13:24-27).
Both forgiveness and deliverance are included in the atonement. Christ possesses not only the authority to forgive a sin but also the power to cleanse and deliver the Christian from the dominating influence of that sin.
In order to bring about deliverance from the dominating influence of a sin, Christ and the Christian must act together in the power of the Holy Spirit to confess the sin, repent of the sin, cast out the sin, and close the door against all further activities of the sin. This is the stripping away of the graveclothes that bind the Christian and hinder the Nature of Christ in the Christian from being expressed in deed, in word, in motive, and in imagination.
When Christ read from the scroll of Isaiah (Luke 4:19) He concluded by saying, “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then Jesus “closed the book.” He did not read, “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2). It may be noticed in the King James translation of Isaiah that Jesus stopped reading at a comma, not at the end of a complete sentence.
The point at which Jesus stopped reading has significance. It reveals that the Day of Vengeance, the Day of the Lord, had not as yet arrived.
The next coming, the Presence of Christ, is the Day of the Lord, the Day of Vengeance. It will be the fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement (Leviticus, Chapter 16).
The first half of the Day of Atonement, the sprinkling of Christ’s blood beyond the sacred veil (Leviticus 16:12-15), was accomplished at Calvary (Luke 23:45; Hebrews 9:12).
The second half of the Day of Atonement, the removal of the presence of sin from the Christian, and finally from the earth itself, has not been accomplished as yet. We can observe the lack of deliverance by examining our personality and our surroundings. Such deliverance shall be brought to pass in the Day of Judgment, when Christ returns to the earth. To those who look for Him He will appear without sin unto salvation. The wicked will perish at His fiery Presence.
In preparation for the great Day of the Lord that is at hand, the Lord today is judging the sin in the warlike remnant of saints whom He is calling out from the ranks of Christendom.
Sin will be removed from the heavens (the spiritual domain above us that pollutes the earth) and then from the earth. The inhabitants of the earth will be “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Revelation 12:8,9; 19:20-20:3; Romans 8:21). This is the fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee that was announced on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9).
The atonement made by Christ will not have taken full effect until the power of sin has been destroyed totally. Christ now is in the process of destroying the works of the devil. In order for a Christian to receive the full benefit of the atonement, all the works of the devil in him must be destroyed—not only the guilt of sin but also all traces of compulsion to sin.
The last evil work to be destroyed will be physical death. The removal of the authority and power of physical death will be the sign that all else in the believer that is related to the works of the devil has been forgiven and its power overcome and destroyed. This is the personal, individual fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus, Chapter 25).
One can see then that the eternal judgment of God is on the doers of sin. As long as the Christian is committing acts of sin, following the inclinations of evil spirits, the judgment of God is on him. The judgment is suspended as long as the Christian is following the Spirit of God. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
The Christian is sealed to the Day of Redemption by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). In anticipation of the coming day in which sin is removed from the earth, the Christian is without condemnation as long as—and only as long as—he remains “in Christ.” If, however, he neglects the salvation that has begun its work in him and is not careful to abide in Christ, he will come under the judgment of God (Hebrews 2:3; John 15:2).
If the Christian continues to walk in the light of God’s Presence, the Holy Spirit will point out to him the sins of thought, word, and deed that he is practicing. Sins are pointed out one at a time so they can be dealt with victoriously.
Our sinful nature is not examined all at once. If we saw too much of our nature at once we would become defeated, introspective, and gloomy. It is the will of the Spirit of God that we go on our way rejoicing in Christ. Then the Spirit can enable us to overcome our sins one at a time and to keep victory all the while.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:7-9)
The eternal judgment of God is on each person who commits sin whether or not he is a Christian, although the judgment is suspended for the Christian as long as he is following the Spirit of God and walking with Christ. The blood of God’s Lamb is a “token” on the Christian’s “house” and protects him from the destroyer.
When the Holy Spirit points out a sin that a Christian is practicing and he becomes aware of the sin, he must go to God for cleansing from the guilt and power of that sin.
When the Christian confesses and forsakes his sin the sentence of the eternal judgment of God is that the Christian is held guiltless and also is cleansed from all unrighteousness. Never again will the Christian stand before the Judgment Seat for any sin he has confessed and then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, has ceased committing. It is an eternal judgment.
There is authority and power in the blood of Christ to deliver the Christian from the guilt and power of sin—now, in this life. The Holy Spirit deals with our sins one at a time. If we are diligent in confessing and forsaking our sins, He is faithful and righteous to “forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven the trumpet of God will blow, announcing the worldwide Year of Jubilee. The dead in Christ will be resurrected and the living saints will become immortal (I Thessalonians 4:16). Divine wrath will fall on all the workers of sin and rebellion. The second coming of the Lord is the Day of Atonement, of Reconciliation. That Day will be glory for the righteous but terror for the ungodly.
Our personal “day of the Lord.” For the saint, the trumpet of God, in a personal, spiritual sense, is blowing now. The Day of the Lord is beginning now in the hearts of the victorious saints (II Peter 1:19). The Day of days, in which Christ is absolute Lord over all, is being created in the Christian personality in the present hour.
Christ not only is our “soon-coming King” He also is our King today. Christ is coming as King over the kings of the earth and Lord over the lords of the earth. He is King of all kings and Lord of all lords and more to the saints as they become willing and able to yield to His unhindered lordship over their lives.
The trumpet of God is sounding in a spiritual sense in the Church of Christ. We must enter eternal judgment now. As the Holy Spirit directs us we must confess and put away all the “graveclothes” of sin that bind us: adultery, lust, covetousness, hatred, idolatry, all occult practices, pride, unbelief, criticizing, evil speaking, self-seeking, and the love of pleasure.
The Holy Spirit is leading us into the fullness of the atonement made by Christ so that we shall be ready for the raising of our body from the dead and the clothing of it with the substance of eternal life.
We must judge ourselves as the Holy Spirit enables us. We must put to death the deeds of the body. We must purify ourselves. We must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. We must wash our robe and make it white in the blood of the Lamb of God.
Now is the time for each member of the Body of Christ to make himself ready for the righteous and holy Lord Jesus, who will descend from Heaven and reveal Himself through His Body, the Church.
There will be no putting on of our house from Heaven if we have not been faithful in confessing our sins and putting them to death by the power of the Holy Spirit. After we are raised spiritually, upon receiving Christ, we commence the process of eternal judgment. When the eternal judgment has been completed, rest in the Presence of God will follow.
The body of eternal life, the body that is being prepared for us in Heaven as we seek and serve the Lord, is an important part of the rest of God. We must learn to walk in the power of resurrection life today and begin to gain victory, as the Holy Spirit leads us, over our sins of deed, word, motive, and imagination. Then we will be ready for the final work of redemption of our personality when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven with His majestic angels.
Take heart, Christian. Christ has come to us through the Spirit, not to oppress us because of our helplessness in the bondages of the sins that bring us down so easily but rather to destroy the evil one who has us in prison. If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit the almighty Christ will deliver us from the tendencies that we thought would be able to rule us as long as we were in a body of flesh and blood.
We owe nothing to our flesh. (Romans 8:12).
Part of the Good News of the Kingdom of God is that Christ has the power to destroy sin out of our life while we yet are in the world. The Savior saves us from our sins not in our sins (Matthew 1:21). The Christian redemption is not designed to prevent our going to Hell but to remove Hell from our personality. Contrary to popular thinking, the Lord Jesus has no intention of bringing into the Paradise of God those who are cherishing the Hell that is in them.
If we are willing to take part in all the provisions of grace that God has given to us, being diligent in the good works that pertain to Christian living and discipleship, the Holy Spirit will complete the work of salvation by enabling us to overcome the bondages of fleshly desire and rebellion that hold our mortal body captive.
Here is the judgment of God on His enemies who have kept us in slavery to sin. We will go free if we confess our sins to Christ and then work with God in resisting them. There is power in Jesus’ name to conquer sin. Try it and see if this is true. We must go through God’s eternal judgment before we are ready for the fullness of our inheritance as sons of God.
In the future the work of judgment will be performed on the ungodly by the saints of the Lord (Daniel 7:22; Psalms 149:6-9). The saints will judge not only the world but also the angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3). According to Daniel, Chapter Seven, Jude 1:14,15, and Revelation 20:4,5, the saints will execute judgment on the world and on the angels at the time of the coming of Christ.
If we are to take part in the work of judging the world and the angels it becomes clear that we ourselves must be judged in advance. The eternal judgment of God must be executed on us before we will be capable of laboring alongside Christ in the work of Divine judgment.
Jesus has said to us, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. With what judgment ye judge, ye will be judged” (Matthew 7:1,2). There is no way of escaping this spiritual law. It still shall be in effect while we are exercising the judgment of Christ during the Day of the Lord.
We shall, in that day, be engaged in judging the people of the world for their adultery, lust, hatred, avarice, pride, unbelief, sorcery, and other sins. We shall be passing the sentence of judgment on those who practice such things and on the unclean spirits who have deceived the nations into behaving wickedly and rebelliously against the will and laws of God.
Every time we exercise judgment the sword of the Word of God will be coming back against us. If we are guilty of the same sin ourselves we will not have the spiritual strength to perform the work of judging human beings and angels (Romans 2:3).
Before we are ready to work with Jesus during the Day of the Lord we must be judged ourselves with great care. Every tendency of imagination, motive, word, and deed must be screened carefully by the Holy Spirit to see if there are areas of our personality that need to be brought to the fire of God. He will “thoroughly purge his floor” (Matthew 3:12).
The Body of Christ is God’s instrument of warfare and of vengeance on the enemy. The Body must be “fireproof.” There must be perfection in every detail so that no accusation of the adversary can bring weakness and confusion during the coming conflict.
It is the Holy Spirit’s task to bring each of us to the place of absolute cleanliness before God Almighty. The Holy Spirit has the authority and power to do this in us. Our task is to follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us in putting to death the deeds of the body.
When resurrection life and eternal judgment have been established in us to the degree the Holy Spirit deems necessary we shall be ready for the resurrection of our body into eternal life and for the terrible onslaught of furious destruction as the Lord Jesus descends from Heaven with His majestic angels to assume command of the earth.
Total destruction of the enemy. In Romans, Chapter Eight Paul shows that even our physical body will be released from the authority, power, and consequences of sin and we and the creation as well shall be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. All the power and results of sin will be destroyed from the personality of the conqueror, from his spirit, his soul, and his body (I John 3:8).
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (Romans 8:12). The Christian cannot be forced to sin even though he still is living in the world. There is power in the salvation of Christ to give us victory over each sin. We have not been called of God to live in disobedience and bondage but in obedience to God and in the conquering of our sinful tendencies. Christ can deliver us.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
If you have received the Spirit of God you have the power of Christ in you to achieve victory over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Christ does not set you free at one stroke from the power of sin but brings you into deliverance little by little.
And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. (Deuteronomy 7:22)
We obtain victory over only one or two problems at a time, ordinarily, because God knows that if He delivered us in an instant from every one of our bondages we could not cope victoriously with the emptiness in our nature (“lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee”). Rather, Christ must grow in the places in our life that have been freed from the enemy so we can profit from our new liberty.
Whenever a person is delivered from a sin or from a physical sickness there must be a corresponding growth of the righteous Nature of Christ in his personality. “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
If we are delivered from bondage, and then do not obtain a portion of Christ, but continue without any increase in the desire and strength to live righteously, we are in a position to be attacked by the enemy. Our last state may prove to be worse than the first (Luke 11:20-26). It is useless and sometimes dangerous to deliver someone from spiritual bondage if he or she is not does not intend to serve the Lord.
Every battle must be waged in God’s time, in God’s way, and in God’s strength, just as was true of Israel entering the land of promise.
Even though God gives us victory “by little and little,” the conquest will end in complete victory for us and complete destruction for the enemy who has had us bound these many years.
But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. (Deuteronomy 7:23)
The bondages that seem to us to be the most powerful, including the power of death over our physical body, and also the evil atmosphere of the planet Earth, shall be broken. Those who have produced these bondages will be delivered over to destruction. Every enemy shall be brought under the feet of the Lord Jesus.
Total destruction is coming to all the works of darkness. Do not become impatient with the careful working out of the bondages of sin and rebellion remaining in your life as the Holy Spirit brings you into further holiness of motive, word, and deed. The Spirit of God has determined to bring you into complete and final victory over sin.
And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:24)
“If ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” We must follow the Spirit into battle against the “deeds of the body” just as Joshua followed the Lord into Canaan.
We cannot hope to accomplish any kind of spiritual deliverance by our own strength and wisdom. Eternal judgment against unclean spirits is God’s responsibility. Only His all-powerful Holy Spirit possesses the wisdom and power to break the bondages that keep our mortal body in the chains of sin and death.
The Holy Spirit of God is bringing us toward the Day when we can be clothed with the fullness of eternal life. The power of sin in our life must first be conquered. As long as the Word of God can find sin and rebellion in us we will not be allowed to go past the fiery sword and partake of the tree of life.
The Holy Spirit is well able, as we cooperate with Him in putting to death the deeds of our body, to free us from the dominion of sin so that we can enter the fullness of incorruptible resurrection life in Christ.
“As many as are led by the Spirit of God [led to put to death the deeds of the body], they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:13,14). The sons of God are moving, in the Spirit of God, toward the first resurrection from the dead. So great will be their victory that the whole creation will be released with them and through them just as the glory and power of the resurrection of Christ spilled over on the sleeping saints (Matthew 27:52).
The sons of God always will be on the move, under the guidance of God’s Spirit, until every one of Christ’s enemies have been crushed under their feet. The army of God will march after its Commander in Chief until all the works of the enemy have been trampled down and destroyed.
First must come the judgment on our sins—putting to death the deeds of the body. Along with this judgment we must share the sufferings of Christ so that our self-centeredness may be replaced by Christ-centeredness. The end result of the judgment and the suffering will be our glorification together with Him.
… if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)
The Word of God Comes to Maturity
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28,29)
Here the Divine purpose is revealed. Here we see the goal that controls and gives significance to the events of world, church, and personal history.
God commenced our salvation on the cross of Calvary. God is guiding every creature, thing, circumstance, and event of His universe. God shall accomplish His stated purpose and goal.
The day will come when each member of the Body of Christ has been changed into the image of God’s only begotten Son. We already have been called. We already have been justified. As far as God’s vision and purpose are concerned, we already have been glorified. The Kingdom, the power, and the glory belong to God.
It is God’s intention that the Church become His eternal Temple, the Divine Counterpart of His Son, an instrument for destroying lawlessness from the creation, and the Christ-filled Servant of the Lord who will bring justice to the nations of the earth. No aspect of this high destiny and inheritance is possible until the Word of God has been brought to maturity in us and we have been changed into the image of Christ and brought into complete union with God through Him.
Pressing toward the “mark.” Paul’s writings reveal that he was not as one “beating the air.” He was running toward a finish line; he was pressing forward toward a specific “mark.”
The concept that there truly is a mark, a point of perfection, a place of maturity, an attainable standard, is very important to the pursuit of the victorious Christian discipleship. A believer who is not convinced that there actually is a place of maturity will not make the effort required to attain it.
Jesus began our redemption with the work of Calvary. Jesus will finish our redemption by bringing forth the perfected members of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;… (Hebrews 12:2)
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
Four times in the Book of Revelation the Lord Jesus Christ refers to Himself as Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End).
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:6)
If there were to be no Omega, no end, the Lord would have said so. If the God of Heaven has left it up to us to attempt to imitate Jesus, knowing that we always will fall short of the mark, understanding that we must be content with the knowledge that we tried to be a good person in the world, the Scriptures would be a book of proverbs.
The Scriptures are a record of what God—not man—has done, is doing, and will yet accomplish. It is not a question of what we are able to do, it is a question of what God has chosen to do.
If there is no “mark” toward which to press, if God has begun so gloriously on Calvary but has left it up to Christians to do the best we can, knowing we are full of sin, rebellion against God, and foolishness, Christ would be presented as the Alpha but never as the Omega.
Alpha and Omega are the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet. The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God having neither beginning nor end as we understand time. Therefore Alpha and Omega refer to the plan of redemption, particularly to the work and enlargement of Christ in the members of His Body, not to the Logos Himself.
Alpha is the specific beginning of our redemption. Omega is the specific completion of our redemption. Is the Lord Jesus Christ the Omega as well as the Alpha? If so, we can expect the fullness of the Divine Glory to be exercised in bringing about the Omega of our redemption just as it was exercised in creating the Alpha.
We are looking toward and pressing toward all that God has spoken in His Word concerning the perfection of the saints and of the Body of Christ.
When God stated “It is done” (Revelation 21:6) He was referring to the new Jerusalem that the Apostle John was beholding in vision. John was not witnessing the incredibly confused pile of dry bones, the ungainly, disjointed, self-seeking, crippled patchwork of man’s striving that today terms itself the Christian churches.
John was seeing the holy city, the unblemished Wife of the Lamb, the unified, mature new Jerusalem. The perfection of the new Jerusalem is the perfection of God Himself. It is the Substance, the Nature, the wisdom of God brought forth in visible form for the nations of the earth to behold. The Wife of the Lamb will judge, rule, heal, and bless the peoples whom God has saved.
Man has been building the church for the past two thousand years. We can study the results and understand what always is brought into being when the wisdom and efforts of human beings are added to the creation of the Lord.
In the last days a nation will be “born at once” (Isaiah 66:8). Man will have come to the end of himself. He will not be able to work because of the exceedingly great spiritual darkness. Then the Lord will work and the perfect, unblemished Church will come forth “at once.”
It is obvious that if there is one imperfect member of the Body of Christ, the Body is imperfect. If there is one Achan in the camp, “Israel hath sinned.” If there is one unclean believer in the Wife of the Lamb, the Wife is impure. If there is one sinner in the new Jerusalem, the city is defiled. God and Christ will not dwell in a defiled city.
God and Christ will not dwell where there is unrighteousness and uncleanness. It is our misunderstanding of Divine grace that leads us to believe that God and Christ will abide permanently in a situation where the only righteousness is that which has been imputed (ascribed) by God’s love. Imputed righteousness is a temporary state that is intended to lead the believer to the desired condition of actual righteousness and holiness of behavior.
Imputed righteousness, the gift of God through the blood of the cross, serves until the Word of God comes to maturity in our personality. God is looking for mature fruit—the fruit of the moral image of His Son in us. If any person is dwelling in Christ and Christ in him, a new creation is coming into view. The new creation cannot sin because it has been born of God.
It is important to our destiny in Christ that we pursue through the Holy Spirit the life of victory in Christ until we arrive at the “mark,” the “Omega” of redemption, the fullness of the righteousness and blessing of the new covenant. The Omega of redemption is the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” created in our personality.
Two scriptural representations of the fullness of the image of Christ are as follows: (1) the Ark of the Covenant of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; and (2) the four faces of the Cherubim of Glory.
- The Ark of the Covenant.
- The four faces of the Cherubim of Glory.
The Ark of the Covenant.
And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (Exodus 25:10)
The Ark of the Covenant was constructed from the hard, thorny acacia wood found in the wilderness. It was covered within and overlaid with pure gold. The Ark typifies the Lord Jesus Christ who is “very God of very God and very man of very man.” Because the Ark typifies the Lord Jesus it typifies also each son of God who has been changed into the image of Jesus.
In order to be changed into the image of Jesus we must become “wood of His Wood” and “gold of His Gold.” It is not possible for corrupt man to imitate God except in an elementary, crude, and partial sense. The only manner in which the “Omega,” the “maturity” of Christ can be fulfilled in us is by our partaking of Christ. It must be His Substance and Nature in us or we will come short of the Glory of God.
The Ark of the Covenant contained three items: (1) the golden pot of manna; (2) Aaron’s rod that budded; and (3) the two stone slabs inscribed with the Ten Commandments (Hebrews 9:4).
These three items represent the Character of Christ, the character that will be ours when the Word of God has been brought to maturity in us.
The jar of manna (Exodus 16:33) held a portion of the manna that had come down from God to feed His people from the time that they left the leeks and garlic of Egypt until they had access to the corn of Canaan.
The manna is the portion of Christ that is fed to us each day of our Christian pilgrimage. We have enough grace for one day, enough to overcome the evil of that day.
Our desire for security, to be hedged about with material goods, resists the concept of the manna. We do not want to trust the invisible God to feed us as He does the sparrows or to clothe us as He does the lilies. We seek after riches so we will not have to trust God tomorrow for our food and shelter. The accumulation of money is a substitute for trust in God.
God’s way is to lead us carefully and slowly through the wilderness of testing. Every son of God must be tried in the same manner in which Jesus was tried. One of the trials concerns trusting God and thanking Him for the provision for the moment.
The believer in Christ who finds it difficult to trust God for his needs will miss the will of God. He will occupy his days attempting to “build bigger and better barns.” The mature son of God is learning to trust his Father in Heaven for all that is required at any given moment.
God humbles us by “feeding us with manna.” He is teaching us not to lean on our own resources or money, our strength, our wisdom or even our own faith, but to depend on His riches, His strength, His wisdom, His faithfulness.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)
One of the temptations that faces every son of God is that of turning stone into bread. If we have supernatural power, if we have in our mouth the creative power of the word of faith, why don’t we use our faith to obtain food, shelter, and the other necessities of life?
It is not God’s will that we use our God-given abilities to lay up for ourselves treasures on the earth or even to provide our needs—except as He directs. Rather, it is His will that we look to Him in every situation so that He may give us what He knows to be best for us.
On some occasions God may allow us to go hungry for a season—and not only for food! God is teaching us to be content with what He provides day by day. The son of God lives, not by resources that he stores up against an unknown future but by the ever-present Word of God that always is directed toward his preservation and blessing.
When the lesson of the manna has been mastered, when our fear that God will forsake us in our hour of need has been overcome, then we live in dependence on the Lord for every aspect of our existence—great and small. We trust in God for the satisfying of every need, and God does supply all our needs through His riches in glory by Christ.
Furthermore, as we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord He gives us the desires of our heart.
God satisfies our needs and desires in His time, in His manner, as He will.
The Christian in whom the Word of God has come to maturity is joyful in the knowledge that each day is the day that the Lord has made and that He who clothes the flower of the field and feeds the sparrow in the tree surely shall supply the needs of His own children.
The Ark of the Covenant contained also Aaron’s rod that budded. Aaron’s rod that budded speaks of the eternal priesthood, of those whom God has chosen, of learning to rest in the flow of the power of incorruptible, resurrection life.
Aaron’s rod has to do with presumption, with the temptation of the pinnacle of the Temple, with the “high hills jumping” (Psalms 68:16), with submission to the government of God. (Remember Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!)
We learn submission, to be a servant, through the cross of Christ. Aaron’s rod was a forerunner of the cross. When the Word of God has come to maturity in us the cross can be seen in us. No son of God will be allowed to rule with Christ until the question of presumption, of self-will, has been settled for eternity.
No human being is eligible to become a living stone in the Temple of God and of Christ until self-will, self-love, self-seeking, presumption, have been crucified in him.
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with many others of the leaders of Israel, exemplify the danger of maintaining an attitude of self-seeking while following the cloud and the fire.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and on, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: (Numbers 16:1,2)
Why did these nobles rise in rebellion against Moses and Aaron?
They rose against Moses and Aaron as did the Pharisees against Jesus because of religious envy. They wanted to be important in the work of God.
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? (Numbers 16:3)
The rebels cared nothing about the congregation of the Lord. Like the priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ day they desired to be prominent, to govern the Lord’s people according to their own wishes.
God’s answer to their “concern” for the Lord’s people was to bury them alive.
God then directed Moses to take twelve rods, one for each of the tribes of Israel, and to write the name of the chief man of the tribe on the rod to stand for his tribe. Aaron’s name was written on the rod of Levi (Numbers 17:1-3).
Then the twelve rods were placed before the Lord in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The next day, Moses went into the Tabernacle. None of the rods was changed except the rod of Levi, the rod on which Aaron’s name had been written. Aaron’s rod had brought forth buds, blossoms, and almonds.
Aaron’s rod was kept in the Ark of the Covenant as a “token against the rebels” (Numbers 17:10). So there must be created in the Christian’s heart an eternal insurance against rebellion, against disobedience to the Father’s will.
The first sin was that of discontent. Satan and the angels that followed him left their appointed places of authority and responsibility. Divine resurrection Life is given only to those who find contentment in doing the Father’s will with a joyful heart.
Our Lord Jesus Christ rules the creation of God by the power of endless, incorruptible, resurrection life. This life flows from the cross of self-denial.
He who would rule with Christ must go the way of the cross. It is only as we are brought low continually that we can be trusted with the power and Glory of God.
We human beings by nature are rebellious and self-seeking. The cross of patience, of self-denial, of frustration, of pain, of delay teaches us to wait for the flowings of the Godhead.
It is impossible for us to abide in Christ and Christ in us until the desire to be preeminent has been crucified in us. It is only as we suffer that we can be trusted to reign.
When the Word of God has come to maturity in us we are submissive to the government of God. We do not jump off the pinnacle of delay and frustration. We wait for God. We do not put God to the test. We do not “step out in faith,” or “speak the word of faith,” except as our Lord Jesus Christ directs us to do so.
Those who today are stressing that by faith we can have what we want now, are of the False Prophet.
We do not seek to be prominent or successful. We seek to wait on the Lord’s will. We take up our cross and follow Christ. We do not attempt to lead Christ. We follow Him in all meekness and submission, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
The Ark of the Covenant, which typifies Christ and those who are in the image of Christ, contained the golden pot of manna and also Aaron’s rod. In addition, the two tables of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments were located in the Ark.
The Ten Commandments are an expression of the eternal moral law. They are ten judgments against the demon gods of the world. As the jar of manna corresponds to our learning to trust God each day for our needs, and Aaron’s rod corresponds to our learning to be content in the incorruptible life of the eternal priesthood, so the Ten Commandments correspond to the need for holiness on the part of the servants of God.
It may be noted that the three items in the Ark conform to the three temptations of Christ. The jar of manna refers to the invitation to turn the stone into bread. Aaron’s rod refers to the test of the pinnacle, that is, of presumption. The Ten Commandments refer to the invitation to worship Satan, to live in uncleanness while we “enjoy” the filth of the world.
Violation of the eternal moral law of God takes place whenever we choose to worship Satan. The mature son of God is not a worshiper of Satan.
On many occasions the Scriptures refer to the Ten Commandments as the Testimony. The Ark of the Covenant was termed the Ark of the Testimony because the Ten Commandments were the covenant and the testimony. The Ten Commandments were God’s covenant with His chosen people and the testimony of His moral Character.
So it is today. The new covenant is the writing of the law of God in the heart and in the mind of the believer. The Substance of that writing is the body and blood of the Lord Jesus.
There is no testimony of God apart from righteousness and holiness of personality and behavior. There is much Christian ministry in the world today but not nearly enough testimony.
To come to maturity in Christ means to come to maturity in the ability to judge between good and evil, and consistently to choose the good and reject the evil.
The Ark of the Covenant, a major type of Christ and also of the believer who is changed into the image of Christ, is the expression of God’s eternal moral law. The moral law reflects the righteousness and holiness of God. The moral law is the testimony, the covenant.
When the Word of God comes to maturity in us, the holy and righteous Personality and behavior of Christ have come to maturity in us. We then are willing to walk each day in humble dependence on the provision of the Lord.
We do not strive for preeminence, particularly spiritual preeminence. The lust for spiritual preeminence, including its handmaiden, envy, is “the city… where also our Lord was crucified” (Revelation 11:8). It is spiritual pride.
The Ark of the Covenant is one scriptural type of the fullness of the image of Christ.
Another important type of Christ, which we shall understand and experience when the Word of God has come to full growth in us, is the four faces of the Cherubim of Glory.
As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)
And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. (Revelation 4:7)
The four faces of the cherubim reveal the four dimensions of the Glory of God.
The face of a man. Man is the personal, intelligent image of God. Man has the power of judgment so that he can be prepared to rule the works of God’s hands. Man has the capacity for union with God through Christ.
God’s visible Form, as demonstrated in Christ, is that of a man.
Man reflects the part of God’s personality that has to do with moral responsibility. In order to be acceptable to God as a room in God’s eternal house, the questions of holiness (purity), righteousness (equity), and obedience to the Father’s will must be settled absolutely.
There can be no sin in the image of Christ. Sin destroys the harmony and peace that exist in the Godhead.
The quality of maleness in mankind reveals the ruling Character of God. The quality of femaleness in mankind reveals the fruitfulness and beauty of God’s Being.
Satan is attempting to destroy the quality of maleness so that man cannot rule, and the quality of femaleness so that man cannot be fruitful. We have the effeminate man and the mannish woman—the distortions of the image of God Almighty.
We are related to God as His sons and to Christ as His brothers and His Body. These three relationships are possible only as we are in the personal, moral, intelligent image of God.
As Eve was Adam’s complement, being formed from him and in his image, so the Bride of the Lamb is the Lamb’s complement, being formed from His body and blood and in His image.
The love of Christ for His Bride, His counterpart, His complement, the “helper suited to him,” is beyond our comprehension.
The maturing of the Word of God in our personality defines and enhances the uniqueness of our personality while blending our personality with that of the Lord Jesus.
The face of a lion. When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, God gives us the authority to be a child of God (John 1:12).
It is not that we become a mature son of God upon professing Christ; rather, we are given the authority to belong to God and the tools to work toward maturity of personality and toward total union with God through Christ.
Whether we finally become a son of God depends on our success in overcoming, in conquering throughout the many testings in which we are examined by the Spirit of God.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
Weakness and timidity may not seem to us to be great sins, but there is no place for weakness and timidity in God’s sons whom God is making heirs of His Kingdom.
Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The sons of God are the sons of the greatest King of all and they are to conduct themselves as kings. God, their Father, will make certain they are trained carefully and diligently in all the areas of wisdom and conflict that will be necessary for their success when they sit on the thrones of their kingdoms.
Many cunning and fierce enemies will come against them during the years of their preparation. Only those who conquer in all arenas of testing will inherit the fullness of the Kingdom of God and will have the fullest understanding of God as their Father.
The lion symbolizes the majesty, courage, and strength of the conquering saints, the sons of the Emperor of Heaven. As the Word of God comes to maturity in us we conquer the forces that would prevent us from entering our inheritance as a son of God.
The face of an ox. The ox is the servant, the burden bearer. Christ emptied Himself of His Divine prerogatives and adopted the form of a servant. Paul spoke of himself as the bondslave of Christ.
Many Christian people today are unwilling to become the Lord’s ox, His slave. They are not ready to become “a worm and no man.” They are proud, arrogant, not having learned that God Himself is a bearer of burdens.
Lowliness is part of the image of God, of Christ. The believer who is willing to take Christ’s yoke on him will find rest for his soul and the knowledge of the Father.
Every Christian is given a cross. As we bear our cross patiently, weight is added to the cross. As the Word of God is coming to maturity in us we are gaining the patience of Christ, the strength of Christ. We plod forward each day bearing, as did Paul, our part of the sufferings of Christ. The weight of the problems of the Body of Christ presses on our personality as Christ directs.
We keep moving forward, knowing that one day the Lord Himself will remove the load from us. The cross, the hot mold into which we were pressed continually, will be lifted from us. The lowliness, strength, patience, and willingness to serve will be a part of our image for eternity. It is the image of God.
After the oxen had done Elisha’s work he killed them and gave them to the people to eat.
And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him. (I Kings 19:21)
After the Apostle Paul had done the work of the Gospel he was poured out as a drink offering.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (II Timothy 4:6)
Every victorious saint bears the mark of God’s ox in him. He is ready to serve with all his strength, and then to be presented as an offering to God so that the people may eat.
The face of an eagle. The physical body of man was fashioned from the red clay of the earth. Man also is a spirit. God is a Spirit. The sons of God are spirits.
Scientists speculate that man is the descendant of an ape. Man never was an ape. Man has the body of an animal as to physiological parts. Man has in addition a spiritual nature that no ape possesses. Human beings are not merely a superior level of animal development.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God their spiritual personality died: that is, it was separated from God’s Holy Spirit. Adam and Eve returned to work the soil as intelligent animals, their contact with the Lord, their spiritual life, having been removed from them.
Man indeed is in the form of God and possesses the moral responsibility and beauty of God. Man contains also in himself the competitive, fierce disposition of the lion—that which seeks to dominate its environment and permits no competitors.
Proud man can be taught to obey God, to be a servant.
When the Word of God comes to maturity in us the Life of God will be revealed in us, that imperishable Life having neither beginning nor end by which Melchizedek serves as the priest of God.
The Life of God causes us to mount up with wings so we can run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.
Man was not created so that he would spend his days grubbing in the red clay from which his body was fashioned. His destiny is to soar among the stars as does His Father. The eagle soars through the sky in its wild, free manner. In the Father’s time we too shall soar through the heavens in our own fierce exulting, just as our Father has His way in the storm. This too is the image of God.
Maturity in Christ.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, … (II Corinthians 5:17,18)
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13)
There is an end in sight. There is a place of maturity in Christ. The image of Christ is attainable through the grace of God. We do have a mark toward which to press (Philippians 3:14).
The power of God working through Christ will bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). We are to be brought to maturity in our character, in our relationship to God, and in our outward appearance.
The image of Christ is being created now in our inner being, transforming our character. We are being fashioned into the Temple of God so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God, this being our eternal relationship to God. At His appearing we shall change to a glorified human form—clothed with eternal resurrection life exactly as He is (Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2).
There are many passages in both the Old and New Testaments that have to do with the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our participation in His image was announced at the beginning:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26,27)
The word “them” used in both of the verses above refers to “male and female.” First it says, “him,” and then, “them.” “Him,” and “them.” The play on the singular and plural is important. It refers on the surface to Adam and Eve.
Christ—and only Christ—is the image of God. Christ is the eternal “Him.” There is no other image of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God who has been with God and has been God from the beginning. Christ was not created in God’s image in the garden of Eden as were Adam and Eve.
But, as is true so often, the natural, human events described in the Scriptures have a spiritual, eternal application—an application that always is directed toward Christ and those who are His.
We understand from both the Old and New Testament writings, particularly the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews, that the glory and dominion assigned to mankind are reserved for Christ and His brothers.
After thinking about what the Scripture states concerning the Lamb and His Wife we could never agree that dominion over the works of God’s hands has been assigned to Adam and Eve and to their natural descendants, except in a limited sphere.
The Seed, the Son of God, to whom the Divine promises have been given, is always singular—always Christ. Christ is the eternal “Him.” The “them” refers to the Lamb and His Wife. To “them” has been assigned dominion over the heavens and the earth.
In order for the image and likeness to be complete as God intends, there must be male and female—Christ and His Body.
The New Testament teaches that we are to be created in the image of Christ. Also, there are Scripture references concerning the building of Zion, the Temple of God.
It is the will of the Father that every person who believes in His Son be transformed in character in accordance with the Character of Christ, and that the believer rule his affairs in obedience to Christ and in righteousness.
Also, it is the good pleasure of the Father that every person who believes in His Son come to the place of transformation of his personality and his behavior to the extent that he can receive the fullness of the Father and the fullness of the Son through the Holy Spirit.
The Father, God Almighty, has ordained further that every person who receives His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and who remains faithful throughout his pilgrimage on the earth, be clothed with a surpassingly glorious body of eternal life so that he may live and move and have his being in the manner appropriate to a king and priest of the most high God.
It is the Father’s joy to bring each of His sons to maturity after this fashion. He will do so provided we take up our cross and follow Christ daily with a pure heart. If we fail it will be because we refused to keep our faith and trust in Jesus. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be His God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7).
The Holy Spirit is seeking out the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb—those who will be a “kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). The sending forth of Eliezer of Damascus after a bride for Isaac (Genesis, Chapter 24) is an Old Testament illustration of the Father sending the Holy Spirit in order to obtain the Bride of the Lamb.
Whoever hears the voice of the Holy Spirit will, if he is wise, spend the remainder of his days following the Holy Spirit toward Christ.
Whoever chooses to do so may answer the call of the heavenly Bridegroom and reach for the Divine inheritance. He or she will be required to fight (Song of Solomon 5:6,7). The fullness of the inheritance of a son of God cannot be acquired easily and readily. There will be resistance—this is the reason for the term overcome. The first part of the city of Jerusalem (speaking spiritually) that must be taken from the enemy is Mount Zion. Mount Zion is a stronghold (II Samuel 5:6-10).
Notice that the new Jerusalem itself is the Temple of God:
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (Revelation 21:22)
The splendor of God’s holy Presence fills the city. There is no need for a separate temple by which to conceal the Glory of His Presence from His servants, because each of them has been made holy and wholly fit to behold His Face.
Jerusalem is destined to become the Throne of God, to become “Heaven.”
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)
The new Jerusalem itself is the tabernacle of God. It is constructed from living stones, each of whom has been fashioned separately and uniquely into the image of Christ; each of whom is of the Substance of Christ through partaking of the Divine Nature (II Peter 1:4; John 6:57; I John 3:9; Hebrews 2:11; John 17:22).
We do not mean to imply that there is not an actual city in which the saints will dwell and into which the nations of the saved may enter. The Scriptures state that there is.
However, the city itself reflects the virtues of character that have been created in the saints during their discipleship on the earth. These virtues are expressed in the precious stones that embellish the twelve foundations of the wall (I Corinthians 3:12).
When the Word of God comes to maturity in us we will be a suitable temple for God and Christ (John 14:23; Ephesians 2:21,22; 3:16-19). When the Father is satisfied with the work that has been done in us, we having been properly cut, seasoned, formed, finished, and polished, He then will put us into our place in the corporate Temple of God, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Body of Christ.
We have stated that the mature Word of God is the image of Christ created in us, and that the image of Christ consists of the Character of Christ, the indwelling of the fullness of God, and a body fashioned from eternal resurrection life.
The maturing of the Character of Christ in us, and the indwelling of the Father and the Son, require that our body be brought into the state of eternal life. New wine must be put in new bottles. It is not surprising that the Apostle Paul groaned for his house from Heaven (II Corinthians 5:4)!
The body of the believer is the Temple of God.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. (I Corinthians 6:15)
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Corinthians 6:19)
The galactic Christ. The mature development of Christ, the Anointed Deliverer, the eternal Temple of God, is expressed in Ephesians 4:13:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
It is God’s desire that each member of the Body of Christ come to full stature, as indicated in the above verse. When each person has been made ready he will be fitted into the whole so that the Body becomes the conquering Christ—the one Seed of Abraham (John 17:21-23; I Corinthians 12:12).
The pattern of the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus 25:8,9) portrays Christ as the Son of God, galactic in size, authority, and power, and complete in Divine Substance and Life.
The Head—Christ—is the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10).
The Mercy Seat, with the overshadowing cherubim, is the Glory of the Godhead that rests on Christ.
The Holy Place portrays the Body of Christ, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). The Courtyard represents His Kingdom.
The mouth of Christ is the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1), continually giving worship and praise and making intercession and supplication to the Father in Heaven.
In the right hand of Christ is the golden Lampstand, the manifestation in revelation and power of the seven Spirits that abide before the Throne of God (Revelation 1:4).
In the left hand of Christ is the Table of Showbread, the body and blood of Christ—the tree of life bearing fruit for food, and leaves for the healing of the nations (Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2).
The loins of Christ are the Laver (Exodus 30:18), declaring that the Divine fruitfulness and strength rise from purity; that Christ—Head and Body—is cleansed and ready for ministry to God Almighty.
The feet of the Anointed Deliverer are encased in the Bronze Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 27:1) representing the authority and power of the cross. The blood of the cross brings peace to all who obey the Gospel, and fierce judgment on all who sin—both human beings and angels (Revelation 1:15).
This colossal Head and Body is Christ, the holy Anointed Deliverer who will crush all His enemies under His feet and rule in God forever, bringing righteousness, peace, and joy through the Holy Spirit to the whole creation.
Here is the living Word of God brought to flawless maturity. Here is the eternal Temple of God, the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah, Chapter 42).
Christ Is the Resurrection. Christ Is eternal resurrection Life and every righteous, holy, and worthy thing associated with life. He Is the opposite of death and of every other abominable condition associated with sin, rebellion, and death. We have been called to be part of Him for eternity.
(“The Deeds of the Body Are Put to Death”, 4041-1)