Life on the Highest Plane
Vol. 1: The Person and Work of Christ
Satan and God in Conflict
That evil exists in this world no one could deny. Evil forces are at work in countless ways and through manifold channels. An evil power operates everywhere working intelligently for the degeneration of mankind and for the defeat of God. There is in the world an aggressive opposition to God and to God's purpose.
Power is the product of personality, therefore the acknowledgment of the presence of power necessitates the recognition of the presence of a personality originating and directing it.
Nowhere in the Bible is evil treated as a mere abstraction. A lie is the spoken language of a liar.
Acts 5:3, "But Peter said, Ananias, Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land."
A murder is the actualized desire of a murderer.
1 John 3:12, "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother."
Ananias was the mouthpiece and Cain was the tool of another. Behind the human personality was a supernatural personality. Their evil was the revealed power of a concealed person.
The Bible tells us that such an evil one exists. Christ is the authority for the statement that there is an evil one and that he is the devil.
Matthew 13:19, R.V., "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart.&s heart."
Matthew 13:39, "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."
Good forces are at work also. A good power operates everywhere intelligently for the regeneration of mankind and for the exaltation of God. There is in the world an aggressive opposition to Satan and to Satan's purpose.
Nowhere in the Bible is good spoken of as a mere abstraction. It is invariably the product of personality. Christ is the authority for the statement that there is a good one and that He is God.
Matthew 13:24, "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field."
Matthew 13:37, "He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man."
the Good One. Scripture sets Satan forth as the greatest enemy of both God and man. This is clearly seen in the names and titles given him.
He is called "Satan," which means opponent or adversary. This title is used of him fifty-six times and invariably reveals him as the opponent of God and the adversary of man.
He is called "the devil," which means slanderer or accuser. This title occurs thirty-five times in the Bible and shows him to be the slanderer of God and the accuser of man.
The devil slanders God to man (Genesis 3:1-7) and man to God (Job 1:9-12; 2:1-7).
He is called "the wicked one."
He is not only the personification of evil, "the wicked one," but he is the source of evil in others.
The devil is a liar and cannot speak the truth. He is a murderer and bent on the ruin and destruction of men. He was the first sinner; therefore he is the forefather of sinners.
He is called "the tempter." He tempted the Son of man and he tempts all men.
He is called "the deceiver." He deceives both individuals and nations. He began his wicked work in Eden by deceiving Eve.
On the threshold of divine revelation we read the prophecy of a conflict between Satan and God and every page from that on is but an unfolding of its progress toward its divinely appointed end, the ultimate and absolute defeat of Satan, the eternal and perfect victory of God.
THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE CONFLICT
That a good God created everything good is a logical supposition as the character of God must be expressed in His works. But when God says that every creation of His was "very good," then the statement is lifted out of the realm of supposition into that of fact.
God, then, did not create evil nor did He create the evil one as the evil one. From whence then did evil come? How did "the anointed cherub" become the "devil," "the wicked one," "the tempter," "the deceiver"? How did the beautiful archangel who held the highest rank in heaven become the diabolical traitor who will be cast into the depths of hell? How did he who "abode in the truth" become an apostate and "the father of lies"?
We have seen already that it was because he said,
Every word of this defiant, presumptuous declaration is the very breath of treason and anarchy. Lucifer is unwilling longer to be a subject in and a prince over the world; he is determined not to be a subordinate but a sovereign.
God could brook no such independence of action; He could countenance no such effrontery to His sovereignty over the universe or His moral government of created beings. Such treason brought Satan and God into deadly conflict.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE CONFLICT
The die had been cast. Satan was henceforth to contest with God the possession of the earth and all therein; to set himself up as a rival claimant to the world's sovereignty and to man's worship. He would establish a kingdom of his own. God, for a purpose which we shall understand as we proceed with the unfolding of His wondrous plan of redemption, permitted Satan to go forward with his evil designs.
By His creatorship God is the rightful Lord for all things were created by Him and for Him. God has never given away to any created being, angelic or human, any part of His universe. He holds the possession of the whole universe in perpetuity.
The Kingdom of God is the central government, the only government recognized by God and the spiritual hosts of heaven and earth. It is composed of all moral intelligences, angelic or human, celestial or earthly, of all centuries and all climes, who willingly place themselves within the circle of the divine will and who of their own free choice acknowledge and accept God as their Sovereign. The Kingdom of God embraces the entire universe over which God is enthroned as the absolute Sovereign.
The Lord Jesus teaches that there is such a Kingdom of God an FACE="Verdana,Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif" SIZE="-1">
Luke 13:28-29, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."
John 3:5, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
God states with clearness the essential credentials for entrance into His kingdom.
James 2:5, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
However unthinkable it may seem there is also in God's universe a kingdom of Satan. The Lord Jesus teaches that there is such a kingdom. On one occasion when casting out a demon some of the people charged Him with casting out demons through Beelzebub the chief of demons. Jesus made the following reply in which He brought the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God into sharpest contrast.
Luke 11:17-20, "But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you."
God acknowledges that Satan did set up a kingdom and that he sits on a throne of his own making.
Revelation 2:13, R.V., "I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan's throne is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth."
Christ never acknowledged Satan to be king but three times He did call him "the prince of this world."
John 12:31, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out."
God also acknowledges the worship Satan has succeeded in obtaining for He calls him "the god of this world."
2 Corinthians 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."
There is still another title given him in Scripture which shows that Satan not only obtained and exercises great power on earth among men but that he carried his rebellion against God even into Heaven and secured a following among the angelic host.
Ephesians 2:2, "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
Ephesians 6:12, R.V., "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
It is evident, then, that through Satan's treason and Adam's disobedience Satan gained a temporary conquest of the earth, which became a revolted province in God's universe. Satan is a sovereign over a rebel government; it is a gov ernment against government. It is composed of all moral intelligences, angelic or human, celestial or earthly, of all centuries and of all climes, who are without the circle of the divine will and who continue to be subjects of Satan. The kingdom of Satan embraces the whole world of man-kind that is without the Lord Jesus Christ.
In a recent number of the National Geographic Magazine there is a remarkable picture. It was a view taken from a hydroplane at an elevation of five thousand feet of two rivers, the Negro and the Amazon, meeting and mingling. The picture reveals two distinct streams, each identified by its colour. The waters of the Negro are black, those of the Amazon yellow, and even at the place where they meet the sharp colour line of distinction can be seen.
One looking down upon humanity from the viewpoint of the heavenlies can see in this world two distinct streams of life, the natural and the spiritual, each easily identified by it's colour. The waters of the natural are black, those of the spiritual yellow, and even at the place where they meet and mingle whether in business, in society or in the home, the sharp colour line of distinction may be seen.
The Negro and the Amazon have different sources and each partakes all through its course of the colour of the water at the fountainhead. The natural and the spiritual in human life come from two distinct sources and each partakes all through its course of the quality of life at its fountainhead.
There are two spheres into which all humanity is divided; the one is the sphere of sin and the other is the sphere of righteousness. These two spheres are identified by three outstanding characteristics: the sphere of sin by darkness, death and disorder; the sphere of righteousness by light, life and liberty. Satan is the sovereign in the sphere of sin and Christ is the Sovereign in the sphere of righteousness.
That there are these two spheres of life and that Christ Jesus died and rose again to bring men out of the one into the other is declared in many passages of Scripture. We shall study only three passages. In Paul's defence before Agrippa he states his God-given commission as a minister and a missionary to the Gentiles. God told Paul exactly what He expected him to do.
Acts 26:17-18, "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."
Those to whom Paul preached were blinded, befogged, bound men and he was sent that they might be enlightened and emancipated. They were to be turned from something to Something, they were to be turned from some one to Some One.
Colossians 1:13, R.V., "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love."
The believer has been rescued from Satan's dominion and removed into God's Kingdom.
Ephesians 5:8, R.V., "For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light."
There are these two sharply contrasted and distinctly marked spheres in which men live and each reader this moment is in one or the other of these spheres.
With the defection of Adam Satan thought he had won the first step in God's defeat and dethronement. A terrible conflict began. God did not minimize its sinister seriousness but on the very threshold of the conflict He triumphantly claimed victory over his enemy.
Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
This prophecy-promise contains God's declaration of war. A battle is to be fought to a finish between two seeds. The issue at stake is the sovereignty of God. The immediate object in the conflict is the redemption and reconciliation of the human race ruined through sin. The ultimate object is the restoration to God of undivided sovereignty over all His universe; in other words the rule of the Kingdom of God.
Enmity is to exist between two seeds the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Satan's seed traced through Scripture is the Antichrist; the woman's seed is the Christ. Toward these two persons pitted against each other in a final conflict all Scripture prophecy converges.
Satan knows that Jesus Christ is "the seed of the woman." It is He whom the devil hates. Ever since this first Messianic prophecy was uttered in Eden Satan's virulent attacks have been against the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. From the moment God said "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" until Christ, the Saviour, fulfilling that prophecy on Calvary cried, "It is finished," Satan waged incessant warfare against the Person of the Lord Jesus.
Old Testament history unfolds to view repeated at-tempts to destroy the line through which "the woman's seed" would come, thus preventing the incarnation. These being brought to nought by God's protecting intervention, he then sought to kill the Christ Child at birth. Failing in this he tried to thwart the fulfilment of God's eternal purpose in His Son by tempting the Lord Jesus in the wilderness to declare His independence of God. Defeated in his direct appeal he used indirect means to keep Him from the Cross of Calvary. He used both Christ's enemies and His friends as his tools. He instigated His enemies to kill Him and repeated attempts were made upon His life. He used His friends to dissuade Him from the voluntary sacrifice of Himself as the world's Saviour. His defeat in all these varied attempts maddened him into an attack upon the spirit, soul and body of the Son of Man in Gethsemane, his last futile effort to blockade the way to Calvary. Jesus Christ went to the Cross, He died and rose from the tomb: the seed of the woman bruised the serpent's head.
Failing to hurt the Person of the Lord Jesus Satan has been occupied through the past nineteen centuries with attempts to nullify His work. He has done this by deceiving men and blinding their minds thus leading them to disbelieve and deny the truth of the Gospel. By so doing he hopes to delay the final fulfilment of the prophecy regarding his own utter defeat.
From the moment of the pronouncement of this prophecy- promise God has made steady progress in its fulfilment. In the garden of Eden it was announced; in the manger cradle at Bethlehem it was actualized; on the Cross of Calvary it was accomplished; and on Mount Olivet it will be attested.
The kingdom belongs to God. Satan maintains his claim only as a traitor and an usurper. Christ came, lived, died, rose, ascended into Heaven and will come again that He may sit upon His throne and reign (Acts 2:30) until every foe is conquered (Acts 2:35) and all is put again under the divine sovereignty of the triune God (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).
In Eden the final fate of Satan is clearly announced. "It shall bruise thy head." It is to be a fatal stroke which effects his ultimate defeat, dethronement and destruction. The doom pronounced upon the devil in Genesis 3:14-15 is an eternal doom: the end for him is eternal torment in the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
In the manger cradle of Bethlehem the final fate of Satan is actualized. The incarnation of the Lord of Heaven means the beginning of the end for Satan, and he knows it. That is why he fought the birth of the Christ-child and why he now denies the God-breathed truth of the Virgin Birth. His destruction was actualized when God-manifest-in-Christ entered openly and aggressively into the field of operation to lead His forces on to victory.
On the Cross of Calvary the final fate of Satan was accomplished. There his doom was sealed. God's eternal purpose in Christ's Saviourhood was realized. Henceforth Heaven looks upon the devil as a defeated foe. Christ in anticipating His death upon the Cross regarded it as the time and place of the devil's defeat for He said, "Now shall the prince of the world be cast out" (John 12:31).
But not until on the Mount of Olivet the Lord Jesus Christ comes from Heaven in all His majesty and glory will the final fate of Satan be attested. The sentence pronounced upon him in Eden will then be executed. Through God's permission the traitor-prince still rules the kingdom of Satan but when God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus is carried out fully then God's judgment upon Satan will be executed finally.
Subjects in the Two Kingdoms
From the moment Satan set up a kingdom of his own he has been busy recruiting subjects and mobilizing his forces for warfare. Today he has a multitudinous Satanic host in the aerial heavens, on earth and in the underworld.
Scripture speaks of "the devil and his angels." It tells us there are angels that sinned.
Matthew 25:41, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Jude 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."
As "prince of the power of the air" and "prince of demons" Satan rules a vast host of spirit beings in the aerial heavens. The "demons" or "evil spirits" who are employed in Satan's service are probably those who were under his rule when he was "the anointed cherub" and who followed him in his rebellion against God. The heavenlies swarm with these spiritual hosts of wickedness which are united in a most complete organization consisting of principalities and powers over which are intelligent world-rulers. The headquarters of this vast organization, Satan's seat, (Revelation 2:13) is above the earth and the sphere of activity of this Satanic host is on the earth and in the atmosphere that envelops it.
Matthew 8:16, R.V., "And when even was come, they brought unto him many possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick."
Ephesians 6:12, R.V., "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Satan is also ruler over a Satanic order on earth. He is called "the prince of this world." The posterity of Satan's seed is found not only among angels and demons but among men. The seed of the serpent can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. They are men and women who choose to live in self-will rather than in God's will, who refuse God's sovereignty over their lives, who in pride and self-righteousness reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Cain is the first one mentioned as the seed of the serpent.
1 John 3:12, "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."
The Lord Jesus recognized the serpent's brood in the self-loving, self-willed, Christ- hating, Christ-rejecting Pharisees of His day and did not hesitate to call them by their rightful names.
Matthew 23:33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
On another occasion in speaking to those who rejected Him, He disclosed their spiritual ancestry, the devil, and said they were subjects in His service. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."
At still another time Jesus called the unsaved among men "the children of the wicked one." He had told them the parable of the tares and the wheat and they asked for an explanation.
Matthew 13:38, "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one."
God has a multitudinous host in Heaven, in paradise and on earth who are His subjects. The seed of God can be traced from Genesis to Revelation and includes all those who from the beginning of human history have been rescued from Satan's kingdom and removed into God's through faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Son. Abel was the first of the heroes of the faith.
Hebrews 11:4, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh."
All down through the centuries men continued to offer those "more excellent sacrifices" which required the shedding of blood, thus expressing their need of and faith in the Saviour who was to come.
Then the Saviour came and made one sacrifice for sins through the shedding of His own blood. Since then through the preaching of the Gospel multitudes from out of all nations and peoples of the earth have renounced their citizenship in the kingdom of Satan and have become subjects in the Kingdom of God.
Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Added to these vast multitudes of God's subjects on earth are the innumerable hosts of angels in Heaven whose delight is in unceasing worship of the Lamb that was slain.
Revelation 5:11-12, "And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
Satan has a purpose, a project and a program. His purpose is to "be like the Most High," his project is to set up a kingdom in opposition to the Kingdom of God, his program is to better the condition of the world and the circumstances of humanity so that men will be satisfied to remain his subjects and will have no desire for the Kingdom of God.
Satan has been represented in much of the literature of the world as the fiend of hell. He has been caricatured as a heinous creature with horns and hoofs, revelling in all that was cruel, vicious and unclean. But he is the exact opposite of all this. He never wanted to be the god of hell but the God of Heaven. It was God's judgment upon his sin that made him king of the bottomless pit. He is the inspirer and instigator of the very highest standards of the God-less, self-made world of mankind. His purpose was and still is to be and to do without God what God is and does. Let us ever keep in mind that Satan's purpose was to dethrone God in His universe and in the hearts of men and then to take His place. To succeed in his attempt Satan must try not to be unlike God but like God. To incline the hearts of men to himself as a ruler and to draw out their hearts to him in worship he must imitate God. To annul the work of Christ Satan must counterfeit it as far as possible.
His project was in line with his purpose. He would leave his position as a subordinate in God's kingdom and set up a kingdom of his own. The foundation of it would be self. Self-will, self-love, self-interest, self-sufficiency would constitute its corner stone. Lawlessness, a revolt against the rule of God, and irreverence, a refusal to worship God, would be its superstructure.
Satan knew that such a project would have to be safeguarded by a cleverly planned program. Not even the natural man would submit knowingly to the sovereignty of Satan or fall down and worship him. So Satan's program from the beginning has been one of deception. Satan has sought to keep the natural man satisfied with himself and with the world in which he lives. This is not as easy a task as it might seem. The spirit of man can never be satisfied save in God from whom it emanated and for whom it was created. Something in even the worst of men at certain times and under some circumstances cries out for God. Man lives and toils in sweat, suffering and sorrow. His spirit, soul and body cry out for release from the intolerable burden.
In the light of this knowledge Satan framed a very clever program. It was to unite all his subjects into a huge world federation for the reformation and better government of the world. This would be accomplished through carefully worked out plans for the promotion of education, culture, morality and peace upon the earth. Human relationships, international, civic, social, family and personal are undeniably in a terrible tangle but through peace conferences, leagues of nations and world courts international maladjustments would be righted: through mass education movements and social service programs civic and social conditions would be bettered: through new thought processes which foster self-culture and self-constraint the civil war within man's own personality would be ended and so more amicable relations with those to whom he was bound by ties of blood and of friendship would be established. Thus Satan would succeed in deceiving men into thinking the Kingdom of God had come on earth.
Satan knows there is but one true God and that Jesus Christ is His Son whom He sent to be the Saviour (James 2:19; Matthew 8:29). But this truth he would keep men from knowing. He must even keep them from feeling any need for God. So his program must provide for the perfect satisfaction of man's soul and body that his spirit may be kept darkened and deadened. So Satan's program includes every conceivable thing that could minister to self-enjoyment, self- ease, self-gain and self-satisfaction in the realm of the physical, intellectual, affectional, aesthetic, moral, yea even in the religious nature of man.
Moreover his program must provide for man an outward environment that matches this inward need. The earth is cursed but Satan must do what he can to remove the effects of that curse. Man will never be satisfied unless the earth is a more comfortable, pleasant place in which to live. So Satan's plan is to make this world very attractive and then organize human society that it may be so engrossed with its pursuits and pleasures men will have no thought for God.
Earnest, serious-minded men will see through this flimsy veil and will be concerned over the world's maladjustments. But Satan will engage such men in the task of repairing the ruin he himself has wrought. They will give millions upon millions of dollars, some will even lay down their lives in the accomplishment of the task thinking they are engaged in God's service. Satan will drug men with the tangible and transient and so detach them from the heavenly and eternal.
This huge federation of evil spirits and evil men is organized into a cunning system over which Satan is the presiding genius. He determines its principles, directs its policies, decides upon its program and devises its propaganda. This Satanic system is "the world." The Lord Jesus revealed both its name and its nature in His farewell message to His disciples and told them clearly what its attitude to Him would be. The attitude of this system to Jesus Christ, which is one of unmitigated hatred, brands it as Satanic.
John 15:18-19, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 17:14, 16, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
God says that this Satanic system is inherently "evil"; hopelessly "corrupt"; thoroughly "polluted"; irreconcilably hateful.
Galatians 1:4, "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father."
2 Peter 1:4, "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."
2 Peter 2:20, "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."
Thus God states His estimate of "the world." He speaks with equal clearness regarding its works.
John 7:7, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."
This satanic system, "the world," is like a colossal octopus that has sent forth myriads of tentacles to lay hold upon every phase of human life and draw it unto itself. It has its grip upon the corporate life of mankind in its homes, marts, schools, politics, even its churches. It has penetrated into every relationship of the individual's life, personal, family, social, national and international.
"The world," which is human society with God left out, is Satan's snare for capturing men and holding them in bondage. "What the web is to the spider: what the bait is to the angler: what the lure is to the fowler: so is the world to Satan a means of capturing men." "The world " is the devil's paw with which he strikes men: it is his lair into which he entraps men: it is the devil's ally in fighting God for the sovereign control of men.
But is there anything within man that responds to Satan and to his system? In the Bible we read they have an accomplice whose name is "the flesh."
Romans 7:5, "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." Romans 8:12-13, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
In Scripture the word "flesh" has several meanings but in the verses quoted it is used in the ethical sense and means the whole natural man, spirit, soul and body, living in self-will and alienated from the life of God. The flesh is what man became through the fall. It is man "without God" (Ephesians 2:12).
The "flesh" manifests nothing but antagonism to God and defiance of authority. It is irrevocably opposed to God and to His law.
Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
The "flesh" then is the material in mankind upon which Satan works to keep man a part of his system. This trinity of evil, the world, the flesh and the devil, is organized into a diabolical combine against God and His saints.
Satan has a cleverly thought out plan but God has a divinely wrought out purpose. God's purpose antedated Satan's plan: God's purpose anticipated Satan's plan: God's purpose annulled Satan's plan: God's purpose was formed in the eternity of the past and reaches into the eternity of the future. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself."
Christ Jesus was the One through whom God's purpose was to be fulfilled. He constantly spoke of Himself as one who had been sent from Heaven by the Father to do the Father's will, not His own. He did not belong to earth but to Heaven and was here only to fulfil a special mission.
John 6:38, 40, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him at the last day."
Jesus disclaimed any part in or relationship to the Satanic system called "the world."
John 17:16, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
John 14:30, "For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."
In fact He declared that this Satanic system had an unchangeable attitude toward Him that of unrelenting hate which would spend itself ultimately in crucifying Him.
John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."
John 15:20, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep your's also."
There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that God makes any attempt to change or to convert "the world." The Lord Jesus frankly acknowledges that "the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19, R.V.) and is under Satan's control.
God's purpose in Christ is to call men out of the world: to emancipate them from love for it, even to crucify them unto the world and it unto them
John 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because . . . I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Galatians. 6:14, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
God's purpose in this age Scripture makes unmistakably clear to the spiritual mind. It is to call out individuals, here and there, from all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues, who through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross become a very part of Him and He o of them. This living organism He calls His body, the Church.
Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Christ's purpose in this age is to call out of the world and into union with Himself those "chosen in him before the foundation of the world," who become a holy, heavenly people fit to be members of the body of which the holy Christ in Heaven is the Head.
Ephesians 1:4, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."
Ephesians 1:22-23, "And bath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
1 Corinthians 12:27, "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
From God's viewpoint "the world" and "the Church" are exact opposites. "The world" is a vast organization of the whole mass of unbelieving mankind under Satan's leadership. "The Church" is an invisible organism of all true believers under Christ's Headship. These two are in conflict on the earth and are pitted against each other as the instruments of Satan and of Christ in their attempt to get and keep possession and control of men.
How does God win response to His appeal to men to come out of the world and into fellowship with Christ? Does He have an associate in this task? We shall see in succeeding lessons that this is the work of the Holy Spirit who kindles life anew in the human spirit and then comes Himself to dwell in it.
Ezekiel 36:26-27, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: . . .And I will put my Spirit within you."
Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his."
THE CONSUMMATION OF THE CONFLICT
God's eternal purpose in man's redemption has been in gradual process of fulfilment ever since it was formed and each succeeding century has brought it nearer to its consummation. The heart of God's plan of redemption was a Saviour. This Saviour was to come through the seed of a woman. God was to become man. So God chose a people and set them apart that through them the Saviour might come "according to the flesh." In the fulness of time Christ came, lived, died and rose again. Man's redemption was accomplished.
Romans 9:4-5, "Who are Israelites; . . . Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came."
Following thereon a written Word was needed to proclaim this wondrous Gospel to sinners everywhere. So God chose and set apart a people through whom the written Word might come.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
Romans 3:1-2, "What advantage then hath the Jew? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."
Through the Israelites, God's chosen people, He gave both the incarnate Word and the written Word to the world.
God's next move was to preach this Gospel through His own ministers and missionaries throughout the whole world that all men everywhere might have the opportunity to behold the Son and to believe on Him.
Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
When this work has been completed to God's satisfaction and the Bride is made ready for the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ will come again to take His own unto Himself and to set up His kingdom upon earth.
This is the beginning of the end for Satan. He will be bound, cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years. Then he will be loosed for a little season. He will go forth to deceive the nations and to gather them together for battle against the Lord, thus proving his unchanging and unchangeable attitude of self-will and of opposition to God (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-9).
Then comes God's final and full judgment upon him. He is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
Christ Jesus having consummated to the full God's plan to redeem men and reconcile all things unto Himself now restores the absolute, undivided sovereignty of God over His entire universe.
1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 28, "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son, also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."