How the Mighty Have Fallen

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Susanne Schuberth recently wrote on her blog, “To begin with, we can say that which is appealing to the natural man is disgusting to the spiritual man. Our flesh is attracted by what we perceive with our senses to be beautiful, by watching nature, a sunset, or human beings, for instance. And what feels good to our bodies is appealing to us as well. This is not wrong in itself since God put a longing for beauty and enjoyment into our very hearts. However, our God is Spirit, not flesh!” (1)

John wrote,

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1John 2:15-17, RSV)

What appealed to Eve in her natural person was what Satan targeted and he has gone on to do the same with every human since. Regarding the nature of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and her reaction to it we read:

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.”(Gen 3:6, RSV)

She saw that it was good for food — “the lust of the flesh.” She saw that it was a delight for her eyes to look upon — “the lust of the eyes.” She saw that was desirable to make her wise — “the pride of life.” This is the root of all sin and how Satan tempts us. He has perfected this method of luring mankind to fall into his traps and taking them captive. This is exactly how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He tempted Jesus to use His God given ability to turn stones into bread so He could eat after fasting 40 days — “the lust of the flesh.”

But Jesus answered, “It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

Then Satan tried another piece of his arsenal, tempting Jesus with a show of the glories of the kingdoms of the world to appeal to the lust of the eyes. If Jesus caved to that temptation, they would all be His because they were Satan’s to give. All He had to do was bow down and worship the devil.

But Jesus answered him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

Then there is the pride of life. What form would that temptation come in?

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,’ and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”

Ah, yes! If Satan can’t get a man to fall to the lusts of the eyes and the flesh (and he does quote scripture), he pulls out the old standby–tempt him with holy things — tempt him to use his spiritual powers to make a show if it before all the righteous ones that they might follow him and give him the honor that belongs to God.

This is the sneakiest temptation of them all. Aren’t we who are born of the Spirit of God the children of the King? Aren’t the gifts of the Spirit He has given us subject to us and given “without repentance.”? Shouldn’t we use them to show all men what God does for those who are His chosen ones? Won’t they see this and bow down before us in tremendous altar calls at our feet, all for “the glory of God”? What a near miss! Yet, this is done every day in the name of “bringing men and women to Christ” for the sake of building up the kingdoms of men. What a difference we see in the attitude of the first apostles in the early church!

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycao’nian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying, “Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them…” With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. (Acts 14:11-18, RSV)

Yes, we can gain the admiration and riches of the whole world in the business of God and lose our souls. Jesus made it clear that if we lift Him up before all men, and not ourselves, He will draw all men to Him and not to us! The idolatry that exists today in the name of the Living God is nothing more than Satan feeding the pride of life!

Austin-Sparks wrote,

Man is by nature now a deceived creature. Deception is deception, and the deceived never know it until they are enlightened or delivered. It is like a disease. There are forms of mental sickness which cause those who are so suffering to believe certain things which to the healthy mind are ridiculous and impossible. It is useless to argue with them, and futile to try to convince them of the untruth of their beliefs. Indeed, it is cruel at times to oppose them. If you are to live with them in any measure of peace and be at all helpful you have to take the attitude of agreeing with them and deal with the situation along some other line. Otherwise it is going to be continual clash. The only way to change their convictions is to heal their sickness.

So it is with man. He believes many things as to himself, his ability, potentialities, destiny, about God and about the world, which are not true. He mistakes certain things for other things, but he cannot see that he is deceived. It is useless to hold objects before a blind man, and to tell him to see them; and it is foolish to be surprised or annoyed that he does not do so. So the Scriptures say, “The natural (soulical) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them…” (1 Cor 2:14). And again, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor 4:4).

Now, when we go to the source of this deceived condition, we find that it originated in the soul. The Deceiver assailed the soul—desires, reason, will—and drew this out as a basis of life apart from and independent of God. The motive was to have things in the ego, the self, instead of in God by dependence. Having succeeded in getting man to so exalt the ego to independence and superiority, he captured man as now a suited instrument for his purposes. Man ceased to be suited to the purposes of God, for his very nature was changed. This man, changed by complicity with Satan, is a false man, not a true man according to God’s mind; and is now suited to Satan’s false kingdom. The history of man in his natural state is the history of a lie, a false nature, a false expectation, a false hope, a false faith and a false world. (2)

Dear saints, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head [Jesus Christ]…” (Col 2:18-19, RSV). There is no substitution for the power of the personal flesh killing cross in the life of one who would be a disciple of Christ. “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule…” (Gal 6:14-16, RSV)

(1)  https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/being-blessed-by-god-or-satans-sensual-substitutes-for-the-truth/

(2) http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/001342.html

The Downward Pull or the Upward Call?

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

In September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama premiered with the story “The Deathhouse Rescue,” in which The Shadow was characterized as having “the power to cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him.” As in the magazine stories, The Shadow was not given the literal ability to become invisible [but to cloud their minds]. The introduction from The Shadow radio program was thus, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow)

When I was a child, before we had a TV, I remember listening to this radio show. There were many mystery shows that made my mind race with all their sound effects. What a description of epic battle between Satan’s minions and the minds of men in this quote.

Susanne Schuberth, Jack Helser and I recently had an exchange on Susanne’s blog* about a dream she had where she was standing with her back to the ocean, facing a sandstone cliff. She was suddenly lifted up by God to safety on top this cliff. As I read her dream and Jack’s comment, I was struck with how the layers of the ocean represent our lives that are not in submission to Christ. All the underlying layers from the surface on down to the depths pertain to our minds and soul natures that God wants to deal with to set us free so we can walk above all that with Christ.

Our minds are like the ocean. On the surface, the natural mind is churned up by the elements of the world and all that is in it. Men plow through our minds with their mechanizations (institutions, “just causes” and evil doings) and we are tossed to and fro in our thinking as the storms rage. All the political and soulish reactions to these latest terror attacks around the world make this is easy to see. Paul wrote:

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:14-15, NRS)

We find our salvation as we grow up into Christ and are no longer blown about by the winds of trouble and change in this world or the misleading teachings of men. We need the wisdom of God dwelling in us if we are to make it into our Father’s rest. James wrote:

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (Jas 1:5-8, nrs)

If we have faith and do not waver (this is also a gift from God), we can be like Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water. We can learn a lot from this episode from the gospels.

And immediately Jesus made his disciples get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke unto them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it be you, bid me come unto you on the water.” And he said, “Come.” And when Peter came down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. (Matt 14:22-29, KJ2000)

First we see Jesus making time to get away from the crowd and even His disciples who believed in Him. He knew that apart from the Father He could do nothing. What an important lesson for us to learn that when we are apart from Jesus, the cares and storms of this life pull us down and we become spiritually handicapped and drained of heaven’s life in us. One of the worst task masters of all is the “tyranny of necessity.” Beware of things that must be done or else, but always take time to ask God first as Jesus did upon hearing the His friend Lazarus was dying and his family wanted Him to come right away.

Without Jesus, we see these experienced sailors fighting against a contrary wind and losing the battle. Jesus came to them walking above all that because He had been spending time with His Father instead of, like them, battling against the elements with His flesh. In the midst of all this commotion, Peter is given faith and says to Jesus, “Lord, if it be you, bid me come unto you on the water.” So Jesus said to him, “Come,” and Peter was soon walking above the storm just as Jesus was. The key to our survival is not in our own abilities to ride out the storms of life, but rather to put our faith and trust in Christ who cares for us and asks us to come to Him, “casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”

As the Matthew narrative continues, at some point during his walk on the water the storm got worse and Peter got his eyes on the storm and off of Christ. Big mistake! Peter started to sink. His reaction was simple, he cried out, “‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.”  We will come up against severe testing in our pursuit of Christ and inevitably we will waver in our faith. It is what we do after this that is important. Jesus can not save us as long as we are trying to save ourselves with our own strength. He waits for us to cast all our cares upon Him and Him alone.

From about ten feet of depth on down, the ocean is fairly calm and only the currents move through it. Most of the life in the seas is found from the surface down to about 200 meters. The basis of this life is photosynthesis and below 200 meters it is too dark for plant life to grow. This is the level where our subliminal thought life flourishes and takes on a life of its own. It can be healthy if, in Christ, we have learned to take every thought captive in obedience to Him, or it can be like the dead coral reefs that ecologists like to speak about, poisoned by the cast off waste of civilization, or the shipwrecks of our own lives.

As we go deeper in the ocean, the subconscious, all is dark and it is here we find some of the most creepy forms of sea life. Once we dive off the edge of the continental shelves, What is found here either lives off the dead and decaying plant and animal life that filters down from the top 200 meters or it feeds on itself. The dark subconscious of man tends to feed on dead things and is morbid by nature. Some of these creatures even make their own light!

Today we see many young people in our cultures obsessed with death and darkness. They dress in black, play murderous video games, and have an obsession for the demonic and witchcraft. Even the churches have become affected by this. Not long ago some friends invited me to go with them to a church called “The Skull.” All the teenagers were wearing black sweatshirts with white skulls printed on them. The building where they met on Sunday was painted flat black on the inside and they had a loud rock band for “worship music.” Finally, to top it off, the “pastor” preached on hell via satellite hookup from a remote location! And I was assured that all this was being done for the sake of “being relevant.”

This area between 200 meters and 900 meters, called “The Twilight Zone,” is also comparable to where the evil lurks in the hearts of men. Satan has found a home there and the destructive force that influences all the other layers of the heart come from this zone. Man has explored the whole surface of the earth, but the depths of the seas have hardly been found out. This is how Jeremiah put it:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10, KJ2000)

This is why a NEW heart and the work of Christ and His Spirit is so imperative if we are to walk in the kingdom of God and avoid the pitfalls of the devil. God spoke of this supernatural work saying,

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27, NRS)

We can be drawn up into the arms of our Father in heaven or we can be pulled down into spiritual depths. James spoke of this epic battle saying,

But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, boast not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace. (Jas 3:14-18, KJ2000)

The wisdom of the devil is first earthly and of this world and then it is sensual and finally as it spirals down and becomes devilish. This is the downward digression of Satan’s pull and we see people follow this path over and over. What a contrast this is to the wisdom which comes down to us from above!

Dear saints, if we are to survive these dark times that are upon us, we must turn our fleshly soul natures over to God for Him to deal with. We must quit feeding on all the world has to offer, since the prince of this world is in control of it all. We all need new hearts that are in tune with our Father and spiritual ears that can hear and obey His voice (see Hebrew 8:7-13). As Jesus put it,

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30, KJ2000)

Thank you Jack and Susanne for your insights. You may read what was exchanged on this thread on Susanne’s blog beginning here:

*https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/instead-of-christ-the-social-gospel-spirit/comment-page-1/#comment-13055