13. The Defeat of the Curse II
And thus death is defeated. We groan, not to die and go to heaven, but we groan and labor, that our mortal bodies would be instantaneously swallowed up by life. This is the goal of the believer as taught in the New Testament.
13. The Defeat of the Curse II
Verse 19 “. . . For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
Death — physical death.
Death is not real separation from God. There is no such thing as actual separation from God. The ‘separation from God’ that man presently experiences is God’s blessing, it is the skin of the beast, the last part of the curse.
When the skin of the beast is removed, sinners will be sinners in all the presence of God. It is a lake of fire. It is a time of purification.
Yet death is a form of separation, a separation in our minds, in our thinking, in our expectation. We expect to die. No matter how many times the gospel promises us unending life, we do not expect it. We expect to die.
Jesus says to Martha in John 11, “He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” But Martha cannot believe - “Yah, someday.” Her mind turns away.
The wages of sin is death — In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die — The soul that sins shall die.
Physical death is the penalty for sin.
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Yet, all those who are in heaven are without their physical bodies. They are only partly there. That realm of heaven in which the saints of God live is temporary, it is passing away. Those who are with Jesus are right now pressing back towards earth. They want their bodies back. They want to live as humans again. Their present hope is focused upon us.
We are humans; we will forever be humans, that point of union between Spirit and dirt, between the breath of God and the Earth – a living soul. We are forever fully the sons of God and fully the sons of Abraham. The idea that we will live forever in heaven, only, is cooked up by defeated Christianity, clouded by the curse; it is not taught in the New Testament. We are made for both earth and heaven. Of all God’s creation, we are the only created beings who live in both at the same time. And we are able to “go back and forth” (an inadequate phrase) to live in heaven and to live in the earth and to enjoy all the fruits and experiences of both.
This earth belongs to me and I have no desire to go anywhere else until I see it redeemed and transformed into the full expectation of God.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many . . .” Hebrews 9:27-28
This is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. Listen and notice how people drop that little word “as.” It is rather inconvenient.
“As - So.” Because of one, then the other. Christ was offered once as my sin offering. Jesus kept my appointment with death. Since I have only one such appointment; I do not have another.
“. . . and they did not love their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11
The only way out of the tree of knowledge is the tree of life. The only way out of the curse is Christ.
If I love having a life of my own, separate from Jesus, me, responsible for myself, then I will die. But if He in me and I in Him is sufficient for me; if Jesus is my life and I have no other life, then, in this great paradox of God, death is swallowed up in victory.
“. . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 5:4
Notice the order Paul gives us in Philippians 3. For so many years I had it backwards. I thought that we had to start with being conformed to His death before we could ever fully know Him. How wrong I was.
It all begins by knowing Him – fully and absolutely. Knowing that there is no distinction, no separation between me and Him. Jesus is my life. Even when my emotions are all screwed up, even when I am caught in sin, I do not look at myself as some separate entity, bowed under guilt and shame. No. My sin is already swallowed up in His sin offering, I am washed clean by His blood, and my emotions are simply Jesus sharing His own agonies – the cup that He Himself bears – with me. As we know Him in us, we know, first the power of an endless life, then we know the fellowship of His sufferings, we share His emotions and His pain, then our union with Him in all things causes us to be made conformable to His death.
And thus death is defeated.
We groan, not to die and go to heaven, but we groan and labor, that our mortal bodies would be instantaneously swallowed up by life. This is the goal of the believer as taught in the New Testament.
When was the last time you were in a church service where the pastor led by the Spirit in you to groan for the resurrection, the transformation of our bodies?
Yet Paul says this very groaning is the normal Christian life!
To defeat death. To cast if off. This is the game plan of God – the end game. This is what God is doing in those sons who insist on all that God speaks.
Delay is no more.
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
The final part of the curse is the worst part and the best part – and the most important.
Adam could not escape God. The certain knowledge of God filled his consciousness. He tried, desperately, to hide. He covered himself with fig leaves; he hid behind tree trunks – both typifying all the many ways his descendants have developed to try, somehow, to hide from the reality of God.
None of it worked for Adam. Nothing shielded him in his sin and shame from the light of a pure and holy God. To have lived his entire life in that light, in sinfulness and shame, attempting to persevere in the presence of holiness, would have been a lake of fire for Adam. That is the lake of fire – God, separated in the darkness of the mind and yet without any protection from His presence.
God, of course, did not condemn Adam. Adam condemned Adam – that is the nature of independent self.
But God had a different purpose for Adam and for his descendants. It was not His purpose for them to live in the lake of fire – even those who have died without Christ are not presently in the lake of fire, no matter what the fertile imagination of Christians has concocted.
No, God’s purpose was first to redeem Adam’s seed, and then to form Christ within those whom He elected as a firstfruits out of Adam’s seed. But that could not happen, so long as Adam was unshielded from God. Independent self, striving to exist in the full light of God, is hell.
The skin of the beast is the mercy and kindness of God. The skin of the beast allows Adam and his seed to live long enough for Christ to come, first as our Redeemer, and then as our Life.
And so God wrapped Adam and Eve in the skin of an animal.
It is easy for you to know that you are encased in the skin of a beast. Look around the room in which you are sitting right now. You are completely surrounded by all the Shekinah glory and power of Almighty God. There is no place in heaven more holy and more filled with God’s glory than the room you are looking at right now. How do you keep your head up? How do you go about your business without falling flat on your face in terror?
Very simple – we are blind. We can’t see the obvious. But even a blind man senses someone else in the room. We can’t. And the reason we can’t see the obvious, sensing the presence of other persons in the room all around us, both holy and evil, is that we are more than blind, we are clothed with a beast skin.
The beast skin is what makes the people of this world so beastly. The poet, Alexander Pope, said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” He spoke of man’s capacity to sin filthily and arrogantly in the very presence of Almighty God.
James says that demons always tremble in fear, unable to separate themselves from God’s presence. We know that the only way they can hide from that Light is to encase themselves in human flesh. That is the first part of the curse. Demons hide from God behind any human mind that sees itself separate from God, that is, human flesh. When we see God in all things, inside and out, they have nowhere to hide and they flee.
That beast skin is God’s kindness to us. We are not ready for His light, not until Christ is fully formed inside of us. Nor is He ready for us, not until we have abandoned all thought of independent selfhood.
Jesus was the last Adam; Adam ended upon the cross. The old man is dead. I am already crucified. Why, then, does the beast skin continue as part of my experience? The skin of the beast makes the curse part of the human DNA. Being caught up to God and to His throne is the casting off of the skin of the beast.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility (the skin of the beast), not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:18-21
Believing that Christ is our life does not come overnight. Even when God reveals to us that He did not lie when He says that we are already dead; even when He shows us that we are NOT an independent self, struggling to somehow please Him, but that Christ is the only life we have; even when He reveals to us that He did not lie when He said that old things are passed away, and that all things are made brand new; even then, it takes days and months, and even years, for the full knowledge of Christ living in us as us to permeate every part of our thinking.
We revert back to the old way of thinking so easily. Seeing ourselves separate from Jesus, now having to line up with a God who is surely displeased with us. We wake up in the middle of the night, feeling awful, certain that God has departed from us. Over and over, we have to stop in our tracks, stop all such thinking, in spite of what we feel, and think that Christ is living as me right now, that He is my life; He is one with me even as I feel so bad right now.
And every time we do that, Jesus draws us a little closer to Himself in our knowledge of Him. So long as I saw myself as someone separate from Jesus, I could not know Him, no matter how much I wanted to. The only way to know Jesus is to see yourself utterly inside of Him. Then you will know the sweet communion of His person.
Most believers in Jesus are not ready for the skin of the beast to be removed from off of them.
This word, the “revealing,” the “manifestation” of the sons of God, is the Greek word “apocalupsis.” It means to take the cover off. The cover that conceals Christ in us is the skin of the beast. That cover is coming off.
What will be found inside? An independent self, desperately trying to please the implacable requirements of a holy God? Or will there be one who, with joy, has abandoned all sense of a separated self, but who knows that Christ is his life, he has no other life?
Last night, the Lord showed me the real reason for the continued presence of the skin of the beast, of this earthly blinder that keeps us from seeing and knowing all that God is and all that we are in Him.
I just finished a romance novel by Georgette Heyer, Sprig Muslin. Let me briefly give you the story line.
A wealthy man of 35, kind, well-loved by family and friends, was being pressured to marry. He had once before been in love with a vivacious girl, but she had died in an accident before they were married.
The man chose to ask a friend of his, aged 29, a plain and simple girl who had been passed up by all eligible suitors, to be his wife. Her family was convinced that the only possible choice she could make was to accept.
With full respect, she refused him. She did not say why.
Meanwhile, he became involved in the life of a beautiful young runaway, who was trying to persuade her grandfather to let her marry an officer in Wellington’s army when she was just 16. He attempted to restore her to her family. In the process, he was accidentally shot.
In desperation, those with him sent for the lady who had declined his marriage offer to come nurse him. She went secretly and spent several days caring for him. Finally, they were found by all who were concerned about “propriety.” Her family demanded that the wounded man marry their sister to preserve her honor.
When they had all left, the two were sitting side by side, alone in a garden. They were finally comfortable together, having gotten to know one another in the midst of difficulty. Picture the most beautiful and romantic garden scene possible. He told her that he could not marry her for obligation, but only for love. She told him that she had refused him because, though she knew they were friends, she also knew that intimate love would not have been the beginning of their marriage.
But now, they truly knew one another as friends, and they both knew that they loved one another.
I finished the book and went to bed. As my thoughts turned towards Jesus, I instantly knew the purpose for God allowing the skin of the beast to remain upon us in spite of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. God speaks to us through story.
This relationship we have with Jesus is about marriage. He is betrothed to us and we to Him. That is what our union with Christ is all about.
But Jesus will not marry a woman who honors and respects Him, who is grateful to Him for His great kindness. Nor even more will He marry a woman who fears Him and who does what He says because she believes she is under obligation to do so. Nor will He marry a woman who chooses Him because of His great power and wealth and how honored He is before all creation.
Jesus wants to marry a woman who sits by His side on a “garden bench,” who is equal to Him in heart and mind, who walks through the difficult places together with Him, leaning upon His shoulder, who knows that her union with Him is because she loves Him and He loves her. Jesus will marry only a woman who knows Him in the deepest and most intimate of friendships. Jesus will marry only a woman who knows that He has conformed Himself to her, that He loves what she loves, enjoys what she enjoys.
Listen, it is not up to the woman to conform herself to the man; it is up to the man to conform Himself to His beloved. This was the sacrifice that Jesus embraced in Gethsemane – for the joy set before Him – you and me. So long as I think that I must change to please Him, my heart is not comfortable side by side with His.
So long as you and I see ourselves as beneath Him in any way, we cannot love Him with the love that He alone will marry.
Jesus says the most extraordinary thing in Revelation chapter 3.
He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man opens the door, I will come in to him and I will sup with him, and he with Me.”
Jesus was not talking about those who did not know Him; He was talking about you and me. First we open the door to Him. Will you let Him be your sin and your shame? Will you let Him be your flesh? If Jesus could take your sin upon the cross 2000 years ago, why can He not take your self upon Himself now? Or, do we really believe that something happened 2000 years ago when we cannot believe that He swallows up our sinful flesh and all of our foolish mistakes today?
Then, it is He who comes in to us and it is He who sups with us. There are few statements more precious in the Bible. To sup with us is to share an intimacy of closeness with every part of our being. It is Jesus who conforms Himself to us.
And finally, we sup with Him. It is only when we surrender our heart to His love for us will we be able to return the love that alone is acceptable to Him.
Obligation and duty will always keep Jesus at arm’s length, and it will keep us encased in the skin of the beast. He cannot marry a woman who is obliged to marry Him.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (the absolute foundation of our return to the Father) and by the word of their testimony (we speak Christ and all that He is in us) and they loved not their lives to the death (we forsake any thought that we exist independently from Jesus Himself, knowing that all that we are is no more nor less than Jesus Himself).” Revelation 12:11
Jesus insists that His bride come to Him while she is still blind. He will marry a woman who considers herself His equal, equal in heart, in mind, in soul and who loves Him, not for His greatness of position, or for the mercy He has shown her, but who loves Him in an intimacy of equality – who “sees” Him by faith as the One who fills her heart.
And it is out of that intimacy of union, we in Him, and He in us, that the man-child of Revelation 12:5 is born.
Faith is that which walks in the reality of all that is unseen, now, while it is still unseen. Faith makes everything God speaks in the New Covenant personal, right now.
God put the skin of the beast upon us. It is God who will remove it through us. And He will do so when we “see” all that He is in us. When God removes that skin that still limits us in this world, many will be astonished and amazed at what they see. But for those of us who “see” Him now in all things, both inside of us and outside of us, we will see nothing different at all. There will be no shock or surprise.
When we see in reality, we will see the same thing that we now see by faith. There will be no difference. This “seeing” is a miracle of the Holy Spirit; and He overshadows you right now for that purpose.