THE CHRISTIAN AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
From: The Feasts of the Lord, by Robert B. Thompson
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Day of Atonement comes after the feast of Pentecost. This signifies that after we have received the Holy Spirit, God is going to purge our personality of worldliness, lust, and self-will until we have been reconciled to Him fully. Through the blood of the cross we have been reconciled to God legally. Now it is time to be reconciled to God in our personality and behavior.
Table of Contents
The Day of Atonement placed in the latter working of redemption
Christians do sin
A misleading assumption
Godís provisions for the sins of Christians
A misunderstanding of Divine grace
I John 1:9
Wary attitude toward "voices"
The "sixth" and "seventh" experiences
The judgment of rebellious spirits
The source of sin
The knowledge of the Lord
The Year of Jubilee
Two overlapping years
A new creation
Confession of sins is not new
Judgment begins with the house of God
Lazarus, a type of the Blowing of Trumpets
Judgment liberates Christians
Purging the House of God
THE CHRISTIAN AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:27,28)
And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16:2)
For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. (Leviticus 16:30)
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. (Leviticus 25:9)
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Hebrews 9:22-24)
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:19,20)
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 Day of Atonement placed in the latter working of redemption.
The feasts of Israel are seven in number. The Day of Atonement, the observance having to do with the purging of sin and self-will from Godís people, was placed sixth in order.
If we are following a logical pattern, why wasnít the Day of Atonement placed first or second in the order of the feasts? It seems reasonable that the first thing to occur in the plan of redemption should be that our sins are taken care of completely.
The blood of Passover, the first feast, is not a removing of sin from Israel but a protection from the judgment that falls on the gods of the world. The Passover blood is a shield, a wall of protection from the judgment of God. The first and true Passover was celebrated in Egypt.
The Day of Atonement, the feast having to do with the purging of sin from Godís people, was never celebrated in Egypt. The Day of Atonement could not be conducted until the Tabernacle of the Congregation had been erected and the priesthood anointed.
Isnít this order of placement of the Day of Atonement somewhat out of line with our traditional concept of the relationship between the Christian and sin? Wouldnít we expect the feast that represents cleansing from sin to come at the beginning of the seven feasts?
Godís remedy for the sinful condition of His people is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made an atonement for us, just as He covered Adam and Eve with coats of skins (Genesis 3:21). God has covered us with the blood of Christ so the shame of our nakedness does not appear when we come into His Presence (Revelation 3:18).
The blood of Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, is applied to our lives in five different ways:
As the Passover blood that protects us from the judgment of God as it falls on the gods of the world.
As the blood of appeasement that cancels the debt of guilt incurred because of our sins.
As the blood of deliverance and restoration, through which the Holy Spirit of God is enabled to remove the tendencies and repair the consequences of the sin in us, to give us the strength to resist sin, and to fill us with the indestructible resurrection Life of Christ so we are lifted above the realm where sin abounds.
As the blood of the covenant that we drink when we receive the body and blood of Christ in the Communion service, the Lordís Table.
As the blood of union with Christ so we live by Him as He lives by the Father.
The atonement that God made for us by the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is so comprehensive that it is difficult to describe in a few words. One definition of "make atonement" would be: restore to Divine favor. We think the word that comes the closest to summing up the various shades of meaning is reconcile.
The Day of Atonement (Reconciliation) is the sixth of the seven feasts. The seven feasts do not proceed in order in our lives like the grades of an elementary school. The spiritual fulfillments of the seven feasts are experienced by us at the moment of receiving Christ into our life and then should be working in us each day of our discipleship.
The several facets of the Divine Atonement, which include the Passover protection, the canceling of guilt, the washing away of unrighteous tendencies, the restoration of what was destroyed by sin, and the partaking of the body and blood of Christ, are ours at the moment of receiving Christ as our Savior and Lord.
As we move along in the plan of God for our lives, the feasts are fulfilled in our personalities to an ever greater degree. The full weight of authority and power contained in the body and blood of Jesus becomes increasingly manifest in our lives.
Our day-to-day Christian walk brings to us an enlarging consciousness of what the blood of Christ really can do concerning the grip that sin and self-will have on us. We become better able to appropriate the body and blood of the Lamb and thereby overcome the accuser (Revelation 12:11).
At this point in our book we will dwell for a bit on the need for us who have been Christians for awhile to learn to draw on the authority and power of the atonement made by Christ so we can fight our way through to greater freedom from the "sin which doth so easily beset us" (Hebrews 12:1).
The "living bird" of Leviticus 14:7 and the "scapegoat" of Leviticus 16:10 show us that God intends that our sins not only should be forgiven but also removed from us. We Christians need to learn more about how to have our sins removed from us so we can be made perfect in the sight of God (Hebrews 10:1).
Perhaps it is the readerís understanding that sin is purged from our personality at the time of our initial experience in the Lord Jesus Christ. Is that belief actually borne out in our own experience and in the lives of the Christian people whom we know?
We may have started out on our Christian pilgrimage many years ago. Is it true that we now are free from the bondages of lust, of the love of money, of murderous hatred, of deceit, of occult practices, of the love of pleasure more than the love of God, of backbiting and gossiping, of pride, of haughtiness, of jealousy, of foolishness, of lying, of boasting, of stealing, of divisiveness, of fear, of self-pity, and of complacency?
If we still are behaving in these ways, the redeeming authority and power contained in the atoning blood of Christ have not as yet completed their work of cleansing and reconciliation in us. But there is no doubt about the fact that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have been baptized in His name.
There is a reason why the Holy Spirit placed the Day of Atonement, the observance having to do with the committing of sins by Godís people, as number six in the series of seven feasts. A person must receive Christ and then walk with Christ for a season before God is able to destroy the many bondages of sin and rebellionóto root out the tares from among the wheat, so to speak.
Christians do sin.
Two facts seem evident:
The cleansing of the Tabernacle and of the priests and people occurs toward the end of the series of seven feasts, coming just before the observance of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus, Chapter 16).
The longer the fervent disciple walks with Christ, the more conscious he becomes of the problem of sin in his own life. This shows that righteousness, holiness, and obedience of behavior are not achieved at the time of our first acceptance of Christ. An increasing consciousness of sin and in some cases an increasing ability to overcome sin have been the testimony of the sincere disciples of Christ throughout church history.
When a Christian sins the wickedness may not be of the gross, obvious nature of drunken brawling, robbery or selling drugs. The wickedness may be of a more deceitful quality. The sinfulness of the house of God tends to be that of the heart, the murderous hardness, jealousy, stubbornness, pride, spitefulness of the heart.
Such is the heart-sin of Israel, the murderer of Godís prophets and witnesses from ancient times. Whenever Israel sees her Beloved she is apt to cry, Away with Him! Crucify Him! Let the guilt of His murder fall on us and our children!
Perhaps we shouldnít blame the Pharisees too much for the murder of Jesus Christ. It is possible that the leaders of the churches of today would resist Christ were He to appear. We might find fault with His words or deeds or have Him discredited in some manner or put out of the church while we are singing "Have Thine Own Way, Lord."
If someone thinks we are being too harsh, please refer to the manner in which some of the churches greeted the early proponents of the gift of tonguesóa gift that was restored to the Body of Christ only after prolonged intercession had been made by burdened saints.
"It is the devil," some proclaimed, knowing nothing of what they affirmed, having no consciousness of the fact that they were attributing to the devil the gift of Christ, caring little for the fact that they willingly were relegating to Satan their brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was confusion.
Jeremiah may be as current as the morning paper when he warns, "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars" (Jeremiah 17:1).
It may be quite difficult for us Christians to believe there actually is a great amount of sin and rebellion in the churches, when the Church of Christ is Godís own institution in the earth. A review of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation will emphasize the fact that the golden lampstands of God contain much sin and rebellion. Only a few of the believers are fit to walk in white with Christ.
Perhaps we Christians do not understand that God continues to work with us and among us even though we are not seeking His holiness and righteousness.
Think about the implications of Leviticus 16:16, for example:
And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
"That remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness"!
A misleading assumption.
A misleading assumption sometimes made by us is that the Presence of God in our midst means we are holy. The Christian churches are of God, we reason, and are of Divine origin. Therefore if we are aware sometimes of the Presence of God, it must be true we are accepted of Him. It seems that the tribes of Israel often thought in this manner.
A good way to test the accuracy of this concept is to ask the people of the world their opinion of the holiness of the Christian church people, as far as can be determined by their actions and words. Another way to test the idea is to look about us oróbetter yetóto examine our own deeds, words, motives, and imaginations.
"And so will he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness." If God refused to have anything to do with His people until they were holy there would be little of the Presence of God in most of our churches.
God does not come to us and bless us because we are holy but to make us holy. The Holy Spirit is not given to us because we are holy but in order to make us holy.
The manifestation of the Spirit is not given to a believer because he is righteous but to create righteousness in him and in those to whom he ministers. A person does not receive an apostleship or a gift of teaching the Word or the working of miracles because he is unusually holy but in order to create holiness in him and in those who receive of the grace given to him.
It is not unusual for Christians to confuse ministry, especially highly visible ministry, with holiness and spirituality. Then if the highly regarded, sometimes idolized minister should sin in some manner, neither he nor his followers can admit the sin and treat it in a scriptural manner. The preacher and his followers had supposed that God had revealed Himself through his ministry because he was especially holy and righteous or particularly loved of God.
The sinning minister may be destroyed and some of his followers with him because of his and their inability or unwillingness to deal with sin according to the grace of God given us under the new covenant.
God has given us, through Christ, the means to turn away from our sins and be delivered from them. The new covenant is not the Divine apology for the sins of Godís people. It is the dynamite from Heaven so we can destroy the works of the devil.
We Christians must understand that God has set His holy tabernacle, so to speak, among us in the midst of our uncleanness. Then we shall be able to view our sins honestly and to confess and turn away from them from a victorious position of strength, faith, and stability, rather than to hide them, pretend we are not practicing them, or become unduly alarmed or fall away in dismay, shame, or despair when our sin is revealed.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people. (Deuteronomy 9:4-6)
Can we face the possibility that the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, has members who sin? It may help us to remember that a large fraction of the Scriptures is directed toward the problem of the sins of Israel, of the elect, of Godís people.
Much of Isaiah, of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and so forth is addressed to the "sinners in Zion." The Lamentations of Jeremiah resulted from the judgments of God on His called-out people, His Church.
A substantial percent of the New Testament writings is concerned with sin in the lives of the Christians: for example, Romans 13:9-14; I Corinthians 1:10-13; 3:1-5; 5:1-13; 6:1-20; II Corinthians 12:20,21.
Galatians 5:12-26; 6:8; Ephesians 4:22-5:7; Philippians 3:18,19; Colossians 3:5-10; I Thessalonians 4:4-8; I Timothy 6:3-11; II Timothy 3:1-9; Titus 2:1-15; Hebrews 3:12-19.
James 3:1-5:20; I Peter 1:13-15; 2:1; 4:1-4; 4:15-19; II Peter 1:4-10; 2:1-22; 3:11; all I John; III John 9-11; Jude 1:7-19; Revelation 2:14; 2:20-22; 3:15-17; 21:8; 22:15.
In the light of the apostolic emphasis on putting sin out of our lives, how can we account for some of the present-day teachings of "grace"?
Perhaps one of the roots of our misconception concerning the relationship of the Christian believer to sin is that we have assumed that the greater part of the scriptural admonitions regarding sin are addressed to people outside the churches. By so misdirecting the intent of Paul and the other writers we have made the apostolic instructions ineffectual as to their purpose of promoting spiritual growth in the believers, of developing godly behavior and change into the image of Christ. The Apostles of the Lamb wrote to the saints.
Two examples are as follow:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)
If you will think about the context of the above two verses you will notice that they are directed toward Christians. Why are we preaching them to the unconverted?
The Scriptures are directed toward Godís people. The exhortations to righteousness are addressed to Godís people. The Prophets spoke to Israel about sinful behavior among the tribes, and the Apostles wrote to the Christian churches about sinful behavior among the saints.
If there were not one Scripture reference to sin in the Christian disciple we would know, nevertheless, that sin indeed is a problem because of what we find in our own heart, because of the vigilance we must maintain with respect to our own motives and deeds.
Every experienced Christian knows of the spiritual deadness of the churches, the complacency and indifference toward the things of Christ, the love for the world, the slothfulness, the obstinacy, the pride and haughtiness, the backbiting and gossiping, the hardness of heart and lack of forgiveness, and the desire to seek the approval of the world more than the approval of God.
One piece of evidence that testifies in thunderous tones to the inner spiritual condition of Godís people, a fact that nullifies the edicts of the churches and eclipses the worldís view of Christ on the cross, is the existence of division and competition among the multitude of denominations, sects, and private empires of Christianity.
Denominational pride and loyalty give the final proof of self-love, self-interest, and self-ambition (I Corinthians 1:12). Denominational emphasis and loyalty is childish, self-centered, self-willed behavior.
Godís provisions for the sins of Christians.
We have written the truth as we see it in the Scriptures and in practical Christian living. We sincerely believe the sin is as dreadful and prevalent as we have set forth. We believe just as sincerely that there is a remedy portrayed by the Day of Atonement that is more than equal to the task of purifying the Church perfectly.
The Day of Atonement is the time of reconciliation to God, of our marriage to the Lamb, of the removal of our "spots and wrinkles."
During Israel's observance of the Day of Atonement the reconciliation was accomplished by the sprinkling of animal blood and by the public confession of the sins of God's people by the High Priest. In the case of the Christians, the atonement was accomplished by the offering of Christ on the cross and by the daily application of His blood to our lives.
Also involved in the Christian practice of the new covenant counterpart of the Day of Atonement, and essential to it, is the confessing of their sins by Christís disciples; sometimes confessed to God in private, and sometimes to another Christian for counsel or prayer or because the other person is implicated.
Ordinarily it is not a good idea for us to confess our sins openly in the church assembly. There are pitfalls in this practice. The church elders should decide when such an extreme step is necessary.
Many Christians never have been taught to confess their sins specifically and to repent of them. They do not name their sins before God and obtain the Divine grace that is available and necessary for the overcoming of their sins. They keep the sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, and rebellion buried in their heart. However, the sins continue to publicize their presence in their private thoughts, in their words, and in their deeds.
From the saved, born-again person proceed adulterous thoughts, spiteful words, and acts of lust and hatred.
Sinsóevery one of themómust be confessed as soon as they are pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit. A believer must tell the Lord, and sometimes other people, exactly what it is he or she has done, said, or thought.
We may be in too much of a hurry to start naming our sinful deeds, words, motives, and imaginations one at a time to the Lord. However, God will take the time to listen now, or He will take the time to listen during the Day of Judgment. As it is written: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).
Only a Christian living in victory, and one with experience, can engage in this kind of judging of his actions and motives without falling into gloom and introspection. Confessing oneís sins with authority and power is the action of a conqueror, not of a halfhearted Christian who continually is falling away from his state of obedience to the Master.
Perhaps this is why the judgment on sin in the life of the believer is delayed symbolically (as in the type of the feasts of the Lord) and actually until the Christian has experienced both initial salvation and Pentecost (baptism with the Holy Spirit).
Some Christian teachers have maintained that it is necessary only to confess that we are "dead to sin," according to the sixth chapter of Romans and then to more or less ignore the problem of sin in our lives. To do otherwise, they counsel, will result in the resurrection of our sinful nature.
Maintaining that we are dead to sin is part of the answer given in the Scripture. It solves the problem for some believers, at least for a season. It can be helpful to the saint who is vainly struggling against the adversary, against the spirit of the world, and against his own fleshly lusts and self-will.
It assuredly is true that the virtue and will of a person struggling "in the flesh" cannot overcome the power of sin. If, on the other hand, the disciple is under the impression sin cannot affect him because he has accepted Christ, how then can the Spirit of God point out to him the acts of sin he is committing? Why would it ever be necessary for him to repent?
Also, why would such a large part of the apostolic writings be devoted to the putting away of sinful behavior on the part of the believers? If the Christian is supposed to forget about his sinful nature, why did Paul, Peter, Jude, and John write as they did concerning sin in the life of the believer?
Anyone who studies the revivals of the past can notice that the outpourings of Godís Holy Spirit have been accompanied by repentance and the confession of their sins on the part of Godís people. The Presence of the Spirit of God encourages us to confess our sins because such confessing is a necessary part of Christian discipleship.
The Scripture teaches us (Romans 8:1) that we must walk each day in Christ by faith, being without condemnation in the sight of God. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and we are to avoid gloom and self-condemnation as much as possible.
However, we always must be ready to hear the rebuke of the Holy Spirit and to bring the offending act, word, or thought immediately to the Lord for forgiveness. If we are walking in the Spirit of God, the act of confessing our sins will not depress us but will enable us to live the life of victory in Christ.
Why is it that we do not include the practice of confessing our sins as part of our discipleship? We may have supposed that the exhortations of Scripture against sin are directed toward the people of the world rather than toward the people of God. Or perhaps we are ignorant of what the Scriptures actually teach.
Both the Old and New Testament writings are explicit as to what constitutes sin in the sight of God. Many of the biblical pronouncements against sin can be categorized under lust, murder, or idolatry.
Mankind has not changed since the days of Noah and Lot. Lust, demon worship, and violence filled the earth in those days. Lust, demon worship, and violence fill the earth in our day.
The nations of today resemble Sodom and Gomorrah. They are hurtling toward destruction with express-train speed. God always will exercise His wrath on sexual lust in all its perverted forms, on demon worship, and on violence. This equally is true in the churches and in the world.
Perhaps we Christians interpret Godís long-suffering and forbearance as an acceptance of our sins, a Divine resignation concerning the behavior of mankind. If so, we have no conception of the smoking wrath of God that forever is directed toward sinful practices. We are not aware of the maelstrom of destruction that surrounds us.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; . . . (II Corinthians 5:11)
A misunderstanding of Divine grace.
One of the more important reasons for not confessing our sins may arise from a misunderstanding of the manner in which Divine grace operates.
The term grace, it appears, frequently is understood to mean only the forgiveness of sins that occurs at the time of the believerís initial acceptance of the atonement made by the blood of Christ. The application of Divine grace to the older Christianís life often is limited to the idea that God forgives our stumblings and shortcomings. Such seems to be the customary understanding of the grace of God in Christ.
The writer holds firmly to the understanding that salvation is the gift of God that comes to us when we accept by faith the blood atonement made by Christ. However, the doctrine that maintains that an initial acceptance of the atonement made by Christ is the believerís only encounter with the problem of sin in his life, or that there is no provision in Divine grace for the overcoming of the sin in us, cannot be supported by the New Testament writings.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world to forgive the sins of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to take away the sins of the world. He came to remove sin from the world, beginning with His saints. The misunderstanding of Christian theology is that the Lord Jesus came to forgive us and bring us to Heaven to live forever. This is not what the Scriptures teach, either the Old Testament or the New Testament.
Christ did not come to make peace with sinners. He came to bring sinners to repentance and to break the chains of sin that bind them. God is not interested in bringing sinners into Paradise. God is interested in saving people from their sins so they can enter Paradise lawfully.
The Lord is gentle and forgiving toward every person who repents and asks His forgiveness. Christís Words to the seven churches of Asia reveal with clarity that He is exceedingly strict with the members of His Body. He is training us to enforce the laws of the Kingdom of God on the earth, and He permits no filthiness, rebellion, foolishness, or carelessness to exist among the members of the royal priesthood.
The love of God has been overemphasized today to such an extent that a false witness of God is being borne. Godís wrath against sin must be brought to the front. Numerous Christians, if they continue in their present state of indolence and sin, are heading toward a furnace of chastisement. The ministers who are cajoling them, speaking "positive and refreshing" things to them without warning them of the danger they are facing, are false prophets indeed.
The first people, Adam and Eve, were driven from Paradise. Jesus has not come to forgive Adam and Eve and bring them back into Paradise. He has come to destroy sin, rebellion, and unbelief from their personalities by filling them with His own virtue and Life. As soon as Adam and Eve have been conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus they will be permitted to eat of the tree of life. Paradise will be regained. This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is the way to eternal life.
The Christian discipleship, as the Epistles teach us, is occupied with our being brought to spiritual maturity, and to unity with God and our fellow members of the Body of Christ. The disciple must be alert continually to the leading and working of the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God as He guides us in the conquest of the spirit of the world, of the nature and works of Satan, of the lusts of our flesh, and of the rebellion, pride, and stubbornness of our self-will, self-love, and self-centeredness.
We are in a war although we may not realize it. The Christian Church is Godís holy instrument for judging rebellious spirits, not a social club or fraternal order.
Satan, in many instances, has the Christian churches bound hand and foot with love for the world to the extent that we no longer actually believe many of the facts, demands, and promises of the Old and New Testaments. Yet we may be picturing ourselves as the Church triumphant against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail.
Perhaps it is closer to the truth to state the Christian churches have been as the blind Samson making sport for the Philistines. We may have been making boasts while lying in the lap of Delilah.
Where is the power of God? Paul declares: "I . . . will know, not the speech of those who are inflated with pride, but the power" (I Corinthians 4:19).
It is time now for us to confess our sins. "If we (Christian disciples) confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
As we "walk in the light" (walk in the will and Presence of God as revealed to us continually by the Holy Spirit and proved by the offering of ourselves as a living sacrifice), the Spirit of God points out to us specific sins of action, word, motive, and imagination.
Sometimes it is difficult for us to perceive the will of God. During such seasons of bewilderment we are to remain steadfast and to keep our behavior in line with the teachings of Scripture as much as possible.
We are to follow the cloud of blessing by day and the fire of the judgments of Godís Word throughout the nights of testing.
The distinction must be maintained between accusations of Satan and the pinpointing of sin by the Holy Spirit. Satan constantly is planting guilt and suspicion in our mind and accusing us of things Christ already has forgiven, or sins we have not actually committed and have no intention of committing.
Through experience, the disciple learns to recognize Satan and to resist his accusations. Such accusations are not sin and do not need to be confessed. Sometimes we must pray for faith and strength in order to overcome the depression, gloom, and fear that such accusations produce.
The sins of imagination, motive, word, and deed pointed out to us by the Holy Spirit, and that therefore must be confessed and forsaken, are those behaviors we accept and practice that we dwell on, that we do not firmly disown and thrust aside. These actions and imaginations are sins and must be named as such before the Lord.
It is important that we confess our own sins and not those of others. The Scripture teaches us to confess our own sins one to another, especially if we are ill and need healing from the Lord.
Confess your faults [sins; offenses] one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
It is not unheard of for people to get together and confess their sins in such a manner as to judge other people. They are using the occasion to accuse the other of sin.
For example, "I want to confess that I have hated you for a number of years because of the way you behave."
This may appear to the unlearned to be what James 5:16 is referring to, but it is not. James tells us to confess our own sins, not those of someone else.
One should say, "I am troubled with a spirit of hatred and would like to confess it as sin."
If your brother offends you, go to him in private and tell him of the offense. If he will not hear you, take the matter to the elders of the church. If he will not hear them, seek the counsel of the elders in order to know how to proceed. But do not attack him in public under the guise of confessing your sins.
If someone asks your forgiveness, being genuinely repentant, forgive him. If you do not, God will not forgive you. If you are unable to forgive, ask Godís help. It is extremely important that we do not allow bitterness, hatred, and a spirit of revenge to dwell in us. Such bring about spiritual death.
God has forgiven us much. He expects us to forgive those who sin greatly against us.
Our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations must be brought under the absolute domination of Christ. Bringing our personality and behavior under the lordship of Christ requires experience, prayer, faith, the knowledge of God's Word, and a strong determination to gain victory through Divine grace.
The subjection of the believer's deeds, words, thoughts, and whole personality to the rule of Christ is the forerunner of the Day of the Lord when, either willingly and joyfully or in a spirit of rebellion and terror, every creature in the universe will bow in subjection to Christ. All resistance to the rule of the Lord Jesus is sin.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (II Corinthians 10:3-5)
I John 1:9.
The Day of Atonement, the sixth of the seven feasts of the Lord, concerns Godís provision for the sins of Israel.
Three events that occurred on the Day of Atonement were as follows:
The blood of a young bull and the blood of a goat were sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat to make an atonement for the Holy Place, for Aaron and his household, for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and for all the congregation of Israel, "because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins" (Leviticus 16:14-17).
The sins of the children of Israel were confessed by Aaron and laid on the head of a living goat (Leviticus 16:21).
The scapegoat was removed from the camp, bearing away "all their iniquities to a land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22).
As portrayed in the Day of Atonement ceremony, the provision for the sins of God's people included confession, forgiveness, and removal.
There is a similar pattern in I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
When the believer maintains he has no sin he is deceiving himself. There is a possibility he is misapplying the teachings of Paul (II Peter 3:16; I John 1:8).
Most of us Christians, if we will think about our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations, must acknowledge there are occasions when we do exhibit a sinful disposition. The question is: Is there provision in the Christian salvation for actually cleansing human nature? We believe there is.
The Christian counterpart of the Day of Atonement works each day in our life as we confess our sins. It is not a case of examining our motives until we turn ourselves into gloomy, despairing souls. Rather it is a matter of living joyously in the knowledge that Christ has forgiven our sins and that we are without condemnation while the process of deliverance is continuing (Romans 8:1).
We are not to refer back to sins we committed before we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. All of that guilt has been cast behind Godís back and we have been washed as white as snow in the blood of the Lamb.
It is the sins we are practicing now, as Christians, that we must confess. If we will bring our bondages to our Lord He will break them by the authority and power of the Word of God, by the Virtue of His own body and blood, and by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit of God.
The tendency today is to view deliverance from sin as psychological healing. The idea is that we have emotional problems of one sort or another and if we will confess them and get rid of them we will have a happier and more successful life.
It is true that if we get rid of our sins we will profit, although not always in a material sense or even in this present world. But sin needs to be treated as sin, as the breaking of Godís commandments. We are not in a self-improvement course but in a program of salvation from sin.
When we seek deliverance from sin we do so in order to please God. God will bless us and be pleased with us if we lead a holy and righteous life. But if we as a Christian continue in our sins we are facing the possibility that we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
It is being stated today that we ought not to threaten people with Divine punishment because to do so brings condemnation. It is not condemnation that is brought when we preach the Word of God, but conviction. Conviction of sin is to be desired because apart from it we continue on, supposing Christ is pleased with us. Any sensible person would certainly want to know if Christ is displeased with him. Ministers of today who are not warning their followers of the terror of the Judgment Seat of Christ will answer to those same followers, in the Day of Christ, for their reluctance to tell their listeners the whole truth of God.
It never is Godís will for the disciple to continue in known sin. We are not debtors to our flesh that we are compelled to live according to its dictates (Romans 8:12).
Christ continues to loose us so we are free to worship God in the Spirit and according to truth.
The Christian experience is one of power, of love, and of a sound mind. We are not to remain in guilt and defeat. Spiritual strength and courage are founded on the sure knowledge that in Christ we are without condemnation before the Throne of God. Such assurance is necessary if we are to stand up successfully under the searching and cleansing of the Spirit of God, and under the stress of the warfare against Satan.
When the Holy Spirit points out to a Christian a sinful thought, word or deed, the disciple is to name it specifically, acknowledging it to be sin. Ordinarily confession is to be made to God alone.
However it often is helpful (and it is scriptural) to confess our sins to a fellow member of the Body of Christ.
Confession to a group of people may be made if they were injured or misled by our actions. Sometimes the Lord leads and enables us to make restitution, to repair the damage we have done.
When we confess the sin, as the Spirit directs us, the Lord is faithful and righteous to forgive the sin and to purge it from us. The forgiveness and cleansing is the new covenant fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Many sincere disciples will not sin knowingly and willfully even though they are tempted sorely. Satanís approach to such a believer may come in the realm of deception and delusion.
For example, let us imagine that a voice speaks to you and tells you that you are especially chosen of the Lord and that all Christians in the city in which you live are supposed to obey you and give reverence to you. You are "The Apostle," or "The Prophet" of your area, singled out by the Lord to have spiritual oversight of the particular geographical region.
Another of Satanís commonly-employed snares is in the realm of sexual conduct. You are supposed to have relations with a particular man or woman because in so doing you are illustrating the love between Christ and His Bride. Or, you finally have found the "one" who is meant for you and your present mate was a mistake on your part.
These are fantastic suggestions but they are characteristic of the snares with which Satan fills the spiritual environment. Notice how the one is aimed toward the spiritually ambitious believer, not the disinterested or lethargic. The other is pitched toward the romantic believer who would never seek out a prostitute but who can be snared by "romantic" forms of lust.
The watchful, overcoming disciple will reject the voices at once, since the teachings of Jesus forbid the elevation of a member of the Body of Christ over his brothers in the Lord, and the Lord's rules governing sexual conduct and marriage are explicit and are not to be violated.
Let us imagine further that instead of resisting the voice on the basis of Scripture, you entertain the notion. It is possible that, in spite of the Scripture, God indeed has chosen to exalt you over your fellow members of the Body of Christ or to make an exception for you in the area of sexual conduct. You always have had the feeling that you have a special destiny, and that God loves you in a special way and intends to treat you differently from other believers.
Your common sense may hold you back for awhile from overt acts but in your heart the concept is growing that you are especially favored of the Lord and cannot be deceived. Even though Christ has warned us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one," you cannot be deceived because you are one of Godís favorites.
You will not ask your husband or wife or a fellow disciple to help you judge the voice because this would ruin it all for youó"they" never would understand.
Now Satan has brought you quite a way into deception. Satan has no power over a Christian unless he can persuade the believer to cooperate with him and listen to his suggestions. If Satan can persuade the disciple to disobey the Word of God, he can bring him under his power. This is how Satan destroyed Adam and Eve.
The Christian believer is mistaken if he thinks that Satan will not lie persuasively to him. The overcoming disciple is mistaken if he believes that he cannot have dreams, visions, premonitions, and fleeting glimpses into the supernatural which are not of God.
The dedicated saint is mistaken if he believes that because he has surrendered to God he will not receive all kinds of pleasurable satanic sensations calculated to appeal to his individual personality. His consecration to God makes him the prey of the forces of darkness.
The disciple is making a mistake if he throws his personality open, saying in effect, "I am without a will of my own. I will move however God moves me."
The believer who adopts this attitude will be moved by a spirit, true enough. But it will not be the Spirit of God. He now is open to every spiritual "revelation" that the cunning forces of darkness can manufacture. This deception has arisen in part from the teaching that the Lord is looking for "empty vessels."
We wonder how many Christians there are in the world who believe God will not allow them to be exposed to the counterfeit revelations of Satan. Whatever the number is, that is the number of Christians who are living in deception.
Instead of believing himself to be immune to deception or presenting himself as a puppet for the Spirit of God to move in the manner of a puppeteer, the Christian must judge all things through the Scripture, through prayer, through ministry and help from fellow members of the Body of Christ, through the counsel of devout and experienced elders of the church, and through a consistent life of cross-carrying obedience to the Spirit of God.
The Christian always must be cautious concerning any "voices" that speak to him. He must "try the spirits" (I John 4:1). He must use his will and judgment in doing Godís will and avoid any tendencies toward passive, undisciplined yielding.
Never does God take away the believerís will. It is with the will that man chooses continually to obey Godís Word rather than the flatteries or threats of Satan. The will is associated with the power of judgment and choice in man. Our will is guided by the Scriptures and strengthened by constant prayer and by being decisive concerning the doing of Godís will in every matter.
We will serve the Lord. We will follow the Lord Jesus. We will read the Word of God and we will be guided by it. We will resist the devil. We will turn away from temptation.
How many would-be disciples of today are losing their crown of glory because they cannot make up their mind to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus?
We are not teaching that a person can save himself through his willpower. We are saved by faith in Christ. We are teaching that the will of man is of importance in the plan of redemption and that it is impossible to pursue the overcoming life until the will is strengthened in prayer and is razor-sharp.
"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." If Adam and Eve had used their wills and served God in the manner He commanded, they still would be enjoying the garden of Eden. God wants sons, not puppets.
Now back to the believer who is entertaining the suggestion that he is especially favored of the Lord. As we said, your common sense will keep you from rash behavior at first. The thrilling concept of spiritual preeminence or of sexual adventure and indulgence is germinating in your heart. Sooner or later the forces of wickedness by which you have been deceived will express themselves and you will say or do something that will shock your Christian sensibilities. The shock may cause you to enter a state of confusion.
Satan may move in at this point with powerful pressures of guilt and fear. You may feel forced to continue in the delusion because of the incorrect notion that since you are yielded to Godís will it is impossible for you to be deceived.
If you submit to the fear and confusion and continue to assent to the deception that you are an especially chosen person in the realm of authority or sexual license, although this deception already has borne evil fruit in your life, you are starting down the long dark road to total deception and demonic bondage.
Rather than submitting to the fear and confusion you may wish to be delivered. Deliverance from the power of demons always is available to people through the blood atonement that Christ has made on the cross. Humble yourself before God and confess with your mouth that you have believed yourself to be especially chosen and now you doubt that the voice that told you this was of God.
Confess to the Lord Jesus every aspect of the problem, from the moment that you first began to entertain the spirit of preeminence or of favoritism in the area of sexual behavior. Ask the Lord to judge the situation. Ask Him to show you the truth, and believe that He will do it.
Do not be proud of your spiritual discernment, experience or abilities. Never fear that you will lose something of God by asking the Lord Jesus to judge your deeds, words, imaginations, and motives. God will not be insulted and draw away from you even if the word and desire you thought you received actually was from Him. Remember, Satan wants you to keep away from the light, away from Christ's judging and delivering power.
It often is true we are attacked in the area that in the future will prove to be our destiny, the destiny for which our personality is best suited. The appeal may be to the strongest part of our personality. The temptation comes as a warped, perverted form of what some day will be our inheritance. All elements of our personality, the great and the small, must first be brought down to the death of the cross before they can be elevated to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus was tested by Satan in the three areas that today are His inheritance in the Presence of the Father.
When you confess your sins, doubts, fears, or questions, God will receive you. He understands all about the battle.
Anything God has given to you can stand any reasonable examination to which you wish to subject it.
The wisdom that comes from above is gentle, always willing to be questioned and investigated. Righteousness always runs toward the light that its deeds may be shown to have been performed in God.
It is Satan who desires that ideas be buried in the darkness of your mind and heart, and who floods you with fear when you attempt to bring your imaginations and motives out into the open. Satan cannot stand the light, but God dwells in the light. When you confess your deeds, words, motives, and imaginations, you are bringing them to the light of God so they can be judged.
Confess the thoughts and deeds of preeminence, lust, hatred, or whatever you are suspicious of and troubled about in your heart and life. Ask God to judge your behavior. Be specific when you name the behavior in question. Beseech God to put His fire on the questionable thoughts or actions.
If you are troubled and bound, filled with guilt and fear, confess your problem to a mature Christian of the same sex as yourself. Ask him or her for prayer and counsel. "Confess your faults (sins; offenses) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16). God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, as well as to heal us physically.
From this point onward, resist the wicked thoughts and deeds, resting in the strength of Christ as you do so, and Satan will flee from you. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Never, never, never give up! God does not change His mind. We are in a warfare.
Keep walking in righteousness, remembering that God "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13).
If you are bound tightly and "hopelessly" in the realms of darkness, why don't you try laughing at Satan and at the forces that bind you? Jesus possesses far more authority and power than is necessary to set you absolutely free in your spirit, in your soul, and in your body.
If you have not as yet realized that Christ possesses all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth, please be assured that such is the case. All that remains for the accomplishment of your deliverance is the exercise of your faith in Christ according to Godís Word. If you just canít seem to bring enough faith to bear on your problem, ask Jesus to give you some of His faith.
If you are in confusion, confess your confusion to a mature Christian of your own gender. As the two of you pray together, any working of Satan will be brought to the light and shown for what it is. The gender lines can be crossed if the person praying with you is your husband or wife. Otherwise, pray with someone of the same gender as yourself that Satan not take advantage of your emotional vulnerability.
The Church, the Body of Christ, has been designated by the Lord as the instrument He will use to judge angelic and human sin (I Corinthians 6:1-3). Whenever two or more Christians assemble and pray concerning sin, the authority of Divine judgment is present. The Spirit of Christ will discern the origin of the action in question and forgive and remove all evil associated with it.
The blood of Jesus is the basis for the legality of all Divine forgiveness and cleansing, the written Word of God is the Law, and the Spirit of God is the Power who executes the sentence whether to life or to death.
There is, in the spirit realm, weighty significance attached to the judgments and decisions of Spirit-filled saints as to the righteousness or sinfulness of a motive or deed. Whatever Christians, who are walking in the Spirit, bind on the earth is bound in the heavens. Whatever Christians loose on the earth is loosed in the heavens. Sins are forgiven, and sins are retained, according to the prayers of Spirit-filled saints.
Christian elders, when they are acting in the Holy Spirit, possess the authority to remit and to retain sins (John 20:22,23).
Wary attitude toward "voices."
Let us suppose a "voice" tells you that you are a prophet. You cannot from the Scriptures judge this statement as being from a righteous source or from an unclean source. It could be from God. However, it tends to exalt you. Therefore there is a possibility that it is not from the Lord.
Put such a word "on the shelf." Ask the Lord Jesus to prove it. Do not accept or reject it. If it is the Lord, sooner or later other people will testify that you are a prophet because they know you are godly and are speaking from the mouth of the Lord. You are not required to make any claims for yourself. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" is a folk saying that applies in this case. Your godly life and your prophetic word will speak for themselves.
Perhaps a member of your church acts spitefully toward you. In revenge you speak a word to him or her that is loaded with venom. Then the Spirit of the Lord reproves you for acting vengefully. You must confess immediately to the Lord the words that you spoke and the manner and spirit in which they were spoken.
Do not attempt to gloss over the sinfulness of your act or to justify yourself or your words. You have sinned, and there is no way to make the deed acceptable to God.
The fact that the other person "deserved" your spite is beside the point. Not for one minute will God accept our judging of another individual. We think, speak, and act in a holy manner because we are Godís children, not because other people treat us fairly.
When you confess your vengeful words and motives to Jesus He may or may not require that you ask the other personís forgiveness. The requirements for release vary with the individual circumstance. We always must be led by the Spirit of God when we are judging the sins in our life (Romans 8:13).
Sometimes it is better to say nothing than to confess to people that we have hated them. On other occasions, asking a personís forgiveness and making an effort to obtain peace and reconciliation is the surest road to happiness and blessing for all individuals concerned.
If neither side can forgive the other it is impossible for the unforgiving persons to have their sins forgiven. They have cut themselves off from the benefits of Calvary. They are walking in darkness.
Their load of oppression and bondage will increase as the cancer of hatred eats into their spirit, soul, and body. The end result will be death and Hell. The same kind of venom that we give out returns to us in increased measure. "If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mark 11:26).
We cannot make a blanket confession of how wicked we are and put away our fleshly sins all at once. It would be a relief if we could. Moral deliverance is a continual cleansing as the Holy Spirit probes the recesses of our heart.
The Spirit of God leads us in such a manner that specific sins are brought to our attention one or two at a time, similar to the manner in which the Spirit of God led Joshua against the cities of Canaan.
Confess the sins that you are aware of now and obtain victory over them through Godís grace. Then the Holy Spirit will direct you to another "city," so to speak. Your sins must be forgiven and cleansed through Spirit-led confession and repentance.
We are not teaching that repentance and confession is the only manner in which we are released from our bondages, or that we are to make a ritual of confessing our sins each day, or that the Holy Spirit will reveal a new sin each day.
The point being emphasized is that spiritual cleansing is a continuing process in the life of the overcomer, and when sin in oneís life has been revealed it is to be dealt with promptly and specifically. The process requires a period of time to accomplish.
Having dwelled on the need for our cleansing, it may be necessary to remind us that the Christian walk is a way of joy and confidence. Romans 8:1 is a good reference to keep in mind: "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Depression and gloom are not gifts from the Father. He commands us to "rejoice in the Lord alway" (Philippians 4:4). We may have one or two "Gethsemane" experiences along the way, but these are rare. Ordinarily, the Christian discipleship is one of proceeding with strength and confidence into the battle against the works of the enemy in our life.
If the believer is in a "valley" experience, do not let the preceding paragraph bring guilt or discouragement. There are prolonged seasons of weary, sometimes boring, seemingly endless, confusing, painful, plodding along. These are expected normal aspects of the Christian discipleship.
The saint always is to look up to Jesus, no matter how strenuous the particular battle and burden may be, and know there will come an end. We are more than conquerors through Christ. Our expectation and hope will not be cut off. We will dwell in joy and peace one day.
"This day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).
The "sixth" and "seventh" experiences.
The Day of Atonement is the sixth of the feasts of the Lord. It is significant that it was on the sixth day of creation that man was made in the image of God.
The image of God is a holy, compassionate moral character. Holy strength of character has not been the image of the Christians, in many instances. As we begin to confess our sins, and as we behold the Glory of God in the face of Christ, a strong, holy, compassionate character in the likeness of the strong, holy, compassionate character of the Father and Christ is formed in us.
The saints are destined to be in the image of Christ in spirit, in soul, and in body. God never will cease working until the molding has been accomplished.
Perhaps it is significant too that of the doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1,2, the last-mentioned doctrine, the one we leave to "go on to perfection," is the doctrine of eternal judgment.
We believe the "perfection" of Hebrews 6:1 is the "rest" discussed in Chapters Three and Four of Hebrews. The doctrine of eternal judgment corresponds to the Day of Atonement, and "perfection," or the "rest" of God, corresponds to the feast of Tabernacles that follows the Day of Atonement.
This would make perfection the seventh doctrine, and Tabernacles is the seventh feast. Students of the Scriptures believe the number seven denotes perfect redemption, in the numerical symbolism of the Scriptures. Also, it was on the seventh day that God "rested" from His work.
The judgment of rebellious spirits.
It is helpful for us to keep in mind, as we are allowing the Spirit of God to deal with the sin in our life, that the judgment of God is against evil spirits. The Lake of Fire has been "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
We are not implying that some people also may not finally arrive at the place in the everlasting fire. It appears some certainly will. But only those who cooperate with Satan and refuse to accept the forgiveness and lordship of Christ.
Nevertheless, Godís judgment is directed toward evil spirits and it is they, not people, for whom the Lake of Fire has been prepared.
There is a profound spiritual significance associated with confession and atonement. Every act of rebellion, of sin, of confession, of repentance, and every application of the blood of Jesus, echoes between Heaven and earth. It appears the unfolding plan of God directly affects Heaven as well as earth. Whatever makes an impact on one world sends reverberations throughout the other (Matthew 16:19; John 20:23; Luke 10:18,19; Ephesians 3:10; Hebrews 9:23,24; I Peter 1:12; Revelation 12:5-12).
Remember that the Most Holy Place, as well as the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, was cleansed during the Day of Atonement. Since the Ark of the Covenant portrays, among other things, the heart of the victorious saint, one could state the cleansing of the Most Holy Place symbolizes the cleansing of the heart of the Christianóthe heart of the Christian being, in a very real sense, a mercy seat from which God reigns.
It appears the Tabernacle in Heaven was cleansed through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus:
It was therefore necessary the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Hebrews 9:23,24)
Moses saw the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation when God called him up into the mountain (Hebrews 8:5). Perhaps Moses also beheld what is true in Heaven now, and what will be fulfilled in the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, the eternal Tabernacle of God.
All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. His Body, which is the Church, is the completeness of His Being. Christ is the Temple of God. His Church is the fullness of Him. John saw no temple in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22) because the Bride of the Lamb is the true Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2,3,9,10).
There is no temple in the new Jerusalem because the members of the Wife of the Lamb see God face to face. There is nothing between them and God, no temple to conceal His Glory.
Whatever else had to be cleansed in Heaven by the blood of Christ, one fact is certain: ChristóHead and Bodyóis the eternal dwelling place of God Almighty. Therefore the Body of Christ, being created from sinful human beings, must be cleansed from its innermost parts to its outermost parts.
The blood of Christ must be sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat, meaning that the blood of Christ must be brought into the innermost depths of the heart of the Christian believer, and also sprinkled on his actions. Otherwise he cannot be part of the Body of Christ, the Temple of God.
The source of sin.
Sin came fully developed into the garden of Eden. It did not enter in the form of a human being but as a serpent. The rebels from Heaven possessed ancient cunning when Adam and Eve were innocent children fresh from the creative hand of God.
Adam was not the father of liars nor was Cain the first murderer. Jesus informed the Jews:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
If we would recognize that it is the ancient rulers of darkness rather than mankind who are the authors of sin in the world and in the churches, we might take a more compassionate attitude toward people and also act more effectively when dealing with sin.
This is not to excuse people from the responsibility for their actions because every person is obliged to accept Christ and to resist the devil. It is to localize and focus on the root of the problem so we may be able to attack the source rather than the symptoms.
Our purpose also is to explain that Godís wrath is against rebellious spirits and that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, as Paul points out, but against the lords of darkness in the realm of spiritual personalities.
The Scriptures do not portray the details of the rebellion in Heaven. Isaiah, Chapter 14, Ezekiel, Chapter 28, and Revelation, Chapter 12 are three passages that mention that dreadful revolution.
Notice in Revelation, Chapter 12 that the removal of the dragon from Heaven is associated with his being overcome by the "brothers." Satanís power is being destroyed both in the heavenlies and also in the personalities of the Christians. It appears the doing of Godís will in the earth is related to victories gained in the spirit realm. We cannot bring people into the liberty of the glory of the children of God until the strong man, Satan, has been bound.
The blood of the Lamb and the Spirit-directed testimony of the saints are a powerful force in Heaven and on the earth. We believe Heaven listens intently as the saint passes judgment on his own actions, measuring them against the written Word of God and declaring them to be righteous or sinful, as the evidence may testify.
If the saint judges an action to be sinful, then he can depend on the atonement made by the blood of Jesus to forgive and to remove that sin. He can go free, and the Holy Spirit can judge the prince of the world (John 16:11).
It is interesting to note the thinking of the Jews concerning their "Days of Awe." This is the term used by them to describe the serious nature of the ten days from Rosh Hashanah (modern equivalent of the Blowing of TrumpetsóYom Tíruoh ) to Yom Kippor (the Day of Atonement).
The Jewish belief, which dates back to the second century, is that God judges the world on Rosh Hashanah, and the fates of all men have been decided by the time of Yom Kippor. These two observances are the days of judgment.
The knowledge of the Lord.
A primary concept of "atonement" is reconciliation. The human personality is in the image of Satan and in union with Satan, performing Satanís works. It is alienated from God. The Divine redemption restores it to friendship (reconciles it) with God.
But the Divine atonement, or reconciliation, goes beyond the restoring of friendship. The atonement has not been fully wrought until perfect union with God has been accomplished. The Divine redemption removes the individual from Satan and Satanís works, changes his image to that of Godís image, and brings him into perfect, complete union with God through Christ so the works of God are performed through him.
When we are considering reconciliation to God there are three areas of concern, three issues that must be dealt with thoroughly if we are to enter the rest of God.
Our choice of environment.
Our knowledge of the Lord
Of the three aspects, it is gaining the knowledge of the Lord that is the unique purpose of life on earth. The knowledge of the Lord includes faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word; the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God's will; humility; total dependence on the Lord; and joyous obedience to the Lord.
Our personality can be transformed in the spirit realm or on earth, apparently, as we obey the Lordís commandments. But God uses the dark scenes and problems of earth to teach us how to please God and walk with Him.
We are not speaking of the guilt associated with our choice of environment, with our personality, or with our lack of walking with God, for the guilt was taken care of on the cross of Calvary. We already have been reconciled perfectly to God as far as guilt is concerned, provided we continue to abide in Christ.
It is that which is satanic and self-willed in the three aspects that must be completely converted until the Father through Christ is All in all.
Our choice of environment has to do with our willingness or unwillingness to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and our rejection or acceptance of the holy, peaceful Presence of God and His angels. (I am not considering a rejection of the ways of the local churches to be a rejection of the ways of God, necessarily, for the churches often are social clubs and abound in the works of the flesh. The Christian churches sometimes repulse people who have the potential for becoming servants of God.)
As we pray to the Lord, He gives wisdom and grace so we may be able to come out from the devilish frenzy of the world and lead a holy, meek, quiet life, separated to God. We prepare ourselves for life in the spirit Paradise and in the Kingdom of God.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)
Notice that God does not receive us until we take the step of coming out from the uncleanness of the world. The true saint is not at home in the world. He prays, meditates in the Scriptures, and has fellowship with diligent disciples.
Numerous would-be Christians of our day cannot bring themselves to turn away from worldly companions and practices. They are not reconciled to God in this dimension of their personality. It would be cruel of the Lord to bring them to the spirit Paradise, for they would be uncomfortable with the kinds of creatures they would find there.
We reveal whether we are candidates for salvation or for Hell by the choices we make concerning our environment. It is folly to speak of being "saved by grace," with the idea of being accepted in the spirit Paradise when we die, while we still love the way of sinners.
Many today receive Jesus only because they desire to escape torment when they die, not because they love the Lord or His environment. Salvation is not meant to be a ticket by which we escape torment; it is a conversion of our choice of environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord.
Watching the television may be the greatest stumbling block in the area of choice of environment. Television watching can be a curse, a bondage. The true saints of the Lord do not sit in front of the television and gaze at the antics of the demons of covetousness, lust, murder, drunkenness, and sorcery.
The true saint does not fear the torment of Hell as much as he does the environment of Hell. No individual who dwells in joy in the Paradise of God would watch television if it were brought to him. He would recognize immediately that Hell had been brought into Paradise, and he would flee from the ugliness and the sights and sounds of the demonic frenzy.
If we love what we see on the television we do not love God or the environment of God. We still are filled with Hell. We have not been reconciled to God. We are not in the rest of God in this aspect. We still love what God despises. An atonement, a reconciliation, has not occurred in our choice of environment.
If you are bound by television watching, ask God for the strength to turn away from this source of demonic bondage.
We can escape worldliness as we pray to God for help, make the effort to turn off the television, and turn away from worldly friends. If God sees that we truly desire His environment He will take us to the spirit Paradise when we die. Also, He will assist us with our earthly environment, although much of it will remain unchanged because His purposes are being accomplished in the midst of the darkness and oppression.
Our personality also is in need of reconciliation to God. The indwelling sin of which Paul speaks is the satanic nature that dwells in the members of our body.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:17)
Indwelling sin must be removed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we obey the Word of the Lord, praying without ceasing, meditating in the Scriptures day and night, doing what we feel God would have us do, assembling with fervent saints on a regular basis (if we can find any fervent saints to assemble with), giving, ministering with the gifts God has given us, repenting of our sins and confessing them, then the Lord from time to time will remove part of the garment of sin, part of our fallen nature, and replace it with a robe of righteousness.
And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. (Zechariah 3:4)
"I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee"!
As the indwelling sin is removed, part by part, the pure Nature and Substance of Christ can be formed in us. We keep on being born again, in this sense. Step by step the Divine Nature replaces the fallen adamic nature.
Replacing sin with the Divine Nature is symbolized as follows:
And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre [turban] upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. (Zechariah 3:5)
The "fair mitre" speaks of the renewing of our mind in the Lord, and the "garments" are the robe of righteous conduct placed on our personality.
. . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; . . . . (Revelation 3:5)
Deliverance from indwelling sin is our reward for serving the Lord faithfully. The crown of life and robe of righteousness are the rewards that will be given to the overcomer.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
Only the Lord Jesus by His authority and power is able to deliver us from indwelling sin. We always are to resist sin with the strength God gives us, but the change of raiment must come from the hand of the Lord.
One of the greatest misunderstandings in Christianity has to do with the very nature of redemption. The believers are under the impression they are supposed to go through life trying to be like the Lord Jesus even though they know they will keep on failing to meet His standard.
Since we are unable to keep the Lordís commandments, it is reasoned, the purpose of Godís grace is to bring people to a godly environment on the basis of forgiveness. As soon as they arrive in the godly environment, Heaven, the spirit Paradise, they will be able to keep Godís commandments.
But God is able to do more than this. Through Christ we can obtain a change in personality even though we still are living in the valley of the shadow of deathóthe present world. Through the power and virtue of Divine grace we are able to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles today.
We must understand that God does not expect our adamic nature to meet the standard set by the Lord Jesus. God has assigned our adamic nature to the cross of Calvary, to extinction. God is giving us a new nature, the Nature of Christ, that meets Godís standards because it is Divine and not human.
If we would qualify for the removal of the sins of our fallen nature we must pray, read the Scriptures, assemble with fervent saints, obey the Lord, give of our material substance, minister with the gifts we have, and do all else the Scripture commands. We are to do this in our fallen, adamic nature. We are to keep on serving God to the best of our ability even though God as yet has not redeemed us totally from the chains of lust and self-seeking.
To actually meet God's standards of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct is not possible to our adamic nature, but we are to keep on serving God with the strength we do possess. We can refuse to sin. We can and we must strive diligently and consistently against the desires of our flesh, soul, and fleshly mind.
If we pray consistently, meditate in the Scriptures, do what God has said to the best of our ability, then God will, from time to time, remove from us some of the aspects of our fallen nature and replace them with the Divine Nature of Christ. The redemption of our personality consists of removing sin and rebellion and replacing it with Christís Personality.
However, such transformation will take place only as we obey God diligently. It will not take place if we are not faithful with all the opportunities, knowledge, gifts, and spiritual strength with which the Lord has entrusted us.
Our adamic nature can never be reconciled to God. Only Christ in us is accepted of God. If we wish to possess our souls, then we must faithfully do what God has instructed us. Only as we obey the Lord in our present difficulties will He come and give us a change of raiment.
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God come to us from Heaven as we faithfully keep the Word of the Lord.
We can be delivered from indwelling sin as the Lord hands us a change of garment. If we are faithful with the righteousness the Lord gave us upon receiving Christ, striving to obey the words of the Apostles, the Lord will keep removing our worldliness, our indwelling sin, and our self-will. He will give us a new heart.
Finally, when He comes, He will review our faithfulness. If we have sought continually to do His will, making full use of the Kingdom life and ability He has given us, He will complete the work of removing the flaws in our personality. He will crown the work of redemption by clothing our resurrected frame with a body of life, a body that seeks continually to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
The person who loves God and seeks Him will be given righteousness, holiness, and an obedient heart. The person who rejects God and His ways will be given delusion, uncleanness of heart and hands, and a spirit of rebellion.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:11)
The Divine justice of God requires that those who refuse to accept the Divine transformation be brought into the spirit realm in their untransformed condition. The holy will be holy and the filthy will be filthy.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
While we are on the earth we can hide our motives, and also our deeds to some extent. But in the spirit realm our motives as well as our deeds shall be open for all to see.
If we are a liar the lying nature will be clearly visible. If we are scheming to gain advantage over others, our motives and deceits will be apparent to everyone, including ourselves.
People are seeking to use the name of Jesus to escape the torment of the flames of Hell. But even more to be avoided is to enter the spirit realm dressed in our laziness, our lust, our backbiting, our sorcery.
Perhaps the contempt of other people and of the angels of God is more to be feared than the torments of Hell.
Notice carefully the following:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
What would it be like to come forth from the grave and be regarded with shame and everlasting contempt?
God is giving us every chance to repent and experience the Divine change of raiment. If we do, our reward will be great in the Kingdom. If we do not, we will experience shame and reproach. The expression "everlasting contempt" implies we never again will have an opportunity to be redeemed from our corrupt personality.
God has placed us on the earth in order that we might gain the knowledge of the Lord. As we stated previously, the knowledge of the Lord includes faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of Godís Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in Godís will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord. The unique goal of life on earth is to acquire the knowledge of the Lord.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are already blessed, for they will be filled. Those who hate God and His ways will be given their desireCan eternity without God or His saints. Let the holy be holy and the filthy be filthyCthis is God's edict.
The wise person will put seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above every other interest and pursuit in life.
A change in environment can be accomplished by a sovereign act of God, as we are brought from the darkness of earth to the light of Glory.
The transformation of our personality also is accomplished by a sovereign act of God, as the garment of sin and rebellion is removed from us and the Life and Nature of Christ are given to us.
However, as we understand it, it is the third area of reconciliation, the knowledge of the Lord, which is the unique purpose of life on the earth. We are placed on the earth so we might understand man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Apparently, the knowledge of the Lord, in particular humble dependence on God and stern obedience to God, cannot be learned in the spirit realm to the extent it can in our sin-cursed world.
We know the Lord Jesus was perfect in character. Satan could find no flaw in Him.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John 14:30)
The Lord Jesus was the Passover Lamb. As such, there could be no blemish in him.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (Exodus 12:5)
Pilate testified to this fact:
Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. (Luke 23:4)
Yet, the Scripture states that Christ was made perfect through sufferings.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
In what aspects was the Lord Jesus made perfect through sufferings?
First of all, He became better able to help us when we are tempted.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Second, He learned perfect obedience to the Father. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered while serving God in human flesh on the earth.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)
Let us consider this. The perfect Lamb of God, Christ, The Word of God from eternity, became better able to help those who are tempted, and He also learned obedience to the Father.
We know the Old Testament Prophets spoke first to Christ and then to the members of His Body. From the statements of the Prophets we believe Christ gained in the knowledge of God, including faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of Godís Word, the conversion of His will to perfect rest in Godís will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Father.
Christ, the Lord of Glory, was perfect in His Character. But, like all the sons of God, of whom He is the older Brother, He learned to trust God.
Some of the Psalms give insight into the agony of Jesus as He experienced the buffetings we also endure, especially as He hung on the cross.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalms 22:1)
What is being put to the test here? What area of personality is being perfected so Christ could be the Captain of our salvation?
Faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of Godís Word. God had said, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalms 16:10).
The faithfulness of Godís Word was all that stood between the Lord Jesus and everlasting torment at the hands of Satan. This was a terrible trialófar beyond our ability to comprehend.
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalms 22:2)
Hear the sufferings of Christ! We are to share His sufferings, for through them we are made perfect in the knowledge of God.
When we cry to God day after day, night after night, and our prayers are not answered, we learn to hope in God, to trust in God, to rest in God.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalms 22:3)
The Lord Jesus learned, as we also learn, to glorify God even when in an agony of doubt and dread. How could such knowledge be gained in the Paradise of God? How could the everlasting Word, the eternal Logos, have had an opportunity to experience the majesty of praising God when all hope is gone, while He still was the Light of the ivory palaces of Glory?
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. (Psalms 22:4,5)
The patriarchs have provided us with an example of suffering and patience, and faith in God. Christ and His Body have gained the Kingdom by witnessing the travail of the patriarchs just as the patriarchs gained the Kingdom by receiving the atonement and the Glory of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus, and also as they gain the Kingdom by witnessing the proof of God's faithfulness in us.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (Psalms 22:6)
Jesus grew in humility by His life on earth. We too, the members of His Body, must be humbled. Through the Lord Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, our proud nature is brought down to the dust of the ground. We finally come to realize, like Job of long ago, that we are worms.
The Lord Jesus was brought lower than any man; therefore God has highly exalted Him and has given Him a name above every other name. If we are willing to learn humility we too will be exalted according to the will of God.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalms 22:7,8)
Part of the suffering of Christ is rejection by people, even by our brothers and sisters in the Lord. As we share the suffering of rejection we learn to find our hope and joy in doing the will of the Father.
Trust in the Lord is learned as we are confronted with danger and dread. The Lord learned to trust God and we learn to trust God. When we call on the Lord in the midst of terror, the confidence and courage in God that He gained during His dark hour is given to us. Then we know no power in the heavens or on the earth can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my motherís breasts. (Psalms 22:9)
The Lord Jesus hoped in God from the time of His birth. Some of us may learn to hope in God late in our lifetime. But hope in God saves us. As long as we are alive on the earth we know God loves us and is providing an opportunity for us to grow in the knowledge of the holy One.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:14-16)
We shall never experience the agony the Lord suffered. We are not strong enough for such tormenting oppression. But if we have been called to rule with Christ we will share His suffering according to our measure. It is only as we suffer with Christ that we can rule with Him, because it is through our suffering on the earth that we gain the necessary knowledge of the Lord.
The majestic Christ, the Commander in Chief of the sons of God, went before us. He endured pain we never could bear. But each of us must share Christís suffering. As we do, we learn the trustworthiness of Godís Word as He also did. We learn obedience to the Father as He also did. We learn humility to God as He also did.
We are able to learn these lessons because His Life is in us. The Gold of His Divine Nature is given to us. Then it is hammered into shape, like the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, by the pressures that only life on earth can put on us.
Were it possible to learn faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of Godís Word, the absolute conversion of our will from self-will to rest in Godís will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, while dwelling in the spirit realm, there would have been no area of personality in which the Lord could have been made perfect. But only in the valley of the shadow of death that the world is could He, and we, gain these aspects of the knowledge of the Father.
The pressures and problems of life are designed to teach the sons of God to cease seeking their own will, to cease relying on their own wisdom, understanding, knowledge, talents, and strength, and to commit their way to the Lord. The things that come upon us press us until we turn to God, until we learn to lean on the Lord in every matter, great and small.
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 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)
It appears to be assumed in numerous Christian churches that there is no spiritual counterpart of the wilderness wandering of the Israelites. The idea seems to be that we sprinkle the blood of Jesus on our personality while we are in Egypt, in the world, and immediately we are ready for Heaven, for the land of promise (as we understand the land of promise).
However, such is not at all the case. If we are to learn of God, if we have been called to rule in His Kingdom, we must experience the school of the wilderness. It is in the wilderness of life that we learn the knowledge of the holy One of Israel.
When we come home to be with the Lord, and forever after, we are to remember the lessons we learned while enduring the battles and anguish of life on earth in a sinful body. We have been taught these lessons because one day we will be in a place of great responsibility.
Satan was created a perfect being in the hand of Christ. But Satan fell through pride. Christ is calling us to the highest throne in Godís creation. Therefore He is making sure we will be humble of heart and keep all of Godís commandments.
The Lord God has led us through the problems and pains of life in order to humble us. We must come to realize we are worms in Godís sight. Until we do, we cannot be trusted with the powers of the age to come.
The Lord God has led us through anguish and tests of all kinds to see what is in our heart, whether or not we will keep His commandments.
Doesnít God know what is in our heart? Yes, He does. But it is our actions that God judges. We are judged according to what we do in our body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
"According to that he hath done."
Many of us might prefer that God would judge us according to our intentions, but this is not what takes place. Our actions prove what is in us. God and we learn what is in our personality when we are in the fire of pain, dread, and perplexity.
The current overemphasis on imputed righteousness has caused a withdrawal from reality of many churches. They no longer are lamps of righteousness. The light of the testimony has been extinguished by sin and self-seeking.
Only the good works of the saints can serve as the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Since God judges our heart by our reactions to the pressures and pains of life on earth, it is of great importance that we do not overemphasize imputed righteousness (righteousness ascribed through faith apart from our behavior). There is a place in the plan of redemption for imputed righteousness.
But if imputed righteousness is carried to the point that we do not learn to serve the Lord in the problems of life, preferring instead to act as any unsaved individual, not growing in faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of Godís Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in Godís will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, then we have missed the whole purpose of our life on earth.
The testimony of Jesus is something God and men can see.
God humbles us and causes us to hunger and thirst after things or relationships or circumstances. He may deny our most intense desires for a season, giving only what is necessary for the moment. This too is part of the curriculum. God may keep us doing that in which we take no joy. These two arms of the cross, the delay in granting our desires and requiring us to continue in unpleasant circumstances, shape our attitude toward God until it is acceptable to the Father.
Neither we nor our fathers have experienced previously the "manna" with which God nourishes us and keeps us moving forward. God is God and He always is doing a new thing.
We eventually come to understand no person can truly live only by the things of a material environment. We are to live by every Word that comes from Godís mouth. We are to be humbly dependent on God every moment of every day from now through eternity.
We can learn humble dependence on the Lord only in the valley of tears, of bitterness, through which we are passing.
It is important that we seek a holy environment. If we do, God finally will bring us to the spirit Paradise to be with the Lord, the saints, and the holy angels.
It is important that we keep the Word of the Lord, persevering until He grants us a change of raiment. If we are faithful in the work of sanctification now, then at His coming He will complete our transformation, and we will be in His image and in complete union with Him.
Environment and transformation will be perfected in the spirit realm for those who have pleased the Lord by their conduct in the earth, who have shown themselves to be worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Our life on earth especially is for the purpose of giving us the knowledge of the Lord. It is here, by means of the problems and pressures of the world, that our proud strength is broken and we learn to depend totally on the Lord for every aspect of existence.
Our environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord must be perfected before the Day of Atonement has accomplished its intended work and we have been reconciled fully to God.
The Year of Jubilee.
I John 2:2 teaches us that Jesus "is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:18-21) will bring the blessing of the atonement to the whole earth. This is not to say that all persons eventually will be reconciled to God, for it appears some will reject the salvation that is in Christ, sealing their own eternal doom.
The earth-wide deliverance that now is at hand is portrayed in the Jewish celebration of the Year of Jubilee.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:9,10)
"In the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land." The jubilee of release results from the judgment of the Day of Atonement. The Year of Jubilee, which was announced every fiftieth year on the Day of Atonement, typifies the day of deliverance for the earth at the appearance of Christ and His Body.
Two overlapping years.
The Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement mark the beginning of the new agricultural year (as well as the end of the old). The feast of Passover begins the religious year.
The Jews have two overlapping years, just as the United States has a calendar year and fiscal year that overlap. The Jews today seem to regard the new year that occurs at the time of the blowing of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah ) as being the New Year, just as the United States regards the calendar year that commences on January 1 as the New Year. July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, is not as widely celebrated.
So it is with us Christians. We have a "year" that begins with "Passover" (our first approach to Christ) and a "year" that begins with the Blowing of Trumpets (the time when Christ the King comes to us to judge our sins). These both occur as part of the one redemption that we have in Christ.
We commence a new way of life at our "Passover" when by faith we sprinkle the blood of Jesus on our life and flee from "Egypt" (the world, the spirit of the present wicked age). We receive Christ and are baptized in water. Our "Passover" experience begins our life and walk with God.
When we come in our experience to the Christian counterparts of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement it is as though we have arrived at another beginning.
It is not that we have come to a new Christ or a new cross or a new Holy Spirit. A Christian never should "remove the old landmarks" no matter how advanced in God he thinks he may have become.
Passover is supposed to be repeated annually. Today, thirty-five hundred years after the exodus from Egypt, the Passover is observed by the faithful of Israel. Godís method of teaching is to have us do a thing again and again and again until it becomes part of our personality.
The Communion service is our equivalent of the Jewish Passover. At the Lordís Table we bring to mind the death of our Lord on the cross and our union with Him in His death and resurrection. The repetition of the Communion service implants the death of Christ on the cross in our personality and also imbues us with the concept that we continually must eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.
By talking about a "New Year" with Christ we are not suggesting that we are to forget or forsake our experience in Christ up to this time.
The original Passover occurred on the last day the Jews spent in Egyptian bondage. The first week of Unleavened Bread was observed during the first seven days of the Exodus (the Israelites left at midnight of the fifteenth of Abib, which is the high Sabbath, the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread). The remaining feasts took place at a later time because the celebration of them depended on the existence of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Levitical priesthood, and farmsónone of which the Israelites had at the time they departed from Egypt.
The land of Egypt is symbolic of the spirit of the age in which we live, and Pharaoh typifies Satan. We observe Christ, our Passover, on the last day of our bondage to Satan and his kingdom of darkness. Then we "come out of Egypt" under the mighty hand of God. Therefore, Passover begins the "first month of the year" to us (Exodus 12:2).
The year that begins with Passover contains the seven feasts, the last of which (Tabernacles) takes place in the middle of the seventh month. The year commencing with Passover is the year of redemption, of salvation. It is the period, symbolically speaking, during which the Lord God brings the believer all the way from the bondage of Satan and personal corruption to a wholly transformed creature in Christ, having been re-created in spirit, soul, and bodyóa perfect redemption.
There is another year, the year of kings, contracts, and birthdays. This year begins on the seventh month of the year that commences with Passover.
This new year does not go from Passover to Passover but from the Blowing of Trumpets to the Blowing of Trumpets. It follows the cycle of agriculture. It is oriented toward life on the earth rather than religious observances.
Whereas the year that begins with Passover symbolizes the redemptive revealing of God in Christ, the agricultural year, the year that commences with the Blowing of Trumpets, with Rosh Hashanah, portrays the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
So it is that we Christians begin a new year, so to speak, when we come to the Blowing of Trumpets. This new year begins with the culminating feasts of the work of redemption (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles). Instead of being a year wholly devoted to the redemptive acts of God toward men, its emphasis is the installation of the Kingdom of God in the earthóthe year of "doing business" through and with Christ.
As we start our "observance of Trumpets" we can begin actually to conquer our environment through Christ. We can begin to become a new creation in our daily living. We can begin to enter the rest of God. It is the start of our conquest of the land of promise and our rulership with Christ that extends into eternity.
We choose to believe in the complete transformation of our spirit, soul, and body into the image of Christ. We believe in the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son in us through the Holy Spirit. We believe it is Godís will to pour out on the saints the fullness of the anointing of the Holy Spirit so we can bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ to every man, woman, boy, and girl on the face of the earth.
In time past we have been bound by the world, sin, and self-will. God has proclaimed the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee occurs every fiftieth year, the number fifty speaking of Pentecost, of the outpouring of Godís Spirit on us.
The trumpet of the Jubilee sounds on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement. The coming of the King to judge and cleanse us, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, proclaims a jubilee of release to us. We are set free by the judging and casting out of the sin that is in us.
Because of the work of judgment of the Day of Atonement we now can look steadfastly toward God until total transformation, total indwelling, and total anointing are in our possession and operate in our daily lives.
Our progress toward absolute victory, toward absolute redemption, toward union with God through Christ, toward the doing of Godís will on the earth as it is in Heaven, is as the light that shines more and more to the perfect day. Our service to Christ will continue throughout the ages of ages, world without end.
Passover is the beginning and Tabernacles is the ending of the plan of redemption. All redemption takes place through Christ and is Christ. Such is the "year" of redemption. Redemption is the bringing of us all the way from union with Satan to total, restful union with God through Christ.
The Blowing of Trumpets, the feast that begins the year that corresponds to the cycle of agriculture, portrays the beginning of our role as the servant of the Lord. Throughout eternity we shall be kings and priests of God through Christ. Only Christ will have dominion over us.
One of the major purposes of the working of God in us is to bring us to the place where only Christ has dominion over us. Many idols must be torn from our heart before we are ruled by Christ alone.
A new creation.
As soon as we begin to confess our sins (Christian counterpart of the Day of Atonement) we notice that a transformation actually is taking place in our personality. It is not the same old hoping somehow, someday, God will do something about the imperfections of our nature. A difference in our personality is becoming evident to us and to those around us.
Gradually a reshaping of our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations occurs. We can observe the difference in ourselves. The Holy Spirit of God takes the blood of the cross into the depths of the deceit of our being, bringing the judgment of God on the evil nature that has roots and branches throughout the infinitely convoluted core of our personality.
We are astonished at the intricate maze of subtleties that can be uncovered in the "desperately wicked" heart of a believer. We realize in our spirit that this is the beginning of the Year of Jubilee for the earth. The Kingdom of God has come to the earth and it has begun in us.
It is not a new gospel, as we said before. The foundation of Christianity is the Rock, Christ Jesus, and Him crucified and resurrected. The foundation has been laid well by the Christian ministry.
The experience of confessing sins under the direction of the Holy Spirit comes to us with the force of uplift of a "new year." Victory in spiritual warfare transforms the doctrines we have upheld so faithfully into the flesh and bone of reality.
Confession of sins is not new.
We do not intend to leave the impression that the Christian churches never before have experienced the confession of sins under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Just as speaking in tongues has been in evidence throughout church history whenever Christians have come before God in sincerity, so it has been true that conviction of sin in the believers also has been in evidence.
The writings of the Christian saints will demonstrate, we believe, that their individual histories illustrate the kinds of relationships with God we are suggesting in our book. The Holy Spirit made them aware of the condition of their hearts and of their words and deeds, just as He is making us aware of our sins and rebellions in the present hour. There is nothing new about the confession of their sins by Christian believers.
The fullness of God has been available to every believer since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the first century. The churches have gone through dark and troubled days since then. It is time now to turn to the Lord and seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength until He comes and rains righteousness on us (Hosea 10:12).
Judgment begins with the house of God.
We must purify ourselves through the authority of the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.
. . . but we know, 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)
We Christians hope to be like the righteous Jesus when He appears. This is a vain hope unless we obey the Spirit now. "Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." The Lord cannot be much clearer than that.
Judgment always begins with the house of God. The nearer we are to the Lord, the stricter our judgment. We of all people shall be examined concerning every one of our sins. The prophets never can speak comfortably to Jerusalem until "she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:2). Jerusalem, the family of God, receives the double portion of blessing and anointing and also the double punishment for her sins.
On occasion the Lord may wink at the ignorance of the world. But God never overlooks one spot or wrinkle in His Church. The Lord will present to Himself a glorious Church, "not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:27).
Any teaching contrary to this may entice the disciple into the delusion that practical, daily holiness of life is not a necessary part of Christian discipleship. Such a concept of the Gospel can lead only to destruction.
Lazarus, a type of the Blowing of Trumpets.
The Christian who has accepted Jesus as his Lord, has been born again, and has been baptized with the Holy Spirit, but who has not had the opportunity to confess his sins under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may be compared to Lazarus, the friend of Jesus.
The raising of Lazarus on the fifth day is a picture of the personal "Trumpets" experience, of spiritual resurrection from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead by the Spirit of the Lord, but he came forth bound hand, foot, and face with graveclothes.
We too have been raised from the dead by the Spirit of Christ. But the graveclothes of the sins of the flesh are hindering us from acting as we would. Now Christ commands: "Loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44).
It may be noticed that Lazarus had received new life from Jesus. Yet, his hands, feet, and face were bound, preventing him from conducting himself as he wished. Jesus had the power to strike off the graveclothes with a word, just as He did the chains of Peter in jail (Acts 12:7). However, Jesus commanded the people standing nearby to untie Lazarus.
So it is with us. Jesus possesses the power to cast off all our bondages with the Word of His power. But in His own wisdom He directs people to remove our bondages from us. Sometimes we become quite upset at this process.
Judgment liberates Christians.
We do not have to be afraid of Godís judgment on our life. Daniel tells of three Hebrew men who were thrown into a furnace that had been fired up until it gave off terrific heat. When the three emerged from the furnace the only change in them was that their bonds were gone.
The three saints did not come from the furnace naked, everything of value to them destroyed. They came out clothedónot a hair of their heads singed (Daniel 3:19-27).
They had been bound and thrown into the furnace by heroes of Nebuchadnezzarís army. Because the furnace had been heated excessively, and the warriors had to approach close enough to cast the three Hebrews into the flames, the fierce flames and blistering heat given off by the oven killed Nebuchadnezzarís men. But the saints walked out as though they were going for a stroll in the park.
No fire can harm the faithful saint who is willing to be taken by the Lord through the fires of judgment. We know Christ was present in the furnace because four men were seen walking about in the flames.
He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Daniel 3:25)
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (I Peter 4:12)
The Lord Jesus never forsakes us no matter how hot the fire gets (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:38,39; Hebrews 13:5). "They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, that cannot be removed, but abideth forever" (Psalms 125:1). "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber" (Psalms 121:3).
Purging the House of God.
The Christian Church is the new-covenant counterpart of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Godís throne (the Ark of the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle) is being created in the hearts of the believers (II Corinthians 6:16).
God has no intention of making a sinful, self-willed heart His eternal home (I Corinthians 6:15-20; II Corinthians 6:16-7:1). The Christian, therefore, should be diligent in confessing his sins as they are revealed to him by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
We have come now to the time in our Christian experience when the Lord desires to drive the money changers, so to speak, from the house of God (the hearts of the believers, not the buildings in which they assemble).
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
John the Baptist said concerning Jesus: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he shall throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but he shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:11,12).
We are to be baptized not only with the Holy Spirit but also with the fire of Godís judgment on the sins we are practicing. We can stand in the Day of Judgment if we will anchor our hope inside the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 6:19). If we choose to do so, we can avail ourselves of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, in this manner cleansing ourselves from our sins.
The following passage describes the Christian Day of Atonement:
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)
We are of the opinion that the above-mentioned confession, forgiveness, and cleansing is the Christian fulfillment of Israelís Day of Atonement.
John the Baptist commanded the people of Israel to repent, to confess their sins, and to be baptized. The Holy Spirit brought forth the ministry of John just before it was time for the Lord Jesus to be revealed.
In the same manner the Day of Atonement comes just before the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles typifies, we believe, the coming of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit to dwell forever in the believer (John 14:23).
In concluding our study of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement we would like to add two more concepts.
The first concept is that the reconciling of the believer to God through Christ, which is the meaning of the term make atonement, includes more than casting out the sins of the flesh. In addition to our fleshly sins we have inherited a self-seeking, self-centered, self-willed, rebellious nature.
The lusts of the flesh are alien to us. They are residues of Satan that continue to cling to our flesh because they draw nourishment from us.
However, self-will is not alien to us. It is our own corrupt personality. We are to confess our pride, self-centeredness, and rebellion in the same manner in which we confess the lusts and hatreds of our flesh.
The process of deliverance from the rebellion of our personality includes the sufferings of the cross. Our personal cross is the remedy for our rebellious personality. It is only as we suffer that we are permitted and enabled to reign with Christ, because it is our cross that slays the pride, stubbornness, rebellion, and self-centeredness in us.
God develops and proves our obedience to Himself by requiring us to bear our cross after the Lord Jesus. He who is not willing to obey God in all that God requires of him can never be reconciled completely to God.
The second concept is that of the program of reconciliation. First, the Lord Jesus was made perfect in obedience through the things He suffered.
Next, the members of the holy remnant that God is calling are being reconciled to the Father by deliverance from bodily lusts, and from rebellion of personality.
After the warrior-remnant has been purified, all of the elect, the true Israel, will be reconciled to God.
Finally, every saved member of the nations will be reconciled to God.
The thousand-year Kingdom Age is for the purpose of reconciling all Israel and the saved nations to God. There then will be one last testing and purging. After that, the Father will remove the earth and the heaven that now exist and replace them with a new heaven and a new earth. On the new earth will be placed the Wife of the Lamb and the people who have been saved from the nations of the earth.