Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sin and Death (6)

Paul said in Romans that Death reigned from the time to Adam to the time of Moses.

Death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14).
Who was this Death that reigned on earth. Death was a name of god of the people of Canaan. He was opposed to a better-known god called Baal, who represented life. This suggests that Death was the name of prominent spiritual principality and power. This controlling spiritual power ruled the spiritual powers of wickedness from the time of Adam to the time of Moses.

God had given authority over the earth to Adam and Eve. When they sinned, they surrendered to the powers of evil, so they gained authority over the earth that God had given to humans. However, the spirit who deceived them was not strong enough to gain control, so an evil spirit called Death rose to dominate the spiritual forces of evil. He focussed on destroying the people and earth that God had created.

For if by the one man’s offense Death reigned through the one (Rom 5:17).
Sin reigned in Death (Rom 5:21).
The powers of evil are not united, so they are always fighting amongst themselves for dominance and control. The giving of the law brought a shift in control over the powers of evil, as once God had given his standards in a written form, along with curses for disobedience, Satan, the accuser, ascended to dominance. He was able to go into the presence of God and accuse humans of sinning, and demand the right to implement the curses required by the law. This skill enabled him to regain control over the powers of evil.

When Jesus died on the cross and ascended into heaven, the accuser lost his place and was thrown out of heaven and cast down on the earth (Rev 12:10). Satan now has to work by deception, persuading humans that he is not defeated and persuading or tricking people into sinning.

This clarifies the Hebrew expression translated as “you shall certainly die” in Genesis 2:17. The Hebrew doubles the word death/die for emphasis. It uses the “infinitive absolute with an imperfect” and the presence of the infinitive absolute intensifies the meaning of the imperfect verb. This is quite common in the Hebrew Bible.

A literal translation would be

To Death, you will die.
Once we realise that Death is a powerful, controlling, spiritual power, we can understand that God was warning that if they sinned, they would destroy their lives, by placing themselves under the control of Death, a nasty evil spiritual power. That is what happened.

By rejecting the wisdom of God, they surrendered to the authority the spiritual powers of evil and these spiritual forces were controlled by an evil spirit called Death. He would reign until the time of Moses, when Satan rose to dominance again. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, they were still free, but they were battered and beaten by the powers of evil controlled by their leader called Death.

Paul said something similar in his letter to the Corinthians. He was explaining that brother, who was deliberately sinning and rejecting correction, should be excluded from the fellowship.

Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 5:5).
When the man was excluded from the fellowship, he lost the spiritual protection that came through the oversight of the elders and the other Christians standing with him against attacks of evil. Because he would lose his spiritual protection and continued to sin, he would be in a situation where he was extremely vulnerable to Satan and his spiritual powers. This is exactly the same as what happened when Adam and Eve were excluded from the safety of the garden, except that the controlling spiritual power was Satan , rather than Death.

Therefore, “to death you will die” means being excluded from spiritual protection and being made vulnerable to Death and his spiritual powers. It is the same as being handed over to Satan (1 Cor 5:5).

The letter to the Hebrews contains a similar message.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil (Heb 2:12).
Jesus came to earth and went to the cross to destroy the physical power of the devil. He also destroyed the power of the spirit called Death.
In John’s first letter, he explains that Cain was controlled by the evil one.
Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother (1 John 3:12).
Adam had surrender to the powers of evil, so his son Cain was also controlled by the “evil one”, aka Death. That is why he put his brother to death.
However Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).
John then explained that we know we have been saved from the power of Death, because we love each other.
We know that we have passed from Death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in Death (1 John 3:14).
Literally, we have changed our residence to the place of life in Jesus, from the place controlled by Death.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sin and Death (5)

What Death?
Humans did not die physically on the day they rebelled against God, so what happened?

Humans died in four ways.

  1. Separation from God was spiritual death. God did not need to change humans, but because humans were created to live in relationship with him, once he withdrew from them, they could only half function. Without God, they were no longer fully human, so in a sense they had died. The phrase “you shall surely die” can mean physical death (eg Genesis 5:5), but it can refer to estrangement from a life-giving relationship (eg Prov 12:28).
  2. Once they were shut of the garden, they lost access to the tree of life. Because they lost the opportunity for the resurrection of their bodies, they were stuck in permanent mortality. They would did physically, when they had been created for restriction to life.
  3. The spiritual powers of evil attacked Adam and Eve and disrupted their ability to perceive the spiritual. This allowed the powers of evil to hide from them, while they were attacking them. They could attack without being noticed. This change in perception also made it difficult for them to hear God speak.
  4. Adam and Evil placed themselves up to an evil spirit called Death. I will explain this in the next post.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sin and Death (4) Results

Being expelled from the presence of God and sent into a world controlled by the powers of evil without and spiritual protection was a disaster for the first humans. The powers of evil hated God and wanted to destroy his earth.

Humans had been given authority on earth, but they had surrendered it to the powers of evil. If the powers of evil could keep humans hostile to God, they could retain their stolen authority forever. They were not able to destroy humans, because this would destroy the basis of their authority on earth. If there were no humans, God would be free to take back his earth again, because it would release him from his covenant that gave authority on earth to humans without recourse.

To cement their authority on earth, the powers of evil set about doing their best to modify brains (flesh) of the people created in God’s image, so that they would never escape their clutches and turn back to him. They achieved this by making subtle changes to human flesh, and particularly the brain, which is made of flesh.

They could not change them too much, or modify them to be sub-human, because they would cease to be human, and they would lose their authority on earth that came through God’s covenant with humans. (I suspect that many of the fossils found by palaeontologists are actually sub-human species created by the powers of evil going to far.)

The corrupted flesh that has been inherited by all human descendants affects us in a variety of ways.

  • Mind – the human mind still operates in the same way, but is vulnerable to deception and can sometimes miss the truth (2 Cor 11:3; 2 Tim 3:8).
  • Emotions – emotions still operate in the same way, but good feelings now have a distorted form: rage, dread, melacholy, horror.
  • Will – the human will has been distorted, so that it is difficult to please God and hard to make decisions that align with his will.
    Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 5:8).
  • Desires – these have been biased away from God and towards evil.
    The flesh lusts against the Spirit (Gal 5:17).
    corrupted by its deceitful desires (Eph 4:22).
  • Memory- still operates in the same way, but the spiritual powers of evil make sure that it is filled with bad/evil experiences that corrupt our mind and imagination.
  • Spirit – this is the faculty that seems to have sustained the most damage. Humans still have the ability to perceive spiritual things, but it has been significantly weakened. They are not aware of the presence of the powers of evil, even when they are attacking. They also find it really difficult to hear God.
Every human inherits the flesh that manifests these problems.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sin and Death (3) Flesh

They spiritual powers of evil quite likely achieved this evil purpose by altering human DNA. There is no doubt that human DNA has changed over time, but these changes are usually attributed to natural causes. I presume that some of the changes were made after humans were expelled from the garden and thousands and thousands of evil spirits were available to join together in attacking them.

The changes they made to the brains of the first couple would be passed on to all their descendants causing a change in human character and personality. This was too good an opportunity for the powers of evil to go by, as once the numbers of humans on earth increased, they would be spread much thinner, and less effective.

In the New Testament, the “old man” that causes us to sin is described as “the flesh” (Rom 6:19).

That which is born of the flesh is flesh (John 3:6).
The ones according to the flesh are inclined to the things of the flesh;
The inclination of the flesh is death,
The inclination of the flesh is hostile to God
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God
if you live according to the flesh you will die (Rom 8:5-8,13).
While we were in the flesh, the passions of sin… were at work in our members to bear fruit to death (Rom 7:5).
I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (Rom 718).
If we think of “the flesh” as the human body or brain, which we inherited from Adam, and which was damaged when he was attacked by the powers of evil, it would explain why the person who has not been saved by Jesus, struggles to do what is right.

Paul did not understand DNA or the working of the human brain, but he recognized that something in our body (flesh) that we have inherited from Adam has twisted our behaviour towards evil. Like the rest of the people of his time, he assumed that the driver of human behaviour was the heart, but we now know that the mind and the will are located in the brain. Therefore, thinking of the “the flesh” as a corrupted brain might be the best way to understand what Paul was attempting to explain to the Romans.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sin and Death (2) and the World

Several things happened to humans as a result of being excluded from the presence of God.

  1. They lost access to eternal life. They were not changed, because they were already mortal. Even if they had not sinned, they could not live forever in their current form of existence. They would need to experience a resurrection of their bodies, just as we will, to enter eternal life. (Jesus lived a perfect life and was not affected by sin, but he still needed to be resurrected before he could ascend into the presence of the Father in the heavenly realms.) This resurrection life was represented by the tree of life in the garden. When they were shut out of the garden, they lost access to opportunity for the resurrection of the body, so they lost eternal life. They were not physically changed, but they got stuck in their mortality.
  2. There perception changed.
    The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised they were naked (Gen 3:7).
    This was not a physical change. Before they sinned, they saw everything in terms of God’s perspective. Once they had sinned, they saw everything in terms of their own categories and values. What they saw was the same, but their perception of it was different. From God’s perspective, their nakedness reflected his image, so it was beautiful, so they did not see it. From their perspective, their nakedness was inadequate compared to God’s beauty, (though it was in his image) so they were ashamed.
  3. Away from the presence of God, Adam and Eve had no spiritual protection. God had given authority over the earth to humans, but by submitting to the tempter, they had surrendered authority over the earth to the spiritual powers of evil. This was a dreadful situation to be in. They had been sent out of the peaceful garden into a world that was controlled by the powers of evil. By sinning, they had given these evil powers permission to attack their lives, and separated from God, there was nothing they could do to resist their evil devices.
  4. The evil powers went hard out to work to destroy God’s earth. This is why tilling the earth became hard physical work. The powers of evil had filled it with nasty weeds and harmed some of the ground. When God told Adam that the ground was cursed, he was prophesying what the evil powers would do. He did not have to do anything to make it happen, because the powers of evil did it anyway.
  5. We are not told how and when this happened, but the spiritual powers of evil would have attacked Adam and Eve hard. They would have used their power to attack them physically and change them. We know now that injuries to the brain can change a person’s personality and character, as well as their ability to decide and choose. I presume that the powers of evil attacked Adam’s brain and changed him, so that he had a greater capacity to do evil and found it hard to do good.
  6. The powers of evil seem to have changed the shape of Eve’s pelvis and its supporting muscles, so that childbirth became more difficult. This fulfilled the curse spoken in the garden.
    I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,
    in pain you will bring forth children (Gen 3:16).
We have not idea how what a terrible place the world had becomes. These hundreds of thousands of evil spirits are still at work in the world, but they have to spread themselves across 6 billion people. Even with the benefit of the cross, some Christians can find it hard to deal with a couple of attacking spirits. Imagine if the entire host of fallen spirits all attacking one couple and their children, with no spiritual protections. Fortunately, they were divided, and some of them were more intent on messing up the world, but the onslaught faced by Adam and Eve would have been overwhelming.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sin and Death (1)

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were in unity with each and with God. They could perceive spiritually, as well as physically. They could talk with God, and they could see him, in a way that was real. They were free to choose how they would behave. God taught them his will, but they were free to disobey.

What Happened?

God had told Adam and Eve that if they disobeyed him, they would die.

You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat from it you will certainly die (Gen 2:17).
Yet after they ate from the tree, they carried on living. Adam lived for nearly a thousand years. This was not a sudden death, so what did happen to them? In what sense did they die? I will answer this question in the next few posts.

What did God did do?
God pronounced three curses" on the serpent, the woman and the man.

  1. He physically changed the serpent, by removing its legs and modifying its body so that it would have to crawl upon the ground.
  2. God is not recorded as changing Adam and Even in any way. He explained that their relationship to each other would be changed. This would be the natural outworking of their personalities, without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit. The man’s strength would distort into domination. The women’s sociability would distort into fear.
  3. The land would become hard to work and toil would be painful. However, God did not change the man, or the land. The land was changed by the powers of evil (more on that in a moment).
God withdrew from his people. His holiness meant that he could not be close to sin, so he had no choice but to withdraw from the sinful humans (Is 59:2). They had grieved the Holy Spirit, so he could no longer dwell with them in the way that he did.

The key thing that God did was to exclude Adam and Eve from the garden.

The Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:23)
He drove the man out (Gen 3:24).
Although God had warned them that they would die, he did not put them to death. Instead, he drove them away from his presence, and out of the place where he had been working. Certain death manifested in exclusion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Belloc’s Prophecy

Most people in the West assume that the struggle between Islam and Christianity is one that has to be won by force.

Joe Sobran explained in an article about the Catholic polemicist Hilaire Belloc written in 2001 why that is not so. In his book called The Great Heresies, written at time when Islam seemed backward and irrelevant, Belloc predicted that it would one day challenge the West again. He believed that a great Islamic revival, even in the twentieth century, was altogether possible.

Belloc saw Islam not as an alien religion, but in its origins as a Christian heresy, adopting and adapting certain Christian doctrines (monotheism, the immortality of the soul, final judgment) and rejecting others (original sin, the Incarnation and divinity of Christ, the sacraments). Its simple, rational creed had a powerful appeal to Arabs who had known only the arbitrary gods of grim pagan religions. It swept the Arab world, then made converts — and conquests — far beyond Arabia.

Christians had good reason to fear Islam… but because Islam has little attraction for Christians, the West has generally failed to grasp its appeal for others, its profound and permanent hold on the minds of believers...

Islam is a simple religion, easily understood by ordinary people. Its commandments are rigorous but few. When it conquered, its subjugated people often felt more liberated than enslaved, because it often replaced burdensome old bureaucratic governments with relatively undemanding regimes — and low taxes. As long as its authority was respected, Islamic rule was comparatively libertarian. It offered millions relief from their traditional oppression; for example, no Muslim could be a slave.

Belloc distinguishes sharply between Islam and such barbarous conquerors as the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan. The Mongols were purely destructive; they were known for slaughtering whole cities and making huge pyramids of severed heads. Such savagery was alien to the Muslims. Where they conquered, daily life usually went on much as before and culture thrived.

Man, especially irreligious man, is apt to equate power and progress. Many of those who say America is “the greatest country on earth” really mean only that America has fantastic military might, capable of annihilating any other country — and some of them, at the moment, are in the mood to do some annihilating. To the pious Muslim this attitude seems crass and barbaric. He may conclude from it that the decadent West understands only one thing: force.

And would he be far wrong? Belloc admitted that the idea of a new Muslim challenge to the West seemed “fantastic,” but only because the West was “blinded” by “the immediate past.” Taking a longer view, he saw Islam, though inferior in material power, as having a great advantage: its religious faith was still strong, while the West was losing its religion and consequently its morale. He thought it entirely possible that Islam would catch up technologically, while he doubted that the West would undergo a spiritual revival.
Joseph Sobran noted back in 2001 that the West is still strong, but it is dying. Islam is still weak, but it is growing.

Most Christians learn about Islam from the ugly caricature that is presented on Western television news, so they do not understand it's appeal in many parts of the world. This is unfortunate, because you cannot beat something that you do not understand.


I arrived home after a week away, to find that our clematis is flowering enthusiastically.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fallen Eagle

This happened last year. A one tonne eagle fell in an airport cafe called the Curry Capital.

Was it a sign?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Seeing Fortaste

If we are born again of the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, we should become more like Jesus, not just in character, but also in ability. Jesus had an amazing ability to see what was going on in people’s hearts. I am struck by his response to the woman at the well. She asked about the nature of worship. Most of us would have launched into a theological discussion with a few scripture quotes. Jesus said, “Where is your husband?” It seemed totally off the wall, but it was right on the nail.

He did that all the time. He did not respond to what people said, but to what was going on in their hearts. So he must have been able to see into their hearts, often before he met them (otherwise why did he end up at that well). You could say it was a word of knowledge given by the Spirit, but it seems more likely it was ability to see from his spirit in the same way that Elisha did with Gehazzi.

Therefore, as we grow more like Jesus, we should expect a foretaste of living like him. We should get better at seeing people the way that he saw them, as whole people with body, soul and spirit, not just physical beings. We should also get better at seeing what is going on in the spiritual realm, in the same way that Jesus saw Satan falling. We never teach people to expect these things, but that is what becoming a new Jesus-like person should mean.

We should encourage new Christians to expect to see into the spiritual realms, and to see other people they was Jesus saw them. We will not get perfect seeing until the final resurrection, and before then will have to live by faith more than by sight, but we should be expecting to get a foretaste of the resurrection.

While it is dangerous to become obsessed with seeing in the spirit, we should ask the Holy Spirit to teach us how to see a Jesus saw, for his purposes and to bless others.

Seeing needs wisdom. 1 Pet 1:5 suggests that we add self-control to knowledge. We must learn when to share what we see and when to be quiet.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Residual Seeing

Before the fall, humans could see into the spiritual realms. Adam and Eve could see God walking in the garden. Well, they described it that way, because words were not good enough, but they did see him.

After they sinned, they lost that ability to see into the spiritual realms, and what was going on in other people’s spirits. Their eyes became more focussed on the physical world. That is why the realised they were naked. Before they sinned they were naked, but they were so focussed on the spiritual dimensions, that they never noticed.

I think that a residual of that seeing ability continues on in some people (maybe everyone). Some people have a residual of seeing that manifests when they are children. In traditional societies, they were probably selected for training to be shaman or tohunga. This tends to perverts the ability. In the west, we teach children that what they are seeing is not real, so it is drummed out of them early. Our Western education system quickly gets rid of all ability to see spiritually.

So the potential is there in many of us, but it has been destroyed by the fall. For a few people a residual remains, but often get knocked out of us by family or education.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Seeing Spiritually

The scriptures give plenty of examples of people who are not present seeing other people doing things.

  • Elisha saw Gehazzi ask Naaman for money even though the was not there. He said “my spirit was with you” (2 Kings 6:26)
  • Jesus saw Nathaniel under the fig tree before he met him. He had already discerned his character (John 1:47-48).
  • Paul seemed to know what the Corinthians were thinking and doing.
Because we are spiritual, ie active in an additional dimension, we are not constrained by the three dimensions of space plus time.

These seeing experiences can have two causes.

  • gifts of the Spirit. ie people being shown things by the Holy Spirit.
  • The spirit born person becoming more like Jesus.
I used to presume the former. That all these experiences occurred because the Holy Spirit showed someone something. I assumed that all knowledge beyond the natural is a “word of knowledge” which is the gift of the spirit.

I more recently beginning to think it is more of the latter. As we become more like Jesus, we can begin to operate more in the way that Jesus did.

Over the past year, I have read a couple of books by people describing an amazing ability to see spiritual things. They each had this as a child, before they developed a relationship with Jesus and encountered the gift of the Spirit. This suggests that they were seeing with some human spiritual senses. This seeing created all sorts of problems for them, but once he started walking in the Spirit, it started to make more sense.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spirit Control

The debate about gun control has heated up in the United States again following another terrible school massacre. The intensity of the debate is not surprising, as according to one report, there have been 132 school shootings since 2013.

Although the debate is heated, it mostly misses the point. The problem is not guns, and it is not people. The problem is the violent evil spirits that have easy access to young people across the nation. People who are worried about gun violence should be asking why evil spirits of violence have such a strong hold on the nation.

Academics are studying these events looking for a common cause, but they will miss the most important one. I guarantee that one thing is present in each of these events: an evil spirit. I presume that in every case it is a spirit of violence.

The solution is not gun control, but evil spirit control.

When television and movies fill the living rooms of the nation with violence and war, and political leaders exult in military force and war as the solution to most problems, it is not surprising that the same violent spirit manifests in the nation’s youth.

It is strange that a nation with such a strong Christian influence does not understand how to deal with this powerful principality and power. The problem is that the spirit of violence permeates American life: from the federal government, to international relations, through culture and entertainment, and onto life on the street. It has been there a long time, but it is now more entrenched. Unfortunately, the American people are so familiar with this spirit that they do not notice it, except when it breaks out into a school or shopping mall.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Train and Ferry

Last weekend, we travelled by train and ferry to the North Island. I had never done this trip before, because it is quicker and almost as cheap to fly, but the views are better by rail and ferry. The ferry travels through the bush clad hills of the Queen Charlotte Sound for an hour before crossing Cook Strait to Wellington.

Wellington has a reputation for being windy, but on Saturday the sea was calm and the city looked spectacular.

On Sunday we travelled to Martinborough and Greytown in the Wairarapa. These small towns are popular with day-visitors from Wellington.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Body Strength

A season of shaking is coming,
when many of the foundations that we trust
will be swept away.

God is calling together small groups of people
who can support each other through this storm
who can stand together in Jesus
while everything around them is shaken.

The will be sold out for Jesus.
doing Jesus will,
by obeying voice of the Holy Spirit.
They will lay aside the things of the world,
that would encumber them
and will live simply on what God provides.
They will share everything with each other,
and with those around them.

These groups of people will be drawn together by love for Jesus,
and bound together by commitment to love each other.
They will be mighty warriors in prayer,
able to go out together in the power of the Spirit.
They will be experienced with gifts of the Holy Spirit
and ready to deal with any situation.

These groups will be prepared for distress,
and equipped for victory.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Locked in Criticism

A big group of Christians (some still in and many who have left) feed off criticism the institutional church, but are not willing to do anything different for the Lord. I was not interested in feeding that group.

I agree that the instituitional church has massive problems, but I am not so quick to pass judgment on the people still in it. Many love Jesus, so I do not know what the Lord will do with them. I would not advocate that they all leave now. The institutional church is not a safe place to be, but being alone in the world is not safe either. Some are probably safer where they are, while there is nothing viable outside for them join, and no successful model for them to adopt. Standing alone in the world is hard, and not every follower of Jesus is called to do that.

When it is all shaken down, we will be surprised at who is left standing on the rock. Many who are currently in the institutional church will survive. Many who have left the institutional church, but got so locked in criticism that they failed to build something new will not survive. I do not try to decide in advance who will be where.