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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Satan is not a loving father

“He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger….” (Isa. 14:6).

“They did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses…. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage…: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” (Ex. 1:11,13,14).

It was captivity and enslavement that led God’s people to show the true colors of their fallen human nature. The continual lash upon them put in their hearts a continual lash upon one another.

“And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren…. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?” (Ex. 2:11,13).

“As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.  What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Isa. 3:12-15).

Satan has ever loved to enslave people, especially God’s holy people. Our Father in heaven wants us to be humble children, kind-hearted and beautiful. But, slavery makes cold-hearted slave-drivers out of the half-hearted among the holy people. For this end Satan takes the necessary discipline of God to the extreme, repeating it over and over. God never intended His punishment to be abusive. He wants us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, so that He can bestow upon us the riches of His restored, forgiving Spirit. But, in order to prevent that victory for God’s kingdom, Satan stands at our right hand to resist Him (Zech. 3:1).

The devil whispers to us of God’s overbearing, unending warfare, a warfare which was necessary at the time it came, but which was perpetuated by Satan’s efforts to trip us up again and again so that he could speak in our mind his constant reminders that we deserve to be beat upon day after day, month after month, year after year.

How long Satan stood by “Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest” (Zech. 6:11) we do not know. It could have been a long time. But, what we can say is that Joshua had been “a brand” in “the fire”, and the Lord wanted to “[pluck]” him “out” of the fire (Zech. 3:2). From the context, we get an idea of what caused the distressing situation with Joshua.

“The angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.” (Zech. 1:12,13). The ruins of the nation still cried out the anger of God that had come 70 years previous. Knowing the glories of the past which the Lord had happily poured upon the people of His covenant, and now the withdrawal of His blessings, Joshua felt that God had forever abandoned His people. Everywhere he looked proclaimed the unending justice of Jehovah. It felt like His God was still angry at Israel and would be forever. Over and over again Moses’ threatening record played,

“So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger, and in His wrath:
Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom He had not given unto them:
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deut. 29:22-28).

And we have another possibility for the cause of Joshua’s troubles. “Among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren....” (Ezra 10:18). The current condition of Israel was not due only to Israelites of the past. Joshua, the example for the nation, had not remained true to his calling while surrounded by the influence of Babylon. His unfaithfulness manifested itself in his children. He had sown unbelief in the hearts of his children and had watered it with his lack of strict obedience to the God who he professed to serve. At a different time, but an identical situation, “Their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.” (Neh. 13:24). Now Joshua’s children and grandchildren were defiled by their mothers’ false religion and their thoughts were far from the one true God. He had polluted his own lineage, and the fruition of misery and destruction looked inescapable.

Surely the Lord could never make everything right. Joshua felt like Elijah, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1Ki. 19:4). Have you ever said that? Have you often felt that way? But, doesn’t this state of mind come out of the humiliation which the Lord wants to bring to His people? Isn’t this kind of humility where people are open to His reformation and revival?

No real change, no lasting change, can come from a heart that has not had its glory laid in the dust by the Almighty. Dodging the Lord’s humbling, and thus His gift of conversion, is the reason so many in the church have religious up and down roller-coaster rides. True conversion comes only through surrender to God and His humbling. Yet, we cannot bring forth surrender of ourselves. “What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.” Testimonies to Ministers, p. 456.

But, the Lord finally pulls us out of the fires of doubting His Father’s mercy. Our Lord never wanted His people to suffer forever. Yes, He did want them to know crucifixion of self, but He didn’t want them living in an eternally burning hell. Eternal punishment is of the devil and for the devil. The Son of God is the only member of the fallen human race who had to pass through hell, which He did in Gethsemane and on Golgotha. But, if sinners will not surrender to the God of love, they will receive the automatic, overwhelming alternative for service to Baal, the god of wrath who “ruled the nations in anger.” (Isa. 14:6). “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:10,11).

I’ve heard that one of the issues during the Reformation concerned the Mass and its daily crucifixion of Christ. Jesus tasted damnation for every man once, never again to suffer eternal death. The Reformers quoted, “By His own blood He [Jesus] entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 9:12). While Jesus has never again suffered the wrath of God as He did, it shouldn’t have been an issue because Christ has been“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8). The Son of God has suffered agony since the beginning of sin, and continues to be crucified afresh because of His church’s lack of His righteousness.

Rather, the real problem with the Mass was/is its “unbloody sacrifice”. The unbloodiness of the Mass has done to Catholic devotees no differently than what the golden calves of Baal did to the Philistines. It was the blood and the death that struck the worshipers of Jehovah with conviction and sorrow. They saw the innocent lambs and kids, heifers and bullocks collapse when the knife came across their necks. They saw the pain and sorrow. They also understood the provision Jehovah made for their escape from the same fate given to the sacrificed animal. They saw the justice and mercy of God. The worshipers loved those baby animals and were forced to see how grievous their sin had been. The worshipers could not overlook sin after witnessing the injustice done to the lamb in order that they could be made just and acceptable before God. It was the ugliness of the sacrifice scene and its promise of God’s love that redeemed the penitent one who brought the lamb. The same happened to all who witnessed the twice-daily sacrifices. The people were crucified with the death of Him whom the baby animal represented. Their pride was stanched, their sin was killed, and their characters brought in line with the Law of their God. Their loyalty and consecration and will to obey His Law was restored. “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” (Isa. 59:21).

“This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing.” (Isa. 28:12).

But, Satan designed Baal worship to purposely derail our conversion to God and our return to His life of righteousness. The luster of the golden bull, the appeal of the bull to the worshiper’s lower nature, all provided a relief of guilt and of the oppression caused by sin and separation from God. Through false worship, the Israelites who were attracted to Baal truly believed themselves to be redeemed. They felt that Baal and Ashtoreth had saved them from their oppressive mental torment. Salvation has always been Satan’s promise and boast. But, the relief that he gives has nothing to do with the Law of God or with a new heart restored to obedience to God’s Law and His Spirit.

Baal religion gives a falsified redemption; but it is a redemption greatly sought out by the heart that has never submitted to the rebuke of God. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Cor. 4:3,4). “And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Isa. 6:9-12). “And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” (Dan. 8:12). “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.” (Isa. 14:26).

The grinding by the Spirit of truth continues unabated to show them their filthiness, and the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever because they refuse to yield their will to God’s will. They never know surrender and repentance. And then when they are offered an imitation redemption, one that requires no denial of self or yielding of the natural self-will, they lunge for such a religion like the starving hosts of Saul flying onto the Philistine flocks. With the new apostate religion, the grinding never stops, but they have believed in a patented nostrum to desensitize the burning of their soul. Desensitizing the conscience is all that every false worship and religion were for. The worshipers try to make drunkenness replace their thirst for peace with the King.

“Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:18,19).

Religion has been called the “opiate of the people”, and often rightly so. In the following statement from Ellen White, please read spiritual things in place of the physical. “By the use of poisonous drugs [doctrines], many bring upon themselves lifelong [eternal] illness, and many lives are [eternally] lost that might be saved by the use of natural methods of healing [God’s Law of love]. The poisons contained in many so-called [false religious] remedies create habits and appetites that mean ruin to both soul and body. Many of the popular nostrums [“sorceries (Gr. pharmakeia)” (Rev. 18:23, cf vs. 3)] called patent medicines, and even some of the drugs dispensed by physicians, act a part in laying the foundation of the liquor habit, the opium habit, the morphine habit, that are so terrible a curse to society.” Ministry of Healing, p. 126.

The use of ritual and forms, and a system of maxims and taboos, is all that Satan has ever offered for our relief of sin and its consequences. He does so because he knows that rites and ceremonies can never be of real help. They never heal and restore. They never cause conviction of sin; therefore, how can they ever lead a soul to search out One who can teach of a better way and whose bloody death gives true repentance and reconciliation with God? And without repentance through unvarnished descriptions of sin, how can the soul ever be saved from his destructive sinfulness? The one false religion, the world round, offers the same empty imitation peace of mind. “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.” (Isa. 14:26). As it is that the body cannot be healed by the patented nostrums, likewise the soul is never healed of its cancer-causing anxiety and unrest.

“A practice that is laying the foundation of a vast amount of disease and of even more serious evils is the free use of poisonous drugs. When attacked by [sin] disease, many will not take the trouble to search out the cause of their [consequences of sin] illness. Their chief anxiety is to rid themselves of [shame and humiliation] pain and inconvenience. So they resort to [a doctrine of “grace only”] patent nostrums, of whose real properties they know little, or they apply to a physician for some remedy to counteract the result of their misdoing, but with no thought of making a change in their [life of sin] unhealthful habits. If immediate benefit is not realized, another [attempt to get grace without subjection to God’s Law] medicine is tried, and then another. Thus the evil continues.
     People need to be taught that [“sorceries (Gr. pharmakeia)” (Rev. 18:23] drugs do not cure [sin] disease. It is true that they sometimes afford present relief, and the patient appears to recover as the result of their use; this is because [the forbearance of God toward ignorance of His character seen in His Law] nature has sufficient vital force to expel the poison and to correct the conditions that caused the disease. [Redemption and health are] Health is recovered in spite of the drug. But in most cases the [false worship, pharmakeia] drug only changes the form and location of the [sin] disease. Often the effect of the [poisonous doctrine] poison seems to be overcome for a time, but the results remain in the [mind] system and work great harm at some later period.
     By the use of poisonous [pharmakeia] drugs, many bring upon themselves [eternal loss] lifelong illness…” Ministry of Healing, p. 126.

This is the issue of the Mass. I regret that I am condemning the hopes of so many millions who believe that the Mass is a good thing. And today, thousands of Protestants are flocking to something no different than the Catholic Mass—they are running to Spiritual Formation. Spiritual Formation is nothing more than another form of looking away from the Law of God and from the crucifixion of Christ. It will not allow God to convict of sin. It focuses on something nice-sounding in the Bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy. But dirty, ugly, and disturbing condemnation of sin is not permitted entrance into the meditations and contemplations of Spiritual Formation. Only the grace of God, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace.” Spiritual Formation cannot hear the words that convict of sin. It plugs its ears, over and over repeating the mantra, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.” But the Bible says that he who turns away from the Law, even his meditations and prayers and songs are abominable to God (Prov. 28:9).

“And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:19). Protestant Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, Centering Prayer, et cetera is nothing more than a philosophical form of the Mass and of worshiping Mary, who has ever been equally full of grace, and nothing but grace. Grace without the condemnation of sin is destructive because we need condemnation laid at the roots of our fallen nature before we are able to genuinely repent. “Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.” (Mic. 2:10).

But, the truth is that Jesus, who suffered, requires us to suffer with Him under the powerful conviction of His Father’s Spirit of truth. And as Jesus suffered once, He desires that we know pain of conscience—but not permanently. He doesn’t mean for us to suffer on and on. But, this does happen because we won’t surrender to His convictions immediately. To us, punishment is demeaning, and surrender to it is a sign of personal weakness. So, we resist. Like Jacob we fight against the offense from our Saviour, and we wrestle on in the darkness day after day, and toss and turn night after night.

As for Jacob, he finally capitulated to Jesus’ warfare, but not without Christ’s powerful encouragement to do so (Gen. 32:25). Must monstrous agony from corporal punishment always be what we endure before we choose to surrender? It does seem to be the trend of the proud, resistant human heart. But, corporal punishment need not be, and it is not in God’s first plan. He never desires to beat His people to pieces with a continual stroke. But, if they refuse His blessed shame and humbling and every blessing of life which they will enjoy when they accept being humbled, then they must continue in the misery Satan offers without the humbling and without His blessings that come in its train. They continue to serve the old master, who only knows to be abusive. He loves to break down our defenses to sin and to destroy us from within. “The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.” (Mic. 2:13). “This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from Me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten Me, and trusted in falsehood.” (Jer. 13:25). He prefers to draw them and save them with His gentle love; but, more often than not He has had to use His strange act of tough love to save them.

“Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Ps. 42:8). Finally the day comes when some do surrender, and they hear His glorious words,

“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2).
“This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy word hath quickened me.” (Ps. 119:50).

“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Ps. 118:23).

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