Friday Morning Manna
November 8, 2019
Man’s Foolish Fear of the Effect rather than its Cause
“Inasmuch then as the children having partaken [sharers] of flesh and blood, He likewise shared [“partook,” K.J.V.] in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.Heb. 2: 14, 15, N.K.J.V
Man has this persistent fatal fascination, even to these closing hours of earth’s probation—to the demonic delight of “the “father of lies and murderer from the beginning” (John 8: 44)—they foolishly fear death, rather than sin. But sin is the cause, and death is its effect and consequence; and if not “speedily repented of” and overcome as the last Adam overcame, becomes its eternal reward. “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6: 23.
Such is the state of the mind and heart that are yet “carnal,” not spiritual. “For to the carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Rom. 8: 6, 7. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. “But the natural man [with a yet-carnal mind] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2: 14 (see vs. 6-16).
By not understanding this most primordial of truths, man will continue “living in” and “enjoying the pleasures of sin,” offering all kinds of “intelligent” reasons (excuses, i.e., that will not pass muster in the ongoing Judgment) for doing so, while constantly living in fear of death and inventing all sorts of ways to deal with it—the main trunk of error being the immortality of the soul, and man’s strange infatuation with it. The multitude of errors and its evil and horrifying consequences that have confused, corroded and plagued all levels of society, human endeavor and thought, branch out from it.
The apostle Paul wrote of the ultimate victory over the ultimate enemy but revealed as well man’s deceived state over this first of lies which is the foundation of spiritualism. Many do not still know that there is a super-persistent form of witchcraft, a function of spiritualism, both ancient and modern, that has and will continue to destroy souls, particularly believers who pick-and-choose what they want to believe, like it did king Saul, the chosen nation’s very first “people’s-popular-choice-king.” It is this:
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.” 1 Sam. 15: 23, KJV.
In the eyes of our merciful and just God in Christ, rebellion, i.e., rejecting His word and law is equivalent to the sin of witchcraft. Rebellion is what caused Lucifer’s fall to become Satan, the enemy of Christ and His people. Stubborness is equivalent to idolatry, the transgression of the second commandment: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image of any likeness of anything.” Exo. 20: 3-6. The spirit of this stubbornness is unreasonable, headstrong, prejudiced, proud, contradictory, even obstinately dogmatic and unrepentant, unyielding to the evidence of truth and wooing of the “still-small voice” of the Holy Spirit speaking to his conscience. It is idolatry indeed because it is unsanctified will-worship, self-worship. It is so unlike the “meek and lowly in heart,” Prince Immanuel, “God with us”!
The first enemy is sin; the second is death. The last Adam conquered both. Apostle Paul reminds us what happens after the first enemy, sin (as instigated by Satan, which necessitated the plan of redemption, and caused the death of the Son of God and the Son of man) is burned out and purified from the lives of those who “overcome even as Christ,” the last Adam, overcame.“ Rev. 3: 21. They “overcome,” i.e, overpower and defeat Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12: 11). This is accomplished by the “baptism” of the Person “of the Holy Spirit, with fire.” Matt. 3: 10-12.
“Then comes the end . . . For he must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15: 24, 25, 26.
“O death, where is your sting? O Hades (grave) where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” 1 Cor. 15: 55, 56.
“Children are sharers of flesh and blood”
M.L. Andreasen comments on this scripture from Hebrews, our lead verse:
“The apostle [Paul] is still considering Christ’s complete humanity. As children are sharers [or partakers] of flesh and blood, so also is Christ. That He might enter into all the experiences of mankind, He subjected Himself to death; but this death had a purpose. He did not die because He had filled His days and dissolution was approaching. As He had a work to do in life, so He had a work to do in death. He died that He ‘might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.’ (R.V.)
“Satan is here said to have ‘the power of death.’ This is not true in the absolute sense. He has the power of death only as death results from sin. His kingdom is a kingdom of death, and in it he rules. ‘Through one man [first Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin.’ Rom. 5: 12, R.V. As the originator of sin of sin, Satan is the cause of death. As sin rules in our lives, so death rules, and so Satan rules. By causing men to sin, he causes death. Only in this way does he have the power of death.”- The Book of Hebrews, p. 102.
“Through death He may destroy him that had the power of death’
“The Bible records but two exceptions to the general rule that all men must die: Enoch and Elijah. (Gen. 5: 24; 2 Kings 2: 11.) Men are under the dominion of sin, and hence are brought under death. When Jesus died on the cross, Satan triumphed; for it appeared that even the Son of God acknowledged Satan’s power of death and became subject to it. But God had another purpose.
“Of old the question has been asked, ‘Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?’ Isa. 49: 24. To this the answer had been given: ‘Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.’ Verse 25. On this Christ comments: ‘No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.’ Mark 3: 27.
“Christ was the one who entered the strong man’s house, bound him, and took away his prisoners, and in this way fulfilled the scripture that the ‘captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and prey of the terrible shall be delivered.’ Christ entered death—the very stronghold of Satan—and wrested from him his prey. When Satan thought he had Christ in his power, when the tomb was sealed [with the Rome’s seal] and Christ locked in, Satan exulted. But Christ burst the bonds of death and walked forth from the grave, for ‘it was not possible that He should be holden by it.’ Acts 2: 24. Not only did Christ rise Himself, but ‘the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection.’ Matt. 25: 52, 53. And ‘when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive.’ Eph. 4: 8. And so, though the ‘strong man armed keepeth his palace, . . . a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him.’ Luke 11: 21. The stronger man, Christ, entered the realm of death, and in death overcame him who had the power of death, delivered ‘the prey of the terrible’ (Isa. 49: 25), took away his captives, and spoiled his house (Matt. 12: 29); ‘and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it’ (Col. 2: 15).
“Long before this, ‘Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.’ Jude 9. But this time when Jesus entered Satan’s domain to despoil it, there was no disputing. He simply entered the strong man’s house, took away from him the keys, broke the bonds of death, delivered ‘the prey of the terrible,’ and loosened Satan’s stranglehold. As a ‘firstfruits’ [1 Cor. 15:23] He took some along to heaven, led captivity captive, and showed them openly in triumph. Henceforth, death for the believers is but a sleep; they rest in peace until God calls them. For many it will be a blessed sleep. (Rev. 14: 13.) ‘Christ has abolished death
[not the law!]
. 2 Tim. 1: 10. He ‘has the keys of hell and of death.’ Rev. 1: 18. (See also 1 Cor. 15: 51-57.)
“The strength of sin is the law”
There is only one definition of sin in the Bible: “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3: 4, KJV. It is the law that defines and reveals what sin is. Without the law to transgress there is no sin. But “the law of God, being a revelation of His will [Ps. 40: 8] must forever endure, ‘as a faithful witness in heaven.’ Not one command has been annulled; not a jot or tittle has been changed. Says the psalmist; ‘Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.’ ‘All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever.’ Ps. 119: 89; 111: 7, 8.”- Great Controversy, p. 434.
“That men may be prepared to stand in the Judgment, the first angel’s message commands them to ‘fear God, and give glory to Him,’ ‘and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’ Rev. 14: 6, 7. The result of the acceptance of this message is given in the words, ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Rev. 14: 12. The law will be the standard of character in the Judgment. The apostle Paul declares, ‘As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. . . .in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.’ And he says that ‘the doers of the law shall be justified.’ Faith is essential to in order to keep the law of God; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ And ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Rom. 2: 12-16.”- Ibid, p. 436.
“The sting of death is sin”
Sting here is the Greek kentron, “to prick; a point, i.e., a sting, figuratively, poison or a goad.” Those who claim to be fully emancipated from any kind of slavery, are “born free” and even rejoice in the freedom and liberty to worship God according to the dictates of conscience have to realize that if they fear death more than sin, they are yet in bondage! Even the mighty lion fears the sting of the ferocious and fearless little bees. Yet when the sting of the bee is removed, one no longer fears even a swarm of bees. Remove the “sting of sin” and death loses its sting for it becomes a “sleep of death” to be brought back to eternal life at the second coming of Christ!
“The Fear of Death”
Largely because of sinful ignorance, thus misunderstanding the significance of the nature and reason of Christ’s incarnation, thus His life and mission, death, and resurrection, this error is so deeply-imbedded in our culture and practices, religious beliefs steeped in superstitions and traditions of men and even education, pervading even in our subconscious thoughts, we cannot overemphasize warning all to “come out of it.” We quote M.L. Andreasen once more:
“Those living in this age and in favored lands but faintly comprehend the bondage of those who live ‘in fear of death.’ Heathen and pagans are steeped in superstition and dread. The worship of many of these consists in pacifying evil spirits, on the supposition that good spirits will not harm them, but the evil might do them untold injury. This results in devil worship. Their life is one of constant fear: fear of enemies, fear of evil spirits, fear of death.
“But it is not the heathen alone who live in fear. In lands of civilization thousands [yea, millions] are lying in beds of sickness and pain, fearing the outcome; millions are anxiously looking for the things that are coming upon the earth, living in apprehension [Luke 21: 25, 26], in veritable bondage, from which Christ alone can deliver them. If they only knew that Christ has taken out the sting of death, removed its poisonous fang, and changed death into a sleep, they would rejoice.
“The fear of death grips not only the old and infirm but also many in the prime of life. This fear increase as years are added. But this need not be. To the true Christians the twenty-third Psalm is real. ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’
“The fear of the future comes to many a man while he still young. He may be threatened with financial disaster; he may be fearing a serious operation; he may be facing death in the battlefield [whether on the warfront or crime-and-violence-infested cities of the world]; he may be entangled in legal involvements. All such God, in Christ, invites to come to Him, be relieved of their fear, and find comfort. [Matt.11: 28-30]. Even though some may be motivated by mere physical fear, God will hear their cry; and many are those who have found in prayer not only present consolation but an abiding hope . . .As men turn to God, fear dissolves and faith takes its place.” – The Book of Hebrews, pp. 104, 105.
(To be continued next week)