|- J. Preston Eby -
You have heard their names: Nero. Mohammed. Emperor Frederick II. Pope John XXII. Martin Luther. Napoleon. Kaiser Bill Wilhelm. Mussolini. Hitler. Stalin. Henry Kissinger. All these individuals have had one thing in common. In their days, they were all branded with the odious, fear-inspiring title ANTICHRIST! Dozens of others throughout the past two millennia have equally shared this dubious distinction. Obviously they can not all be the antichrist. Why do so many preachers and people today warn of the antichrist, yet misunderstand who or what this personage is?
Without any desire to treat lightly the opinions of others, we nevertheless feel it necessary to point out to the reader a few of the absurdities connected with the common view concerning antichrist, that thereby the dignity of the truth on this subject may be properly estimated, in contrast with the narrow claim that all which the Scriptures predict concerning this character will be accomplished by some one literal MAN. This man, it is claimed, will so charm the whole world that in a few short years he will secure to himself the homage and WORSHIP of all men, who will be so easily imposed upon as to suppose this man to be GOD, and, in a rebuilt Jewish temple, to worship him as the Almighty Jehovah. All this is to be done at lightning speed, three and a half years, say they, misinterpreting the symbolic time, even as they misinterpret the symbolic "man".
Tales of fiction and the most absurd imaginations of childhood furnish no parallel to the extreme notions of some of God's dear children who are stumbling over a CARNAL interpretation of John's language, and thereby blinding themselves and others to many precious truths, which, because of error on this subject, they are unprepared to see in an unprejudiced light. No matter how much we may sympathize with them, their "blind faith" forces a smile, as they seriously relate the various symbols of the prophetic Scriptures which they do not understand, misapplying them literally to their WONDERFUL MAN. In this, the most skeptical age the world has ever known, he will, they claim, in the short space of three and a half years, have the whole world at his feet, worshipping him as God, while the Caesars, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Mohammed, and others sailed through bloody seas and spent many times three and a half years, without accomplishing the one thousandth part of what is claimed for THIS MAN.
Untold millions of Christians have lived in great fear waiting for the antichrist to take over. Their ministers have preached that a certain dictator or government leader might be the long expected "man of sin". Then, when that dictator or government leader died or passed from the scene, they chose someone else as the probable candidate. Without any hesitation whatever I must tell you that this type of literal interpretation and fear tactics HAS NOT ADDED ANYTHING TO OUR SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING, but has rather caused God's precious people to continue groping about in the dense darkness of spiritual ignorance and superstition.
THE LAST DAYS
Without doubt we are now at the end of a dispensation. It is the evening of this present age. It is the twilight of man's degenerate day. A church system that has rejected Christ as its head is entering into a black and dark night. "In the last days," the Holy Spirit said, "perilous times shall come." If we will carefully compare the moral and spiritual atmosphere of the day in which we live with the prophecy given by Paul in II Tim. 3:1-5, our eyes will be opened to see that we are not only in the last days of this age, but in the last hours as well. Every word and every prediction of that prophecy is both fulfilled and being fulfilled before our eyes every day and every hour of the day. These are perilous days for many, many reasons. Our lives are in peril within the four walls of our own homes. Every passing day men, women, and children are being robbed, bludgeoned, raped, and murdered, not only by gangs on the street, but by molesters who enter their houses. In many cities it is unsafe to be on the street even in the day, and in most cities it is unsafe to be on the street at night. Mobs and gangs roam the streets and highways, burning, killing, looting, rioting, and senselessly destroying.
Bad as these things are in the natural realm, the greater perils of our day are the SPIRITUAL PERILS. This is a day of every imaginable spiritual deception. The feverish activity of all the religious systems of earth is immense, but it is neither an expression or the product of the Holy Spirit of God. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that the nauseating vision John beheld on Patmos of the swaggering power and incredible filth of Mystery Babylon is even now a sobering reality in all its fullness. Truly we are living in "the last days".
But let me hasten to point out that the "end time" we are speaking of is a definite time span BEGINNING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT DAYS AND CONTINUING UNTIL THE COMPLETION OF THE BODY OF CHRIST. John says in I Jn. 2:18, "Little children, IT IS THE LAST TIME: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; wherefore we know that it IS THE LAST TIME." That quotation is not taken from some work of fiction or fairy tale. It is no statement of merely John's "opinion." It is a part of a work that Christians today profess to venerate as the fully inspired Word of God. I wonder why so few believe it!
I recommend this verse to the solemn consideration of all who profess the name of Christ. God's penman, 1900 years ago wrote, that as the coming of the antichrist heralds the last time, therefore, since there were at that time "many antichrists," this fact proved that he himself was living then in the "last time". So we see that the "last days" or the "last time" had already begun in the days of the apostle John. On the day of Pentecost, Peter implied the same when he quoted Joel, saying, "It shall come to pass in THE LAST DAYS ... I will pour out of My Spirit..." and applied it to that very time. The writer to the Hebrews declared "God... has in these LAST DAYS spoken unto US by His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). Peter wrote of Christ, "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in THESE LAST TIMES for you" (I Pet. 1:20).
II Pet. 3:18 reminds us that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. If we understand that rightly, it means that just a little under TWO DAYS have elapsed from the day of Pentecost until now! That makes it easier to understand that the people in the book of Acts were already in the last days, or the last time, and that we still are in the last time today.
The "last time" and "antichrist" are inseparably linked together by the Holy Spirit. The term "antichrist" appears only five times in the whole Bible and we shall now quote all the verses that surround this mysterious character. "Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things. Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (I Jn. 2:18-22; 4:2-3; II Jn. 7).
Antichrist is spoken of in four distinct forms. I Jn. 2:18 says, "Little children, it is the last time: and as you have heard that ANTICHRIST shall come..." The absence of the definite article shows that the term here embraces the WHOLE REALM OF ANTICHRIST, bespeaking a SYSTEM, including both the actors and the program(s) they initiate. In addition to the ANTICHRIST SYSTEM we read in vs. 22, "Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is ANTICHRIST..." In the Greek, however, the definite article is used, so that the Greek text reads, "Who is THE LIAR, if not the one denying that Jesus not is the Anointed one? this is THE ANTICHRIST, the one denying the Father and the Son." Here antichrist is the title of a specific personage. Then it says, "Even now are there MANY ANTICHRISTS." In addition to the singular person who is the antichrist, there are many antichrists. Then, in addition to antichrist as a person, and many antichrists or many persons, and antichrist as the system spawned by these, there is the SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST which operates in all the antichrists and in their system. "And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, whereof you have heard that is should come."
Let us summarize these four distinct forms of antichrist and list them in the order in which I am impressed by the Spirit to deal with them: (1) the spirit of antichrist (2) many antichrists (3) the antichrist (4) the antichrist system.
THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST
The first astounding fact to which I would draw your attention in respect to the spirit of antichrist is that, in John's day, it was ALREADY IN THE WORLD. The spirit of antichrist was nothing new, not something recently emerging upon the scene, but this spirit was ALREADY IN THE WORLD, the very spirit energizing and motivating everything under the sun that usurped the place of the Spirit of God in the lives of men. This spirit was of old!
"Anti" is a Greek word meaning "instead of". Therefore we find that the word "anti-christ" properly signifies one who opposes, or one who sets himself up in the place of Christ. Anything that is placed INSTEAD OF Christ, or instead of the anointing, is literally antichrist. The SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST is that spirit, attitude, and nature which opposes Christ by usurping that place that rightly belongs to Christ alone! This spirit was in the world in John's day, and it still is in the world today. It is everywhere. It is in the government and in the courts of law. It is in the universities, colleges, and schools. It is in the media, on the television, in the newspapers, in magazines and books. It is in the homes, in the business establishments, labor unions, on the streets, and worst of all it is in the Church systems. It is in the pulpit and in the pew. It is in the hearts of the populace. The antichrist is very evident in the world, but few see him or recognize him.
The apostle Paul recognized him and spoke of this opposer of Christ in Rom. 7:20-23, saying, "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight after the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." The spirit of antichrist has his seat in the carnal, sinful, rebellious nature of man which is not subject to Christ. The apostle spoke of a time in his own experience when he found two spirits waging warfare to be king of his life. This is the same Paul whom God used to bring to the Church the glorious revelation that THE SAINTS ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD, composed of living stones, built up a spiritual house, an habitation of God through the Spirit. But the day came when Paul met TWO spirits in this temple which, because of the redeeming work of Jesus, was rightly the temple of God. The Christ life, the new man had been begotten within him. Of this new man, the inward man, Paul declares, "I DELIGHT in the law of God after the INWARD MAN." But he then found himself under the dominion of another! He tells us that this other is "SIN that dwells IN ME." TWO laws! TWO natures! TWO spirits! TWO kings! And what a warfare!
The spirit of antichrist is the old Adamic nature, the self-life ego of this old creation which has usurped the throne in our own temple. But, thank God! there is a NEW LIFE maturing within us which shall OVERTHROW THE OLD CREATION, and though it has been a long war "between the house of Saul (flesh) and the house of David (the new spirit-man): David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker" (II Sam. 3:1).
I must tell you today, beloved, that I am glad I did not know all the things that lay ahead when years ago I began this journey into the fullness of God. God in wonderful grace hid from my eyes pitfalls and severe testings that were to vex the path that He had prepared for my feet. Many years ago, in the midst of a most remarkable and sovereign move of the Spirit of God, heaven dropped into my heart with soul gripping force the blessed hope of SONSHIP to God. As the dawn of a new and hitherto unknown realm in God shed its first rays of light upon my quickened spirit, I lived daily in joyful expectancy of the greater and fuller manifestation of the glory of God and the stupendous, colossal, and awesome work He would perform through the Sons of God in these momentous days at the end of the age. I knew practically nothing then of my own appalling weaknesses and inherent sin. I set my face to be conformed to the image of God's Christ, but I did not know that of all the ANTICHRISTS I would meet the greatest and fiercest of them all was within me, even that carnal mind which is the eternal enemy of God!
I did not know that the spirit of antichrist was ALREADY IN THE WORLD, even within my own little world, deep-rooted in the heart of every man. One does not need to gaze through the telescope of history or divine the things of the future to discover this antichrist; you will find him in your heart if you look close enough! I understood nothing then of the deep purgings, the white-hot refinings, the pulverizing crushings, the embarrassing strippings, or, the repeated processings that the Father would need to faithfully and relentlessly bring into my life in order to slay that insidious MAN OF SIN, the SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST who sits stubbornly in my own temple showing that HE IS GOD!
The spirit of antichrist has been in the world ever since that fateful day in Eden when the serpent whispered from the branches of Eve's carnal mind, "God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and YOU SHALL BE AS GODS, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). The deceitfulness of the serpent did not rest in an untruth. Had not God revealed the majesty and glory of His eternal purpose in that hour when He proclaimed the wonderful fiat, "Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). In FORM, then, the serpent had a truth when he murmured, "You shall be as God," but what the serpent failed to reveal was the ESSENCE of the form which is that INDEPENDENTLY OF GOD man can NEVER be a partaker of the divine nature!
This should have been a self-evident truth, but man failed to see it. He was deceived by the very form of truth - taking the Word of God which had promised to make him in the image of God, receiving it as a DOCTRINE rather than a revelation, as FORM rather than life, as SOMETHING HE COULD BY SOME E-X-T-E-R-N-A-L MEANS ACCOMPLISH FOR HIMSELF, rather than leaning in TOTAL DEPENDENCE upon the faithfulness of the God who had promised! By this spirit of SELF-ASPIRATION, SELF-REALIZATION, SELF- EXALTATION and SELF-PROMOTION man forsook the way of the cross and was, consequently, brought to ruin, cheated out of the very thing he sought. The promises of God became to him a FORMULA apart from the Person of God and allowed him, in his own mind, to justify his departure from the WAY OF THE SPIRIT, trusting in his own ability to fulfill the Word that he had heard. He failed to understand that truth is not some THING a person knows or does, but some ONE, and that truth is not a state of knowing, but a STATE OF B-E-I-N-G! Paul stated it, "They changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature (man himself) more than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25). The truth became a lie when it was separated from the anointing, which is the presence of the living God.
Anything that is placed INSTEAD OF Christ, or the anointing, is antichrist. How easy is it to be snared by this antichrist spirit! The carnal mind loves any kind of a "method" or "technique" or "short cut" by which to enter into some supposed realm of spirituality. The natural mind ever seeks for a simple "formula", "ten easy steps" to a new experience in God. Ah, if the spirit of antichrist were to write a book, no doubt it would be titled "Sonship in Seven easy Lessons." Just DO THIS or DO THAT, the preachers shout, and you will be blessed, be more spiritual, have more victory, receive a greater anointing or ministry, or become a Son of God!
Well do I remember the day when I was instructed that if only I would be rebaptized by a CERTAIN FORMULA, with just the right words called over me, the Lord would then be more real to me, my spiritual life would be greatly blessed and my ministry mightily increased. As the years passed, as I grew in grace and wisdom and in the knowledge of God I did, indeed, experience the Lord in deeper measures and my life was blessed with spiritual blessings beyond my wildest dreams. But as I look in retrospect I can plainly see that none of this glorious reality came as a result of a preacher dunking my physical frame in a tank of water, however correct the formula may have been, but because that the eternal Father had, in His infinite grace, called me and separated me from my mother's womb to reveal His Son in me.
On another occasion I was told that if I would be re-baptized yet again for THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART, the sin-nature would, by that singular act, be completely eradicated from my life. These, dear ones, are subtle deceptions which lead men to believe that because they perform some EXTERNAL CEREMONY they are thus initiated into a new experience or deeper realm in God. It is amazing to find how many people are daily deceived by this enthusiastic line of PERFECTION BY FORMULA. Just "name it and claim it" we are exhorted, for everything from a shiny new car to an instant entrance through the veil into the Holiest of All! Ah, the fall of man is more than an historical event. The past is meaningless unless it relates to the present. We see the fall repeated all around us, day after day, generation after generation, and move of God after move of God. We behold the same sin that brought about the initial fall, and in the repetition of that sin, there is also the dreadful repetition of the departure from the Reality of God and the loss of His glory and presence. Can we not see that the Garden of Eden is not so much a past event as a present and continuing event? It happened back there in the past, but it continues to happen in the present because the spirit of Adam, the spirit of antichrist is within every man! After starting out in the Spirit the crafty old serpent whispers from the branches of our own carnal minds, "DO THIS, CONFESS THAT, OBSERVE THIS RITUAL, REPEAT THESE WORDS, BE BAPTIZED THIS WAY, SUBMIT TO THIS MAN, JOIN THIS GROUP, USE THIS NAME - AND YOUR EYES WILL BE OPENED AND YOU WILL BE AS GOD!" Perfection by formula, Sonship in seven easy lessons! And men wished not that it is the SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, a subtle SUBSTITUTION for the true riches which come alone from intimacy of fellowship and vital union with HIM.
At present, among the Pentecostal and Charismatic crowd, there is much information coming forth in the way of books, pamphlets, cassette tapes and seminars concerning the "gifts of the Spirit" and "casting out devils" or "deliverance". By reading these books, listening to the tapes, or attending a "training school" one can pick up the "HOW-TO'S" and quickly learn the techniques employed by those who are experienced in such sensational ministries. From such places one can learn in a relatively short period of time how to conduct a successful Faith Seminar or Deliverance Meeting, complete with prophecy, miracles, lengthening of legs, falling out in the Spirit and exorcism of demonic spirits. Though some may disbelieve it, I would be remiss as a minister of God if I did not tell you that if, by reading a series of lessons, or sitting through a seminar, a man can "learn" to prophesy, "learn" how to exorcise spirits, "learn" how to perform miracles, or be "taught" how to do any other sign or wonder, then he is THE DECEIVED who will be among the astonished Jesus spoke of in Mat. 7:22-23 when He said, "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity."
The mighty acts and manifestations of that LEARNED in seven easy lessons - are supernaturally bestowed by the lovely and wonderful Christ as a result of intimate fellowship and deep personal association WITH HIM. How to do the works of God is not contained in a formula or in any set of methods understood by the carnal mind - the understanding of such high and holy things comes by revelation born of an inner work, an inner relationship with GOD HIMSELF. The wonderful works of God are the result, not of repeating certain phrases, or the employment of certain techniques, but of the SOVEREIGN POWER OF THE ALMIGHTY.
After years of a ministry of transcending greatness the beloved Paul wrote of the true source of all spiritual ministry, saying, "For I neither received it of man, neither was I TAUGHT IT, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. But when it pleased God... to reveal His Son in me ... immediately I CONFERRED NOT with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia (a desert place), and returned again to Damascus. Then AFTER THREE YEARS I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother ... and they glorified God in me" (Gal. 1:12, 16-19, 24). Paul read no books on "Soul Winning Made Easy" or "How to Cast Out Devils". If, like Paul, we will take time in reverent meditation upon His Word, earnest prayer, adoring worship, and listen to HIS VOICE, we will become strangely acquainted with the secret of His will, not only for the ages to come, but for the present age and the things that concern our daily walk with Him. In the secret of His will we will walk in the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we are led by the Spirit and, when we are led by the Spirit, we are the SONS OF GOD.
Many centuries ago the Lord Jesus said to a throng of religious men who stood before Him, "I have come in My Father's name and you didn't receive me. ANOTHER SHALL COME IN HIS OWN NAME; HIM YOU SHALL RECEIVE." Paul must have been mindful of this very truth when he wrote to the Corinthians in these words, "I fear unless by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaches ANOTHER Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive ANOTHER SPIRIT, which you have not received, or ANOTHER GOSPEL, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him" (II Cor. 11:3-4). ANOTHER Jesus, ANOTHER SPIRIT, ANOTHER GOSPEL, -- ANTICHRIST!
The ministers of popular religion preach another gospel. Indeed, they may use fine and polished sentences. Their sermons and ceremonies and programs may sound good to the people who, like Eve, have been beguiled by the serpent, but their gospel is not the gospel of the Kingdom and it is not the gospel of Cod. It is ANOTHER GOSPEL!
A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support FROM WITHOUT is proof of the bankruptcy of the INNER MAN. It saddens my heart to know that most Christians today have no central core of spiritual life, no spring from within their own breast, no inner strength of the Christ to place them above the need for repeated psychological shots to give them the courage to go on in Cod.
So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing excitement and ENTERTAINMENT for the so-called sons of heaven! All across the land today religious entertainment is crowding out the deep and marvellous and serious things of God. Many Churches and television and radio channels these days have become little more than poor theatres where fifth-rate "producers" peddle their shoddy religious wares. And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it. The great god Entertainment, the OTHER JESUS, the OTHER SPIRIT, the OTHER GOSPEL, amuses his devotees mainly by singing them songs, telling them stories, and feeding them testimonies. The love of stories, which is a characteristic of childhood, has taken fast hold of the minds of the retarded saints of our day, so much so that not a few persons manage to make a comfortable living by spinning yarns and putting on shows for God's people. But what is natural and beautiful in a child is shocking when it persists year after year in those who long ago should have begun to GROW UP in Christ.
Instead of believers coming together to fellowship in spirit and in truth around the BREAD OF LIFE, without all the fleshly paraphernalia, and just feed on the LIVING CHRIST, we have an hour and a half of preliminaries, with singing of silly choruses and empty spirituals, and joking and laughing and horseplay. Entertainment has taken the place of worship; special singing instead of thanksgiving and praise; and then a short sermonette, highly spiced and sensational, in order to keep the people awake after all the wearying entertainment. And then we wonder at the worldliness and shallowness of Christians today! Indeed, another SPIRIT, another JESUS!
Gospel music is BIG BUSINESS ... it creates a very, very effective facade to the audience. They hardly notice they are being spun the yarns of Babylon... lied to ... fed junk food... of no lasting flavor, substance or nourishment for the lean and difficult days ahead! I am meeting more and more starving people who are going constantly to Church meetings, gatherings, crusades, programs, concerts, etc., and are literally dying of starvation for solid, strengthening spiritual food. The music just doesn't do it; the stories and testimonies no longer help; it is all part of the gimmickry, commercial smoke-screen, and I assure you that if you could know what lies behind the scenes in the unsanctified lives of many of the performers, you would more easily understand the reason there is no real power or blessing in the midst. Satan is no dummy ... he is the craftiest of all the beasts of the field, and is a professional Public Relations man for selling another Jesus, another gospel, and another spirit!
A dear brother once said that if the Holy Spirit were to be withdrawn from the face of the earth, most of all Church activity would continue on without notice anyway. But God is preparing a people whose spirit is so at ONE with the spirit of Christ that they are indistinguishable. He is preparing a company of Sons to stand in the earth and say as Jesus said, "I can do nothing of myself, but as my Father has taught me, I speak those things and I do always those things that please Him."
There came a day in the ministry of Jesus when "As He spoke, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him: and He went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not FIRST WASHED before dinner. And the Lord said unto Him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the OUTSIDE of the cup and the platter; but your INWARD PART is full of ravening and wickedness. Fools! did not He, that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you" (Lk. 11:37-42).
The Pharisee was finding fault with Him who is the True Light because He did not conform to one of their ceremonials of exterior holiness. This is not just a simple matter - this holiness in forms, ceremonials, symbols, and "that which is OUTSIDE." The whole world worships in that way! THINGS. OUTSIDE things! A worship of symbols. There can never be any deliverance of mankind from the power of the devil except as the HEART is opened up and exposed. And it is coming - has BEGUN - the uncovering of every hidden thing WITHIN. Ah, God's Kingdom has to come WITHIN. And every one who has experienced this can say NOW, "Jesus Christ I-S C-O-M-E I-N T-H-E F-L-E-S-H!"
The SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST seeks to forever chain you in the prison house of static creeds and empty religious observances, but the omnipotent Spirit of Jesus the Christ will cleanse and purify your heart from all sin, will make you holy and without blemish before Him in love, that you may be a Son of God and joint heir with Christ, a member of His body, of His flesh and His bones, and placed as a living stone in a living temple, the habitation of God through the Spirit, the holy and heavenly house not made with hands from which God in ages yet unborn will govern the entire universe in righteousness. The spirit of antichrist is that spirit which confesses not that Jesus Christ IS come in the flesh - this flesh, your flesh, my flesh. The spirit of antichrist is the spirit of SELF, the ego, which delights to serve God outwardly with great pomp and show, but never abdicates the throne of the inner life that CHRIST MAY REIGN SUPREME.
The spirit of antichrist is the spirit of idolatry. Idolatry has been, in every age, the besetting sin of mankind. In some form or another, the unregenerate are all given to it; and the saints have a tendency towards it. In its grosser manifestations, idolatry is the desire of man to SEE GOD WITH HIS EYES - to have some outward representations of Him who cannot be represented, who is too great, too spiritual, ever to be described by human language - much less to be set forth by images of wood and stone, however elaborately carved and cunningly overlaid with gold. Aaron makes a calf - Israel forgets the Divine Jehovah's glory, and says of the ox that eats grass, "These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!"
We are apt to imagine it a very strange freak of human depravity when men are led to worship visible objects and signs. But it is not at all unusual or singular. It is the general sin of all mankind. I suppose no man has been entirely free from it and every man and woman called to Sonship has to contend against it in its subtle forms - for idolatry takes insinuating shapes, less gross in appearance than the worship of Dagon or Ashtaroth - but quite as sinful! Idolators can only worship their god by objects which appeal to the senses. An outward altar, an outward ritual, outward rites - all these are nothing but another form of the old idolatry of Babel and Bethel. Man still turns from the unseen God. The unseen Priest, who has passed within the veil, man still ignores. The unseen Christ who dwells in the heart by faith, is counted as insufficient. The SPIRITUAL FEAST upon the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the eternal fountain of INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE, is substituted by the outward emblems which are adored by some, held in great reverence by others, and sentimentally necessary for yet others. Bread and wine, which are but created and corruptible things are made into deities by the blind idolators of this age. I believe that it is a self-evident truth that all the outward rituals of the religious systems are IDOLATRY - flat, groveling idolatry - and nothing less, which on every hand spreads its mantle of darkness under the pretense of reverent piety. Could Egypt or Assyria do worse?
May God give us grace to turn away from them! And you who are still held captive by these idolatries, may He deliver! May He save you from leaning upon the arm of flesh - from trusting in what may be seen or handled - and bring you to rely upon the INVISIBLE CHRIST WITHIN, to whom alone belongs power and strength, and to whom NOTHING need be added!
For centuries now Christians have been "taking communion" believing they were eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. They were seeing the type, but missing the anti-type. The Scripture testifies, "And the WORD was MADE FLESH and dwelt among us, and we beheld HIS glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). The eternal, living, incorruptible WORD of God was made FLESH in the Person of Jesus Christ. The flesh of Christ is not the human body of Jesus, nor is it crackers or holy wafers; the flesh of Christ is the BREAD OF GOD, the TREE OF LIFE, the LIVING WORD OF GOD that came down from heaven, of which if a man partake HE SHALL LIVE FOREVER.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Just as the Word was made flesh, so His flesh IS THE WORD. The bread is His body. The breaking of the bread is the BREAKING OF His Word. When He broke that Word to the travelers on the road to Emmaus, their eyes were opened and they KNEW HIM. When Christ breaks the bread, the Word of God, our eyes are opened and we BEHOLD HIM and transformation into His image begins. The wine, Jesus said, was His blood, shed for the remission of sins. His blood, beloved friend, is ETERNAL LIFE, the BLOOD OF GOD, and those who drink of His blood which is His Spirit drink deeply of eternal life.
The work of God today is not an outward work, but a deep, transforming inward work. As the Father unfolds this truth to our hearts we understand as never before the deep significance of these words of inspiration penned by the apostle Paul, "For he is not a Jew, which is one OUTWARDLY; neither is that circumcision, which is OUTWARD in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one INWARDLY; and circumcision is that of the HEART, IN THE SPIRIT, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28-29).
In this present hour we hear much of the Jews who are outward in the flesh. A remnant of these outward Jews have returned to the land of Palestine over the past century and have carved out there the modern state of Israel. Many Christians speak ecstatically about the prophecies that are being fulfilled in relation to the Jewish nation. Many live in excited expectation of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the reinstatement of the temple worship with its sacrificial and ceremonial rituals of the law. Then follow the dire predictions of the rise of the antichrist who is supposed to make a covenant with the Jews, have the whole world at his feet, and sit AS GOD in that wonderful temple. Thousands of people are feverishly working day and night for the salvation of the Jews. But I must tell you, beloved, the return of the outward Jews, the formation of the state of Israel, the seizure of Jerusalem, the fervent prayers at the wailing wall all not withstanding, the counsel of the Holy Spirit stands sure, the truth is as absolute and incontrovertible as it was the day heaven breathed the revelation into the illumined mind of the apostle of Jesus Christ - HE IS N-O-T A J-E-W WHO IS ONE O-U-T-W-A-R-D-L-Y; BUT HE I-S A J-E-W WHO IS ONE I-N-W-A-R-D-L-Y!
Let us not have our understanding distorted. Many are loudly proclaiming that the ending of Church age heralds the beginning of THE SUPREMACY OF THE JEWISH NATION as the instrument of God's Kingdom on earth during the age to come. This is a most serious ERROR! Thank God that He shall, indeed, save the Jews! Thank God that He shall also save ALL NATIONS as He pours out His Spirit upon ALL FLESH. And so shall be fulfilled that which is written: "Look unto Me, and be saved, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto Me EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR (allegiance)" (Isa. 45:22-23). And again, "ALL NATIONS whom You have made shall come and WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, O Lord; and shall glorify Your name" (Ps. 86:9). The apostle John adds his inspired testimony in these words, "And THE NATIONS of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the KINGS OF THE EARTH do bring their glory and honor into it" (Rev. 21:24).
The salvation of the Jews DOES NOT MEAN, however, that THEY shall then occupy and favored position in the Kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, it is not given to the outward Jews to rule the world in righteousness or administer the affairs of God's Kingdom on earth. Jesus announced to the Jewish nation 1900 years ago, "Behold, your house (kingdom) is left unto you desolate. Therefore I say unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be TAKEN FROM YOU, and given to a NATION bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Mat. 23:38; 21:43). Let every man know vast difference between being "saved" and "ruling" as a Son of God in the Kingdom. It is a blessed fact that salvation shall come to the Jews, yea, to ALL NATIONS. Salvation is by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. "The GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). Salvation is a GIFT of free grace; but the HIGH CALLING of God in Christ Jesus is not a free gift - it is a PRIZE to be won! As great as was the experience and ministry of the apostle Paul, he testified, "Not as though I had ALREADY ATTAINED, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I COUNT NOT MYSELF TO HAVE APPREHENDED: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which ARE BEFORE, I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK FOR THE P-R-I-Z-E OF THE H-I-G-H C-A-L-L-I-N-G of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14).
Ah, dear ones, there are qualifications involved in winning the PRIZE! The Scripture never says, "To him that gets saved will I grant to sit with me IN MY THRONE." And it certainly does not say, "When the Jews get saved THEY shall REIGN AS KINGS AND PRIESTS." The qualification is, "Him that OVERCOMES will I grant to sit with Me IN MY THRONE" (Rev. 3:21). Again, "Him that OVERCOMES ... to HIM will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: and he shall RULE THEM with a rod of iron" (Rev. 2:26-27). And Paul admonished Timothy, "I-F we SUFFER (with Him), we shall ALSO REIGN WITH HIM" (II Tim. 2:12). The Jews, through 1900 years of God's judgment and displeasure have NEVER SUFFERED W-I-T-H HIM, although they have suffered untold shame, disgrace, and indignities because of their unbelief and rejection of HIM. They flunked every test, every opportunity given to them to qualify for WORLD RULE. Therefore, they won't REIGN WITH HIM. In the glorious age to come they SHALL NOT REIGN OVER ANYTHING. To this very day they deny Him! "Whosoever shall DENY ME before men, him will I ALSO DENY before My Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 10:33). "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they (the lords and kings) that are with Him are CALLED, and CHOSEN, and FAITHFUL" (Rev. 17:14). The kingdom of Judah (Jews) was indeed CALLED and CHOSEN, but, alas! they were NEVER FAITHFUL. They shall not reign. This is given to the SONS OF GOD, through whom, Paul says, the whole creation shall be delivered. WHO shall REIGN? "He that OVERCOMES shall INHERIT ALL THINGS; and I will be his God, and he shall be MY SON" (Rev. 21:7).
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded FOR THE WITNESS OF JESUS ... and THEY lived and REIGNED WITH CHRIST a thousand years ... and THEY shall be PRIESTS OF GOD and of Christ, and shall REIGN WITH HIM" (Rev. 20:4,6). All that be Jews in spirit, inwardly, are to break down the imaginations of their hearts, and the evil of their carnal mind, and their earthly wisdom, and their knowledge, and understanding, and all the images and idols of their hearts, by the SPIRIT OF SONSHIP which God has given them, that they may offer to the Lord a sacrifice and an offering in His temple, which temple YOU ARE. The Jews in the spirit are beyond and higher than all the outward Jews in the flesh and their outward offerings in their outward temple, and the offerings of the Jews in spirit render base and negatory all the outward Jews' offerings that be outward and carnal, to do that which is inward and spiritual.
The outward Jews ate of their natural offerings in the outward temple; and so the Jews in the spirit do eat of their offering, Christ, in their temple, and of their sacrifices, and then they praise God in their temple. The outward Jews' lamps always did burn in their temple, and never went out; and they were to dress their lamps in their temple; so likewise the Jews in the spirit - their lamps of divine illumination and spiritual revelation are never to go out, but always to burn in their temple; and they are to trim and dress them, and so they come to be a royal priesthood unto God, always attending to the service of the Lord in the temple, morning and evening, offering in the Spirit the nature of the Lamb without blemish in the temple: and so the Jews in the spirit are morning and evening offering in the Spirit the nature of the Lamb without blemish in the temple: and so the Jew in spirit are morning and evening offering in the Lamb's spirit, in their temple, which is their bodies, the life and glory and victory of the Lamb of God.
There were priests to eat of the showbread in the outward temple, and the showbread was always to be in the temple on the table; and so the Jews in the spirit are always to have their bread, the Word of God, in their temple, to eat of it; and you are a spiritual household, and a royal priesthood unto God, And the incense and the sweet odors were to burn in the outward temple; and so the Jews in spirit are to always have the incense and sweet odors of the fragrance of HIS PRESENCE to burn in their temple. And the Jews in the flesh were not to touch anything, nor eat anything that was unclean; no more are the Jews in spirit to touch or handle anything that is unclean; but to HANDLE CHRIST, and feed upon HIM, who is pure, and holy, and clean, and eternal, who is the BREAD OF LIFE.
In the time of the law they were not to touch the dead, if they did they were unclean; which is a figure to them that WALK IN THE SPIRIT, they are not to touch the dead ways, dead doctrines, dead methods, dead outward observances, nor the DEAD FLESH of the religious systems wherein is no life; but to touch CHRIST WITH THEIR SPIRIT and HIS LIVING FLESH. Therefore touch nothing that is unclean, but the living and the clean; for the earth is corrupted with the dead bodies of former moves of God from which His Spirit has fled, and His life departed, now become lifeless ministries; and the FLESH THEREOF makes it to stink, and the living smell it.
The Jews outward were not to follow and feed upon any offering but their own; and so the Jews in the spirit are to follow no offering but Christ, and feed upon Him who is their own. Christ is the altar that all offer upon that offer up to God: which altar is in the temple of the body. And all who quench the Spirit of the Christ in themselves, or substitute some OUTWARD THING for the inward anointing, and suffer not the life of the INDWELLING CHRIST to arise and become their all-in-all, are such as WATCH THE SEPULCHRE OF CHRIST, and are afraid that Christ should ARISE! This precious saint of God, is that SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST!
Almighty Father! purge away the vain traditions that have been handed down for years, the carnal interpretations that have changed into deceptive myths the deep spiritual truth that You have spoken, and turned the inward work of Your Christ into an outward mirage ever fleeting before our eyes! Truly the man of sin that concerns each of us today is not the man we have been told shall appear by-and-by in some dark and distant land; but the one who wars continually against the CHRIST-LIFE here and now within our very own bosoms. Arise within us in the power of the SPIRIT OF YOUR MOUTH, by the Word of God which is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword - and slay this man of sin. Come! in the BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR APPEARING, as revealing light and consuming fire, until the words are wonderfully fulfilled in us:
What a burning, what a burning,
As all goes up in smoke and flame;
Everything of Adam's nature
Must bow the knee to Jesus' name!
Writings in This Series: