|- J. Preston Eby -
"And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive A MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads..." (Rev. 13:16). "-if any man worship the beast and his image, and receive HIS MARK in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Rev. 14:9-10).
"And I saw another angel ... having THE SEAL of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have SEALED the servants of our God in their foreheads" (Rev. 7:2-3).
For many decades and centuries God's people have been speculating about the strange phenomenon the Scripture calls the "mark of the beast". During the depression years when the NRA (National Recovery Administration) was formed, the ministers were preaching that the NRA was the mark of the beast. During World War II there was a myriad of ideas floating around about the "mark" including the notion that it was the swastika, all of which have proven false. There has been an immense increase in such speculation over the past decade as mankind has moved swiftly into the computer age.
The following article appeared in The Sunday Post, March 1981, Glasgow, Scotland: "Little black lines and numbers are now on over 4000 items in shops and supermarkets. It's the beginning of a new method of shopping, which will soon be familiar to every housewife in the land. Here's how the system works. The lines are known as 'bar code'. When a customer reaches the cash register, the assistant will no longer ring up the price on the item's label - for there won't be a price on the label! Instead, she'll draw a light-sensitive pen across the bar code. The code is automatically sent into a computer, which recognizes the pattern of bars, and identifies the purchase - a 4 oz. tin of beans, or whatever. The computer then flashes the price, which is stored in its memory, on to the cash register display, and the cash register gives a printed receipt, listing each item and its price, which the customer can still check. It means each item won't be individually priced, though the price will be clearly displayed on the shelf. The numbers beside the bar code give the country of manufacture, maker's name, and the particular item - e.g., and 8 oz. can of peas, a 1 liter bottle of squash, & etc. In short, the bar code clearly identifies each product for the computer - and the computer does the rest. Advantages are, it speeds up check-out queues, rules out mistakes at the check-out, tells a shop what it's selling and what it's running out of, and saves individual pricing. At the moment, only six shops in Britain are actually using the system, all in England. But within a few years it's likely every large store in the country will have changed to the new system."
The institution of the new Universal Product Code explained above (now in use here in Crystal River, Florida and throughout the U.S.) has given rise to a whole new rash of speculations about its probable connection with the long-awaited mark of the beast. Several years ago the following article appeared in Moody Magazine: "Dr. Handrick Eldeman, Chief Analyst of the Common Market Confederacy, announced today from Brussels that a computerized restoration plan is already under way in the aftermath of world chaos. In the Crises meeting which brought together the Scientists, Advisors and C.M.C. leaders, Dr. Eldeman unveiled the 'Beast'. The 'Beast' is a gigantic computer that takes up three floors at the Administration Building of Market Headquarters. This 'monster' is a self-programming unit that has over one hundred sensing input sources. Computer experts have been working on a plan to computerize all world trade. This master plan involves a digital numbering system for every human being on earth. The computer would assign each citizen of the world a number to use for all buying and selling to avoid the problems of ordinary credit cards. The number would be invisibly 'laser-tattooed' on the forehead or back of the hand. It would provide a walking credit card system. The number would show up under infra-red scanners to be placed at all check-out counters and places of business. Dr. Eldeman suggested that, by using three six-digital units, the entire world could be assigned a working credit card number. Other Common Market officials believe that the present chaos and disorder ... points to the need of a world currency - perhaps an international mark that would do away with all currency and coin. Instead, credit notes would be exchanged through a World Bank clearing center. NO MEMBER COULD BUY OR SELL without having an assignment of a digital mark. Market directors are now convinced that world order depends on allegiance to an international program of peace and politics, as well as a new world trade and numbering system. One man could have at his finger tips the number of any man on earth. It could provide the most powerful lever known to mankind. He could have a solution bank for world problems. It could be a tool for peace, or a dictator's weapon. When one of the Market leaders was asked what would happen if any person objected to the system and refused to cooperate, he replied rather pointedly, 'We would have to use force to make him conform to requirements.' "
I do not need to tell you that all the "literalists" and all the so-called "fundamentalists" have had a hey-day with reports such as the one quoted above. It is interesting to note, however, that the computer named "the Beast", occupying three floors of the Common Market Administration Building in Brussels, Belgium, and so fervently believed by many to have a direct connection with the "beast" of Revelation chapter thirteen, has now been out-dated and superseded by the largest computer complex in the world in the Monet Building in LUXEMBOURG! And I do not hesitate to tell you, dear ones, that all who presume to predict or speculate about the mark of the beast on the basis of the ever changing systems, inventions, and institutions of men and governments are destined to be proven wrong almost before the ink is dry on their paper.
But what is the mark of the beast? Some thought it was the NRA, others that it was the swastika. Some claim that it is the social security number, others that it is the universal product code, still others that it is a yet future identification number to be assigned by the antichrist which will eventually be invisibly "laser-tattooed" on the forehead or hand and read by a "laser tattoo gun". I must speak plainly and tell you, beloved, that all these are mere GUESSES - and wrong ones, at that! There is really no limit to the credulity of the Christian public in its appetite for prophetical sensationalism. How fascinating to think of the mark of the beast being traced by laser beam on the foreheads of every living soul on the face of the earth! This is much more exciting, and far more likely to be believed by the carnal-minded and sensation-hungry evangelical world than the plain truth that the book of Revelation is a SPIRITUAL BOOK, a book of SYMBOLS - and the true mark of the beast, SYMBOLIZED by the number 666 on the forehead and hand, GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN SKIN AND FLESH and is a state of being - just as the 144,000 being stamped on their foreheads with the SEAL OF GOD and the FATHER'S NAME goes much deeper than a mere inscription of Hebrew characters upon the fleshly forehead, bespeaking rather their taking upon them the FATHER'S MIND AND NATURE.
For many generations Christians have been bottle-fed, spoon-fed, and stuffed and crammed from the cradle to the grave with the fantasy that a monstrous man is due to arise who will rule the earth and compel everyone under pain of losing their livelihood or their life to wear his distinctive mark branded, etched, or burned literally upon the flesh - so that even good men, Spirit-filled men, and gifted men, with the profuse and generous help of the respected but unenlightened "scholars" of the babylonian church systems, are abjectly submitting to or belligerently defending what they consider is holy and established truth. No one can dispute what I now say when I declare that all these "literal" explanations of a one-man-super-deceiver-antichrist "literally" branding people with a "literal" mark on their "literal" foreheads and hands ORIGINATED IN THE CONFUSION WHICH IS BABYLON and are to this day propagated by Babylon, listened to by Babylon, cherished by Babylon and ardently believed in after the babylonish traditions. If you do not see that these carnal interpretations were spawned by, and are now fervently promoted by the harlot church systems, then it is certain that you have not read their books, listened to their sermons, nor tuned in to their radio and television programs. Men of confusion have tried to explain what only the Holy Spirit can reveal, and many of God's precious saints who have received the call to Sonship naively parrot the same line. This confusion has only caused more confusion becoming more confused, the speculations becoming wilder and more ridiculous as each world leader selected to be "the antichrist" passes from the scene and each new system purported to be "the mark of the beast" becomes antiquated by some new development which opens the door for even more absurd theories.
IN THE FOREHEAD AND ON THE HAND
A comparison of Gen. 17:11 with Rom. 4:11, and Rev. 7:3 with Eze. 9:4 (and numerous other passages) shows that the words "token", "sign", "seal", and "mark" are used in the Bible as synonymous terms. Thus, the "SEAL of God in the forehead", the "Father's NAME in the forehead", and the "MARK of the beast in the forehead" all indicate the same principle at work. In this case it is not some literal mark to be made in the flesh, but a state of being in mind and nature which serves as a "mark of distinction" between those who are HIS and those who are of the beastly system of the world.
The symbolism of the "mark in the forehead and hand" is taken from Ex. 13:9 in connection with the institution of the feast of the Passover. The first Passover was observed by the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, on the eve of their departure out of the house of bondage, and the beginning of their journey to the land of promise. It was the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. God had raised up a deliverer for the people in the person of Moses, and had equipped him with such power and authority in the Spirit that he was to Pharaoh even as God. Many and dreadful and great were the signs and wonders which were wrought by his hand, so that Egypt became utterly wasted at the hands of a God of judgment. One by one the plagues fell upon the land; and time and again Pharaoh promised to let the people go, only to harden his heart when the plague was lifted. Finally God declared His judgment upon the firstborn of all the land of Egypt - and then Egypt was literally glad to see the people depart, so dreadful and devastating was the destruction of the Almighty.
"And the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Ex. 12:1-2). From this date forward Israel was to have a new calendar. It was to be the first month instead of the second, because God was going to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, and bring them into a new experience and into a new land. Israel's old associations were to be gone forever! They would now depart out of the world system to which they had for 400 years been slaves. No longer would they serve the Egyptian taskmaster under hard bondage, but they were to serve the Lord their God. No longer were they to eat the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt, but they would feast upon the manna from heaven, and drink water out of the flinty rock. No longer would they abide in the houses of their little world in Egypt, but they would henceforth follow the cloud of glory from one place to another, from one experience to another, even from glory to glory. And so, to deliver Israel from the judgment of the firstborn, and to prepare them for a new life as a separated and holy nation, God instituted the Passover. And the faithful observance of the rites and ceremonies connected with this event would mean the preservation of Israel in the hour of God's judgments upon the land of Egypt, and the beginning of a new era for the people of God.
So it is that the cross of Christ and the blood of the Lamb become the beginning of a new era for the children of God. Old things begin to pass away, and all things begin to become new. The bondage of the world, the flesh, and the devil, gives way to a liberty in the Spirit, and a life of servitude to the God of our salvation. "Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6:18). From the time we experience Christ as our Saviour, and really partake of the fountain of life opened at Calvary, from that very hour we begin a new life in the Kingdom of God. And whereas, we once served the flesh, and the bestial system of this world under cruel bondage, now we have become the bondslaves of Jesus Christ.
When God gave Moses the instructions for the keeping of the Passover feast, He said, "And you shall show your son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be FOR A SIGN UPON YOUR HAND, and FOR A MEMORIAL BETWEEN YOUR EYES, that the Lord's law may be in your mouth: for with a strong hand has the Lord brought you out of Egypt (the beastly world system)." The keeping of the Passover was like a sign on the hand and the forehead, a mark, a reminder that the law - the ways and nature of the Lord - should always be upon their lips and in their hearts and lived out in the conduct of their daily lives.
The deep and hidden mysteries of God are never discovered by the investigations or probings of the natural mind because they pertain to a realm beyond the reach of the natural. Only by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from on high can we perceive the depth of meaning contained in the counsel of the Lord to Moses as He continued to instruct him respecting the observance of the Passover. "And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What is this? that you shall say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt ... and it shall be FOR A TOKEN UPON YOUR HAND, and FOR FRONTLETS BETWEEN YOUR EYES: for by strength of hand the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt" (Ex. 13:14-16). Again, the mark upon the hand and the forehead; not a little plastic card, or a brand or tattoo upon their flesh, but a taking into their MIND of the law of the Lord and a binding upon their hands - the OUTER ACTIONS - bespeaking the fulfilling of His law in all their doings.
Who among us would not willingly have our hand cut off or our forehead stripped of skin if anything so obvious and simple as that separated us from the glory of God? Thus, in the book of Revelation two ways are revealed: the way of the SEAL OF GOD and the way of the MARK OF THE BEAST. In the Passover feast God designated a lamb for each house, a lamb without blemish, typifying the true "lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world" (I Jn. 1:29). The lamb must be killed, the blood must be applied to the house, for the Word was, "When I see the blood I will pass over you" (Ex. 12:13). The Lamb purchases us for God, for "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" and "Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you... and YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN? For YOU ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE: therefore glorify God in your spirit, and in your body, which are God's" (I Pet. 1:18-19; I Cor. 6:19-20). The seal of God begins with the blood, the life-giving Spirit, and the blood upon the lintel and the doorpost answers to the LAW UPON THE FOREHEAD AND ON THE HAND, in the MIND and the OUTER ACTIONS AND WORKS. For our part we must apply the blood by faith to our lives. Our feet must be shod, and we must be ready to leave the old ways of the world's bestial system behind. We must participate in the Christ, and give evidence of the fact that we are bearers of HIS LIFE.
When we walk in the conscious awareness that Christ has purchased us, and set the SEAL OF HIS LIFE upon us, we begin to live to Him, not to ourselves, and we serve Him, and not ourselves, or the world, or our lusts and pleasures; but serve Him who is heavenly, in whom is righteousness, peace, and joy, and not the beastly system of this world. Common reason teaches this, that if a man buys a horse, or sheep, or other cattle, and pays a price for them, the horse and cattle are for his own use, and at his own service and command, who bought them, and are to be both ordered and fed by him. And he that has bought his cattle SETS HIS OWN MARK UPON THEM, and orders his own pastures for them, and employs them to fulfill his own high purposes. This the common reason of every business man understands.
But Christ, our spiritual heavenly Man, has purchased us with His blood, and paid a price for His sheep, and has SEALED US WITH HIS SPIRIT, and set HIS MARK upon us, so that we are His, and not our own, and are at His ordering and disposing by His heavenly power. And He orders us heavenly water and milk and wine and honey, and heavenly bread and meat, and the heavenly clothing, the fine linen of the righteousnesses of saints, and feeds us in His heavenly pastures of divine understanding, wisdom, and revelation. And so we are to live to Christ, the heavenly Man, and serve Him, and do all His will, and so know His doctrine; and so we come to know our Master's crib, and know our Owner, and His heavenly life that has purchased us, and His heavenly voice that speaks to us and directs all our doing, and are not like the common ox or ass, that know not their owner, nor their master's crib.
My deep and earnest prayer is that the Lord shall give all His elect understanding, that they may be flooded with His light, and in His light see their Owner, and His crib, and Him that has purchased them, even the heavenly Man, the firstborn Son, the forerunner who for us has entered in beyond the veil. And is it not fit, O man, that the heavenly Man should have them whom He purchases, and has paid a price for them, at His service, and to be at His ordering and rule, and to live unto Him, and do His will, and not at the command and order of the bestial system of this world, be it political, economic, or ecclesiastical? My ransomed spirit shouts, Amen!
Hear O Sons of God! It is time for some astute delineations. If you have already been sealed by God in your forehead, and are His, bought and paid for, called and separated unto His high and holy purposes, taught and trained in the ways and principles of His Kingdom, there is no more room in your forehead for the mark of the beast! If the enemy can get Christians all bound up with dread and concern over such carnal things as using Visa and Master Charge cards, super market scanners, etc., fearful that they might be taking the mark of the beast, then he has successfully diverted their attention from the real issue of the mark, and immobilized them in the SPIRITUAL WARFARE. This doesn't mean that I am advocating the use of these cards in an improper manner, or going into debt. But there is nothing innately pernicious about credit cards or account, product, and identification numbers, as most institutions using these are simply employing technology to become more efficient. These are simply forms of making financial transactions. As long as we are in this world we have to make financial transactions. It matters not whether we use cash, checks with magnetic characters on the bottom, credit cards with magnetic strips, or any other system. These are simply different means of making financial transactions. And most usages of "666" in computer billing, account numbers etc. are merely designations of regions, billing cycles, or processing numbers. In the computer systems today there is a mass usage of ANY TRIO OF DIGITS - "111", "222", 333" etc., not just "666". Ah, beloved, don't allow some carnal-minded sensationalist to pick a few "666's" off of some invoices, serial numbers, credit cards, license plates, or bar codes and get your excitable soulish nature all involved in their exaggerated little NUMBERS GAME. And if you receive a product, bill, account number, or any other item bearing the number "666" in tomorrow's mail, I can assure you by the Word of the Lord that IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATEVER TO DO WITH THE MARK OF THE BEAST. Chances are, however, that you won't even receive anything with that number, for the vast majority who claim to have received such are the faceless "friend of a friend of a friend" of someone else!
The mark of God in the forehead of the blessed Sons of Zion is the mark of godliness in the MIND OF CHRIST within them as God delivers them from the rule of the flesh and the government of man into the heavenly government of His beloved Son. Thank God! we are truly being transformed by the "renewing of our minds" and have, in the measure that it has been inworked, the mind of Christ. As God's elect we are hearing the Spirit's call to repent of the works of OUR hands - the projects, programs, religious activities etc. by which we BUY AND SELL the holy things or God - that mark the very fall from God's total provision by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is of great importance that on at least three occasions God gave instructions to Israel concerning HIS MARK in the forehead and on the hand. In Deut. 6:7-8 we read, "And these words you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall bind them for a SIGN UPON YOUR HAND, and they shall be as FRONTLETS BETWEEN YOUR EYES." It is nothing short of amazing how many who say they have received the call to Sonship spend hours on end glued to the television screen as spectators of the incredible filth of the world ... GETTING THE IMAGES OF THIS WORLD'S BESTIAL SYSTEM INDELIBLY IMPRINTED ON THEIR MINDS AND VALUE SYSTEMS ... but not one hour for God, not one hour in His Word, nor one hour at His feet in intimate and sweet and blessed communion with Him. The flesh is king and has won the attention and allegiance of the entire earth and alas! of many of God's saints as well. They do homage before the beastly system of this evil age, they follow him, they unthinkingly do exactly as he commands to their minds, and they don't know it or seem to even care. The fruit of this is seen as lives crumble, marriages crumble, families crumble, churches crumble, nations crumble, and now the whole world crumbles! Rather than binding the law of the Lord upon their hands and tying it as frontlets between their eyes, they have taken upon them the mark of the beastly system of the world.
That mark is first and foremost IN THE FOREHEAD, i.e., in the MIND. It is not difficult to see that the things which men are doing today and have done in ages past are but the MANIFESTATION of that which is in their minds, for "As a man THINKS in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7) and "a good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Mat. 12:34-35). The mark of the beast that appears IN THE HAND (works, outer actions) is the direct result of the mark of the beast IN THE FOREHEAD (mind, nature). This is the mind that inspires the ever increasing confusion and violence that is running rampant among all nations. Can we not see by this that the honest person is first of all honest in his mind. The truthful person is first of all truthful in his own mind. The pure person is first of all pure in his own mind. The person of wholesome speech is first of all wholesome in his own way of thinking. The person thoughtful of others must be first of all thoughtful of others in his own mind. The godly person must be first of all godly in his own mind. The spiritual person must be first of all spiritually minded. All our words and actions ORIGINATE IN OUR MINDS, at either the moment of speaking or doing, or at a time previous to that.
The great work of the SEAL OF GOD IN THE FOREHEAD is the CHANGE of our mind, or more accurately the TAKING OF ANOTHER MIND. For the taking of a new mind brings about the existence of a new being and new beings bring about the existence of a new order. The present mind of man is POLLUTED and there is no denying the fact. All the appropriations of all the governments, all the laws and ordinances, all the rituals and programs of religion, and all the efforts of the so-called MORAL MAJORITY will do no good whatever in correcting the problem of pollution of any kind, until the MIND OF MAN is cleansed and renewed. The Sons of God, having the Father's name written in their foreheads, are the FIRSTFRUITS OF AN ENTIRELY NEW ORDER OF MEN TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY T-R-A-N-S-F-O-R-M-E-D BY THE RENEWING OF THEIR MINDS. What glorious hope this inspires in our hearts!
TAKING THE MARK OF GOD OR THE BEAST
I want to know the mark of God, not the mark of the beast. I want the Holy Spirit to take the things of Christ and make them real to me, impressing them deeply and indelibly upon mind, heart, and nature until Christ BECOMES MY STATE OF BEING. This is what it means to have the seal of God and the Father's name written in the forehead. On the other hand, the mark of the beast is more deep-seated than a visible tattoo, or even outward things like images, sects, and denominations. It is something that has become A PART OF THE MIND. This mark is IN THE FOREHEAD of those who worship (pay respect or homage to) the beastly system of the world, the very mind and nature of this mysterious system.
When a young woman goes to nursing school, she learns the things pertaining to the medical world, and after years of training and experience she becomes an RN. Long before this she has commenced to wear the nurses white uniform with white shoes, stockings, and cap so that she becomes an expression of that field. You see her walking down the street and before you can even recognize her as Sue, or Helen, or whoever, you have already identified her as being a nurse, for the medical world has so absorbed her into its system, that she becomes an expression of that realm. She bears their MARK! Would to God that we would be so GIVEN, YIELDED to the spirit of wisdom and holiness and power of the Christ as to be absorbed therein that it becomes, without our human effort, that we reveal HIM, for HE becomes the manifestation, HE becomes the atmosphere of our living, the sphere of our existence, so that we express only HIM at all times and in all circumstances. The mark of GOD!
But how often have we, in both thinking and actions, borne the mark of the bestial system, be it economic, political, or religious. Have we not THOUGHT like the world, PLANNED like the world, and ACTED like the world? Have we not schemed in our business dealings how we might make the most money on some deal even if it meant trampling some one else's rights or leaving them at a disadvantage, for our own gain? Have we not classified ourselves as "conservative" or "liberal", as "Republican" or "Democrat", thus appropriating to ourselves the characteristics of the political aspects of the WORLD'S SYSTEM? And who would deny that in the religious realm the church system's whole vision, method, and attitude is in accordance with the world's system? Their planning and program is all in harmony with the "spirit of this age" as they constantly adapt themselves to WHATEVER THE WORLD IS DOING, be it rock music, showmanship, money raising schemes etc. etc., and the "mark of the beast" is clearly stamped upon all her works. The branding of the satanic character of this world's system is seen in all the financial operation, the political operation, as well as all the warped and perverted mixture of religion in the church systems. And the masses of the world's inhabitants live out their daily lives bearing in mind and character the MARK of that beastly system!
The particular Greek word which has been translated "mark" in Rev. 13:16 is "charagma", translated eight times as MARK and once as GRAVEN. It is interesting to note that this Greek word for MARK is from the same root from which we get the Greek word CHARAKTER and our English word CHARACTER. In Heb. 1:3 this word is translated as "express image". "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the EXPRESS IMAGE of His person..." The EXPRESS IMAGE of God is, therefore, the manifestation of God as revealed through His and our CHARACTER. The MARK speaks of that handiwork and the inward thinking which brings forth an expression of character in line with the very source from which the mark comes. Either we will find ourselves expressing the CHARACTER OF GOD, or else the CHARACTER OF THE BEAST. It speaks not, dear ones, of a visible tattoo or brand, nor any outward form which could be pretended for a time, but it refers to that INNER QUALITY OF HIS CHARACTER WHICH IS BEING DEVELOPED IN US, and which in due time shall be revealed.
Precious friend of mine, would you bear the mark of God, going on to perfection, conformed to the image of Christ? If a man is sick, he goes to the doctor. The doctor examines him, diagnoses his case, and writes out a prescription. The man rushes home to begin taking the medicine, the medicine works, and soon the symptoms disappear and he is himself once more. Ah, beloved, God has a DIVINE PRESCRIPTION for the imperfection, the carnality, the disease of sin and death in our lives - a process just as definite as the working of any medicine or any chemical experiment. This Divine Prescription is powerful and effective enough to conquer all that hinders HIS PERFECTION in our lives. Oh yes, God does have a METHOD! Is corn to grow by method, and divine character by chance? God's ways are precise if we cannot calculate to a certainty that the power of the Holy Spirit will do its work, then our vision is vain. And if we cannot express the LAW of the Holy Spirit's working in simple words, then Sonship is a delusion.
Where, then, shall one look for the Divine Prescription? Where one would look for any kind of technical knowledge - among the text-books. And if we turn to the text-book of the School of God we shall find a Prescription for our problem of imperfection, carnality, and sin as clear and precise as any in the medical sciences. If this simple Prescription, moreover, be applied fearlessly, it will yield the result of a PERFECT DIVINE CHARACTER as surely as any result that is guaranteed by the laws of nature. The finest expression of this Prescription in Scripture is one drawn up and condensed into a single verse by Paul. You will find it in a letter - the second to the Corinthians - written by him to some saints who, in a city which was a byword for depravity and licentiousness, were seeking the higher life of the Kingdom. To see the point of the words we must take them from the Revised translation, for the King James version in this case greatly obscures the sense. They are these: "We all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:18).
Now observe the simple passive "we are transformed." We ARE CHANGED, as the King James version has it - the complete contradiction of all our self-efforts, we are changed - we do not change ourselves! No man can change himself. Throughout the New Testament you will find that wherever these spiritual transformations are described the verbs are in the passive. What is implied for the child of God here is no more than is everywhere claimed for the physical body and all living things on the natural plane. In physiology the verbs describing the processes of growth are in the passive. Growth is not voluntary; it takes place, it happens, it is wrought upon matter. So here. "You must be born again," Jesus said, - and we cannot BORN ourselves! "Be not conformed to this world, but BE TRANSFORMED" we are subjects to a transforming influence, we do not transform ourselves. As certain as it is that it is something outside the thermometer that produces a change in the thermometer, just that certain is it that it is something outside the soul of man that produces a change upon him. That he must be susceptible to that change, that he must be a party to it, goes without saying; but that neither his own ability nor his will can produce it, is equally certain.
Obvious as it ought to be, this may be to some an almost startling revelation. The change we have been striving after as Sons of God is not to be produced by any more striving after. It is to be wrought upon us by the molding of hands beyond our own. As the branch ascends, and the bud bursts, and the fruit reddens under the cooperation of influences from the atmosphere, so man rises to the higher stature of God's Christ under invisible influences BEYOND HIMSELF. There is a scientific law called the First Law of Motion which states: "Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, except in so far as it may be compelled BY IMPRESSED FORCES to change that state." In conformity with this law, a ball thrown in the air would continue going in the same direction except for the IMPRESSED FORCE OF GRAVITY which compels it to fall back to the earth. This is also the First Law of Sonship! Every man's character remains as it is, or continues in the direction which it is going, until it is compelled BY IMPRESSED FORCES to change that state. Our only failure has been the failure to put ourselves in the way of the impressed forces. There is a clay, and there is a potter; how often we have tried to get the clay to mold the clay!
Whence, then, these pressures, and where this Potter? The answer of the Divine Prescription is "By reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are changed." But this is not very clear. What is the "glory" of the Lord, and how can a man reflect it, and how can that act as an "impressed force" in changing him to a higher form? The word "glory" - the word which has to bear the weight of holding those "impresses forces" - is an ambiguous term in many minds, so we must seek out its equivalent in working English. It suggests at first a radiance of some kind, something dazzling or glittering, some halo such as the artists love to paint around the heads of holy men or angels. But that is paint, mere matter, the visible symbol of some unseen thing. What is that unseen thing? It is that of all unseen things the most radiant, the most beautiful, the most divine, and that is CHARACTER. On earth, in heaven, there is nothing so great, so glorious as this!
The word character has many meanings; in the Kingdom of God it can have but one. Glory is character and nothing less, and it can be nothing more. The earth is "full of the glory of the Lord," because it is full of His character. The "beauty of the Lord," spoken of by the Psalmist is character. "The effulgence of His glory" is character. "The glory of the only begotten" is character, the character which is "fullness of grace and truth." And when God spoke to His people HIS NAME He simply gave them HIS CHARACTER, His character which was Himself: "And the Lord proclaimed the Name of the Lord... the Lord, the Lord God, MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS, LONG-SUFFERING AND ABUNDANT IN GOODNESS AND TRUTH" (Ex. 34:5-6).
The idea of God's glory is often associated with the advent of Jesus. Isaiah promised that "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed" in the day of the Messiah. Angels chorused, "Glory to God in the highest," at Christ's birth. The literal meaning of the Hebrew word for glory is "weight" or "substance". In the eyes of men this literal meaning frequently lent itself to the idea that a person possessing glory was laden (heavy) with the substances of this world. Thus, Jacob's flock was his "glory" (Gen. 31:1). The Assyrian's power was their "glory" (Isa. 8:7). Joseph's high position was his "glory" (Gen. 45:13). But when the word was applied to God it was meant to bring out the weightiness of HIS ATTRIBUTES - His love, justice, righteousness, mercy, power - His CHARACTER. For all that God possesses is simply WHAT HE IS. His "glory" is not what He HAS, but what HE IS. When the glory of the Lord is revealed, the LORD HIMSELF is revealed in all His wonderful nature and character of being. Glory then is not something intangible, or ghostly, or transcendental. If it were this how could Paul ask men to reflect it? Stripped of its physical connotation it is BEAUTY, moral and spiritual beauty, beauty infinitely real, infinitely exalted, yet infinitely near and infinitely communicable.
With this explanation, read over the sentence once more in paraphrase: "We all reflecting as a mirror the character of Christ are transformed into the same Image from character to character - from a poor character to a better one, from a better one to one a little better still, from that to one still more complete, until by slow degrees HIS PERFECT IMAGE is attained." Here the solution of the problem of "going on to perfection" is compressed into one simple but divine prescription: REFLECT THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST AND YOU WILL BECOME LIKE CHRIST.
How to get the character: Stand in Christ's presence and mirror His character, and you will be changed in spite of yourself, and unknown to yourself, into the same image from character to character. Every man is a reflector. That is the principle upon which this is based. In your face you reflect your nationality. I ask a man a question, and I find out in ten seconds whether he is a Mississippian or a Bostonian, or an Englishman or a Mexican. He has reflected in his very voice his country. I ask him another question, and another, and another, and I see reflections flit over the mirror from all points of the compass. I find out in five minutes that he had a Christian mother. I see reflected in a mirror that he is a member of the Baptist denomination and has regularly attended their meetings and has readily absorbed their teachings. As I go on watching him as he stands and talks to me, his whole life is reflected back from it. I see the kind of background he has been living in - the kind of companions he has had. He cannot help reflecting. He cannot prevent himself showing the environment in which he has lived - the influences that have played around him. The law is simple: We become like those we habitually reflect.
There was a savor of Jonathan about David, and a savor of David about Jonathan. Elisha received of the very anointing of Elijah because of his association with him. And of the disciples of Jesus it is written, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John... they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). You sometimes see husband and wife, after a half century of intimate relationship, changed entirely into the same image. They have gone on reflecting one another so often - without trying - that they have become largely made up of the same attitudes, convictions, and mannerisms.
By far the most impressive truth which underlies the Divine Prescription for perfection is the truth that men are not only mirrors, but that these mirrors, so far from being mere reflectors of the fleeting things they see, transform into their own inmost substance, and hold there in permanent preservation, the things they reflect, for these are not cold, hard mirrors of glass or bronze, but warm, living, impressionable mirrors of spirit, soul, and body. No one knows how the soul can assimilate the things it reflects. But, think of it! the past is not only focused there, in a man's soul, it IS there. How could it be reflected from there if it were not? All things that he has ever seen, known, felt and believed of the surrounding world are now WITHIN HIM, have become part of him, and ARE HIM - he has been changed into their image. He may deny it, he may resent it, but they are there. They do not adhere to him, they are transfused through him. He cannot alter or rub them out. They are not simply in his memory - they are in HIM. His soul is as they have filled it, made it, left it. These things, these books, these events, these people, these experiences, these influences are his makers. In their hands are his destiny. When once the image or likeness of any of these is truly presented to the soul, no power on earth can hinder two things happening it must be absorbed into the soul, and forever reflected back again FROM CHARACTER.
Upon these astounding yet perfectly obvious psychological facts, Paul bases his statement of how men are changed into the image of Christ. "Make Christ your most constant companion" - this is what it practically means for all who treasure the hope of Sonship to God. Live out all your days in intimacy of fellowship and in vital union with HIM. Be more under His influence than under any other influence. Every character has an inward spring, let Christ be it. Every action has a key-note, let Christ set it. Begin every day with the mirror placed at the right angle, turn it towards HIM, and even to your enemy the fashion of your countenance will be changed. Cultivate His friendship. Live after Christ, in His Spirit and in His Word, as in His Presence, and it is difficult to think what more you can do.
The Law will work, naturally. The Divine Prescription will do its blessed work, faithfully. This is God's way - subject yourself continually to His presence and glory and He will place HIS MARK upon you! You will take on a NEW NAME, a NEW NATURE, to become a part of the revelation of God in the earth. It is unavoidable. It is the law of being. It cannot and will not fail! Conversely, if we subject ourselves constantly to the influences of the beastly systems of this world, seeking its fellowship, following after its ways, adapting to its standards, we will most certainly become stamped in our inner nature with the mark of the beast! It is unavoidable. It is the law of being. It cannot and will not fail!
Beloved, there is no one single step out from the beast's mark to the mark of God. As HE is birthed into us and we are birthed into HIM, there is no instantaneous cessation of mistake and error, no abrupt eradication of sin, the flesh, or the carnal mind, for the journey is not over until it is over and the ways of man, the mark of the beast, Satan upon him from the very beginning ... upon his mind as becomes a human mind ... and upon his hand as the works of all human hands ... is fully dealt with by the cross. How shall this be accomplished? "As a beast goes down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest: so did You lead Your people, to make Thyself a glorious name," the prophet wrote in Isa. 63:14. All the beastly nature is being led down into the valley of HIS DEATH, dealt with by HIS CROSS, effective only in and by HIS LIFE, and that which emerges, ascending out of the valley is a NEW MAN, even HIS GLORIOUS NAME, the nature and character of the Lord God Almighty. May God make it real to everyone who reads these lines!
As I was in meditation concerning the truth I have presented here, the following lines penned by another were brought to my attention: "As a garment plucked from a perfumed closet bears in its fibres the sweet aroma, so they who dwell in THE PRESENCE of Christ radiate the glory, the beauty, and the power of His attributes. 'All Your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made You glad,' wrote David. The ointment Mary poured with prodigality upon the head of the Saviour filled all the house where He sat with its fragrance, and we would be right in believing that all who came forth from that room carried in their garments the sweetness of that aromatic balm.
"To dwell in HIS PRESENCE is to be LIKE HIM. To abide in His presence is to be changed into HIS IMAGE. Man can never hope to attain the likeness of the Lord - 12
by any outward regulation or command to his carnal mind, such as, touch not, taste not, handle not. It is when saints become conscious of HIS PRESENCE that men say they have been with Jesus. It is not what God commands that changes the heart; it is He Himself. It is not the recitation of God's divine laws that transforms our lives, but our relationship to Him who made them. Our abiding in the presence of Jesus Christ will cure our every ill and transform our spirit, soul, and body into the image of Jesus Christ."
To which I would add these anointed words by Martha Wing Robinson: "You do not realize that you would have broken down under the weight of your cares but for the renewing time with Me. It is not what I say; it is Myself. It is not the hearing Me so much as being IN MY PRESENCE. The strengthening and curative powers of this you cannot know. Such knowledge is beyond human reckoning. This would cure the poor world if every day each soul or group of souls waited before Me. Remember that you must never fail to keep this time apart with Me. Gradually you will be TRANSFORMED, physically, mentally, spiritually, into My likeness. All who see you or contact with you will be by this intercourse with you brought near to Me, and gradually the influence will spread.
Writings in This Series: