Note: J. Preston Eby, in order to continue to devote his full energy to writing, no longer works in the office and does not receive email. He does, however, respond to any urgent correspondence via snailmail.
To be added to the mailing list to receive the current issue of Kingdom Bible Studies each month:
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE
CHURCH IN SMYRNA
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)
and I know the blasphemy of them which say
they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:9).
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we
are the circumcision, which worship
God in the spirit, and rejoice in
Christ Jesus, and have no confidence
in the flesh” (Phil. 3:2-3). This
passage is taken from Paul’s epistle to the Philippians.
In the course of Paul’s inspired admonition to the saints in Philippi
he states, “Beware of the concision.” The
word “concision” is an ironical expression which means mere
“mutilation,” that is, to cut off an essential part of; to render imperfect;
to maim; to cut up; to destroy. It
refers to the ritual of circumcision.
entire period of Paul’s ministry, he constantly waged warfare against a class
of believers known as Judaizers. These
Judaizers were actually Jews who made it their business to follow around in the
places where Paul had ministered, creep into the midst of the believers who were
both Jews and Gentiles after the flesh, whom Paul had founded on the truth, and
defile these believers by proclaiming error and persuading them that in order to
truly please God they must be circumcised and keep the laws given to Israel.
By so doing, the law became the rule by which they measured their
righteousness! They were placing their confidence of righteousness in the
works of the flesh, in external observances, the things which they could or
could not do, rather than in the power of CHRIST’S INDWELLING LIFE.
We find the description of these Judaizers in the fifteenth chapter of
Acts. They were from Judea (Acts
15:1). They were “Pharisees which
believed” (Acts 15:5). They had
belonged to the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:24).
They were, or had been, in fellowship with the twelve apostles. We learn these facts in Acts 15:1-2: “And certain men which
came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised
after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved…therefore Paul and Barnabas had
no small dissension and disputation with them.”
“But!” one may exclaim, “what possible harm could be done simply by
being circumcised and keeping some tenets of the law?”
In answer we hear the words of the apostle Paul, “Stand fast therefore
in the liberty wherewith Christ has
made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that IF YE BE CIRCUMCISED, Christ shall
profit you nothing. For I testify
again to every man that is
circumcised, that he is debtor to do the whole
law. Christ is become of no
effect unto you, whosoever of you
are justified by the law; ye are FALLEN FROM GRACE! For
in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith
which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:1-6).
Those Judaizers who taught legalism, law, and works, were those of whom
Paul spoke when he cried out, “Beware of the concision.”
Beware of the concision!
Beware of the mutilators! Watch out
for those who would mutilate your body by cutting off the foreskin of your
flesh, while in actuality they are mutilating, cutting off, and making maim your
standing in Christ by grace, making your faith
void and of no effect through
trust in the righteousness of the law. For
says the apostle, “Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision,” and again,
“circumcision is that of the heart,
in the spirit, and not
in the letter (law); whose praise is not of men but of God” (Rom. 2:25,29).
How clear that our circumcision is spiritual,
in the heart and spirit of the inner man;
but if we put confidence in the flesh we then cancel out that which is
spiritual, life, and reality!
The Philippian church most certainly consisted of both Jews and Gentiles.
The first convert was Lydia, who was a Jewess (Acts 16:14).
Then followed the case of the girl possessed with a spirit of divination.
Paul cast out the spirit, and undoubtedly the girl was saved.
In Acts 16:19-21 we learn that her masters were Romans, which means in
all probability that the girl was also Roman.
Then followed the conversion of the Philippian jailer, who most certainly
was a Gentile. It is only
reasonable to conclude that the greater part of the Philippian church was
Gentile proselytes to Judaism or pagans, as were the other churches founded by
Paul who was the apostle to the nations.
Now note carefully what Paul says to these believers, most of whom were
Gentile converts. “WE are the circumcision!”
And oh, that the Lord’s people today might learn this simple, yet
immensely important truth! “WE
(both Israelite and Gentile) are the circumcision, which worship God in the
spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH!”
(Phil. 3:3). It is high time for us
to understand that natural birth has nothing at all to do with being of the
circumcision, the called and chosen elect of God!
Circumcision marks those who are
His! And the only circumcision God recognizes is of the heart,
in the spirit! “Except
a man be born again he cannot enter
into the kingdom of God.” Natural
lineage from the house of Judah, the house of Israel, or any other race or
people has nothing whatever to do with making us the called and chosen elect of
God! WE are the circumcision who
have no confidence in the flesh!
But we, Jew, Israelite, Gentile, rich, poor, free, bond, male,
female, worship God in the spirit
through the circumcision of our hearts by faith!
We might write for the next fifty years concerning the glorious truths of
sonship and the kingdom of God, but no factor of this truth is more solemn or of
greater import than the words of our Lord wherein He stated, “It is the spirit
that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing”
(Jn. 6:63). Notice that Jesus did
not say that the flesh profits a little, or is the first prerequisite, or has a
small advantage, or that the flesh gives you a head start towards sonship.
Oh, no! He said plainly,
“The flesh profiteth N-O-T-H-I-N-G!” It
is vain and foolish to trust in the flesh, and John the Baptist put it rather
succinctly, “And begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our
father…” (Lk. 3:8). So you have
Abraham for your father! That fact
isn’t worth a hill of beans! That
fact will not make you a son of God, it will not get you into the kingdom, nor
will it enable you to inherit the promises!
In order to qualify as the Israel of God we must be quickened by the
Spirit of God, worship God in the
spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, have a circumcision of our heart by the
operation of God, and have no confidence at all in the flesh!
John went on to say, “for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones
to raise up children unto Abraham!” Now
let me ask you, precious friend of mine, if God is able of stones
to raise up children unto Abraham, should it be thought a thing incredible or
impossible or even implausible that He should of the Gentiles raise up seed to Abraham?
Because men walk in the natural and are thus incapable of grasping
spiritual realities, even though they may profess to be spiritual, we have on
every hand those who think of Israel almost wholly on the natural plane.
They think with carnal minds about Jews or the ten-tribed House of
Israel. There are those even in
this message of the kingdom who entertain the crude notion that unless you are a
fleshly member of the so-called lost tribes of the House of Israel, you cannot
be a manifest son! I verily believe
that there is sufficient evidence that the peoples of Northwestern Europe and
their descendants pertain to the ten-tribed House of Israel which migrated
across Europe from Assyria in ancient times.
It’s an interesting study!
however, no hesitation whatever in saying to all who read these lines, the
precious black brethren in Africa, the brethren in Latin America, Indonesia,
India, the Philippines, and all the other nations, ethnic groups, and diverse
cultures who cherish the beautiful hope of sonship — WE, ALL of us —
whatever the color of our skin or our national identity — WE are the Israel of
God! WE are the circumcision, who
worship God in the spirit, and have no
confidence in the flesh! WE are
the kingdom of God, who have been born
from above! WE are the kings
and priests of His kingdom! WE are
the elect! WE are the saviours
coming up on mount Zion! WE are the
many-membered Christ! WE are
God’s chosen people! WE are the
sons of God! And it is not because
of our national or blood lines, but altogether by grace through faith. “They which are of faith,
the same are the children of Abraham.” Do
you believe it?
The Jews may certainly be of the people of the Old Covenant.
That covenant has been abolished because the people broke that covenant!
The Old Covenant is no covenant at all, for it has forever been done away. It has been
nullified since Christ came and brought into the earth the new order of the
Spirit! The only way anyone,
Jew, Israelite, or Gentile can be in a covenant
relationship with God is through the New Covenant.
All other covenants have been voided!
There is no other covenant but CHRIST!
All who partake of this circumcision of which Jesus is the minister, are
the true Israel of God. And so,
contrary to popular belief, the natural Jew is, in reality, no Jew at all!
That is, if the word of God means anything at all!
And it does. Hear ye!
“He is not a Jew, which is
one outwardly (in the flesh); 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” (Rom. 2:28-29).
The testimony is sure: He is NOT a Jew, which is one outwardly
in the flesh! But he is a Jew,
which is one inwardly, in the heart and spirit, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE IS IN THE
FLESH. That is the gospel truth.
That is the New Covenant! The
inner man of the new creation is unaffected by what a man is outwardly, in the
flesh. He has no confidence in the flesh, but worships God in his
spirit. And, I might add, he is NOT
an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Israelite, who is one outwardly,
in the flesh! But he is an
Israelite indeed, which is one inwardly, in the spirit.
Do you believe it? (For an
in-depth study of this subject you may request our booklet titled ABRAHAM’S
Those who say they are, and without doubt are, the natural descendants of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; who call themselves Jews and Israelites are nothing
more than counterfeits and frauds. The
real Jew and the real Israelite is one who is truly of the seed of Abraham through faith.
Not by natural blood, but by the transfusion of the blood (life) of the
Christ, who Himself is the seed (singular)of
Abraham! It is all by faith, the
faith of Abraham. Therefore, all
who call themselves the seed of Abraham, or the circumcision, or Jews, or
Israelites, without being born of the
Spirit, are bastards, or as our Lord said, “Ye are of your father the
devil.” Therefore the Lord says
to His called out elect, the church in Smyrna, “I know thy works, and
tribulation, and poverty, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
Ah, now we UNDERSTAND! And
again He says, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say
they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and
worship before thy feet, and to know
that I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:9).
In this present hour we hear much of the Jews who are outward in the
flesh. A remnant of these outward
Jews has returned to the land of Palestine over the past century and has 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 it sacrificial offerings 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. Many people are
feverishly working day and night for the salvation of the Jews.
But I must tell you, my 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 notwithstanding, the counsel of God standeth 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 JEW WHO IS ONE O-U-T-W-A-R-D-L-Y; BUT HE I-S A JEW WHO IS ONE
Let us not have our understanding distorted.
Many are loudly proclaiming that the ending of the church age heralds the
beginning of THE SUPREMACY OF THE JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL as the instrument of
God’s kingdom on earth for the next one thousand years.
I tell you today by the Spirit of the Lord — it
won’t happen! 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 ye 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 which Thou hast made shall come and WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, O Lord; and
shall glorify Thy name” (Ps. 86:9).
I do not doubt for one moment that the Lord is regathering the house of
Judah to the land of Israel for a day of national
salvation. That does not mean,
however, that they shall then occupy some favored position in the kingdom of
God! Truly I say to you, it is not
given to the outward Jews, who say
they are Jews, but are not, to rule
the world in righteousness, administer the affairs of God’s kingdom on earth,
and to bless all nations. They
cannot circumvent the word of the Lord Jesus to them two millenniums 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). There will be a day
for the Jews as a whole to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
What a day that will be! It
will come through the ministry of the sons of God in glorious manifestation.
It should be clear, however, to every spiritual mind that there is a
world of difference between being saved
and ruling as a son of God in the
kingdom! Salvation is a gift
of free grace; but the high calling of
God in Christ Jesus is a prize to be
qualifications involved in winning the prize!
“To him that overcometh will
I give power over the nations.” “To
him that overcometh will I grant to
sit with me in my throne.” “If
we suffer with Him, we shall also reign
with Him.” The Jewish people
through two thousand years of God’s dealing with His called and chosen elect
have never suffered with Him nor have
They have suffered, rather, shame and disgrace and indignities of all
kinds because of their rejection of Him! They
reject Him still. They despise Him
still. They hate Him, even today.
They will not have “that man” to rule over them!
They have flunked every test and missed every opportunity to qualify
for world rule! Therefore they
won’t reign with Him. In the age
and the ages to come they will not reign over anything.
The fig tree is cursed. The
Old Covenant is abolished. They
were indeed called and chosen. But they were
not faithful! “The Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and
King of kings: and they that are with Him are called,
and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
All that be Jews in spirit, inwardly, are breaking down the imaginations
of their hearts, and the evil of their carnal mind, and their earthly wisdom,
and their knowledge, and their understanding, and all the images and idols of
their hearts, and all the foolishness of the religious church systems, 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 ye
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 worthless 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
within, and of their sacrifices, and then they praise God in their temple.
The outward Jews’ lamp always did burn in their temple, and never went
out; and they were to trim their lamps in their temple; so likewise the Jews in
the spirit — their lamps of divine illumination and spiritual revelation, the living
word of God, are never to go out, but always to burn in their temple; and
they are to trim and dress them so that they become a royal priesthood unto God, always attending in 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 Lamb’s spirit, in their temple, which is
their bodies, the life, glory, and victory of the Lamb of God!
They shall eat of their Lamb in their temple until His incorruptible life
is raised up in them fully and there is no more death!
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 always have their fresh bread, the present truth and reality of God’s
word, in their temple, to eat of it; and they 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 always have the odors of the fragrance of His presence and the incense of their
worship, praise, and prayers in
the spirit and by the spirit to burn in their temple. And the Jews in the flesh were not to touch anything, nor eat
anything that was unclean; no more do the Jews in the spirit touch or handle
anything of the flesh, the world, the devil, or the abominations of man’s
religion, but they handle Christ in
the spirit, and feed upon Him in the
spirit, who is pure, and holy, and clean, and eternal, who is the bread
Under the covenant of the law they were not to touch the dead, if they
did they were unclean; which is a figure to God’s called and chosen elect that
walk in the Spirit, they are not to
touch the dead ways of the world, nor the death of the carnal mind, nor the dead
body of the flesh, nor yet the dead doctrines, methods, programs and outward
observance of the carnal church systems wherein is no life; but to touch CHRIST
WITH THEIR SPIRIT and HIS LIVING FLESH which He has given for our life.
Therefore those called to sonship do not touch any unclean thing, only
the living and the clean, that which is spirit
and that which is life; for the earth
is corrupted with the dead carcasses of former moves of God from which His
Spirit has fled, and His life departed, which have now become lifeless
ministries; and the flesh thereof
makes it stink, and the people smell thereof and are contaminated thereby. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate,
saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and
will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons
and my daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty” (II Cor. 6:17). “Come
out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive
not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
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 spiritual sacrifices:
which altar is in the temple of the body. And
all who quench the spirit of Christ within themselves, or substitute some
external thing for the inward anointing, and suffer not the life of the
indwelling Christ to arise and live through them, are such as watch the sepulcher of Christ, and are afraid that Christ should arise!
I firmly believe that it is time to leave the shadowy imperfect outward
observances and ordinances of the old order church systems which are borrowed
and brought over from the outward observances of the Old Covenant, and begin to
lay hold upon those spiritual and eternal realties which belong to the kingdom of God within us. Truly
I say unto you that all who live by anything other than the
Christ within are indeed those of whom the Lord spake, those who say
they are Jews, but are not!
“I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but
are the synagogue of Satan” (Rev.
Christians generally associate Satan with all the evil in the world and
the gross sins of the flesh. This,
however, is an error of significant proportions!
Every time — as far as I have seen it written in the scriptures —
Satan, the devil, that ancient serpent has to do with religion
— with spiritual and heavenly
things! At every turn this infamous creature is seen busily
engaged in steering people away from the Spirit of God; hindering the Lord’s
people in their fulfilling the will of God; persecuting them because of their
testimony; accusing them before God; deceiving them by transforming himself into
an angel of light; and sifting, trying, testing them that they may be
strengthened, purified, and perfected.
Satan works through the carnal mind, but the spiritual
realm is his arena and heavenly things
are his concern! Satan is not some
hideous creature impishly stoking coals in the depths of the underworld.
Oh, no! Satan is religious!
Satan has a synagogue! Satan has a pulpit!
Satan has a church!
The church of Satan is not the one we hear so much about with weird
rituals and midnight sacrifices under the full moon.
This may seem strange to some who read these lines, but as we examine the
scriptures in the light that the Spirit brings we see clearly the truth of it.
We do not meet Satan anywhere in the scriptures in the blood and
brutality of war, in desolating famine, in the drunken stupor of the barroom, in
the sensuality of the harlot’s house, at the scene of some dastardly crime, or
in the midst of any other of the dark evils of mankind.
We meet Satan first in the lovely garden of Eden, the garden of the
Lord’s planting (Gen. 3:1). The
next time we see him he is standing up against Israel, provoking David to
disobey the Lord by numbering Israel (I Chron. 21:1-2).
That was a religious act, the
carnal mind seeking comfort in numbers, rather than total reliance upon the
Lord! The third time we find Satan
he is in the presence of all God’s sons, presenting himself before the Lord,
reporting for duty (Job 1:6-7)! Then
he became the instrument of testing for righteous Job, which testing was
initiated by the Lord, not Satan! In
the Psalms Satan is an agent of God for judgment (Ps. 109:6-7).
The last time we find Satan in the Old Testament he is standing next to
Joshua (Jesus) the high priest, resisting
Him in His intercession for Israel (Zech. 3:1-2). And that is all we
read about Satan in the Old Testament! Interesting,
isn’t it? In the New Testament he
first appears with Christ in the wilderness, quoting scripture, preaching his
doctrine, just as he did with Eve in the garden (Mat. 4:1-11).
Later, he is the instrument of God for the destroying of the flesh and
carnality of believers who walk after the flesh (I Cor. 5:5;
II Cor. 12:7). He transforms
himself into an angel of light (spiritual illumination) (II Cor. 11:14).
Finally, he appears with an army of strong and mighty angels in heaven as
the accuser of the Lord’s brethren (Rev. 12:3-9).
You see, my friend, Satan is nowhere in scripture associated with
pornography, sexual deviation, promiscuity, or any other dark sin of the flesh
— Satan is always RELIGIOUS!
Oh, yes, he is a murderer and a liar — but these activities are in a realm
of spirit, not in the works of the
flesh. Cain, the scripture
says, was of that wicked one when he
slew his brother Abel. But you see,
that first murder was not committed as the result of an argument in a bar over a
woman — it was about God’s acceptance
or rejection of a sacrifice! It
was a religious murder!
And Satan’s first lie was not that he was “working late at the
office” when in fact he was out with another woman — his lie was just this,
“Hath God said? God doth
know…you shall not surely die!” It
is a religious lie, a spiritual deception!
Satan lies about God! He
lies about truth! He lies about
God’s purpose! He lies about you! He lies to
you about heavenly things! He
murders righteousness, He destroys faith, he kills love, he ravages hope, he
disputes truth, he crushes obedience and tears down all that is godly and true
in Christ Jesus!
The book of Genesis is probably the most important book ever written.
The word “genesis” of course means origin
or beginning, and the book of Genesis gives the only true and reliable
account of the basic entities and conditions of the universe and of life.
Genesis yields vital information concerning the origin
of ALL THINGS — and therefore the meaning
of ALL THINGS! Let every man know
that in the whole of the universe there is no greater truth than this one
sublime truth that THE FUTURE IS BOUND UP IN THE PAST.
A man’s belief concerning his origin will inevitably determine his
belief about his purpose on earth and his eternal destiny.
The drama of Adam and Eve in the Garden is of supreme importance because
it explains the real nature of our life here on earth. It is the portrait of ourselves, our state of being, and how
we fashion the environment in which we live.
It is the Creator’s instruction manual on spiritual and psychological
anatomy. When you thoroughly
understand the teaching of the garden of Eden you will understand the nature of
God, the nature of man, and the nature of Satan!
This parable is placed at the outset of human history and in the opening
scenes of God’s divine record because it is the foundation of all understanding, the blueprint of man’s experience on earth and his destiny in God.
Adam and Eve in the Garden represent the whole of humanity in the first
Adam. They represent you and me and
every man and woman who has ever lived or shall live.
What happened to them happens to us.
What they were we are. Their
experience is our experience. Their
destiny is our destiny. May the
mighty spirit of wisdom and revelation from God give enlightenment to the eyes
of your understanding that you many see and know of a truth that what was
happening to Adam in the Garden speaks of spiritual
realities even in the beginning of history, before history, beyond history,
and yet in history; it is we ourselves
of whom the Garden speaks, it is we
ourselves that are confronted, intended, addressed, accused, expelled,
instructed, and redeemed. God
Himself is the one who blesses and curses!
It is our pre-history, truly
our own. It is the beginning,
innocence, testing, guilt, redemption, and perfection of every one of us.
What happened to Adam there is what is happening to us here!
Adam and Eve stand for what man
is, how man is, why man is.
You would have thought Adam would have had to leave the Garden and go out
into outer darkness in order to find Satan.
But no! Satan was in the
garden of God! What was the serpent
doing when Eve met him that fateful day so long ago?
Eve did not meet the serpent in a bar — enticing her to get drunk.
She did not meet the serpent at a strip-joint — inviting her to become
a nude dancer. It was not in the
form of a handsome, smooth talking hunk that Satan appeared — tempting her to
lust and seducing her to commit adultery. He
did not come out of a criminal world to enlist her in a gang of bank robbers,
swindlers, or drug runners. Eve
wasn’t tempted that day to cuss, smoke, carouse, lie, cheat, or steal.
Oh, no! The gross sins of
the flesh were in no way involved in Satan’s activity, man’s sin, or his
fall! What, then, was Satan doing? Why,
bless your heart, he was preaching!
The very first appearance of that ancient serpent was at a religious
meeting! The discussion was not
wine, women, and song — the discussion was about THE WORD OF GOD!
It was about SPIRITUAL THINGS! The
subject, in fact, was SONSHIP! “Hath
God said?” the serpent hissed. “God
doth know that in the day ye eat
thereof your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods!” “Ye
shall be as ELOHIM!”
Later we meet Satan in the book of Job.
It isn’t in the smoky atmosphere of the underworld that we encounter a
fiendish, mocking Satan gleefully stoking the fires of hell while sending forth
his imps to incite Job to lust, cheat, kill, lie, and steal. Rather, we read, “Now there was a day when the sons
of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan
came also among them” (Job 1:6). Satan
was among the sons of God in the presence
of the Lord! No Al Capone or
Charles Manson here! Satan
appeared, not in the lowlands of the flesh, but in a high realm of the spirit!
What Satan wrought against Job was instigated and ordained by the Lord
who carefully marked the bounds of the adversary’s activity.
Job was no baby saint, for no one less than God Himself had given
testimony that Job was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and
eschewed evil! God had blessed this
man with great wealth and a large family. He
had seven sons and three daughters. He
owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen,
and five hundred she-asses. His
household was very great with many hired servants so that this man was the
greatest of all the men of the east. The
thing we want to note is that although Job was wealthy in temporal things, rich
in spiritual things, and proclaimed perfect by the Lord Himself, he had not been “tried by fire” as
sons of God must be — he was as yet UNTRIED, UNTESTED, and UNPROVEN.
He was just like Adam and Eve in the Garden!
He walked with God in the spirit, but was yet innocent.
In the midst of Job’s ordeal of affliction and suffering the spirit of
prophecy came upon him and he opened his mouth and spake concerning the purpose
of God in it all, declaring, “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Never do I cease to be amazed at how the preachers and teachers,
apparently without exception, join their voices in unison with those of Job’s
contemptible comforters, indicting and blaming poor old Job, charging that God
brought all these calamities upon him because he had sin in his life, or because
he was self-righteous, or because of some other appalling fault in Job.
The only reliable testimony we have of Job’s true state of being is
that spoken by the Lord Himself, and HE declared that Job was a PERFECT MAN!
Perfect, yes; but untried! His
perfection remained to be tested, proven, and demonstrated.
Now, what does God do but deliberately hand this perfect and upright man
into the hands of Satan to do his worst upon him, only that he should not touch
his life. It was because that God
desired to test Job that He brought
forth “the smith to blow upon the fire.”
Please note that it was not Satan’s idea to persecute poor old Job!
It was God Himself who brought up the subject!
There Satan was, presenting himself before the Lord, appearing for duty,
if you please, and God asked, “Where have you been?”
Satan replied, “Walking up and down in the earth.”
“Well, Satan,” the Lord asked, “have you considered my servant Job? Have you noticed that he fears God and eschews evil?
Have you noticed that, Satan?” You
can be assured, dear ones, that Satan had
noticed Job, but he wasn’t doing anything to him.
“Doth Job fear God for naught?” Satan retorted.
“Hast Thou not made a hedge around him and about his house and about
all that he hath on every side?” Praise
the Lord! Yes, truly there is a
hedge around the elect of God, and that hedge is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The Psalmist recognized and rejoiced in this fact when he said, “He
that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty. I will say of the
Lord, HE IS MY REFUGE and my fortress: my God, in Him will I trust” (Ps.
91:1-2). “You’ve put a hedge
around him,” Satan said, “and I can’t get to him!”
Then he went on to say, “You must put forth Thine
hand and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.”
But the Lord, who searcheth the reins and the heart, who knoweth them
that are His, knows who can be trusted with affliction, and will not allow any
to be tested beyond what they are able to bear. He therefore said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he hath is in thy power — in thy hand — only upon
himself put not forth thine hand.” Later
the Lord expanded the area of Satan’s activity and permitted him to touch Job
himself, only he must spare his life. With lightning swiftness the misfortunes
fell as tribulation and affliction smote this man of God. All hell broke loose upon him!
His possessions were gone. His
servants were gone. His cattle, his
family, and his dwelling place were as though they had never been.
And now he was desperately ill, tormented with pain, and without even a
bed to sleep on he lies down in the ashes of what was once his beautiful home to
listen to the relentless arguments of his friends, monotonously attempting by
lengthy speeches to make a fool of him and prove that his present despair was
the result of his own sin and disfavor with God.
In one tragic day all Job’s earthly wealth and glory had vanished as a
mist before the rising sun. But did
Job curse God for all this calamity? Did
he even blame the devil? Was he a
fair weather saint without spiritual understanding?
No, indeed! He rent his
mantle, shaved his head, and falling upon the ground, he WORSHIPPED GOD with the
unmistakable words of reverence, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and
naked shall I return thither: THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY;
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Ah,
Job knew God! He therefore knew
that in spite of all the external evidence, in spite of how terrible and
hopeless things appeared, God had not
forsaken him, God did love him, God did
see him, God was concerned about what
happened to him, God was in control of
everything, God had purpose in it all,
and God was just.
Being a perfect man Job understood the nature of God, the ways of God, he
knew what God is like — how He is. Armed
with this knowledge he was unshakable and unmovable as the hand of Satan moved
against him. God won the contest!
Job came out the victor! And
Satan was defeated!
The great and wonderful truth is just this.
Satan was not a wild, mischievous, uncontrollable, psychotic thug running
loose around the earth wrecking violence, pestilence, destruction and death on
whomsoever he would. The issue here
was not a mad, malicious, hateful devil indiscriminately doing horrible things
to anyone he decided to attack. That’s
not it at all! Satan was on a spiritual
mission — he was the instrument of testing,
on behalf of God, of a son of God!
This was a spiritual battle! This
had nothing to do with the gross sins of the flesh.
The whole scene is set in a high realm of the spirit!
Oh, yes, Satan is — religious!
When Jesus came in the flesh, He came into a world steeped in religion.
He came into a condition brought about by centuries of teaching the law
and the rites and sacrifices of the temple worship.
Into this had been woven the traditions of the elders, an accumulation of
those same centuries. It had come
to include also the washing of pots and cups, together with ceremonies of
washing of hands before eating and a multitude of other practices imposed upon
the people by their leaders. The
temple in the city of Jerusalem was the symbol of all this to the people.
Their whole life revolved around that building and the rites and
sacrifices the priests offered in it. It
was the sacred spot of the nation and of all Jews wherever they were in the
world. Every Jew had that one
desire to go to Jerusalem and worship.
This system of religion was imbedded in the lives of the people, and had
been for long centuries. It had
become a part of their life and they endured it all with the hope perennial
within their hearts that some day the Messiah would come and lift not only this
yoke, but that of the Roman empire as well.
But when the Messiah came, they did not recognize Him.
For here was all this great mass of law, ritual, and Pharisaical teaching
and tradition, while the Messiah was but an unknown man, of almost unknown
origin. Jesus brought a new and
revolutionary way of life! It was a
way of believing, and not a way of doing.
It was faith in the Christ and right relationship with God in the spirit
and did not consist in the doing of anything, or the keeping of external
observances. It was simplicity in
the highest degree, set up against organized worship of the highest degree.
The revolutionary way of life which Jesus brought to the people was in
exact and complete opposition to the bondage under which the people now found
The people were constantly taught and instructed that they must observe
all the things the priests and Pharisees told them, or they would perish.
Jesus came into their midst and said that all those things would do them
absolutely no good whatever, but if they wanted life
they should come unto Him and drink — merely by believing into Him! He
was placing the Christ and faith in the Christ against all the accumulated
traditions of the nation. He was
assuring them that they would NOT LOSE A SINGLE THING by coming unto Him, and
casting all else away from them. And
they would gain life!
But who could hear such a thing in the day of Christ!
In fact, Jesus Himself said that no man could come unto Him, except the
Father who had sent Him, would draw that man.
It is just as true today! Ah,
beloved, should you go into any church on any Sunday and say to the people,
“If you will cast aside all your forms, all your traditions, all your rituals,
all your ordinances, all your programs, all your cherished and time-honored
creeds, all your solemn assemblies, all your myriad activities, all your
committees, and SIMPLY COME UNTO THE CHRIST AND BELIEVE INTO HIM AND DRINK OF HIM, YOU WILL LOSE NOTHING, but you will gain the glorious and
eternal reality of God forevermore,”
what kind of reception would you receive? You
would actually be asking the people to give up everything they are doing and all the things they have been given by their ministers and church orders
with which to serve and worship God — exchanging it all for GOD ALONE!
What an unbearable burden it would be for the people to be REDUCED TO
GOD! What an unspeakable loss it
would be to possess nothing but GOD
HIMSELF! You would find this an
almost impossible thing to accomplish. Truly,
Christ has been usurped by — RELIGION!
But go with me now into that long ago when Jesus walked the dusty roads
with His disciples. He had asked
the twelve who they thought He was. Peter
promptly answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
And Jesus said to him, “Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal this unto
you, but my Father which is in heaven.” In
other words, “This understanding didn’t come from your fleshly mind.
You didn’t think this up by yourself.
This is not the result of your own reasoning.
This came into your spirit from my Father.”
So remarkable was this revelation to Peter that the Lord said to him, “Blessed
art thou, Simon Bar-jona!” So
here we have an instance of the Father working in Peter, imparting His thoughts
and understanding to him.
Only minutes later Jesus began to introduce to Peter the subject of His
coming suffering and death. The
possibility of the death of their beloved Lord was a prospect so foreign to the
thinking of the disciples that they were not prepared to comprehend His
presentation of this unspeakable fate. Was
He not the Messiah? Was He not the
Son of God? Did He not come to
establish a great kingdom? Were not
they, His disciples, to reign with Him in that kingdom?
With these questions in mind this talk of death was unthinkable and unacceptable!
Then Peter, who had just been pronounced blessed,
took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: for
this shall not be unto Thee!” Ah,
when Jesus mentioned the cross and dying, Peter began to rebuke Him.
Where did he find the senseless courage that would dare
to rebuke the Lord? The
answer was disturbingly evident — far, far too clear to be a comfort to any of
us! The Lord Himself gives us the
answer, for, He turned and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan!
Thou art an offense unto me;
for thou savorest not the things that be of God,
but those that be of men.”
What a shocking way to talk to the great apostle Peter, the one
possessing the revelation of Christ’s identity, the one called blessed, the
one to whom the Lord had just given the keys to the kingdom of heaven!
Atrocious to say to this man of deep revelation and keen spiritual
perception, “Thou savorest not the
things that be of God, but those that be of men!”
Indeed, “Get thee behind me, S-A-T-A-N!”
Hearing Peter’s entreaty to the Lord, which of us would not have said
that this was the language of genuine affection, tender solicitude, and loving
concern? No doubt we would have
chimed in with some hearty “Amens”! But
Jesus replies, “Get behind me — SATAN!”
And our Lord was not on a name-calling spree when He uttered these words.
He never uttered words in vain, without a definite meaning.
Jesus did not speak merely to Satan in
Peter. Furthermore, He did not tell
Peter that his words sounded like the
words of Satan. He simply addressed
Peter AS SATAN. Peter as Satan — on what basis? That
he was demented, insane? That he
was a medium, calling up spirits out of the nether-world?
No — merely that he SPOKE AS A MAN!
Is this not also what James was saying when he described the wisdom
of man in these words, “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your
hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
THIS WISDOM descendeth not from above, but is EARTHLY, SENSUAL and
D-E-V-I-L-I-S-H!” (James 3:14-15). Can
we not see by this that the wisdom of man
put to spiritual things is DEVILISH!
Speaking as a man about spiritual things!
Speaking with carnal wisdom about heavenly realities!
On the surface there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with what Peter
said. It was a good, kindly
thought. What was wrong with it was
that it was the product of Self, it emanated from human sympathy and not from
the heart of God. You see, my
beloved, Self hates the cross!
Satan despises the cross! Satan is
religious, but in a perverted wisdom that refuses the will of the Father,
substitutes for the reality of God, mimics
the power of God, twists and distorts the truth of God, and supplants the life
We blame war, drunkenness, murders, pornography, greed, crime,
immorality, drugs, and a thousand other evils on Satan — yet the clear
testimony of scripture is that these are all
the “lusts of the flesh.” They
are flesh! On the other
hand, Satan’s activity is in a religious
realm, in a spiritual dimension!
What a cunning deception has
been foisted upon mankind as Satan has concealed his true identity in the dark
shroud of religion!
Jesus never once told the drunk in the gutter, the gluttonous feasters
and reveling wine-bibbers with whom He ate and drank, the woman taken in
adultery, the prostitutes, the greedy tax collectors, or the man full of demons,
that they were of their father the devil. Not
one sinner did He ever accuse of being a child of the devil!
He reserved that dishonorable distinction for the religious
In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew we read the sternest words that
ever fell from those blessed lips. He
calls those to whom He speaks — the men of the most rigid religious
correctness, men of the highest social respectability, of the greatest formal
piety and religious pretension; not merely “church members” as we should now
call them, but the officers, deacons, elders, clergymen, superintendents,
priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, popes of that day, “fools
and blind,” “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” until, in the climax of
His holy indignation, He says, “Ye
serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell!”
It is, then, the testimony of scripture, whether we are prepared to
accept it or not, that it is the proud, religious character that is a truer
expression of the Devil’s work amongst men than the openly profane and morally
Oh, yes, Satan is religious! He
loves to enter into the arena of men’s souls and control and manipulate
men’s thinking, understanding, and activity.
Truly spiritual aims are geared toward unleashing the power of the new
man, the inner son, the man of the spirit.
Satanic aims are geared toward development of the soul. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the earliest
doctrine of Satan) is a compendium of rules, doctrines, religious exercises
tailored for the soulical man and utilized by the carnal mind that wants only to
be told what to think and what to do, and to do it with great external flourish
and pomp. All of this becomes the
core of a religious experience and practice built on fantasy, myth, folklore,
tradition, program, pageantry, ceremonies, rituals, works — everything except
the power and life of the spirit! This
is religion — and religion is the synagogue
Satan in tempting, baits his hook with religion.
He can hang out Christ’s flag and tempt to sin under pretenses of
piety. Sometimes he is the white
devil of the so-called “white witches,” or the “Great White
Brotherhood,” or the “Masters of the Far East,” or of the popular church
systems of man as he transforms himself into an angel
of light. Celsus wrote a book
full of error, and he entitled it, Liber
Veritatus, The Book of Truth. So
Satan writes the title of religion upon his worst temptation.
He comes to the firstborn Son of God
with scripture in his mouth! “It
is written!” he thunders. That is
the same as saying, “The Bible says!”
But just because the Bible says something doesn’t make it truth
if what you are saying from the Bible is slanted, distorted, mis-applied, or
merely the letter of the word.
Thus Satan wraps his poisonous pills in sugar.
Who would suspect him when he comes as a divine and quotes scripture!
In the temptation of Jesus we discover this wily adversary coming upon
the firstborn Son of God with Bible in hand.
Just as in Eden, he is still preaching!
He preached to the first Adam, and now he is preaching to the last Adam.
And in all those thousands of years the subject hasn’t changed! Satan is still preaching SONSHIP! “It is written!” — this was the glittering weapon, the
fiery dart, the master-stroke, just as when he said to Eve, “Hath God said?
God doth know…” “If Thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made
bread.” “It is written!” He
thundered as he offered the kingdoms of earth to Jesus if he would bow to the
shrewd worldly wisdom of the adversary outlined in His mind by which He could
have conquered even the might of the Roman empire.
An easy way to popularity was pointed out — it was suggested that He
cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple.
That would prove His sonship! No
harm would come to Him for God had promised to send His angels to care for Him.
A son is invincible! And the
multitude, amazed, would follow Him. What
gave immeasurable force to the adversary’s suggestions was his appeal to the
awful authority of God’s word. He
cast about the things he offered the glow of divine approval.
He enforced his ideas with the sacred sanction of the scriptures.
It was with the Bible in hand that he approached the Son of man.
It cast about him such an holy air!
He is no stranger to the scriptures, for he is the oldest, most
accomplished preacher, from the dawn
of history! When Satan deals with
God’s called out and chosen elect, obviously, he must meet such a one upon the
high plane on which he lives. He
could get nowhere by suggesting the gross sins of the flesh to one separated
unto God. It must be through the
Word! It must be through a twisted,
distorted, perverted word!
It is time to stop, look, and listen.
What testings and provings, what strippings and purgings, those called to
sonship have been passing through! The
ultimate test for God’s sons will not be in the bar or in the bed.
The ultimate test for God’s sons will not be in the church systems of
man! The Lord has wonderfully
purged us from these! They hold
nothing for us anymore. I can
testify to you that the religious systems hold nothing for me!
I am not tempted in that realm. My
spirit loathes them all with intensity. But
there is a realm, a realm high in the spirit, a realm reserved for the sons of
God — and before any of us step out of our wilderness to appear as a manifest
son of God in the earth, we will meet Satan there in that high realm of the
spirit. We will encounter the
dragon in the heights of God’s heaven! There
in your own wilderness Satan will draw you into his synagogue. He will be preaching from his pulpit in his synagogue, the
synagogue of Satan. He will be
preaching to YOU! The subject will
be SONSHIP! “If thou be the son
of God…” “Hath God said?
Why, God doth know…”
bring a word to you that sounds so
plausible, so deep, so spiritual, so divine, that
apart from the discernment of the spirit it would seem that it just must
be the word of the Lord! It has to
be the very highest Truth! We
hear a great deal today about many wonderful things, but I tell you, my beloved,
there is but a very fine line between
the highest truth and the darkest error — between sonship to God and our own
Self-godhood — a godhood outside of true blood-bought redemption and the
quickening of our spirit by the the Holy
Spirit. How closely the angel
of light resembles the “glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ!” That
is where the ultimate test lies, beloved, in the highest realm of the spirit,
embedded in the sublimest of all truth and the depths of the knowledge of God.
This final test is a dimension so awesome, so terrible, to transcendent
in the counsels of God that no one but a
son indeed can perceive the truth of the matter, and respond as Jesus did,
out of the heart of the Father, “It is written!” Don’t think you will escape that one, my friend.
Adam didn’t. Jesus didn’t. And
neither will we.
A lifetime of walking with God has taught me that my greatest safety is
in my relationship with the Father, in
knowing the heart of God.
It was in knowing the Father that Jesus gained the victory over His
greatest, supreme, and final test. Satan
knew the scriptures, but Jesus knew the Father!
To know Him is to be like
HIM! The Father’s name, the
Father’s nature is being written upon all those holy sons of God who are
partaking of the mind of Christ. His
word is spirit, His word is life, and His life is the power
to cast the dragon out of our heavens! The
sons of God shall prevail!
To be continued… J. PRESTON EBY
Links to other ministry websites
Not finding what you need? SEARCH HERE