By John J. Blanchard
August 13, 2011
Good morning, brethren. There is so much suffering and sadness on earth. It is palpable. The sadness can been seen on the people’s faces. We all know people going through tragedies, sorrowful times, pain, and suffering. We often ask why? Why does God allow these things? Does God cause them? Is it because God is punishing the human race?
These are all very deep questions. We try to get the answers to them in Scripture. Sometimes when we ourselves suffer or people we love suffer, we have a hard time even with Scripture grasping why there is so much pain and suffering on the earth. We need to go back to the beginning of our problems as a human race and see what we can glean from the Scriptures that may explain all that we are going through.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
I would like to turn to the very beginning of your Bible to Genesis chapter 3. We will see where things started to go wrong for Adamic man. Genesis chapter 3 is sometimes considered the “fall-of-man” chapter. We will start reading in verse 1 of Genesis 3: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’”
Here the serpent is speaking to Eve.
Continuing in Genesis 3, verse 2: “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it yours eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”
Until that point in time, they did not even understand the concept of shame or what the effects of sin would be. We have to cut them some slack. Sometimes we tend to be hard on Adam and Eve, but I do not think any of us would have done any better without having experienced sin, shame, and suffering. Even though God had said, if you do this, you are going to suffer, you would have nothing to relate it to.
Obviously Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s deception, but the answer to our question is still not answered. We can say they fell for the deception, but does that explain why all of this had to happen? From Satan’s point of view, it does make sense.
I want you to continue down a little further in Genesis chapter 3. We will go down to verse 22 of Genesis 3. This is where Adam and Eve had to leave the garden. Verse 22: “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.”
Adam and Eve were forced out of the Garden of Eden. That is what Satan wanted. That is the result he was seeking through deception, because he wanted them out, away from God’s influence. He wanted them away from where they could learn of God and grow and understand truth. He wanted them out of the garden where he could get at them and where his powerful influences that are broadcast through the air are extant.
In the Garden of Eden Satan’s influences were not there. Satan was there in the form of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but he could not broadcast. There was nobody to receive those broadcasts. Everywhere in the garden was God’s influence. When Satan had Adam and Eve away from the garden, he had them right where he wanted them.
We can ask a couple of questions, such as, why did Satan want that result? How did he know that his deception would work? By examining the Scriptures and seeing why and how God made Adam and Eve, we can begin to understand these things.
MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE
Let’s go back to Genesis chapter 1 and begin in verse 26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
God created them male and female in His image and likeness. He wanted them to be like Him. He said, I want you to go and subdue the earth. He was teaching them how to take control of the earth, to subdue it, and that is what bothered Satan. God had made them in His image. He wanted them to subdue the earth, and that meant to subdue Satan. They were to have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.
God had created them in appearance to look like Him. We look like God, but in character He was creating something beautiful and also very powerful. Eventually they were going to take over the earth from Satan. They were created pure without sin, so they had the qualifications, but they were like empty slates. They had free will and the ability to exercise it, but it was easy in the garden to make the right choices. They only had to stay away from one thing, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is all they had to do, and Satan knew that.
Satan said, I must trick them into imbibing of my qualities and my characteristics. I have to trick them into becoming like my image instead of the image and the likeness of God. I want them to be like me. I want them to sin. That will stop them from being able to subdue the earth. That will disqualify them from taking my position. That will, in effect, stop God in His tracks.
Having dominion over the fish and over the birds means having dominion over mankind, the humanity that was outside the garden, and over the birds of the air which are the angels. Satan and his demons were fallen angels. He knew Adam and Eve were being prepared to take his position and the positions of the demons under him. Let’s look at a couple of Scriptures that would back this up.
By going to the very beginning in Genesis 1, verses 1 and 2 we will see why God had to create Adam and Eve to correct things. Verse 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
When God’s Spirit hovered over the earth, it was without form and void, and it was dark. In the Hebrew we need to find out what that actually means. What was it really like? “Without form” is tohuw (#8414, Strong’s, 1995) in the Hebrew. This means to lie waste, a desolation of the surface, a desert like a wilderness, a worthless thing. Void in Hebrew is bohuw (#922, Strong’s, 1995) which means a vacuum or indistinguishable ruin.
Darkness is very interesting because it wasn’t just that the world was in a wreck physically. There was another thing at work here. Darkness comes from the Hebrew word choshek (#2822, Strong’s, 1995) and it means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, and wickedness.
The condition of the earth was in a fallen state. It had gone bad. It was a wreck physically and spiritually. Whatever humanoids were on the earth were miserable. Sin was extant everywhere. It was truly a mess in God’s eyes and worthless in the state in which it was.
With that background, we can see that God created Adam and Eve and said, let there be light. Let them have the truth, My knowledge, so that they can go and restore this earth. Let them be able to subdue Satan, subdue mankind, and teach them how to get rid of this misery. Let them learn how to love God and how to obey God. It was a tall order, but it was a direct threat to Satan.
Satan knew that if God succeeded, he and his realm were done for. That gives you the motivation of why Satan would want to do what he did. We can see why he had to make sure that his deception would work, so that mankind would be separated once again from God and out from underneath His influence. Mankind would be back under Satan’s influence where he could cause the world to be miserable once again, to be full of sin, death, and destruction.
In I Corinthians chapter 6 it describes another thing that Satan was deathly afraid of. I Corinthians 6, verse 3: “Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?”
Here we are being told that eventually mankind would have a part in judging the angels. Satan knows that. The demons know that. That gives them another motivation to try to destroy mankind. They do not want to be judged by human beings. They do not want to be judged at all. They want to go in the state they are forever and ever, so they wanted to stop God in His tracks by halting progress through Adam and Eve. These direct threats to Satan were plenty of motivation. It helps us to see and understand why he is trying so hard to destroy the human race.
BIRDS REPRESENT ANGELS
Now let’s look at some Scriptures that would back up the fact that birds represent angels and that fish represent human beings. If you would, turn to Psalms chapter 91. It is a very famous Psalm about protection and safety. There may be something here you have missed over the years that would show that angels are what God uses to protect the human race. They are portrayed as birds. We often see depictions of angels, which we should not have. We know some of them have wings.
In Psalm 91, verse 1, it is speaking of God’s people: “He who dwells 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 I will trust.’”
We are to trust God for safety and protection.
He goes on to say in verse 3 of Psalm 91: “Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler…”
A fowler is one who handles the birds.
Continuing in verse 3: “…and from the perilous pestilence.”
God is going to save us from the fowler, but He goes on to say in verse 4: “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”
It is God’s truth, His knowledge—the light of the Bible—that protects us from Satan’s darkness, and it is God who covers us with His feathers. God does not have feathers. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and we do not have feathers. Birds do have feathers, and birds represent angels in type on the physical earth. We are going to put together a few Scriptures on this to clarify this point for us.
After this long description showing what would happen at the end of the age that the apostles were in and a former fulfillment of the times in which we are, Christ tells His disciples this in Matthew 24, verse 28: “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
What is the carcass? If you look that up that term means “dead body.” There will be eagles gathered around the body. Obviously eagles are birds. The body being spoken of here is the body of Christ. I will show you in a minute in Revelation that it is the angels that God sends that take care of the body in fulfillment of what we read in Psalm 91.
If you would, please go to Revelation chapter 12 for two more Scriptures to firmly establish this point. Revelation chapter 12, beginning in verse 13: “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.”
This is the Old Testament Church leading up to the New Testament Church. The Child was Jesus Christ.
Verse 14 of Revelation 12: “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
This is kind of like the Garden of Eden where there is protection from the serpent and the knowledge of God was given. The food of God is the knowledge we are speaking of here.
God says, I will protect My Church from the face of the serpent by caring for them with nourishment from a great eagle. It will be like the wings of an eagle. Put that together with what we read in Matthew chapter 24, and you see that wherever the body of Christ is (those who have died in Christ), there the eagles are to care for them. It is a very spiritual concept, but it is actually very real. It helps us to know what birds represent.
Birds can represent obviously good angels that take care of God’s people, and also demons. Let’s look at Revelation 18 that clearly talks about that. Revelation 18, beginning in verse 1: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’”
This Babylon that has fallen is a spiritual Babylon. It was represented in the Old Testament by a physical Babylon, but there is a spiritual Babylon just as there is a spiritual Jerusalem. God’s city is the spiritual Jerusalem, and it is reflected on the earth by a physical Jerusalem. There is a spiritual Babylon in the heavens in which these unclean birds dwell, and God hates them.
You can see that there are good birds like the eagles who take care of the Church, and there are unclean birds who attack God’s people and make mankind’s lives miserable.
FISH REPRESENT PEOPLE
Let’s go to the idea that human beings are represented as fish in the Bible. Isaiah chapter 60 beginning in verse 1 makes this quite clear. It is speaking of the resurrection. This also could be talking about Jesus Christ coming at Pentecost and giving His light and ultimately leading to a resurrection. “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
This is speaking specifically there of the resurrection.
Continuing in Isaiah 60, verse 4: “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together [speaking of the Gentiles], they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.”
This phrase “turned to you” in the King James Version is better rendered “converted.” The world will ultimately be converted as if the sea is converted. What dwells in the sea? The fish of the sea dwell there, and they need to be converted to God’s ways.
Flip if you will, quickly to Matthew chapter 4. As Christ called His disciples, He said some interesting things to them. Read Matthew 4:18-22.
They followed Christ to become fishers of men. Humanity is in Satan’s sea. That is the dark sea mentioned in Genesis chapter 1:1-2. Mankind dwells in that sea, and Jesus Christ said, I need fishers of men. I need to pull them on to the dry land. We can look at many examples to confirm this. You can look them up on your own. God said, I need fishers of men because mankind is like fish adrift in the ocean. The ocean pictures Satan’s influence. Now we can better understand why God said in Genesis go and subdue the fish of the sea and the birds of the air.
God did everything He could when He created Adam and Eve to give them an advantage over Satan. He did everything He could. He gave them a perfect environment in which to live. He gave them teachers to provide knowledge. He did this in a place called the Garden of Eden. Go back to Genesis chapter 2. We will read a little bit about the Garden of Eden.
Genesis chapter 2, beginning in verse 8: “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. [That is spiritual food.] The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.”
Verse 11: “The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
Here was everything man needed to learn about God. There was good spiritual food, an environment where Satan could not broadcast but God could, and these rivers. If you were to look them up, they actually mean the fruits of the Spirit. Euphrates comes from the same word from which we get euphoric. It means happiness, joy, and peace. God said, everything you need to be peaceful and happy is right here in this garden. Everything is here in this garden to share with the outside world, to subdue the earth, and to get rid of Satan and his tyranny! He said, I will give you every advantage.
Satan knew what God was trying to do. Satan knew he was going to have to intervene in that whole thing and get Adam and Eve out of there where he could once again subdue the human race. He wanted to get them to where he could broadcast his evil attitudes and intentions.
God had to do one thing with Adam and Eve. He could have said, there is no way I am going to allow this being—this serpent—to be in My garden. But if I did that, you would not have free will. I am sure He told Adam and Eve that they had free will. They could make a choice. That is why I said, do not eat those, just eat these, because then you have a choice. I have not made robots. I have not made computers that cannot do anything but what I say. I have made you to have a free will like I do, because you are made in My image and likeness. I want you to choose good.
Adam and Eve had to use their free will. Choose right over wrong, good over evil. God knew that Adam would need a helpmate in order to properly learn how to do these things. It takes two to have a relationship. It takes two to learn together back and forth, by choosing what to do right for one another. One person by himself with only the influence of God and if he would never choose Satan’s ways would still be only half. He could not possibly learn how to relate to other human beings. He would not be able to grow in character or how to deal with the difficult situations that come up in life. It takes two people to do that. God knew that, so in Genesis 2:18 God created Eve.
Read Genesis 2:18-25.
That is why marriage is sanctified. God said, I am going to make a man and a woman so that the two of them become man and wife. They will learn together how to become more perfect. They will learn how to grow in character. In all those intimate problems in life, they can choose right over wrong because they have a relationship with someone comparable to themselves. It is a marvelous and wonderful plan that God came up with! That is why marriage is so important to keep sanctified and to keep between a man and woman. It is the only way we can fulfill the Scriptures.
SATAN TRIED TO INTERFERE WITH GOD’S PLAN
God created this beautiful environment. He put Adam and Eve in there, and Satan, as we saw at the beginning of this sermon, knew he had to stop this before it went too far. He had to shut this plan down! Satan’s dilemma was how to do it? How does he keep Adam and Eve from replacing him?
Satan knew from his personal experience what it would take. We can read his personal experience. Let’s go to Ezekiel chapter 28. Read verses 1-5.
There was a small kingdom of Tyre a long time ago who made its wealth from the sea, and they were trading people. They were very pagan, and their god was a prince over Tyre. God is talking here to the physical king of Tyre, but He is also talking to the prince over them. We know Satan to be a type of a prince. We are told in Ephesians he is the prince of the power of the air.
This god who has control of humanity has always been afflicting us and deceiving us just like he did in the garden. By dropping down a little further in Ezekiel 28 we will see that God is indeed directing this beyond the physical king of Tyre and directly at Satan. Ezekiel 28, verse 11: “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God…’”’”
We know the king of Tyre physically speaking was not alive to be in the Garden of Eden, but we know which evil being was there, so this is speaking directly about Satan.
Continuing in verse 13: “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.”
This is a created being who was perfect.
Verse 14: “You were the anointed cherub who covers…”
We know that cherubs are angels pictured with wings in the Bible, so this is speaking of an angel who was created perfect.
Continue in Ezekiel 28, verse 14: “…I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God [you were in God’s kingdom]; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.”
You were at His throne!
Verse 15: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you [till sin was found in you]. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub [that means destroyed his position], from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings…”
It eventually goes on to say they will gaze at you and they will be able to see you for who you are. Let’s go back to Isaiah 14 because we are going to see where this will eventually come to pass.
This horrible being who dwelt in the sea of mankind and who influences mankind by trading in his ideas and concepts, by tempting and deceiving him, has caused all this suffering that we see on the earth. We are beginning to see why God has had to allow it to go on as He battles this being with His ultimate goal of total victory over this horrible being.
Isaiah 14 starts out by talking about the king of Babylon which is the city of Satan that we read about in Revelation. Here it is speaking of physical king of Babylon and referring to the spiritual king of Babylon, once again being Satan. We pick up in the middle of the story in Isaiah 14, beginning in verse 12: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [that means above the other angels]; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation…”
He is saying, I will sit on top of your Church. I will sit on top of ancient Israel, and I am going to try to get on top of the Church that Christ built after His first coming.
Continuing in the last part of verse 13: “…on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’”
Satan wants to be part of the Godhead in the worst way. He wants to be top dog right up there at the top.
God says in verse 15 of Isaiah 14: “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?’”
Satan has taken the world back symbolically to how it was at Genesis once he got Adam and Eve out of the garden and to sin. He got them to be full of destruction, violence, sin, and evil. But God said, not so fast!
Satan had a dilemma, though, and that was how was he going to stop God and stop man from fulfilling what God wants? Satan knew the stakes for man were very high. He knew by his own mistakes just how high the price could be. He knew what God would have to do if he could get mankind to sin.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…”
Satan knows that. He got destroyed from his position. Mankind being physical would have to die if he sinned. Satan used God’s own concepts to try to destroy mankind and thwart God. He knew that if he could make mankind break God’s immutable law that the wages for breaking of the law would be death. He said that will stop God in His tracks. Satan understood that principle very well. He knew how serious God was about sin because of what happened to him and his demons.
Satan’s goal was to cause every human being to sin. It seems simple. He is spiritual, and we cannot see him. We cannot see the demons, but they can tempt us. They can deceive us. They can trick us. They know our weaknesses and which strings to pluck, how to rattle our chain, and how to move us emotionally. He said, this is going to be a piece of cake! They cannot see me. They will just feel the impact of my thoughts. I will broadcast these thoughts in a way that has them removed from God’s garden. They will be sitting ducks! I can make every human being sin. He was right! Of course, we know there was one human being that he could not beat, but we do not want to get ahead of the story. God saw this and knew what Satan was trying to do.
Let’s go back to Genesis chapter 3. He knew what Satan was up to, so He said if, that is the game you want to play and that is what you choose to do, you had better be one hundred percent successful with every human being who ever walks the face of the earth. In Genesis chapter 3, verse 13, God utters this curse on Satan: “And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.’”
This is a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
Satan has been pounding the human race ever since, and now he knows it is for keeps. It is for all the marbles. He has to eat the dust. That means he has to devour every human being by causing them to sin. That is how he devours us. He causes us to sin, and that is how he destroys us. The curse was that he is going to have to lick the dust and crawl on the earth on his belly. No longer can he fly back and forth to God’s throne. No longer can he go about the universe freely. He is stuck here like a human being, so to speak. He has his evil broadcasts. He can tempt. He can deceive, but he has to win every time or he will be an ultimate failure. There is a lot of pressure on Satan.
Satan’s arsenal has basically stayed the same. It is temptation and deceit. They work in tandem. He knows that if he gets mankind to sin, he is changing them into his image! His image is of a violent being who sins and who is full of hatred of God and God’s ways. He knew that he could take mankind and change them into his image instead of the image and likeness of God, if he could beat every single one.
SATAN HAD ADAM REMOVED FROM EDEN
Step one, of course, was to get them to be removed from the garden, which he succeeded at. He was successful one hundred percent of the time until Jesus Christ’s first coming. Romans 3:23 says, all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Every human being sins, because we cannot stand up against the power we cannot see. It is a power that can get into our minds! It can actually tempt us, cause us to go down, and trick us, just like he did with Adam and Eve. Nobody can outsmart God, not even Satan. God knew this was going to happen before it ever happened. We were told over and over in the Bible that He knows the beginning from the end. God knew Satan was going to do this.
Turn to Titus chapter 1. We will see something interesting here because God prepared for this a long time ago. Titus chapter 1, beginning in verse 1: “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began…”
God promised mankind that he could have eternal life before time began, before Genesis, before the formation of the solar system and the universe! God is way ahead of Satan! God is many, many steps ahead of Satan. Satan only fooled himself. He has hurt mankind for 6000 years. He hurt the humanoids or life forms that were on the earth before Genesis. He has been a source of pain and suffering for a long time, but God said, I have a plan. I have a plan, and we are going to win.
Continuing in verse 3 of Titus 1: “…but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior…”
He is writing this book to Titus. Verse 4: “…to Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”
God who cannot lie promised before time began that He had a plan to beat Satan. He would manifest that plan through preaching. He would manifest it through the Word of God and proper teaching from the Word of God, so that we could have confidence that this suffering would come to an end. We could have confidence knowing that eventually mankind could have eternal life.
Before Adam knew God, God knew what would happen to Adam. Before mankind was defeated in the garden, God knew a plan that would halt Satan’s progress and end it at approximately 6000 years. It would not be longer than 6000 years after Genesis, but a little bit shorter than 6000 years. Satan also knows that, so he wants God to have enough delays that the prophecy becomes inaccurate. He wants to make that prophecy be wrong, because if Satan can ever prove God wrong, he wins there, too. He knows God can never be wrong.
Satan is striving so hard here at the end of the age to keep mankind deceived, to keep mankind sinning, and to keep God from reaching a certain goal of the perfection of the saints. There is still a reason for Satan to try so hard at the end of the age. You would think why didn’t he give up after Christ? Why didn’t he give up after the apostles? Why didn’t he give up after the Bible was written? He did not give up because he still thinks there is a glimmer of hope that he can win.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
SATAN TRIES TO PREVENT THE PREPARATION OF THE BODY
When Christ lived a perfect life and died, Satan knew he was in serious trouble, because one human being had lived a life that was perfect. If he could not get that human being to fail or to sin and because that human being had a divine nature, His life was worth more than all the sins of all mankind. He knew he was in deep trouble. The only other promise he can stop is to stop Jesus Christ from having a body of Christ come to fruition as the firstfruits. He is desperately trying to prevent that from happening. At the very least, he can extend the time of his reign. Christ probably could have come back a few years ago, so Satan has successfully temporarily got Jesus Christ’s return delayed. Does that mean God is wrong? No. It means God is working with human beings with free will.
God said this will happen in 6000 years or less, and I will have a Millennium. He is going to have that. It is going to work. You cannot beat God. He knows many steps ahead of any of us including Satan what we are going to do. He has already checkmated Satan down the road. We are going to see how that comes to pass eventually in the not-too-distant future.
Christ’s perfect life was greater than all the sins that have ever been committed. If you would, please turn to Hebrews chapter 9, verse 27: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Christ’s sacrifice was a one-time event for all of us who sin and would believe, as we saw in John 3:16. Then we have a chance. We will be given eternal life.
Galatians 2:20 says that we are crucified with Christ. We have died with Him. Christ died and went to the grave and eventually was resurrected. At baptism we in essence die with Him. He takes our sins to the grave, and when we are resurrected, they are left in the grave. They are left there where all of mankind’s sins can be left, if we believe. This is what happens if we choose to follow Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ needs some saints to do His will, and, of course, be washed in His blood. He needs saints to do His will and to accomplish His plan to eventually set free all of mankind. Turn to Revelation chapter 12, verse 10: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down [that is Satan cast down from heaven]. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.’”
If we were to read all of Revelation 12, Satan has known he has a short time to act and try to stop God. God’s plan has inexorably moved forward ever since, accumulating the rest of the saints who were washing their sins away with Christ’s blood and overcoming Satan by choosing good over evil. They have been successful to fulfill God’s plan of becoming in Christ’s image and likeness. It is a wonderful thing to use free will to be like Christ. That is what God said in the beginning in Genesis. He said, let’s make man in Our image and likeness. We know that Satan had the world in despair, wickedness, and evil, but God is good and God is love. He said, let’s make some beings here that will be like Us.
AN ENEMY SATAN CANNOT PUT DOWN
God gave human beings every advantage, and Satan tried to stop it. God said, you cannot stop Me! He sent His Son, and His Son’s life was so perfect and that death so saving for us, that it takes away our sins. It is now like Satan has an enemy that can keep getting up! Every time he makes them sin, that person can ask for forgiveness, be covered by the blood of Christ, and get rid of the sin. It is like they come right back up in front of him. It is like having an enemy you cannot put down. There is no such thing as a count of ten. God is willing to forgive seventy times seven, a perfect number. As long as we work toward growing in perfection and as long as we call upon the blood of Christ, we overcome. We can help defeat Satan. Romans chapter 8 tells us that this is exactly what God is trying to do.
Turn to Romans chapter 8, verse 27: “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
The saints are the ones that are called and chosen to be firstfruits.
Verse 28 of Romans 8: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
There is a predestined number, and if you were to study it further, that number would be 144,000. God said, I will fill that number. Satan has been trying to stop that ever since, but God said, I predestined this. I will have firstfruits. I will have people who have accepted the blood of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and they will strive to overcome and be perfect as He is perfect. By doing that we become in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. When God the Father looks down on the earth and He sees His saints, He sees little miniatures of His Son. There is no way a human being can reach the glory of Jesus Christ, but the more we put sin out of our lives, the more we indeed become like Him.
PUT ON GOD’S IMAGE
Turn to II Corinthians 3, verse 17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
We are being miraculously transformed into the image and likeness of God, so that some day when there is a resurrection, God will have the full number to get rid of Satan and his tyrannical spiritual government and the demons that have plagued the human race for so long.
We need to try to be as much like Jesus Christ as possible. I want to read a few Scriptures now. We are going to go through them somewhat extensively, so we get the idea it is a matter of choice. It is using our free will.
Turn to Ephesians chapter 4, beginning in verse 7: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’”
At Christ’s resurrection, He locked up captivity for His saints if we continue steadfastly to the end of our life. And He “gave gifts to men,” gifts of the Spirit, so we could grow, so we could do battle with Satan.
Continuing in Ephesians 4, verse 9. “(Now this, ‘He ascended’ – what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?”
Christ had to die first.
Continue reading Ephesians 4:10-13.
We will all look like Christ. God first gave us His sacrifice. He gave us the Bible, and then He set up ministers to teach. They are to give us the food we need just like it was in the garden when it is done right. This enables us to grow in perfection to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. We are to look and act like Him. We are to be like Him.
Verse 14 of Ephesians 4: “…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men [Satan now uses men to trick men], in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting [he uses the same tools over and over], but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
That is God’s plan. He is winning. We are coming very close to the time when the garden will spread out around the whole earth and not just in the hearts and minds of a few people.
Ephesians 4 continues in verse 17 talking about what it is like to be a new man, having this whole process working inside of us: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind [through that blood of Christ by overcoming], and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Put on the man that looks like Jesus Christ. It is marvelous!
Continue reading in Ephesians 4:25 where he says: “Therefore, putting away lying…”
We know Satan is the father of lies, and we do not want to be in his image.
Verse 25: “‘…Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
These fruits of the Spirit—fruits of the River Euphrates—working in our lives make us overcome Satan. The more we do them, the more we look like Christ. The more we do them, the more we come to that measure of the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.
I want to continue in chapter 5 where there are more admonitions and teaching about what it takes to become like Christ.
Ephesians 5, beginning in verse 1: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”
We should look like Him, in other words.
Verse 2: “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words…”
Do not be tricked by Satan and his wiles.
Verse 6: “…for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
It is possible for us to be tricked just like Adam and Eve.
Verse 8 of Ephesians 5: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…”
Remember the beginning says, “let there be light.”
Continuing in Ephesians 5, verse 9: “…(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’”
When we sin, until we repent, we are as dead. The wages of sin is death. He says get up out of your sin. Let’s let the light work in your life.
Continue reading Ephesians 5:15-21.
Respect God and His plan. Respect the people He is working with. Respect all of the human race. They are all made in the image and likeness of God. They are covered with sin until they are converted, but Jesus Christ is working to help the whole race be set free from the wiles of Satan the devil. Let’s look forward to that time and respect our fellow man as having a chance at eternal life.
Turn back to Colossians 3, beginning in verse 1 where it continues in the same vein of building character to be like Jesus Christ. “If then you were raised with Christ [after baptism we are raised up out of that water], seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”
Be like God.
Verse 2: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
We are hidden with Christ because we are hidden by His crucifixion, as we saw in Galatians 2.
Continuing in Colossians 3, verse 4: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
There is a resurrection of the dead.
Verse 5: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience [the ones who should know better], in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him…”
Once again, be in the image of Jesus Christ.
Verse 11 of Colossians 3: “…where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
That is how we use our free will, brethren, to become in the image and likeness of God. That is how God has chosen to fight back Satan, and He knows He will win because of Christ’s sacrifice. God is working with human beings who have a free will, and it is tough. That is why it has taken 6000 years. That is why we still have suffering on the earth. It is not because God wanted it that way. It is because it had to be this way in order to have eternal life without sin. It is a wonderful plan. It requires free will. It requires great patience on the part of God.
It takes a long time for human beings to produce fruit even in our own lives, but over the long course of history, man learned slowly. He learns by history itself. He learns by examples that have gone on before. He learns by corrections from God. Man is now very near to subduing the earth. Once the saints are resurrected and once Jesus Christ is back, it is virtually in the bag. Satan will be defeated quickly.
Because man has Christ, he cannot fail. Because of Christ’s life, God the Father and Jesus Christ will win. But it is up to the saints to use their free will to be part of the plan. It is up to them to be part of those who overcome Satan and get ready to replace his tyrannical government. Deception and temptation are therefore still dangerous to those of us who are called at the end of the age. They are dangerous to us personally, and they are dangerous for the world as well because it delays the coming of Jesus Christ. God said, I will get this done! There is a point in time when God will say, I have waited long enough. I will call new people if I have to. We will get this done, and we will get this done at least a little bit ahead of time.
Satan still wants to drag this out, and he still has a glimmer of hope to defeat God. I could show you the Scriptures, if we had the time, where God only laughs. There is no way anybody can beat God.
A RESURRECTION AND AN END OF SUFFERING
Turn to I Corinthians chapter 15 to get a glimpse of the marvelous future ahead. I Corinthians chapter 15 is sometimes called the Resurrection Chapter. We are going to jump into it in verse 45. I Corinthians 15, verse 45: “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
God says, this is going to work! Some will bear the image of My Son. With that number complete, we can replace Satan and all the demons. The ultimate result of this is marvelous, and the suffering will come to an end.
To answer our questions at the beginning of this sermon, drop down to verse 54 of I Corinthians 15. “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’”
In verse 56 it says: “The sting of death is sin…” But God said, I will remove that. It is taking Me a while, but be patient. I will accomplish this.
Mankind’s suffering will come to an end, and the earth will indeed be the fruitful paradise God intended it to be.