The Spirit Of The Void

Here are the words of one of Job’s three foolish friends. They are the words of a man led astray, thinking to counsel rightly; when truly he speaks according to a demonic message which he received:

“Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice:
‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in His servants He puts no trust, and His angels He charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?’
Job 4:12-21 (ESV)

This is a chillingly familiar experience to many people in our own day. We live in a time dominated by this spirit – and it particularly targets the children of God. It works to crush all hope in the possibility that “a man can be in the right before God,” or “be pure before his Maker.” It works to undermine all trust in God on the part of His servants, by accusing the all-knowing God of evil suspicion, saying, “even in His servants He puts no trust…” And it even tries to excuse its own rebellion as the fault of the Most High: “His angels He charges with error…”

There sat Job: penniless, comfortless, and sickly; and here came the void to swallow him whole by utter despair. It is a spirit which causes men an empty dread, “…and trembling, which made all my bones shake.” Its appearance could not be discerned, just like the nothingness into which it drives men. And it blames God for the very meaningless existence that it is truly the purveyor of, saying, “Between morning and evening they (men) are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it. Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them, do they not die, and that without wisdom?”

This is not the Spirit of the Living God: for He is not a spirit of such fear; “but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

But those who do not quickly shun and rebuke this spirit of despair in their own lives are left to gradually accept the slow descent into spiritual apathy and compromise; until they come to embrace it as the very wisdom of God, the gospel truth, and refuse to overcome its stranglehold upon them, returning to God nothing upon the investment He made in them. It is the strongman of vices beyond number: it is the invisible pressure which suffocates us from the breath of God, it is the filth of the world which smothers our hearts with callousness; and its only bane is HE WHO IS IN YOU.

Get it out.

The Lord Is A Man Of War

The Lord is a man of war: The Lord is His name.
Exodus 15:3

Throughout the earthly life of our Lord was manifested this very truth in all that He did and said. Never was the warfare a distant or partial truth to the Son of God – it always was the present reality within which His deeds were done, and His words spoken…

…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8

Whether in preaching the good news, in healing the sick, or in casting out demons, His eyes were alight with the vision of the battle before Him. His passion, His compassion, and His righteous anger all symphonized into the heavenly music of His ministration: vigorous, gentle, and awesome.

In the synagogue He healed the man with the withered hand; and in so doing condemned those who with vehement disapproval looked on. In this He warred against and exposed the false spirit of the pharisees’ religiosity. In large crowds He walked about, teaching men the way of Life; thereby releasing them from the bondage of contrived burdens unto the freedom of His Lordship. In this He warred against and exposed the captivity of the adversary. With great frequency He also cast out demons; directly throwing off the power of the wicked one from those who drew near to His holy light. In this He warred against and exposed the secret devices of the enemy. And in all these things, our Lord was ever in prayer, communing with the Father; and gained final victory over the corruption that is in the flesh by His perfect intercession.

What then of ourselves? Are we men of war after His likeness? For such will become those who are indeed His workmanship!

“…The Lord is a man of war: The Lord is His name…”

Is the Spirit of The Lord upon you? Should you not then be a man of war after His likeness? One will say, “Ah, but the scriptures say, “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex 14:14), and, “The battle belongs to the Lord.” – And truly indeed does the battle belong to Him, truly indeed is it His own to glory in. Yet it is on the children’s behalf that He fights while they hold their peace, since war is not the province of children. But He is a man of war: for war is the province of men, not of children; and He would not have us always remain helpless children (Eph 4:13-14). For through men of war, God glories all the more in battle, since then He displays two victories: the one over us, and then the one through us. Under Joshua, the men who warred for the advance of Israel were at times called “mighty men of valour” – and would that we could also be so named!

But carnal men love the convenience of slavery to Pharaoh; and after a time, slaves grow to love the providence of their worldly captors over the deliverance of God. How many a warring man of God is met even by brethren with the accusation, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Ex 2:14) Cowards fear deliverance, and spit upon its purveyors.

How easily does the slumbering soul dismiss the Lord’s zeal for His house as undue severity! And how quick also is the conceited mind to mistake the Lord’s dispassion in battle as a lack of heart. For if many of us today had witnessed Jesus drive the moneychangers out of the temple, we might have thought to take Him aside and suggest that He utilize a more “civil” or “toned down” measure against their grievous evil. And if we had observed Him seated outside the temple beforehand, weaving the whip in silence, we might have gasped in self-righteous shock, hand-over-heart at this “uncaring” and “ruthless” display of quiet premeditation.

O, how we trust the unreliable fire of human offense, and disdain the white-hot furnace of Godly passion! O, how we embrace the nihilism and empty hatred of human apathy, and recoil at the unearthly calm of Godly dispassion! This is because we do not know God, and in particular because we have not spent a day on the battlefield – except either in captivity of the enemy, or in cowering behind the Lord, who is trying to teach our hands to war and our fingers to fight.

But the warring character of Christ – with both holy zeal and divine peace – shone forth brightly in Peter when he confronted Ananias and Saphira in their lie…

And Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” And she said, “Yea, for so much.” Then Peter said unto her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Acts 5:8-11

Peter derived no earthly pleasure in the demise of these two; yet he also did not shrink from his duty in keeping the house of God clean from the blemish of deceitful scheming. When the Spirit of the Lord is upon a man to do battle against the devil’s handiwork, the man is on fire; and as he fights, he finds peace in the Lord while doing the Lord’s will – though in his wake other men lie possibly condemned, and all around him the demons are stirred up.

“In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge.”
Proverbs 14:26

But to fear man is to not fear the Lord; and Egypt is always more than happy to take back its slaves.

Let not the house of God remain such a den of theives: trading the souls of its men for mammon, and their divinely-given birthright for a single meal.

Men of war kneel only for their King.

Scripture & Thought – Obedience & The Self

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)

A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.

Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.

For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)

Jezebel: The Spirit Of Witchcraft

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Revelation 2:20

Jezebel is an exact embodiment of witchcraft itself. Witchcraft is not merely demonism or the practice of sorcery, though these are often among its methods – but witchcraft is at its heart the supplanting or circumventing of true spiritual authority. Any person or organization which supplants or circumvents the authority of Christ alone over His church, including any one individual soul, is practicing witchcraft. The one who falsely accuses brethren for gain, or gossips rather than interceding, or thinks to take spoil under the guise of “building up the kingdom,” or asserts herself over men of God and weakens them, is walking in the spirit of witchcraft.

Saul was walking in such a spirit of witchcraft when he stretched out His hand to enrich his kingdom by the enemy’s spoils, although he had been commanded not to spare even the herds of the Amalekites. And in his rebuke, the prophet Samuel remarked…

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
1 Samuel 15:23

And this same Saul continued asserting himself as king, though the throne was no longer his right; and he eventually consulted a medium to help himself maintain control – for which act he was again rebuked by Samuel and soon after died.

There is a vicious spirit of witchcraft holding itself up against the people of God in this hour. It is cunning, often sly of speech, and invisible to the compromised. Yet hardly a word is spoken, let alone prayed, against its onslaught. Few are they in whom the commandment of God burns with His righteous indignation…

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Exodus 22:18

Vengeance is indeed the Lord’s, and the sons of heaven have not been equipped with an earthly weaponry; but those who never wield the Sword of the Spirit unashamedly will never see it fall upon His enemies who so trouble them.

All witchcraft, be it directly demonic in nature, or be it the sheer manipulation of others, is a work of the sinful flesh whose practitioners shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:20).

We are not commanded to have mercy upon such a spirit, nor to tolerate it. If a person will not be emptied of the Devil’s works, let the fellowship of the saints be emptied of them. Jezebel will never go quite far enough to be exposed before all: therefore she will always have defenders wherever she is tolerated; and by this she deliberately wears out the saints who discern her presence. Not until she is suffered no more can she become exposed for what she is. Therefore our Lord warns her enablers…

And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Revelation 2:21-23

A man is no friend of God where he tolerates the Devil.

In This World You Will Have Trouble

…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58

The Lord is our only stay. We have this fantastical image in our minds of Daniel in the lion’s den: where the lions all have smiles on their faces and Daniel is petting their manes. But the man beloved of God whom the Lord ordains to be thrown in with the lions will shortly find that their den is no such place. The lions may well be subdued and have their mouths held shut from truly harming him; but they nonetheless have every intention of ripping at and tearing apart the man of God, and will mercilessly intimidate him day and night. Even in the envelopment of our Lord’s protection, there is every earthly reason to abandon faith and be devoured.

When the Lord our Shepherd prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, we are no less in their presence. We may eat and rejoice at the bounty of the Lord, yet the ravenous wolves stand across from us, at every moment spitting and shouting curses upon the Food and Drink of which we partake, seeking to shame us from partaking in the table of His sufferings. But the one whom the Lord upholds will not give in to fear.

We shall find no rest in this world of rebellion. We will be afflicted on all sides. Our blessed hope is a heavenly one, and it is one which we yet await. Let our running therefore not be stumbled by vexation with trials, as if a temporary world of tribulation is not worthy to be suffered for His eternity victory.

Rejoice in affliction!

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Sabaoth, His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

– Martin Luther

The Second Day – Deep Calls To Deep

Click here for day 1

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.
Genesis 1:6-7

Once His illuminating work has found a footing in His creation, there is a new depth of division which the Word of God brings forth in it. On the first day of creation, we see the Spirit of God brooding over the surface of the waters – and we might even say striving and groaning for the creation to manifest the form which He intends for it. So it is with ourselves in Christ.

Our Potter begins with a lump of clay, formless and void, under darkness. There is depth of water, yet not a revealed purpose for it: not a river to flow in, not a sun to reflect majesty. Then there is light. And in His light, we shall now truly see light, and more still. For not only have waters once darkened and obscured in a mass of mixture now been exposed by the pure light of God Himself, but the Spirit which once hovered over them now sends His rays into the depths by the word of God’s mouth unto to the dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is here in the continued shining of His light that the dividing of waters from waters begins to take place. Here, not only is discerned light and darkness upon the suface of the creature; but now more importantly even the depths within this new creation are spiritually discerned.

Natural men are not comfortable with such discernment: they want neither to discern nor to be discerned. Both edges of that sword are equally inconvenient to man’s facáde of peace with God. But the true peace of God is holy, so that the same word of the Lord which creates whatever is good also by necessity divides the good from whatever is contrary. Therefore, if we shall maintain and grow in the peace of God, we must submit ourselves to the more unpleasant surgeries of our Great Physician. Those without the faithful wounds of His word are not His friends. But those who have truly walked in some degree of God’s light are quickly confronted with the revelation of the great expanse between their own waters and His waters resident within this new creation.

And God called the expanse “Heavens” (plural in the Greek, ie: the skies). And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Genesis 1:8

His pure waters must be discerned from our own waters lest we deceive ourselves in every matter: this is why He divides them by His word, “let there be an expanse;” therefore we find a distinct choice to either walk after the flesh (our waters) or after the Spirit (His waters). But those who are not divided by His word are filled with mixture, for there is no sword of division within them to so judge between what is of God and what is of self. The separation of waters is a confirmation of His work in us.

The separation of these waters is discernment for the conscience. Here we discover all the more “the exceeding sinfulness of sin;” for in the seperation of His waters, by which our sense of holiness increases, our conscience of sin is thereby sharpened. We find the depth within us of law of sin and death we must daily contend with: the gravity by which our own waters remain bound to earth. Conversely, His waters within us are unbound, above the expanse of the heavens; but of our own strength we are unable to access their invaluable resources. It becomes increasingly obvious that there are greater depths of Him with which our present depths cry out to meet; and we begin to see how much higher above our ways and thoughts are His own, “even as the heavens are higher than the earth.” We long to plunge into His waters, to live out of His fountain rather than our own – that His wellspring of eternal life would become our own in Him, that the voice of HIS many waters would be the sound poured out through each of His own.

Deep calls to deep at the roar of YOUR waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.
Psalm 42:7

We must discover in our present earthly experience that glorious Law of the Spirit of Life which makes us free from the law of sin and death. It is here in the revelation of the divided waters that obedience becomes of particular importance to the new creature; for by the drawing up of God’s waters above its own, the creature has begun to sense its great need to follow the upward draw of Lord’s current in order to remain flowing in it. The call unto His own ever remains, “Come up hither.” The new creature which submits itself to the word continues discovering the evidence of even greater depths in God far above its present experiential knowledge; thirsting always to drink deeper of that eternal spring so that even the waters of earth below might be made conformable to the word of His mouth, “Peace, be still.”

CONTINUED IN PART THREE

Calm in the Storm

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said…
Job 38:1

The mighty fortress of God wherein we find true shelter is the place where He reigns: and that place is the eye of the storm.

For it is His storm: it is the fervent whirling of every wind both foul and fair as He bends them all unto His will, that a man might at last be shaken and undone at the wonder that is HE. The closer we come to the calm of His shelter, the more fiercely the wind seeks to bewilder; but He brings it into subjection, and the strong tower of His strength shall envelop all who draw near on the wings of His Spirit.

He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Psalm 18:11

Without the veil of His cloud is a tempest of rebuke; within His bosom is the surety of His good rule. Amidst the swirling fury of many voices and the battering rains of many matters, the still of knowing God disarms our every excuse, giving way to that peace which no man can make for himself.

Though furor of words and turmoil of mind may prevail in this day, let us give our hearing and vision to that two-edged sword which cuts asunder this shadowy veil of our present darkness unto the seeing of the Lord seated in His temple. Let the prayer of our lives become that of the contrite soul which trembles at His word: bold in the Spirit and meek in the earth. Let Him be our fear, let Him be our dread; then shall He become our sanctuary, and we His.

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.
Psalm 18:15-18