The Lake of Fire - Part XIV

"The Beast Within"


In our last installment, I said that "YOU are the beast." That is, "I" am the beast, "we" are the beast, "all humanity" is the beast. I marvel that any would deny it. Of course women have always known that "all men are beasts," but I am afraid I must be the bearer of bad news and report that "all women are beasts" as well. God is no respecter of gender.

Everyone in religious circles is looking for the beast, OUT THERE somewhere. If we are to find the beast OUT THERE, we might question whether he was ever IN HERE? That there "is, was, and will be" a beast OUT THERE, I have no doubt. But of what great concern is that to us? The only beast we need to concern ourselves with is the beast "within," "the man of sin." Just as the many-member beast comes "up out of the sea" [of humanity] , we too came up out of the sea of humanity.

Ten times in Revelation, Jesus Christ is spoken of as "The First and the Last," The Beginning and the Ending," the "One Who IS, WAS, and WILL BE." Do we think that the Scriptures speak these ten times in vain? Is the beast of Revelation something with which only the last generation at the end of this age needs concern itself? Was the book of Revelation written for the last generation only? Of course not. The book of Revelation, which is the testimony of Jesus Christ was given to the Seven Churches of Asia-Asia representing the whole world and seven representing the complete and total church.

Some will retort: "Beast? What beast? I don't see any beast within myself. I am not perfect by any means, but I am certainly not a beast." We shall see.

EXCEPT THERE COME A FALLING AWAY FIRST

What an astonishing truth it is, that God CAUSES all those destined from the foundation of the world, to be chosen in Christ, that they should "fall away" from the Truth and "leave their first love" before they can be truly spiritually converted. Yet this is the plain declaration of Scripture.

Peter fell away:

"Jesus said unto him [Peter] , Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice [three times] " (Matt. 26:34).

All the apostles fell away:

"Then said Jesus unto them, ALL YE shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad" (Matt. 26:31).

"And they ALL forsook Him, and fled." (Mark 14:50).

Paul fell away:

"As for Saul [renamed Paul] , he made havock of the church..." (Acts 8:3) [while at the very same time he was "blameless" in keeping the Law of Moses] (Phil. 3:6).

ALL the Churches in Asia fell away after being in full support of Paul's ministry. First:

"The churches of Asia salute [greet] you..." (I Cor. 16:19).

Later near the end of Paul's ministry:

"This you know, that ALL they which are in Asia be TURNED AWAY FROM ME..." (II Tim. 2:15).

Paul warned the Ephesian Elders about the "flock-church" falling away:

"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock [the whole flock] ." (Acts 20:29).

Jesus prophesied that all who will become overcomers will have first fallen away temporarily by leaving their first love:

"Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you [the seven-in-one golden candlestick church of God that is, was, and will be] have LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE" (Rev. 2:4).

Jesus Himself calls this leaving of our first love, a falling away:

"Remember therefore from whence you ARE FALLEN, and REPENT..."
(Rev. 2:5).

Whenever we "fall," we leave our "first love." For spiritual falling IS, LEAVING LOVE. Jesus said that when we leave our first love we are to 'remember from whence we are FALLEN...' Love itself has not failed us, but we have failed love, for true love is not capable of failure or falling:

"Charity [Old English for 'love'] never fails..." (I Cor. 13:8).

Jesus reprimands us for "falling" from love in Rev. 2:5. Interestingly, the word translated "fails" in I Cor. 13:8 is the very same word translated "fallen" in Rev. 2:5. And so, "love never FALLS," but before we are saved, we will fall.

Why is it that this Scriptural truth is not taught in the Church? Simple: Most in the church have not as yet experienced "leaving their first love." Therefore, they are still deceived, and CANNOT see the beast within. They are still in the process of constructing their spiritual house upon the sand. Most will never see the beast in this lifetime.

ALL SCRIPTURE IS FOR OUR ADMONITION

Why should the Scriptures preserve for us the falling away of Peter, Paul, all of the disciples, all of Asia, and all of the church (Rev. 2:4), if none of these things pertain to us or none of these things will ever happen to us?

I have said many times in this series that there are "the called" and there are the "called AND chosen." We see it in every example: Jesus called Peter

"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter... and He said unto them, Follow Me..." (Matt. 4:18-19),

and so Peter followed Jesus

"And they straightway left their nets, and FOLLOWED Him." (Ver. 20)

And so Peter followed Jesus for three and one-half years. But Peter was not converted:

"And the Lord said, Simon [Peter] , Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and WHEN YOU ARE CONVERTED, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:31-32).

And later Peter denied Jesus three times in the same night!

The question presents itself: "If we truly had "love" why should we have to "fall" from it or "leave it" in the first place? Ah, herein lies one of the grandest Truths found in all Scripture!

From our first parents onward, God has always allowed men to believe that they are able of and by themselves (by their supposed phantom "free" will) to love God and be obedient to His laws. Despite God's plethora of testimonies to the contrary, theologians and philosophers alike have taught mankind that they are indeed ABLE TO CHOOSE and, ABLE TO DO and to carry out that choice, because they have the "free will" within them to do so. What they have within them is a "beast" that is no more able to choose and obey God than any literal beast of the field.

TURNING OUR IDOLS OF THE HEART INTO POWDER

In Ezekiel 14:7 we read:

"For every one of the house of Israel [WE {Gentiles} are now the circumcision of God, Phil. 3:3. WE {Gentile believers} are the true Jew , Romans 2:28-29. WE {Gentiles & a remnant of racial Israel} are the spiritual Israel of God , Gal. 6:16] or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from Me, and sets up HIS IDOLS IN HIS HEART..."

We all have "idols of the heart." Whenever we disobey God, we are giving allegiance to and manifesting idols in our heart.

When ancient Israel turned from God, they too manifested the idols in their hearts by building a literal golden calf idol with which to worship. And what did God do through Moses?

"And he [Moses] took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire [don't forget I Cor. 3:15] , and GROUND IT TO POWDER, and scattered it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it" (Exodus 32:20).

How many understand our Lord's statements in Luke 20:17-18?

"And He beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner? Whomsoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will GRIND HIM TO POWDER."

When we fall on the Stone (Jesus), we are broken. Or as John tells us in Revelation,

"And I saw one of his heads as it were WOUNDED TO DEATH..." (Rev. 13:3).

Yes, when we fall on Christ we are broken, we are wounded (by the "sword" of God-Rev. 13:14 vs. Heb. 4:12). This is our human attempt at salvation. But then we fall, and our "deadly wound [which we received by the Word of God] was healed" (Rev. 13:3), we went back into the world, back into Babylon, thus leaving our first love. When the wound of the Sword of God's Word that had slain us, is healed, we fall from the love of God, and we again turn our love to the world from which we came.

But here's the good news concerning this stone. If we are among the chosen that overcome, then the Stone falls ON US, and our spiritual house built upon the sand comes crashing down. And when Jesus falls on us, He GRINDS US [along with all of our idols of the heart] TO POWDER!

Remember we are but "clay" in the hands of the Master Potter, and clay consists of particles of sedimentary silicates of aluminum less than two-thousandth of a millimeter in diameter-in other words, very fine powder. In Ancient Israel, the sin offering, the peace offering, the meat offering, and thank offering all had to be made with fine flour. All of the universe is composed of very fine things.

All of the instructions on what was to be offered to God in the service of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, who was to offer it, and how it was to be offered is not just quaint little stories of history:

"Now ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED unto them for ensamples: and they are written FOR OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world [ages] are come." (I Cor. 10:11).

Christ is representative of all and every one of these sacrifices. And

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He [Jesus Christ] IS , SO ARE WE in this world"
(I John 4:17).

So, when we read of the fine flour, oil, salt, and frankincense in the Old Testament offerings, we must understand that WE TOO are to be like fine flour-spiritually humbled and ground fine like powder, oil-having the Spirit of God in us, salt-we are to BE the " salt of the earth," and frankincense-our very lives becoming a sweet smelling incense to our God.

Some of the things we must go through seem bad on the surface. But as in all of God's dealings, what appears at first to be something horribly bad, is in reality, only a necessary stage in the process of overcoming sin and self so as to be qualified to reign with Christ in bringing the rest of humanity into a knowledge of the Truth, redemption, salvation, and finally, glory.

GOD'S WORD SAYS THAT MAN IS A BEAST

"Nevertheless man being in honor abides not [does not endure] : he is LIKE THE BEASTS that perish" and "...he is LIKE THE BEASTS that perish:
(Ps. 49:12, 20).

"One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, EVIL BEASTS, slow bellies [lazy gluttons] . This witness is true" (Titus 1:12-13).

"But these, as NATURAL BRUTE BEASTS, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (II Pet. 2:12).

"So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as A BEAST before thee"
(Psalm 73:22).

"But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, AS BRUTE BEASTS, in those things they corrupt themselves" (Jude 10).

"I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves ARE BEASTS" (Ecclesiastes 3:18).

THE BEAST WITHIN / THE MAN OF SIN / THE SON OF PERDITION

I showed from the Scriptures in our last installment that we only become aware of the beast when we are standing on the "sand of the sea." AFTER our spiritual house built upon spiritual sand FALLS DOWN, and WE fall down. And this is precisely why Paul tells us that the

"...day of Christ... shall not come [to US] except there come a FALLING AWAY FIRST..." (II Thes. 2:1-2).

This "fall" by the way is not a little slip or a little stumble. It is a complete and total SPIRITUAL FALL! We all come to Christ with a simple childlike innocence. But ... BUT, once we are in "the church of our choice," we start to get educated in the ways of Christendom. We learn of many rules based on the unscriptural traditions of men. We delight in many of these rules and traditions (sometimes not all of them), and before we know it, our new religion sooner or later TAKES US RIGHT BACK INTO THE WORLD that we thought we came out of.

IF YE BE CIRCUMCISED, CHRIST SHALL PROFIT YOU NOTHING

To me it is a thing of overwhelming amazement that what most Christians around the world aspire to BE and ACCOMPLISH in their spiritual walk with God, is the very thing that our Apostle Paul called: "DUNG"!

Christians claim that their bondage to physical commandments and traditions of men, are really spiritual.

  • Some make an idol of the heart out of keeping the Saturday Sabbath;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of claiming they are "tithing" when they give money to the church;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of physical circumcision;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of being baptized in the name of Jesus ONLY;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of believing in the unscriptural teaching of a trinity or rapture,

  • others make an idol of the heart out of demonic gibberish and tongues speaking;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of drinking poison and handling poisonous snakes;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of Christian Politics;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of their own church affiliation or pastor or choir or a plethora of church activities;

  • others (many) make an idol of the heart out of some pet, little-understood and little-believed Bible prophecy, which only they understand;

  • others make an idol of the heart out of much speaking using spiritually-sounding words and phrases (of which they understand little or nothing);

  • others make an idol of the heart out of joyfully condemning all those who do not subscribe to their brand of Christianity, to an eternal torture in hell fire (I am the brunt of a lot of these);

  • and others just flat out worship themselves.

What does Paul have to teach us regarding these many barriers to truly understanding the excellency of Jesus Christ?

"Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church [Paul counted persecuting the true believers as something of which to be proud] ; touching the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS [irreproachable, faultless] .

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have suffered loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG, that I might win Christ. (Phil. 3:5-8).

Now then, notice what Paul also says in Gal. 5:1-4:

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled gain with the yoked of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, [sounds important...] that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you NOTHING. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do THE WHOLE LAW [Abraham was circumcised, but Moses taught it AS A LAW that HAD to be obeyed] . Christ is become of NO EFFECT unto you, whosoever of you are [Gk: 'are' should be'attempt to be'] justified by LAW; ye ['ALL of you'] are FALLEN FROM GRACE ."

We learned that leaving one's first love is falling from love. But there's more. Whatever one puts in place of true worship not only displaces us from our first love, but it also causes us to FALL FROM GRACE!

Listen, as long as we obey the beast within, we are not aware of just how evil this beast really is. As long as we obey our carnal mind, we are not aware of just how evil our carnal mind is. MOST Christians are carnal. And how can I say that with certainty seeing that I cannot read the hearts of most men? Because the Bible tells me so: "MANY are called, but FEW are chosen." The carnal minded are called, but the carnal-minded are not as yet chosen:

"And I [Paul] , brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

"For ye ARE yet CARNAL: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not CARNAL, and walk as men [Gk: 'according to man'] ?

"For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos [and another, I am Church of Christ, I am a follower of Billy Graham, or John Hagee, or Benny Hinn, or Paul Crouch, or T.J. Jakes, or Joyce Myers, etc.] ; are ye [ALL] not CARNAL ?"

Through the years I have had many people say to me that they are followers of this or that religious personality, or that so and so, is "My Man." Well let me inform you that you cannot fight a spiritual warfare by standing behind a carnal man.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood [carnal enemies] , but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).

Can we fight these spiritual enemies with carnal weapons or the teachings of carnal men?

"For the weapons of our warfare are not CARNAL, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds" (II Cor. 10:4).

JUST WHAT IS CARNALITY

What then is it to be carnal or carnally minded? It's not good, I can tell you that. It's a monster-IT'S A BEAST:

"for to be carnally minded is DEATH..."

And just why is that?

"Because the carnal mind is enmity [DEEP-SEATED HATRED] against God: for it is NOT SUBJECT to the [spiritual] law of God, neither indeed CAN BE [Gk: 'is ABLE'] . So then they that are in the flesh [carnal-minded] CANNOT please God" (Rom. 8:6-8).

  • Have YOU ever seen yourself as the man of sin?

  • Do you believe that YOU were once the son of perdition?

  • Have YOU ever been carnally-minded in your walk with God?

  • Have YOU ever left your first love?

  • Have YOU ever put your hand to the plough and looked back?

  • Has the spiritual house YOU built upon the sand fallen yet?

  • Have you fallen from grace since first believing?

No? You say, "NO-NEVER"! Then the chances are great that "ye are YET carnal."

WHEN WILL I SEE THE BEAST WITHIN?

Paul wasn't telling the unbelieving world that "ye are yet carnal." Nor was Jesus telling the world that they had "left the first love." No, Paul and Jesus are both telling THE CHURCH that they are "yet carnal and have left their first love"! In other words, AFTER coming into a church, AFTER they have accepted Christ, AFTER they have pursued their walk with God, AFTER they have built a spiritual house upon the sand, AFTER they have become indoctrinated with the commandments of men and the traditions of men, can one fall away and be in a position to actually spiritually SEE THE BEAST WITHIN! SEE the man of sin and the son of perdition. See your carnal-minded, God hating, SINS. You and I and all who have be enlightened by God's word and our own failures in life, can surely see that we are all spiritually, WILD BEASTS.

If you insist that: "Ray! I don't see myself as a spiritual BEAST, or a man of SIN, or the son of PERDITION [destruction] ." Well, all I can to say is to parrot Paul: "YE ARE YET CARNAL."

AFTER WE FALL AWAY

And what does Paul tell us will be revealed AFTER we fall away?

"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that MAN OF SIN BE REVEALED, THE SON OF PERDITION" (II Thes. 2:3) .

The beast, the man of sin, and the son of perdition are all one and the same:

"BEASTS": We have seen from God's word that God calls mankind "beasts"-Psalm 49:12 & 20; Titus 1:12-13; II Pet. 2:12; Psalm 73:22; Jude 10; & Ecc. 3:18). There is not just one prophetic beast OUT THERE, somewhere. We are ALL beasts-within!

"MAN OF SIN": This phrase can be translated: "lawless one" or "man of lawlessness," as numerous translations do. But it can also be sin. Are we to believe that there is only ONE " man of sin?" or only ONE "man of lawlessness?"

"For ALL [all mankind] have sinned, and come [Greek: 'fall'] short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

"MANY [not few] will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord... And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity [margin: 'lawlessness'] " (Matt. 7:22a & 23).

"But the scripture has concluded ALL UNDER SIN..." (Gal. 3:22).

"Man of sin" is by no means the sole description of some one man that appears at the end of the age before the return of Christ.

"SON OF PERDITION": This phrase should really be "son of destruction." Again, my King James has "son of destruction" in its margin. Is this speaking of just ONE person at the end of the age who will be called "son of perdition?" Hardly. Jesus called Judas "the son of perdition [destruction] " in John 17:12. So maybe there are only two people who are ever given this designation? 'Fraid not. Notice what Peter says:

"But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of UNGODLY men" (II Pet. 3:7).

So are only the "ungodly" men at the end of the age "...reserved unto fire against [until] the day of JUDGMENT and perdition [destruction] ...?" Notice what else Peter tells us in his epistle:

"...it is the era [now] for the judgment to begin from the HOUSE OF GOD" (I Peter. 4:17).

But are we, who are members of the "house of God" considered "ungodly" people? Either we are "ungodly" sometime in our lives, or Jesus Christ didn't come to justify us or to die for our sins:

"But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the UNGODLY, his faith is counted for righteousness" and "For when WE [believing Christians] were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for THE UNGODLY [that's us, that's everyone, that's ALL believers who will have their works tried in the fire, I Cor. 3:15] " (Rom. 4:5 and 5:6).

A word study will clearly show anyone that Jesus came to SAVE those who are and will be destroyed. And do I have a Scripture on that? I am glad that you asked. Here is a beautiful lesson that will show us just how important it sometimes is to know from what original word a word in our English translations came.

Here is the temporary fate of most humanity :

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to DESTRUCTION, and many there be which go in thereat"
(Matt. 7:13).

Did Jesus come to SAVE all those who enter the broad gate to "destruction?" YES HE DID:

"For the Son of man is come to SAVE that which was LOST" (Matt. 18:11)!

There it is!

There is what? Where does that verse say that Jesus came to "SAVE that which was DESTROYED?" Why right in the verse, of course. You see, the New Testament was written in GREEK, and in Greek, here is what Matt. 18:11 says: "For the Son of man is come to SAVE that which was apollumi." And just what does apollumi mean in English? Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament: "#622 {92x} apollumi to destroy, to perish, or lose" (page 37). Ninety-two times in the New Testament we read of "destroy, destruction, destroyed/perish, perishing, perished/lose and lost, and they are all translated from the same one word, apollumi! So whether one is destroyed, perished, or lost, it matters not to Jesus-HE SAVES THEM ALL!

Old Testament too:

"O Israel, you have DESTROYED yourself; but in Me is your help... I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death..." (Hosea 13:7 & 14)!

"The righteous PERISH, and no man lays it to heart..." (Isa. 57:1)

And concerning lost Israel God says,

"I will seek that which was LOST, and bring again that which was driven away..." (Ezek. 34:16).

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost [ apollumi-lost, perished, destroyed], but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

Oh the whole church world will sing about it, but they don't completely believe the words they sing. They will appropriate the word "sinner" and "lost," but few will confess to being "the man of sin" or "the son of perdition [destruction] ."

So there are innumerable Scriptures that show that you and I and all humanity are or have been apollumi -lost/perished/destroyed. We all spiritually die once. The called and chosen are then judged in this lifetime, while the many called but not chosen (and all unbelievers) will be judged in the second resurrection white throne judgment.

We all fit this description of "the man of sin, the son of perdition" of which Paul speaks. And when Paul tells us where this man of sin and son of perdition" resides, he removes all doubt of whom he is speaking.

THE MAN OF SIN IDENTIFIED

Paul gives us three revealing factors concerning the man of sin (II Thes. 2:4):

  1. "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;
     
  2. so that he as God sits in the temple of God
     
  3. showing himself that he is God"

These three traits of the man of sin are not reserved for some one superhuman that comes on the scene at the end of the age. Every man in every generation since John and Paul first penned their prophecies, have manifested these three traits of "the man of sin." Well why then haven't more people seen this man of sin through the ages and reported on him? For one thing, only those who leave their first love, who are called and chosen, and have had their house build upon the sand come crashing down, are able to see the man of sin-the BEAST within. And the other reason is that the man of sin and beast within are invisible, while the church world is always looking for the physical.

I have been teaching for a long time that the crime of "iniquity-LAWLESSNESS" of Matt. 7:23, is primarily the belief in one's own sovereignty-commonly called "free will." Let's look at these three identifying signs one at a time:

1. "Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped..."

And just how does every man do this? In what possible way does the average church-goer or man in the street actually do this? Why by his supposed, "free" will of course. According to Church teaching and most all teaching of all religions in the world, man has a "free" will that enables him to THWART the very will of God. He may not consciously feel or acknowledge that he has this power, but try and talk him out of it and see what happens.

If you or I or anyone can actually and factually THWART THE VERY WILL OF GOD, then we indeed can "...oppose and exalt ourselves above all that is called God, or that is worshipped..."

But this thing we call "free" will is an illusion, a phantom, an idol of the heart. It has no real existence other than in the minds of all those clinging to this form of iniquity. I will prove to everyone from the Scriptures in the pages to follow that this idol of "human free moral agency" called "free will" is the greatest single SIN that must be removed from our consciousness in order to be truly spiritually CONVERTED!

2. "...so that he as God, sits in the temple of God..."

Is this really speaking of some one superhuman future person who will literally and physically sit in a temple called "the temple of God" and declare to the world that HE IS THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE? Would ANYONE of normal intelligence be deceived by such an absurd boast? I think not! But this man of sin of which Paul speaks certainly has "...DECEIVED THE WHOLE WORLD..." (Rev. 12:9).

Jesus Christ has taught us that, "...the words that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT..." (John 6:63). Why then would we conclude that the words that Paul spoke unto us are NOT SPIRIT? After all, Whose words did Paul speak, anyway? Answer:

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words [what wholesome words? Whose wholesome words?] , even THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ..." (I Tim. 6:3).

" ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." (II Tim. 3:16)

The words of Paul that have become Scripture were inspired of God, and they were the same words as "...THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST..."

Now then, with this spiritual Truth in mind, why oh why would anyone be looking for a man of sin to be sitting in a LITERAL TEMPLE claiming himself to be God? No one man of sin sits in the temple of God claiming to be God, but ALL MEN EVERYWHERE AND IN ALL GENERATIONS have sat in the temple of God claiming themselves to be God!

WHAT DOES PAUL MEAN BY "THE TEMPLE OF GOD"

What "temple of God" is Paul speaking of? We read in Acts that Paul went into the literal, physical Temple in Jerusalem, but when he wrote to those in his charge in his epistles (which later became Scripture), what kind of a Temple of God did he talk about?

"Know ye not that YE ARE [1] THE TEMPLE OF GOD, and that the Spirit of God DWELLS IN YOU?" (I Cor. 3:16).

"If any man defile the [2] TEMPLE OF GOD, him shall God destroy; for the [3] THE TEMPLE OF GOD is holy, which temple YE ARE" (I Cor. 3:17).

"What? Know ye not that YOUR BODY IS [4] THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Cor. 6:19).

"And what agreement has the [5] TEMPLE OF GOD with idols? For YE ARE [6] THE TEMPLE OF THE LIVING GOD: as God has said, I will dwell IN them, and walk IN them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (II Cor. 6:16).

"For through Him WE both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household [family] of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; In whom [the SAINTS] all the building fitly framed together grows unto [7] AN HOLY TEMPLE IN THE LORD: In Whom YE also are built together for an habitation of God through the spirit" (Eph. 2:18-22).

Seven times Paul assures us that, YE [we] ARE the Temple of God, the habitation for His Holy Spirit. Seven, the number of completeness, of total spiritual truth. Do we suppose that after speaking of us, we, our bodies, being the temple of God seven times, that he all of a sudden he has reference to a PHYSICAL TEMPLE MADE WITH STONES? Absolutely not! This is parable. Don't think that Paul (just as his Lord) did not speak in parables, he did:

"And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partakers of the foot and fatness of the olive tree" (Rom. 11:17).

Paul is not teaching us about horticulture in this verse. It is a parable.

"Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope; and he that threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope" (I Cor. 9:10).

Paul is not teaching plowing and threshing methods here, but a spiritual truth. It is a parable.

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Gal. 6:9).

Paul isn't speaking of reaping crops in a field. It is a parable.

Paul used dozens and dozens of parables in His teachings. II Thes 2 is a parable with profound spiritual meaning.

THE MAN OF SIN SITS ON THE THRONE OF HIS OWN CARNAL MIND, IN HIS OWN BODY CLAIMING POWERS THAT RIVAL THOSE OF GOD HIMSELF! Our man of sin claims a spiritual power so great that it believes it can literally thwart and dethrone God Himself from our hearts. This super-natural power of the will is assumed by nearly everyone in the whole world.

3. "...showing himself that he is God."

Even when we realize that Paul's teaching is spiritual, that this man of sin is representative of all humanity, we might feel that there is a problem with the third part of this description. What individual actually believes that he is, himself, the Creator God of the Universe? Even the most vanity-filled egotist would hardly claim to "BE God."

I believe this phrase should be translated "showing himself that he is a god."

Notice how the Emphatic Diaglott translates II Thes. 2:4 (from the interlineary):

"...the son of destruction, he opposing and lifting up himself above all being called a god or an august object, so that him into the temple of the God to be seated, openly showing himself, that he is a god"

The Epistles of Paul by W. J. Conybeare has "a God" with a capital G, although I don't see the reason for the Capital:

"...even to seat himself in the temple of God, and openly declare himself a God"

The New American Bible also translates this phrase as "a god":

"...who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god."

And therefore, if anyone could: (1) bring about thoughts or actions that have NO CAUSE, that is thoughts and actions that were created by the person himself and were not influenced, caused, made, forced, or in another way brought about, and that (2) such a person would then have the power to THWART THE VERY WILL OF GOD, by thinking and doing things that God does not approve of, but would never interfere with, then, indeed, that person could claim to be "a god"!!

And it is this very "god" that sits on the throne of men's hearts, which throne was created for Jesus Christ to be seated in the power of Holy Spirit.

And just how powerful is this "god" that sits on the throne of all unconverted men? It is so powerful that those who presume to possess this will of the mind that is absolutely "FREE" from any and all causality, can either bring about their own salvation or choose to reject their own salvation, AND NO POWER IN HEAVEN OR EARTH CAN THWART THEM. THEY can thwart God's purpose, but GOD cannot thwart their purpose. That my friends is "...OPPOSING and EXALTING oneself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that such an one as God sits in the temple of God [which temple our bodies are] showing oneself that he IS a god" (my paraphrase).

THE DAY OF THE LORD AND II THESSALONIANS II

Most of us not unlike the Thessalonians of Paul's day are aware of a prophetic time spoken by the prophets known as "The Day of the Lord." The Thessalonians knew somewhat of this day and what it portended, as Paul spoke to them earlier about it. Now he has to tell them in this second epistle,

"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that THE DAY OF CHRIST is at hand" (II Thes. 2:2).

Never forget that Jesus Christ IS 'The LORD,' and so the Day of Christ and the Day of the Lord both represent the Son of God.

Notice what Paul had instructed them in his first epistle concerning the coming of the Lord:

"...and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God; And to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (I Thes. 1:9b-10).

Paul tells them of his suffering:

"For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had SUFFERED before, and were SHAMEFULLY ENTREATED, as ye know... with MUCH CONTENTION

(I Thes. 2:1-2). Then Paul speaks of their suffering and the reason for sending Timothy to them:

"That no man should be moved by THESE AFFLICTIONS: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto" (I Thes. 3:3).

Paul states that:

"Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our AFFLICTION and DISTRESS by your faith" (I Thes. 3:7).

And so Paul tells them of his afflictions, and also acknowledges their afflictions. Again Paul assures these Thessalonians that:

"For yourselves know perfectly that THE DAY OF THE LORD so comes as a thief in the night... For God has NOT appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thes. 5:2 & 9).

Well Timothy reported back to Paul that they were having even more tribulations and persecutions to the point that they were thinking that they must be in that period of time of "The Day of the Lord," and that they themselves were suffering wrath from God.

Once more Paul acknowledges these tribulations and suffering:

"So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in ALL YOUR PERSECUTIONS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT YE ENDURE" (II Thes. 1:4).

But rather than wrath from God, Paul assures them that this suffering is really a token of God's righteous judgment and that God will be punishing those who are persecuting them:

"Which [suffering] is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be COUNTED WORTHY of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God recompense tribulation to them that TROUBLE YOU" (II Thes. 1:5-6).

Then Paul gives them one more giant promise of rest from all of these sufferings:

"And to you [and to US as well] who are troubled REST with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction [eonian extermination] from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) IN THAT DAY" (II Thes. 1:7-10).

And next we come to the Scriptures of our present study. Paul comforts them in their persecutions and tribulations. He assures them that endurance in faith will account the worthy to be in the Kingdom of God, and that they will have rest at the coming of our Lord to be glorified in His saints and admired in ALL THAT BELIEVE. This is the way of the believer leading up to the coming of the Lord and the "Day of the Lord," when all will be changed and glorified. But Paul tells them that that day is not here yet.

Listen carefully: Generation after generation after generation of believers and saints of God have lived, suffered and been persecuted, and then DIED. This "Day of Christ" or "Day of the Lord" not only did not come in their lifetime, but it will not be a reality to any of them WHEN IT DOES COME, unless something else happens in their lives FIRST!

Unless this experience happened to them in their lifetime, whenever they lived, they will not be in the First Resurrection and see the Coming of the Lord in the Day of the Lord. Something had to have happened to them-all of them. Something HAS to happen to YOU-ALL OF YOU who expect to see the Coming of the Lord and the Day of the Lord and be accounted worthy to be in The Kingdom of God. Yes, we already read in II Thes. 1:10, "When He shall come to be glorified in His saints..." And He will be glorified in all His saints at that time, but not unless something has happened in all of His saints FIRST!

Until and unless the thing that I am going to mention next is an accomplished FACT in your PRESENT life, you will not see The Coming of the Lord, neither will you be in the First Resurrection of spiritual rest and glorification. I kid you not, this is deep and heavy stuff!

BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD CAN COME TO YOU

Here then is what must be accomplished in your life before you die:

"Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: THAT the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be GLORIFIED IN YOU [IN YOU] , and YE IN HIM, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thes. 1:11-12)!!

How then does our Apostle Paul tell us this MUST be accomplished? What must happen? What must we do? Or rather what must Jesus do IN US? Here is the Scriptural answer:

"Now we beseech YOU, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.

That ye be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that THE DAY OF CHRIST [The Day of the Lord] is at hand [FOR YOU...] .

Let no man deceive YOU by any means: for that day shall not come [TO YOU...] except there come a FALLING AWAY FIRST [BY YOU...] , and the man of sin be revealed the son of perdition [IN YOU...TO YOU...] ; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped [IN YOU ...] ; so that he as God sits in the temple of God ['which temple YE ARE' II Cor. 6:16] showing himself that HE IS [YOU ARE / I AM] a god

Remember ye not, that when I was yet with YOU, I told YOU these things?

And now ye know what withholds [is restraining, is detaining-'the falling away FIRST'] that he ['the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition'- YOU...] might be revealed in his time [in YOU and TO YOU- individually, not collectively] in his time ['his {particular} time']-FOR YOU and FOR ME and for ALL BELIEVERS IN ALL GENERATIONS UNTIL JESUS COMES TO US ALL, COLLECTIVELY, AS THE MANIFEST SONS OF GOD] ."

Long before Jesus can have a COMPANY of manifest SONS and DAUGHTERS of God, there has to be individual begettals by the Holy Spirit of God in chosen individuals in every generation leading up to the coming of the Lord at the end of this age.

"For the mystery [secret, hidden truth] of iniquity [lawlessness] does already work ['is inwardly working' The Emphasized New Testament: A New Translation (J. B. Rotherham)] : only he who now lets will let ['only he who restrains will do so'] , until he be taken out of the way.

And then shall that Wicked [Lawless One] be revealed IN [IN YOU] and TO YOU, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit [breath] of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming;

Even him [not original] , whose coming [the man of sin called son of perdition IN YOU] is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (II Thes. 2:1-9).

HOW CHRISTENDOM PERCEIVES THE COMING OF THE MAN OF SIN

Let's take a little break here and consider a few extraordinary revelations in the last verses we just covered.

The world of Christian theology overwhelmingly teaches that the things presented in verses 1 through 9 are for the END OF THE WORLD ONLY, and that they are ABSOLUTELY LITERAL and that this man of sin called the son of perdition will DECEIVE the whole world. This is so absurd that it becomes almost humorous when we try to picture or imagine such a literal, one-time, worldwide deception, scenario.

Here is what we are told to believe by self-appointed end-time prophets of doom:

  1. A literal TEMPLE will soon be built in Jerusalem.
     
  2. A MAN [a physical mortal man] will, at some period thereafter, enter this TEMPLE, and SIT down.
     
  3. This MAN, SITTING IN THE TEMPLE, OPPOSES AND EXALTS HIMSELF ABOVE ALL THAT IS CALLED GOD OR THAT IS WORSHIPPED.
     
  4. SHOWING HIMSELF THAT HE IS GOD.

BEHOLD, THE 'MAN OF SIN' ON INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION

As Sophia on Golden Girls would say: "Picture this..." A thousand cameras are all rolling and beaming the following event to every spot on earth via satellites. A man (a physical, mortal man, with possible body odor, thinning hair, and a pimple on his nose) approaches a newly built, incredibly beautiful, temple somewhere in Jerusalem.

He is dressed in an all white, pure silk Hong Kong suit, with his collar on backwards signifying great religious piety, and having a huge gold cross around his neck. With unbelievable pride and pompous vanity, he enters the temple (followed by a couple dozen cameramen). He then sits (well, I don't know where he sits, seeing that the Temple in Jerusalem did not have a "throne" in it, as even the Jews knew that the Temple was built for God and not for some man to sit in it-maybe he sits on the floor).

He then announces to those present and to the world via the cameramen, that He HIMSELF IS GOD. Yes, GOD-the Creator of billions of galaxies having billions of stars that are billions of times larger than the earth. And, although he speaks with imperfect grammar and has a rather small vocabulary, the ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE EARTH (save the Hagee/Lindsey readers) will actually BELIEVE that this man IS THE VERY GOD OF THE BIBLE AND THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.

The presidents and leaders of whole countries, taxi drivers, housewives, scientists, atheists, Moslems, WILL BE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY CONVINCED (albeit it also totally deceived) that this mortal man in the white silk Hong Kong suit, really IS, THE ETERNAL CREATOR GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!! And all the while, sales of " Official Man of Sin dolls" will sell like hotcakes in all the religious junk stands surrounding the temple.

Give me a break! How stupid do they believe the average earthling really is? Would YOU be deceived by such an one? I should say NOT!

But how many earthlings might be deceived by this man of sin were he to hide in the hearts and minds of men in a way that they themselves would be completely at home with this man of sin, the son of perdition? How many? ALL OF THEM-EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM (including ME)! I have been completely deceived by this man of sin in MY LIFE, for MOST of my life! But NO MORE!

Back to our "prophets of doom" scenario. Let's read on-I will repeat verses 8-9:

"And then shall that Wicked [Lawless One] , whom the Lord shall CONSUME, with the spirit of His mouth, and shall DESTROY with the brightness of HIS COMING [Christ's coming/Christ's presence] : "Even him [not in original] whose [the 'man of sin'] coming [or presence] is after [in accordance with] the working of Satan..."

Make no mistake about it: SATAN is completely involved in the coming, presence, manifestation, and even EXISTENCE of this man of sin. Satan knows all about sin, seeing that:

"He that commits sin [as in 'the man of sin'] is OF THE DEVIL; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works [or 'WORKINGS'] of the devil" (I John 3:8).

I am now going to make an observation that I believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. One can easily see that if we removed the words "...whom the Lord shall consume, with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming..." and connected the remaining words (leaving out the two words 'Even him,' which are NOT in the original Greek), the sentence makes perfect sense:

"And then shall that Wicked [Lawless One] , be revealed, whose coming is after the working of Satan..."

We can immediately see that the extra words (added by the King James Version) are quite unnecessary. It became obvious to me that not only could "...whom the Lord shall consume, with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming..." be set off by parentheses, but that it is mandatory that this clause be set off by parentheses. I then, after seeing this consulted the Concordant Version to see how they handled this verse, and I was pleasantly surprised to read the following:

"...[and] then will be unveiled [or revealed] the lawless one (WHOM THE LORD JESUS WILL DISPATCH WITH THE SPIRIT OF HIS MOUTH AND WILL DISCARD BY THE ADVENT OF HIS PRESENCE), whose presence is in accord with the operation of Satan..."

(whom the Lord shall consume, with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming) is a PARENTHETICAL STATEMENT regarding HOW this man of sin, will be taken care of and rendered harmless, IN THE BELIEVER ONLY (the Emphatic Diaglott also puts this clause in parentheses).

So why do I say that it is mandatory that this clause be a parenthetical statement rather than a necessary part of the sentence, which contains this clause?

Answer: Because of what follows next. Verses 10 through 12 prove conclusively that this man [singular] of sin, son [singular] of perdition, he [singular] as God, and showing himself [singular] is NOT JUST ONE SINGULAR PERSON revealed ONCE at the end of the age ONLY. Let's read it:

"And then shall that Wicked [Lawless One] be revealed [opening parenthetical statement] , (whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming) [closing parenthetical statement] ; whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in THEM
[plural] that perish; because THEY [plural] received NOT the love of the truth [as believers do receive 'the love of the Truth'] , that THEY [plural] might be saved [as are believers in the first resurrection are saved].

And for this cause God shall send THEM [plural] strong delusion, that THEY [plural] should believe a lie: That THEY [plural] ALL [plural] might be damned [condemned] who believe NOT the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness"

The man of sin/son of perdition is UNIVERSAL and found in ALL MANKIND. THAT is how Satan deceives THE WHOLE WORLD (Rev. 12:9).

Men are looking for the BEAST (the man of sin/son of perdition) OUT THERE somewhere, when all the while he has been present INSIDE OF US ALL!

THE PARENTHETICAL STATEMENT IS FOR BELIEVERS ONLY

(whom [the beastly man of sin/son of perdition] the LORD shall consume with the spirit of His mouth [IN US-WE, believers and lovers of the Truth] , and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming [IN US, making His presence known IN US, destroying the beastly man of sin/son of perdition IN US, making the 'Day of the Lord to be at hand' FOR US, and IN US] )! Let's read it:

"But WE [Paul and believers. NOT 'them' and 'they,' but ' WE'-'Lovers of the Truth'] are bound to give thanks always to God for YOU, brethren beloved in the Lord, because God has from the beginning CHOSEN you [called AND CHOSEN you] to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth: Whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the OBTAINING of the GLORY ['That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be GLORIFIED IN YOU' Chapter 1:12] of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting [eonian] consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work"
(Verses 13-17).

WE ARE ALL PRODIGAL SONS

You all know the parable. The son of a rich man wanted his inheritance NOW. And so he went into a far country and wasted his inheritance with riotous living-doing what seemed RIGHT in his own eyes. Enjoying life, having a good time. When he was physically and morally broke, he took a job slopping the pigs, and finally eating the slop of the pigs, himself. His selfish, carnal, house built on shifting sands FELL! "And GREAT was the fall thereof."

He had " left his first love" of his Father who obliged him in his "free will" decision to pursue his own happiness. But now, with his face in the watery slop of the pigs, he sees his reflection looking back at him- a BEAST-a man of great sin-a son in the state of spiritual perdition. What will he do?

He said:

"I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, And am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants... But the Father said to His servant, Bring forth the best robe ['...for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints,' Rev. 19:8] , and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand...

...['And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt,' (Gen. 41:42-43). "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me {second chariot from Christ}..." (Rev. 3:21), "And to he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations {ALL of them, not just Egypt}] ...

...For this my son was [spiritually] DEAD, and is alive again; he was LOST [ pollumi-lost, destroyed, vanished] and is found. And they began to be merry" (Luke 15-11-24).

LET ME KNOW

Are you beginning to SEE IT? Is God giving you understanding? Do you see the grand and marvelous wisdom of it all? Drop me an email-let me know. I want to know how many out there in computerland are beginning to have ears to hear and eyes to see.

THANK GOD, that I (L. Ray Smith) had fallen away, left my first love, looked back, forsook the Lord, and watched my house upon the sand come crashing down! Only then was I able to stand upon the sand of the sea, and see the beast within, the man of sin, the son of perdition, and Satan the devil who DECEIVED ME!

But NOW, "I am crucified WITH Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives IN ME: and the life which I now life in the flesh I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved ME [and YOU ] , and gave Himself for ME [and YOU ] " (Gal. 2:20).

In conclusion:

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard BEHIND me a great voice, as of a trumpet... And I turned to see the voice that spoke with ME. And being TURNED, I saw seven gold candlesticks; [the complete church of God in all generations, with MY sins outlined in each and every one of them] And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; [PURGING all who look upon Him] And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned [refined] in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was as the SUN SHINING IN HIS STRENGTH [no longer a physical body with HOLES in it].

And when I saw Him [in my SPIRIT] I fell at His feet as DEAD. And He laid His right hand upon ME [as He will upon YOU] , saying unto ME [and unto YOU] ,

FEAR NOT " (Rev. 1:10-17).

Truly:  "We have seen the enemy and he is US."

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