This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
In our previous study we dealt with the fall of Adam and then we began to deal with the results of Adam’s fall. But we did not fully complete dealing with the results of Adam’s fall. And I’m going to go on in accordance with your outline.
We dealt with the first result which is listed as a change in Adam’s nature. Basically, the two words that describe the nature of Adam as a result of his fall are the words corrupt and mortal. Adam became subject to corruption—moral and physical. And ultimately this corruption, it was finally manifested in death. Death, we said in Scripture, is revealed in three successive phases: Spiritual death, which is separation from God even while physical life continues. Secondly, physical death, the death of the body. And thirdly, what the Scripture calls the “second death”—final, eternal banishment from the presence of God.
The second main result of Adam’s fall was that Satan usurped the realm of Adam’s authority. And we saw that in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 2 and 3. The Scripture describes Satan’s position as a result of Adam’s fall. Satan is called the “prince of the realm of authority the air, the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience.” He’s a spirit and he has control over the human race insofar as they’re disobedient to God. He exercises his control by spiritual forces. And he plays upon things which exist now in the Adamic nature in each one of us. These things are stated in Ephesians 2:3, when it says:
“... we all had our conversation [our way of life] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires [the wicked, the rebellious, ungodly desires] of the flesh and of the mind.” (KJV)
So Satan as a spirit, by spiritual influences, plays upon those elements in human nature which are described as “the lusts of the flesh” and “the desires of the flesh in the mind,” and in this way he controls us. So in this way he is the ruler of the human race. This is another fact which many Christians are almost ignorant of that Satan is given this title. As we’ll see a little later on, he’s given it three times from the lips of Jesus Himself.
But let’s notice a little more carefully the extent of this realm that Satan now rules. He’s called the “prince of the power of the air” in the King James. The “ruler of the realm of authority” that’s defined by the air.
Now there are two words in Greek for air, one is aer, which is used here. The other is aither. The word aer gives us the English word “air,” the word aither gives us the English word “ether.” Now I mentioned them because there is a distinct relationship between the two. Of the two, aer, the one used here, refers to air near the earth’s surface; whereas aither refers to the rarefied air of the higher atmosphere.
So if you want to be specific, Satan is the ruler of the realm of authority marked, bounded by the air contiguous with the earth’s surface. And this is extremely significant if you now look back at the realm of authority originally given by God to Adam, which is stated there in Genesis 1:26. We’ve looked at it earlier in studying the nature of Adam and His creation. Let’s look back at it and compare these two Scriptures, Genesis 1:26 and Ephesians 2:2 and you’ll see the most amazingly accurate correspondence between them. In Genesis 1:26 we read,
“God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion [that is, rule] over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (KJV)
In the midst of that you’ll find that Adam was to have rule over all the earth, this included the creeping things, it included the sea and their inhabitants. And it included the birds of the air.
So, to be very logical and precise, Adam’s authority extended at least as high as the highest bird can fly, which I believe is the eagle. So that we get a very precise correspondence between Genesis 1:26 and Ephesians 2:2. In Genesis 1:26 we find God placed Adam over this whole realm of authority, which is the entire surface of the globe and the air contiguous with it, and in Ephesians 2:2 we find that Satan is called the “prince,” the ruler of this realm of authority that’s bounded by the lower air. I mean, I’m not making too much stress on this lower air, but the correspondence is very remarkable. So we find that what Adam was created to rule in Genesis 1:26, we find Satan ruling in Ephesians 2:2. How did this come about? We cannot understand it unless we understand the principle of authority. When God placed Adam in that situation, at creation, God gave Adam authority over that whole scene.
Now authority has only one source. All authority originates only in one place and in one person, that is God. God delegates authority. The universe of God is full of persons, creatures of God, to whom He has delegated authority in various realms to do various things. And in actual fact, if we just look at human life, we find that without this principle of authority, life would not work. Life would be chaos. For instance, we have to recognize the authority of human government. In the United States, the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court—so on. And Scripture says in Romans that the authorities that exist in the human world are ordained of God. The King James says, “the powers that be.” God has ordained authority, because it’s necessary for life to proceed in an orderly fashion. Without authority, there could be no order.
We encountered this very vividly in east Africa when we were there as missionaries and Kenya was preparing to receive independence. And these Africans there, the key word for independence was
?oohooloo?, which means “freedom.” And they were talking about what would happen when ?oohooloo? comes. And their ideas were extremely naive. They said, “From now on we’ll pay no taxes,” and “We’ll be able to ride our bicycles on whichever side of the road we like,” and “We’ll travel in the buses without paying any fares.” That was their idea of freedom, you see. They did not realize that life cannot continue without authority in some form. And authority is a principle that God has built in to the entire universe.
But there are two essential facts about authority. One is that it originates with God and is delegated from God. Secondly, it is transferable. A person may have God-given authority and transfer it to another or he may take that God-given authority and misuse it even against God. And yet He still has that authority and its source was originally God.
But the way, I always illustrate this, because when it comes down to human life, is that the Scripture says that God has given the husband authority over the wife. We don’t argue about that, it’s a fact. This authority, which is built into the very nature of marriage, is God-given, and yet I personally know many instances where a husband takes His God-given authority and misuses it against God. Even to the extent of forbidding his wife to read the Bible or go to church or praise the Lord or attend a prayer meeting. Many such things. The husband’s authority is God-given. But his use of it is actually in opposition to God. And yet he still has the authority, and the authority still came from God.
If you can’t follow this, then you cannot realize what happened at the fall. Because what happened was this: Adam sold out—lock, stock and barrel—to Satan. He handed over himself and the whole realm over which God had placed him in authority to Satan. Satan usurped the authority which had originally been given to Adam. And yet it was still valid authority. And it had as its origins, still, in the one person, God. This is the thing that unless we can understand it we cannot appreciate many of the main issues of Scripture. Because a great deal in Scripture and in redemption turns around this concept of authority and its right and its wrong use. You see, one of the results of the resurrection was a transfer of authority. One of the things Jesus said immediately after His resurrection was, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18, KJV). That was something that was not true before His death and resurrection. We’ll be going into that more fully in later studies. But I just want to point this out.
At the present time, the way that we are applying this truth at the moment is, that whatever Adam was placed in charge of by God, whatever Adam had authority over from God was transferred to Satan. Satan usurped the authority that Adam had. Let’s look at two Scriptures in this connection.
First of all, let’s notice that Jesus three times in John’s gospel refers to Satan as the prince, and the correct translation is “ruler of this world,” this present world order. This present social order is ruled by Satan. There are three references in John’s gospel: John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11. It isn’t exactly necessary that we turn there, John 12:31 says,
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (KJV)
John 14:30 says,
“The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (KJV)
“Satan has nothing in me,” Jesus said. John 16:11 says, now that the Holy Spirit will convince the world:
“Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” (KJV)
So on the authority of Jesus Himself at that time during His earthly ministry, Satan was the ruler of this world. And even Jesus acknowledged his authority. Why? Because in acknowledging his authority, ultimately He was acknowledging the authority which God had given to Adam.
In Luke chapter 4, you find from the lips of Satan himself of how he acquired this authority. Reading in verse 5 and 6, this again is a part of the scene of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Luke 4 verses 5 and 6:
“The devil, taking him [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power [but the Greek is ‘authority’] will I give thee, and the glory of them [the glory that goes with it]: for that is delivered unto me.” (KJV)
The key word is “delivered.” It means literally “betrayed.” It’s the same word in all the gospels about Judas betraying Jesus. Handed over illegally. And so that’s what Satan says, and Jesus did not question that statement. He acknowledged it. All He said was, “I will not worship you.” The authority over the world originally given by God to Adam was betrayed or illegally handed over by Adam to Satan. And Satan knew it, boasted of it, and Jesus did not deny the statement. Because ultimately to have denied that statement would have been to deny His Father’s right to give authority. So He could not question it, so all He said was, “I will not worship you.”
So we find that this is the second main result of Adam’s fall. Authority in the human race, and in this world as we know it, passed into the hands of God’s arch-enemy and the arch-enemy of the human race, the fallen cherub, who was Lucifer, and is now Satan. And Satan exercises control over the human race as a spirit. By spiritual means playing upon elements in humanity, which are called “lusts” and “desires” that Satan exploits to get humanity to do what he wants contrary to God and in opposition to God.
All right now let’s notice the third result of Adam’s fall which is listed there in your outline. We won’t deal with it at length but it is important. The Adamic race became subject to demon harassment and control. I have been led in the last few years into a definite ministry of dealing with people that need deliverance from demons or evil spirits. And not just for the sake of theorizing or speculating, but really from a practical point of view, I have been forced to face the question of what are demons, and what do they do and where do they come from and how do they operate? And I realize that demons are the lower echelon of Satan’s government. Satan has a government which embraces two kinds of spirits: fallen angels in the heavenly realm, as we saw earlier, and evil spirits, which are not fallen angels (and I am convinced of that), demons which operate on the earthly plane. And the main thrust of Satan’s influence against us is not through the angels, but the basic, primary thrust is through the evil spirits. It’s through his evil spirits that he tempts us, entices us, oppresses us, attacks us, and enslaves us. These are his agents at work.
Now I suggested earlier in one of the previous studies, now this is only a suggestion, that evil spirits are the disembodied spirits of some race or races that existed in the pre-Adamic period. I don’t want to go into that again in detail, but let me just point out that there are two obvious differences between angels and evil spirits, or demons.
First of all, angels are at home in the heavenlies, evil spirits are at home on earth. Secondly, angels do not desire to enter a physical body. For them it would be captivity. Whereas demons have a passionate, intense, driving desire to occupy a physical body. Which to me is clear proof they were originally created to have a physical body and I suppose under God’s judgment lost it.
Why God did not imprison them all in the abyss, I do not know. At least, if I do know I’m not going to try to offer you an explanation now. But we could ask the same question: Why didn’t God immediately bring judgment on Lucifer and his fallen angels? He didn’t—and that’s the wisdom of God, and that’s the eternal counsel and purposes of God. We have to accept it as a fact. At the present time, Satan and his fallen angels are still active in the heavenlies, and Satan and his demons or evil spirits are still extremely active on earth. And we are the subject of their attack.
Now, the believers of the Old Testament were perfectly familiar with the existence of evil spirits, and there are words in Old Testament Hebrew used in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy that mean “demons.” And the people of Israel under the Old Covenant knew full well that the Gentile nations round about them actually worshiped demons. It is a fact and it is true of all ancient races. The gods of all ancients races—the Greeks, the Romans, the Canaanites, the Hittites, and all these other people—were demons. And that’s one reason why God always forbade any form of religious or spiritual intercourse between Israel and these other nations. Because He warned them, “Every time you get involved, you end up by serving and worshipping demons.” And of course it happened when Israel went astray into idolatry and disobedience as in the period of Ahab and other periods; they ended up captivated and enslaved by demon power.
But something happened when Jesus began His earthly ministry that had not happened before. And it was, I believe, extremely dramatic. When Jesus came as the Messiah, the promised Deliverer, anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring deliverance to God’s captive people, the battle was brought out into the open in a way that it hadn’t been in the open before. And this is probably the most dramatic initial impact of the ministry of Jesus was that instead of demons operating as it were unseen, their presence only partly suspected, and no one being very clear as to their identity or how they operated, Jesus, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, brought them right out into the open and showed what they were and how to deal with them. This is very clearly portrayed in the opening chapter of Mark’s gospel, which describes the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. I don’t want to read at length, but I’ll read just a few selected verses. In Mark chapter 1, beginning at verse 21,
“They [that is, Jesus and His disciples] went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.” (KJV)
And I suppose the people in the synagogue thought they were going to have a normal Sabbath synagogue service. But they got rudely shocked and upset because something happened that had never happened before in that synagogue. The service was disturbed. They were astonished with His doctrine, His way of teaching, so He taught them as one that had authority, not as the scribes.
And there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, or a demon. And I must offer my opinion—my personal opinion—is that man had sat in that same seat in that synagogue every Sabbath for many years. And people thought, “He has some kind of a problem, there’s something a little bit queer about him, something that I just don’t feel too good when I’m close to him,” but they really had no idea of what the full extent or nature of his problem was. But the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus, forced the enemy out in the open.
And I have to point out to you that this is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit. He always brings things out into the open. And that’s why many professing churchgoers in America today don’t like Holy Spirit religion. Because they don’t want the real issue brought out into the open. I have seen this in many, many churches. I’ve seen churches which just did not like to be faced with the reality of demon power and presence. And some of them were Pentecostal churches. And I’ve been in other churches—let me say a Methodist church quite recently—where we had deliverance services and the pastor and the congregation were appreciative.
I was in the Episcopal church just recently in Washington, D.C., the rector said to me, “I hope you’re going to have a deliverance service!” I said, “Sure we are!” It’s really amazing, but you see, I’ll tell you this, it depends on whether you’re basically an honest person or not—that’s what it is. Because if you’d rather have everything nice and smooth and sweet and covered up and refined and the carpet plush and the windows, you know, sparkling, and the choir in the nice white robes and that is more important than anything else. Well, then, this kind of Holy Spirit religion is not going to suit people like that.
And it didn’t suit all the people of Jesus’ day, by any means. They didn’t like to have their Sabbath services broken up. Disorderly behavior. And let’s notice the reaction of Jesus. I read from verse 23.
“There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.” (KJV)
The Greek says “in an unclean spirit.” In other words, he was under the influence or compulsion or drive of an unclean spirit.
“And he cried out, saying, Let us alone.” (KJV)
You notice that “they” speak collectively. And that is true of the Gadarene demoniac. Jesus said, “What is thy name?” And he said, “Legion, for we are many.” They talk as a group. They gang up, they operate in gangs.
“... what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” (KJV)
No one else in that synagogue knew who Jesus was at that time. But the demons knew from the first moment. They had knowledge that went back beyond the present order of society.
“Jesus rebuked him [not the man, but the spirit], saying, Hold thy peace [be quiet], and come out of him.” (KJV)
He was not talking to the man; He was talking to the spirit in the man. I’ve commented sometimes that in a modern church, they would have put the man out of the church. But Jesus put the demon out of the man and left the man in the church!
“[Jesus, rebuking him, said, Be quiet,] come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him ...”
There was a prolonged... or let me say, at least, a powerful physical demonstration and reaction. The spirit was very unwilling to leave. It was as though it was holding on and was being forced out by divine authority.
When the unclean spirit had torn him, and [he] cried with a loud voice [shouted or screamed out loud], he came out of him.
Now I would have to say that I have seen this happen, I suppose I could say without exaggeration, thousands of times in the last five or six years. To me, it is perfectly familiar. But up to a certain period I had never seen it happen. I read these descriptions in the gospels, and I thought, “It must be true, but why don’t we ever see it?” And there was a certain area when I ministered that was under cover. It was not exposed. It was not brought out and for that reason there were problems in people’s lives I could never effectively minister to.
Now notice the reaction of the people, verse 27:
“They were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this?”
What amuses me is that 19 centuries later they’re still calling it “a new doctrine.”
“For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” (KJV)
Notice they knew they were unclean spirits. What they didn’t know was that there was anybody who could get rid of them like that. They realized the existence of these things, but they had never been able to bring them out into the open and deal with them. And it says, verse 28,
“And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” (KJV)
In other words, this was the most striking, initial impact of the ministry of Jesus. It wasn’t His healing of the sick, it was His ability to deal with evil spirits, to bring them out in the open and drive them out and liberate their captives. And then we read in verse 34,
“[The same evening, verse 33:] all the city was gathered together at the door [of Peter’s wife’s mother’s home where Jesus was]. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils [we should translate it demons]; and suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew him.” (KJV)
See, the human beings did not know Him, even His own disciples had not fully understood who He was, but the demons knew Him immediately. They knew Him from way back, from a previous age. And then one more verse in Mark 1, verse 39:
“And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out [demons].” (KJV)
And Phillips translation goes something like this, “He continued throughout all Galilee preaching in their synagogues and expelling demons.”
And why I like Phillips translation there is because of the word “continued,” which is a correct rendering of the tense in the Greek. It was the continuous feature of His ministry, everywhere He went into a synagogue He did two things: He preached, and He expelled demons. And notice, they were in the synagogues. They were in the places of religious assembly.
So we see that the coming of Jesus brought out into the open a situation that existed from the fall onwards. But it is to the fall we look for the origin of this situation. Man became exposed to invisible enemies, directed from Satan’s headquarters, and sent against him to exploit his weaknesses—to entice him to sin, to rebellion, to make him sick, to make him fearful, to take away his reason, to do everything possible to destroy him. Notice what Jesus says in this connection in Matthew 12:28. Matthew 12:22, a man was “brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and [Jesus] healed him”— plainly, by casting out the blind and dumb spirit. And the Scripture says, “All the people were amazed.” They said, “Is not this the son of David?” That’s verse 23.
“When the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (Verse 24, KJV)
Notice, this is Satan’s title, not as the ruler of the angels, but as the prince of the demons. This is his particular title and this relationship. The word Beelzebub means literally: beel—lord, zebub—flies. And the demons were associated in the ancient mind, the picture of the demon world, was like the insect world. Which is really a very vivid picture, because insects harass, poison, and kill in various ways. I mean, most of us do not realize the tremendous threat that the insect world always poses to the continuance of human life on this earth. We just about keep ahead of the insect world. That’s the truth of the matter. And this is vividly expressed here by comparing Satan as the ruler of the demons to the lord over the flies.
Jesus didn’t dispute this. He acknowledged his title, but he answered them this way, verse 25:
“Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom [that is] divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (KJV)
As I have pointed out already, Jesus clearly reveals that Satan has a kingdom, he’s in complete control of this kingdom, it’s not divided, everybody in that kingdom does what Satan requires them to do. And that part of that kingdom is over the realm of evil spirits. And then Jesus said:
“And if I by Beelzebub cast out [demons], by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.” (KJV)
Exorcism was a regular practice amongst the Jewish people in the time of Jesus. As it is amongst many heathen or pagan nations today. Amongst the Moslems, you will find professional exorcists that go around trying to drive evil spirits out of people.
I remember in the Sudan, I met a man whose body, all over his back and shoulders was burned. And he told me that this was done by the exorcist who applied the heat to drive the evil spirit out of that area of the body. Of course, it was a tremendously painful form of treatment and I don’t think it was very successful, but it points out the fact that all heathen people know from their background the reality of evil spirits. They may not know the way to deal with them.
Notice how Jesus sums this up, verse 28:
“But if I cast out [demons] by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (KJV)
Here is the manifest clash between the two kingdoms. You see, in the Old Testament, these kingdoms both existed, both were real, but neither was fully brought out into the open. But at the coming of Jesus, the kingdom of God, on the one hand, and the kingdom of Satan were brought out into the open, and the actual point of clash and conflict was when Jesus dealt with the evil spirits. He said, “Here is the demonstration of two kingdoms in opposition to one another. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, represented by the evil spirits. The kingdom of God represented by Jesus.” And Jesus said, “When I demonstrate that these evil spirits have to obey Me and leave the people, then you’ll know that that’s the manifestation of God’s kingdom come amongst you.”
So we find out that there was continually, from the fall onwards, this activity of evil spirits directed against the human race. But its full nature and scope was really only brought out in the New Testament through the ministry of Jesus.
Now, I want to go on and deal with the two remaining consequences of Adam’s fall as listed in your outline. The fourth consequence: Adam’s whole realm became subject to vanity. And I put the word “vanity” in quotes because it’s used with a kind of special meaning. Vanity in modern English means “being excessively concerned with or about your appearance,” and so on. This is not the original meaning. In Elizabethan English and the words used in the original Scriptures, it could probably be best rendered by the alternatives I’ve given you there: “ultimate frustration” or “futility” are the best renderings that I can arrive at in the English language for the original meaning of this word vanity.
And I have to point out to you that all through human literature and art and philosophy, you’ll find the mind of man grappling continually with this problem. The problem of frustration, futility: The rose blooms and fills the air with its fragrance, and just when its at its point of greatest beauty it starts to wither and wilt and die. The man falls in love with a beautiful young lady and marries her, and thirty years later she’s old and gray and wrinkled, and then their marriage is broken up by death. And if you go—wherever you go in literature, wherever the human mind is risen above the level of its normal, daily, practical needs—feeding and sleeping and so on—you find this is probably the greatest single problem that has occupied the minds of poets, writers and philosophers.
One person in particular that was occupied by this problem was Shakespeare. In actual fact, many of his plays and some of his other writings really revolve around Shakespeare’s attempt to grapple with this problem. A little later on, I’ll give you just four lines from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets which I memorized as a young man, and always has stuck with me. And when I became a Christian and began to study the Bible, I thought in the language outside Scripture no one has ever expressed this quite as well as Shakespeare did. But let’s look at what the Scripture says first.
Let’s turn to the eighth chapter of Romans. Again this is another amazing fact, which is clearly stated in Scripture. And if Christians don’t accept it or don’t understand it, then much of Scripture is really meaningless to them. Romans chapter 8, beginning at verse 18, and reading through verse 23. And notice the problem that Paul touches on here is that age-old problem of suffering. Why do people suffer? And he has this Christian answer:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (KJV)
He’s looking forward to the end of the period of suffering to the revelation of glory in believers.
For the earnest expectation of the creature [but you should say, ‘creation,’ which is the correct translation] ... the earnest expectation of [creation] ... ”
Somebody has said that this word “earnest expectation” pictures all creation standing on tiptoe and craning its head to see what’s coming around the corner. It’s a very, very vivid word. All creation is on tiptoe of expectancy waiting for something that creation knows that lies ahead.
What is it? “The manifestation of the sons of God.” Who are the sons of God? The believers in Jesus Christ. Verse 20:
“For the [creation] was made subject to vanity.” (KJV)
Now this is a historical fact, the creation was made subject to vanity. When? As far as we’re concerned in our scope of study, through Adam’s fall,
“The [creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him [that is, God] who hath subjected the same [creation] in hope.” (KJV)
There is not a hopeless attitude, there’s a hope at the end of suffering. There is going to be a way out, there is going to be a resolution of the problem. That’s why God has permitted the problem to continue until it comes to God’s resolution. Verse 21, the solution is stated:
“Because the [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (KJV)
The solution for creation is going to be a great deliverance from this bondage of corruption and creation is going to be delivered into what Scripture calls, literally, the liberty of the glory of the children of God. In other words, when God’s children are glorified, in the final manifestation which yet lies ahead, then creation will be delivered. In other words, the deliverance of creation depends upon what happens to the sons of God. This is, in a certain sense, what you might call “poetic justice.” Because it was through man’s fall that creation was made subject to vanity. And it will be through man’s redemption that creation will be redeemed. Verse 22:
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (KJV)
I wonder how many do know that? But that’s the truth! Creation is groaning and travailing. If we could hear the voice of creation with the ear of the spirit, we’d hear continual groaning, sounds like the beginning of birth pains. And I’ll tell you those birth pains are coming closer and closer as we come very, very near to the birth of the new age.
“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit [those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit], even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (KJV)
Do you sometimes wonder why you have a kind of groaning within you? You say, “I’m baptized in the Holy Spirit, all should be joy and peace and happiness.” And yet here it speaks about the very people that have the baptism of the Spirit are the ones who are groaning. Why? Because we can see, first of all, how bad things really are, which most people can’t face; secondly, we can see how good they’re really going to be. And I said even as an unbeliever, I always remember this, I said to people, “If you’re not willing to acknowledge the darkness, you can’t see the light. If you’re not willing to face evil, you cannot appreciate good.”
And this is the truth. But through the baptism of the Holy Spirit we see the real nature of evil. We see the real nature of corruption and rebellion and all that’s evil and destructive. And we also see God’s solution which lies ahead at the end of the way.
And so we unite with creation in groaning in prayer in longing for the fulfillment of this vision that we have seen. And I must go on to point out that there’s one other groaning, which just makes the symphony complete. If you turn on in Romans chapter 8, verse 26, without going too much into the context ...
“Likewise the Spirit, [capital ‘s,’ the Holy Spirit] also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (KJV)
Can you see the triple groaning—there’s the groaning of creation, there’s the groaning of the Spirit- baptized believer, and there’s the groaning of the Spirit of God Himself. To me this is a tremendous and wonderful revelation.
People talk about the language of the Spirit, and they mean tongues. But that’s really not correct, tongues are the language of men or of angels. The real language of the Holy Spirit is this groaning that cannot be uttered. And it’s all directed towards the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption and that plan centers in us. And the plan of redemption cannot be fulfilled apart from us. So the whole creation is waiting for the manifestation of the glory of the sons of God. Creation knowing that their deliverance from the bondage of corruption depends upon our entering into our inheritance. Just as creation entered into bondage and corruption when Adam fell from his inheritance, the parallel actually is perfect.
Now, in connection with this word vanity, which is used in verse 20, let’s look at the words that follow in Romans that are associated with it. In verse 18 we have the word “sufferings,” and in verse 21 we have “bondage” and “corruption.” And in verse 22 we have “groaning” and “travail” and “pain.” These are all different aspects of what’s included in the one comprehensive word, vanity—frustration, futility. And its resolution can only come through the manifestation of the sons of God.
Now I do not believe this manifestation will be complete until the resurrection of the body. For in verse 23, it says, “we [are] waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of [the] body.” Until we receive our glorified bodies at the resurrection, this will not be complete. Nothing else will be a substitute for that. Many things will lead up to it and prepare for it, but the climax will not come before the revelation of the glorified bodies of the believers.
Turn to the first epistle of John, chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, and you’ll notice that John brings out the same truth—1 John chapter 3 verse 1 and 2:
Behold, what manner of love [that] the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (KJV)
And I have to point out to you, I don’t want to be controversial, but this title “sons of God” is not given to some particular, exclusive, overcoming group, but it’s all believers. We’re all called the sons of God.
“Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (KJV)
The world doesn’t recognize us as sons of God, because it didn’t recognize the Son of God, Jesus, when He came in human form. Verse 2:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God [already], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [We have not yet seen, it has not yet been revealed to our senses what we are going to be.]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (KJV)
This is the consummation. This is what all creation is waiting for. The appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory when we shall be transformed into a like glory. And we shall be like Him. This is the manifestation of the glory of the sons of God, this is the climax of the process of redemption which all creation is waiting for.
Now let’s look at two other passages that bring out the nature of vanity. Genesis chapter 3, verses 14 through 19, we find God unfolding the results of man’s disobedience. And we do not need to read the verses in detail, but notice and pick out the words. Genesis 3 verse 14, first of all, to the serpent:
“Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle.” (KJV)
Notice immediately after sin comes the curse. Verse 15:
“I will put enmity between thee and the woman ...” (KJV)
Enmity is the climax of disharmony, strife, conflict. So it’s the expression of them. There was no disharmony, there was no conflict, there was no strife up to that time. Then verse 16 says to the woman:
“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception ...” (KJV)
There was no sorrow, there was no struggling, there was no hard labor before that time. And then it says to Adam, verse 17:
“Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it ... [Verse 18, the manifestation of the curse in nature,] ... thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth ... [And then verse 19:] in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (KJV)
And I summed up that verse in two words—corruption and death. So in those verses of Genesis 3, we have these various words that present different aspects of what is meant by the total phrase vanity—curse, enmity, sorrow, thorns, thistles, corruption, and death.
Then there is one particular book in the Bible in which the theme really is vanity. How many of you know which book that is? Ecclesiastes. And this is really amazing that God has permitted Scripture to contain one book of which the theme really is vanity. If you turn to Ecclesiastes for a moment, you’ll see that in the second verse of the first chapter, the word vanity occurs 5 times in one verse. Ecclesiastes 1 verse 2:
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher [that’s Solomon], vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (KJV)
If ever anything set the keynote for the book, that’s it. Frustration, futility—everything is frustration, everything is futility.
Now that word vanity occurs 37 times altogether in the 12 chapters of this book, Ecclesiastes. There’s one other phrase that occurs 27 times, and that is the phrase, “things under the sun.” And a person cannot really understand the scope of Ecclesiastes unless he realizes that it’s limited to things under the sun. It deals with the visible, material world that’s under the light of the sun that’s affected by the sun. Whose growth and decay depends ultimately upon the sun. It’s the natural, visible, material, temporal world. Solomon at this time, I think you could say, was a backslider. And yet he was a divinely-inspired backslider. And for the benefit of all future backsliders, God permitted Solomon to give a picture of what the world looks like when you’ve got everything, but you’ve lost what I call the vision of the invisible. Solomon could see everything, and he had everything he wanted. He goes on to say, “And whatever my heart desired, I got it.” Music, art, culture ... and not the silly, vulgar pleasures, but the most refined and elegant and tasteful and intellectual. He had wisdom, art, beauty, culture, refinement—and yet, it was all dust and ashes.
The one recurring phrase, “vanity, vanity, vanity,” frustration, futility, foolishness, isn’t worth anything. Why? Because he was only looking at the things under the sun. He’d lost the vision that he once had of the eternal, unchangeable God and the world above.
You see, there is such a thing as having a vision of the invisible. And I’d like to just show you that for a moment. Turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Verses 17 and 18. 2 Corinthians 4, verses 17 and 18. Paul is talking as one who is in great affliction, persecution, suffering, but in midst of it all, he had perfect peace and confidence and joy because he hadn’t lost the vision of the invisible. Second Corinthians 4, verses 17 and 18:
“For our light affliction ... [And when you consider what Paul went through, it’s remarkable that he used the word ‘light’!] For our light affliction, which is for but a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (KJV)
Well now, listen, there’s a condition: affliction only works the purposes of God. It only does us good as long as we fulfill one condition. And what’s that?
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
If we lose the vision of the eternal, then affliction becomes meaningless. Suffering becomes purposeless. We rebel, we say why, why, why. Why did God allow this? Why does God do that? Why does the righteous die as the wicked? Why is there war? Why is there sickness? Why is there poverty? You see, you’ll find it doesn’t matter whether it’s inside or outside professing Christendom, those that have lost the real vision of God and eternal truth find life ultimately meaningless and frustrating. And as a matter of fact, I would put modern theologians at the top of the list of frustrated persons, because they’ve made the exactly the same mistake of Solomon—they’ve taken their eyes off the eternal, invisible realm and they could only see the things that are under the sun. And ultimately that always produces mental and spiritual frustration, just as it did with Solomon.
Let us look also at one other Scripture, which I love, about seeing the invisible. To me this is a gripping phrase. I don’t know whether it grips you, but to me it speaks. I think there is a book by Norman Grubb, called Touching the Invisible, I read a little part of it. But the best part of it, in my opinion, is the title, without being derogatory. And in a sense, there’s this thought that you can make contact with the invisible. And that’s what makes life meaningful and worthwhile. If you lose that, you’ve lost everything. Hebrews 11:27, speaking about Moses and the time of tremendous persecution when he was rejected by his own people, thrown out by the one that had brought him up, compelled to go away and spend forty years in a barren wilderness, looking after a little handful of sheep, it says this:
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (KJV)
That is the secret of endurance. If you lose sight of the one who is invisible, and the invisible realm of eternal, divine truth, the alternative is frustration. You can be a very sound, doctrinal Christian, but if you once lose that sight of the invisible, your problems, your sufferings, and the things that come your way will seem to you nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit. Just as they seemed to Solomon.
Now let’s look at this little excerpt, the first four lines of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, because to me, Shakespeare was a tremendous figure of the literary world. But I mean he was one of the great men of literature. And very discerning, that’s why his plays are still so live today, because he saw things as they really were and portrayed them that way. And those things that he saw haven’t changed. And this is what he said:
“When I consider everything that grows holds in perfection but a little moment, that this huge stage presenteth naught but shows wherein the stars in secret influence comment ...”
See, this is vanity, “Everything that grows holds in perfection but a little moment,” and though you are so interested and concerned and involved, somehow there’s an unseen force at work that you cannot calculate, you can’t guard against, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you reason, somehow something is going to move in and destroy your little Eden. Break your dream, break up your marriage, bring sickness, bring unfaithfulness, bring frustration. And notice, Shakespeare called it “the stars” and “secret influence.” And if you were to interpret the stars as being the evil, angelic forces of Satan, it would be an exact correspondence with Scripture. That’s exactly what the Scripture teaches. This is vanity. It’s unseen forces at work dashing human hearts and hopes, and it happens to all. And there is no escape by poetry, philosophy, art, culture, or even social progress. None of these things solve the problem of vanity.
There’s only one solution, it’s a spiritual solution. It’s to get the vision of the invisible. And God offers that through Jesus Christ. Apart from this, the whole creation hath been made subject to vanity. That’s the truth of the matter.
Now let’s look in closing briefly at the fifth result of Adam’s fall. Tremendously important, but we don’t need to state it at great length. But again it’s one of these results, if you do not appreciate it, you cannot understand Scripture. That’s really what it comes to. I’ve stated here in this way: the Adamic race became identified with Satan in guilt and rebellion, and therefore subject to God’s judgment.
Satan and his angels were already rebels. As far as I understand Scripture, they were already condemned to the lake of fire. For Jesus said in Matthew 25 that at a certain time He would say to the wicked of this world, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” The everlasting fire has been prepared from a long while back, I wouldn’t know how long, for the devil and his angels. It was not prepared for the human race. The devil and his angels have no alternative—that is their destination, no matter what happens. But the human race is offered, by God’s grace and mercy, an alternative. If human beings go there they go there not by necessity, but by choice. That’s the tragedy. But from many, many ages back, I do not know how far back, Satan has been a rebel in opposition to God, and under God’s ultimate judgment. But Satan’s subtlety consisted in involving the Adamic race. Because from then onwards, Satan was in position to say to God, “Well, God, I’m a rebel. I know Your just judgment.” I mean, maybe he’s had a glimpse of the lake of fire somewhere out in eternity. He knows where it is. He says, “That lake of fire over there, I know I’m headed for that, true enough. But just wait a moment, God, I want to point out one thing to You. You’re a just God, You can’t vary Your justice by one hair. Don’t forget, look down on that Adamic race. See those people? I know You love them, I know You made them for a special purpose, God, but don’t forget, they are guilty too. And when You send us to that lake of fire, You have to send them. Don’t forget, God.”
Now you may think this is over done, but I believe that Satan is insolent actually. And I’ve found Satan’s insolence in people that were activated by Satan. And I believe that Satan actually talks like that to God. In fact, there are certain passages of Scripture, particularly in the book of Job, where this is brought out. Let’s look at the statement there in Romans 3:19:
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith it to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (KJV)
The word “guilty” should be translated, I think, “subject to the righteous judgment of God.”
So Paul, in these opening chapters of Romans, points out that as a result of sin, the entire world has become subject to the righteous judgment of God. This is the truth. And because of this, Satan has a lever to use against God. Satan can, in a sense, hide behind God’s mercy toward the Adamic race. He uses this to prolong the period of his own rebellion and opposition to God. And notice that for this reason, it’s part of Satan’s plan, it suits his purposes, in fact it’s necessary for his preservation, that he points out to God continually the guilt of the human race. I think this is very, very important. We don’t realize that the whole issue turns around whether we are guilty or not guilty. Not merely for us, but for Satan. Notice, for instance, how busy Satan is, continually accusing the human race and resisting God’s attempts to bring forgiveness and reconciliation. For instance, in Job chapter 1, we read in verse 6:
“There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD [The ‘sons of God’ being the angels], and Satan came also among them.” (KJV)
As I pointed out in an earlier study, I believe that he previously had authority over that area of the universe which contained the earth, and that it was his business in those days to bring God regular reports of what was going on in his area of authority. And after he rebelled, he just kept it up as if there’d been no change. Which is also typical of Satan. So there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also amongst them. The Lord said:
“Whence comest thou? [And] Satan answered the LORD, From going to and fro in the earth ... walking up and down in it. [And the Lord said,] Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, ... [and so on]” (Job 2:2–3 KJV)
And Satan is very, very malicious and uncharitable: “Does Job fear God for naught?” Isn’t it because You’ve blessed him, protected him, provided for him? Take it all away and see how he’ll react!” And, strangely enough, God permitted that to happen.
Then, just quickly in Zechariah, the 4th chapter, Zechariah chapter 4, you’ll find ... chapter 3, you’ll find the scene where Joshua the high priest is seen in a vision by the prophet before the Lord. “Joshua, the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” Why? Because Joshua was going to be justified, made righteous. The Lord said of Satan:
“The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” (3:2, 3 KJV)
And the angel answered and spake of a verse:
“Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment.” (3:4 KJV)
Here is a picture of the sinner being acquitted and justified. Notice who’s right there to prevent it happening? Standing at his right hand to accuse him, bring up all his bad points—the old devil.
And then you’ll find that the Revelation 12:10 the picture is still in the future that Satan is described as the one who accuses the children day and night before the throne of God.
Now for many years, I wondered how that could be. But, you see, as a result of these studies, I’ve come to see that Satan has got to prove the human race guilty. It’s his only way of prolonging his own way. Because as long as he can prove us involved in his guilt, God cannot bring final judgment on him without bringing it upon us. The whole issue turns upon the fact of whether we are guilty or righteous. And I will seek to show you in further studies, that in actual fact God has made it possible for us to be righteous, but we have got to accept it! By faith and stand up to it, and apply it before the dethronement of Satan is made effective. In other words, grasping by faith the fact of righteousness, imputed to us through Jesus Christ, is the key to the overthrow of Satan. And if this is true, logically it follows that Satan will do everything in his power to prevent us from grasping this fact that we are made righteous. And this is actually the truth of it. Satan’s real primary attack on every believer in Jesus Christ is one thing—condemnation. To keep people from really understanding that they’re made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. Because his own protection depends upon this.
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