(Rev 2:8-11 NRSV) “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: “I know your works and affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the fare of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.
The city of Smyrna
Smyrna was located about thirty miles north of Ephesus. It still exists today with a population of some 250,000 people. The name of the city has been changed and it is now called Izmir. Smyrna was a wealthy city that rivalled Ephesus in beauty and commerce. It had well-planned harbours with fine avenues, the sea in front and an acropolis behind and surrounded by seven hills Pagan temples of Apollo, Asclepia, Cybelle, Emperor Tiberius, and Zeus served the religious zeal of the people. Its superb school of medicine was well known in the empire.
The Church at Smyrna
The church in Smyrna was known as the “suffering church” because of their severe persecutions, and they were not told to repent. The Lord saw their trouble and tribulation, their poverty and imprisonment, their unswerving steadfastness and great faithfulness, and they did not need repentance. It was in their hearts to repent when the need arose, for the work of God ran deep in their lives. Considering all they would suffer, the Lord said to them,
Be faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. (Rev. 2:10).
The two churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, may represent the Lord’s elect and chosen remnant in the earth throughout the church age. The two witnesses of chapter eleven of the Revelation were named as lamp-stands. These two churches received no condemnation or reproof only promises. Of the two witnesses it is testified,
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two lamp=stands standing before the God of the earth. (Rev. 11:3-4).
Two lamp-stands (Two churches) are given a special standing and mission before God.
You are Rich.
I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, but you are rich … . (Rev. 2:9).
The saints in Smyrna were poor in this world’s goods; their possessions had been seized and confiscated under the severe persecutions of the Romans and the Jews. They were an oppressed and poverty-stricken people, yet the Lord said “But you are rich.” “The crucial verse in this message is also found in
II Corinthians 8:9. ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.’
Jesus was rich. Philippians 2:6 (Amplified) He was ‘essentially one with God and in the form of God, possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God; God.’ He stripped Himself of all and came to earth to be like one of us. He became poor. At the close of His earthly ministry, Jesus prayed to the Father.
‘I have finished the work which You gave me to do. Oh Father, glorify me with the glory which I had with You before the world was’ (Jn. 17:4-5).
He had given up that glory but now He has something He did not have then; a body given to Him through Mary. He asks to be glorified with the Father’s own self. God has done so and every knee will bow, every tongue confess Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
They say they are Jews
I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, . (Rev. 2:9).
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:2-3). Paul’s admonition to the saints in Philippi says, “Beware of the concision.” The word “concision” is an ironical expression used here to mean “mutilation,” that is, to cut off an essential part of; to render imperfect; to maim; to cut up; to destroy. It refers to the ritual of circumcision.
Paul constantly waged warfare against a class of believers known as Judaizers. These were Jews who coming to the places where Paul had ministered, crept into the midst of the believers who were both Jews and Gentiles after the flesh whom Paul had founded on the truth. They proclaimed error and sought to persuade the new converts that in order to truly please God they must be circumcised and keep the Mosaic laws given to Israel. By so doing, the law became the rule by which they measured their righteousness. They were placing their confidence of righteousness in the works of the flesh, in external observances, the things which they could or could not do, rather than in the power of Christ’s indwelling life.
We find the description of these Judaizers in
(Acts 15:1 NRSV) Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
(Acts 15:1-2 NRSV) Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders.
(Acts 15:5 NRSV) But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”
(Acts 15:24 NRSV) Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds,
Paul explained the reason for his opposition to circumcision.
(Gal. 5:1-6).”Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love”
To quench the spirit of Christ within or substitute some external thing for the inward anointing and not allow the life of the indwelling Christ to arise and live through us is to watch the sepulchre of Christ as if fearful Christ will arise. It is time to leave the shadowy imperfect outward observances and ordinances of the old order church systems which are for the most part borrowed and brought over from the Old Covenant and begin to lay hold upon those spiritual and eternal realties which belong to the kingdom of God within us. All who live by anything other than the Christ within are those who say they are Jews, but are not.
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The Synagogue of satan
but are the synagogue of Satan. (Rev. 2:9).
Generally human understanding associates Satan with all the evil in the world and the gross sins of the flesh. This may not be essentially correct. Every time Satan is written in the scriptures, the context reference has to do with religion—spiritual and heavenly things. This infamous being is engaged in leading people away from the Spirit of God; by hindering the Lord’s people in their fulfilling the will of God; persecuting them because of their testimony; accusing them before God; deceiving them by transforming himself into an angel of light; and sifting, trying, testing them that they may be strengthened, purified, and perfected.
Satan works through the carnal mind, but the spiritual realm and heavenly things are his concern. Not some hideous creature driving sinners to stoke coals in the depths of the underworld for Satan can be beautiful and very religious. Satan has a synagogue, a pulpit and a church. Not the one we hear so much about with weird rituals and midnight sacrifices of deluded cults but a meeting place hidden in the religious life of humankind.
Satan is first seen in the Garden of Eden, the garden of the Lord’s planting.
(Gen 3:1 NIV) Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Next he is standing up against Israel, provoking David to disobey the Lord by numbering Israel. This was a religious act, the carnal mind seeking comfort in numbers, rather than total reliance upon the Lord.
(1 Chr 21:1 NIV) Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
The third time he is in the presence of all God’s sons, presenting himself before the Lord, reporting for duty. He became the instrument of testing for righteous Job, which testing was initiated by the Lord, not Satan.
(Job 1:6 NIV) One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.
The final appearance in the Old Testament standing next to Joshua the high priest, resisting Him in His intercession for Israel.
(Zec 3:1 NRSV) Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
In the New Testament he first appears with Christ in the wilderness, quoting scripture, preaching his doctrine, just as he did with Eve in the garden
(Mat 4:1-11 KJV) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.  And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and sat him on a pinnacle of the temple,  And said to him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.  Jesus said to him, It is written again, You must not tempt the Lord your God.  Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;  And said to him, All these things will I give you, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.  Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shalt you serve.  Then the devil left him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Later, he is the instrument of God for the destroying of the flesh and carnality of believers who walk after the flesh.
(1 Cor 5:5 KJV) To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
(2 Cor 12:7 KJV) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
He transforms himself into an angel of light (spiritual illumination) (II Cor. 11:14).
(2 Cor 11:14 NIV) And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
Finally, he appears with an army of strong and mighty angels in heaven as the accuser of the Lord’s brethren
(Rev 12:3-9 NIV) Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.  His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.  The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.  And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Satan is religious. He seeks to enter into the arena of human souls and control and manipulate human thinking, understanding, and activity. Truly spiritual aims are geared toward unleashing the power of the new man, the inner son, the man of the spirit. Satanic aims are geared toward development of the soul. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the earliest doctrine of Satan) is a compendium of rules, doctrines, religious exercises tailored for the soul dominated man and followed by the carnal mind that wants only to be told what to think and what to do. The self life responds to this with great external flourish and pomp. Such sophistry becomes the core of a religious experience and practice built on fantasy, myth, folklore, tradition, program, pageantry, ceremonies, rituals, works—everything except the power and life of the spirit. This is religion—and religion is the synagogue of Satan.
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Casting into Prison
Fear none of those things which you shalt suffer: behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you will have tribulation ten days. (Rev. 2:10).
The Lord told the church at Smyrna that the devil would be permitted to cast some of them “into prison” that they might be tried, and they would be afflicted “ten days.” In the spirit, prison represents a state of bondage, restriction, and limitation in which the afflicted one has lost spiritual liberty. He is no longer in control of what is happening to him, nor is he free to decide for himself about the things that touch his life.
The condition that builds character in the life of an over-comer and matures them, perfecting and making them strong is when God surrounds them, hedges in and shuts them up to His dealings and His will. We love to be free and blessed, but on the pathway to overcoming we lose our freedom. God will let you run free if all you want to do is be blessed and go to heaven when you die. But like Joseph of old, if you are destined for the throne, you will be thrown into a pit and cast into prison for perfection demands suffering, trial, testing, tribulation, and proving. Overcoming requires the dealings of God to conform one to the image and likeness of Christ who was Himself, perfected through the things He suffered. Character is formed through discipline and hardship. Growth, development, and maturity in God come through the chastening of the Father.
To every developing son the Father says, “I am going to limit you here, put you through pressure there, subject you to suffering, teach you obedience, hedge you in and compass you about with infirmity, break your fleshly will and subdue your carnal mind, make you humble and pure, It will work compassion, grace, understanding, tenderness, love, faithfulness, goodness, strength—work divine nature and character in you so that out will flow a river of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption; and a flow of power, enabling, and divine ability.
There are no theoretical, self-appointed rulers on Christ’s throne. The devil will cast some of you into the prison of confinement, limitation, breaking, suffering, patience, and endurance that you may be tried; and you will have tribulation “ten days.” “Be faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.” “Faithful to death” means more than just “toughing it out” until your heart stops beating. Be you faithful to death—He doesn’t say be faithful until death, but to death—to the death of your carnal mind, human consciousness, natural reasoning, your own will and way, to the death of your fleshly aims, dreams, hopes, plans, and purposes, to the death of every one of your religious traditions, activities, exercises, and entanglements—and God will then crown you with life, the incorruptible life of God’s glorious Christ.
Tribulation ten days
The devil will cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you will have tribulation ten days. (Rev. 2:10).
Ten is the number in scripture represents completeness, and this trial and testing is carried to its full extent, and lacking nothing that could make it thorough and perfect, as a test. It comes as the climax of the whole picture of the sufferings to which the typical church of Smyrna was to be exposed. That which is complete, yet of limited duration.
Ten is very frequently employed in scripture, and often in the book of Revelation. Before the heart of the Pharaoh of Egypt was inclined to let the children of Israel go to serve their God, ten plagues were sent upon the land. The whole of the law of God was summed up in Ten Commandments. The Lord Jesus in His parables spoke of ten virgins having ten lamps, and of servants entrusted with ten pounds whom He will place over ten cities
Our trials and testings are associated in the scriptures with the function of Satan.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (tested) of the Devil. And when the Tempter came to Him, he said, If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Mat. 4:1-3).
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan has 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. (Lk. 22:31-32).
Behind the acts of Satan is the hand of God working to bring forth gold from these earthen vessels, David, understood this
‘It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes’ (Ps. 119:7).
Our God of might and power has all things in His hand—even this adversary whom we call Satan.”
There are evils lurking in the carnal mind and fleshly nature of us all for which there is no deliverance except through the crucible of suffering and pain and discipline; even as the dross found mixed with pure gold in the ore can only be separated and eradicated through the fiery furnace. The more we are exposed to adverse circumstances, the more we have to wrestle with our environment, the more we are challenged by the world around us, the stronger we become. If we would be sons of the most high, we must be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
,, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as yough some strange thing happened to you: but rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory will be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Pet. 4:12-13).
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing): for when he is tried, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him. (James 1:12).
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they come to test your faith, and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots. (James 1:2-4, Phillips).
All tribulation takes up its vital significance when the Father through His grace reveals to the child of God His master plan for the ages. His design to effect a universal reconciliation, restitution, and restoration through the agency of a royal race of kings and priests who through trial, suffering, and tribulation have come to the image of Jesus Christ,. A people to reign and work with Him in the plenitude of His wisdom, the fullness of His understanding, the perfection of His holiness, the infiniteness of His love, the beauty of His justice, and the omnipotence of His power. Mature sons of God having the mind of God, discerning all things, knowing all things and having the perfect nature, character, and ability to carry out the intricate and infinite will of God—Among that perfect, omnipotent order of kings and priests there will be no carnal minds, no fleshly actions, no selfish desires, no self-serving, no weakness, no limitation, no character flaws, no mistakes, no dissensions, no disobedience; but with justice and wisdom and righteousness and compassion and love and power will they rule the nations, and ultimately the vastnesses of the unbounded heavens until all things everywhere are subdued to Christ, and Christ will present a perfect kingdom to the Father.
The Crown of Life
Be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. (Rev. 2:10).
The crown has been the symbol of sovereignty, whether by secular monarch or by sacred priest. Two Greek words are translated “crown” in English. Stephanos, a “wreath,” or “chaplet.” and diadema, a “diadem.” The most common term is stephanos. This crown is usually a laurel wreath woven of fragrant branches. It was granted to winners in the Games and also as a token of public honour for distinguished service—especially victorious military leaders. It was also given at marriage feasts, especially in royal families, to celebrate the joy of the bridegroom in having “won” the maiden as his bride. This crown always denotes the victor’s crown—the crown of an overcomer—one who has fought and won. This is the crown that is promised to the overcomers of the church in Smyrna—the ones who are faithful to death.
The athlete trained and ran to obtain a corruptible crown. The green leaves of the laurel wreath would soon dry up, turn into a faded brown and crumble into oblivion. The branches soon became dead and brittle. The crown of the overcomer is incorruptible and will never fade away in death—it is the crown of life itself.
A victor’s Crown is granted as a reward for faithfulness—it is the trophy earned by steadfastness, perseverance, and carrying the battle onward to victory. We, have a choice. We can dodge the obstacle if we wish. But we do it to our own hurt. Our King will reward us if we faithfully overcome in each test. The crowns prepared for the overcomer are received by pressing on to victory.
Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we will reap, if we faint not. (Gal. 6:9).
Faint (quit) in your fulfilling of the Lord’s will and you will reap no reward. That is the law of sowing and reaping.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. (II Jn. 8).
The word translated “wrought” is also translated “gained.” The message is clear: it is possible to lose rewards which we have gained. Be faithful to the end of the journey, to the completion of the process, to receive the full reward.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. (Rev. 3:11).
. If we do not stay faithful all the way to the end, we will lose the crown which we have already gained. “The end” is not when your heart stops beating, the end is the laying hold upon the promise, the receiving of the inheritance. If we are not faithful to the end, and lose our crown, somebody is going to receive it. The Greek word for “take” here is lambano. It is also translated “receive.” It is not that some other person is going to snatch your crown from you … but God will have a people, a first-fruits, to display the fullness of His life to creation. Should we fail to follow on to become that people, God will raise up another generation, just as He did with the children of Israel who refused to believe Him and enter into the Promised Land. That is the law of the kingdom.
it is the overcomer who receives the crown of life.
Overcomers are only able to fully overcome by virtue of being made partakers of the divine nature. To be “crowned” means to be given kingly authority. As the kingly authority and dominion of the divine nature is raised up in our lives, ascending the throne of our heart to reign within us, we are crowned—both ruled by the spirit and made rulers—not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of a divine life. The crown is that life.
There is a dimension of His life which is a free gift and another dimension of His life which is given as a result of overcoming.
Scriptures speak of the life which is a free gift by faith.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Jn. 3:16).
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23).
Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. (Rom. 5:18).
Other verses reveal a realm of life which is not a free gift .
blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing); for when he is tried, he will receive the victor’s crown of life. (james 1:12).
Know you not that they which run a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run. (I Cor. 9:24-25). “To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7).
This “crown of life” is reserved only for the Victors—the Overcomers.
Paul had not yet (in his opinion) qualified for this “crown of life”
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 the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him. (Phil. 3:7-9).
Surely Paul did not have to go through all that sacrifice, humiliation, and death in order to have Christ in his life—to be saved. Paul explained to the Philippian jailer the simple requirement for salvation:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shalt be saved, and your house. (Acts 16:31).
But in chapter three of Philippians Paul continues,
that i may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; if by any means i might attain to the resurrection of (out from among) the dead. not as though i had already attained, either were already perfect: but i follow after, if that i may apprehend that for which i also am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (phil. 3:10-12).
The apostle is not speaking here of the broad truth of “the resurrection of the dead,” Everyone must rise again.
There will be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust. (Acts 24:15).
The resurrection “of the dead” is nekron or ton nekron and is applied to all classes of people but the term ek nekron—”out of the dead”—is not once applied to the unjust or the ungodly, or in any general sense. The resurrection of which Paul spoke was not the general resurrection of all saints. Paul knew that he was a saved man, and as such knew there was positively no way he could escape the resurrection of the just. If there were but one resurrection of the saved, as the church systems teach, then all of his strivings were altogether uncalled for and useless.
Paul was not fruitlessly striving for something and so he wrote to the saints at Philippi,
But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as one combined loss for Christ’s sake. Yea, furthermore I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege—the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth and the supreme advantage—of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more clearly and fully. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish in order that I may win Christ … that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from his resurrection; and that i may so share his sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into the likeness of his death, in the hope that if possible i may attain to the resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body. not that i have attained this ideal or am already made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me. (Phil 3:7-12, Amplified).
The resurrection “of” the dead is one thing, but the resurrection “out from among” the dead is a different thing. If all the people in a building leave it at the same time, it is the coming out “of” the company; but if only some of the people present leave, theirs is a coming out “from” the rest of the company. It was for this resurrection “out from” the dead that Paul longed continually. This was the bright and blessed hope that shone upon his soul and cheered him among the sorrows and trials, the toils and the difficulties, the buffetings and the conflicts. Every soul who dies, both saint and sinner, must be in the resurrection “of” the dead, for, as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive. There is no possible way of avoiding it. Christ has bought it and paid for it.
To be a partaker, of the resurrection “from among” the dead, to attain to that resurrection that lifts us out from among the dead even while in the body—that, is a special blessing and distinction for those who follow on to know the Lord. The”perfection” or “completeness” in the full stature of Christ is the prerequisite. These not only are clothed with everlasting life in the spirit, they are invested with such incorruption and immortality in spirit, soul, and body, as to be forever and completely beyond the capacity to sin or the capability of death. This happens while we are walking around on two feet. This is not merely never-ending spiritual life, but a crown of life—god’s own divine and eternal life in the fullness of himself.
This, ., is that resurrection “out from among” the dead, even the “crown of life” which is that full salvation that includes the plentiousness of His incorruptible life, nature, and power. It is the full salvation of spirit, soul, and body in the here and now, a victory so complete, so powerful, so divine and eternal, that there is no possibility of ever sinning or dying again. And while I have called it a “salvation,” it is more than salvation, it is something beyond salvation, an attainment, the PRIZE of a quality and dimension of life the first Adam has never known. Not even in Eden. For in Eden Adam could sin and Adam could die. But these overcomers possess the very fullness of the divine nature. They are not merely “saved by grace,” but have totally laid down their own lives and completely taken up HIS. They are an incorruptible and immortal people spiritually, soulically, and bodily.
There are more than one level, degree, plane, or dimension of life in the world of the spirit. All men are not created equal. The scriptures are clear that God’s overcoming elect will have not only a never-ending life, but a quality of life, a maturity of life, a power of life, a character of life, a fullness of life, a dominion of life, that makes them kings. crowned with life. reigning in life. Every little child has human life. With that human life they can play with dolls, toy trucks, and do other childish things. Yet, there is a development of that human life that makes some men great. They become the men of accomplishment, the heroes, men of recognition and power whose names fill our history books. In like manner, any child of God with God’s life can go to heaven and play a harp. But only overcomers are crowned with life—Life to reign with Christ upon His throne;the power of an endless life.
.” speaking of the earthly tabernacle of flesh, he writes, “for we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (body) were dissolved, we have a building of god, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we will not be found naked. for we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed (put off our body), but clothed upon (our house from heaven put over top of this tabernacle), that mortality might be swallowed up of life. now he that has wrought us for this selfsame thing is God. (ii cor. 5:1-5).
God will have an incorruptible people. Those who will overcome all things. Kings and priests. Reigning in God’s own nature. reconciling the world, subduing the kingdoms and restoring all things.
Not be hurt of the second death
he that overcomes will not be hurt of the second death. (Rev. 2:11).
It does not say that the overcomer experiences nothing of the second death, that they do not pass through it, or that its work is not wrought in their lives; but they will not be “hurt” by it. It is possible to pass through the most terrible experience and not be hurt by it.
And these three men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in havee, and spake, and said to his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said to the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they HAVE NO HURT; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God”(Dan. 3:23-25).
When you passeth through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: and when you walkest through the fire, you shalt not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you. (Isa. 43:2).
The word “hurt” is from the Greek adikeo meaning to be unjust, do wrong, injure, or offend. To paraphrase Revelation 2:11 thus: “He that overcomes will not be done an injustice, wronged, injured, or offended by the second death.” The great difference between the carnal man and the child of God is that the carnal man is taken hand and foot and “cast” into the lake of fire, fighting, kicking, screaming, cursing, and resisting all the way, while the child of God willingly and obediently walks into the fiery processing of God hand in hand with his Redeemer. One way or the other, all men must die to sin.
When the natural man becomes the spiritual man, the great change is described by the Holy Spirit as a passing from death to life. Before the transition occurred, the practical difficulty was this: How to get into harmony with the new environment of the kingdom of God. No sooner do we enter into the kingdom of God than the problem is reversed. The question now is: How to get out of harmony with the world, the flesh, and the devil. The moment the new Christ life is quickened within there comes a great anxiety to break with the old, for the regenerated spirit has nothing in common with the old. The former way of life now becomes embarrassing. Because of “sin in our members” it refuses to be dismissed from our consciousness. It competes doggedly with the new nature of the Christ. In a hundred ways the former traditions, the memories and passions of the past, the fixed associations and habits of the earlier life, now draw us to walk after the flesh, complicating the new walk. The complex and bewildered soul, finds itself confronted by two contrasting faculties—the flesh and the spirit—each with urgent but incompatible claims. It is a dual consciousness of a double world, a world whose inhabitants are deadly enemies, and engaged in perpetual civil war. The position is perplexing. It is clear that no man can attempt to live both lives. No man can walk both after the flesh and after the spirit anymore than one can walk down two roads at the same time. The acolyte will agree with the apostle who wrote:
For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out; for I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds I do not desire to do are what I am ever doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it—it is not myself that acts—but the sin (principle) which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law of my being that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands. For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self—with my new nature. But I discern in my bodily members—in the sensitive appetites and will of the flesh—a different law at war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs—in the sensitive appetites and will of the flesh. O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am. Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death?. (Rom. 7:18-24, Amplified).
To walk both after the flesh and after the spirit is morally impossible. “No man,” as Christ so often emphasized, “can serve two masters.” Yet, the quickened child of God being is in relation to both worlds—flesh and spirit. Is it not because we are in our constitution both flesh and spirit? Who can deny it. Someone says, “But my old man is dead.” Yes, the old man is dead, but if you are still living in a body that has fleshly desires, your flesh is not dead.. Because of the spirit within and the flesh without we are brought into relation with two realms—sin and righteousness, light and darkness, truth and error. Therein lies the warfare. What is to be done in such an emergency? How can the inner son deliver himself from the ever-persistent call of the flesh?
The ready solution of the difficulty is—to die. not for our “old man” to die, for he is already crucified with Christ, but for us to die to sin, or to kill the evil desire lurking in our bodily members. Recognize as dead what God says is dead and put to death what God says is still alive and should be put to death. To say the “old man is crucified” but know there is more. Consider what God says is dead and what God says we are to put to death.
So kill the evil desire lurking in your members—those animal impulses and all that is earehly in you, that is employed in sin: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry. (Col. 3:5, Amplified).
To die to any reality is to withdraw from all communication with it. The solution is for the spiritual life to reverse continually the processes of the fleshly life. The spirit man having passed from death to life—the fleshly man must next proceed to pass from life to death. Regeneration of the spirit in short must be followed by the degeneration of the flesh, the carnal mind. And this death process is the second death—the death of death. Now it is no surprise to find that this is the process everywhere described and recommended by the Holy Spirit. Paul asked the question,
Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
(Rom 7:25 KJV) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set of what is above—the higher things—not on the things that are on the earth. For as far as this world is concerned you have died, and your new real life is hid with Christ in God. So kill the evil desire lurking in your members … put away and rid yourselves of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander and foul-mouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips. Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old unregenerate self with all its evil practices, and have clothed yourself with the new spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge, after the image of Him who created it. (Col. 3:1-10, Amplified).
All men will die to sin. Some lovingly submit to God’s dealings that the dreadful death of the carnal mind in their members may be “mortified” or “put to death,” while others must be subdued and broken under the severe heat of refining fire. The former pass through the death to self—but are not “hurt” by it. By dying in a living and active faith to everything of the flesh, and living by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, a perfect work is wrought in which everything that is in any way opposed to God is brought to death. These become what God seeks in order to satisfy His heare. In the measure that we are identified with the cross of Christ, and made conformable to His death, in which it is no longer our will but HIS, in that measure we are “dying out” to the first death, via the process of the second death, the death of death, our whole being coming up in the likeness of His resurrection.
The second death—the destruction of the carnal mind and its hostility and enmity against God—is not to be feared by the called out overcoming elect of God—it is God’s arrangement where all the effects of the first death will be disannulled, and all carnal-mindedness will cease. For us who willingly submit to this process “no man takes our life from us, we lay it down.” But for those who will not lay it down, it will be taken from them.
There are multitudes who will resist God until the extreme measures He must use to subdue them are beyond our comprehension. For them the second death will hold terror, and will prove a most painful experience.
He that overcomes NOW will not be hurt by the second death.