THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY
By Dan Luehrs
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work" (2 Thessalonians 2:7 KJV).
"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it" (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB)?
Yes, who can understand the mystery of iniquity in the heart? We can! God has given us the understanding in His word. Our job is to find the truth as if we were looking for lost treasure. Most people like a good mystery novel or movie to keep them on the edge of their seat in suspense. But when it comes to the mystery of iniquity (sin), they do not have a clue to its mystery or where they may find the answers as to why sin is still reigning in them after salvation. A mystery is something that is secretive or hidden from the understanding of most people. Paul wrote much about the mysteries of the kingdom of God so that we might have understanding in spiritual truth. "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself" (Ephesians 1:9 KJV). -- "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" (Ephesians 3:3-4 KJV).
The gospel message itself was even a mystery to the disciples of Jesus while He was ministering on the earth. When Jesus told them that He came to die on the cross they were puzzled and even tried to hinder Him from going to Jerusalem to do so. We must understand that while Jesus did come to die on the cross for us He also came to give us understanding in spiritual things wherein we are now living; things which we do not fully understand. "And He answered and said to them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted" (Matthew 13:11 NASB). Jesus came to give His called ones spiritual understanding in spiritual things, but to the rest of the world it has not yet given. It was a mystery then and remains one now to most of the people alive!
If we are going to understand and overcome the mysterious power of sin that lives within us we must first know that it is called by many different names in scripture, such as the flesh, the man of sin, the carnal nature, the spirit of disobedience, and the spirit of anti-christ. This spirit of sin has been reigning within every human being ever since the fall of man. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Ephesians 2:1-2 NIV). Unless we understand that the spirit of sin is alive and well in our sin nature and that its desire is to fully control us, we will not overcome it because we will be blinded to the truth! God told Cain, "… And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7 NASB). Many Christians falsely believe that when Jesus comes into their heart, the man of sin in them immediately dies and they will never have to war against the flesh again. This kind of thinking will only prove fatal to their Christian growth. The only way for sin to die in a Christian is for us to die to it daily. This is why it is called "being crucified," it hurts! Crucifixion is a very slow and painful way of dying. This is why so many of our sins just do not go away over night, they must be starved out! Whatever we feed in us will grow! If it is sin, it will grow to overcome us. If we feed the seed of God that has been planted within us it will grow to overcome the power of sin in us. We make daily choices upon what we feed.
I planted some grass seed in my front yard and watered it for weeks before the grass began to sprout and grow lushly. But soon after watering, I noticed that I had another problem, weeds! The same water that caused the good seed to grow also caused the weed seed to grow. The weed seed was already in the ground when I planted the good seed, but I could not see it. So instead of tearing up the lawn to plant the good seed over again I decided to pull up the weeds one by one when they had grown. The Lord used this to speak to me about the garden of my heart. For years I had wondered how sin could still be in my life after twenty years of being saved and of planting the word of God daily in my heart. He began to show me that when we are first saved and filled with the Spirit, the emotional excitement in our spirit could carry us for several years. But after awhile our old nature and the sins of the past grow and creep back into our lives slowly. Jesus clearly warns us of this in Mark 4:18-19, "Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." Don't you see? The seed of sin was always in our old nature (earth) even as the weed seed is in the ground, though we cannot see it until it is well watered and both the weed seed and the good seed grow together. "When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared" (Matthew 13:26 NIV). When God's seed is maturing in us and we are becoming more and more like Him, the weed seed at that time also begins to mature and appear in us and we feel sinful because of it. This must not discourage us; God will have all the weeds pulled out of us!
I know that Jesus lives in me, I know that Jesus is growing in me, I also know that His Spirit is working mightily in me, but what I see in my outward flesh doesn't correspond with what I know is on the inside of me. We are seeing the chaff that lies on the surface, but we are failing to discern the fully ripe kernel of wheat that lies within! The chaff is removed on the threshing floor at the time of the harvest. The tares are torn out of the field and burned in the day of harvest. Don't mistake the kernel of wheat with the chaff or the tares with the wheat! Just because we have this treasure in earthen vessels doesn't mean that the value of the treasure within is diminished!
So what should we do? We must pull out the weeds one by one when they have grown! It's not until the weed has grown large enough that we can pull it out anyway. I believe the Lord allows us to fight with certain sins for a time in our life so we are sick and tired of seeing those ugly weeds and will turn to Him for help in pulling them out and crucifying them. Unless we hate our sin we won't want it pulled out of the garden of our heart and instead could consider it to be a beautiful plant. In fact I have heard of people planting weed seed in their yard because they thought it was pretty until the weeds took over their whole yard! We must keep our garden clean for the Lord, for He is the only one that sees our garden, which is the place where we have daily fellowship with Him in spirit. We will certainly want to keep it clean for Him so that when He comes to walk in our garden, as he did with Adam, He will be pleased!
As Christians we must understand how sin gets power over us. Jesus came to die on the cross to set us free from sin's power! "For sin shall not have dominion over you…" (Romans 6:14 KJV). It is written, "Sin will not have power over us!" But the truth of the matter is, we still allow sin to reign in us at times. Why is this? James said, "… Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire (in his own heart), he is dragged away (controlled) and enticed (drawn into sin). Then, after desire has conceived (been planted), it gives birth (grows) to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15 NIV). Very simply, if we start a sin and let it grow like a weed, it will form into a habit and that habit will grow into a controlling monster that we cannot control in our own power. Once this takes place we will not be able to hide it any longer from others because the sin will have manifested from what was in our heart the whole time. As Christians our desire should be to become like Jesus, going from glory level to glory level into His likeness. But our sin will cause us to come away from His glory rather than going up in levels and our light of life will go out causing us spiritual death. James goes on to say in verse 16, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers." In other words, "Know and understand how sin can grow and progress in our life and destroy us!"
The progression of sin is fourfold:
1) We play with sin as if it is a cute rattlesnake, thinking it cannot harm us.
2) We reap a habit and advance in sin. It grows enough to require daily feeding.
3) We are then overcome by sin because it has grown into a large rattlesnake that bites us!
4) Then death comes to our spiritual life and tragically we have no fellowship with God.
When we get saved there are two powerful forces living inside of us that want to rule our thought and emotional life. Either the spirit of sin or the Holy Spirit will control us. The daily choice is up to us as we obey the truth that is in Jesus Christ. "Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32 NASB). As we abide in the truth, the truth has the power to set and keep us free from the power of sin and bondage. It is written! But we must know how to wield the sword and apply the truth to our lives, fighting back after we are saved. The sword of the spirit (the word of God) will set us free from the soulish carnal realm. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul (flesh) and spirit…" (Hebrews 4:12 NASB). We must know and understand that the truth will set us free!
KNOWING THE TRUTH
We must first know that sin is addictive. It does not matter if you can drink it, snort it, smoke it, shoot it, or look at it. All sin is addictive because it lies dormant in the flesh (earth). Given the right circumstances it can come to life and flourish whether we can get the drug or alcohol into our body or not! Drugs and alcohol is not the problem, quickened sin is! Lying, stealing, anger, gambling, evil words and thoughts, pornography, and all kinds of sexual sin is addictive because once it is started in our life it must be fed to keep growing. As we continually feed it on a regular basis it becomes a monster habit that we cannot handle or stop in our own power. We must know how to handle or exercise the word against the spirit of sin so that it does not get a hook in us. We must fight off these demonic powers that are manipulating our flesh over and over just as Jesus did in the wilderness when He spoke back to the devil, "It is written!" We must also get away from whatever is causing us to sin; we must flee from temptation to be freed from its clutches. Temptation is nothing but an evil spirit that is trying to lure us into being addicted to sin.
The only way for us to combat sin in the flesh is for us to plant the word of God in our heart. When we obey it, it has the power to deliver us from powerful addictions in our soulish nature. "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly (be teachable and) accept the word planted in you, which can save (deliver) you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:21-22 NIV). As we do what the word says we will break free from the powerful addictions and habits of the soul, going through withdrawal symptoms because of our dependence on the sin. Remember all sin is addictive, even false doctrines, because the sin nature wants to anchor itself into something other than God, even if it is a lie. When the power of sin is broken in our life through obedience to the word, our whole life will be shaken because our crutch in life is now broken. We were created to be addicted to God's presence alone, feeding upon His every word so that we are standing upon His sure foundation (the word), which cannot be shaken! As we speak the word out loud and obey it, the enemy and our soulish addictions must be broken because of the power of God's word. If God's word has the power to create life, what is our little addictions compared to that? We must quote scriptures to our adversary such as these:
"No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD" (Isaiah 54:17 NASB).
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31 KJV)?
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37 KJV).
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13 KJV).
"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4 KJV).
Now the question is, "How do we deny our sinful desires in the heat of battle?" Answer: by continuing to resist it! It may take a year or more to defeat it, but we will win in the long run if we do not give up! Sin never has to overcome a believer! Yet I must state, the longer we wait to defeat sin in our life, the longer it will take before our minds are renewed and we move on into the maturity of Christ. In fact, if we do not fight the good fight of faith against sin we could fight one certain sin for the rest of our life without maturing into His likeness. But if we will believe what the word already says, we can be free! "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ" (Colossians 2:11 NIV). When we come to Jesus and repent of our sins the Bible promises us that our old sinful nature was circumcised! The flesh has already been cut off; it is done deal between God and you! Hallelujah! Now we must tell that to our head and live it out on a daily basis. We must stop warring against God inside of us, for this is Who we really are battling against anyway - light against darkness!
"Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7 NASB).
"But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (1 Peter 5:9 NASB).
The word "resist" means, "to stand or endure against." Resistance works for our good. The things that hinder us most only work to make us stronger even as a weight lifter pushes against his heavy weights. So God allows the devil to work against us to make us stronger spiritually. When we resist temptation it only works to make us stronger as if we were a weight lifter in our spirit. As we resist temptation we become stronger and stronger against it. But as we yield to our sin we only become weeker and weeker, yielding to it the next time that we are tempted, and finally being overcomed by it.
"JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED"
It has always been hard for me to understand in this verse why God hated Esau so much until I saw in scripture that Esau is a spiritual type of the flesh; the carnal man that is living in all of us. The story of Jacob and Esau is an allegory of the warring between the sin and spiritual natures within mankind which will one day be defeated, just as it was when God wrestled with Jacob and He changed him. Paul said that Isaac and Ishmael were also an allegory, "For it is written that Abraham had two sons (Isaac and Ishmael), one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman (Law and promise)." -- "This is allegorically speaking: for these women are two covenants (Law and faith), one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves (to sin); she is Hagar" -- "But what does the Scripture say? "CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON (Law and sin), FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN (sin) SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN (son's of God)" (Galatians 4:22, 24, 30 NASB). Isaac (the promise) and Ishmael (the Law) fought against one another until they were separated by the word of the Lord. However, Jacob and Esau fought in the womb as to who would be first born. Our flesh (the sin nature) is the first born as Esau was, and God hated Esau! Our flesh and spirit (Jacob and Esau) have been warring inside of us against each another as these two did in the natural. Esau lived his whole life as a worldly man and even though Jacob started out as a deceiver, God changed him and his name from "Jacob," meaning, "deceiver" to "Israel," meaning, "He will rule as God or as a prince of God." (A prince is a son in a royal family). So it is with us, we are also promised a new name in Revelation 2:17, "I will give him a white stone, and a new name." As overcomers in this life we are promised to rule and reign as the sons of God with Christ! "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12 KJV). -- "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10 KJV).
Before Ishmael was born God named him and told Hagar that the boy would end up being a wild man against others. "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Genesis 16:12 KJV). After Isaac was born Ishmael gave in to his wild beast nature and started to persecute Isaac so much that Sarah became angry, insisting that Hagar and her son leave their household. "Wherefore she (Sarah) said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac." -- "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Genesis 21:10, 12 KJV). God told Abraham to listen to what his wife said and cast out the bondwoman and her son because Ishmael could not receive the blessing of the inheritance along with the Isaac. What does this mean for us? Our old sinful nature "the wild beast" (Ishmael), has been mocking and persecuting our spiritual life (faith), and the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God (the promise of sonship). "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Corinthians 15:50 NASB). Neither Ishmael nor Esau could receive the inheritance from their father because they represented the old Adamic nature, the flesh! And neither will we, if we are like them and living for the things of the flesh or the world. "For you know that even afterwards, when he (Esau) desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears" (Hebrews 12:17 NASB).
Notice that God told Abraham to "cast out" the woman and her son. God did not do it for him; rather He gave Abraham the authority of His word to cast them out of his household. We also must "cast out" of our household (our body) the bondwoman (the old Law) and her son (sin) if we want to inherit the promise! God has given us the authority in His word to cast out of ourselves the Law and sin and to cleanse ourselves with the power of His word. "If a man cleanses (casts out of) himself from the latter (fleshly and worldly things), he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work (the work of sonship)" (2 Timothy 2:21 NIV). (See also Col. 3:9-10, Rom. 13:12-14). We must cleanse or "cast out" of ourselves the man of sin through the power of God's word. God will not do it for us, He said, "CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON!" (Law and the seed of sin). We must "cast out" the seed of the serpent that has been crawling around in us ever since the fall of man. For it is written, "The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9 KJV). We have been given a marvelous command by God to "cast out" sin, and can do it through the help of Michael's and God's word (see Rev. 12:7). The name Michael means, “WHO IS LIKE GOD.” In other words, those "who are like God in character" will be given the grace to overcome and "cast out" the enemy and defeat sin in the flesh (mind). We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, "For the weapons (the word) of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (in the mind); Casting down imaginations, (arguments in the mind) and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God (the truth), and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Indeed our mind will be renewed by the power of God's word and Spirit and we will reign with Christ for one thousand years on earth. If we desire the full revelation of Jesus Christ in us, casting out our sin is a MUST, for that alone will bring forth the fulfillment to the promise of God! This is the perfect will of God for us!
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation (full deliverance from sin has come), and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him (cast him out) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:10-11 KJV).
When the man of sin is "cast out" of us, the "accuser" that lives within us will also be cast out! The "accuser" is another name for the seed of the serpent that lives within us because he accuses us day and night before God. To "accuse" means, "to charge with a shortcoming or wrongdoing." God lives within our heart and our enemy (the flesh) that lives within us is always trying to bring a voice of condemnation on us to make us feel guilty or bad about our performance as a Christian. We must not let his voice of lies within us deceive us any longer. We must resist his lies through the power of our testimony (God's word). The word "brethren" means, "one that is connected or is a kinsmen." Other than the Lord, the man of sin living in us is our closest kin; these two are continually warring against one another until the man of sin is completely cast out!
Satan is the master deceiver of the ages and if possible he will always try to deceive us in different ways. One of his most effective and deadly deceptions is not outward sin, but inward accusations! There is a reason why he is called "The accuser of the brethren… who accuses them before our God day and night." The man of sin works within us ceaselessly to try and hinder us from coming into the likeness of Jesus. The accuser within us says, "You're not good enough for God; you have sinned too much; God can't forgive you. Give up, you’re a failure at the Christian life; you don't pray enough, you're no good, nobody likes you; you're ugly; God cannot love you." His accusations within us go on daily as he tries to defeat us within our own heart! These vain imaginations within us must stop! We must condemn and overcome the voice of our accuser within ourselves and cast him out! "Every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn." If God is revealing the accuser to us at this time, it is so that we will recognize him and overcome him. There will be a people in these end-times that will cast him down and out of themselves; these are the overcomers! To overcome our accuser we must use these three methods to defeat him 1) Salvation (deliverance) through the blood of Jesus 2) Our testimony (the word of God) 3) Dying daily to the self-life.
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:6-7 KJV). The word "enmity" here means, "to be as an enemy and adversary like Satan!" When we are living by our own fleshly reasoning, we are agreeing with our "accuser" and are living out of our carnal nature rather than living in the truth of God's word. We are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
I believe that at this time in history God is giving His elect great grace to "cast out" the seed of the serpent and "IF" we will obey Him, we too will become "the Israel of God," ruling and reigning with Christ. (See Gal. 6:16). One day we too will inherit the blessing of full salvation (deliverance) and our mind and body will be changed into the likeness of Jesus in the twinkle of an eye. We will have put on fully the character and power of Christ. But we must press into the prize of the high calling! The right of sonship authority is not just given to anyone. This mill be given as the prize of our high calling by overcoming the flesh. Press on my friend into your high calling that is in Christ Jesus!
I see the Old Testament stories of Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau touching three different realms of time and space. First, both stories were true historical events taking place in the Middle East. Secondly, they are a spiritual snapshot of what is going on inside of every human being, especially Christians. The third one is the church at large. By this I mean that while the church is likened to a human body and also has two identities to it, an "Ishmael and Isaac." One identity is of the Spirit of God and the other is of the flesh (devil) that is wandering in the wilderness as Ishmael lived in the wilderness all the days of his life and was married to Egypt (the world). "And he (Ishmael) lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt" (Genesis 21:21 NASB). He lived in the wilderness of Paran, as does the rebellious church in pride. "Paran" means, "the exultation of self; pride." Does this not explain the sin and rebellion that is alive in the flesh and in the harlot church? Surely living in pride and rebellion will keep us living in the wilderness where the Law of God was given. It brought sin and death to all that heard and rebelled against it. Having a traditional church mentality will keep us living in the wilderness. We will die there if we do not repent (change our mind) from our false doctrines that are stealing the truths of God from us!
We are now living in an age where the literal Ishmaelite's are arising in the sinful nature of man as never before. Sin is abounding in our day. Every Arab-born child is a true Ishmaelite and today's Moslem terrorists are Ishmael's wild sons bringing havoc to the free world and to the message of Jesus Christ. They hate the spirit of freedom that God has given us in Jesus. These are men of the Law and their desire is to force everyone into their own beliefs, just like many Christians who want and try to force their beliefs and Laws onto others. Even though this war is going on in the world, the church, and our own flesh, we must rejoice because the Light will always triumph over the darkness! "These (the beast nature) will wage war against the Lamb (within us), and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful" (Revelation 17:14 NASB). The Lamb of God will soon slay the "beast" within man with the sword of His word. We win!
PO Box 341
Intercession City, FL 33848