Overcoming the Resistance of Death, the last enemy
Jan 11, 2014
The prayer campaign called “Overcoming Resistance” officially ends at sundown today. That is also when my 5-day fast will end.
Last night I received a call from a long-time friend named Kevin Peters. He is from Houston and is the one who organized our Houston Tabernacles conference in October of 2004.
That conference in 2004 included the revelation of the fifth bowl of water and wine poured out on the earth, as well as the fifth sign in the book of John. This sign in John’s gospel portrayed Jesus walking on the water, which, according to Matthew 14:29, was also when Peter walked on the water.
For this reason, Kevin Peters was a sign correlating with the fifth sign in John, seen again more recently in super-typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
On the phone, Kevin told me of a dream that he had on January 8 on the second day of the prayer campaign. He dreamed that he has been raised from the dead without actually dying first. He said that he was absolutely “blown away” by this. The vivid dream caused him to experience for himself how this present bodily condition was a “tomb” in comparison to the resurrection life that God is preparing for us.
Though Paul speaks of “the body of this death” in Romans 7:24, it is difficult for us to grasp what is meant by this. Having been born into “this body of death,” we are used to it and have no way to compare it to what shall be ours when we are “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Until we actually experience this, we will never truly know the mortal condition that we currently walk in so naturally.
Kevin’s dream caused him to experience this contrast personally, giving him revelation of both life and death. He believed that this revelation was directly related to his participation in this prayer campaign.
Later, as my wife and I prayed about this, the Lord confirmed Kevin’s dream as a genuine revelation. When we asked for Scriptural confirmation, He gave us four verses, two of which spoke of death. The first is the problem, the next is the solution:
(Job 17:13) “If I look for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darkness.”
(John 19:41) “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been laid.”
In other words, it is the death of Christ that overcomes mortality and gives us life. Resurrection is victory over the tomb. The Father also gave us Colossians 2:22, 23, which should really be read in the context from verse 20,
20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement, and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
The primary revelation in these verses, we were told, was that it related to the traditions of men, which spring from the carnal mind, brought about by mortality, the sentence of death that was passed down to all from Adam (Romans 5:12).
This told us that the immediate purpose of the prayer campaign was to resist the traditions of men coming from the carnal mind. Any dependency upon the flesh makes us “children of the flesh,” as Paul says, using Ishmael as his example in Galatians 4:29. Paul’s comments on the Old and New Covenants in Galatians 4 tell us that “the present Jerusalem” of Galatians 4:25 contrasts with “the Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26.
In other words, the contrast is earthly vs. heavenly. Hebrews 11:16 makes it clear that the city Abraham sought was a heavenly city, not an earthly city made by human hands. Hebrews 12:22 calls it “the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Paul goes on to say that the earthly city is Hagar, and that her children (followers) are spiritual Ishmaelites, who are not the chosen inheritors of the Kingdom—regardless of their genealogical claim as the seed of Abraham. In the end, both Hagar and Ishmael were “cast out” (Galatians 4:30).
As a son of Abram, Ishmael was born through “natural childbirth” in the usual manner. But Isaac was born through the promise of God (Galatians 4:28) in a supernatural way. That is also why Ishmael was the son of Abram, but Isaac was the son of Abraham. It is the same person, except for the Holy Spirit. When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, He inserted a hey (ה) in the middle of his name, the breath of God.
This shows that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (through Pentecost) is necessary to beget the inheritors. Abram could not beget Isaac until He was given the Holy Spirit. So in the first century, those who rejected Christ did not receive Pentecost. Instead, as fleshly children, they remained the seed of Abram and Hagar, not of Abraham and Sarah.
Hence, Judaism and its adherents remained children of Hagar-Jerusalem and its traditional interpretation of the law, ““Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (Colossians 2:21). They were focused upon not touching certain things that might make them “unclean,” or cleansing by water and blood. The laws of cleansing were changed to a better form under the New Covenant, for now we are cleansed by the water of the word (John 15:3) and by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:7). See also Hebrews 9:21-23.
The bottom line is that the children of the flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom. In other words, Jews (followers of Judaism) are spiritual Ishmaelites and not inheritors. Likewise, all other religions are “children of the flesh” in a broad sense, for none of them are begotten by Abraham and birthed by Sarah (the New Covenant).
The problem comes when Christian believers show themselves to be partial “children of the flesh.” Though they are justified by faith and profess to be based on the New Covenant, many of their beliefs remain linked to the Old Covenant. In the first century the conflict was between Paul and the Judaizers, as seen in Paul’s writings. Such Judaizers had a mixture of Old and New Covenant belief and practice.
Peter (called Cephas) himself had difficulty with this very problem, as Paul said in Galatians 2:11. As an apostle to the circumcision (Galatians 2:9), Peter was also a prophetic type of that part of the church that would have this mixture. He is the example of those believers who would also become “children of the flesh.”
Believers who are “children of the flesh” are those who adhere to the old Jerusalem as their “mother” (that is, they believe that an earthly or fleshly Jerusalem is or will be the capital of the Kingdom). For Islam it is Mecca. For other groups it is other earthly locations. It is not that the Kingdom is purely in heaven, of course, for New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth (Revelation 21:2). New Jerusalem must be manifested in the earth, but it is not a city or country made with hands. Even so, the spiritual city indwells the earth, even as our bodies are temples of God’s presence.
Whether or not one is a child of the flesh is ultimately known only to God, but Paul gives us various clues by which we may know the difference. In Galatians, he speaks primarily of fleshly circumcision, which was the main issue of his day. But also, in linking the Old Covenant to Jerusalem in Galatians 4, he gives us a broader pattern of fleshly thinking, which is really defined more thoroughly in the book of Hebrews.
In other words, if we depend upon the old form of worship—or think that this old form of worship will be the ultimate way to worship God in the Age to come—then Hagar is our mother, whether we know it or not. The futurist view of prophecy (Dispensationalism) is based upon Hagar being the mother of the church. It teaches that the present Age of Grace is temporary (just long enough to bring in some “gentiles”), and then the door will close, and we will go back to the Age of Law as originally established by Moses, complete with a temple in Jerusalem, animal sacrifices, and priests of Levi. This is Hagar-centric religion at its best, and it has now morphed into Christian Zionism.
One of the main symptoms of fleshly religion is the belief that the “chosen people,” i.e., God’s “elect,” are those born on earth by natural childbirth to a particular genealogy. Not only do they depend upon their genealogy from Abraham, but also from the first Adam, who was “of the earth, earthy” (1 Corinthians 15:47). The sons of God are not those begotten of the first Adam or of Abraham. The sons of God are those who are begotten of the Spirit.
As I have explained so often, spiritual birth means that we are begotten by the Holy Spirit, not by our earthly fathers. The law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10, which was later illustrated in the story of Ruth, shows the distinction between biological sons and legal sons. Because “the law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14), we may refer to legal sons also as spiritual sons, as long as we define “spiritual” lawfully.
Biological sons are children of the flesh. Legal sons are the children of Jesus Christ. He died childless. We are His brethren, called to raise up seed to our elder Brother. The holy seed that has been begotten in us by the Spirit is incubated in our bodies, but—like Jesus Himself—is the offspring of a virgin birth when we are overshadowed by the Spirit.
This holy seed in us is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). It is the real YOU, but it is also legally “Christ,” that is, His Body. That spiritual embryo is the only true heir of Abraham that will inherit the Kingdom as an overcomer. The rest of the believers (church) will be justified and saved, but they will not rule and reign with Christ as overcomers. As I said, only God knows the hearts of men perfectly, but when we view the law with New Covenant eyes, we can understand Paul’s perspective on the children of promise and the children of the flesh.
Anyone who depends upon their genealogy to be an overcomer—or even as a believer in general—needs to consider these things. Not only is our salvation based upon a spiritual experience, but also the next step in becoming an overcomer. What was begun in the spirit through justification (Passover) is not now completed by the flesh as we strive to become overcomers (Tabernacles). In Galatians 3:3 Paul asks the Judaizers,
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Such carnal belief systems are part of the “traditions of men,” which spring from the carnal mind in a mortal body.
The final (4th) Scripture that God gave us last night was Hebrews 13:14-16,
14 For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. 15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
This was written in the context of the previous verse, Hebrews 13:13, where Paul admonishes the people to go “outside the camp,” that is, to leave Jerusalem behind and seek another city. That, of course, is the primary purpose of the book itself. The book is called Hebrews, because a Hebrew means an immigrant, one who crosses over to another place. In fact, in the original language it is Heber, spelled ayin-beth-resh. The beth-resh is “bar,” which means a Son. The ayin is an eye, which means to see or manifest.
Hence, a true Hebrew is one who is able to immigrate from the Old Covenant way of thinking into a New Covenant faith and thus achieves the manifestation as a Son.
For further information, see my commentary on Hebrews.
I had not intended to get into this topic again, because I understand that it is divisive. However, the fourth Scripture that God gave us said in Hebrews 13:16, “do not neglect doing good and sharing.” He then said that I was to share this with you by weblog. The same passage treats this as a “sacrifice of praise.” Judah means praise. This is another play on words, showing that the true “praise of God” in Romans 2:28, 29 is to recognize the true Judeans (“Jews”) as Paul did. Doing so can bring conflict with the children of the flesh who differ in their viewpoint, as we see happening to the Apostle Paul. But teaching this truth is an acceptable “sacrifice” to God.
This prayer campaign, then, has been our prayer to know the truth so that we may all root out the traditions of men (idols) from our hearts. And in the end, the answer will come in a greater way, resulting in the “change” from mortality to immortality. Death is the root of all Resistance to the divine plan and the glory of God. Mortality is the seed from which all sin and sickness springs. Our prayer is to overcome and then remove all Resistance from the last enemy, death (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Dr. Stephen Jones