November 15, 2013
Some years back, Della and I were at Saint Paul Island, Alaska helping my parents. Dad's health was failing and he needed to get off the island for some medical attention, so we put aside our personal affairs for about a year to help prepare for the winter ahead.
Della had taken the opportunity to enroll in some extension courses being offered by the University of Alaska while there and headed out the door one night for her computer class. Less than a hundred feet from the front door, she was stricken with a severe attack on her kidneys. The doctor had already told her that her kidneys were failing and that she should expect major surgery in the months or years ahead. The potential for a kidney transplant loomed in the background.
She managed to make it back to the house to tell me what she was fighting and then passed out from the excruciating pain. I picked her up and carried her across the way to the church building where we had our bedroom. Laying her on the bed, I knelt down, placed my hand on her abdomen and began praying in tongues with a great deal of volume (!) and continued on for some 30 minutes nonstop.
She awoke and sat up on the bed, tested things rather gingerly and realized that she was totally pain-free. The evidence of the miracle that had taken place, however, took place over a period of weeks and months as we both realized that the Lord had healed her completely of all kidney issues. That took place some 25 years ago, and to this day, Della has been completely free of kidney problems and all related pain. She was delivered from what had been years of kidney issues and recurring pain.
My sharing of this event is simply to make you aware that sometimes it is that kind of persistence which is required to bring about the miracle(s) of healing we need.
Once again we pick up with our discussion from Mark 9:41-50 from the Amplified Version:
"For I tell you truly, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to and bear the name of Christ will by no means fail to get his reward. And whoever causes one of these little ones (these believers) who acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin, it would be better (more profitable and wholesome) for him if a [huge] millstone were hung about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
"And if your hand puts a stumbling block before you and causes you to sin, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to go into life [that is really worthwhile] maimed than with two hands to go to hell (Gehenna), into the fire that cannot be put out.
"And if your foot is a cause of stumbling and sin to you, cut it off! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter into life [that is really worthwhile] crippled than, having two feet, to be cast into hell (Gehenna).
"And if your eye causes you to stumble and sin, pluck it out! It is more profitable and wholesome for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell (Gehenna),
"Where their worm [which preys on the inhabitants and is a symbol of the wounds inflicted on the man himself by his sins] does not die, and the fire is not put out. For everyone shall be salted with fire. Salt is good (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltness, how will you restore [the saltness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another."
We're focusing today on verse 47 -- the picture of one's eye causing them to stumble. We will get back to the subject of the foot and tie things together as we proceed in this discussion.
At first glance it almost seems obvious when we talk about one's eye causing them to stumble. It takes no rocket science to realize that many folks are brought down by allowing their flesh the tantalizing (?) fantasies of looking at pornography or watching X-rated flicks. It rouses the flesh, stirs the emotions and causes men and women to get lost in erotic fantasies that destroy their marriages, their families, their jobs and any real relationships. Worse, the focus of attention on these images ruins one's ability to listen to the voice of Holy Spirit. It becomes an addiction that warps one's capacity to relate in a marriage in a healthy, productive and satisfying manner.
The Fear of Death takes over and the sudden need to reproduce oneself in order to "perpetuate the species" rules the mind and spirit. It monopolizes one's mind and -- depending on how far the addiction has progressed -- transforms a person's character into exactly what Solomon describes in Proverbs 23:7.
"As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he."
The Hebrew text really opens this verse up. "As a man (or woman) opens up the gate of his(her) mind and soul [by what is focused upon], so is he conformed [to that image]."
Let's get away from the more obvious topic of pornography and get to the heart of what Jesus is warning. Consider what happened to Eve in the Garden and the sequence of events that followed.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked."
We begin with Satan's lie: "In the day you eat, your eyes of your soul will be opened and you'll be able to see just like God sees and be on par with Him."
Get it? The beginning place of all temptation was with what the eyes focused upon.
Next, we are told that Eve did exactly that and focused her attention on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She SAW that the tree was producing tantalizingly-appearing, luscious fruit. The Hebrew text uses the word, ta'avah, which our KJV translates as "pleasant." In fact, this word draws a picture of lust, a longing for, something that greedily sucks a person into.
Once Eve's attention was focused on this attraction, she got sucked into it. She grabbed (the Hebrew, laqach, in this instance could be translated, "seized") that fruit and did exactly what God had commanded her NOT to do! She ate of it.
[Let me break away from this narrative for just a minute to share something that I saw in person when the Angel of the Lord transported me in the Spirit into the Garden some years back to watch the temptation unfold. Adam had not been privy to the conversation taking place between the Serpent and Eve, but he walked in on the conversation just as Eve was eating of the fruit. The horror on his face spoke volumes!
The thought of his suddenly losing Eve to the Serpent because of her sin was intolerable. It was unthinkable! Forgetting who he was and what he was (as having been created in the image and likeness of The Elohim), he allowed the sight of Eve's action and her subsequent offering of the fruit to him to blind his spiritual eyesight. Adam did the rational thing (rational, you understand, from a human emotional perspective): he took the offered fruit and ate of it, too.]
On a natural, thinking, human level, Adam's thought processes were redemptive. The Serpent wasn't going to get to have Eve! On a spiritual level, they were reactive and out of keeping with the redemptive ability he had, spiritually speaking, as Eve's husband. The consequences of his and Eve's actions were deadly, not only to them, but to the human race as their descendants.
The unredeemed, flesh-seeing eye -- as Jesus so perfectly described it -- causes men and women to rationalize, to think with their emotions or their natural desires. It causes folks to "think things out" instead of listening to and responding obediently to the Word of the Lord. The eye then becomes that catalyst for disobedience and offense -- both to the Lord and to others around us.
Watch the sequence that unfolds.
1. What a person sees, he focuses on and begins to think about.
2. The more he thinks about a course of action, the more likely he is to engage in business activities and relationships that are contrary to what Holy Spirit dictates. Thus, the eye causes the hand to become the means by which people stumble, cause others to stumble and place stones of stumbling before others.
3. What the person sees and thinks about becomes integrated into his character and makeup. With that flaw (or flaws) in thinking, choices are made as to what path or course of action to take. The eye therefore becomes the means by which our foot causes us to stumble. We head down a path of danger, potential destruction and ultimate death -- and in the process, take others with us. We not only become an offense to the Lord and to those around us, we cause others to likewise offend.
Consider the sequence that unfolded as a result of Adam and Eve's sin.
For a couple of thousand years, they had lived, walked and talked with God, enjoyed the fruits of the Garden environment. Never had there been any suggestion that they were unclothed. (This is a discussion I'd like to take farther, but I won't take the time in this series.) Fact is, Adam and Eve never needed clothing -- at least not the kind of clothing we wear in today's world. They were clothed in the Glory of the Lord. That Glory ruled their perceptions of one another. They simply didn't see each other as "naked." And they weren't!
What happened once they began to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Now their perceptions were based on what the natural eye could see, and that "seeing" was predicated in humanly-acquired knowledge. It wasn't "good" that they didn't have clothes on.
So how come they suddenly needed clothes? The Glory of the Lord had been stripped away from them. They WERE naked. They were lacking in the essential ingredient that had clothed them for the past two thousand years in the Garden. They no longer had the ability to see one another after the Spirit. Now they could only see after the eyes of flesh.
The three families of fear were immediately introduced into their beings. They had, after all, opened the gate into their minds, their souls and their bodies. The knowledge of Evil opened the gateway to the granddaddy of all evil spirits: Fear of Evil.
The entry of the Fear of Evil into their beings brought with it the Fear of Man. Witness the "blame game" that followed as soon as they were challenged by God as to their disobedience."The woman whom THOU gavest me, SHE gave me of the tree and I did eat!" Riiiiggghhhhttt!!! Well, OK! "And the woman said, THE SERPENT beguiled me -- he tricked me into eating!" Yup! We've all heard the same routine.
But wait! There's more. What was it that God had warned Adam and Eve about? Oh, yeah...."But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Yessirree!!! Adam and Eve had never been designed to die. They were, after all, created in the image and likeness of God, and He IS -- past, present and future. In Him is eternity. In Him is the eternity of the eternities! For the first time in their existence, cells began to die. Sickness was introduced into the human frame. A terminus to their existence suddenly loomed in their minds, their thoughts and their spirits. And the Fear of Death became a compromising entity in their beings.
See how the eye caused Adam and Eve to stumble? See how it brought an offense to them? See what it did to all their descendants?
Here's what Jesus had to say about it: "Where their worm [which preys on the inhabitants and is a symbol of the wounds inflicted on the man himself by his sins] does not die, and the fire is not put out."
Ahhh, but here's where aphiémi kicks in for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh (the seeing of things with the natural eye, the conducting of business after the manner and mindset of the Beast, or the walking in paths of destruction), but after the Spirit.
Is this picture from Mark 9 becoming more and more clear to you? Great!
Next week I'll try to bring all of this together to show you the picture of aphiémi, and how we have redemption and healing available as a result of the new Covenant.
A reminder: If you are in need of healing please join our prayer conference calls on either Monday, Wednesday or Friday of each week at 7:00 PM Eastern. Once again, the number to call is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#.
Blessings on you!
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