REAPING THE LORDS HARVEST
By Dan Luehrs
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener (farmer)" (John 15:1 NIV).
Some people look down on farmers as just being "sod busters" and of having no real importance. But according to this verse above, our heavenly Father is a farmer! But what kind of farmer is He? What are the seeds and crops that He is attending to? According to Jesus, our Father is working in us. Those of us who are His field have received the seed of God's word into our heart. If His seed is growing in us, then we will growing in the likeness of Jesus Christ. All the dead things that are not of Him will be cut out of us until we have grown into His full likeness. "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:2 NIV). Notice who God's field is in, Jesus! He does not say that the world is God's field here, but that we, His people, are the field that He is working in to bring forth fruit of His likeness and character. The church today is overly concerned about reaching the people of the world with the gospel, rather than being concerned about themselves growing into the likeness of Jesus. People in the church place most of the attention on "their church" and getting others into "it," but few will spend time getting to know God on their own so that He can prune them to become like Jesus. This, and this alone, is what Christianity is all about… being like Jesus!
"Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers (harvesters) are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (Matthew 9:37-38 NIV).
These verses have somewhat troubled me for years on just what "His harvest field" is that Jesus speaks about. But knowing what Jesus taught us about the Father being a farmer (John 15), we have a greater understanding of "His harvest field." I know what the traditional church has taught over the years on these verses, but I have never been at peace with their interpretation of it. They say that the verses above mean we first must harvest all the souls of the earth so that the Lord can come back to take us away to planet heaven. Then, the Lord's work will be completed on the earth and He can destroy all the sinners as He did in Noah's day, resulting in an eternal utopia in the earth. But they do not understand the gospel or the power of the cross. Jesus came to save and deliver every person that ever lived or will live! God's redemption is far more than just the forgiveness of sin, it is the restoration of everything and everyone. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17 NIV). -- "(And for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things" (1 Timothy 4:10-11 NIV).
But in the church's theory that all sinners will be destroyed, a few points are missed, like, what will happen to (sin) when God destroys all the people? In Noah's day the sinful people were all destroyed, but sin was still inherit in Noah and every human being ever born until this day. The traditional church teaches that when the person called the "antichrist" is destroyed in the end times, sin will be destroyed from the earth. But I ask you, when Hitler and the many other so-called antichrists died, did sin die out from the human race? No! So there must be an event in the earth to destroy sin in the flesh of man. Then there will be an eternal utopia in the earth. I will write more on this later.
My second question about the church's theory concerning the end time harvest is, doesn't a seed need to be planted first in order to have a harvest in the earth? I ask you, what farmer would go out into his field in the fall of the year and expect to find a harvest of corn that was never planted with seed corn in the first place? None, I tell you! So why is the church calling the people of the earth their "harvest of souls" when the people have never received the seed of God's word into their hearts by faith?
Please don't get me wrong about my question. I do believe that God wants to save every person on the planet. But until the people of the earth receive the word of God into their hearts (which is the seed of Jesus Christ), they do not have the seed of God living within them to mature into the likeness of Jesus so they can be harvested! What farmer would expect to harvest a crop that did not have the likeness of the seed that he first planted months earlier? So why would God try to harvest people of the earth that were not in the exact likeness of Jesus? The plan and purpose of God is not just to get people into heaven, but to have a people that are in the exact nature and likeness of Jesus. They are called, "the body of Christ!" This is the harvest that the Lord is longing and waiting for! "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer (God) waits for the precious produce of the soil (which is His character and fruit in His sons), being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains" (James 5:7). The coming of Jesus is the harvesting of all who are in His likeness! "And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe (the full grown seed, the sons of God). And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Revelation 14:15-16). -- "The field is the world, and the good seed (harvest) stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one" (Matthew 13:38 NIV). (See also Matt. 24:30-31).
THE SEED OF JESUS IN US
"For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).
All the natural seeds of the earth are perishable, but when we are born of God's eternal seed we are imperishable. When we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, He became a living seed in us even as He was living in Mary His mother! He became a seed in us that wants to grow to maturity so that He might reproduce after His own kind. A seed always reproduces after its own kind. If you plant a watermelon seed you will get watermelons, not grapes! The same is true with the blessed seed of Christ. If He is planted in us, a mature Jesus should grow to maturity in us and reproduce after His kind. Our goal as a Christian is found in 1 John 3:2, "…When He appears, we shall be like Him …" The seed of Jesus must grow to maturity in us so that we will yield our heart and mind to Him. Then Jesus can live His life through us as the Head and we, His body. But the maturation process starts with the seed of God's word being planted in us. Think about it: we live off of seeds everyday; many of our vegetables are seeds and our breads come from seeds. No wonder the Bible says, "… Man does not live on bread (seed) alone, but on every word (seed) that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4 NIV). Every word of God is a seed that feeds us and grows in us daily. Either the seed grows to full maturity in us and we become like Jesus, or it dies in us and we stay carnally minded.
"Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times" (Mark 4:8 NIV).
In Mark 4 Jesus told a parable about the sower of the seed. The seed is the word of God and we are the soil that the seed/word is sown into. If we are good ground, the seed will grow and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty or a hundred times what was sown in us. But this was not the case with all soils/Christians that heard and received the word/seed sown into them; in fact, much of the seed was wasted. Paul is found laboring in prayer for the church in Galatians 4:19 that they might come to maturity in Christ. "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you." The exact likeness of Jesus is now hidden in our hearts in seed form if we have received Him as Savior and Lord; even as the genetics of an oak tree are hidden in the acorn before it is planted. No person knows how far along we are in His likeness and having our minds renewed, but God can see exactly how much we have grown into the likeness of Jesus. The Lord gives us a great promise in these verses that when we have come to full maturity and the likeness of Jesus, He will "immediately" harvest us. This only makes good farming sense. For what farmer would harvest his grain before it was completely matured? Or what farmer would leave His harvest in the field to rot? This would be a complete waste of seed, time and effort! "But when the crop permits (has matured), he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (Mark 4:29).
The Lord is in need of workers (servants) in His harvest field that have already been planted with the seed life of Jesus, so that they may grow into the fullness the seed was designed to grow into… the likeness of Jesus! As we are growing spiritually, we will grow out of carnality and fear and into the full knowledge and likeness of Jesus. "But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ" (Ephesians 4:15 NRSV). We must grow into the likeness of Jesus if we hope to be a part of His body, "the Christ!" (See also 1 Cor. 12:27). God is now in need of true servants that will speak the seeds of truth into the hearts of His people, so that they may grow into the full maturity of Jesus.
LESSONS FROM THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest" (John 4:35).
As I was reading through the book of John I came to chapter four and said to myself, "I will just read through this chapter quickly because I know the story." Oh yes, I knew the story according to church tradition, but I did not know it from God's point of view! God began to show me lessons of His harvest through this chapter that most of us have missed. We might think we know the verse above very well, but what is Jesus really saying to us? What are the lessons we can learn from the woman at the well? Is this verse really just speaking to us about the harvesting of unsaved souls or is Jesus speaking to us about the Father's harvest of people that are in the likeness of Jesus? To answer these questions we have to go back to verses five and six of chapter four. We must understand that everything written in the Bible is written for our instruction and things are not there by chance; even the setting of scenes are intended to be lessons for us to learn the greater truths of God.
"So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour" (John 4:5-6).
Jesus came to Samaria by His Father's will to teach us about the harvest. Even though the traditional Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans at that time, Jesus still went there to teach us eternal truth. He is the truth and light of the world and Light/truth reveals to us that which is hidden in darkness and untruth. This is what the Lord wants us to learn in Samaria. The Samaritans lived with great untruths and Jesus wanted to bring the light/truth of the gospel to them. So He came to the city of Sychar, an Old Testament city in the land of Canaan, called Shechem. Shechem means "falsehood or untruth," according to the Holman Bible Dictionary. Jesus comes to us in our falsehood and untruths where we live everyday because we have been taught lies from our youth by the world and the harlot church systems. We must have an understanding of the truth so that we can be set free from all of their lies and deceptions! "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). It is in the knowing of the truth that sets us free, not just the hearing of it! No lie can be of truth or stand before the living God on judgment day because He is the truth. Every lie or untruth in us will be exposed on that day because we were not living in the character and likeness of Jesus.
The setting of this scene is at Jacob's well where Jesus came to get a drink of water because He was thirsty. Water prophetically speaks of the Holy Spirit and His giving us enlightenment and understanding of the truth. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth…" (John 16:13). This is God's will and purpose for our life on planet earth, to learn of and obey the Truth/Jesus! When the scriptures prophetically speak of "water," many times it can be talking about the teachings that are coming forth. "Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb” (Deuteronomy 32:2). -- “That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus came to earth to teach us truth and this is the only thing that will quench our spiritual thirst in life. Most of the other distractions in life are trying to rob us of knowing the truth living God; they are all thieves and robbers because they give no life to us whatsoever! (See John 10:8-10, Matt. 13:23). "But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:14). Our never thirsting again means that after we drink of the truth that is in Jesus, we will not have to go out searching for anything else in the world to satisfy our spiritual thirst again because we have found the real thing! We will have drunk of His truth and seen through all the lies of the world and harlot system with the Holy Spirit's help. (Truth is like a doorway that opens up whole new horizons to us in the spirit realm, until these waters of truth have grown in us to be river of living waters to feed the nations!) "He who believes in Me (or drinks of me), as the Scripture said, from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). In other words, the truths of God in our heart will give His life to those who hear and receive our words. Our words will have the life of God in them, giving people His eternal life, even as Jesus' words did and do still today.
"There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." -- "Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:7,10).
When Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Give Me a drink," He was setting her up to teach about the power of His word and life. After all, it was the woman who really needed a spiritual drink, not Jesus! If she had asked for His living waters, His word alone would have given her the true life that she had been seeking for through her relationships with other men! Jesus came to her with truth because she was thirsty, as are most people. He then went on to give her the truth about worshipping God because she believed a lie about where and how she was to worship Him. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). What does this mean for us? God is everywhere and He wants us to worship Him everywhere living in the truth! The harlot church system says that we are to go their "church buildings or houses of worship" to worship God, but God says that we are to worship Him in spirit and truth. That is, with this truth we are to worship God everywhere and at all times! And as we do, we must ask Him to give us His living waters (word) daily to quench our spiritual thirst. His water represents spiritual and natural life to us. "The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw" (John 4:15). The anointed word of God in us becomes both spirit and life. It is the vehicle that God uses to strengthen and feed us spiritually. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63). It was the power of His word that brought change to this woman and to all the people that she brought to hear Him. "And many more believed because of His word" (John 4:41).
The whole message of John chapter fourth is dealing with the power of God's word. For in the very next verses of this chapter, we see Jesus in Galilee healing a boy with just the power of His word! "The royal official said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies. Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he started off" (John 4:49-50). This is true faith!
GATHERING IN THE HARVEST
"Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together" (John 4:36).
As we have seen thus far, the central theme of John chapter four is to receive, learn, and grow in the knowledge of truth; this chapter is not about the saving of souls. Notice how Jesus tells His disciples they can now receive their "wages" and gather in their harvest for eternal life. Please hear me, the soul of another person is not your wages! But the truth and character of Jesus Christ in you is!
God desires for us to be enriched with the revelation of Jesus Christ in us. In fact, there is no greater treasure in all of God's creation than for us to have His truths in us. Paul said, "To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8). Many Christians today are running after the financial wealth of the world system and calling it God's prosperity, when in fact, it is the devil's prosperity and a great deception. "And the one on whom seed (the word) was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).
Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).
Jesus clearly warns us not to seek after the riches of this world that do not last, but to store up treasures in heaven now! The question now is, "where is heaven?" To answer that we must say, "Wherever God is!" Simply put, heaven means, "the spirit world," because God is a spirit and that is Who dwells within us. We need to see that heaven is not a geographical place, but is a realm higher than the physical plane. We know that Satan also dwells in heavenly places. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Now if God is in us, that means the heavenly or the spiritual realm is within us; and this is where Jesus said that we are to store up the treasures of His word. Our heart is meant to be the treasure house of God. As you ponder this, read these next verses that Jesus also spoke about this.
"You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. "The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil" (Matthew 12:34-35).
"And He said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52).
"Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you" (2 Timothy 1:14).
Now let me ask you, "What do you have stored up in your treasure house?" Thank God it is never too late to start storing up the truths of God's word by seeking Him with all your heart. You will find Him. He is the greatest treasure, for He is the Word revealed in us! But, we must have a revelation and understanding in what we are studying in the word for it to be a treasure in us. Otherwise, it is just head knowledge and does not abide in the heart. This is why Jesus gave us the parable of the sower:
"Hear then the parable of the sower. "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty" (Matthew 13:18, 23).
According to Jesus, only those who "understand" the word bear fruit and reap a harvest. This is what Paul prayed for the church in Colossians 1:9, "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." If we don't understand the word, it is given to another who will take it and run with it. We must let the word of God take rooting in us, so that it will grow up within us to bring forth one hundredfold harvest for His glory!
"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest" (John 4:35).
The harvesting of truth is for us now; it's already white and ripe for our harvest! The seeds of truth have been sown into the hearts of God's people who have written the Bible and others who have written books or spoken the word of God to us. We are now to harvest these seeds of truth so that we will grow in the likeness of Jesus, because every revelation of truth in us is the revelation of Jesus Christ in our heart! (Read Mark 4 and understand that the sowing of seed is an ongoing event through our lifetime). The seed of God's word has grown to maturity within some people so that we can now harvest from their own heart. Let me tell you what happened to me some years ago regarding this very thing. The Lord had been teaching me about the message of the sons of God in my own private study times. Yet, I did not understand it clearly and had not read anything about this message from any other writers or teachers of the past. Then a friend of mine gave me some books by Bill Britton (who had died years earlier) about the sons of God. As I sat down to read them I heard Bill Britton rejoicing greatly in heaven. I asked the Lord why he was rejoicing so, because I had never quite experienced anything like that before. The Lord just said, "Wouldn't you rejoice if someone was reading your books?" I said, "Yes!" When I read these verses in John 4 much understanding was given to me about us entering into someone else's harvest. "Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows, and another reaps.' "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor" (John 4:36-38). Others have labored in God for years to know the greater truths of His word, but we can receive of their harvest of truth when we read and understand what they have received from God. They are like a forerunner in the spirit who has gone before us in spiritual things. Their writings will help guide us in the way of truth so that we do not have to go through all they had to in order to receive it. While we rejoice greatly in receiving these truths, they also rejoice in heaven with us when they see us making spiritual strides forward into the deeper things of God through their writings!
We must understand that for us to receive the greater truths of God, it will take great labor on our part, which is the endurance of our faith and patience. I think that if I could define Christianity in one word it would be "ENDURANCE!" For we are told over and over in scripture to endure trials and testings, and that we will have to pay the price of receiving the greater truths of God's word. Jesus said, "I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich… (Revelation 3:18). We have to pay the daily price of following our Lord wherever He goes, and when we have proven ourselves trustworthy, He will open our understanding to His word! These are the great riches of God that are to be harvested by us. It is the harvesting of truth! A harvest is nothing more than the receiving of more seed. "The sower sows the word" (Mark 4:14). A person who sows the seed of God's word through their teachings or writings is the one who is a sower of seed that was first planted within their own heart. Now that same seed has taken root in them and matured to the point of having seed to plant within the heart of another person. Our calling is to get closer to God so that He would share His secret truths with us, enabling others to receive it from us. Think about the people that have blessed us so much through their writings because of personal suffering. David, writing the Psalms in a cave, John Bunyan writing Pilgrim's Progress in prison; and many other writers who have labored in God for our good progress. This is why we must ask God to guide us in our reading of the Bible and for Him to send us the right books and other materials at the right time for us to grow spiritually.
REAPING THE PROMISED LAND HARVEST
"Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge" (Joshua 3:15 NIV).
The children of Israel were to reap the harvest of the Promised Land that they did not even plant. They were entering into someone else's hard labors! God fully intended to give Israel the Promised Land filled with the bountiful harvest of the land, "During harvest!" He not only wanted to bless them with property, but also give them the land with the harvest, ready for them to eat and enjoy its fruit. God wants us to have it all! "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). -- "If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you" (Luke 16:11)? God wants to give us the true riches of His likeness that will never fade away with the passing of time; these are the real riches that will never pass away. God's ways are truly not our ways! When we humans think of "having it all" we think of material blessings that we can not keep. But when God thinks of giving us our own riches, He thinks of giving us Himself, as He promised Abraham. "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1 KJV). He says of Himself, "I Am that I Am!" What else is there to gain in this life that has true worth and reality if it does not last forever? God is the only true reality of all things. All things go back to Him from where they came, because all things exist in, through, and for Him! So when I have all that He is, I have everything that there ever could be! For in the end, God will be all and in all. Period!
The full inheritance of God is like the Promised Land with it, milk and honey that the children of Israel were to harvest; but the giants of the land were trying to keep them from going forward and possessing it! "Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit (harvest). Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there (giants)" (Numbers 13:28).
There are many giants of sin in our land (our flesh) that are trying to defeat us on a daily basis. Some of these we easily overcome, but other sin we struggle with for years. Yet, no giant is greater than our God who lives within us. We can overcome anything with His help! The giants were to be bread for the children of Israel; they were to get their strength by overcoming the enemy! "Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not" (Numbers 14:9 KJV). Every time we get a victory over the enemy, we are to be strengthened in God, knowing that with Him we have overcome another giant of sin in our lives. This only strengthens our resolve to continue the daily fight of faith. When we continuously fall to sin, we lose hope of ever being free, which is a lie and trick of the enemy to keep us bound to sin! We have been set free through the power of the cross! Please hear the word of the Lord, "FEAR THEM NOT!" Keep up the good fight of faith, for we win in the end, if we do not give up! When I was a teenager I wanted to win at motor cycle racing so I quit all my bad habits, like, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes and I won! Now we must do likewise, if we are going to win at our goal of receiving the greatest prize of all, the character and likeness of Jesus! Never, never, never, give up!
"Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it" (Numbers 13:30). -- "If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey (harvest)" (Numbers 14:8 KJV).
Joshua and Caleb had faith in the power of the living God and not in their own strength and wisdom. They personally saw the Promised Land and were unwilling to give it up to the giants of the land when God said that they were to possess it! Many who now read this article have spiritually seen the Promised Land of sonship, which is the possessing of the character and likeness of Jesus. We have overcome many giants of the flesh, yet God says unto us, "There is much land yet to possess until we have attained to the full likeness of Jesus!" Don't quit now because of discouragement, but continue on and press into your high calling!
REAPING SIN'S HARVEST
"And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:19).
All that has been planted within the earth is now growing to full maturity. Evil is now growing into full maturity in the hearts of Satan's people, just as is Jesus Christ is growing to full maturity in the hearts of His people. The wicked will also have a harvest in the earth as will the righteous ones. But the evil harvest will go into the wrath of God as the righteous harvest goes into the eternal pleasures of God's likeness and kingdom.
There is no place for us to hide from sin any more in the earth. It must be dealt with; it must die in us through our obedience to the spoken word of God. Years ago we could hide ourselves from sin by closing our doors behind us, but now sin is piped right into our homes through the TV, Internet, newspapers, and magazines! People never really had to deal with sin in their own heart before; they could just run from it. But now we must deal with it in our own heart and hate it so much so that we want to overcome it, if we expect to be named with the overcomers. We might say, "Oh me and oh my; that's not possible!" But the truth of the matter is, God's word and Spirit will in the end overcome the sin nature in every person on planet earth! In fact, God is favoring us now by letting us live in such wicked times so that we can overcome sin in the flesh by His grace and receive His great inheritance, the full likeness of Jesus!
The Lord will do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. He will overcome the man of sin in us through the clarity and understanding of His word. Paul said that two things must take place in order for Jesus to manifest Himself in us. 1) The apostasy (falling away from the faith or the truth) must come first. 2) The man of sin is revealed. "That you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord (the manifestation of Jesus) has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness (man of sin) is revealed, the son of destruction (loss)" (2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 NASB). Both of these things have already come to pass! The church around the world has fallen away from the truth of the Lord Jesus and is more like the world then it is like Jesus! The man of sin has been revealed to the elect of God as the man of sin that is living inside of every human being. The Day of the Lord is coming! The day of His full revelation of truth is coming ever clearer day by day, until He fully manifests Himself in truth through His elect people (the true church) as the word of God with great power to save and deliver mankind from their sin. Paul said of the church in 1 Timothy 3:15, "If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth." The true church (the elect) is the foundation of truth in the earth!
"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9).
Let me give you the Interlinearer Greek Bible rendering of these verses:
"For the mystery already works of lawlessness, only he restraining now, until out of the midst it comes (out of us). And then will be revealed the lawless one (the man of sin), whom the Lord will consume by the spirit of the mouth of Him (the Word), and bring to nothing by the brightness of His coming of Him (the clarity of His truth); of whom is the coming according to the working of Satan in all power signs and wonders of a lie."
Notice that the coming of Jesus is according to the workings of Satan. The word "according" means, "accord, or something that goes together with something else." In other words, the coming of Jesus Christ is at the same time the devil is manifesting himself through all his lying signs and wonders. I interpret Satan's lying wonders to mean anything in the world that can get our attention away from Jesus Christ. Did not Satan show Jesus in Matthew 4:8 all the kingdoms of the earth and there glory (wonder)? Jesus again said in Matthew 13:30 that both kingdoms would manifest themselves at the same time in the earth. "Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn." Notice, first the tares are burned and then the harvest is gathered in. It says in the Greek writings of 2 Thessalonians 2:7, "Until out of the midst it comes." This man of sin will be in us "until" it comes out of us by the revelation of Jesus Christ, and is burned up by His truth! "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap" (Malachi 3:2). The word of God will completely burn out of us and refine us from the present man of sin that is inherent in us from Adam. Remember that God's ways are not destructive, they are always redemptive. This is what a refining fire does! Make no doubt about it, the man of sin will be ripped out of us and burned by His truth so that the harvest or the full likeness of Jesus can fully manifest out of us!
Now at the end of the age we are still fighting the same old foe Adam and Eve fought in the garden. But this time, "The sword shall devour His adversaries!" This sword is the word of God, which will defeat our enemy from within by the spoken word of God. "The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet. The LORD will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion (the church), saying, "Rule in the midst of Thine enemies" (Psalms 110:1-2 NASB). Great power and revelatory truth in the word of God is going to be released in His people to defeat the enemy from within! God, "Saying, "Rule in the midst of Thine enemies" will have then come to pass. Our enemy, the man of sin, will have been put under our feet by the revelation and power of God's word and Spirit. There will no longer be the fighting of the flesh against the Spirit and the same Word that created us in the beginning will recreate into His full likeness in the end! Hallelujah!
We must be careful not to get caught up in the excitement of His revelation of truth alone. Paul gives us great warning in these verses about our failure to receive and walk in the truth that God is giving us. For if we do not walk in the truth that He is sending us, fully depending on Him, He will send a strong delusion to deceive our minds so that we would believe a lie. This should put the fear of God in us! "And with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved (to be delivered from sin)." "And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
But those of us who are faithful to God through our trials will receive the greatest promise in all of scripture. It is for us to receive the glory and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. "For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:14 NRSV).