Reading: Psalm 8:1-6; Hebrews 2.
We have now to speak of the Fall and to notice three things about it, namely, its object, its nature, its consequences.
The Object Behind the Fall
What was the object of the fall, so far as the Adversary was concerned? It was nothing else than world dominion. It was not just to mar God's work, not just to spite God, not just to gratify some unholy and malignant whim. It was to possess a position, to obtain a place. What Lucifer has failed to achieve in heaven he will seek to achieve in earth. What he has failed to accomplish against God directly he will now seek to accomplish against God indirectly through man. He was aware that dominion was vested in Adam; spiritual dominion and the government of the Kosmos. He was aware of the conditions upon which that dominion rested and was held, namely, faithful obedience and allegiance to God. He was also aware of the threefold faculty of that dominion, the faculty of prophet and of priest and of king. His object was to secure that Kosmic and spiritual dominion which was vested conditionally in Adam, and for which Adam had been constituted. The thing in view with the adversary was world dominion. We know from the rest of the Scriptures, and especially from specific statements in the New Testament, that he got it, and even Christ did not dispute that he had it.
The Nature of the Fall
The nature of the fall makes very clear that the adversary directed his attention, firstly to the condition of the dominion, and then to the character of the dominion. The condition was faithfulness, obedience, allegiance to God. He struck at that. That is so familiar that we need not analyse it nor say any more about it. It is quite clear that it was in the direction or in the realm of Adam's relationship to God in the obedience of faith that the enemy directed his attempt, his effort, his energies.
(1) The Spiritual Mind
He also recognised this three-fold basis or faculty in dominion, that of the prophet, the priest and the king; and, seeing that in the first case it was the spiritual mind which was the feature of his dominion he struck at it, and dealt with man along the line of reason. Thus he countered spiritual-mindedness with merely human reasoning. There is a big history attached to that. You notice how he argues. (The very fact that man will listen to the devil arguing is a sure way to his being dethroned. Argue with the devil and you will lose your spiritual position. And do not let the devil argue with you. The Lord Jesus had none of that. When Satan would argue with Him, He said: "It is written...." That is final; He does not argue, the thing is settled.) The realm of the mind was assailed by the devil. God had said, and that ought to have been enough (it was enough for the last Adam). But the mind was assailed and the mind was opened. Beloved, there is never anything wrong in having your mind assailed, the wrong is when you give the mental assent to the assault. Demas departed from Paul and went back into the world, and we are told that it was because he loved this present evil world. But that is only the end of a history. The world made its appeal. Demas could have shut the door and said, I will have none of it; but he assented to the appeal, and that is where his fall came. In the same way Adam, instead of at once closing the door to such arguments as were bringing into question God's known mind, assented to the assault in that realm and lost his prophetic faculty. You see the first realm of the attack.
(2) The Pure Heart
Then the priestly faculty was assailed - the heart, the desire. The whole thing, of course, was very beautiful, dressed up, gilded as not to appear wrong and unrighteous, but something to be desired. Oh! what a lot that gives away - "to be desired." The heart, the desires, the whole direction was unrighteous, wrong, but the priestly function was assailed in the heart with an unrighteous desire.
(3) The Holy Will
Then the dominion, the kingly faculty, the will. Once the mind and the heart are captured, it is not far to go to catch the will, and that is the order. Reason over on the side of the devil, desire over on his side, and it will not be long before the will follows. So the authority is assailed, the dominion. But there was a deep-seated principle of spiritual holiness.
That is the nature of the fall. The prophet, the priest, and the king, in all that that means spiritually, as spiritual features, were assailed and, by consent, surrendered to the enemy.
The Consequences of the Fall
What are the consequences of the fall? They are quite obviously and naturally in keeping with the nature. They are, in the realm of the spirit or the spiritual mind, blindness and darkness. And that is how we find fallen man: "Having the understanding darkened". The whole teaching of the New Testament on spiritual blindness, spiritual darkness - "the god of this age hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving" - is bound up with the fall.
The spiritual mind is not in the natural man. He has lost the knowledge of God, spiritually. He has no spiritual understanding. That is the prophet.
In the realm of the priest, the heart, there is malice or enmity against God. That is the natural man. You see the opposites. The true priest represents the love of God, the heart side of things. Aaron always represents the heart aspect of things. God read Aaron's heart right at the beginning. The very first thing that you have said about Aaron as he comes into fellowship with Moses is, from God to Moses: "Aaron thy brother... when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart." That is the Lord having read Aaron's heart, and Aaron comes in on the heart side of things. He always represents the affections, just as Moses represents the government. But now you see the heart, or the priestly feature and faculty, has been interfered with, overthrown, and now, instead of love toward God, it is enmity against God. That is the natural man, and it does not matter what you say about multitudes of good people unsaved in this world not being at enmity with God, and repudiate strongly any such suggestion, the fact remains. There is not a man or a woman who has ever been on this earth who, if put into certain given circumstances, would not manifest enmity against God. It only wants circumstances to do it. Try them on Job's line and see!
The will - the king? Where is the natural man if he is not in bondage in the realm of his will? Say what he may about liberty, freedom, there is no man free. There is no such thing as liberty in this creation. Bondage to sin and to death, and also - unconsciously with many - to the devil.
The prophet, the priest and the king in spiritual meaning has simply been overthrown in the fall, and these are the consequences; consequences with which we are all too sadly familiar.
The Spiritual Battle of all Time
Now, in the realm of the three-fold function of man according to God's mind the fact and nature of the fall is continuously manifested. This will head up to and in Anti-Christ for its full expression. What I mean is this; whenever God has raised up an instrument, either individual or collective, of this character, and with this object, to fulfil this function of prophet, priest and king in principle, to express the Divine government, the battle has immediately commenced along these three lines.
THE PROPHET - The battle commences along the line of the prophetic function, that is, along the line of the spiritual mind. What is the nature of that assault? Unbelief! Unbelief is the first step in the assault upon the spiritual mind. That is the first step, therefore, in the assault upon the prophetic function, as an expression of God's thought. But then it intensifies, and history is full of it from its first phase of - shall we say - simple unbelief, through all its intensified phases of rationalism.
Rationalism is a direct assault upon the spiritual mind, and therefore an assault upon the prophetic faculty. That is, God's thought represented and expressed. Rationalism is against that. Atheism resulted. Unbelief, rationalism, atheism; these are the direct methods of attacking that which is meant by the prophet - a spiritual revelation of God's mind. It is tremendously illuminating if you follow it out. Put on one side spiritual revelation of God's mind, the expression of the mind of God as given by the Holy Spirit. Over against that you have positively set, unbelief, rationalism and atheism. Is that not so? It assails the prophet, which every man and woman in living relationship to God is called to be. The prophet is not a specific office, but an inherent constitutional faculty in every man according to God's will. That is, you and I and every child of God - all the Lord's people - are called to have the spiritual mind, the knowledge of God by revelation of the Holy Ghost. That constitutes a prophet. I know that there are various aspects of prophetic expression, but that is the principle, whatever the aspects. If it is forth-telling, well, the only forth-telling that comes within the compass of God's appointing is by revelation of the Holy Ghost. That the fore-telling is that, it goes without saying, but it is the unveiling of God by the Holy Spirit. Over against that are positively set these things mentioned.
While that is the direct method, there are less direct methods. The apostle speaks and warns about philosophy: "lest any man SPOIL YOU through philosophy." That word "spoil" is an exceedingly interesting word in the Greek. It means, to separate you from the source of your life. Now think of that! The devil was out to spoil the Lord Jesus, therefore the Lord Jesus was out to spoil the devil, and spoiling there means, cutting clean in between the object and his base of operations, and cutting him off. Now, "lest any man spoil you through philosophy," cut you off and separate you from your true source, your true life. There is nothing more materialistic in its effect than philosophy.
Then there is mysticism, an indirect assault upon the spiritual mind. Oh! how subtle it is! You can have a mystical presentation and interpretation of the New Testament and of all the Scriptures, which is very beautiful. It makes a tremendous appeal to the artistic faculties and temperament. Some far-reaching, mighty religious systems owe the whole of their strength to mysticism, the mystical representation of Christian truth, appealing to the aesthetic, the artistic. Mysticism is not spirituality. But, oh, the multitudes carried away by that beautiful, artistic, mystical presentation of Christianity! It is an assault upon the spiritual mind, and this is where our peril so much lies in relation to truth; the appeal so wonderful, beautiful, and our own natural, rational response to it; the sublime ideas, these wonderful conceptions; and then grasping it like that, holding it in our aesthetic sense, in our soulical mind, and thinking we have got the truth and always talking about it, how wonderful it is, and yet there being a background of fundamental contradiction.
We are in dangerous realms. When God by His Spirit breaks clean through and reveals a thing He turns the life upside down and inside out, and you can never be the same again. Do not talk about the wonderful, sublime, beautiful things. These things have become something far, far deeper than that. You know quite well that there is a sense in which they are terrible things, marvellous but terrible. You can never contemplate God as a beautiful work of art, about which you talk sublimely. He is wonderful, He is marvellous, but, oh! He is awe-full! Those two things always go together. Mysticism is one of the devil's most cunning inventions and means of side-tracking from real, genuine spirituality. It is a blow at the spiritual mind, a substitute for it and a delusion.
Forgive me if I add one other of these indirect means of attack upon the prophetic function of man according to God. It is educationalism.
Now that wants guarding. Let no one think for a moment that that means that we are against education. I have not said "education"; I have said "educationalism." What I mean by that is this; the theory that you can educate people up to a Christian standard and into acceptance with God, and that education can become a way by which you come into the Kingdom of God. Today there are great Christian institutions labouring under that lie, that deception. They are out to educate, educate, educate, by slow absorption of Christian knowledge, Christian ideas and ideals, along the line of education. Thus shall we bring in the Kingdom of God, they say. And that, being what we mean by educationalism, is a blow of the devil at this very thing, spiritual-mindedness. You and I can never by searching, by study, or by education, by the development of our brains along any academic or scholastic lines enter the Kingdom of God, nor even apprehend the very minutest degree of spiritual truth. That is only possible along spiritual lines by the action of the Holy Spirit. Educationalism as such, used in relation to the things of God, is in the same category as mysticism and philosophy, and they are only other aspects of unbelief and rationalism.
I hope I am not tiring you, but I do feel that the foundations of God's people have got to be well and truly laid, so I am going on. The natural and carnal mind, at their very best, are still enmity against God. Nothing - mysticism, educationalism nor philosophy - alters the basic fact, nothing changes the nature of man as the result of the fall. Now that deals with the line of the prophet, or the spiritual mind.
THE PRIEST - We are saying that the nature and fact of the fall are continuously manifested through history in this three-fold realm.
Mixture and Loss of Distinctiveness
Then, in the second realm of the priest, where do we trace these marks of the fall? In the loss of distinctiveness between good and evil, right and wrong. "If thou shalt take the precious from the vile." You see, God demands a separation. But in Israel, when those words were uttered, there was no clear apprehension of the distinction between the two, the precious and the vile. It became so mixed up that the people in general could not discriminate between the two. And then in the upsetting of standards, calling evil good, and good evil. Do you see that at work today? It is spreading through this earth like a disease. Those old standards are being cast down, those land-marks are being removed, and evil is being called good, and good is being called evil. Why, right across the whole of the system of Communism, religion, Christianity, God, are called evil things. That is, in its intensive form. In less intensive form the same thing is going on in the world today, and in a very general way. Good is being called evil, and evil is being called good, and so the standards are being upset. The sinfulness of sin is being modified or extracted. With what object? It relates to the heart, that is, it is an easing of the way for human desires and passions. Men desire, want, and have passions for certain things, and therefore they must modify the sinfulness of those things, or extract from them - for their own satisfaction, and say they are either good or, "necessity knows no law." Do you see it is a heart matter? You are touching the priest here.
THE KING - The fall is shown continuously through history in the realm of the kingly, or dominion calling and constitution of man. Firstly, along the line of substitutes for the pure, Divine, kingly faculty of government. What are they? Despotism on the one hand, and, on the other hand, democracy. Again, autocracy and communism. These are substitutes for the true, Divine government and faculty. What do they lead to? Anarchy! What does that represent? The overthrow, the destruction of a true Divine order of government as represented by the king.
The Spiritual Background of World Dominion
Now what have we done in this survey? We have seen that at the back of history there is a spiritual thing going on. At the back of history as seen, there is a history which is not seen, and it is in that realm back of the seen that the real issue is to be fought out. Do you understand why the Lord Jesus put back and put back all suggestions and attempts to set up a kingdom amongst men, when He came, when they would take Him by force and make Him King, and when they would talk about the Kingdom? "Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel." They expected that the Kingdom would immediately appear, but all the time He is thrusting it away. "Art thou a king then?" "My kingdom is not of this world." Why? The issue was not in the foreground, it was behind, and He was going to deal with the whole question of the curse, in the spiritual realm. In His Cross and by His Cross He stripped off principalities and powers, He got behind everything. He starts behind things. He will finish in the foreground with the Kingdom and dominion restored, but that is where you and I are, beloved. We are in the background at present, we are not setting up a kingdom before the eyes of men, we are not out for this Kingdom of Heaven which is a seen thing that can be displayed to the eyes of men. What you and I are in is the great spiritual conflict back of everything else, the issue of which is the dominion of this universe. "Our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, the world rulers of this darkness, the SPIRITUAL hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies." That is where our vocation is as prophets, priests and kings. It is back there that you and I have got to have the spiritual mind, the spiritual knowledge of God, by revelation, the only thing that counts. It is back there that you and I have got to stand in that righteousness which is of faith, as a mighty thing against the assaults of the enemy, having on the breastplate of righteousness. It is back there that you and I have got to reign as kings, to know what spiritual dominion over the enemy and all his forces is. That is our calling. Later it will be displayed to the universe, later on it will come into full view. When He is manifested we shall be manifested together with Him, but now it is spiritual.
THE WHOLE vocation of the Church in this dispensation is spiritual, and in the realm of principalities and powers, and, mark you, you will never be able to deal with souls of men only in so far as you know ascendancy over the power of the enemy behind. You will never be able to deal with situations which arise only in the measure in which you know how to deal with that situation behind as the work of Satan. The whole issue is one of spiritual dominion, and we are in the battle for the Throne. Blessed be God, we know the issue, but the battle is a very sore one, at times it is a terrific one. Every time there is going to be a little addition to the saints along the line of spiritual revelation, which will constitute them prophets in that spiritual sense, or an addition to the saints of righteousness by faith, which will constitute them priests unto God, those two things directly point on to the Throne, and the spiritual ascendancy of the saints and dominion; and so every time there will be a strange, a mysterious, unaccountable - unless you know the spiritual history of things - conflict to start with. Yes, before the thing begins, perhaps weeks before. The enemy knows our programmes and he knows what the issue of spiritual people coming together for a season means for him, therefore ahead he starts the battle, and we know days, sometimes weeks, before we are coming together what it is to enter into a terrific conflict, a withstanding, and every attempt is made to destroy that thing in advance, to make it impossible. You see what the issue is. It is dominion. We ought to be reaching out to see that we are going to move into whatever God is after. They that have the abundance of grace shall reign in life by that one Man, Jesus Christ.