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[THE VOICE OF THE BRIDEGROOM - PART III ]
[The Imperative of Cleansed Soul “Garments” in the Present Age]
In light of the historical evidence of such "unfaithfulness," in the organized church systems of Christendom, we can see the importance of Paul's words in II Cor. 11:1-3: "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have engaged you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity (single-hearted and pure devotion) that is in Christ." Eve is a type of the soul with its desire-nature (emotions, feelings, response, imagination), while Adam is a type of the spirit (reason, righteous judgment, will, determination), and the garden of Eden is a type of the physical body (which Adam was to "dress and keep"—Gen. 2:15). Thus we see our three-fold being symbolically portrayed in the Adam-Eve-Garden story in Gen. chaps. 1-3 (see I Thess. 5:23). It is through our "Eve" (soul-desires) that we who have been WED (in Spirit) to Christ, can be "beguiled" and turned from our single and pure devotion to Christ, entering into '"intimate associations" with the world and its defilements, and thus disqualifying ourselves from being presented to Christ as a "chaste virgin" (His Bride). This is in harmony with Rev. 14:4, where the 144,000 firstfruits are spoken of as being "not defiled with women." In other words, they have not been led astray by "Eve" (soul-desires) into compromising situations with the world (including the apostate religious world). Since they are not defiled with women, it is evident that the 144,000 are pictured as masculine (even as the manchild of Rev. 12:5). This is purely symbolic (for this group will be made up of both men and women) and shows that these "overcomers" are living and walking in the Spirit, rather than submitting to "the flesh" (soul-desires). See Gal. 5:16-26. Paul, in Rom. 8:4, says that those who walk after the Spirit, are having "the righteousness of the law "fulfilled in them. The word "fulfill" here means "to fill up" or "make full." In other words, the "linen garment" of righteousness, which the Bride is seen clothed with in Rev. 19:8, is gradually woven into the very fabric of their inner being, until it is "full" (complete).
In Rev. 3:4, the "overcomers "are pictured as the ones who "have not defiled their garments." These are the inner or soul garments, which have been "washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). Our past sins (the surface dirt and stains) are "washed away" by the blood when we receive forgiveness of sins (Rev. 1:5; Acts 22:16; I Cor. 6:11). But it is only the Spirit, working in us because of the blood, that can "bleach out" the "ground in" filth of the sin nature in our souls, making them white (pure). The intensity of the "whiteness "(or brightness) of our inner garments depends on the degree to which we have allowed the Spirit to remove that which is of the self and sin life within. When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (a type of the heavenly Kingdom), His raiment became "White as light" (Mt. 17:2), or "shining (glistening), exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark 9:3). This "white raiment" of Jesus is a type of His Bride (and Body) which shall adorn Him (being ONE with Him). It is the "pure (white) in heart" who shall see God and dwell with Him (Mt. 5:8). It is the Spirit-glory (brightness) which sanctifies us (Ex. 29:43, Rom. 15:16), separating us from all inner defilement, and also imparting and weaving in the righteousness of Christ. This is the "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). BOTH the negative (removing) and the positive (imparting) aspects of the Spirit's work are needed.
Now we can see the importance of not defiling (getting dirty again) our inner garments (Rev. 3:4, 14:4), that we might be among those of whom Jesus said, "they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy" (Rev. 3:4). This is why Paul admonishes us to "walk worthy of the vocation (calling) wherewith you are called" (Ephes, 4:1), and to "walk as children of the light" (Ephes. 5:8). In the Old Testament, Enoch (meaning "dedicated") is a type of the Bride, for "Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Gen, 5:24). "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death. . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Heb. 11:5). So the Bride, (those who "follow the Lamb"—Rev. 14:4, walking with Him and pleasing Him), shall be translated first, at the beginning of the tribulation. These are to be followed by those who will be translated at the close of the tribulation, who come "out of great tribulation," "a great multitude which no man could number" standing "before the throne, and before the Lamb" (not "with Him", as those in Rev. 14:1). They are "clothed with white robes," having "made them white" during the tribulation period (see Rev. 7:9,14). They are symbolized by Elijah, the second man in the Old Testament who was translated without seeing death (II Kings 2:11).
[Distinguishing Sin and Uncleanness]
Because it is important that we not defile our inner garments, I will add a few more comments which I hope will be helpful. In Zech. 13:1 we read: "in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." The "fountain" was opened at Calvary when Jesus gave Himself as a vicarious sacrifice, and out of His side came forth blood and water (John 19:34). The blood was to atone for sin, and the water symbolized the Word which is to purge out uncleanness (John 15:3; Ephes. 5:26). It is important to realize that all sin is uncleanness, but not all uncleanness is sin. In other words we can experience uncleanness in our mental-emotional being without actually committing any sin. However, such "uncleanness" hinders our fellowship with the Lord, and can keep us from fully entering into the covenant blessings, joys, and powers that the Lord has prepared for us.
This is vividly portrayed in the law of the Old Testament. All sin or moral uncleanness had to be removed by the admission of guilt (confession) and the bringing of a sin or trespass offering to the priest to "atone for" the offense (Lev. 5:5-6, Num. 5:6-8). This we can readily understand, for under the New Covenant when we sin we must repent, confess and receive forgiveness and cleansing through the blood of Christ (see I John 1:6-10). But under the law there was also ceremonial uncleanness which rendered individuals "defiled," and when in this state of impurity, the Hebrews were forbidden to enter the sanctuary, partake of the sacred offerings and gifts, etc. Only the clean were fit to approach the Holy God and all that appertained to Him (Lev. 7:19-21, 22:3, Num. 9:6-7, 18:11). Some of the bodily conditions, such as the diseases of leprosy and issues of blood, were types of sin, for as we said before, all sin is uncleanness. But there were other conditions, such as the eating of unclean meats, touching the carcass of an unclean animal, or touching a dead human body, which were not acts of sin, but still rendered a person unclean. For these conditions, cleansing came through water (washing, bathing, or sprinkling). Read especially Lev. chaps. 11 & 15, and Deut. chap. 19. This is a type of the cleansing of the church "with the washing of water by the word" (Ephes. 5:26).
Again, the two main ways of contacting uncleanness was by eating (unclean meats) and touching (dead bodies or carcasses). "Eating" is a type of fellowship and intimate association, showing that God's people are to have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephes. 5:11). "Touching" that which was dead is a type of contact with the world and those who are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephes. 2:1). God's command is to "come out from among them, and be [ ] separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness (defilement) of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 6:17-7:1). But read also II Cor. 6:14-16. The typical significance of Jesus' washing of the disciples feet as recorded in John 13:4-10 is important here. In our "daily walk" as Christians we contact the uncleanness of the world, and what we see and hear can "rub off" on us, so to speak, and bring a certain amount of defilement into our thinking and feeling. Therefore we need to spend time alone with the Lord in meditation, prayer and reading of the Word, so that the Lord can "wash our feet" and cleanse us from the filth of the world. Through mutual fellowship and ministry in the Word, we can also wash one another's feet (John 13:14). However, it is only as we heed, apply, and obey the Word, receiving into our inner being its teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16), that it is truly effective for our daily cleansing.
[Chaste, Unblameable, Faultless and Perfect]
We have seen by Paul's statement in II Cor. 11:2 that the Bride is to be presented to Christ as a "chaste virgin." In Col. 1:22, we read that those so presented are to be "unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." and in Col. 1:28-29, Paul declares that His labors, preaching, warning and teaching are to the intent that he might "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." The word "unblameable" in Col. 1:22 is from the Greek word amomos, and is the same word which is translated in Rev. 14:5 as "without fault" in the description of the 144,000. The same word is translated "faultless" in Jude 24. In Heb. 9:14 this Greek word is translated "without spot" in describing the vicarious ministry of Jesus Christ as He presented Himself to God on our behalf. The word indicates that which is without blemish, blame or spot. It is only through the grace of Christ that any can be presented to Him "without fault." Only those whose hearts are right toward the Lord (being yielded and completely submissive), daily walking in fellowship with Him and in the light (truth-purity), and daily submitting to His purging and cleansing from ALL unrighteousness and uncleanness, can be "holy and without blame before him in love (Ephes. 1:4), and "blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:8). Wherefore, beloved seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (II Pet. 3:14). Those "called out" of this world are to be presented to Him "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (without blame or fault)." Ephes. 5:27.
Not only presented as "a chaste virgin", and "without fault," but also "perfect" as Paul states in Col. 1:28. The Greek word translated "perfect" is teleios, and means that which is finished or completed with reference to a certain goal or objective, as when a builder or workman completes a building or project of some kind. The word is used by Paul in Phil. 1:6 where he says: "Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform (finish, perfect) it until the day of Jesus Christ." This word can also be translated "mature," as the goal of "growing up in all things in Christ," to a "perfect" (mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephes. 4:15,13). But read all of Ephes. 4:11-16. This is too vast a subject to be covered here, but "perfection" is the goal which the Lord has for all His children (Matt. 5:48). And there is a prescribed measure of perfection or maturity which must be incorporated into the inner being of all who are to be "called out" of this world through the "door" of glorification and presented to Christ. This is why we must continue to grow (l Pet. 2:2, II Pet. 3:18) and "go on to perfection" (Heb. 6:1), being ready to receive the "adoption" to full sonship as explained in the introduction.
PART I V
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