PART VI – TRANSITIONAL ASPECTS OF THE LAMP-STAND MODEL
SUBPART D – MESSIAH-BODY; Without God in the World unto Trumpets
Article 1 – The Universal Principle of Sin
By Daniel Irving
a. Thorns and Briars of the Cursed Ground
b. The Mark of Sin
c. God’s Way; Refusing the Mark
Article 1 – The Universal Principle of Sin
(For a video version of this article, click on the following Youtube link.)
a. Thorns and Briars of the Cursed Ground
In the prophecy of Isaiah we find an allusion to the curse of Adam perpetuated within the Israel of God; an allusion to the Church:
And I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. Is. 5:6
God cursed the ground because of Adam’s transgression. By so doing, He cursed not just the man himself, but that from which Adam’s flesh derived. The ground could no longer bring forth that which is acceptable unto God. Thus Adam is cursed in his progeny as well. With their first forefather, fallen humanity is consigned to bring forth but “thorns and thistles” as the fruit of its nature. God spoke to Adam as follows:
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, & have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it.” Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns & thistles it shall grow for you; & you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you shall eat brad, till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; for you are dust, & to dust you shall return. Gen. 3:17-19
What are these “thorns and thistles?
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. Luke 6:44
These “thorns and thistles” are the deeds of the flesh against which the Church is warned by the apostle Paul:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, & things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:19-23
Notice that Paul makes reference to the Law as that agency stemming the tide against the works of the flesh. Paul describes the Law as a spiritual principle, that stands as a temporary measure against transgression until the children of God come into their inheritance in Christ. While there is a dawning of liberty for the children of God, there is also the spiritual provision of the Law to keep us from transgression until the time for our release. Therefore Paul writes:
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians & managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. Gal. 4:1-3
Paul tells us that so long as we are children, we are no different – practically speaking – from a slave. That which characterizes a slave is his “bondage”!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. & the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.” John 8:34-35
Therefore, while all the world lives under law, there are some in the world that are heirs of salvation. These will be released from the law in order to know the law of liberty that is in Christ.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:2
Therefore, while we might look at the world and see sinners under law; God’s view of the world contemplates both sinners under law, and sons of God temporarily under the guardianship of the Law. Until that day, the prophets depict Israel as a vineyard producing thorns and briars:
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah, his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. Is. 5:7
We are warned that ultimately, land which produces such things will be rejected by God:
But that which bears thorns & briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. Heb. 6:8
Near the end of Job’s travails, he makes a curious statement regarding Adam. In fact, he states what was Adam’s true sin. We typically think of Adam as sinning by eating the fruit given him by his wife. But Job lays the hammer more directly, stating:
If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: Job 31:33
Job declares that if he “hid” his iniquity in his “bosom”, then:
Let thistles grow instead of wheat, & cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended. Job 31:40
The effect of perpetuating the sin of Adam is to render oneself perpetually unregenerate. Such are as fields given over to thistles instead of wheat, and cockles instead of barley. Job acknowledged the great danger in denying the fact that we bear a curse within our human nature; a stain that requires atonement.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, & the truth is not in us. I John 1:8
And if we “deceive ourselves” through a denial of our sin, we implicitly reject the purposes of Christ and the agency of His Spirit to pardon, to cleanse, and to sanctify. We reject the work of God in respect to ourselves. Failing sanctification, the only remaining course is reprobation. This is because the Law will not operate in perpetuity as a barrier against demonic intrusion. The result is the lawless condition that is reprobation.
Only through Christ can the earth bring forth the fruit that is acceptable to God. Therefore when we see allusions to such things as vineyards and fig trees in prophecy, these speak to the peaceable fruit of righteousness that is the fruit of the Spirit of Christ. But the fallen condition of humanity is destined to bring forth but “thorns and thistles”.
b. The Mark of Sin
We read in the revelation given John of a mark for which men are cast alive into the lake of fire.
and he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: Rev 13:16
“He causes all”. How curious that a single entity can “cause all . . . to be given a mark” that leads to their eternal damnation! And yet – in the strictest sense – it is not possible that one person can cause another person to sin. For sin to truly be sin requires a volition that is exercised in opposition to God and to God’s will. Yet there is a sense in which one entity placed the mark of sin upon all, “both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond”. This occurred when our first forefather, Adam brought the principle of sin upon all his children. Paul writes:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom 5:12
Adam’s sin, introduced the spiritual-agency of Death. Abiding in Death, all men commit . . . sin. This speaks of the original sin innate to natural flesh-and-blood humanity. This is the spiritual-condition of all that share in the flesh of Adam. Therefore; “by one man sin entered into the world”. This principle of sin persisting universally within the human nature has a consequence. Therefore Paul continues:
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Rom 5:18
Scripture assures us there is a day coming when sin shall be judged by God. What will be the result of God’s judgment? According to Paul, the result will be condemnation. There is no other judgment that can apply to sin other than condemnation. Through Adam we are corrupted in our nature and therefore there is nothing to be produced from humanity that is acceptable. The best of our inner drives and thoughts is sin, as this is all that our nature can produce. Prophetically speaking, Adam produces but “thorns and thistles” as descriptive of the works of the flesh. When Adam sinned, God spoke as follows:
. . . “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat from it.” Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns & thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you shall eat brad, till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; for you are dust, & to dust you shall return. Gen. 3:17-19
The elemental things of this world from which our nature arises is ground that is cursed on account of sin. We cannot bring forth from our natural powers and talents anything acceptable unto God. This is the lot of the fallen Adam.
Curiously, the Revelation states that this entity originating from the earth causes “all” to receive the “mark”. In one sense, this is just the simple gospel message as preached by Paul:
For all have sinned & come short of the glory of God; Rom 3:23
Paul then describes the order as to how this occurred. He writes further:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, & death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom 5:12
Therefore, consider the order given by Paul:
1. “one man sin[ned]” (thereby becoming the progenitor of sin)
2. “sin entered into the world” (ie. corporate-humanity suffered “infection”)
3. “death passed upon all men” [ie. men (universally) reside in a spiritual-condition called “Death” wherein they are banished from, and insensible to the things of God]
4. “all have sinned” (meaning that not only do they have sin engrained in their nature, but they have acted upon the sin engrained in their nature)
Therefore “all” have received the defilement of sin, keeping them in the spiritual bond of Death.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 6:23
c. God’s Way; Refusing the Mark
Therefore sin has wages. There is a benefit to be realized in this world for continuing in a state of spiritual death by continuance in sin. The question is whether we love the wages of sin more than we fear God and believe His Word! For the wages of sin will eventually pay off in a rejection of the witness of Christ unto the receiving of a “mark”; that mark is the forfeiture of the atonement provided by God before the foundation of the world; ie. before Adam ever sinned. Those finding sanctification in Christ discover a source of healing that antecedes Adam’s original sin. Those rejecting the sanctification purchased for them of God in advance of the original transgression shall be of their own volition confirmed in the transgression rather than being saved from the transgression. Loving the wages of sin more than the life of God, they shall receive that mark as their confirmation in the earth. Therefore Peter says of those that have forsaken the truth:
Which have forsaken the right way, & are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; II Peter 2:15
Balaam earned his “mark” by loving the things of this world more than his walk with God. But there were two others that earned the eternal “mark of sin”. Jude writes:
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude 11
The apostate are so bold in their own way that they are not afraid to transgress even while they interact within the assembly of the saints. Therefore while Jude lists three-categories, they all describe one-group; hypocrites that dissemble in the presence of God’s work in the justified body of Christ. And while we might perceive in Jude’s words three avenues for receiving the brand of sin, we might more accurately perceive these as representing the same principle; ie. the volitional opting after earthly things over those heavenly. The conscientious choosing of passion over forbearance, of material things over those things dear unto God and stored up for us in Christ, of vanity and self-seeking over the deferential taking of a lower place in the midst of the Spirit’s work in the assembly of saints; the rejection of these things serve to reveal the reprobated.
Jude conveys likewise a process. There is a way, which leads to falling into error, that results ultimately in rebellion against Christ and His truth. This way is merely the way of self-seeking in contradiction to the life of Christ and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Consider another prophecy of Isaiah’s:
If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on my holy day, & call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, & shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, & speaking your own word, Is. 58:13
The Sabbath stands metaphor for the true and spiritual witness of Christ as it comes upon the man. This is a time of faith and therefore a time of unique equipping. When we believe, we are also exhorted by heaven that we turn our foot from doing our own pleasure and speaking our own word. This is significant when we understand that the spirit of prophecy is not advising us what to do in respect to sin. Sin is simply not the subject-matter of the prophecy! As to sin, we are to react abruptly against it:
Cast away from you all your transgressions Ez. 18:31
As to sin, we are not to approach; but as to our own ways we are told to “turn the foot”. The distinction is one of sin itself verses the pathway leading to sin. This prophecy urges we turn our foot from even entering upon the pathway of our own instincts, and rationales, and ambitions, that will ultimate lead us into transgression. Like the legendary pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, there are wages in treading those pathways of the carnal nature that lead to sin. At the end of following after our own natural instincts there is an inheritance of Death that awaits. While this pathway readily avails itself to sound logic and rationale, the end is not the salvation of God, even as Solomon writes:
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Prov. 14:12
This is the way of the natural mind walking in the spirit of this world, under Law. This is that path that leads to Death, precisely because it follows the way of sin. James describes this route more graphically when he writes:
But each one is tempted when he is carried away & enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; & when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15
Therefore the word of this prophecy is; “turn away thy foot”; allow the Spirit of Christ to illuminate your way in the darkness of this world, under Law. His Spirit will become ever the more perceptible and sure within your heart and mind so that you will begin to know a new instinct characterized by gentleness and lowliness of mind. God will teach our spirit in the true righteousness of the Son of God. He will lead; “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. And it is these who will emerge victorious over the mark of the beast.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Rev 15:2
 Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.
 Revelation 19:20
 “Universally”, meaning the common condition of all men.
 The symbol being man’s removal and banishment from the garden of Eden.
 See the article under this treatise at IV.B.3.c The Sabbath Day of God for this study.
 Psalm 23:3