28. The Dragon and the Beast
The lie says that Christ is not my life. The curse says that I have a life not His. You can always tell the dragon, he makes you feel that you don't measure up (“Let me tell you a secret; you are not the image of God”). You can always tell the beast, he imposes on you an identity not Christ (“Know your place, worm”).
28. The Dragon and the Beast
The dragon and the beast are central to God's story and purpose. The dragon is the liar of the lie; the beast is the enforcer of the curse.
I read a most absurd statement recently. Here it is: “I believe I have written the most informative book on the book of Revelation today. I have determined... which is something that no one has ever done. I have found... which is also something no one else has ever done. I have correlated...”
I suspect that the number of people who have said the same thing over the last 1900 years must exceed 100,000. Included in that number was Isaac Newton, the man whose mind and perception gave us the modern age of science and technology. Isaac Newton devoted decades of his life to unlocking the books of Daniel and Revelation. He has now been bested?
All such studies of Revelation are the same. In all of them, John's vision is divorced from the gospel of Jesus Christ. In all of them Christ revealed in His body, Christ present in us, is absent. No one discovers the unveiling of Jesus Christ in the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ! They do not find Him because they are not looking for Him.
But let's go in the other direction with that thought. Let's take one hundred individuals, each of whom has been absorbing Revelation for years EXCEPT that each one, seized by the determination of God, has come to know Christ as their only life, each one's heart has been caught by the vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ in Person through us, His body, into this earth and setting creation free. Now, have each of them write a study of Revelation out from that knowledge of their utter union with Christ in the power of the Spirit, continually placing John's vision under the gospel given by both Paul and John, with John 14:20 as the ruling verse of that study and the epistle of 1 John as its defining guide.
Every one of those one hundred individuals will be writing out of the joy of the revelation of Christ in them in their present moment. Each of them will be drawing the various symbols of John's vision into that joy, using them to underline Christ in manifest victory personally through them. The result would be that each one would find different patterns and connections. To the ignorant, they would seem to “differ.” Yet those who know Christ would find the Person of the Lord Jesus revealed through each writer. It is the Person of Jesus, present and revealed, who would be the evidence that each of those writers are actually saying exactly the same thing.
In the same way, each of the 100,000 who say, with the fellow above, “I have written... what no one else has ever done,” are all the same as well. What they are all agreed upon is the ascendant capacity of the human intellect and the absence of Christ from the earth, human reason and human authority as the vicar of Christ. (Vicar means, “Hi, Jesus is gone, but I'm here.” Vicar means the claim of “power of attorney.”)
Let me define the lie and the curse again.
The lie says that Christ is not my life. The curse says that I have a life not His.
The largest lie in the serpent's words was implied and not stated. The largest lie was this: “You are not just like God. You are not His image. Christ is not your life.” Now, the stated lie, “Do this to make yourself look like God, that is, to be godly,” actually pointed directly to the curse.
Once Adam and Eve had imbibed the real lie. “Oh dear, look at me, I am certainly not like God. I am weak; I am lowly. I am ashamed of myself,” then they reached out to take upon themselves the curse. “I can make myself look like God by trying very hard to look godly. Hey, fig leaves should do it! Looking good, baby!” The tree of knowledge was not the lie, it was the curse. It gave them a life not Christ. Yet that “life” was like life in The Matrix. It was entirely imaginary, a continual feed of false programming. Adam and Eve had already fully swallowed the lie before their teeth ever touched the fruit of knowledge. They were “seeking” what they already possessed through weakness.
The dragon says that Christ is absent; the beast presents the alternative.
If all violence ceased, if every individual person on this planet, from this moment on, treated every other individual person with the utmost respect and honor, then the United States of America and all other political entities would instantly cease to exist. The desire to force other people's lives in any way would simply vanish and with that desire would vanish the beast.
The lie says that Christ is absent; the beast says that we must control all these people, force them to “be like god,” that is, like me, BECAUSE Christ is so obviously absent. These people cannot beChrist Jesus Himself.
Here are two expressions of the beast. “Everyone who comes to America should be required to learn English right away and speak only English.” And, “The rich should be required to pay most of their money to the government.” Both of these are the same, that is, a complete absence of respect for others, the desire to inflict the ravings of self upon other people's lives. Neither of these things can go anywhere without violence. They both come out of Lucifer's sickness, not Adam's. “I'm the real image of God, everyone must be forced to do what I fancy.”
If the Lord Jesus Christ prefers to speak or advertise in Spanish here in Houston, Texas, shall I punish Him? If the Lord Jesus Christ prefers to use His own money for His own private purposes that are none of my business, shall I accuse Him of “greed” and throw Him in prison?
My regard for my neighbor and my regard for the Lord Jesus Christ are identical. I disrespect my neighbor only because I am convinced that Jesus lied when He said, “You ARE doing it to Me,”only because I am convinced that Jesus is absent from the earth.
A true community of Christ produces the deepest respect and the highest regard for each one's person regardless of outward appearance or momentary stumbling. If that deep respect and high regard does not eventually come, the community either falls apart or becomes something ungodly.
The desire to impose my druthers on you in disrespect of your person and honor, comes only out from another god, another image, a life not Christ. When I impose my druthers on you by the claim that I represent Christ towards you in an outward manner (who, since He is absent, cannot be you), then I am practicing evil.
Christ is always laying down His life for those who oppose Him, making them His closest and dearest friends. He walks always beneath of others, lifting them up, looking up to them in honor and regard. It's easy to tell a true apostle of Christ; he or she will always be treating you as if you are of higher regard than they.
You can always tell the dragon, he makes you feel that you don't measure up (“Let me tell you a secret; you are not the image of God”). You can always tell the beast, he imposes on you an identity not Christ (“Know your place, worm”).
God gets His kicks out of exposing and annihilating both by proving Himself true through us; He does so by the open display of the greatest power in the universe, God Himself revealed, laying down our lives for the brethren.
Now, let's fully understand the primary principle by which all story is written. A truly great story reveals the truth and reality of the hero BY the ruling device of all story, OVERCOME. No hero is ever known except as He overcomes. Yet there is no overcoming without an opponent worthy of the hero and matching that hero point by point in every conceivable way.
If I were to teach Gladiator in a literature course, I would require a paper from my students drawing a full comparison and contrast between Maximus and Commodus, showing how they were equally matched, positive to negative, all the way through. That study would give us the primary meaning of the story, making the moment of victory utterly profound.
To unveil the unending depths and power of this compare/contrast exercise between the heroes (five of them) in War and Peace and their opponent, a shallow and empty life, would take more pages than War and Peace itself. And the incredible thing is that Tolstoy made the turning point for each of the five in this way. Having brought each one over time to see all the emptiness of their lives, coming to a place of utter weakness, he led each one into a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. The most important one in the story, Natasha, had the most incredible experience with Jesus. Thus War and Peace, in all of its complexity, has five separate climaxes. This victory of a life flowing out of Christ over empty and shallow lives is drawn by Tolstoy through every nuance of human psychology, both individual and group, and inside the horrendous historical experience, each of the five, in the path of Napoleon's monumentally insane invasion of Russia. It is an incredible study.
Describing War and Peace in this way enables me to say that Tolstoy's literary work matches the Great Story of God, as a drop to the Ocean, yes, but of the same essence and meaning, more than any other penned by a single human author.
Here is the point I wish I could cause each reader of this letter to know in full meaning through all the fabric of their knowledge of God – myself included.
The meaning of the Great Story of God is caught by these words of Paul in Romans 3.
Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome (nike) when You are judged.”
Every individual person from Lucifer and the rebellion of heaven to the Great White Throne, both fallen angel and fallen human, every single person IS a unique and particular accusation against God – “Did God really say that?” Let us assume, for discussion's sake, that we are speaking of 30 billion different persons.
Each one of those accusations against God, each one of those untrue stories, are as unique and different from each other as snowflakes and fingerprints.
God reveals Christ to the universe, His Word as He really is, by sending Christ Jesus AS the answer to every single one of those 30 billion different accusations. The Revelation of Christ, the Word God speaks, seen and known by all creation, comes AS the counterpart to every single and different accusation.
God's true story is known as it matches and eliminates every false story. God does so by swallowing every false story into Himself, into life.
That You may overcome – the mighty energy by which Christ subdues ALL things to Himself.
The extent and reality and meaning of Christ, the Word God speaks, is shown to the whole universe by the extent and reality and meaning of every individual answer to every individual accusation.
Thus the study of every single fallen human and every single fallen angel, as they are answered and swallowed up by Christ in tender love and in mighty power, will be a worthy study itself, unique and different from all other 30 billion studies, and far greater than War and Peace. Yet the revelation of Jesus Christ will never end, but only increase forever.
Christ is known by all as the answer, full and complete, of every individual expression in heaven and earth.
You and I are that answer; we are the writing of the Scroll. We are just like Him as we see Him as He is.
Thus John said: And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John was speaking prophetically and forever.
Let me reduce this incredible point to one sentence. The purpose of God for the dragon and the beast, the lie and the curse, is to reveal Christ in all the nuance of who and what He is through us by their defeat.
There are two victories in particular that reveal Christ as He is, the defeat of the world and the defeat of death.
Thus when I read many of the teachers of present grace and union with Christ and I see in their words an absence of victory over the world and victory over death revealed through us as the revelation of that grace and of that union, my heart is filled with sorrow. Yet Jesus will reveal Himself even in that emptiness by swallowing it up in what is real. We will get the enemy running; all Israel will take him down.
If the entire point of every lie and every accusation against God is to reveal Christ as He brings that lie and that accusation silent before God by answering each in particular out from Himself through us, His body, then maybe God filling His Bible, His Word to us, with a continual unveiling and explanation of both lie and curse is important to us. Maybe God wants us to know and to comprehend and to move with Him in all wisdom and understanding as He reveals His victory openly upon this earth now through us!
What I am getting at is that God gave us the study of the Dragon and the Beast, the lie and the curse, in many different forms in the Bible SO THAT WE WOULD KNOW the Revelation of Christ through us. I just read it again, someone whining about how God doesn't want us to trouble our little ol' minds about these things.
HOGWASH!! Or, as Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan, for you care nothing for the things of God.”
Here's what God says: The Holy Spirit will guide you into ALL truth. – Seek and you will find. – If any man thirst, let Him come to me and drink. – You have not because you ask not. – That you may be able to comprehend the extent of God revealed in you.
Forgive me for getting sidetracked. I write to sons who know their Father. I write to those who are just like Jesus, ready and able and willing, with Him now in the day of His power, ready to be used by Him in all victory revealed now upon this earth, victory over the lie, victory over the beast, victory over death, by lives laid down, by God manifest in the flesh.
Thus let us study the dragon and the beast, heaven's rebellion and earth's rebellion, by the Spirit of Christ and by His revelation now through us, that His Word might be in our mouth, our sword swinging with His, as we bring the answer of God to every accusation wailing against Him by both heaven and earth.
Let us study to reveal Christ.
We will never reveal Christ as He really is without overcoming, that is, Christ Himself proving His overcoming now through us. And the two primary things God intends for Christ to defeat openly now through us are the world, that is, the beast (the world is the collective that is not, yet makes itself real) – and death.
The defeat of the lie happens personally inside of each of us; the defeat of the beast and of death happens openly for all creation to see. We defeat the lie by casting down the accuser in every shadow of accusation against us. Christ defeats the beast and death through us as we know the full and final elimination of every nuance of the lie all through who and what we are, spirit, soul, and body.
We defeat the lie, the accuser, the serpent, the dragon, by these words: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are not defeating the lie while still caught in it or while still promoting any form or shadow of the lie.
That lie says that Christ is not my life.
Christ is God manifest in the flesh. God manifest in the flesh can be reduced to one action verb: nike – overcome – victory!
God has given us that Victory; God has given us Himself.
Now, I want to get right at the rebellion of Adam as it operates in the church of Christ, in the hearts and minds of God's people, right at the lie and right at the curse.
I saw two very common phrases again recently: “It did not make me a better person,” and “In the next life.”
These two phrases are the lie and the curse, the dragon and the beast, welded together, yet coming out of human thinking through human speech and sounding normal and right. Both phrases are rebellion, and, in the end, blasphemy. If you have said either recently, please, don't feel bad (I'm sure you won't.) Both lie and curse are inherently common and familiar, part of the essential fabric of life in this world as we have known it – on the one hand, and Christ carries all that we are on the other hand.
Yet, as we shine the light of Christ on these two phrases, we see how dark they really are.
You see, it's no good to talk about defeating any dragon or beast out there. Neither is it any dragon or beast “inside of us” that we are “getting rid of.” Rather, as we see the glory of Christ revealed, that light exposes the ideas in our minds that are simply not true and we laugh with joy as they vanish away.
We are transformed from glory to glory by the renewing of our minds.
No human being on this earth, including all Christians, ever wants to be like Jesus. In fact, every human being, including all Christians, despises with all the venom of their hearts any thought of being like Jesus.
Let me define Jesus.
Naked. Bloody and bruised. Stark naked. Weak, utterly weak. Looking at His mom looking at him. Naked. Weak. Bruised. His enemies, deceitful men who get off on hurting others, standing right there, a few feet from Him, making faces. Hearing their taunting whines, “Hey you, ha-ha, if you think your 'God's son,' ha-ha, then do a miracle now, ooey, oeey!”
Naked. Weak. Bruised. The IMAGE of God – AND unashamed!
Jesus was not ashamed of being the image of God, we are.
No one wants to be like Jesus.
It seems that I talk about Adam too much. Every time I do, I say, “Here is the lie,” and I think that I see the lie more clearly than ever before – and I do. Yet the very next time rolls around, and I see the lie as I have never seen it before. And so it goes; I thank you for your patience.
Picture Scar and little Simba in The Lion King. Here's the lie. The serpent comes up to Adam and Eve and says, flat out, “You are not the image of God, I am.”
You see, the lie is never stated. Scar did not say to Simba, “I'm king, not you.” Yet everything found in Scar through the entire story, every word he spoke, every action, every part of his person, is found entirely inside of those words, “I'm king, not you,” words that must be repeated continuously, over and over – because they are not and never can be true.
Lucifer was the most glorious being created by God. No other creature came close. Lucifer had the highest intelligence, the greatest skill, the most renowned beauty. Lucifer was the largest, the strongest, the epitome of all outward grandeur.
Adam was the most ridiculous being created by God. Weak, incapable, naked. Next time you're drying yourself from a shower, stark naked, dripping wet, hair going in all directions, have another look in the mirror. Aren't you the most ridiculous thing you ever saw?
I will not make graphic the most ridiculous, nastiest, and smelliest pose we humans must make, most every day, sitting on the “throne.”
You see, most people, hanging from a cross, shat themselves as well.
The Express Image of God's Person.
So when the serpent said to Adam and Eve, “I'm God's image, not you,” they instantly and easilybelieved him.
Let's paraphrase the serpent's real words. “Hey, if you (the real image of God) want to look like me, (what God ought to look like), here's how.”
The best single word to describe the serpent is ENVY. Satan is not “envious”; he is envy. Don't be deceived. He knows he is not and can never be the image of God. That's why he screams over and over, “I'm God's image, not you.” His entire goal, the drive of everything he is, thinks, and does, is to drag down the true image of God into the perverted swamps of self-improvement.
The lust to become a “better person” is the hatred of being like Jesus. I see now that every discouragement I have ever felt came out of the deep disappointment of discovering, once again, that I had not become a better person!
We must comprehend the lie as it really is because we live in a world created entirely by that lie, that is, the beast, or, in today's metaphor, the matrix. The cute sayings of that lie, “I'm God's image (an image of outward perfection), not you,” are woven all through the patterns of human and Christian thinking, and we are continually speaking that same lie only because we don't know better.
Every action of every demon spirit against you, all through your life, whether coming at you in the heavens, or coming at you through the mouth of other people is ENVY. Their whole goal is to keep you from ever being like Jesus, naked – and unashamed.
The phrase, “It did not make me a better person,” was spoken by a teacher of grace, referring to his past experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts that came with that experience. It was spoken to justify why he has abandoned that whole arena in favor of the next set of fig leaves to come his way.
You see, if becoming a “better person” is one's goal, then nothing of God will ever suffice. Rather, that one will go from one experience to the next, one truth to the next, abandoning each in its turn because none of them will make you look one bit better.
You see, every time I look back at any experience of my life, I see the perfection of God more clearly than I ever have. And as I see that perfection, Personal and Real inside that experience, then I also see that minor thing, that little delusion of human thinking that was not God, but that somehow had hitched itself along for the ride in that same experience, vanish as it never was.
Every outpouring of God, every experience of God, every reality of God, every truth of God in church history and in personal experience is always accompanied by the twitterings of demons on the side lines, throwing up their smoke and mirrors, getting everyone's attention who is not looking for God. The smoke and mirrors are tiny; God is big. Those who see the smoke and mirrors instead of God are not very bright.
I am not and never will be a better person. I am the image of God, naked, weak, bruised, and unashamed.
I am just like Jesus.
(Remember that in all of my speaking, you put yourself as the “I” in that speaking. We call those things that right now appear to us as NOT, as they really ARE.)
Adam rejected God in the first place because he liked what he saw when he looked at the serpent's appearance of outward perfection and he determined in his heart to become a better person than what God had mistakenly formed.
Look at the very moment of Scar's lie defeating little Simba. That picture captures the essence of the serpent's victory over Adam – the KING cowering in awed “belief” before the face of Envy.
Now, let's talk about this fascinating phrase, “In the next life.” That phrase is so not in the Bible, yet it comes entirely out of the press of the Nicene Creed. Let me break the news; there is no “next life.”
Look at the root of every Christian's belief about the “next life.” The only way to understand that belief is to see the root of every Christian’s belief about this life. That root is, “I am ashamed of myself, and Christ Jesus is far away from me.” Thus the core of this thing called “in the next life,” is the hope that “Over there, I will be a better person, more worthy of seeing Jesus.” And the root of that core is the belief that losing this flesh of weakness is the very thing that will make me beautiful and the belief that seeing Jesus separate from me is “glorious.”
In The Lion King, Simba's father, Mustafa, was handsome and strong, while Simba's uncle, Scar, was ugly and weak. That's how we humans think – and it is true metaphorically. But in outward appearance it is not true. You see, Adam and Eve looked at the Express Image of God's Person, themselves, and agreed with Isaiah, “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
But when they looked at the serpent, here is how he appeared in their eyes: You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created... Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor...
Outward perfection, outward beauty, outward wisdom, outward splendor, but corrupt to the core.
When the Shulammite maiden said, “You are fairer than ten thousand to my soul,” she was speaking from the altered view of love – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When I SEE HIM, Christ Jesus, in, as, and through every particle of my weak and ridiculous human frame, I love Him as I have never known love before. He is altogether beautiful to me.
To be rid of my weak and ridiculous human frame is to be rid of the image of God; it is to be rid of my intimate and present knowledge of His great beauty. I don't want to lose my outward form, but that it be swallowed up fully by life, as Paul said.
At the core of EVERY whisper of “In the next life,” is the belief that someday, someday, over there, I will be a better person, and then, I will see Him. The grass is always greener over there.
No one wants to be like Jesus, naked and unashamed. No one wants to see Him as He is.
Everyone believes that Lucifer's outward perfection is the image of God. When a Christian hears the words, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” he sees the image of Lucifer's outward perfection as the definition of “God,” and thinks, “Oh me, oh my, I can never be like that.”
If you want to know exactly what God looks like, let's view a video clip. The camera pans in on a man on his knees on the ground, weeping uncontrollably, in immense human distress. Slowly, he lifts himself up and you see his face. You see the lines of agony, you see the dirt and leaves in his hair, the phlegm on his lip, the sweat mixed with blood on his brow. But as he rises to his feet, you see the most incredible transformation taking place deep inside of him. You see the agony and horror fade away and in their place, in his eyes, you see a fierce Joy as you have never known such a thing. Yet he turns at the noise and lights below and the dirt, the phlegm, the blood and sweat are still his outward appearance. You see immeasurable Joy carried inside of utter weakness.
You are seeing God, the only picture of God granted to the universe.
There is a second video clip we must view as well, but I want to use it in my next letter.
He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
What happens when that most unnatural, anti-life, and ungodly thing happens to a person, that is, when their body and their spirit are ripped asunder, contrary to all that is holy and God? Do they become a better person?
Right now you are a whole human being, with both your spirit and your body full and complete. You live in heaven as much as you live in earth. Your present problem is that both your spirit and your body are anemic; your spirit is blind and shriveled because you don't exercise it much, nor have you learned to see. Your body is disintegrating because it lives in an environment for which it was not made, the present condition of Adam's earth.
You are the image and likeness of God.
After you die, you will NOT find yourself in “the next life,” but in the very same “life” you walked in on this earth. Yes, you will be with the Lord, just as you are with the Lord now; but you cannot be “more” with the Lord. More than that, you cannot see Him as He is nor can you become just like Him because you have lost that most essential element for the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ and the proving of His victory through you – a dying body.
We cannot deal with the beast until we have cast down the lie. Until you KNOW that you, as you are right now, in all of your ridiculous human weakness ARE the image and likeness of God, you will always agree with the Beast when he says, “Know your place, worm; I'm king, not you.” And understand, those who fight against the Beast outwardly are worshiping the Beast equally with those who agree with the Beast.
I like J.B. Philips' paraphrase of Romans 12:2. Do not let the world press you into its mold.
There are two kinds of pressure that presses all. On the one hand is the demand by people whom you want to impress, that you act and appear in a form of which they approve. They do not press you outwardly with physical pain, but being pressed into their mold is voluntary on your part. Then there is a second press, and that is the authority structure in the world that forces you by outward violence to be and to do what it requires. That second press, the authority structure wielding outward violence, is the BEAST all the way through human history.
The first press is female, enticing; the second is male, demanding. – Let's get this clear.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Romans 13:1-3
The Beast is the enforcer of the curse, set in the earth by God for that very purpose. But where, in all of this chapter, are we instructed to worship that same beast, to sing its songs and to wave its flags?
God gave the whole world to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, saying through Jeremiah that any nation that did not submit to the king of Babylon would be destroyed. Then, when that same king told everyone to fall down at the music and worship his golden image, all the Jews obeyed. Isn't that what Jeremiah had said? Obey the beast and live?
All Jews obeyed the king of Babylon; all worshiped the beast – except three.
This was always the position of the Anabaptists, that yes, the government was the enforcer of the curse, but that had nothing to do with the church of Christ nor they with it.
I am fully convinced that those who take up weapons to fight outwardly against the fullness of the Beast in our day will be destroyed by the ordination of God.
The evangelical church in America is the secondary proponent of worshiping the Beast in today's world. They gladly receive its mark, convinced that God blesses America. Yet many Christians will take up arms to fight against the Beast by killing humans (Christ Jesus) as well; they also will be destroyed.
The kingdom of God, the revelation of Jesus Christ is found in neither stance.
We gain the victory over the Beast, we do not worship it. We overcome the Beast, we do not fight against it.
And how do we defeat the Beast? What is it's heart that we might remove it from the human experience?
There is no Beast.
In The Matrix, Neo won when he stopped the bullets. And he stopped the bullets because he knew that he knew that he knew that they were not real, they did not exist.
We defeat the Beast when we KNOW it is not, and we see each individual person as the image and likeness of God, purchased by Blood, the recipient of Mercy through us, through our own life laid down.
For you see your calling, brethren... to bring to nothing the things that are. 1 Corinthians 1:26-28