Bible interpreters have
been convinced that the words ostensibly addressed to
"the king of Babylon" in Isaiah 14 have a
larger context and can only be exhausted if seen to refer
to some erstwhile angelic being. This conviction is
strongly supported by other statements and allusions in
different parts of the Bible, such as Jude 6, II Peter
2:4, Luke 10:18, Philippians 2:6 (margin—implication to another).
If this is true, then
the above makes clear the three steps leading to Satan's
downfall. They also indicate the downfall of much more
which has had a good beginning. There is much solemn and
valuable teaching here, although the subject is not
will be like the Most High"
There is much in the
Scriptures which shows that one of Satan's master methods
is the imitation of God, and the imitation of God's
truth. So much so is this that tremendous emphasis and
importance are placed upon spiritual discernment as a
gift and as a mark of the anointing. Indeed, it is a
characteristic of "he that is spiritual" - the
spiritual man. We can say that a primary work and
function of the Holy Spirit is discernment. The Holy
Spirit is spoken of or represented as having "seven
eyes," which means the perfection of spiritual
vision. We can here introduce another paragraph of much
weight from Dr. Tozer:
THIS BE OUR MOST CRITICAL NEED?"
"When viewing the
religious scene today we are tempted to fix on one or
another weakness and say, "This is what is wrong
with the Church. If this were corrected we could
recapture the glory of the Early Church and have
Pentecostal times back with us again."
"This tendency to
oversimplification is itself a weakness and should be
guarded against always.... For this reason I am hesitant
to point to any one defect in present-day Christianity
and make all our troubles stem from it alone. That
so-called Bible religion in our times is suffering rapid
decline is so evident as to need no proof; but just what
has brought about this decline is not so easy to
discover. I can only say that I have observed one
significant lack among evangelical Christians which might
turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual
troubles; and, of course, if that were true, then the
supplying of that lack would be our most critical need.
deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual
discernment, especially among our leaders. How there can
be so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so
little moral penetration, is one of the enigmas of the
religious world today. I think it is altogether accurate
to say that there has never been a time in the history of
the Church when so many persons were engaged in Bible
Study as are so engaged today. If the knowledge of Bible
doctrine were any guarantee of godliness, this would
without doubt be known in history as the age of sanctity.
Instead, it may well be known as the age of the Church's
Babylonish captivity, or the age of worldliness when the
professed Bride of Christ allowed herself to be
successfully courted by the fallen sons of men in
unbelievable numbers. The body of evangelical believers,
under evil influences, has during the last twenty-five
years gone over to the world in complete and abject
surrender, avoiding only a few of the grosser sins such
as drunkenness and sexual promiscuity.
disgraceful betrayal has taken place in broad daylight
with full consent of our Bible teachers and evangelists
is one of the most terrible affairs in the spiritual
history of the world. Yet I for one cannot believe that
the great surrender was negotiated by men of evil heart
who set out to deliberately destroy the faith of our
fathers. Many good and clean-living persons have
collaborated with the quislings who betrayed us. Why? The
answer can only be, from lack of spiritual vision. Something
like a mist has settled over the Church as 'the face of
the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is
spread over all nations' (Isaiah 25:7). Such a veil once descended upon Israel....
That was Israel's tragic hour. God raised up the Church
and temporarily disfranchised His ancient people. He
could not trust His work to blind men. Surely we need a
baptism of clear seeing if we are to escape the fate of
Israel... surely one of the greatest needs is for the
appearance of Christian leaders with prophetic vision. We
desperately need seers who can see through the mist.
Unless they come soon it will be too late for this
generation. And if they do come we will no doubt crucify
a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy. But
the Cross is always the harbinger of the resurrection.
Mere evangelism is not our present need. Evangelism does
no more than extend religion, of whatever kind it may be.
It gains acceptance for religion among larger numbers of
people without giving much thought to the quality of that
religion. The tragedy is that present-day evangelism
accepts the degenerate form of Christianity now current
as the very religion of the apostles and busies itself
with making converts to it with no questions asked. And
all the time we are moving farther and farther from the
New Testament pattern. We must have a new reformation.
There must come a violent break with the irresponsible,
amusement-mad paganized pseudo-religion which passes
today for the faith of Christ and which is being spread
all over the world by unspiritual men employing
unscriptural methods to achieve their ends." - Dr.
A. W. Tozer.
There are various things
in the New Testament which were intended for a witness to
Christ; for building up of the Body of Christ; for the
glory of Christ, which - for those very reasons - have
been taken hold of by Satan and simulated, imitated, and
given a resemblance to the true, but have been made - in
the end - to discredit Christ, and do just the opposite
to their Divine intention. It looks so much like the true
that many dear people of God are deceived, perplexed, and
led into error. Mixture of error with truth has always
been a very successful method of seduction, even from the
beginning. God is imitated in idolatry, false worship.
Christ is imitated in anti-Christ. The Holy Spirit is
imitated in guidance and gifts. Man is deceived by the
psychic simulating the spiritual. People, under the
stress of pressures of run-down nervous batteries,
neuroses, overstrain, spiritual accusations and
condemnations, rush to the psychiatrist. The method is to
get them to relieve themselves of their tensions by
self-expression, divulging hidden things, and in extreme
cases by hypnotism. This has a psychological effect and
the patient feels 'wonderfully relieved.' Expression;
expression! Self-expression! One man told the writer that
he came away from the psychiatrist feeling that he had
been "born again," something even better than
his conversion! But - yes, but! - it all came back again,
and worse than the former.
Psychology - the science
of the psyche - can be Satan's masterpiece in simulating
the spiritual, and then plunging the soul into deeper
depths of despair.
While there is
a releasing of the spirit in prayer and song,
and sometimes release can only be experienced in such
ways, and fellowship is a great means of such blessing,
there is the counterfeit of noisy and soulical
chorus-singing and unbalanced repetition. Music is often
the greatest blessing and the greatest peril. "In
the Spirit" is the Divine dictum.
will ascend above the heights of the clouds"
This whole paragraph -
Isaiah 14:9-15 - is an exaggeration, if by exaggeration
is meant 'to heap up, to load beyond normal, to carry to
"I will ascend
above..." holds this meaning - 'I will exceed'. It
is ambition run amok. It is pride in full tide. It is
something unrestrained by modesty, humility and
dependence. It is extravagance. It is just adding to what
is right and true. It is overstepping the mark. It is
inflation. This is the peril of the passionate soul. If
Satan cannot keep back he will push over. If he
finds earnest devotion he will urge it to excess. If he
finds an active mind he will cause it to add that extra
to the truth, so that the truth becomes untrue.
In "the king of
Babylon" we have the exaggeration of personality.
"See this great Babylon which I have
made." The "I," the ego, is assertive,
pronounced, overmastering. Leadership and natural ability
and gift become autocracy, dictatorship, even tyrannical.
There is often a thin line between autocracy and spiritual
leadership, and it is here that discernment is
needed. The former forces, compels and makes legal. The
latter comes of suffering, deep history with God, and
sets a high standard, and keeps to it. This may be
difficult for the flesh in others to accept, and they may
wrongly interpret it. Leadership is a Divine gift and of
great importance. No one will get far without it. Hence
Satan has always marked down this function and its
possessors for special attention to exaggerate it and
defeat its true object. Dependence is the refuge of the
spiritual leader, and the Lord very fully sees to this!
There are many
exaggerated movements in our time. Teaching is pushed
just that much beyond its true meaning. Something right
and good, and then the bit in excess. It is thought to be
very spiritual, advanced teaching, but the line of
actual meaning has been crossed, and confusion follows
because of an unbalanced emphasis. This has so often been
the cause of exotic and eccentric sects and groups, and
their number is legion. The Athenian propensity was
"some new thing," which usually means some new sensation.
How powerfully Satan supports such exaggerations and
makes error grow without proportion! He knows full well
that he is going in this way to fill the world with
disillusioned people who presently will not believe anything,
particularly the truth. It was this very thing which
made the Apostle John so strongly, almost
vehemently, pinpoint the truth in his constantly
repeated: "This is...." See his letters,
and note his emphasis upon "the anointing teaching
all things." The context is anti-Christ in
will exalt my throne above..."
"Above." The object, the goal, the climax of
Satan's aspiration. It sounds fantastic and remote. But
it is not so remote and unthinkable as it seems at first
sight. Is not this the motif and stimulus of all power
politics? If only we realized it, the undercutting of
this was the reason for the Incarnation, because all
sin has sprung from this root. The birth, the
childhood, the manhood, the teaching, and the Cross of
Jesus Christ were a positive offset to worldly power and
glory. Never did He seek to 'make an impression,' draw to
Himself or to His cause by prestige, elaborateness,
glamour, or a show of natural glory.
Even of His rightful
heavenly glory and status "He emptied Himself"
His Kingdom and His Kingship were not of this world.
All this was to undo
something which had been distorted. This something is in
us all. We worship the idol of success. We have a totally
false conception of strength, power, and importance.
Jesus came to correct this in His own person. "Thou
madest Him to [in order to] have dominion." Yes, but
not self-centered. "Bringing many sons to glory."
Yes, but the glory of His infinite grace, favour
without any merit! "We shall reign with Him."
Yes, but as worshippers of the Lamb!
The test of everything
is whether it really exalts Christ. Not in word only.
That may be a form of simulation and exaggeration. The
demon-possessed temple girl of Ephesus may sponsor and
preach the Gospel, but it is a "deep thing of
Satan," and the Apostle was not selling the Gospel
cheaply to the devil to gain popularity. The holiness of
Christ is the criterion!
So we - all so briefly -
note the way of Satan's course, but the way of his fall.
The judgment upon his simulation, exaggeration, and
predomination is "Thou shalt be brought down to
Over against the false
may the Lord produce the true similitude of Christ: the
true magnifying of Christ: the true exaltation and
supremacy of Christ!
First published in "A Witness And
A Testimony" magazine, Vol. 48-1 Jan-Feb, 1970.