A 2-Stage, Populous Distinct, Chronology of Judgment
The New Testament
All this being said, what are the special and distinct judgments experienced by those who are in the House of God of the New Testament, the Church, which set them apart from the judgments experienced by the rest of the World? I mean, besides those judgments which were manifest to relocate their souls from the Dominion of Satan to the Dominion of Christ (formerly called, “the administration of mercy”), or, besides those judgments which must be continued presently and progressively to preserve the souls of saints in the safe-haven of the Kingdom of God (the continuous administration of mercy presently and progressively) …I say again, besides this form of judgment which is past and present, what else can be determined as a special and distinct judgment exclusive to the New Testament Church? The Church is a people among whom judgment flourishes, so we can be sure that the judgments which are exclusive therein are manifold and numerous, as we have heretofore observed according to the testimony of Peter in 1 Peter 4:17-18. But… in seeming contradiction to this, Paul spoke of the World, saying, “Them that are without God judgeth (1 Cor. 5:13). Do you see what is seemingly problematic with this statement, my reader? And, furthermore, in conjunction with this thought the question could be raised: How can judgments of wrath and punishment upon the Church (and She being scarcely saved therefrom) exist all the while the aforementioned judgments pertaining to the administration of mercy exist, according to the scriptures?
Firstly, my reader, let us understand that there is a diversity of judgments which do continuously flourish simultaneously and harmoniously with one another. There must be a depth of genius in the operation of judgment because of what the judgments do unveil, namely GOD! Speaking of this, it was written, “the LORD is known by the judgment which He executeth” (Ps. 9:16)! How marvelous! Therefore, the depth and complexity that exists in the knowledge of God is directly parallel to the working of Divine Judgments, my reader! The working of Divine Judgment does fill the World, as it was written, “[God] loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Ps. 33:5). Indeed! But are these judgments recognizable to “us”? For the most part, no. Therefore, let the wise man posture himself to learn, let the mighty man feel his inward weakness, and let the rich man behold his spiritual bankruptcy if, indeed, while the earth is full of the goodness of God via the workings of judgment, we have not come to know it (Ps. 37:28, 99:4, Zech. 8:16-17)!
“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” – Jer. 9:23-24
Heretofore, starting from 1 Peter 4:17-18, we have observed how the judgments of God did indeed begin with and thrive among the Old Testament Church, and not the World. We have noted the continuationism of this sense of judgment within the New Testament Church by the explicit affirmation of Peter’s confession; therefore, now, the perplexing matter in view is Paul’s statement, which was, “Them that are without God judgeth” (1 Cor. 5:13). While we know that Paul’s statement must be harmonious with Peter’s affirmation, Paul’s statement appears to mean that God’s judgment does exclusively exist among the heathen in their earthly lifetime while the saints are exempt. As the aforementioned sections do prove (that God does not judge the World until after He judges the saints), this is not the case. So why is the popular interpretation so widely accepted?
The Popular Interpretation: It is presumed that the saints walk-out their earthly sojourning without judgment because they have been saved. Therefore, when Paul said, “Them that are without God judgeth” (1 Cor. 5:13), he was presumably making reference to the heathen peoples of the World where judgment flourishes in unhindered ferocity because among the saints, it is not so. In seeming confirmation to this logic, people quote, “mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13), thinking that James meant to prove that the saints of the Church (who are recipients of divine mercy) do thereby live in “freedom” from the threatenings of Divine Judgment.
With the aforementioned reasoning’s and the like, the 21st century “Christian” reader is satisfied enough to pass on to another Chapter of the Bible. Fearfully, the man passes on while fancying himself to be that privileged individual upon whom there is no judgment! …and he couldn’t be farther from the truth. When Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 5:13, “them that are without God judgeth”, he was not implying that the saints of the Church do remain without judgment during their sojourning on earth, nor did Paul mean to imply that those who are “of the World” do stand as the primary objects of Divine Judgment over and above the saints. Taking the whole verse of Paul’s statement into consideration clarifies the meaning. Paul said,
“For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not yet judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” – 1 Cor. 5:12-13
Harmoniously, the heathen peoples of the World do experience judgment and, meanwhile, the saints undergo the first of the 2-stage chronology of judgment spoken of by Peter in 1 Peter 4:17-18. In this specified timeframe preceding the 2nd-stage judgment of the World referenced by Peter, the judgments undergone by the World and the Church are mutually exclusive. They are obviously different senses of judgment, right? Looking carefully at 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, it does not say that the saints are privileged by the fact that their lives are void of judgment. Paul spoke of Christian-to-Christian judgment, saying, “Do not ye judge them that are within?” (1 Cor. 5:12). Indeed, they did! Both the World and the saints do experience two distinct kinds of judgment in the timeframe before the 2nd-Stage judgment of 1 Peter 4:17-18, and here’s a foundational difference between the two: The judgment of God that is exclusively wrought upon the heathen is without the instrumentality of saints or Church Officers co-laboring with God (1 Cor. 3:9). This judgment is independently exercised by God and wrought upon the heathen, God-to-man, and for good reason. That reason being, first and foremost, the logistics of this judgment are incomprehensible by man. Therefore, on the contrary, the logistics of God’s judgment that operates upon those who are within the Church (“Do not yet judge them that are within?” – 1 Cor. 5:12) is necessarily comprehensible by man. Let me explain.
In the immediate context of 1 Corinthians Ch. 5, God’s judgment upon those who are outside the Church is, very specifically, the physical and spiritual curse of existing as aliens to or exiles from the Kingdom of God, the Church; which means, in other words, the unconverted or excommunicated individuals do stand uncovered and unprotected by the blood of the Passover Lamb and, thus, they are in ever-present danger of the ministerial angels of God’s wrath like on that woeful Egyptian night! This does not mean that God’s judgment will fall upon the heathen in the full scope of what a guilty sinner deserves, like at stage two of 1 Peter 4:17-18, for then both body and soul would be cast into the Lake of Fire (Matt. 10:28, Rev. 20:15, 21:8)! But in a more limited, reserved, and calculated sense, the judgment of God falls upon the heathen peoples of the World. For, I say again, if the full scope of judgment was enacted and justice was served (like it is within the Church), all sinners would undergo the first and second death in the blink of an eye. In other words, the World would come to an end. So, until then, an arbitrary scope of judgment is utilized by God to author the scheme of salvation and damnation to His own glory and praise during the ages of time! Hence, there is a diversity of physical and spiritual judgments experienced by the World until the utilizing of justice and judgment at the 2nd-Stage of 1 Peter 4:17-18.
There are many ways in which the scripture does testify to a present-tense judgment and condemnation which lieth hard upon the entire heathen world of sinners, one of them being described thus: “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). Now remember, this judgment exists during the timeframe before the 2nd-Stage of 1 Peter 4:17-18. It is a spiritual judgment experienced holistically by all heathen peoples because flesh and blood is a condemned lineage of mankind stemming from Adam, of whom it was written, “in Adam ALL die” (1 Cor. 15:22). This dying is a present-tense judgment of God unto condemnation, as Paul cited, “But them that are without God judgeth”. Evidencing this, that the inheritance of spiritual death (Rom. 5:12-14) is a working of judgment and justice upon sinners, it was written, “by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation” (Rom. 5:18). Speaking on this wise, do you remember how the Lord spoke of the Jewish unbelievers of the 1st century, saying, “He that believeth not is condemned already” (Jn. 3:18)? What is this already condemnation? It is the woeful experience which all mankind does undergo whereby they are “made sinners” via the curse of spiritual death (Rom. 5:19)! In this sense, first and foremost, “them that are without God judgeth” (1 Cor. 5:13), but there’s more. Secondary judgments include any additional acts of curse upon a sinner’s soul or body – like the reprobation of the mind/soul (Rom. 1:18, 24, 26) or the destruction of the body by disease or death (1 Cor. 5:5, Rev. 2:22-23). All these acts of judgment are strictly God-to-man without the instrumentality of saints, but they can and do utilize the instrumentality of holy angels, Satan, or fallen angels, as Paul acknowledged, “deliver such an one unto Satan” (1 Cor. 5:5). Paul considered a transfer from God’s Dominion to Satan’s Dominion as something that endangers both the soul and body; and in this case, speaking of an exile from the Kingdom of God, Paul said, “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:5). Think of it, my reader! Meditate upon the arbitrary judgment of the World through the instrumentality angels armed with the powers of physical and spiritual curse!
The Arbitrary Judgment of the World Prior to the 2nd Advent: This judgment includes variations of curse upon the body and the soul, a variableness governed by the arbitrary will of God taking pleasure in a sovereign design for the LORD’s ultimate glory. There is a Day set called, “the Day of Wrath and Revelation of the Righteous Judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:5-6), but God’s judgment upon the World prior to this Day does calculate the execution of all judgments for the superior purpose of God’s glory until the appointed time.
Spiritual Curse: Meanwhile, until the appointed time of Final Judgment, the highest degree of spiritual curse which God’s judgment of the World utilizes is when He reprobates heathen men so that they become homosexuals, accounted of in Romans 1:18, 24, & 26. The variations of spiritual curse experienced by all non-reprobated heathen men is dependent upon how much Common Grace the LORD is administering to each soul – restraining the violence of depravity (or spiritual death) through Common Grace being granted in greater or lesser measures to each sinner. All sinners are equally guilty in the sense that they are perfectly apprehended by the arms of total depravity, but Common Grace is dispensed to restrain each sinner’s depravity in differing proportions so that one lost man in comparison to the other is enslaved to a lesser evil rather than a greater evil, as the Lord directs. The distribution and benefits of Common Grace are administered to man through various exterior and interior ways, but there is one primary influence of Common Grace that is categorically different from all others. For example, it is true that certain aspects of God’s Common Grace are perceivable and enjoyable through the benefits of creation (Rom. 1:18-21, Heb. 1:2-3, Jn. 1:1-4, Matt. 5:45), which is exterior. It is also true that, because man has been created in the Image of God, there is such a thing as Natural Affection within mankind, which is an interior means of influence (Matt. 7:9-10, Rom. 1:26-28; Note: in this case, Common Grace is given and withheld according to God’s will to determine which individuals of lost humanity enjoy Natural Affections or Vile Affections). Also, it is true that earthly and national governments that uphold and enforce moral principles are a means of Common Grace because they restrain evil and promote good in the soul of lost sinners from an exterior location (Rom. 13:1-6). Notwithstanding, despite the truth of the aforementioned, a categorically different means of Common Grace is: the interior influence that God has upon every human heart so as to soften or harden it (Rom. 9:16-23). This influence overwhelmingly determines the variableness of Common Grace in lost humanity. To soften the heart, God ingratiates the heart with non-saving faith. This increases the man’s sensitivity to all that is moral and right. To harden the heart, God withholds non-saving faith. More or less non-saving faith results in the moral diversity of all sinners who are equally enslaved in the bonds of depravity. Remember, the stewardship of Common Grace is, in the fullest sense, the hardening or softening of the heart by the hand of God upon elect vessels of wrath to move them into the ordained positions of enmity wherein the glory of God’s anger and the power of His justice will be displayed to the utmost pitch of glorification. To testify of this, it was written, “What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Rom. 9:22).
Physical Curse: Meanwhile, until the appointed time of Final Judgment, the highest degree of physical curse which God’s judgment of the World utilizes is when He interrupts the course of “natural death” for the purpose to physically kill a man, hence the man is made to meet with the whelming flames of unexecuted justice the moment he is translated into the realm of eternity! Notably, though, even the cause of death commonly called, a “natural death”, is a judgment from God from the very beginning (all sinners have been barred from the Tree of Life which was in the Garden of Eden, and thus are doomed to suffer physical death). Nevertheless, and furthermore, there are variations of physical curse upon the body of those who are allowed by God to die a “natural death”, and such curses are as numerous as there are physical maladies in the World. Indeed, the World is filled with them! And for good reason. In the physical realm, all sinners are forced to belabor a cursed creation, caught-up in the cycle of utter vanity, drinking deeply of life’s rigors to the end that, at last, each one’s final destination in eternity becomes convincingly relevant to consider.
As the ancient curse does testify, “Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them” (Ps. 35:6), God executes spiritual curses (and in this case, spiritual darkness) through the instrumentality of angels. Oh, the wonder! The awful magnificence! If we had our eyes “opened” as Balaam’s, David’s, and Elisha’s were of old (Num. 22:31, 1 Chron. 21:16, 2 Kings 6:17), what glorious visions would we be enabled to see? Armed with weapons of divine plague, the angels of God do roam to and fro throughout the whole earth striking those whom the Lord wills in a present-tense judgment of the World! Afflicting each human in both body and soul, one sinner is exalted and another is put down, even though the full scope of justice and judgment is yet to be accomplished at Final Judgment. This, indeed, constitutes the affirmation of the apostle Paul, who said, “them that are without God judgeth” (1 Cor. 5:13).
Upon considering the multiplied billions of sinners that encompass the earth, and, in addition to this, the untold quantity of physical and spiritual maladies that do assail each one according to God’s judgment, let us fear! Albeit, my reader… this is God’s judgment upon those who are outside the Church. The saints are not “of the World”, yes! Which means that we are the primary object of God’s judgment over and above the heathen peoples of the World (1 Pet. 4:17-18)! Hence, among the Church, the concourses of angels are exceedingly more frequent (Gen. 28:12), the physical and spiritual judgments administered are exceedingly more numerous, and the standards of justice executed by God and reckoned by the people are far more demanding! The Church far exceeds the World in the magnitude that She experiences the judgment of God, but Her judgment utilizes angels and saints, not just angels. The judgment of God that operates within the Church includes a whole new dimension of judgment nonexistent in the World. Remember, Paul said, “For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not yet judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:12-13).
- In the Gentile Church Age Prior to the 2nd Advent -
The Judgment of the World
(an incompressible judgment that is arbitrarily fluctuating according to an undisclosed Sovereign Design of God’s Glory in the World)
2. God through holy & unholy angels
The Judgment of the Church
(a comprehensible judgment that is without fluctuation according to a disclosed mandate of God’s Glory in the Church)
2. God through holy & unholy angels
3. God through saints
Having freshly looked upon the judgment of God in the World via the spiritual and physical curses which afflict both body and soul of worldlings, what can be said of the Church? If Her intercourse with angels is exceedingly more frequent, if Her physical and spiritual judgments are exceedingly more numerous, and if the standards of justice executed in Her are far more demanding… how can She survive it!? Peter said, “scarcely” (1 Pet. 4:17-18). This we know, but in what New Testament experiences is this survival observably manifest?
For example, in the Old Testament, we looked at the intensity of judgment and the scarcity of survival as it existed in the judgment of the Church. For the sake of the readers recollection, I mean, namely: the swords of Israelites which hunted and killed all idolaters (Ex. 32:25-29), the fire of the LORD which consumed all complainers (Num. 11:1-3, Amos 7:4-6), the plague of the LORD which fatally poisoned all that lusted (Num. 11:33-35), the anger of God which wasted all rebels (Num. 14:26-35, Ezek. 20:38), and, finally, in one sequence of events, we looked at how the mouth of hell swallowed up all proud-speaking challengers of spiritual authority, the person-targeted outbreak of fire which consumed the notorious leaders who were captivated in the proud words of those who were swallowed alive into hell, and, subsequently, a manslaying plague was unleashed when all the murmurers of the Church chided for more compassion, unjustly so, because they were immorally pitiful for those who died (Num. 16-17). The summation of these judgments can be memorialized by these words: “Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish” (Num. 17:12)! This was an outcry voiced by a drastically reduced and scarcely surviving remnant of the Church! This, according to Peter, was judgment that began at the House of God – through which – the righteous were scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:17-18). Theretofore seeing that many more saints of the Old Testament Church were made to sound the same outcry throughout the ages, the students of the Church are made to understand the inherent danger of being “the Church” or “the House of God”. Speaking of this, but, in the words of frightened Church Members, it was said, “Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the Tabernacle of the LORD shall die” (Num. 17:13)! Therefore, my reader, with all this freshly recollected; it begs the question: “In what New Testament judgments is the scarcity of surviving Church Members observably manifest?” Before answering this question, some general statements of qualification are necessary.
General Statements of NT Qualification
It is true that, in the New Testament, the doctrine of holiness and separation does not involve the use of the Death Penalty or physical death as a means of Church Purity in the geographic region inhabited by the Church, as the Old Testament exemplified. Therefore, understandably so, the dynamic of Church Purity must be explained from a different angle of specificity. In the New Testament Church (within and among the people of the Church as they engage in Christian Activity), the rules of holiness and separation are instituted on the grounds of spiritual fellowship, communion, and company. When Church holiness and separation are breached so that a sinner is fellowshipping with the saints, judgment must be done. This means, in other words, a separation must be re-established so that righteousness reigns without interruption (“Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”-1Cor.5:6). The Dominion of righteousness does not exist within a geographic region or physical location any longer (during the Gentile Church Age of the New Testament), so the rules of holiness do not apply on these grounds. This is because the LORD is no longer the KING of the literal and physical Nation and location of Israel, at least not for now. Nor is the LORD seeking a Holy Land anymore but, rather, a Holy People! Irrespective of what physical location they are gathered together within, God seeks a Holy People! Like the requirement of separation was pledged upon the Chosen Land of Israel in the OT, the requirement of separation is pledged upon the Chosen People in the NT. The judgments which re-established separation in the OT meant that a sinning saint separated from sin or else God and His people would separate the sinning saint from the Church via the Death Penalty. The judgments which re-establish separation in the NT mean that a sinning saint must be separated from his sin or else God and His people will separate the sinning saint from the Church via the punishment of excommunication, which indicates spiritual death (1 Jn. 3:9, 5:16, Rev. 3:1-5). Speaking on this wise, do you remember the saying of Isaiah, who said, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa. 59:2)?
The salvific prerogative of God was thus established, my reader, as formerly addressed. Divine jealously guarded the Dominion of the LORD within and among the children of God, the Church. As a consequence, the heathen peoples of the World were outside of this special and exclusive Dominion of God (“them that are without”-1 Cor. 5:13). Those who were “of this world” by nature (1 Cor. 5:10) and “children of the devil” by spiritual lineage (1 Jn. 3:10) were, of course, peaceful inhabitants of Satan’s Dominion which resided over every population existing in the World both physically and spiritually, except those who were within the Church. This population which is “of the World” does naturally live in peace with “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), named Satan, hence they must be “put away” or exiled from the Kingdom of God, the Church. The two peoples are contrary one to another in all things that pertain to morality, righteousness, and the Kingdom of God, despite all mix-ability while engaging in secular matters of life in the World (which is unavoidable). While living in the World, the Church cannot separate from those who are “of the World” (1 Cor. 5:9-10), but the Church can separate the World from the Church (1 Cor. 5:11-12) by putting away from among themselves every wicked person (1 Cor. 5:13), as commanded by scripture. I say again, speaking in general terms: company with heathen men, publicans, fornicators, idolaters, and the like, is indeed inescapable unless one does literally “go out of the World” (1 Cor. 5:10), but companionship with such men while engaging in secular and morally neutral affairs of life is starkly different than the companionship activities, ministries, and assemblies of the Church, the Kingdom of God! This being the case, it is very significant for someone to be put away from the Church!
Soberly consider it, my reader. From thenceforth, upon excommunication, the exiled individual is related to as one who is “of the World” and therefore “without” the Church; meaning, in other words, he or she is “as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:17). Thus when a backsliding saint is removed from the Church via excommunication, he is exiled from the blessedness of God’s Dominion (the Kingdom of God) and delivered over to the Kingdom of Darkness which is the Dominion of Satan! And speaking of this act of exiling in terms of a delivering over, Paul said, “deliver such an one unto Satan” (1 Cor. 5:5). How fearful!
Before examining the profound significance of this event, and, before the depth and complexity of this study does grow beyond reasonable comprehensibility, it is needful for us to understand all the potential judgements of God that are active within the Church. Inspired scripture does indeed affirm and command saint-to-saint judgment, as 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 demonstrates (excommunication), but this does not represent the entirety of God’s judgment upon the Church. God’s judgment of the Church happens in three different orders of operation: God judges the Church independently from all, through the instrumentality of angels, and through the instrumentality of saints. Differing operations of judgment are variable according to the circumstance of sin involved, hence the complexity. For the sake of simplification, sin can be understood in two major categories: non-damnable sin and damnable sin. The threshold between these two sins changes everything, my reader! In other words, depending on what spiritual condition each individual saint is in before God, the judgments of God do drastically differ in their operations and goals. Now, please, don’t mistake what I am saying. The overall enforcement of the ideal of Church Purity never changes, without question; but to what degree any lesser forms of impurity are judged is yet to be addressed in our study. Therefore the spiritual condition of the believer is the focal point of diversity in judgment within the Church, on this wise: whether he is committing non-damnable sin or damnable sin. Understandably so, this is the origin of diversity in judgment because everything changes depending on if the man is forgiven and unforgiven in the sight of GOD! What instruments, operations, and goals in judgment do thereby change.
Unforgiven: When a saint legally turns into a sinner by committing damnable sin (this means that the saint is standing guilty before the Throne under the weight of unforgiven sin and endangered by the kindling of divine wrath in a damnable degree).
Forgiven: When a saint struggles with and commits non-damnable sin while legally existing as a saint (this means that the saint is completely innocent before the Throne & bearing no guilt of unforgiven sin, and whatever kindling of divine wrath has happened is of a non-damnable degree).
From henceforth, firstly, let us understand this threefold judgment of God within the Church as it exists while the saint is forgiven and legally justified, albeit struggling with sin. Secondarily, let us also understand the transition of the saint from forgiven to unforgiven, legally justified to legally unjustified, and how this struggling with damnable sin does necessitate the relocation of the saint from the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Satan and, thus, a different manifestation of Divine Judgment; which means, in other words, because the saint turns into a sinner and a worldling, a man who is deserving to be an exile from the Church to the World, he must now suffer under the hands of the god of this world, Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). You see, my reader, the relocation invokes all associated judgments! The one-time saint, turned worldling, must undergo the Divine Judgments which are exclusive to the World, and more. Surely, the painful significance of this event cannot be felt until the question posed at the beginning of this section is elaborated upon. That question, being,
Having freshly looked upon the judgment of God in the World via the spiritual and physical curses which afflict both body and soul of worldlings, what can be said of the Church? If Her intercourse with angels is exceedingly more frequent, if Her physical and spiritual judgments are exceedingly more numerous, and if the standards of justice executed in Her are far more demanding…
how can She survive it!?
Let us remember, the judgments of God which were executed upon the Church were strict and pervasive for the accomplishment of one supreme ideal: the eradication of damnable unholiness and unholy persons. This, for sure, is a standard of justice and judgment that the World could not survive if it were required of them (“Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” – 1 Pet. 4:18). Hence, for the strict accomplishment of this ideal, an increased concourse of angels is necessary in the Church. This is understandable.
Also, let us remember, when observing the independent and or angelic execution of God’s judgment in the World, we noted how the standard of justice and judgment was arbitrarily determined according to an undisclosed design of God’s Glory in the World, but the standard of justice and judgment in the Church is not arbitrary but definitive. The purpose of God’s Glory in the Church is not incomprehensible in its fluctuation but it is comprehensibly disclosed and exact in its operation so that we might understand it, agree with it, and co-labor to accomplish it. Hence, in the World, because the distribution of greater or lesser degrees of Common Grace and the subsequent execution of associated physical and spiritual curses wrought upon worldlings is unintelligible insomuch that man cannot reasonably comprehend its fluctuation or co-labor for its accountability, man’s co-laboring involvement is impossible (“But them that are without God judgeth.” – 1 Cor. 5:12). Redeemed mankind, the saints, cannot help to establish a judgment if it is not definitively revealed and therefore without fluctuation from person to person. Nevertheless, in the Church, the judgement of God is definitively revealed and without fluctuation from saint to saint! It is a standard of judgment withheld from the World and enforced in the Church: the eradication of damnable unholiness and unholy persons! Even so, like in the Church of the Old Testament, there are definitive rules of judgment laid-forth to be enforced by God, by angels, and by saints.
Saint-to-Saint Judgment in OT & NT Parallelism
In the Old Testament, for example, the co-laboring of saints can be detected when the Israelite sword did pass through the camp, the Church, every impenitent idolater to kill (Ex. 32:25-29). This was not an outbreak of fire or plague executed independently by God or through the instrumentality of angels wielding divine power. This judgment, the sword (Ex. 32:25-29), was a definitive commission required by all right-standing saints. They, with sword-in-hand, obeyed what was written, “go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour” (Ex. 32:27). Thereby, all the saints of the Church were held accountable to the judgment of God through the co-laboring of saints: a saint-to-saint judgment (“Do not yet judge them that are within?” – 1 Cor. 5:12). The enforcement of this ideal – the judgment of God in the Church – was later penned into Law by specifically defining the parameters of the Death Penalty. It was written,
“And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. Ye shall have one Law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” – Num. 15:27-31
“He that despised Moses' Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses” – Heb. 10:28
Do you see the parameter, my reader? Do you see which sinning saints of the Church would suffer under this saint-to-saint judgment in the Church of the Old Testament? This is not an incomprehensible judgment which is arbitrary in execution. It is definitive in that there were no Willful Sinners allowed in Israel the Church! And, furthermore, this peculiar standard of saint-to-saint moral accountability in the Church did not cease to exist in the New Testament, my reader, despite the cessation of the Death Penalty. Still, in the New Testament, the same standard exists: no Willful Sinners allowed in the Church! The greater context of Hebrews 10:28 does clearly reveal this, saying,
 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:24-31
As you can see, the “without mercy” standard of judgment enforced in Moses’ Law did not cease in the New Testament. Much more, on the contrary, the punishment increased in soreness and severity in the New Testament (“of how much sorer punishment”). The consideration, provoking, assembling, and exhorting of the NT saints was all for this one purpose: to keep saints from backsliding into Willful Sin (“for if we sin wilfully”). Therefore, without question, the process of saints becoming Willful Sinners must be clearly observable, right? Indeed. If it weren’t, there would be no means of accountability and thus, no means of saint-to-saint co-laboring with God in the judgment. What kind of observations are we talking about? Well, we are talking about an observable threshold between two different spiritual conditions, a non-Willful Sinner and a Willful Sinner, therefore it is expedient that we understand the significant work of grace in the life of a man who is indeed, a non-Willful Sinner.
The Moral Law (“The Righteousness of the Law”) is the Definitive Ingredient
If a man is not a Willful Sinner, he is, positively, a Willful Commandment-Keeper! This is an observable status owned by the trophies of saving grace which works regeneration in the soul of man. This operation of salvation is observable because the work of saving grace results in obedience to The Moral Law (“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”-Rom.8:4). Such men were right-standing citizens of Israel, the Church. Thus, when and if the aforementioned obedient saint deviates into continued disobedience, he observably moves from the fruit-borne testimony of righteousness to the sin-borne testimony of wickedness. Using biblical terminology, this means that the disobedient saint moved from an inward spiritual constitution of “slipping” to “fallen”, of non-Willful Sin to Willful Sin. Upon the saint falling into damnable sin (with continuance) and, being unable to repent of his iniquity therein, he lawfully becomes a backslidden Willful Sinner who must suffer the judgment written.
The saint-to-saint execution of the Death Penalty in the OT was put in place to eradicate damnable unholiness and unholy persons from the Church, and such persons were discernable through the Moral Law. In other words, The Moral Law makes morality comprehensible, and, thereby, saint-to-saint judgement is enabled. Now in respect to the New Testament, my reader, do you think that obedience to The Moral Law (called the fulfillment of “The Righteousness of the Law” in Romans 8:4) has been made void because of the grace and mercy now available in Christ? God forbid! Jesus of Nazareth said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matt. 5:17). Therefore, obedience to the Moral Law is just as necessary for all Church Members in the NT. Whether in the OT or the NT, this obedience is a fruit of saving grace (“Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”-1Cor.5:13). With all this in due consideration, The Moral Law is the definitive ingredient which enables saint-to-saint judgment. The Moral Law made possible the regulation of Church Purity, in other words (an exhaustive study of this can be found in Chapter 13, titled, “A Regulator of Church Purity: The Moral Law”).
As for the Old Testament, the Death Penalty is the most severe degree of saint-to-saint judgment. All lesser degrees of saint-to-saint judgment existed for the purpose of preventing the use of Capital Punishment. No matter what judgment is in view, the enabling factor which allows for the co-laboring of saints in judgment is of supreme importance for us to understand. Why? This is what makes the Church different than the World --- a Law! Did not the LORD foretell the fame of this peculiar trait of the Church, Moses saying, “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the Land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deut. 4:5-6). Therefore the difference is, very specifically, the terms of moral accountability which were clear, definitive, and observable. Morally speaking, the World may not be able to “discern between their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11). Not so among the Church! The whole process of a saintliness is discernable through the Moral Law: when the saint is in wellness or in backsliding; which means, when the saint is progressing in sanctification, slipping, or backslidden (fallen). The Moral Law does hereby, through the aforementioned titles, distinguish between a struggle with non-damnable sin or damnable sin.
Preventative Judgment: Saint-to-Saint Judgment Prior to the Death Penalty in the OT
Very specifically speaking, when “the will” of a regenerated man totally moves from un-Willful Sin to Willful Sin with continuance, the most severe form of judgment was enforced (the Death Penalty), but before this time the status of each saint was observable while they were merely slipping without falling. Because of the specificity contained in the Moral Law, lesser forms of saint-to-saint judgment were enforceable; and, happy is the man that endures such judgments, my reader! When enforced, these lesser judgments did not kill the saints, no! On the contrary, they kept them alive! Shockingly, this means that the saints of the Old Testament co-labored with God to judge the saints and enforce the Law, known as, the effectiveness of Civil Justice, and this successfully prevented the progress of sin in the lives of slipping saints. Hallelujah, it was effective! Which means that this prevented backsliding and hindered the use of the Death Penalty! In other words, this practice of saint-to-saint judgment was an operation which secured the present-continuous experience of salvation in the lives of Church Members, the Israelite Civilians. It was a form of eternal security, my reader! For this most gracious and needful cause – preventative judgment! – the saints and civil authorities were divinely empowered by God’s Spirit for the execution of saint-to-saint judgment. I say again, during all saint-to-saint acts of judgment prior to the Death Penalty, the ideal requirement of all-pervasive-holiness in the Church was viably upheld as reality because Civil Justice was effective to prevent the backsliding of saints. What a Glory!
A contrasting overview of “merciful judgments” and “merciless judgments” wrought upon slipping and backslidden saints can be found in, “The Grounds & Enforcement of the Moral Law via “The Death Penalty”.
To behold the glory of it all, my reader, it is needful for us to understand how difficult it is for a saint to become a backslider by comprehending salvation in terms of “the will”. Then, and only then, when the saints do understand the degeneration of the regenerate via the backsliding of “the will” from grace to sin, can they be conscientiously employed in the service of God for saint-to-saint judgment because, thereto, for the prevention of slipping and backsliding (fallenness), we have been divinely commissioned! What a Glory! Therefore, as a summation: God’s purpose was to maintain a Dominion of GRACE over the Church (which includes every individual in the Church). Note, this was not a Dominion of Death! Far from it. God’s glorious purpose was to hinder “the will” of each saint from ever making the fatal transition – from un-Willful Sin to Willful Sin – for this would mean a transition from non-damnable sin to damnable sin. Then, in turn, justice taking its course: this is the difference between life and death. I say again, this awful transition necessitates the Death Penalty, but let us take heed and consider the longsuffering of God: all saint-to-saint judgments prior to this last resort did enforce God’s mercifulness instead of God’s mercilessness. Indeed! “He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses” (Heb. 10:28), BUT this final transfer into the realm of God’s mercilessness was not easily or quickly accomplished… it was the last resort.
Preventative Judgment: Saint-to-Saint Judgment Prior to Excommunication in the NT
Above all other NT saints, the Church Officers existed to establish and maintain sanctification (present-progressive salvation) and prevent the progress of sin via slipping or falling. Speaking of this, it was written, “And He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). In doing so, these men preached (Col. 1:28-29), prayed (Eph. 1:15-23, 3:14-21, Php. 1:9-11, Col. 1:9-14, 1 Thess. 5:23, 2 Thess. 1:11-12), charged (1 Thess. 2:11-12, 1 Tim. 4:11-16, 6:17-19), judged (1 Cor. 5:3-5, 2 Cor. 2:10, 7:10-11, 12:19-13:11), warred (2 Cor. 10:3-5), fought (1 Cor. 15:32), revenged (2 Cor. 10:6), ruled (2 Cor. 10:13-16, 1 Tim. 5:17), watched (Heb. 13:17), constructed (1 Cor. 3:9-17), planted and watered (1 Cor. 3:6-9), shepherded (Acts 20:28, 1 Pet. 5:2), travailed (Gal. 4:19-20), nursed (1 Thess. 2:5-10), washed (Eph. 5:26-27), and more. All of this, to the end that the saints would not slip or fall from sanctification. Paul’s very own words tell it all, when he said, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23).
All other saints did likewise, as much as God enabled them in their various capacities and gifts. The end goal and singular effort of all Christian Activity was to ensure by the means of grace that all saints might survive the Day of Judgment (Heb. 10:24-31, 2 Cor. 5:8-11), and this meant: daily exhortation (Heb. 3:12-13), daily prayers with all perseverance (Acts 2:42-47, Eph. 6:18, Jas. 5:16-20, 1 Jn. 5:16), the singing of hymns individually and one to another so as to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18-21, Col. 3:16, Jas. 5:13, Acts 16:25, 1 Cor. 14:26), the various means of soul-winning & soul-restoring of the brotherhood via preaching, teaching, and prophesying (Matt. 18:15, James 5:19-20, Gal. 6:1, Jude 1:22-23), and so on. All saints existed that they might be a part of this most glorious employment, Paul said, “speaking the truth in love, [they were enabled to] grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: From whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16). Evidently, these Christian Activities were expedient and necessitous, and clearly they were preventative judgments against the progress of sin. Ah, but in all this grace-filled Christian Activity, the saints are not alone; there were non-human persons involved in and making possible saint-to-saint judgment of all kinds.
Saint-to-Saint Discernment & Accountability in Relationship to God & Angelic Judgment
Heretofore we have spoken much about what God enables saints to do in judgment, saint-to-saint, but we have addressed little about what God does through angels and by Himself. Remember, God judges the Church in three ways: through saints, through angels, and by Himself. And, by the content of scripture covered thus far, it may appear that a sound understanding of saint-to-saint judgment has been achieved, but, truth be told, until we understand what God does independently from saints, we cannot truly understand what saints do co-laboring with God. The Moral Law, itself, is not alone. It, by itself, is not sufficient to enable saint-to-saint judgment. God is the Moral One who, by judgment, enforces the Moral Law; and saints can do nothing without seeing and understanding what God is doing as He judges the Church independently from saints, individual by individual. Hereby the Moral Law finds its significance and life – the Moral One. Therefore, moral discernment is significant in saint-to-saint accountability because the Moral Law helps us discern the transcending operation of God in judgment via the peculiar ways He enforces the Moral Law among His people, the Church. What independent, transcendent, and peculiar judgements are these? They’re called, spiritual judgments (spiritual blessings or spiritual curses).
The judgments which God does independent from human co-laborers are unceasing and all-encompassing: God’s ultimate, sovereign, transcendent rule of the Church via the heart by spiritual judgments. In the light of this dimension of judgment, all other peculiarities of judgment in the Church find significance. Do you remember how the Church experiences an intercourse of angels exceedingly more frequent than the world? Do you remember how the Church suffers physical and spiritual judgments far outnumbering the world? This is why. Seeing God operate His judgments independently from saints, empowers saints in judgment. Without seeing God’s judgments, saints cannot judge. What is there to see, exactly?
Like in the World, where the judgments of God fluctuated according to the giving or withholding of Common Grace to every man, even so, in the Church, the judgments of God fluctuate according to the giving or withholding of Special Grace.
In the former section, we observed the greater and lesser distribution of Common Grace allowing for a diversity of manifestations of immorality among all vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:22). Likewise, now, we need to understand the greater and lesser distribution of Special Grace creating a diversity of morality among all vessels of mercy (Rom. 9:23). Hence, with all things considered in this dimension of God’s sovereignty via spiritual judgments: insomuch that each saint progresses in sanctification and righteousness, that much was a judgment from God (“God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”, which is Special Grace, “some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred” - Rom. 12:3, Mk. 4:8). Insomuch that each saint is hindered from the glories of a greater sanctification and progresses slower, that much was a judgment from God (“it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but God that sheweth mercy” – Rom. 9:16; Note: Special Grace is administered by God in the powers of absolute sovereignty over all things, known as, “God in the Ways of God”). In other words, insomuch that sanctification is slowed and hindered by non-damnable sins committed so that, in turn, each saint undergoes various phases of chastisement, plague, and curse which are proportionate to their sin, that much is a judgment from God (“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” – Gal. 6:7). You see, my reader? The Living Person of God is the Deciding Factor of it all, literally! His decision making is the Deciding Factor. Whether it be the giving or withholding of gifts (1 Cor. 12:11, Eph. 4:8), talents (Matt. 25:15), faith (Rom. 12:3), light (2 Cor. 4:3-7, Jn. 12:35, Rom. 11:6-10), or grace (1 Cor. 15:10, Eph. 2:8-9), God’s personal involvement via judgment (decision making) determines everything. “Who hath resisted His will?” None. “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth” (Rom. 9:18).
Therefore, now, having already addressed how the administration of mercy in salvation is a judgment of Jesus Christ, we have need to specifically identify the spiritual judgments experienced by saved individuals while they suffer a growing defeat in the battle against sin (while slipping or falling). Remember, we have addressed the progression of sin upon saints in terms of “the will”, and, the working of OT and NT preventative judgment to hinder or stop the growing influence of sin upon “the will” (lest “the will” makes the awful transition from Un-Willful Sin to Willful Sin and so, falls), but we have not beheld this situation in terms of what God does in judgment so as to empower saints to judge. As mentioned before, the transition from Un-Willful Sin to Willful Sin can and should be prevented from happening in the Church! But, in what language should we detect the growing influence of sin upon “the will” in stages of slipping which are before falling? The psalmist said, “God judgeth the righteous” (Ps. 7:11) …how? What does it look like when saints are judged by God? In situations of saints being defeated before progressing sin, God-to-saint judgments are correlating, proportionate, and exact according to the following description.
“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, He will whet his sword; He hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; He ordaineth His arrows against the persecutors.” – Psalm 7:11-13
“Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.” – Psalm 90:3
Have you ever wondered what King David meant when he said, speaking of God, “Thine arrows stick fast in me” (Ps. 38:2), or, “Thy hand was heavy upon me”, which meant, “[his] moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4)? What was happening to him? Also, have you ever wondered what David meant, when he said, “the floods overflow me”, or, “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and Thou hast afflicted me with all Thy waves” (Ps. 69:2, 88:7)? Speaking of this, again, David said, “All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me” (Ps. 42:7)! Furthermore, what was happening to David when he cried out to God, “Hide not Thy face far from me” (Ps. 27:9, 143:7), or, in other words, he requested, “Send out Thy light” (Ps. 43:3)? Or, what about when David said, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps. 32:3-5), and, “my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Ps. 63:1)? Now, we know that David was highly favored by God and beloved in His sight. We know that he was elect of God and precious. But… nevertheless, such experiences like these and more happened to him, a man after God’s own heart! David knew the reason for it all, my reader. These terrifying experiences were God’s spiritual judgments against the progression of sin in David’s life, according to the psalms. Read them carefully and you can see the contextual details which tell the story. You will see how David understood the goodness of God’s favor and love in it all, though the orchestration of such experiences were a fearful trial to endure. These experiences were God’s compulsory judgments which forced David to fulfill the standards of righteousness required by the Church, therefore David suffered them because He was chosen, elect, and precious in the Lord’s sight. Thus, David was compelled to say, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71). These were special judgments delivered to a special people for the fulfillment of special standards of righteousness through the enablement of Special Grace (“the power that worketh in us” – Eph. 3:20).
Needless to say, these experiences were observable and morally discernable, right? Indeed. But, what about today? My reader, do you see what David saw? Saints of the 21st century, are these experiences even in your vocabulary? If we do not know what these spiritual judgments are, exactly, and why they happen, then we are susceptible to feel and do just what we think is necessary; which likely means, we will just “be at peace”. Fearfully, we will just “be at peace” …even when God Almighty has taken away our peace! Let’s face it, my reader. Our own deceitful hearts can easily work in collaboration with false prophets for the making of a false peace (Jer. 17:9, Lam. 2:14). Biblical History proves it. Even though God did wound and hurt His beloved people of old, taking away their peace, the false prophets proclaimed the contrary, as it was written: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14, 8:11, Ezek. 13:10). And, because of this, the people of God were frequently made to voice the wearisome question, “Where is the God of judgment” (Mal. 2:17), as if He doesn’t even exist!
“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” – Mal. 2:17
Likewise, most 21st century Christians are blinded from their wounds and hurts which God has inflicted upon them. Contrary to the spiritual experiences and spiritual judgments suffered by the beloved of God, King David, they stagger on in unbelief that any such thing is possible. In the aforementioned terms voiced by David, this means: 21st century Christians meditate, memorize, melodize, and mandate peace even while the arrows of God are stuck fast in their flesh (“Thine arrows stick fast in me” - Ps. 38:2)! At such a time when David did say, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness” (Ps. 38:5), 21st century Christians say to every man his neighbor, “Ye shall have peace”. In such a situation, I cannot help but think of Jeremiah’s alarming outcry, when he said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Surely Thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul” (Jer. 4:10)! True peace is found by looking straight-on at the spiritual judgments of Jesus Christ, the KING of the Church. David’s experiences were manifestations of spiritual judgments (spiritual curses or spiritual plagues) which God inflicted him with, namely: spiritual arrows to wound the soul, spiritual floods of water to suffocate the soul, spiritual darkness to confound and blacken the understanding, and spiritual desertification to dehydrate the spiritual man; and, let us understand that all these forms of Fatherly Chastisement were perfectly in concert with God’s purpose of love and redemption [see “The Goodness of God Leadeth Thee to Repentance”]. These spiritual feelings were manifestations of spiritual judgment executed independently by God or through angels so as to make the saint feel the sinfulness of sin being committed, and repent. Let’s face it, my reader! As Jesus is standing among and walking amidst the Churches with seven stars in His hand, it is for judgment (Rev. 1:20, 2:1, 3:1)! Why else do we see the Angels of God doing what they have done all throughout Biblical History?
Thus, in the process of time, as Jesus decides “when sins”, “what sins”, and “how many sins” are made known to each individual saint’s conscience, He doesn’t want them feeling good about it. The terrifying experiences must be proportionate to the horror of sin being committed and confronted, thus repentance is wrought in an otherwise hardened heart (“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word” – Ps. 119:67). This is what David was speaking of in a variety of spiritual experiences which were, in summation: the non-damnable spiritual curses of God, called, spiritual famine & desertification, spiritual floods of water, spiritual darkness, and so on. Jesus doesn’t want the saints to feel good about any phase of slipping; and, much more, He doesn’t want the saints to feel good when they have altogether fallen into damnable sin! Saint-to-saint judgment exists to discern when these spiritual judgments of God are in operation upon individuals in the Church. In fact, through the faithful execution of these spiritual plagues, sinning saints cannot be hidden! Slipping saints can never go unnoticed! Thereby, the safety-net operation of saint-to-saint judgment is enabled to catch the slipping from utterly backsliding. Practically, how does this look? Well, John Wesley described it in plain language which resonates with many (The Unquestionable Progress from Grace to Sin), but the word of God does implore the saints to gaze upon the encroachment of sin with literary richness and captivating imagery. If only we felt our sin was like David feelingly described his sin to be, we would repent! If only we knew, understood, and embraced the judgments and operations of a thrice HOLY GOD as a bullock accustomed to the yoke (Jer. 31:18), we would be free (Matt. 11:30, Amos 5:14-15)! In the aforementioned terms, I mean to say, let us understand the workings of Divine Judgment in the Church in the following manifestations.
For an OT typological parallel, Leviticus 26:14-46 explains the different phases of chastisement in proportion to the measure of iniquities committed, and in this case it is five phases (1st (26:16-17), 2nd (26:18-20), 3rd (26:21-22), 4th (26:23-26), 5th (26:27-39)). There are, as it were (according to typological and Covenant parallels), five phases of increasingly intensifying chastisements wrought upon backsliders, and only the last phase inflicts with the power of excommunication from the Church (or ejection from the Promised Land for the OT, Lev. 26:27-39). Leading up to this final phase there is a partial and increasing measure of delivering over in which God delivers soul and body over to satanic powers, curse, and defeat – until finally the man is altogether fallen into the judgment: “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of his flesh” (1 Cor. 5:5). Preceding and leading up to this final stage of chastisement, there are lesser phases of spiritual and physical affliction, none of which hold the power of excommunication. Like the physical alien armies which would invade, oppress, and take Israel captive during certain phases of chastisement, the invaders of the NT dispensation are satanic spirits, or, alien armies of temptation which lead into oppression or captivity of actual sin committed. These temptations or actual sins increasingly intensify, to the agony of soul and body, and devils are connected to this process of chastening as it intensifies more and more. This is how God uses devils as an instrument – a ROD – just like He used heathen armies for OT Israel. This ROD delivers NT Christians over into drunkenness, darkness & the spirit of sleep, desertification, and adulterous rioting. When graces for perseverance are taken away from the regenerate man, then suddenly, he is overtaken by the instruments of death and afflicted, and God willing, the man is brought to repentance quickly thereby long before he ever comes near to absolute captivity into sin and the final result – eventual excommunication. This means, when the light of God’s face begins to dim, or when you get just a bit soul-sluggish and sleepy, or just a little desert-dry and weary, or just a little flirtatious with worldly lusts, then turn to God with haste – turn at His chastening – and by God’s grace it will go no further. But if you persist without responding in repentance, then the lashes of the ROD just increase with strength, intensifying the pain of every blow, and the demon spirits are those forces which will inflict these terrifying spiritual conditions: drunkenness (Isa. 19:14, Micah 2:10-11), darkness & the spirit of sleep (Isa. 29:9-10, Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 4:3-6), desertification & famine (Luke 10:19, Heb. 6:7-8, Amos 8:9-13, Jer. 5:18-25), adulteries (Hos. 4:12, 5:4, 1 Tim. 4:1, James 4:7).
My reader, can you relate? Have you ever felt deserted and nigh fainting for spiritual thirst? Or, a little desert-dry and spiritually weary? Have you ever felt a little flirtatious with worldly lusts? Or, a little infatuated with the spirit of adultery? Have you ever felt the light from God’s face dim, shade by shade, until you felt soul-sluggish and spiritually sleepy? In such a case, God forbid that Jesus would say to us, “Sleep on now, and take your rest” (Matt. 26:45, Mk. 14:41), as He did on that woeful night of treachery and betrayal! Rather, the Lord warns us with the following charge: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the House cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mk. 13:35-37). Thus, let us, like David, feelingly understand the workings of Divine Judgment via spiritual curse! Lest we, like Modern Day Christianity, are so estranged from these spiritual experiences of chastisement that we cannot feel the true condition of our souls before God (Isa. 1:5-6)! For, what if the Resurrected and Ascended KING JESUS says to us what was once said to the Christians of Sardis, namely, “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a Thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Rev. 3:2-3)! This is a fearful warning, indeed, but how should we respond to it practically speaking? Let us learn to feel what David felt, when He said, “Hide not Thy face far from me” (Ps. 27:9, 143:7), and, “Send out Thy light” (Ps. 43:3), or else we will fall asleep in the dark.
Spiritual Darkness – differing shades of spiritual darkness which proportionately lessen the brightness of spiritual Light
Like the face of the earth turns away from the face of the sun, and, the elements of the earth are less and less illuminated by the light which once filled the earth and air (a reversal of the spiritual experience described in Prov. 4:18), even so, now, in the case of slipping saints in terms of spiritual light and spiritual darkness, when God’s face is turned away from us, the Light which shines from His face becomes dimmer and dimmer until at last, if there is no recovery therefrom, spiritual darkness settles over the whole spiritual man (the pit of fallen-ness according to Eph. 5:14). At this time, having moved from slipping-to-fallen, the saint is walking in spiritual darkness (Eph. 5:8, Jn. 12:35-36), but before the fall and the subsequent condition of utter darkness, light ruled! Typologically speaking, the saint suffered 4 phases of greater and greater darkness… but he was not moved to an acceptable repentance as he should have been, thus the pitch-blackness of fallen-ness swallowed him up according to the implications of phase 5. This phase of utter darkness, where the Temple itself is destroyed (in Lev. 26:27-39), means that the motives of the saint’s heart, the natural impulses which control the thoughts of his mind, and the overall determination of his will has been given over to the unlawful pleasures of darkness (Eph. 4:17-18). “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Prov. 9:17), says the dark lord of the air. The saint, now fellowshipping with the rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12) instead of the King of Light (1 Jn. 1:5-7), does bring forth the unfruitful works of darkness in his life (Eph. 5:11). Take heed, my reader! As I have just described the process of “slipping” to “fallen” in terms of the Divine-plague called spiritual darkness, let it be noted: before reaching this final threshold of utter “darkness”, legally speaking, there was a dimming effect that sin had upon the Light within the soul, and had he repented at the first feeling of Light diminished, being alarmed at just one strength of brightness lessened, or just one grade of glory lost (2 Cor. 3:17-18), he would have hastened himself unto repentance. Why? Because he knows that to slip from here is, most assuredly, a slipping from the course of salvation (Heb. 2:1; God in the Ways of Man). Salvation is known by the increasing and abounding of Light (2 Cor. 3:17-18, Prov. 4:18, 2 Pet. 1:5-11); thus the saint would have to reckon that, with the shades of darkness ever-so-slightly quenching the light, he stands in earnest need of repentance, and without repentance he is soon to move from “slipping” to “fallen” (Gal. 5:4), and so he takes heed to himself that he does not fall (1 Cor. 10:12)!
Spiritual Death – a greater invasion of the law of death (i.e. carnality-Rom.8:6), or, an increasing usurpation of its dominion of rule in the heart
In terms of the spiritual plague called spiritual death, the doctrinal phrase “the law of sin and death” (Rom. 7:23, 8:2) is used, and when the saint begins to “slip”, the law of sin and death begins to work within him at an accelerating success (4 phases long). In the process of “slipping”, the temptations are not merely temptations; they are turning into more and more sins committed (James 1:13-15), and, thus, the rulership of present-continuous repentance over the heart is losing its grounds of dominion – the rulership of repentance is being pushed back, which means that the deepness, richness, and fullness of repentance is being increasingly lessened, thus with each sin committed the repentance becomes less and less. The sanctified will is nearing the threshold which, after it is passed, “the will” is given over to the dominion of sin – and at this time the saint begins sinning willfully (Heb. 10:26) and, consequentially, he abides in a place of spiritual death (Rom. 8:6, 1 Cor. 3:3, Eph. 5:14). You see, my reader, “the law of sin and death” advanced and then won the victory, and the result is spiritual death (Rom. 7:23, 8:2). This was a battle of two Kingdoms: One law, the law of the spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, was being attacked and overrun by another law, the law of sin and death (the reverse effect of Rom. 8:2), until the deadly law of the old man overtook the life of the new man (1 Cor. 3:3). Before reaching this threshold of spiritual death, 1 John 5:16 instructs us that the man needed life to be restored in the areas of heart and soul which had been given over to the law and rulership of death (partially speaking). This increasing invasion of death is like a king-led Canaanite army invading Israel: while at conquest and in the midst of the battle, Israel can lose and gain ground, with some lines advancing and some lines retreating, and in the process of the battle where the army of death advances, at all points to which it advances as usurper of holy ground, 1 John 5:16 instructs us that we request that God would give life to a sinner where there is an advancement of the law of sin and death, and this request is sure to be answered when under the proper conditions! All the while, during the progress of “slipping”, or in the utter defeat of “fallen-ness” under the ruler of death, the Devil (2 Tim. 2:26), this request for the advancement of the law and Ruler of Life is answerable, but when the man is fallen under the power of the invading army so that he is held captive therein for too long (a season of ten times passing over), God can abandon the whole realm and castaway the chosen man (the chosen Land) over which He reigned. This, my reader, is an irreversible loss of Life by reprobation, what Jude called “twice dead” (Jude 1:12).
Fallen-ness – various typological applications of other Divine-plagues
Like these former two plagues briefly addressed, called, spiritual darkness and spiritual death, even so it is with “spiritual drunkenness”, “spiritual desertification”, and so on. The principle effect of every plague as it begins upon the soul is that there is an advancement of sin which moves from a non-damnable degree to a damnable degree, from slipping to fallen. In the process, so to speak, the man becomes more and more drunken until he is entirely drunk, or the man becomes more and more famished and sun-beaten, until he is staggering after some unseen mirage of madness. The bottom line is this – the plagues bring upon the soul an incapacitation from the spiritual sensations which pertain to saving grace, presently and progressively. The end result each time, as long as the curse is NOT responded to with necessary repentance, is that the saint’s wretchedness and sin becomes an overpowering Giant rising up within him, holding fast his spiritual eyes and spiritual ears to be domineered by his wicked profanations. The Giant fastens the eyes to look upon him for forty days and forty nights! Forty days and forty nights (typologically speaking) because, fallen-ness is not so flippantly fallen into nor recovered from (James 4:4-10). There is a real captivity that takes place (2 Tim. 2:25-26, Rom. 7:23-24). The Giant of sin stomps around before you, as it were, challenging and threatening you, making a show of his might and power. He walks to and fro cursing you in the name of his false gods, and by relentlessly reviling you with blasphemies he seeks to wear you down until the second death. This Giant is discontent until you surrender all to him (i.e. reprobation)! This is because “the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev.12:17)! In a state of fallen-ness there are perverse temptations whirling around the heart and mind, an over-bearing awareness of darkness and sin, with powerful heart-moving allurement into the unlawful recreation of apostasy. And you, lost in the wasteland of such a scene, are left cowering before Goliath with no hope for life, frantic and fleeing but with nowhere to go, the armies of Satan relentlessly invade upon your mind with no hedge to keep them at bay (thus instead of Satan fleeing from you, you flee from him: see James 4:7). As long as a man continues in this state, alas! There is a happy consideration of secret sin with animal-like stupidity… as if God, the Good Man, is not around (Prov. 7). God help such men!
During the process of slipping there are progressive losses taking place. In the experience of fallen-ness there is utter defeat. Oh my reader, I say this soberly… such things ought not to be! A Christian should never be progressively losing, no, and much more so he should never be defeated by the wickedness of depravity! Christ overcame the world that we might overcome it in Him (John 16:33, 1 Jn. 5:4, Rev. 3:20-22)! Thus, according to Hebrews 10:24-29, the assembly and accountability of saints exists for the expressed purpose of preventing the transition of “the will” (in the aforementioned terms and more) from Un-Willful Sin to Willful Sin. When and if this happens so that the saint is fallen, saint-to-saint judgment enforces an excommunication from the local Church.
Saint-to-Saint Judgment unto Excommunication in the NT – the Binding & Loosing Powers
When backsliders are waxing hot and dry under the squelching heat of sin and spiritual curse (“a dry season”, as some call it), the saints saturate the dry land with rivers of water once again! I mean, because, “out of [their] belly shall flow rivers of Living Water” (John 7:38, 1 Cor. 10:4)! Or, when backsliders are feeling confused by growing shades of darkness, the saints shine the light (Ps 119:105)! Or, when backsliders are wounded by the spiritual judgments of God, the saints will apply the balm of Gilead for an effectual healing (Jer. 8:22, 46:11, Heb. 12:13, Matt. 18:15, Gal. 6:1)! Or, like Paul said on behalf of the apostles to the backslidden, heretical, and false-prophet-enslaved Corinthians, “we do not war after the flesh” (2 Cor. 10:3)! Why? Paul elaborated, saying, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Cor. 10:4) – namely, the strongholds that were enslaving the Corinthians to falsehood and sin. By the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in warfare and judgment, the apostles rode forth victorious: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). The apostles were able to judge them and save them, bringing every wayward thought of the Corinthians back into obedience to Christ again! Yet… when and if these holy efforts did fail (2 Tim. 2:24-26), excommunication was necessary.
Excommunication is where saint-to-saint judgment changes its focal point of sin-prevention. Upon a saint being fallen, the primary objective of sin-prevention pertains to the removal of the backsliders from the Church. Why? Because, as Paul said, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole Lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). Or, as Christ said, “cut them off and cast them from thee” (Matt. 18:8). In such a situation, where co-laboring saints are working in judgment with God to this end, Jesus of Nazareth explained,
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:18-20
According to the Lord Jesus, this accomplishment by the Father in Heaven is interconnected with what is happening in the Church on earth. Note how the text states, “it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven”. The fallen individual is, at that present time, unwelcome into the Kingdom of God in Heaven, therefore the saints expel him (“bind him”) from the Kingdom of God on earth, which is the Church. What happens on earth is a reflection of what actually is in heaven, hence the prayer, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Practically speaking, it was written, “Let him [the excommunicated backslider] be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:17). Thus, as you can see, this is a public testimony to the backslider’s conscience, and worse: a delivering over of the man unto Satan (1 Cor. 5:4-5)! This is because the Church really is a Safe Haven of spiritual protection, like the hedge that God had put around Job to protect him from spiritual harm (Job 1:10). In other words, excommunication has dangerous and tormenting implications. Paul said, “for the destruction of his flesh”, and, “that is spirit might be saved” (1 Cor. 5:5). Not only are these individuals exiled unto the Dominion of Satan, spiritually speaking, they are put under the flesh-tormenting and body-destroying knife of evil angels if haply they might repent! What does this look like, you wonder? A like situation is rehearsed for us in the following words.
“Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.
His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.
Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:
Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:
He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.
He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;
He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.
Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man,
To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.” – Job 33:16-30
Can you relate? It is truly fearful if you cannot.
Perhaps the following a more fitting description of your life, my reader? I hope not.
“For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” – Ps. 73:4-9
What a startling contrast! One man, the latter, wears pride like a necklace about his neck (Ps. 73:6). The other, the former, is forbidden from his own pride by the interference of God (Job. 33:17)! This is because the latter is a once-born sinner and the former is a twice-born saint. Once-born sinners, who exist underneath the confinements of God’s Arbitrary Judgment, are allowed by God to roam the world and enjoy “more than heart could wish” (Ps. 73:7); but, not so with twice-born saints! For, even when a twice-born saint backslides into a legal status of a sinner, and, consequentially, is exiled from the Kingdom of God unto the Dominion of Satan, it is not so that he can enjoy “more than heart could wish” (Ps. 73:7). Much more, the rather, God interrupts his enjoyment and forbids him from roaming the recesses of sin like all other sinners in the World! How? God commands Satan to destroy his flesh (“deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh” - 1 Cor. 5:5)! Thus, let us understand this very carefully: in the allowance of God’s Arbitrary Judgment, other sinners may live free from plagues and chastisements as they explore the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24), but backslidden saints are made to encounter pain, sorrow, chastisement, and destruction at the hands of Satan that their “spirit[s] may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). You see the difference, my reader? Backslidden saints, as long as they are not reprobated, are still remembered as “lost sheep” even though they are fallen and excommunicated from the Church (Matt. 18:10-14), thus God seeks to recover them by the demanding standards of justice which are peculiar to the Church that they might learn the error of their ways. Speaking of this redemptive intent in reference to some notorious backsliders of the 1st century Church, Paul said, “whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20).
Demonstrating this, and, revealing the frequency of chastisements endured by Christians at all points of their sojourning on earth (sanctification, slipping, or falling), the psalmists reminisces:
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.
But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” – Psalm 73:1-28
The saints of God, the Church, so frequently suffer the chastisements and plagues of God that this psalmist, who was well-nigh fallen, temporarily gave vent to an envious complaint. The prophet Habakkuk, also, acquainted with the peculiar and exclusive judgments of God in the Church, made similar complaints (Hab. 1:13). As judgments passed through and fell upon the Church, the saints felt the urge to “debate with it” because all the while they were being judged by God, the heathen galloped onward in their pursuits of wickedness and prospered (Isa. 27:7-8)! Men and women in the World who were of incomparable wickedness, deserving of inestimable judgments, went on untouched by God and happy in sin. When the saints voiced their complaints at sundry times, God answered: “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged” (Isa. 27:9). Which means, the Church is commanded to “faint not” in consideration of God’s redemptive purpose in judgment of the Church, though it be painful to endure (Heb. 12:10-11). Accordingly, it is for their salvation, that they might be righteous inwardly and outwardly, and that they may have rest from the days of adversity when the pit is dug for the wicked who do prosper in the World (Ps. 94:12-13, 1 Cor. 11:32). Explicitly, this means: “When [the Church is] judged, [they] are chastened of the Lord, that [they] should not be condemned with the World” (1 Cor. 11:32).
So, in a New Testament sense, when God sets His angels in the way of backsliding saints to smite them with plagues of darkness (Ps. 35:5-6), and, thereby, lead them forth with the workers of iniquity (Ps. 125:5), it is because they did not give glory to God that He judges the Church with these powers of chastisement (Jer. 13:16-17) …hence, through excommunication, when backsliders are ushered into the World of heathen men who are under the Dominion of the Devil, they are typologically chastised 7 times for their sins (Lev. 26:27-46) while the heathen are left alone! God will graciously do this until the threshold of reprobation is crossed - until the saint is utterly forsaken by God, forgotten, and blotted out of the Book of Life (Jer. 23:39, Rev. 3:5). Upon reprobation, the backslider may be allowed to prosper painlessly in the World like the rest of once-born sinners, but he will meet with a greater condemnation in the afterlife (2 Pet. 2:20-22). Before reprobation, the backslider is graciously marked for stone-shattering judgments if haply he might repent and return to God. My reader, do you comprehend the dynamics of this timeframe wherein repentance is obtainable by the Fallen but not by the Reprobated?
2. Cast off
3. Still indwelt by the Spirit of God
4. Still being striven with for restoration
5. “A lost sheep” who is pursued by the Shepherd
6. Repentance is possible
7. Still experiencing a measure of grace
8. Still able to do a measure of righteousness in Christ
9. A smoking flax
10. A bruised reed
1. Fallen away
2. Cast away
3. No longer indwelt by the Spirit of God
4. No longer striven with for restoration
5. A devoured sheep left to the wolves
6. Repentance is impossible
7. Experiencing no grace
8. Unable to do any righteousness at all
9. A cold flax now quenched
10. A reed uprooted and gathered, for casting into the fire
These two experiences (“Fallen-ness” and “Reprobation”) are so similar because, presently speaking, both are a state of legal damnation… yet, behold, there are vast differences: the sentence of damnation set upon the individual who is fallen is legal, yes, but it is a legal case that is open for appeals (i.e. from advocates, mediators, intercessors, or ulterior means via judgment), but as for the sentence of damnation that is upon the individual who is reprobated - the case is closed; no appeals are possible. Thus backslidden and fallen saints are made to inherit all that pertains to the legal status of sinners, but are not altogether overtaken by depravity like when he or she is abandoned by the Holy Ghost via reprobation. As can be imagined, the timeframe wherein a saint is legally fallen but not yet reprobated is a rescue operation of abounding judgments like never before! Hence, with this in consideration, we are made to visit the question formerly proposed concerning God’s judgment of the Church: If Her intercourse with angels is exceedingly more frequent, if Her physical and spiritual judgments are exceedingly more numerous, and if the standards of justice executed in Her are far more demanding… how can She survive it!? Peter said, “scarcely” (1 Pet. 4:17-18).
The accompanying judgments of God upon the Church that do vindicate Peter’s estimation of survival, which was, “scarcely”, decry the notion that there is no DANGER in this process of redemption, as some suppose. You see, my reader, these judgments are meant for the world, namely to condemn them, but if we are in unrepentant sin we will be thus judged. We are chastened by these plagues first of all and in this life so that we might repent and recover our saintly standing in grace unto obedience, while the World is left alone. Remember, the Church is chastened “that [She] should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32), but if we fall into these spiritual and physical curses without recovering therefrom, expressly because we are not being exercised unto fruits of repentance and holiness through them (Heb. 12:11), then our judgment will not be in this life only, but in the life to come! Then, we will perish with the heathen world of iniquitous sinners – which means, the spiritual curse of darkness which did progressively encroach the soul will eventually darken its shade into a permanent condition, once called, “outer darkness”, and there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30)! Or, the spiritual curse of desertification which did progressively heat-up, dry-out, and dehydrate the soul will one day turn into flames of torment, insomuch, men will agonize for just one drop of water to be graciously given to them by the occupants of Paradise (Lk. 16:24)! Or, the spiritual curse of drowning floods of water, whose billows did grow in strength and duration to progress the feeling of spiritual suffocation, will be turned into the liquid fire of a bottomless Lake wherein all the inhabitants possess no luxury to inhale one single breath (Rev. 20:15)! Therefore let us understand, dear reader! To endure the chastisements of spiritual plagues in this life is a blessing.
Those who are made to reckon with the eternal judgments of the World which are to come do undergo the 1st Stage of the 2-Stage Chronology of Judgments, which is a blessing! Let us see the goodness of God in it, my reader, lest we are “turned out of the way” (Heb. 12:13)! Lest we, also, are of the number who do “fail of the grace of God” (Heb. 12:15) by becoming a “root of bitterness springing up” in the Garden of God (Heb. 12:15, Deut. 29:18)! Henceforth, let us comprehend how David was not condemned by these chastening plagues of judgment and wrath but, rather, exercised unto repentance and restoration! He meekly responded to the goodness of God so that, for him, the judgments were a redemptive process as it was meant by God to be. Therefore those who understand biblical chastening so as to identify the experience of it, and, of necessity, are exercised by it, come to know the hope and happiness of the word spoken to the saints of old: “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the Name of the LORD” (Zeph. 3:12)! [For more information regarding this topic, see “Groanings Which Cannot Be Uttered” (chapter 24, section 2)].
Before concluding this Chapter, my reader, let us consider the judgment of God in the Church from one final angle. Heretofore it has become apparent that the activity of God in judgment of the Church never ceases. Spiritual judgments were continually in operation within the Church the entire time. This means, prior to the Death Penalty in the OT and Excommunication in the NT, and at any time, judgments were executed independently by God and through angels. The Lord enforced spiritual judgments upon the saints in differing magnitudes according to their sin during the situations of greater or lesser slipping and upon backsliders --- all for the calculated design of God’s Glory in Church Purity! Independent from and prior to the need for and demand of saint-to-saint judgment, I mean, God judged! Forerunning any physical judgments were spiritual judgments upon the mind and soul of saints, thus were the slipping or backsliding saints made manifest and successfully confronted by the observing eyes of judgment-ready saints… but even when they failed to judge and saint-to-saint instrumentality was unavailable, God judged!
When Saint-to-Saint Judgment is Neglected in the OT
Now we know that God is infallible… but the saints are not. Therefore, what if the saints failed to accomplish the judgments of Civil Justice according to what was written in the Old Testament? This is a peculiar situation, and here’s why. The sin-severing judgments of God were supposed to be implemented by the saints. This means that if God was going to kill someone, it was ideal for the saints to carry out the execution according to the Law (saint-to-saint via Civil Justice), but when and if the saints failed and or civil justice was ineffective to save, and, as a consequence to this, a growing influence of Leaven (sin) begins to overcome the whole Church… at such a time, God was still the Dead-End of all injustice that would occur! In other words, when saints fail… God doesn’t. Every uprising of sin in the Church was temporary. Every breach of the totality of Church Purity was transient. God, who meticulously threatens to annihilate all sinners from among His people, did not need the saints to do the deed! Ultimately, God Almighty was sufficient. “For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people” (Heb. 10:30). With or without the co-laboring of saints, the KING of Israel was oath-bound to vanquish from the Land of Israel all sex offenders, thieves, and covetous people, those who lack love for God and a love for the Brethren, and all those who failed to bridle the tongue, and the like. If the saints didn’t do as commanded, and, “put away from among [themselves] that wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:13), God did. Independently from all or with the use of angels, God would eradicate all unholiness and unholy people from His Kingdom, the Church, no matter the cost! His Glory depended on it. This expressed purpose of Glory was unchangeable, though it tarries. This is the essence of the Kingdom of God – the Dominion in which the will of God is done, not man’s! No other place or people on earth was like it. Even if all the Civilians of Israel were idle and the material infrastructure of Civil Justice was momentarily paralyzed by corruption, the immaterial KING of Israel arose to the judgment!
Hence, this is the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God. When saints failed, God didn’t. What happened of old, happens anew. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). “For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. If is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living GOD” (Heb. 10:30-31)! When all activity of righteous judgment died, God lived. He is the Living GOD. Expressly, therefore, the judgments which God was executing with and through the saints, He did without the saints if necessary. What was done through the divine empowerment of the saints, God did independently, also, by Himself. When there was no saint to interpose God’s judgment in a situation of injustice, God judged (Isa. 59:4, 59:7-19). As stated before, God was the Dead-End of all injustice!
When Saint-to-Saint Judgment is Neglected in the New Testament
If there was no saint to do the deed, as Paul did, saying, “I…have judged already…him that hath so done this deed”, God judged. This means that, “with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ”, Paul “deliver[ed] such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh”, but if he didn’t… God did! If need be, the KING of the Church had power to judge corporately and collectively, irrelevant of the cooperation of the Church Ministers. Speaking of this, Jesus of Nazareth said in a warning to the Church of Ephesus, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:5). This act of judgment by King Jesus would dissolve the establishment of the Church of Ephesus from a ministerial level, snuffing out the Light of Christ which shined therefrom. This is not much different than what God lamentably said through the prophet Jeremiah when He abandoned the beloved City of Jerusalem, saying, “Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave My people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men” (Jer. 9:2). And, remember, when God Almighty abandoned the City of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel of old, it was so that He might return and fight against His own people!
Oh the terror! Oh the fear! In Jesus Christ’s right hand are seven stars! The Old Testament Church was forewarned of their star. The Lord said, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for My Name is in him” (Exodus 23:20-21), but how much more should we, in the New Testament, beware of the Son of God, in whose hand are seven stars? But… do we know Him, who said to the Church and not to the World: “I know thy works” (Rev. 2:2, 9, 13, 19, 3:1, 8, 15). Are we taking knowledge of Him? He said, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23). What is Jesus Christ doing when He “walketh in the midst” of the saints? He is judging them. He said, “I have somewhat”, “a few things”, “a few things against thee” (Rev. 2:4, 14, 20). Jesus Christ, “whose Name is Jealous” (Ex. 34:14), is jealous to be glorified and admired as the Darling of the Bride. “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” (Jas. 4:5), and rightly so… we are His wife! From the Bride, Christ requires glory, honor, praise, admiration, and love right now! He requires it now, in this life, but He will require it of the heathen in the life to come (Php. 2:10). God judgeth the righteous now (Ps. 7:11) in this life (1 Pet. 4:17), and He, wielding such forcible blows upon our bodies and souls, causes us to bow down and know that He is the Lord! He judges us here to save us from the Judgment to come (1 Cor. 11:32)!
King Jesus makes demands upon His people, warning them, “I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place”, and again, “I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:5, 16). Jesus Christ is He that liveth and moveth amongst His people, and He, being immediately and especially in the presence of His people, warns them - He “WILL FIGHT” (Rev. 2:16), He “WILL CAST” (Rev. 2:22), He “WILL KILL” (Rev. 2:23)! He does these things because in this place, among His people, He is the one that FINDS THINGS OUT (like when He said, “I have not found thy works perfect before God” – Rev. 3:2)! He is the Judge, and those who are circled about His Throne, He judges! He is God, and how it was in the OT when He said, “BEHOLD, ye have sinned against the LORD and be sure your sin will FIND YOU OUT” (Num. 32:23), even so, my reader, this is how it is now! Jesus Christ is right now, as always, searching and finding out sin in His people (“searching the reins and hearts”) …none escape it! Christ will JUDGE us in proportion to each person’s work - judgments so attention-getting, life-altering, and fearful that Christ said, “ALL The Churches” will give Him the glory! Have you given Him the glory? By beholding His judgments The Churches will know that He is in their midst, the manifest token being – “And I WILL KILL her children with death; and all The Churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23)! Soberly consider it, my reader.
He who speaks with “a great voice as of a trumpet” (Rev. 1:10), whose “head and hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto brass, as if they have been burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength” (Rev. 1:14-16), are you ready to be in His midst!? Have you prepared yourself? “WHO”, “WHO”, “WHO” are you (Ps. 24:3, 15:1)? Are you able to stand before God? The Judgment of God that will consummate in the final separation between the wicked and the righteous…it has begun right now, in The Church – by King Jesus and His seven stars!
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son…For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” – John 5:22, 26-27
Yes, my reader, He that will finally Judge between the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1, 1 Pet. 4:5) – commending and glorifying the one, binding, severing, and casting away the other – He is judging the living and the dead right now, in The Church (Rev. 3:1)! He that will finally judge between the sheep and the goats (Matt. 25:32) – saying to the one, “Come ye blessed”, saying to the other, “Depart ye cursed" (Matt. 25:34, 41) – He is judging His flock right now (1 Cor. 5:3-4, 9-13)! He is dividing and separating right now, in The Church, just as He finally will (Matt. 25:32)! In the Church, every day should be, is, and must be the Day of the LORD. In the Church, every day should be, is, and must be Judgment Day. Therefore, ideally, if saints are accepted in the Kingdom of God on earth, they will be accepted in the Kingdom of God in heaven upon death. This is because the judgments which reign within the Church will reign on Judgment Day, with no alterations made. Thus, if one is embracing the judgments of God exercised in the Church, he is thereby made ready to stand before God at Final Judgment! Hence the psalmist’s song, which said, “Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of [God’s] judgments” (Ps. 48:11)! Do you agree? Conclusively, and at the 2nd Advent of Christ, which is, ultimately, above all other days, The Day of the LORD, the judgment of God extends its exclusive boundaries from the perimeter of the Church unto the ends of the earth… but, until then, every day is Judgment Day in the Church, and all the saints love to have it so (Ps. 35:24, 43:1, 54:1)!