25 March 2022
Your spiritual birth does not fulfill the Covenant of Christ.
Spiritual birth does open the door for you to enter that Covenant, but you must choose to enter. Scripture makes it so plain: Eternal destiny is totally on the initiative of God. It's a divine miracle and there is no human choice at all. God chose you before Creating the world. You do not gain spiritual birth; you become aware of it. In this world, the only thing that makes a difference is your volitional choice to take full advantage of that privileges attached to spiritual birth.
Satan has no part in holding people back from spiritual birth. His sole mission in God's Creation is to keep people from recognizing the grace that God invested in their souls. Satan is God's servant, His Left Hand in the imagery of the Bible. The Devil's mission has nothing to do with locking souls in eternal punishment. That mythology didn't come from Scripture, but the hideous pagan nonsense of Western Civilization. What Satan does is best understood by the parable of the Hebrew nation's experience.
You need to read the Bible in paragraphs at the least. The passage in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is a long paragraph in which Paul strives to paint a verbal image, a parable of meaning from the Exodus. Twice he flatly states that these events are parables for us (v. 6 & 11) using the Greek word tupos -- "types" as in typology. It's about as close as Greek comes to the concept of parable. Paul talks about the Exodus as a parable for the Christian life.
It's well established in Christian lore that we depart from slavery, go through trials, and eventually reach the Promised Land, a symbol of Heaven. Tons of songs have been written based on this symbolism. The Exodus becomes the symbolic reference point for living as a Christian in this fallen world. What comes with that? All of the symbolism of living in tents, of a tribal feudal lifestyle with a divine Sheikh of Heaven. We tend to forget the eastern flavor of things because we have this hideous wrong imagery from the European Middle Ages. The Bible is not a Germanic document; it's a Hebrew document. It's part of the Ancient Near East and all that goes with it.
Well, in the Ancient Near East, every sheikh would have had a Right-Hand Man and a Left-Hand Man. The right is usually reserved for the heir, and the left is the most powerful non-heir prince. The left is what we call the Black Hat, the jailer. That's the part that Satan plays in God's domain. His mission is to encourage people to stay at peace with God by executing God's wrath on children who sin.
The only proper imagery is that God has a camp with clear boundaries. This is necessary because of the fragility of our human existence. Thus, we must be restrained by the camp boundaries, which is a symbol for Covenant Law. It should be obvious to anyone that walking within the boundaries of God's behavioral standards is a privilege, not a burden meant to make us miserable. Do you remember how, during the Forty Years' Wandering, that Israel was not allowed to circumcise males, nor to celebrate Passover or any other rituals specific to their identity as God's People? The Passover at Gilgal was their first in a generation after they were circumcised (Joshua 5).
So, the quintessence of Israeli identity remained that of tent-dwelling nomads. This is the symbolism for Christians who belong in Heaven, in the world but not of it. While in this world, our identity as Children of God is marked by the privileges of the Covenant. We walk within those behavioral boundaries. If we step outside His camp, we are in the territory of Satan. We come under the Devil's dominion; we are prisoners and slaves serving his benefit. He consumes our divine blessings because we belong to him. When you step outside those boundaries, you are property of Satan in the provisional sense that he has a legal claim to your blessings.
Don't go outside the camp and Satan can't touch you. He can stand out there tempting you with all kinds of false promises, but he can't touch you. That's his job under God's dominion. That's the way he served God throughout the covenant history of Israel. It symbolizes how he serves God in dealing with us under the Covenant of Christ.
People in the Old Testament had spiritual birth, too. It was also a matter of being "chosen before the foundation of the world" just like us, but the procedure for discovering it was different. They were required to wade through the Covenant Law until their minds were in the right place to hear from their hearts. In Christ, the order has been reversed. We are granted the recognition of our divine election up front. But then, we are still required to wade through Covenant Law afterwards to discover all the privileges of our divine heritage.
Covenant Law has always been primarily a conditioner; it serves to slay the fleshly nature and bring it under subjection of the Spirit. In the Old Testament it was the Flaming Sword at the entrance back into Eden. In the New Testament, it is the Cross standing at the Gate of Eden. It's the same thing, but two different parables for it. The path back to Eden is killing the fleshly nature, whether you see it as putting it to the sword or nailing it to the Cross. In more literal terms, it's a matter of conditioning the mind to understand how God does things.
Spiritual birth is your mark as eternal family of God. It is your privilege to enter into God's camp. There are a lot of people outside the camp who haven't yet recognized their adoption by God, and many more who will never have it in the first place. Satan controls them; he doesn't have to do anything to get them under his dominion. All humans are born under that dominion. It's inherent in the mortality of human existence. Only God's eternal children have the privilege of entering the camp during this life. Only those who obey His feudal requirements can inherit the blessings of shalom. To the degree you neglect your feudal obligations, to that degree Satan consumes your blessings.
Those feudal obligations are written in your convictions; you were born with your convictions as the mark of your eternal destiny. They are informed by Covenant Law, but not confined by it. You are under grace, not under law. But if you fail to filter your exploration of your convictions through the written Word, you will not properly understand your feudal duties. Without this broad understanding of how to approach the whole question, you cannot stay out of Satan's clutches. This why Paul wrote what he did in 1 Corinthians 10; the Apostles taught this imagery as part of the gospel message.
Woe to Christians today who do not embrace this part of the gospel message. If you don't grasp the symbolism in full, you will not be able to walk in the privileges of the Covenant of Christ. The gospel message inherent in the Great Commission includes this parable of the Exodus, of walking in the feudal tribal existence within the Covenant camp of God.
This is what Christ taught, in that it was the background for everything He said to His nation when He walked on this earth. The Hebrew people to whom He ministered bore this imagery in their cultural conditioning. It was inherent in the Messianic message. It was taught by the Apostles when they spread out among the Gentiles. They were teaching the people the essential elements of Hebrew culture and the frame of mental orientation. They were teaching a holiness that in may ways was defined by Hebrew custom. The first century churches were little Hebrew synagogues according to the teachings of Christ.
This is the Covenant of Christ; you cannot claim to follow Jesus otherwise.
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