by Ervin Thomsen

 

The Journey from Bondage to Freedom
 
In our study of the symbol of Babylon as it occurs in Revelation, we noticed in the previous chapter that there is so much more to Babylon than most of us had ever imagined. In this chapter, we will primarily focus on our experiential exodus from Babylon to Jerusalem, a personal journey for all of us from the intoxicating bondage of our pet idols to the full freedom offered us by Jesus Christ.
 
The path to genuine freedom is as follows –
 

  • First, God takes us out of Babylon legally. Through justification our sins are forgiven, we are given a new identity, and a new citizenship. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1, 5). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 

  • Next, God takes us out of Babylon experientially. He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the captive free.” We experience all the advantages and joys of our new status as His very own children. Sanctification is not about our performance of lists of acceptable behaviors, assuming that those with the longest lists are high-achievers in holiness. Sanctification is an experiential recognition of, and trust in what Jesus Christ has legally accomplished through His death on Calvary’s cross, and then living it out in everyday life.

 

  • God then gives us the Gift of the Holy Spirit. When we by faith accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, He then pours the gift of His Holy Spirit into our lives, giving us an inner assurance that we are His very own loved children. Paul writes with assurance about the reality of the hope  “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

 
To experience this to the fullest, define yourself as one radically loved by God. Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose, but on the One who is forever. When His love fills your life, you will discover an inner sense of joy, security and peace.
 
As noted Christian theologian, Thomas Merton, stated: “Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only His child redeemed by Christ.” [1] 
 
To gain immunity against all the deceptions of the enemy, accept by faith the identity that God gives us in the gospel. “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1).  Receive with the gift of God’s love also His gift of your new identity in Christ and let that new identity re-program your entire life, for “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
 
“Coming out of Babylon – the Journey to Freedom
 
The secret to “coming out of Babylon” is not to try harder to be good, but it is found in the Good News of the everlasting gospel. This gospel is so utterly life-changing, for it is heaven’s antidote against any and all deceptions foisted upon us by both Babylon and the beast.
 
Through the years, it has been a favorite activity of some most sincere believers to stay updated on the continual late-breaking news about religious, economic, and political events in the world, about church-state confederacies, about the restriction of civil and religious liberties. But what if you miss some breaking news about political-religious alliances and intrigues? Are you then doomed to eternal loss because of your lack of vigilance in pursuing such news?
 
Remember that tellers in banks have gained the ability to detect counterfeit currencies, not by focusing on the counterfeit, but by becoming thoroughly familiar with genuine currency. The same principle applies also to our salvation.  Our knowledge of the genuine gospel and our experience of the security of covenant-salvation, will do more to increase our love and joy for Jesus Christ, and thus naturally guard us internally against all the counterfeits of both Babylon and the beast. “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.” [2]
  
To come out of bondage and captivity is…
 

  • to come out of anything which restricts your freedom in Christ to be and to become all that He desires for you.

 

  • to find deliverance from anything which binds you and restricts you from finding the fulfillment of God’s purposes for your life.

 

  • to let go of your dependence on your own works as a means of causing God to love you.

 

  • to let go of your pursuits to discover “who you are“ because you discover “whose you are.”

 

  • to cherish the source of your identity in belonging to Jesus, rather than by finding your identity in what you do.

 

  • to let go of your dependence on anyone or anything other than Christ to fill your personal cup of significance. Give up trying to find self-worth in people, places, positions, possessions and power, and depend instead on Jesus to fix your broken parts and fill your empty places.

 

  • to escape the bondage of bitterness and unforgiveness by forgiving others as God has forgiven you.

 

  • to forgive by giving up your right to hurt those who have hurt you.

 

  • to pray, as Jesus did, for those who have offended and hurt you, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

 

  • to set the prisoner free only to discover that you were the prisoner in the bondage of bitterness toward your offenders.

 

  • to come out of Babylon is to escape the bondage of make-believe freedom in looking to and depending on others to meet your needs, and to trust in Jesus Christ to fill your deepest needs.

 

  • to trust Jesus to make your life more than overflowing.

 
The Best Protection against Babylon – the ‘joy of the Lord.’
 
As you read the following Scriptures, will you trust that Jesus wants to give you such genuine joy that you’ll not try to fill your cup by looking for love in all the wrong places? So often there are sincere believers who read the Scriptures looking at all the seemingly negative texts, somehow believing that their increasing adherence to more admonitions, cautions, and prohibitions will surely improve their lives.  What would happen if you started focusing on all the positive texts of God’s promises of a life-fulfilling relationship with Him?
 

  • “You will show me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

 

  • “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

 

  • “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the rivers of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life. In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9).

 

  • “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand…For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk upright” (Psalm 84:10, 11).

 

  • “O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8).

 

  • The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

 

  • “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:8-10).

 
The Power of the Gospel in Breaking the Power of Satan
 
It is always Satan’s work to seduce and deceive us, and then hold us captive through our addictions to our idols. How do we find genuine and lasting deliverance? In the writings of Ellen G. White, I find this most pivotal statement.
 
“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken” [3] 
 
Do we really believe that the above concepts are true? The teaching contained herein is utterly crucial to victory in the Christian life. So many have looked upon “justification by faith alone” in Christ as just a temporary necessity to get us started in the Christian life – very much like you jumpstart a dead automobile battery by connecting it with the power from a fresh battery. Then once your life has been jump-started by justification, it is really up to you to show what stuff you are made of. And such stuff inside of you, activated and strengthened by Jesus, will make you an overcomer. To some this means that now they will no longer want to do what they really had wanted to do all along. Is that real victory? Is this about putting better brakes on your desires? Let us look closely at this statement, and try to unwrap its core meaning.
 

  • “…a precious thought” – meaning that in this resides something of such value that it is truly valuable and precious.

 

  • “…the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us without any human merit” – meaning that the merits of Christ’s righteousness are credited to our account as a free gift. Even in our action of receiving this gift, there is no human merit whatsoever.

 

  • Why does the enemy fear this teaching so much?  “The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.”  So, if Satan knows this, would we not also want to know what he knows?

 
Would it surprise you to discover that Satan’s primary attack on us consists, not in tempting us to sin, but in obscuring the glorious and precious gospel of Jesus Christ, made available to us on basis of Calvary’s cross?  Some have sought to minimize and make light of the teaching of the sufficiency of the teaching of Christ’s imputed righteousness, calling it merely legal fiction – a temporary measure designed to assist us until we can produce, in Christ’s strength of course, a perfect righteousness inside of us.
 
So the issue is really this: what is the basis for our salvation? Is it a developed righteousness inside of us, or is it the righteousness residing in Jesus Christ who is seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places in heaven’s courtroom? If we fully accept that it is the latter, and believe in its utter sufficiency, should not this deter and prevent us from seeking to fill our cups from other sources than those of the Lord Jesus Christ? 
 

  • “…his power will be broken” – Satan holds us in bondage through his lies.  “Satan has a variety of scientific lies framed to be used on special occasions. He waits his opportunity to take souls captive.” [4] 

 
The saving effects of the gospel are both legal and experiential. Far too many believers are working on the experiential side (sanctification) of the equation, without realizing that overcoming resides in availing ourselves of all the legal benefits made available by Christ as a result of His atoning death. Remember these words, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free, His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood avails for me.” [5]
 
So why does Satan fear “this precious thought,” or, truth? Because this teaching renders the lies of Satan, about himself, about God, and about us inoperative. Satan fears this truth more than any other truth, because it breaks the power of sin residing in the lies of do-it-yourself-religion.
 
What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.” [6] “There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” [7] 
 
What are the legal benefits made available to us from Calvary’s cross?  For your consideration, I here list just a few of these.
 

  • The victory of Calvary’s cross: “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Revelation 12:10).

 

  • He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

 

  • Our position with Christ in heavenly places: “…He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power…” (Ephesians 1:20, 21). He raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus(Ephesians 2:6).

 

  • We have access to Christ: “…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12).

 

  • Our warfare against Satan is in heavenly places: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

 
“The people of God must be prepared to withstand the wily foe. It is this resistance that Satan dreads. He knows better than we do the limit of his power and how easily he can be overcome if we resist and face him. Through divine strength the weakest saint is more than a match for him and all his angels, and if brought to the test he [the weakest saint] would be able to prove his superior power.” [8]  
 
When we know and believe in the sufficiency of Christ’s imputed righteousness for us, then there is no way we will ever be tempted to go a-whoring after other gods, substitutes, that cannot ever save. We will not even be attracted to false christs, because we have by faith and personal experience appropriated the righteousness of Jesus for our own lives, and in Him we are now complete (Colossians 2:9). The breaking of the power of Satan does not merely come by our resistance, but more fully and surely by praising God for the absolute covering of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ in heavenly places. So let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
 
The Journey from Babylon to Jerusalem
 
As you start on the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, take courage that you can always depend on the Scriptures to be an infallible guide by which to check your life. Leave behind the symptoms of Babylon-living, “the works of the flesh,” and start harvesting the fruit of the Spirit, the evidences of Jerusalem-living.
 

For the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV).
“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or to be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.” Eugene Petersen – The Message on Galatians 5:19-21).

 
Enter the New Life of Jerusalem-living, “the fruit of the Spirit”
 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love,
joy, peace, longsuffering,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22, 23).
“What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
(Eugene Petersen – The Message on Galatians 5:22, 23).

.
 
Leaving Babylon for Jerusalem: The Journey from Pride to Brokenness
 
At its core, Babylon living is all about pride. Psychiatrist Scott Peck once described pride as “malignant narcissism.” [9]  Its attitudes of “know-it-all” and self-sufficiency lay a foundation for self-destruction, far too often camouflaged as self-enhancement. 
 
As you continue your journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, would you have a look at all the possible areas in your life where may pride occur? Look at this incisive analysis by Christian author and speaker Nancy Leigh DeMoss [10] on the multiple evidences and dangers of pride. Study these comparisons and contrasts closely, as you realize that God is not finished with you yet. Our God knows that the key to overcoming pride (the core problem of Babylon) is to experience brokenness, just as King David experienced it – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17).  
 

Proud people… Broken people…
Focus on the failures of others
 
Look down on others.
Independent/self-sufficient spirit.
Maintain control: must be my way.
Have to prove that they are right.
Claim rights.
Demanding spirit.
Self-protective of time, rights, reputation.
Desire to be served.
Desire to be recognized/appreciated.
Think of what they can do for God.
 
Feel confident in how much they know.
Quick to blame others.
Unapproachable.
Defensive when criticized.
Concerned with being “respectable.”
Concerned with what others think.
Find it difficult to share needs with others.
Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”
When confessing sin, deal in generalities.
Remorseful when caught in sin or found out.
Compare themselves with others and feel deserving of honor.
Blind to their true heart condition.
Don't think they need to repent, but are sure everyone else does.
Self-conscious.
Keep people at arm’s length
 
Are overwhelmed with sense of their own spiritual need.
Esteem all others better than self.
Dependent spirit/recognize need for others.
Surrender control.
Willing to yield the right to be right.
Yield rights.
Giving spirit.
Self-denying.
Motivated to serve others.
Desire to be faithful to make others a success.
Sense of unworthiness; thrilled to be used at all; eager for others to get credit.
Humbled by how much they have to learn.
Accept personal responsibility – can see where they were wrong.
Easy to be entreated.
Receive criticism with a humble, open heart.
Concerned with being real.
All that matters is what God knows.
Willing to be open/transparent with others.
Are quick to admit failure and seek forgiveness.
When confessing sin deal in specifics.
Repentant over sin and forsake it.
Compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for mercy.
Walk in the light.
Continual heart attitude of repentance.
 
Not concerned with self at all.
Risk getting close to others; willing to take risks in loving.

 
 
Life Applications
 
Questions to Ponder:
           

  • Identify some of the ways in which you have lived, or are still living, a Babylon-like lifestyle.

 

  • Think of a time when you deeply realized that God loved you unconditionally, not because of what you did, but just because you are. What was it like?

 
Text to Memorize:
 
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”  (1 John 3:1)
 
Truths versus Lies:
 
As you replace the lies of Satan with God’s truth
you’ll gain immunity to all of Satan’s deceptions.
 
 

Satan’s lies or half-truths
 
 
God is “not enough” to meet my deepest needs.
 
 
 
It is OK for me to look for love and acceptance wherever I can find it.
 
 
 
For assurance of salvation I must look to myself and trust in the works I do,
or in my promises of my better future performance.
 
I am sure that pride is not a problem in my life at this time.
 
         
Write out any lies or half-truths you have believed, and replace such with
the truths of Scripture.
God’s Truths
 
 
I can totally trust God for everything I need, because He has said, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart(Psalm 37:4).
 
When God does not come through for me the way I expect, I will still trust Him and worship Him because I know that He will supply all
my needs in His time.
 
For assurance of salvation, I only trust in Christ’s death for my sins. That is enough!
 
 
Pride is the most deceptive of all sins, and I must continually ask Jesus to reveal to me the subtle ways it appears.

 
 
Endnotes;
 
[1] Quotation attributed to Thomas Merton.
[2] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 1888 edition, 594.
[3] Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, 111.
[4] Ellen G. White, Ms 140, 1903, 18.
[5] Charles Wesley, “O for a thousand tongues to sing,” Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, 250.
[6] Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, 111.
[7] Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons,154.
[8] Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, 318.
[9] “Malignant narcissism,” as a term describing pride, was coined by psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book People of the Lie – The Hope for Healing Human Evil (New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1983), 156.
[10]Nancy Leigh DeMoss, https://www.reviveourhearts.com/topics/downloads/index.php?id=9489

Note: If you are enjoying these chapters and wish to have Dr. Thomsen come to do a seminar at your church or organization, please visit www.streamofhealing.org