Monday, September 25, 2017

Unequally Yoked - The Bible and Sexual Purity



The Mosaic Law (OT) clearly restricted the believer’s behavior in many areas such as food. Certain foods were allowed while others were either restricted or forbidden. Since Christ has been crucified the believer now has much latitude in the choice of diet and other activities. One example is the rigid restriction on movement during the Sabbath. With the complete elimination of the entire corpus of the Mosaic Law (613 Laws) and replacement by Christ’s Law, the New Testament believer was free from all constraints of the Mosaic Law. Christ’s Law, which is spelled out in the New Testament, becomes the operative commandments for a Christian to follow. The Laws, which God wants us to adhere to, appears in the New Testament. Now for the Jews who were used to keeping the Mosaic Law, Christ offers them the option of doing so if they choose (Col. 2:16-17). It is no longer mandatory in the New Testament Church Age though. This is the freedom (liberty) that Paul speaks of in this book of I Corinthians. We have freedom from the specific binding tight regulations of the Mosaic Law. We will see the concept of liberty more thoroughly developed in I Corinthians chapters eight to ten. But here the concept is just introduced to refute the concept of Antinomianism. This heresy concluded that the liberty we have in Christ extended to the moral aspects of the Law as well as the ceremonial. In an incorrect syllogism it is stated in this manner:
  1. The believer is saved by grace through faith in Christ (Eph 2:8-9).
  2. All sins are forgiven, past, present, and future (Acts 13: 39; Titus 2:13-14; etc.).
  3. When the believer sins forgiveness is available to the repentant sinner (1 John 1: 9; II Corinthians 7: 10).
  4. This heresy therefore concludes the syllogism with an endorsement to go ahead and sin all you want because forgiveness has already been achieved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.

The question we must answer is: If this is not true why?

The syllogism breaks down because the truly repentant sinner turns from the sin. The unbeliever who may masquerade as a believer will continue to sin and appeal to grace for freedom from The Law. A second fallacy is that the moral Law did not get restated in the New Testament Law of Christ. It did! Only the ceremonial Law was not restated in the NT.

I Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Paul is again stating the cry of the antinomian; “all things are OK (lawful) for me to do.” This had become a slogan of the Corinthians to continue sinning as if Christ permitted it under grace. The statement was partially true. While Christ had taken away the sins by grace all things were not good (expedient) for the Child of God to pursue. Some were still forbidden in the New Testament. Sexual sins continued to be in the forbidden classification.

It is never appropriate to disregard basic Christian morality as taught in the New Testament for personal gratification.

Beginning to address behaviors that were permitted under the New Testament's Law of Christ, the text continues to demonstrate that we should not get caught up in any of them so as to damage our testimony. For those activities for which we have liberty we are not to become addicted. For those activities, which are permitted in the New Testament, we must not allow them to control us. Some examples where the Church falls down in liberty are in the areas of gossip, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit, and lust or withholding money from God’s work.

I Corinthians 6: 13-14 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

Food (meats) for the stomach and the stomach for food (meats), was an expression by which some Corinthians sought to justify their sexual immorality. They reasoned that “food” was both pleasurable and necessary. When they sensed hunger, they reasoned that food was eaten to satisfy the urge. So too, they argued, sex was pleasurable and necessary. When their bodies signaled sexual desire, they needed to be satisfied. But Christ drew a sharp line between the stomach and the body. The body in this context meant more than the physical frame; it referred to the whole person, composed of flesh (the material) and spirit (the immaterial). While we are on the earth the body is not separated from the spirit. Further the body will be resurrected to an immortal state at the first resurrection. The “body,” therefore, was not perishable but eternal and it was not meant for sexual immorality but for union with the Lord. The eternality of the body, the future destiny of the individual, was made certain by Christ’s resurrection. We will see this expressed fully in I Corinthians chapter fifteen. So an urge that comes to us is no justification to satisfy it! The homosexuals rely on this thinking to justify their behavior. They reason that since they have and urge to do these abominations it is therefore normal and who they are. When a believer dies today prior to the resurrection he/she is separated from the body. The body goes into the ground awaiting the Rapture and Resurrection. The spirit goes to be with the Lord. So stomachs and food will pass away as the bodies die. Until the Rapture and Resurrection we are separated from our bodies and there have no need of food or a stomach. Later when the Rapture and Resurrection takes place we will be reunited with our bodies. It is possible at that point that we will once again be eating food since Christ ate after He was resurrected from the dead.

I Corinthians 6: 15-16 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

So too the work of the Spirit has affected Christians’ present destiny and joined them to Christ. Could a Christian practice immorality without grieving Christ? Never!

The Two Harmful Categories to Us of Sinful Sex

The union of two people involves more than physical contact. It is also a union of personalities which, however temporary, alters both of them as Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 (The two will become one flesh) not to affirm that a man and a prostitute are married but to indicate the gravity of the sin and the depth of the bonding that takes place in a sexual union.



Biochemical Bonding (Physical)

Some have studied the chemical nature of sexual intercourse. As a result there appears to be a point at which man and woman enter into a new relationship that is biochemically oriented toward staying together, geared toward their unity as a couple.  Chemicals released during intercourse, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, which are called neuopeptides, introduce a unique effect that promotes a series of pair-bonding behaviors.[1]  Furthermore, this primary exposure of the system to these chemicals seems to trigger a response that permanently alters body chemistry, and consequently behavior tendencies, making the pair more receptive towards their partner.[2] One could also say that the couple becomes bonded closer to each other. Once the bonds are established, the disruption of these bonds causes great distress.3  It is clear that the body favors the maintenance of these bonds and reacts unfavorably when they are broken.  In displaying such responses, it appears that the biochemistry of the body associated with sexual union is optimally designed to be experienced within the context of an intimate and permanent relationship. The results of these studies are that we truly become one flesh!

Solomon's Marriage Feast by Rembrandt cir. 1650

God designed us to be permanently bonded to one another or in secular terms monogamous.

A Secondary Aspect of the Chemical Bonding

Scientific findings suggest that tenderness expressed in physical, non-sexual affectionate touching is a bio-chemical condition for optimal sexual experience.  The segment of our brains, which produce the feeling of euphoria such as having sexual intercourse, is also prone to building up tolerance to these effects. Such an effect triggers some individuals to spice up their sex lives by trying new or multiple partners, or other alterations that shift the focus of sex from love to pleasure in hope of attaining that same high again.  However, females who readily have oxytocin available in their system (released by frequent positive person-to-person touching) are actually able to counter this tolerance mechanism naturally.[3] Research indicates that the body is designed to be affectionately touched on a regular basis.  Under the conditions of loving, regular touch – whether it is through holding hands, hugging, or cuddling – the body responds optimally to more intimate sexual expressions.  Sex on a physical level is ordained toward tenderness, which is an important aspect of authentic love that contributes to closeness between a couple, as well as the continuation of exclusive permanency. Therefore it is important to refrain from frequent close touching of members of the opposite sex unless within a marriage or between family members in a wholesome expression of care.

Married couples who express tender physical contact will have a more loving sexual relationship and less of a purely and limited physical desire for a sexual high. They will also demonstrate to their children the importance of wholesome physical contact and pass on to them proper loving sexual expressions as an example for them when they are eventually married.

I Corinthians 6: 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

The Spiritual Bonding Aspect of Sexual Sin


Satan's Last Stand-Armageddon Artist unknown

A Christian’s union with Christ likewise affects both him and the Savior, and one cannot act without affecting the other.

 I Corinthians 6: 18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

The only appropriate response when faced with sexual immorality is to FLEE. Take the example of Joseph when Potiphar’s wife aggressively advanced upon him. He fled and got out (Gen 39:12).

Clearly the Lord’s design for our bodies and spirits as well is to be with one spouse in union and not to divert from that. The term body in the Greek construct refers to both soul and body. So in addition to adding conflict within our biochemistry and causing great emotional harm to our spouse the Holy Spirit is greatly grieved. We know that the Spirit enters us at the point of belief and stays with us for evermore thereafter. We have to remember the price that Christ paid for us to provide for our salvation and therefore eternal life and never marginalize it by sinning against him. All sins are against God (II Sam 12:13). Sexual sins are the worst in the eyes of the Lord and received the greatest punishment in Old Testament.

II Corinthians 6: 14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The unification of our bodies with a harlot produces a close relationship with the Devil called Belial here. Belial is a Hebrew word to describe one of the most maleficent characters of the underworld, Lucifer who became Satan.


It therefore causes pollution of our spirit with the Devil.

When we engage in a relationship with unsaved people especially a sexual relationship outside of a committed heterosexual marriage we put the Holy Spirit in immediate proximity with the Devil and the two do not mix. God will withdraw from us and the chemical factors inherent in sexual unions will cause us to want to continue the bonding with the one we had the sexual relationship with. Therefore, God withdraws from us and we move closer to Satan. This is a powerful recipe for spiritual corruption that leads to death.
When we engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage the result is we bond chemically and emotionally with the person with whom we had the sex. The pair bonding does not like to be broken and it continues to seek the bonding when it is broken.

God has a plan for us within sexual areas and it is simply that two believers must marry one another. We must not marry outside of the faith for any reason. God regards this as sin and He will not bless the union as such. When a believer finds them selves married to an unbeliever either because of inappropriate choice of partners or if both were unbelievers to start and one became a believer here what must happen.

The believer must take his/her God given role as a born again Christian and act like it. God considers this marriage a sinful union. If a person is living in a state of sin or still an unbeliever they will never experience true growth.

THOSE IN SIN RETARD SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

God will not bless a person living in sin. We have been in a section of Scripture that clarifies much for the successful God led Christian marriage. It all starts with tying ourselves together only with believers. That is committed regenerated believers in Jesus Christ. People who seek to please Him first and foremost in their lives. Real believers have been transformed and seek to rid themselves of the old man in them. They seek the guidance of God in all they do and grow spiritually all the days of their lives. This is why the Bible tells us not to unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

II Corinthians 6:14-16 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Remember a sexual union produces a chemical bonding that draws us together as God would have us becoming one flesh. If the other person is an unbeliever the bonding puts Satan in close proximity to Christ and Christ will withdraw leaving the believer bound to an unbeliever in a bond that is difficult to break.

1 Corinthians 7: 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

Up to this point Paul had been speaking to the people that either were presently unmarried or may have been at some time in their past but now were unmarried. A new discussion now begins with instruction to those that presently are married. Divorce is not part of God’s plan. In fact He states quite clearly that He hates divorce (Mal 2:16).

Malachi 2:16 "For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," Says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.

The covering that is spoken of here is a symbol of marriage. (Ruth 3:9; Ezekiel 16:8). Covering one’s garment with violence describes violating the marriage relationship, which is exactly what divorce does. Whenever there is a repetition in the Bible it is for emphasis. In this case it is the Lord’s will that we do not divorce.

This verse is the most explicit statement in the Old Testament on God’s feelings about divorce. Divorce was allowed. The permission that appears in the Torah provides protection for the wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) Jesus taught that those concessions by Moses were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, but He emphasized that God does not approve of divorce. He hates it.
So Paul is saying in I Corinthians 7:10 that a wife should not leave her husband. In other words there should not be a divorce or a separation. Typically the question is raised regarding abuse. If a wife is suffering abuse she should remove herself from the harm. This alone is insufficient to seek divorce. Unless there is fornication (adultery) or as we will see in the next few verses abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, there is no biblical permission for divorce (Matthew 5:32). Christ never said that an abused woman should stay in an abusive situation. In fact in the text of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 provides protection for a wife that is cast out by her husband by allowing her to seek another man.

I Corinthians 7: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

So in the event that she must leave and let’s use the example of abuse, she must not remarry. The husband has no right to end the marriage through divorce. The only legitimate biblical reason to end this marriage is through death or if adultery enters the relationship. She must remain unmarried and so also should her husband. In this verse Paul is addressing married believers. When problems occur in a Christian marriage, the resolution is reconciliation not in divorce.

Ephesians 4:30-32 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

 I Corinthians 7: 12-13 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Now the discussion turns to those believers who are married to unbelievers (the rest). Remember we must avoid the pain and hardship associated with the unequal yoking in our marriages. Paul does not mean by saying “I speak, not the Lord” that he following words are not Scriptural. What he means is that Jesus did not specifically address this issue in the Scripture we have. Paul had the Christ given authority (Acts 9: 15) to bring Christ’s Word to the Gentiles, Kings and the Jews. That being said it is possible for one of two married unbelievers to accept Christ and enter the family of God. After this occurs the believing spouse must not leave the other. Remember how Paul reminded the Corinthians that some of them had serious sins in their past but Christ washed them clean (I Corinthians 6:11). This can happen to the non-believing spouse. The believer should not leave the non-believer. The marriage will be difficult and may result in at the least a lack of tolerance and possibly worse. In a marriage like this the believing spouse might feel like they are single or all alone. Perhaps they are taking the children to church and receive no spiritual leadership or spiritual support in the family unit. We have all seen these situations. We must reach out to them and encourage them to bring their children up in the knowledge of Christ and seek to support and educate them in the Bible. Through prayer and leading a Godly life the believing spouse may bring about the conversion of the non-believer.

I Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

The primary reason that the two must remain married is that the believing spouse brings holiness to the marriage. We have at least two Old Testament examples to illustrate this situation.

Never, Never Underestimate the power of God

Genesis 30: 27 And Laban said unto him, If now I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have divined that Jehovah hath blessed me for thy sake.

Laban who was deceitful knew that the Lord blessed him through Jacob. If Jacob had left earlier than he did Laban would not have received knowledge of God and he was aware of it.

Genesis 39: 2-5 And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found favor in his sight, and he ministered unto him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that Jehovah blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field.

Again the Lord provided blessing to those around one of His believing children. Joseph was a child of the living God and the entire household of Potiphar the high-ranking officer in Pharaoh’s select personal guard was blessed. Non-believers can sense this in the lives of believers and seek it, if not for themselves, at least for their children. Some people who are non-believers will send their children to vacation Bible school, Christian schools or Sunday school because they know there will be some blessing that will be imparted to the children. The entire family will be blessed by the one believing spouse and especially the children.

I Corinthians 7: 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

God has provided and additional exception to the rule of no divorce. In addition to adultery, the situation where an unbeliever insists on a divorce, he is not to be denied. Should this occur, the Christian is not bound to maintain the marriage but is free to remarry. Paul did not say, as he did in verse 11, that the Christian in this case should “remain unmarried.” The believer has two choices in this instance. The believer can allow the marriage to dissolve or he/she can deny Christ and live with the unbeliever, as the unbelieving spouse would like to live; apart from God. No blessings will occur in this relationship. Only pain and hardship will ensue. Once a person truly accepts Christ the Holy Spirit enters them forever. If they try and deny Christ the Spirit will be grieved.

The second part of this verse in which Paul affirmed that God had called Christians to live in peace could be understood as a separate sentence. The same conjunction (but) which introduced the exception at the beginning of this verse was repeated by Paul, probably to indicate another shift in thought and a return to the main point in this section, namely, the importance for the Christian spouse of preserving the marriage union and living “in peace” with the non-Christian. Paul’s point was that a Christian should strive to preserve the union and to keep the peace, but with the understanding that marriage is a mutual not a unilateral relationship. This is a difficult situation for the believer, as they will comprise their Christianity and their desire to follow Christ as they seek to appease their spouse through a peaceful relationship. This is one more reason to never become unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

 I Corinthians 7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Finally the principle reason for the believing spouse staying with the unbeliever is to pray for their salvation. This is a crucial reason why a Christian should stay married to a non-Christian. God might use the Christian spouse as a vessel of blessing possibly leading to the point where the unbelieving spouse would believe the message of the Cross and experience salvation. The apostle Peter said the same thing to us.

1 Peter 3:1-2 In like manner, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives; beholding your chaste behavior coupled with fear.


Wives who fear the Lord just may be used to bring salvation to an unbelieving husband.

[1] Insel TR, Winslow JT, Wang ZX, Young L, and Hulihan TJ.  “Oxytocin and the Molecular Basis for Monogamy”.  Advanced Experiments in Medical Biology.  Vol. 395 (1995), pp. 227-34.
[2] Carter CS.  “Neuroendocrine Perspectives on Social Attachment and Love”.  Psychoneuroendocrinology.  Vol. 23, no. 8 (Nov 1998), pp. 779-818




Saturday, May 6, 2017

SALVATION AND THE PLACE OF THE DEAD

by Daniel E. Woodhead, Ph. D.

Salvation

Salvation as revealed in the Bible can be defined in two ways. First, it is deliverance from physical danger, and second, it is deliverance by God from His eternal punishment for sin. This article will focus primarily on the second instance, the salvation God provides to mankind that saves them from His penalty of allowing the power and practice of sin to control the lives of human beings on this earth. It is quite clear that this salvation is only of God, and we receive it according to His grace:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (MEV)

God is completely holy, and He punishes sin (Romans 1:18). Furthermore, mankind is sinful and has broken God’s Laws (Romans 1:19-3:18). There is nothing that mankind can do to earn God’s favor (Romans 3:19-20). The way of salvation is a free gift from God through the atonement of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). It is offered to all who would believe on Christ (Romans 1:16-17; 3:22-30; 4:2-8:24). The only people who experience salvation are those who have actually accepted Jesus’ atonement by belief in the Gospel of Jesus.

Acts 4:10-12

10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)

Sin and Its Origin

Sin has plagued mankind since Satan introduced it into the world. As “the anointed cherub” who covered God’s throne, Satan was originally named Hallal that means “day-star” in Hebrew, before he fell from God’s Grace. Ezekiel states he was set over God’s throne until unrighteousness (sin) was found in him. This is the only verse in the Bible mentioning the origin of sin:

Ezekiel 28:14-15

14Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness [sin] was found in thee. (ASV, 1901, brackets added)

Isaiah describes his “fall” from heaven:

Isaiah 14:12-14

12How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! 13And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven (ASV, 1901), I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (ASV, 1901)

Because of his sin, Hallal was thrown out of his exclusive Heavenly reign, and then was “cut down to the ground”, where he continued his sinful activities as the one who “didst lay low the nations!” We do not exactly when His name was changed from Hallal to Satan, which is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary”. He is God’s adversary. As a result of his Fall, He polluted the Heavenly Tabernacle of God when sin was found in him, and that needed cleansing that is only provided by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then he indwelt a serpent in the Garden of Eden, beguiling our first parents Adam and Eve, causing them to disobey God. This act then caused sin to enter the sphere of time and space, as it was already in Heaven.

The result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden was that death entered the pristine earth through Adam and Eve’s sin, and more specifically the Garden of Eden where Jehovah God has placed Adam and his wife. Even though the earth became corrupt as sin entered it and caused death to reign over the creation, the more serious result was spiritual death (Romans 5: 14, 17, 21). All physical matter became a prisoner to the Laws of Entropy. Decay began at the point of the Fall, immediately after eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the “eyes of both of them were opened.” This means that Adam and Eve’s awareness expanded, but not to what the Devil had led them to believe it would be. Acting on the prompting of the Devil did not lead to divine enlightenment as he promised it would, but instead it led to a sense of shame. Satan promised them wisdom, which he cannot provide. Only the fear of God can bring wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). The world seeks Satan’s promises, and they always fail to receive them. Disobedience of God’s Word will never bring any benefits, only grief and lack of spiritual blessings. God immediately set up a Redeemer, Himself.

Genesis 3: 14

14And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:” (ASV, 1901)

The serpent, which allowed itself to be used by Satan and caused the downfall of mankind, is now held responsible for its actions. It is cursed “above all cattle and above every beast of the field”. Following this, the Lord said that the serpent would be destined to “crawl upon thy belly”. This means that it was at one point it stood upright, but there is no mention of any legs. Finally, the Lord states that the serpent would eat “dust” all the days of its life. Since the serpent does not have an actual diet of dust, we see a Hebrew idiomatic phrase “eat dust” used here as used by a conqueror over his enemies. In a contemporary setting we see this in automobile races where the winner states that the loser has “eaten his dust.”  The Old Testament uses this term in much the same way (Micah 7: 17; Psalm 72: 9 and Isaiah 49: 23).

Genesis 3: 15

15and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (ASV, 1901)

In theology this verse is called “the Proto-Evangelium because it is the first appearance of the Gospel. Conversely, it is also the first prophecy the Lord gave us of the Antichrist.
The fifteenth verse, which is directed at Satan, has four provisions:

·      Hostility between Satan and women.
·      Hostility between Satan’s seed, the Antichrist, and woman’s seed, who is Christ the Savior.
·      Christ bruising the head of Satan.
·      Satan bruising the heel of Christ.

The first provision is that God will “put enmity between thee and the woman”. This state of hostility between Satan and women is persistent, and is brought about because of women’s special redemptive role of bringing the Messiah into the world. The first satanic attack on women is described in Genesis chapter six where demons intermarry with human women in an attempt to stop the coming of the Messiah by corrupting the quality of the human race. A worldwide flood stopped this attempt.

The second provision states that a hostile relationship will continue as the text states “between your seed and her seed.” The seed of the woman is the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus. In the Bible, genealogies are traced through the male’s lines, but it is not until we read in Isaiah 7: 14 does the Bible explain the Messiah coming from the womb of a virgin. The Lord Jesus had no human father, Mary’s husband Joseph was his stepfather. It is important to note women do not have the seed for procreation, men do. However, since Jesus was born of a virgin, the expression “her seed” represents a miraculous conception (Isaiah 7:14). The reference in this verse to Satan’s “seed” implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage, and also in Daniel 9: 26-27, it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a Roman woman who will give birth to Satan’s “seed” who is going to be the Antichrist. That woman might not be a virgin because Scripture does not affirm this, but he will be conceived through supernatural means. Consider II Thessalonians 2:8-9:

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 

8And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; 9[even he], whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (ASV, 1901)

In verse 9 of II Thessalonians chapter 2 above, the word “working” is the Greek word energeo, which means, “to energize”. So then the coming of Antichrist will originate by the “energizing that comes from Satan. This counterfeit Son of the unholy Trinity will be brought about by a counterfeit virgin conception. A time is coming when the events of Genesis chapter six will be repeated, namely that the fallen, anointed Cherub, Satan (in the Latin he is called Lucifer) will impregnate a Roman woman to give birth to Satan’s son. The product of this conception will be a counterfeit “god-man”.

The third provision promises a curse, which is: “he shall bruise your head.” The woman’s “seed”, Jesus, gives the bruising to Satan by His death and resurrection (Hebrews 2: 14-18). The word “bruise” implies it is a harmful condition, but not fatal especially since its target is the “head”. Satan is still alive, but will eventually become placed in a terminal condition due to Christ’s finished work. Because of Romans 16: 20 and Revelation 20:10 we know that Satan’s final demise will be in the Lake of Fire. This will be a “crushing” of the head of the serpent, and his demise will be eternal.

The fourth provision in Genesis 3: 15 is: “You shall bruise his heel.” Satan will bruise the heel of the Woman’s Seed, and this represents the crucifixion. The bruising of the heel, while painful, is not terminal. The bruising and crushing can be best understood with imagery regarding the Hebrew’s method of dispensing of poisonous snakes in Israel. They must crush its head in order to completely eliminate its threat. As the heel of Messiah comes down on the serpent (Satan), the serpent rises up to bite His heel causing pain but not pain leading to an eternal pain (death). As the heel of Messiah continues to descend on Satan even though it has been bitten (the crucifixion), He is not dead so the heel continues down to finally crush the serpent’s head ending in his demise.

The Messiah is Prophecied

The fact that the Messiah had to come is well attested to in Scripture which starts with this foundational verse, Genesis 3: 15. One unique aspect of the Scriptures of Christianity is the prophecies and validated fulfillment at later times in the long chronology of the Bible’s story. These alone attest to the Scripture’s validity. Christ, after He was risen, explained many of the prophecies in the Bible and the fact that He had to die in order to accomplish the task He was to sent to do (Luke 24: 25-27).  Jesus accused the Pharisees of not knowing who He was. In fact, He said that Moses knew He was coming and wrote of Him.

John 5:43-47

43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust [Deuteronomy 31:21. chapter 7: 19. Romans 2:12]. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me [Luke 24:27)]. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (KJV, brackets added)

Following His resurrection, He explained to some of His disciples the Old Testament text relating to Himself to certify that He was indeed the Messiah who was clearly prophecied:

Luke 24:25-27

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (KJV).

Christ’s first advent is well prophesied in Scripture. Some of those are:

He would be born in Bethlehem in the region of Ephrathah.
Introduced in Micah 5: 2 and fulfilled in Matthew 2: 1-5.

He would be the Son of God
Introduced in Psalm 2: 7 and fulfilled in John 3: 16-17.

He would be born into the Hebrew tribe of Judah
Genesis 49: 10 and fulfilled in Hebrews 7: 14.

He would be born of a virgin
Introduced in Isaiah 7: 14 and fulfilled in Matthew 1: 18-22.

He would be a prophet like Moses
Introduced in Deuteronomy 18: 15 and fulfilled in John 7: 15-17.

He would be the king of Israel
Introduced in Zechariah 9: 9 and fulfilled in John 12: 12-15.

He would be rejected
Introduced in Isaiah 53: 3 and fulfilled in John 1: 11

He would be beaten
Introduced In Micah 5: 1 and fulfilled in Mark 15: 19.

He would be silent during his interrogation
Introduced in Isaiah 53: 7 and fulfilled in Matthew 27: 12-14.

He would be betrayed
Introduced in Psalm 41: 9 and fulfilled in Mark 14: 17-20.

He would be tried and condemned
Introduced in Isaiah 53: 8 and fulfilled Matthew 27: 1-2

He would be crucified
Introduced in Psalm 22: 16 and fulfilled in John 19: 17-18.

His garments would be divided
Introduced in Psalm 22: 18 and fulfilled in John 19: 23-24.

He would be given gall and vinegar
Introduced in Psalm 69: 21 and fulfilled in John 19: 28-29.

His bones would not be broken
Introduced in Exodus 12: 46 and fulfilled in John 19: 31-36.

He is our sacrifice
Introduced in Isaiah 53: 5-6 and fulfilled in I Peter 2: 24-25.

He was raised from the dead
Introduced in Psalm 16: 10 and fulfilled in Luke 24: 1-7 and 47.

The resurrection of Christ is the most significant event in all of world history. It provides a remedy for the Fall, and for the sin of our first family, Adam and his wife. If one truly believes in the historical facts of the Gospel and is regenerated, one is granted eternal life through the finished work of Jesus of Nazareth (Romans 6:23; Titus 3: 5). The gospel is clearly presented in several places in Scripture, and none are clearer than I Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15: 1-4

1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (KJV)

The Faithful Jews Awaited Jesus Arrival

The Jews were given a lot of evidence for the coming one who would take away the sins of the world. We see Simeon and Anna waiting in anticipation at the Temple for the baby Messiah to be brought there for His circumcision on the eighth day of His life.

Luke 2:25

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. (KJV)

The observant Jews of the Old Testament knew that the Messiah was going to arrive to provide salvation as Simeon cried had out, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.“ It is also quite clear it is the sacrifice of Jesus that provides our salvation from sin. Even though many knew He was coming (and would in the future be sacrificed), how was salvation guaranteed to the faithful in the Old Testament before Jesus’ sacrifice? First it is important to consider what the Bible teaches on the place of the dead. The Hebrew name for the place of the dead is Sheol, and the Greek word is Hades. Frequently our English translations will simply states these words as “Hell”. This is not accurate. The Old Testament declares in many places that people, both the faithful and unfaithful, went to Sheol when they died.

Old Testament Place of the Dead

One phrase that refers to death in the Old Testament is being “gathered unto His people.” A dead person is seen as joining the company of people that preceded him in death. The physical death takes place, then after that the individual is described as entering the company of those who had passed on before him (“gathered unto his people”).  We read this regarding the death of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob:

Genesis 25:8

8Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years]; and was gathered to his people (KJV).

Genesis 25:17

17And these [are] the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. (KJV)

Genesis 35:29a:

29And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died and was gathered unto his people…. (KJV)


Genesis 49:33:

33And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. (KJV)

So, we see in the first book of the Bible that after people die physically, they are “gathered unto their people.”  They are joining the company of people who preceded them in death, and are consciously aware of them. Due to his righteousness, the destination of Abraham in the good side of Sheol is described in the Bible: “And he believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The following examples discuss this.

Psalm 17:15

15As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (KJV)

Here David expressed a real faith that the soul will still be conscious in the fellowship with God even after death. This is also taught in the following verse:

Psalm 73:23-25

23Nevertheless I [am] continually with thee: thou hast holden [me] by my right hand 24Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me [to] glory. 25Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee. (KJV)

In this Psalm, the author Asaph expressed a real faith in immortality. Even upon his death he saw himself as being conscious and with God.

Ecclesiastics 12:7

7Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (KJV)

Here Solomon expresses the truth that the body returns to the earth to decay, and finally become dust, but the spirit goes to be with God our creator.
The New Testament expresses this same concept in at least four verses. They are found in: II Corinthians 5:1-8; Luke 23:43; John 14:3; Philippians 1:22-23.

The Consciousness of the Souls in Sheol

Souls in “Sheol” are seen as having continuous consciousness. One good example of this is found in Isaiah:

Isaiah 14:9-11

9Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. 10All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? 11Thy pomp is brought down to the Sheol, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. (KJV)

In this passage, the soul of the king of Babylon enters into “Sheol”, and into a particular section of Hell, where all the souls that preceded him in Hell suddenly rise in astonishment as they see this one also entering the domains of Hell.  They are able to ask questions and carry on a conversation. It should not be missed that these dead ones are portrayed as being conscious. Here, in the “bad side” of Sheol, there is punishment for the king of Babylon.

The same concept is taught in the New Testament in Luke 16:19-31. This is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here the distinction is made by Jesus of the two sides of Sheo,l or as it is called in the Greek, Hades since this is a New Testament story:

Luke 16:19-31

19Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: 20and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table; yea, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. 27And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; 28for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. (ASV, 1901)

So, there is clearly a good side and a bad side to the place of the dead. At the time of Jesus telling this story, He was essentially referring to Old Testament people. Abraham is in a location within “Hades” Jesus calls “Abraham’s bosom”. He also made reference to it as “Paradise” to the thief on the cross that expressed belief in Jesus as his savior (Luke 23:43). The rich man is in a place of torment also in Hades. There are then multiple compartments to Sheol or Hades. The Old Testament saints had to wait until Jesus was sacrificed in order to go to Heaven. When He died, He went to the “good side” of Hades to release them, and took them to Heaven. Most of the Old Testament verses using the word “Heaven” refer to the atmospheric Heaven, not the place of the dead. The New Testament does refer to “Heaven” as a place where the dead go as well as “Hell”. “Heaven” in the New Testament is the equalivant of “Paradise” in the Old Testament place of the dead. The folks who die in the New Testament era either go to “Hell”, the place for the unsaved, or “Heaven”, the place for the saved. After Jesus was complete with His resurrection body, the implication was that He descended again to Hades to gather the Old Testament saints and transport them from Hades to Heaven.

Jesus Released the Dead Old Testament Saints Who Waited For Him

When Christ ascended to the Father, He took “captivity captive”, meaning He took the righteous Old testament saints from the “Bosom of Abraham” to Heaven. This apparently was done on the Resurrection Day:

Psalm 68:18

18 Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men,… (NASB)

Ephesians 4:8-11

8 Therefore it says, "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…. (NASB)

The Old Testament saints were “captives” in the sense that they were not permitted to go to the presence of the Lord before He died on the Cross. Now, however, Christ led their souls in a great procession as a conquering general, to present them to the Father in Heaven as fully redeemed saints, awaiting their own resurrection from the dead.

When Christ went to Hades what did He say? Peter says He proclaimed a message to the spirits in prison who were disobedient before the Flood, but He probably also announced to the Old Testament saints that it was now time for them to go with Him to Heaven. The debt for sin had now been fully paid.

1 Peter 3:18-20

18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (NASB)

Peter says that Christ died, and preached “to the spirits in prison”. The ones he mentions were certain ones who were disobedient at the time of the Flood of Noah. However, it also seems clear that He had a great message for the Old Testament saints about their coming elevation to Heaven. However, the unrighteous souls were destined to remain in the Place of Torment in Hades until they face the Judge at the Great White Throne, and the Lake of Fire.

Conclusion

Salvation before the death of the Messiah placed Old Testament saints in one of several places in Sheol, or the place of the dead. This place was also called “Abraham’s Bosom, or “Paradise” because of the loving care they received there while awaiting the opening of heaven to them by the death of Christ on the cross. The non-believers went to a place of torment in Sheol, and from there Christ will judge them before their final destination in “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). The following chart depicts the all the destinations of the dead, and clearly delineates the different sections: