God's Creation 4: The Nature of Man
--From James A. Scarborough, The Steppingstones (Merigold, MS: Merigold Spiritual Center, 1987) 91-103.
God ejected Satan and his deceived followers from Heaven. They were injected into lower dimensions called Hell. The hellish dimensions were created to serve as places of confinement for these spiritually dead. In the highest dimension of the hells, the physical universe we know, Earth serves as a prison for certain of the fallen angels.
The fallen spirits exiled to the prison, Earth, include the demons. Demons are discarnate spirits of Satan. Discarnate spirits are spirits who do not have fleshly bodies of ordinary matter like ours. Instead, they have spirit bodies invisible to us, as are all other spirits. These discarnate beings are subjects of Satan. They are in the highest level of his kingdom, having been cast down to Earth with him (see Rev 12:9). The ruler of the demons is Satan, who rules in the kingdom created for him and his erring followers. God created the kingdom for him and placed him and his adherents there. God, the ultimate power and authority, maintains their existence and allows their demonic activity. We may not fully understand why God allows demonic forces to mislead and plague man, but we can trust that even this aspect of creation is according to His overall strategy for recalling the fallen spirits, as we shall see in the following chapters. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:9).
The evil spirits are not distinguished from one another by name in the Biblical texts. An evil spirit may be referred to by a phrase descriptive of its function, such as "the spirit of greed," or "the spirit of pride." It is not implied that only one such spirit exists. On another occasion, a demon may be referred to as "the spirit of antichrist," which is to say, "a spirit in the service of Satan, the enemy of Christ." Sometimes, any such spirit is called simply "the antichrist," never meaning that there is only one such spirit opposed to Christ. Evil spirits are sometimes simply given the generic name, Satan, being called after the one whom they follow. Thus, Christ asks, "And if Satan cast out Satan . . . how shall then his kingdom stand?" (Matt 12:26).
God has allowed Satan great freedom of action and power to implement his desires. If it were not so, Satan could not roam about "as a roaring lion . . . seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet 5:8), for God is God over all, including Hell: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (Jas 2:19). When Satan "the accuser of our brethren . . . accused them before our God day and night" (Rev 12:10), it could only be because God had granted Satan the right to be heard. When Satan slandered Job before God, it could only be that God allowed Satan the opportunity. What is more, God then gave permission for Satan to persecute Job. Where is God's fairness in that?
On another occasion, Satan requested permission from God to sift the Apostles "as wheat" (Luke 22:31). Upon Christ's arrest, the Apostles abandoned Him in fear. Judas had betrayed Him, Peter denied knowing Him, and the others fled from His side. Why did God permit Satan and his spirit agents to assault the Apostles?
That God has given Satan the power to cause havoc among men, even among those men who try to follow God, seems to be unfair. Is God unjust to His children? The answer to this question is obvious, once we recognize our role in creation.
All of creation is divided into only two domains: the heavens and the hells. All angels under Christ in the heavens are spirits who are loyal to Him. All spirits under Satan in the hells are spirits who sided with Satan in the revolt against Christ. Human spirits are in a region of Hell. We are, therefore, numbered among the enemies of Christ.
In view of the close bonds and uncanny resemblances between God's angels and man, it might seem terribly unfair that His angels are in Heaven under Christ, while we are confined to Earth under Satan. And where, we might ask, are the angels who were thrown from Heaven down to Earth for rebelling against Christ (see Rev 12:4, 12:9, 12:13)? To answer this question, we need only look in a mirror. We are fallen angels. As such, we are fallen spirits who long ago voluntarily became subjects of Satan. He is within his God-given rights in influencing us. We are reaping the results of our participation in the heavenly revolt against Christ. God is fair, and, like it or not, we are reaping what we have sown.
There are a number of Biblical references to our existence prior to being incarnated for this present life of learning and testing. Here are a few examples: BEFORE I FORMED THEE IN THE BELLY I KNEW THEE; (Jer 1:5) (em add); "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . . YOU KNOW, FOR YOU WERE BORN THEN, AND THE NUMBER OF YOUR DAYS IS GREAT!" (Job 38:21 NAS) (em add); Psa 139:14-15 NEB; Eccl 12:7; I Cor 2:7; Titus 1:2; II Tim 1:9; II Thess 2:13; Eph 1:4; Rom 11:23 NAS; Isa 40:21 NAS. These verses, and others, repeatedly mention plans made and people known, before material creation ever took place. They indicate that our existence was already established by then, and that the fall from Heaven had already occurred.
The animal species known as man has appeared on Earth only in the last moment of geological history. Billions of years have elapsed in the development of the physical universe, the Earth itself being several billion years old. The spirits now incarnated in human bodies on Earth languished in Satan's lower dimensions of existence for untold amounts of time awaiting the opportunity to be incarnated in human form. Although the length of stay in Hell was not eternal, it was dreadfully long. Thus, we read that we are incarnated from below (see John 8:23).
The exiled spirits could not escape from Hell, not even from the highest level, before Christ made it possible. Physical death did not release a human spirit to Heaven before that time. The human (physical) body returned to the ground from which its substance came, while the human spirit remained captive in one or the other of the dimensions of the hells. See the following: Ezek 26:20; 31:16,17; Isa 14:9; and Psa 9:17, "The wicked will return to Sheol [Hell, AKJ], even all the nations who forget God." In this translation, it is evident that, if these people are to return to Sheol, they must first have arisen from there.
In the days of the Apostles, many people understood that we could have sinned before this life. Recall the question, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be BORN blind?" (John 9:2 NAS) (em add). In order for his blindness to be due to his own sin, he would have had to commit the sin before his birth. Jesus did not contradict this assumption, but simply responded to the real point of the question.
It is said that Christ "reconciled mankind with God." For a reconciliation to occur, there must have been a prior disagreement between friends. For purposes of a reconciliation, Christ was temporarily caused to be a little lower than the angels (see Heb 2:9), in precisely the situation as those whom He came to rescue (see Heb 2:6-7).
God, in His love, does not leave the fallen forever in the pit. The spirits are eventually brought up to an earthly incarnation for their spiritual growth. On Earth, they may learn about Christ and find a chance to believe in Him. "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 33:29-30) (em add).
Christ alludes to the incarnation of fallen spirits from Hell with the words, "You are from below" (John 8:23 NAS), and "Your father is the devil" (John 8:44 NEB). The Psalms often refer to the incarnation of David from below: "For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou has delivered my soul from the lowest hell," (Psa 86:13); "O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave [Sheol]," (Psa 30:3) (em add); "My substance [literally, bones] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth," (Psa 139:15) (em add).
We may be confident that these verses are correctly interpreted as meaning coming up from Hell, because the same mode of expression is used in the verses referring to the raising of Christ from Hell, into which He descended. It is precisely this point which Luke is supporting (see Acts 2:27-31, 13:35), when he invokes the sixteenth Psalm as his proof: "Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol" [or, Hades, Acts 2:27 NAS]; "Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay" (Psa 16:10 NAS).
John (John 2:17 NAS) applies another Psalm to Jesus, quoting: "Zeal for Thy house will consume me" (see Psa 69:9 NAS). In that same Psalm, we also read that the pit shall "not shut its mouth on me" (Psa 69:15 NAS), which therefore must also refer to Christ. John (John 2:22) alludes to other Scriptures which Christ's resurrection from the realm of the dead caused disciples to believe, but he does not list them for us.
In addition David was, like us, one of the fallen spirits. Since David lived before the time of Christ's victory, he did not enter Heaven upon his physical death. Escape from Satan's domain was not possible until Christ opened the door to Heaven for us. "For David is not ascended into the heavens" (Acts 2:34).
As we have seen, Earth is populated by fallen spirits working their way up from the pit. However, there have been exceptions to this rule. If incarnation from below is possible, then incarnation from above is equally possible. Certain spirits have incarnated from Heaven to help in bringing salvation to man. Christ is the foremost among these incarnated heavenly spirits. It is unnecessary to prove to Christian readers that Christ existed prior to man and that He incarnated from above. We cite only, "[Christ] Who verily was foreordained BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD" (I Pet 1:20) (em add), and "YOU ARE FROM BELOW, I AM FROM ABOVE" (John 8:23 NAS) (em add).
Christ was preceded by other incarnated spirits who helped prepare the way for His coming. The verse, "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man" (John 3:13) applies to everyone, though some translators render this verse so that it seems to refer exclusively to Christ. In other words, at the time of Christ, no person ascended to Heaven at death unless he had come from there, this including Christ. Salvation had not yet been achieved for the fallen. Hence, any spirit prior to Christ who ascended to Heaven must have come down from Heaven.
Accordingly, Abraham was one of the spirits incarnated from above. He was later described by Christ as being in Heaven (see Luke 16:23), implying that He must have come down from there. Enoch (see Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (see II Kings 2:11) were both taken into Heaven even though Christ had not yet achieved the redemption of man. These two agents of Christ had, therefore, incarnated from Heaven. Moses and Elijah (Elias) appeared to Christ on the mountain (see Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30). Moses must, therefore, have come down with Elijah from Heaven. To have been in Heaven with Elijah, Moses must first have come from there. The Apostle Paul reported visiting Heaven (see II Cor 12:2). The Apostle, then, was probably also a spirit from above. In Paul's case, however, this conclusion could be debated, since his visit to Heaven occurred after Christ's victory.
As we see, Earth is a battleground for the souls of men, wherein discarnate spirits from above, God's spirits, and those from below, influence man for good or for evil, and wherein certain spirits from Heaven have incarnated to work on behalf of Christ. The people of earth are intermingled followers and adversaries of Christ: the "living" and the "dead."
Man is therefore a spirit. It is not that we have a spirit, as is commonly said, it is that we are spirits. We differ from the discarnate spirits in that we are incarnate. "Incarnate" means "in flesh." We are incarnate spirits as distinguished from the discarnate spirits, be we are spirits in Satan's realm, nonetheless. We participated in the revolt against Christ ages ago in Heaven. That participation is the guilt which every human bears from birth. That is the original sin of which we are all guilty. We were confined to Satan's kingdom due to guilt incurred, personally, by actions freely taken. It cannot be that we are being blamed for a mistake made by Adam.
The idea that God perennially punished every person because of Adam's mistakes seems totally unfair. And so it should. It is not a Scriptural concept at all. The Bibles stress many times that each of us is personally responsible for our errors, that the son shall not "bear the iniquity of the father" (Ezek 18:14-32 explains this at length), and that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die," i.e., be divorced from God (Ezek 18:4). We acquired our original sin "from Adam," not by inheriting his blame, but "from Adam" in the sense of having followed his example. This is the sense in which "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor 15:22). That is to say, all shall be made alive by following Christ and His example. Furthermore, we must have followed Adam's example before this earthly life because we were born already in disobedience (see Psa 51:5).
The question of "original sin" now can be seen to have an easy answer. The original sin was rebellion in Heaven against Christ. All people bear this sin from birth, since it was that very sin which caused us to be born here at all. We are fallen spirits incarnated into flesh bodies.
Every church of all Christian denominations tells us that to enter Heaven we must accept Christ as our Lord. But why is this a requirement? Why not simply lead a good life? The answer is obvious. Since our personal rejection of Christ as Lord in the Holy spirit world was the cause of our expulsion, our acceptance of Christ as Lord is logically required for readmission to His kingdom. Since our original sin was our choosing sides with Satan over Christ in the great revolt in Heaven, then our choosing Christ as Lord in this life sets this error straight. It is surely fair that citizenship be granted only to those whose allegiance is to the rightfully appointed Ruler.
It may be argued that our lack of memory of previous existence shows we did not exist then. However, if God finished creating all things on the symbolic sixth day and rested on the seventh, we human spirits must have been created before the seventh day and not thereafter. Otherwise, God is still creating human spirits, and, what is more, creating them flawed and sinful from birth and placing them under the dominion of Satan. This idea makes a mockery of the skill and love of the Creator. No, our spirits were created eons ago, before the fall from Heaven. Obviously the dead on Earth to whom Jesus spoke remembered nothing of their former existence. "The gospel was preached EVEN TO THOSE WHO ARE NOW DEAD" (I Pet 4:6 NIV) (em add). I appears that God in His mercy has made memories of former joy inaccessible to the spirits who cannot yet repossess that joy.
In the same vein, lack of memory is not claimed to prove nonexistence when we encounter it in other contexts. Can we remember even a single event from the first year of life? We cannot. Yet, it is perfectly clear that we did, in fact, exist during that year. We are accustomed to other memory lapses. Do we remember our existence while asleep? A third part of our lives are spent in sleep, but all of those accumulated years are a total blank in our memories, except for occasional dreams. Yet, who would dare claim we did not exist while asleep?
The spirits confined to the hells, mercifully, have no memory of their previous existence in Heaven. These spirits are the spiritually dead, the apostates, to whom the Scriptures refer: "the dead know not any thing" (Eccl 9:5). "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave [Sheol] who shall give thee thanks" (Psa 6:5) (em add). The King of Tyre had no memory of his participation in the Fall. He had once been a cherub before the revolt in Heaven. This wingless, fallen cherub was addressed by God: "YOU WERE . . . A . . . CHERUB . . . I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I EXPELLED YOU, O guardian cherub . . . I THREW YOU TO THE EARTH . . . You have come to a horrible end (Ezek 28:11-19 NIV) (em add).
Similarly, the King of Babylon had no memory of his earliest days in Heaven. Isaiah brought this message from God to the King of Babylon: "HOW YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM HEAVEN, O morning star, son of the dawn! YOU HAVE BEEN CAST DOWN TO THE EARTH, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven . . . BUT YOU ARE BROUGHT DOWN TO THE GRAVE [Sheol], TO THE DEPTHS OF THE PIT (Isa 14:12-15 NIV) (em add).
It is unfortunate that certain render "O morning star" as "O Lucifer," thereby distorting the entire meaning of this passage. The message is clearly addressed to the King of Babylon (Isa 14:4), not to Lucifer. In addition, it had to be, literally, the King of Babylon who would be denied burial (Isa 14:19-20), not Lucifer.
We conclude that our lack of memory of any portion of our existence has no relevance to whether we existed during the time forgotten. We existed long before our present incarnation. In agreement with what we have already said about Earth, it is seen here to be part of "the grave" (Sheol), also called "the pit." That is, Earth is located in one of the hells.
We are fallen angels. Our lack of memory of our tragic guilt in the revolt is evidence of great mercy on the part of God. He allows each of His children to prove his fitness to reenter Heaven by means of the tests of Earth life. He gives each of His erring children a chance for a fresh start, unburdened by conscious memories of his previous behavior .
The idea that mankind originated in Heaven disagrees with the usual teachings involving Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden. Let us digress and deal with this disagreement. The creation story, as usually recounted, is drawn from the first two chapters of Genesis. The Genesis story was passed down verbally for many centuries before it was committed to writing. The written version was recopied many times before becoming the copies available to us. These copies underwent the interpretative, and sometimes ambiguous, process of translation before they arrived in the form we read in English. We can be certain that a translation does not contain precisely all the meanings and implications of the original writings. This fact is known by any person who knows two or more languages. Although we do not know the extent of such errors, we can deduce that they are serious. Even if we were to assume that the creation story of the first book of the Bible was originally sent directly from God, we cannot assume that we have it in an uncontaminated form at this late date. Claims that God prevented the introduction of errors are mere assertions lacking proof. On the contrary Jeremiah quotes God as saying that all His communications up to Jeremiah's time had been seriously altered: "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?' But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie" (Jer 8:8 NAS). God makes a strong indictment, indeed, of the Scriptures then available to Jeremiah. Those sacred scrolls included Genesis. We, therefore, interpret the first parts of Genesis with caution, knowing that they do not measure up to God's standards of accuracy.
An example of the apparent problem with accuracy is found in the creation story told in the first two chapters of Genesis. These two chapters are not in agreement about what happens. The first chapter of Genesis relates that creation required six days, followed by a day of rest for the Creator. Chapter 2 lacks any division into time periods. In the first chapter, God is said to have created evening and morning, day and night, on the first day, even though the sun which produces day and night did not exist until the fourth day. The saga then relates that God formed the plants on the third day (verses 11-12), which would mean they were required to survive without sunlight. On the next two days, the lower animals were first formed, then the higher ones, and finally men and women (verses 27-28).
In the second chapter of Genesis, the creation proceeds quite differently. There were no shrubs or plants of any kind (see Gen 2:5) when God formed man (verse 7). The story does not divulge where this man was kept until God planted a garden spot in Eden in which to put him (verse 8). In contrast to the first chapter of Genesis, where humankind in general were called into existence (Gen 1:26-27), the man is said to have been alone. Quite naturally he was lonely, having already endured a period of time without even a green plant for company, and now finding himself without animals or other people. Animals had not yet been formed (see Gen 2:18-20), although we were previously told that they were created before Adam (see Gen 1:20-25). The other people mentioned in the first creation story are nowhere to be found, so God formed a woman to be Adam's "help mate" as His crowning act of creation.
Another problem concerns the location of the Garden of Eden. As given in Genesis (Gen 2:10-14 NAS), four rivers originate in Eden. The rivers are the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon. These rivers are known today in the near east, but Bible scholars are unable to locate Eden there. In addition, the Biblical description of the location of Eden does not match the maps. Perhaps a more direct approach for locating Eden is for us to ignore the theorizing of the scholars and to use common sense. Let us look at the clues found in the Bibles.
Eden is said to be a lush paradise which man cannot enter. Entrance to Eden is prohibited by cherubim with flaming swords. Man was driven from Eden and not allowed to return. But explorers have never come upon a lush, yet uninhabited, paradise in the near east, nor anywhere else. No person has ever encountered a supernatural force preventing his entry into any region on Earth. No man has ever encountered cherubim with flaming swords blocking the entrance to any place on Earth. There are, however, places that are not on Earth. The Scriptures given certain clues.
First we note that man in Eden had not yet been completely severed from God. Thus the Adam and Eve story must refer to a time before Earth was formed, for Earth is one of the places created as part of Satan's realms after our separation from God. The inhabitants of Eden are symbolically referred to by Ezekiel as trees. They were in Eden (see Ezek 31:8-18), the "garden of God" (verse 9), before being cast down to Hell (verse 16), also called the "nether parts of the earth" (verse 18), a common description in ancient times. We see, then, that the inhabitants of Eden were not on Earth, in one of the hells, but were cast down to Earth. The only beings who were cast to Earth were Satan and those spirits he misled, including Adam and Eve.
The Bibles clearly refer to Adam and Eve allegorically, for many other inhabitants are mentioned in this passage in Ezekiel. These souls were exiled from a paradise wherein grew the "tree of life" (Gen 3:22). Whatever is represented by the symbolic tree of life, the tree cannot be on Earth, because the tree is in Eden, and Eden has not been found on Earth. If we can locate the tree of life, then we will have located Eden.
The tree of life is in the paradise of God to which Christians ascend upon leaving Earth life, as is explicitly stated in: "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from THE TREE OF LIFE, WHICH IS IN THE PARADISE OF GOD" (Rev 2:7 NIV) (em add). If the tree is both in Eden, guarded by angels, and also in the paradise to which we shall ascend, then Eden must be in this paradise. Accordingly, Eden, and the entire Adam and Eve story, refer by allegory and symbolism to the fall from Heaven in ways not clearly understood by the churches. This location for Eden is transparently clear in the message of God to the King of Tyre: "YOU WERE IN EDEN, THE GARDEN OF GOD . . . YOU WERE . . . A GUARDIAN CHERUB . . . I THREW YOU TO THE EARTH" (see Ezek 28:13-18 NIV) (em add). From this we see that the King of Tyre was an angel thrown down from Eden to Earth. The King of Tyre was like the rest of us in this respect.
For an authoritative explanation of the creation and fall of the spirits, the reader can consult the historic book by Johannes Greber entitled Communication with the Spirit World of God, available from the Johannes Greber Memorial Foundation, 139 Hillside Avenue, Teaneck, NJ 07666.
In summary, we have found that the fallen angels on Earth are the disincarnates, the demons; and the incarnates, the people. We are all here for the same cause. We are all spirits carrying the stain of the "original sin" of rebellion against Christ in our former home, Heaven. We have been confined to Satan's domains for long ages, lacking a way to escape, and lacking the knowledge of our true condition. The One against Whom we revolted came for us and obtained our redemption. Acceptance of the Redeemer as our King (Lord) is a necessary and reasonable condition for returning to His kingdom.
It is not the only condition, however, because even Satan and his angels recognize the sovereignty of God "and tremble" (Jas 2:19). There is more required. We must also be cured of our faulty ways of thinking. In short, we must repent, that is: change our way of thinking. We must achieve sufficient purity of thought to qualify for Heaven as our home. The purity of thought must be reflected in our deeds. To that end, we must be born again.