LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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A LAMB ON MOUNT ZION, PART 4

 

 

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 14:8

 

We have examined the traits of this spiritual Babylon announced by the second angel. We now must ask “What is spiritual Babylon?”

In reviewing pertinent facts about the literal kingdom of Babylon three things have been found that must be applied to the definition of this spiritual Babylon: Its foundation is rebellion against the revealed will of God; it was a confusion of languages that kept the human population from uniting against God; and, it was used by God to bring captivity on apostate Judah as a form of temporary judgment.

It is not easy to define spiritual Babylon in a single sentence because it is a complex concept, but the simplest definition is that Babylon is everything in the name of religion other than the church built by Christ, the biblical church of God.

The Book of Revelation pictures Babylon as the opposite of and antagonistic to the true biblical church. In similar fashion, it is a spiritual kingdom with an outward expression in religious form and organization, but its foundation is rebellion against the revealed will of God. While this rebellion is expressed in many forms, such as denying the existence of God, denying the existence of sin, the exaltation of idols or mythologies, and so-forth, there is one common thread to all this rebellion: the rejection of the will of God as it has been revealed in Jesus Christ.

 

The Atonement Is the Issue

 

The will of God as revealed in Jesus Christ is the atonement. God the Father sent Christ to this world to make atonement for sin through the sacrifice of His body and blood on the cross of Calvary. This sacrifice sanctifies and perfects all who accept its merits to the degree that they are cleansed from all sin.

Babylon is a spiritual kingdom that rejects the atonement and the resulting cleansing from all sin and yet offers its adherents a way to God. The kingdom of spiritual Babylon contains many different religious languages, all of which are said to offer people a way to God, but they are not united in a single message as to THE WAY to God. The one thing in which they are agreement is that they offer a way other than God’s way. While these differing religions, doctrines, and systems actively deceive people into thinking they are on their way to God, they do not frustrate the true work of God because by their diversity they still leave open the consideration of the everlasting gospel to any and all who would hear it. Babylon’s religions oppose and fight with each other for the hearts of men and because of their divisions they will never be able to devise one message that can overshadow the gospel of Christ.

The kingdom of spiritual Babylon fights against the work of God in the heavens of the Book of Revelation. There are times when the true people of God become weary or careless and open themselves to attacks from the spirit of Babylon. In times of apostasy, parts of the church may lose sight of true doctrines and holy living and slide towards spiritual Babylon in their teachings or practices. It is in times such as these that God permits parts of the church to fall captive to spiritual Babylon. They may be taken over by a doctrinal system or lifestyle common to some phase of spiritual Babylon, or they may actually give up and become affiliated with an opposing religion, denomination, church, or movement. God allows this captivity because He wants to awaken sincere people to the spiritual conditions in which they find themselves so that they can repent, leave their captivity, return to Mount Zion and follow the Lamb.

The Babylon of the Book of Revelation is a Christ-less form of religion that offers people a way to God other than through the everlasting Gospel. It may sound strange to say that Christian churches can be Christ-less. While they all teach Jesus and their idea of redemption, they are Christ-less in that they deny the complete work of atonement. The everlasting gospel proclaims that the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin, but churches under the spirit of Babylon hold that after experiencing their form of salvation, Christians are still sinful, cannot help but to sin because of either a sinful nature or sinful flesh and cannot be released from sin until they die and go to heaven. They believe in forgiveness of sins, some kind of positional sanctification, but all deny and sense of practical holiness.

 

Babylon Is Fallen

 

The second angel declares that Babylon is fallen. Spiritual Babylon is Christ-less religion in any and all of its forms. It is not limited to pagan religions, the major religions of the world such as Hinduism and Islam, and the major factions of Christianity.

To say that Babylon is fallen implies that there was a time in which Babylon was not fallen. Some parts of Babylon, Paganism for example, never held the truth of salvation; they never had a position from which to fall. Biblical Judaism at one time was the true religion of God’s people, Israel; but Judaism rejected Messiah and fell from that lofty position. There are forms of Christianity that once held the truths of the atonement and practical holiness in the lives of believers but abandoned those truths for much lower standards and thereby fell from grace. This is one thing that is deceptive about spiritual Babylon in its Christian guise, it appears to be of God because it is “Christian,” but it is Christian in name only and it offers a false salvation God cannot accept because it does the seeker no good other than to make him religious.

Many forms of Christianity developed during the Church Era and the sincere seeker of God must be cautious when deciding with which form to cast his lot. While salvation is a personal experience between God and the believer, the form of Christianity with which the believer associates himself will have a tremendous impact on his salvation. In history, as one form of Christianity apostatized, godly people would leave it and start another form. Usually they tried to correct the errors that caused the first form to fall away. When starting their new form they would hold on to a tradition or a doctrinal position that became the seed of their own apostasy. Eventually, some people would leave that form of Christianity to start another form.

Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox churches grew out of the apostasy of the early church; Protestantism grew out of Romanism; and, modern Evangelical churches grew out of Protestant denominationalism. Some churches and denominations claim hundreds of years of history as validation for their existence. Some modern churches claim to have jumped over the centuries of Romanism and Protestantism to lay their foundations once again in the Apostolic Faith of the early church.  Which one is right? Don’t rely on a church’s history or the name by which it calls itself even if it calls itself the Church of God. Look for the Everlasting Gospel and you will find God’s church; all else is spiritual Babylon.

While all forms of spiritual Babylon are not excluded from the message of the fourteenth chapter of Revelation, the primary emphasis, at least for those in Western Culture, is apostate Christianity. This is the form of Babylon with which God’s church has to bitterly contend in this end-time of the Church Era. This form of Babylon holds creeds and doctrines that contradict the clear teachings of God’s word. It offers unregenerate people a way to heaven through means other than the blood of Jesus Christ such as church joining, confirmation, decisions and so forth; a babble of doctrines. These religious associations are ruled by the counsels of men, or by spiritual dictators and not by the Lord Jesus Christ. These religious bodies separate themselves from all others by their names and denominational distinctives so that any glimpse of the gospel and a truly saved life are lost to the sight of people that otherwise earnestly seek God.  And for those in spiritual Babylon who do find true salvation, the denominational distinctives separate them and keep them from a real fellowship of saints.

 

Spiritual Fornication

 

The angel declares that Babylon causes people to commit fornication. Fornication is used as a metaphor showing that the character of associating with Babylon is much the same as that of the sexual sin of fornication in the eyes of God. The word fornication occurs thirty-two times in the Bible, ten of which are in the Book of Revelation. In the Old Testament it is almost always used metaphorically and in the New Testament it is used literally, except in the Book of Revelation.

The first occurrence of the word fornication is in 2 Chronicles 21:11,

 

Then Jehoram went forth with his princes, and all his chariots with him: and he rose up by night, and smote the Edomites which compassed him in, and the captains of the chariots. So the Edomites revolted from under the hand of Judah unto this day. The same time also did Libnah revolt from under his hand; because he had forsaken the LORD God of his fathers. Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto.

 

The entire twenty-first chapter deals with the reign of Jehoram, who was an apostate king of Judah. One of his apostate actions was to set up shrines to idols (high places) and to compel the inhabitants of Jerusalem to worship the idols, which is here referred to as committing fornication.

A second example is found in the next occurrence of the word at Isaiah 23:17,

 

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.

 

Isaiah is prophesying the restoration of the city-state of Tyre after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. Tyre would be restored to its former commercial importance, as the Prophet intimates, through dishonest acts and fraudulent pretexts he calls fornication.

As literal fornication is an immoral and unlawful sexual act, spiritual fornication is a pretended relationship with God on the part of a person that has not been entered into by the means of salvation.

The Apostle Paul likens the experience of salvation to a marriage between Jesus Christ and the believer in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul carries the analogy further in Ephesians 5:21–33 where he likens the relationship between Christ and His church to the relationship between husbands and wives.

By these analogies it can be understood that salvation through Jesus Christ establishes the relationship between God and the believers and consequently it establishes the relationship between God and His church. Without salvation a person does not have a relationship with God and without salvation a body of people cannot be the true church of God.  To lay claim to the name Christian and to claim to be part of God’s church without the experience of salvation is to commit spiritual fornication.

Churches devised by men, regardless how honest and well-meaning their origins may have been, do not fit the biblical qualifications to be the church of God if their requirements for membership are not limited to salvation from all sin. Manmade churches take people in by means other than salvation such as catechism, confirmation, church joining, subscribing to certain doctrinal statements or creeds, conforming to certain outward standards, and so forth. In this way, Babylon causes people to commit spiritual fornication by taking on a pretended relationship with God that is based on something other than the everlasting gospel. Manmade churches offer people a way to heaven other than salvation from sin and holiness of life.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body. This one body is the one church that Christ built.” For professed Christians to form a relationship with any manmade church instead of the one body of Christ is to commit spiritual fornication. It is like a bride being married to one man and living with another. In this sense, spiritual fornication is substituting a relationship with a church for a relationship with God.

 

Babylonian Captivity

 

Committing spiritual fornication causes a person to go into the captivity of spiritual Babylon.

True believers, people who are actually saved from sin and are trying to live holy lives, are often captured by Babylon because they feel the real need of a church home, but they do not know there is such a thing as the physical body of Christ, the biblical church of God. This is why it can be said that a person can be in the church spiritually but in Babylon physically.

This is captivity because the spirit behind Babylon, the god of this world, clouds the truth with denominational distinctives and doctrinal interpretations designed to keep believers from grasping the truths of the true church and a holy life. This is “the wine of the wrath of her fornication” mentioned by the angel.

Their captivity makes them feel that the everlasting gospel is heretical and blasphemous the first time they hear it.  They will distrust the people who preach and follow the everlasting gospel—those that follow the Lamb. Yet, deep inside they will have a longing for what this gospel offers.

Fear will hold them hostage until the Holy Spirit gives them boldness and confidence to break the spiritual bondage and escape to Mount Zion to follow the Lamb as their spiritual brethren are doing.