“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6).
In our previous messages we looked at the effects of Babylon’s confusion and the wine of her fornication as relayed in Revelation 17. Drunkenness is the spiritual state of those bound to the Babylonish system of religion. In their drunken state those devoted to the harlot have grown indifferent to spiritual things. We also saw that the ‘blood of the saints’ which the harlot drinks represents the ‘life of the saints’. Hence Babylon is drunk by their adulterated spiritual life, their diminished spiritual zeal and energy, their confused sense of identity.
We start by continuing the idea from our last message regarding the blood of the saints. In a related yet distinct sense, the drinking of the blood of the saints also represents Babylon’s partaking of their life and her union with those saints under her bondage.
Drunk by the blood of carnal men. Is this not a demented distortion of the communion of the blood of Christ?
Consider the contrast, Jesus said: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (Joh. 6:53). The spiritual essence of communion in the drinking of His blood is the partaking of His life and identification with Him; an entering into union as His life courses through our veins, as it were, so that we move and live and have our being in Him. But in a twisted manner the harlot shares in the communion of the blood of the saints.
She drinks their blood, they drink her wine. The partaking of each other indicates the union established between the two through communion. These saints have entered into identification with her. Their identity is defined by her.
No wonder then that many saints today boldly claim, “I’m Baptist”, “I’m Assembly of God”, “I’m Lutheran”, “I’m word of faith”, “I’m Catholic or Pentecostal” or a myriad other names by which they recognize themselves. The harlot has become such a vital part of their identity that anyone who challenges and offends her challenges and offends them. It’s not surprising then that these saints would castoff and kill their brothers to defend her and uphold her name. Anyone who defies her and questions her spirit, her visions, her doctrines, her programs, and her methods is considered a heretic and an adversary.
Is it not plain to all today that the harlot church system and her daughters are joined together? They trust her, depend on her and are faithful to her not knowing they are fornicating with a harlot.
Notice also that the harlot is drunk not only with the blood of the saints but also by “the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6). The separate mention of the saints and the martyrs indicates the distinction between the two groups of people.
The saints whose blood the woman drinks, which we have previously considered, are those who pay homage to the Babylonish system of religion. They are saints overcome by the beast (Rev. 13:7) and who are drunk by the wine of her fornication. These are a people who have experienced the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ but have remained in a state of immaturity. They have entered into a relationship with the Lord but they have neither the understanding nor the desire to enter into death and union with Him. He has become Savior but He has yet to become Lord in their life.
On the external, they may be morally upright citizens, they may worship the Lord out of a sincere heart, and yes they may love the Lord, but they do not perceive spiritual truths and have not pressed on in the pure walk of the Spirit into deeper dimension of the Kingdom. With their spiritual underdevelopment comes the prominence of the soul. Thus they are soulish Christians who occasionally touch heaven but primarily reside on the earth and mind earthly things.
Due to their soulish condition, these saints find themselves overcome by the beast out of the sea on which the harlot sits. Thus we read: “It was granted to him to make war with the SAINTS and to overcome them” (Rev. 13:7). It is also written of them that “all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life” (Rev. 13:8). These saints that have been overcome by the beast not only dwell on the earth but fail to experience the increase of God’s nature in their innermost being.
But bear in mind that it is out of theses saints that elect sons come out of, just as it is out of the seven churches that overcomers come. Thus, sons are overcoming saints; they overcome the beast and Babylon and all her devices. They are a firstfruit company, those redeemed from the earth and from among men, those who are not defiled with women but who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are the martyrs of Jesus. But, as we will see, martyrdom is an ongoing process that is even now taking place in those apprehended to sonship.
Let us further consider this group by whose blood the harlot is drunk: the martyrs of Jesus. The word ‘martyr’ is often understood in its literal sense. However, every overcomer who is elect by the Lord to stand on the heights of Mount Zion and to attain to the fullness of the kingdom has to be a martyr. So what is the spiritual meaning of martyrdom?
There is no doubt that over the ages the religious church system has slain righteous men that have been sent to proclaim the word of God. This has been a slaying that is both figurative and literal. A martyr is often viewed as one who lays down their life for their belief. It is a person who is faithful in death. The faith or cause for which a martyr dies is of great importance. For in death the martyr bears witness and testifies of his/her commitment and absolute submission to their belief, showing that they would even go as far as dying for it. Through this act they declare that what they are dying for is greater than their life.
However, the spiritual meaning of martyrdom transcends physical death. A true martyr is one who is faithful not just in death but also in life. The word summons us to present our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). A sacrifice that is living seems like a contradiction.
But life through death is a fundamental principle of the kingdom. For as the soul is slain, spiritually, what is being revealed and declared is the existence and supremacy of another life, a more glorious life, One who is in the very image and likeness of God the Father. This life is none other than Christ. Only those whose soul has been slain can experience the manifestation of Christ in a regenerated soul and thereby show forth or reveal Christ in the body. “Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours “(2 Cor. 4:11 Phillips). By laying down their life, martyrs bear witness of the very life of Christ to the external world. This is their testimony for which they are witnesses.
Martyrs are therefore witnesses. In fact, the Greek word for martyr is ‘martus’ which means ‘witness’. Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word ‘martus’ is used for witness. For example: “and you shall be witnesses [martus] unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Again, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses [martus] every word may be established” (Matt. 18:16). The martyr testifies that what he/she is dying for is greater than their soul life. Indeed within us is a life much greater than any life we can possess or attain to in the soul. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory who is worth laying our self-life down for. The death of the soul is a requirement for the Kingdom of God to find reality and expression in us. It is also a necessity for overcoming the bondage of Babylon.
Jesus Christ is “the faithful witness [martus]” (Rev. 1:5). As THE FAITHFUL MARTYR, the laying down of the soul is clearly exemplified in His life. As the Son of man, He was subjected to all the temptations of the soul life; “for we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). In that anguishing period before His crucifixion, He prayed: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Here we see demonstrated the laying down of His will – His self-life. The life of absolute submission to the Father’s will is one of denial of soul. Jesus never walked on His own accord but everything He said and did was that which was directed by the Father and energized by the Spirit.
For us to go on to know the Lord in His fullness, to grow-up into the very stature of Christ and to be a witness of His life unto creation, we have to be quickened by the Spirit to mortify the soul. This is a continual processing, an everyday dealing that emanates out of the very life of the indwelling Christ who causes us to daily surrender and lay down our self-will and the dictates of the natural man. This is the mark of the high calling of sonship. Our Father is dealing with His sons today and His upmost desire is with the unveiling of One man, the second man, the spiritual man; God’s Christ. And the path to this lofty attainment is martyrdom – the slaying of the soul.
To be continued…