Present Trends Toward Man and Toward Woman

 •  22 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Read Colossians 2
In the second chapter of Colossians you get everything moving in one of two directions: toward the man or toward the woman. Does that sound like an enigma? Let us explain. In the 13th chapter of Revelation, verses 1-8, we have the man. He is the coming infidel head of the revived Roman Empire. Next, in the 17th chapter, verses 1-6 and 16-18, is the woman, the corrupt ecclesiastical system of the end time. Now we shall seek to make clear the connection which this man and this woman bear to the warnings given us in Colossians 2.
This address is primarily for Christians. We are here as those professing to know the Lord Jesus Christ, come into this world in grace and gone back in power to sit on the right hand of the majesty on high. From His exalted position there, He has sent down the Holy Spirit, and thus formed into one body all those on earth who know their sins forgiven through faith in His blood. Christ the Head in heaven together with the members here below form the mystical Christ of 1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)—"So also is the Christ." (J.N.D. Trans.). This is what the Apostle refers to in such glowing terms in verses 2 and 3 of Colossians 2—"The mystery of God; in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge." (J.N.D. Trans.).
The Apostle Paul was never satisfied with merely getting souls across the line into salvation; his desire was that they might go on to perfection. So I would suggest to every child of God that if you are under the impression that the chief thing is to get people saved, you need to rethink the whole matter. In the ministry of the Apostle, the burden was not only to get men saved, but to "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." That goes far beyond the salvation of the soul from destruction. When the sinner steps across the threshold to receive salvation, he becomes a new creature in Christ. Still, he is only a babe. How much there is for him to learn and to enjoy! He will never be a true worshiper unless he is led on in the knowledge of what God has for him in Christ.
In my childhood I attended a certain Sunday school. We spent six months studying the Old Testament, and six, the New Testament. But in our study of the latter, we rarely got beyond the gospels and The Acts. Yet it is in the fourteen epistles of Paul that we discover our proper portion as believers in this present period of God's dealings in grace. To neglect these precious communications is to remain "children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine." Eph. 4:1414That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:14).
When the Lord Jesus led the twelve out to the mount of ascension, He there instructed them as to His desire for them after His departure. They were to return to Jerusalem and there wait until they should be endued with power from on high. While the twelve watched the gradual ascension of their Lord into heaven, angelic visitors said to them, "Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." Acts 1:1111Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11). Up to this point, neither the twelve nor any other of the saints of God were yet in true Christian position. Christianity starts the other side of the cloud! "A cloud received Him out of their sight." We now have something which had never been before; we have a glorified Man at God's right hand. There He receives from God the second time the gift of the Spirit—this time that He might send Him upon the waiting believers here on the earth. This He does on the day of Pentecost, and thus the Church is brought into being. To put it into other words, Pentecost was the birthday of the Church.
The Church formed at Pentecost stands in need of much instruction in the privileges that properly appertain to her as the body of Christ. For this service the ascended Head provides prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Many of the instructions given to the early Church have come on down to us in the form of the inspired epistles of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. God expects us to become intelligent as to what is our proper Christian standing in this present period of His dealings with us. These communications are not meant merely for a learned few; they are the necessary food for all the members of Christ. We have a special place of nearness and privilege never accorded in any other period, nor will any of God's dealings with man in the days to come equal His bounty to us, the Church of God.
The Apostle Paul is here expressing his longing desire that these saints at Laodicea and Colosse may have their hearts "united together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God; in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge." Col. 2:2, 32That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2‑3). (J.N.D. Trans.). This is the burden of his heart. So we today should have a burden on our hearts to help the saints of God to find their way into the knowledge of all their proper portion in this most blessed time of God's dealings with man on the earth. Each individual child of God should possess this holy desire to delve into this storehouse of truth thus committed to us. God has told out to us the fullness of His heart that we in turn might be made glad. God desires that we share His joys, but we can do this only as we become intelligent as to our proper place in the scheme of God's present dealings.
Some few years back I met a Roman Catholic "brother" on the train. I felt led of the Lord to open a conversation with him which soon led to some discussion of what were our hopes as the professed children of God. I asked him if he had ever read the New Testament. He replied that he had read the four gospels, but never any of the epistles. I then asked him if he possessed a copy of the New Testament, and he said he did not. I offered to send him a Testament, a promise which I was soon able to fulfill. This was the beginning of a friendship which has lasted for seven years. He informs me now that he has read and enjoyed the epistles, and his intelligence in the truth of God has manifestly increased. You might challenge me with, But this ignorance of the epistles is among Catholics. I reply, Protestants are not far behind in their avoidance of the latter half of their Testaments. What the Apostle Paul calls, "my gospel" is almost as much of an unexplored mystery to Protestantism as it is to Rome. They are like the two-and-a-half tribes of Israel as they approached the borders of Canaan; they do not care to cross over. They are quite satisfied to settle down over on the wilderness side of Jordan; they are not interested in the conquest of Canaan and do not care to claim those things to which they have title as being the citizens of heaven. But the burden of the Apostle Paul in this second chapter of Colossians is that we might be in the good of what is properly ours, and not be betrayed into letting it slip away.
I would not like to be misunderstood. Please do not think that I am discouraging the preaching of, the gospel. May God bless the preaching of the gospel and may it continue. But let us not fall into the error of thinking that this is the end of what God has in view for us. He desires that we enter into all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. See in this connection the warning of verse 4: "This I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words." We live in dangerous days, and harder ones lie ahead. The nearer we get to the end, the more need we shall have of keeping close to the side of the blessed Lord. It is easy to miss the path. May God deliver us from self-confidence. Only in the path of dependence can we expect to be kept.
The burden of my heart is that young Christians may be thoroughly warned of the double danger that threatens our path. Greek historians often wrote of those two dangerous threats to the sailors who would navigate the straits of Messina. On the one hand lay the jagged threat of the Rock Scylla, while on the other there raged the hungry whirlpool of Charybdis. The only safety lay in steering carefully according to the charted course between the two. The twin dangers which threaten the saints of God today are brought together in this second chapter of Colossians. I refer to rationalism and ritualism. The first will finally head up in that infidel dictator of the revived Roman Empire of the last days; the second will be arrayed under the scarlet banner of the Jezebel of Revelation 17:4. Let us be prayerfully on our guard lest we be moved in the direction of either this "man" or this "woman." While they seem to represent diametrically different attitudes, yet, strangely enough, we find them working in close collaboration here in Revelation 17. The reason for this is that they are basically anti-Christian. What then is our protection from these sinister threats? Our safety lies in the Word of God and prayer. Like the two great pillars in the porch of Solomon's temple, Jachin (he shall establish) and Boaz (in it is strength), the Word of God and prayer will show us the path in these critical days.
I recently interviewed a young woman who had been drawn into the vortex of the Jehovah Witness delusion. She had grown up in one of our Sunday schools, used to repeat the lovely Scripture verses, and seemed to be coming along nicely. Then her family stopped coming to the meetings, and soon the girl was seen no more at the Sunday school. I suppose the two mighty pillars of Jachin and Boaz no longer guarded the porch (entrance) of her home. The result was worse than death: her faith was wrecked by the infidelity of the Witness blasphemies, and she dared say that Christ was a creature. Oh how unspeakably sad! Had she heeded the warnings that are given in this chapter, she would never have been led astray. Perhaps you are saying that such fancies have no attraction for you. Remember, we are no match for Satan. He has had six thousand years of experience in dealing with mankind, and he has succeeded in leading millions astray. Let us not play with the things against which God has so faithfully warned us.
The sixth verse of our chapter admonishes: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." As a brother and I were driving to Los Angeles, we came over some treacherous territory. There were sharp winding curves, steep hills, rugged mountains and deep drop-offs. Now and again we saw warning signs. On one especially bad descent there was a huge sign at the top which read, "FIRST WARNING." We were thankful for the sign. We went slowly down for about a half mile when we encountered another similar sign, "SECOND WARNING." This caused us to move with greater care. A half mile further on the tortuous decline we came upon still another large sign, "THIRD WARNING." How faithful the highway department had been in giving us due counsel. If we failed to heed their advice, we could not complain if we ran into serious trouble. Thank God for the warnings. Dear saint of God, whether you are betrayed to follow the infidel "man" or whether you become a disciple of the bedecked harlot, you will have to ignore God's warning signs in order to fall into their clutches. God has guarded the way, and you cannot miss the path if the warnings are observed.
Notice verse 8. "Beware lest any man spoil you
through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Philosophy means the love of knowledge, or the love of wisdom, but whose wisdom? The wisdom of the natural man. Religious philosophy is man as man searching after God, if by chance he might find Him. The greatest philosophers of all time lived back in the days of the Greeks and the Romans. We have had our share of them in the last century. But man absolutely cannot rise higher than man. The homely illustration of a man trying to lift himself by his boot straps was never more applicable than to the situation of fallen man seeking to fathom the mystery of the Divine. So God has given us this faithful warning, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy."
As we read the ninth verse, let us do it with all reverence. In all the Word of God no higher peak of truth is reached than what we have here. Listen: "In Him [that is, in Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." It is a most noteworthy fact that this is the only place in the New Testament where we get the proper word for Godhead. The solemn term is applied here to the Person of Christ, and to Christ in manhood. for that is the force of the word "bodily The Man Christ Jesus was at the same time GOD in the most absolute sense. The heart bows in worship at such a revelation. I beseech you, dear young believer, surrender yourself, body, soul, and spirit to the conviction that Jesus is God. Adore Him as God incarnate, and you will be kept from the subtle philosophies of the day. We are living in days when the tempter is whispering that science knows more than revelation. That is the voice of the man, the infidel, the antichrist. He is questioning everything that God has revealed to us of the mystery of Christ. Our only safety is to refuse to listen to his overtures. The simplicity of faith alone can keep us.
We can have confidence that God will in His own time vindicate all His revelation. How different it is with the pronouncements of men. An illustration of this is the exposure of the Piltdown man hoax. For fifty years grave scientists had spoken in ponderous terms of this relic of prehistoric man. Then they found they had been the proved victims of a pseudoscientific prankster. The so-called human bones are those of a man, an ape, and a dog. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. But those of us who believed our Bibles, were never deceived by the so-called "evidence" of the Piltdown man, any more than we are by similar evidence of the Neanderthal man or of the Java man. All are the result of the wishful thinking of infidel scientists who have set aside the majestic account of the creation of man at the hand of God.
I suppose the leading infidel of recent times was the minister, Mr. Harry Emerson Fosdick. He coolly stated that he did not believe in the virgin birth of Christ, or in the resurrection or the ascension. Then he further ventured the remarkable statement that he did not know of any other intelligent person who did believe in these revelations. What hopeless blindness! One wonders at the patience of God who allowed such a man to continue his course of blasphemy. Yet is it not a fact that there are many churches in this city today that would have felt flattered to have this same Harry Emerson Fosdick occupy their pulpit next Lord's day? Small wonder that the Apostle, out of a burdened heart, wrote the Corinthians of the misgivings that filled his mind—"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." 2 Cor. 11:33But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3). Our only safety is in the surrender of our souls to the full conviction of the majesty and deity of His Person. Thus shall we be kept, adoring HIM.
The second danger brought before us in the chapter is that which leads toward the woman. What does this mean? Substituting religion for Christ. In other words, RITUALISM. As I drive around the city streets during the so-called holiday season, I am impressed by the extravagance of the Christmas displays. I have never seen them so elaborate. Does that prove that this city is nearer God than it has ever been? No, emphatically, No; it proves that it is moving nearer the woman, nearer the mother of harlots. Jezebel substitutes saints for Christ, and dogmas for revelation. We may look upon these ceramic figures as innocent attempts to visualize the historical events of the gospels. But did you ever stop to think of how short is the step from imagery to worship of the image?
From the prophetic word we learn that terrible days of darkness lie ahead. The world is soon to be plunged into the darkness of the most awful idolatry. Whether it is the worship of the image of the Christ child, or of the mother of the child, the worship of angels or saints, it is the same spirit as the worship of the image of the man. "And they worshipped the beast [the man], saying... who is able to make war with him?" Our Lord in speaking of these dreadful days said, "Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." We are drawing very, very near to those days; the tribulation is just ahead. But thanks be to God, before the real storm can break on the scene we shall hear the shout in the air, and shall be caught up to meet our blessed Lord.
Christian friend, are you satisfied with the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus, or have you begun to hunger for a bit of ritualism? Has the woman succeeded in arousing in your heart a discontent with Jesus only? Is Christ Himself enough, or would you prefer Christ AND -? Would you be better pleased if the speaker were clad in ecclesiastical robes? Do you crave the thrill of pomp and pageantry in worship? Would you like special days of feasts and fasts? Do you crave the bondage of "Touch not; taste not; handle not"? The woman is beckoning; her hand is outstretched; many are rallying to her standard. But let us never forget those awful words of the seer, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for STRONG IS THE LORD GOD WHO JUDGETH HER." Rev. 18:88Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:8).
We are amazed as we search the Word to find that there is to be a close affinity between the infidel man and the ritualistic woman. One would wonder how the beast in his open infidelity could work with the ultra-religious woman. But he will! The one, clad in all her splendor, is seen astride the beast. They work in close collaboration. Together they march on in triumph through the world. All the world shall wonder after the beast. I used to puzzle as to how the whole world could be astonished at the sight of the beast. I knew the beast was not to be omnipresent. But now I am no longer puzzled. Man has found a way to make himself virtually omnipresent through the use of television. So now we understand how the beast will be able to appear daily before the eyes of his wondering subjects. Yes, they will be able to sit in their homes and see and hear the great infidel dictator. In close association with the beast will be the pomp and splendor of the woman.
Now that God has so graciously unveiled the future to us, shall we not profit by His warnings? We shall turn our faces neither toward the man nor toward the woman, but toward CHRIST. And who is HE? Hear again those wonderful words, "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead." Now join to this statement that in the 10th verse, "And ye are complete in Him." Glorious truth! Occasionally I am guest in a brand new home. The young couple has recently moved in. All is gleaming, resplendent in its newness. This young man and wife do not expect me to bring my hammer, saw, and chisel, and start to work. If I do, I can only spoil this lovely home. It is all finished. It is complete. So, dear saint of God, you are complete in Christ. In Him you possess all that God has for you. Who is this Christ? Let us read together a verse in Romans 9. We shall read it just as Paul wrote it. Remember, there are no punctuation marks in the original Greek. The latter part of verse 5 reads: "Christ... who is over all God blessed forever Amen." Isn't that magnificent? Does that not thrill your soul? Who is the One over all? He is God, blessed forever.
When our Lord was born into the world, His name was given at the direction of the Spirit of God. "Thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." Again, in the 7th of Isaiah, verse 14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel." "Which being interpreted is, God with us." Matt. 1:2323Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23). Not God's messenger to us, but God Himself with us.
Another title of God we find in the 3rd chapter of Exodus, 14th verse. "And God said unto Moses, / Am That I Am: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you." This is one of the grandest titles that God ever took. It gives us the idea of God as the ever existing ONE, the ETERNAL.
Turn now to the New Testament and observe how the blessed Lord took this title to Himself. See John's Gospel, 8th chapter, verse 53: "Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest Thou Thyself?" Then verses 57 and 58: "Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty-years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am." Notice it is this very name of Exodus 3. He does not say, "Before Abraham was, I was," but "Before Abraham was, I Am." See also John 8:2424I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:24): "If ye believe not that I Am He, ye shall die in your sins." This, beloved, is the crucial test of all our thinking and believing. "What think ye of Christ?" will be the decisive factor in our attaining heaven, or being left in outer darkness forever. With that little man Zaccheus, the consuming desire was to "see Jesus who He was." That made all the difference—who He was.
Read the incident of the healing of the ten lepers. They were all cleansed. One was a Samaritan. As he journeyed he discovered he was already cleansed. Immediately he turned back to seek the One who had cleansed him. Notice the wording: "He... glorified God, and fell... at His feet, giving Him thanks." That blessed I Am accepted the worship, and in connection with it raised the query, Where are the nine? Only this Samaritan has returned to give glory to God. You remember the young man who came to Jesus with the request that He would tell him how to attain eternal life. He addressed the Lord as "good." Immediately Jesus reminds him that there is none good but God. If he would call Jesus good, he must give Him the rest of the title, and own that He was God. Absolute goodness is found only in God.
It is noticeable that our Lord never went about advertising His deity. He quietly assumed it, and allowed the serene dignity of His Person to convict His hearers as to who He was. Blessed are those who had eyes to see and ears to hear. In John 18:4, 54Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 5They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. (John 18:4‑5), when they came out to arrest the Lord just before His crucifixion, He challenged them, "Whom seek ye?" "They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth." In verse 6 Jesus answers, "I Am," and they fell backward to the ground. One ray of His personal Godhead glory was allowed for a moment to shine through. The I Am was there. Then again in the same Gospel He is called before Pilate to answer as to who He is. So He answers, "Thou sayest that / Am."
In view of all these divine revelations as to the glories of the Person of the Son of God, shall we not surrender completely all our reasonings, and fall at His blessed feet in adoration? In 2 Cor. 10:55Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5) we read, "Casting down imaginations [reasonings], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." If we do this we will be kept, and not only so, but we will be happy. Many are going to say in that coming day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils [demons]?" But He will say, "I never knew you." It is not lip service to philosophy or religion; it is knowing Him as the I Am. We surrender ourselves, our lips, our eyes to Him; we hail Him as God; we fall at His feet and worship. May the Lord Himself keep us until that day. C.H. Brown
"0 Jesus! everlasting God!
Who didst for sinners shed
Thy blood Upon the accursed tree;
And, finishing redemption's toil,
Didst win for us the happy spoil,
All praise we give to 'Thee."