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The Symbiotic Temptations

Much has been written about the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, all of which attempt to adapt them so that preachers and pastors could apply them to Christians under the assumption that they continue to be sinful and prone to temptation.  The implication is that what Jesus did to combat them could be used by Christian sinners to avoid sucumbing to temptation as well.  This is a mistaken view, founded upon the core misunderstanding that the apostles gained from Jesus' Last Supper discourse recorded in the Gospel of John.  In reality, the temptations target key elements of Homo/Deus symbiosis.  We must properly analyze and understand The Symbiotic Temptations to dispose of an argument that would be given to defend the mistaken interpretation of Jesus' discourse that the apostles (with the exception of John) promulgated after Paul was chosen as a disciple.

Mark refers to the temptations in passing, and John does not mention them at all.  The detailed accounts are in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, differing only in the order of the last two temptations.  I am inclined to believe that the order given in Matthew is correct for reasons that I will give later.  While Luke is the more careful historian, Matthew as a disciple of Jesus was closer to the primary source of this account than Luke.

The Real First Temptation

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

I have been  reading the collected writings of Smith Wigglesworth, a Pentecostal preacher active in the late 19th through early 20th centuries.  It was his view that many of the miracles of healing that were effected through him required the casting out of demons from the physical body parts that were diseased.  I point this out that, while "we" have been casting out demons for decades, a fresh set of eyes on the problem always seem to yield new insights.  John Eldredge's systematization of the tactics of demonic activity as given in his chapters on "The Battle" in his book "Wild at Heart" is one such new insight.  While the focus has traditionally centered on detection and eradication of demons, Eldredge focussed on what one could call their "battle tactics".  He has proposed that specific demon tactics are employed in a phased sequence of battles that are part of a larger overall campaign to bring down the Christian.  The first tactic is "I am not here."  That is, various temptations, trials, conflicts, and troubles that are actually caused by demons are not correctly attributed by the targeted Christian to demons because the demons have convinced the victims that "we are not here".  Thus, the victims pursue various methods in a vain pursuit to fix the problems, address the conflicts, and endure the temptations.  I recount here my personal experience with one such goose-chase.  Obviously, this tactic works only as long as the victim remains ignorant of the demonic origin of the problem, and I note from Wigglesworth's writings and sermons that he stated several times that Pentecostal preachers were occasionally ineffective in healing someone because they did not distinguish between illnesses that had natural causes and afflictions of the body and mind that sprang from demon activity.  In other words, those preachers thought that demons "were not here".  One of the most singular failures of mis-diagnosis is given in Matthew 17:14-21, where the disciples could not "heal" a boy whose father insisted he was "lunatic".  The people of Jesus' time have been wrongly accused of atrributing all menal disorders to evil spirits, but this ignores the many passages where people attribute certain behaviors to being "out of one's mind" or "lunatic".  The disciples assumed the father was right and tried to heal the boy rather than exorcise the devil that was the true origin of the affliction.  Jesus' reference to "this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting" makes people believe that "prayer and fasting" brings spiritual authority, but this is not the case.  Prayer and fasting helps you connect more closely with God, and especially with the Holy Spirit within you, improving the communication process between you so that the Spirit can be more clearly heard when He speaks about the spiritual reality behind physical conditions. 

I am aware that the first tempation has traditionally been regarded as the temptation to turn stone into bread.  However, I hold that the purpose of the temptations were to destroy the symbiotic union of the first Homo/Deus Exemplar.  The text expressly says that the Spirit told Jesus to go into the wilderness and gave, as a reason, that he would be tempted by the devil.  Jesus goes, and a week passes, and no temptation.  The second week goes by and still no devil.  Three weeks go by, and what happens is that nothing happens.  Four weeks pass, then five, and still no devil. 

What is the temptation?  It is Jesus saying to himself, "Did I hear the Holy Spirit correctly?  Did He really say that I was supposed to come out here for the purpose of getting tempted?  Sure doesn't look like it to me!"  This is the devil using the first tactic, "I am not here", to sow doubt in Jesus' mind regarding the validity of the thoughts coming from the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the lesson for present-day Christian Symbiotes is this: often that which the Spirit tells us is coming up or is to be done is conditioned on the actions and spiritual maturity of others as well as ourselves.  Delay is not a disproof.  It is said that God answers every prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait.  The problem is that "wait" is actually a "yes" that looks like a "no".  The writer of Hebrews precedes his Roll Call of the Heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11), with a short passage (Hebrews 10:32-39) that reminds us, in verse 36, that we receive the promise by patience and obedience.  Given that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, we see that His presence and His active work enables and equips us to handle any circumstance whatsoever.

The Traditional First Temptation

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Some treatments of this temptation play on the fact that people give in to their appetites, so they say that Jesus refused to do the miracle because to do so would give in to his appetites.  However, this ignores the fact that the sin of gluttony is one of overeating and being extremely selective and picky about what one eats.  Jesus was legitimately hungry, and bread was a ubiquitous food, which motivated its selection as representing Jesus' body in the Communion Service.

Another treatment plays into the fact that Jesus was being asked to exercise a miracle on his own behalf, since doing so would be selfish.  One's own needs are to be satisfied naturally, not miraculously, we are told.  These same probably believe that the righteous life is to be lived naturally and not miraculously either.  There are several instances of Jesus exercising the ability to pass through hostile crowds to escape, stilling storms that threatened to overwhelm the boat he was riding in, and walked on water.  These are dismissed or explained away in naturalistic terms to avoid the obvious implication that miracles can be worked on one's own behalf.  We also probably are expected to believe he didn't drink any of the wine he miraculously converted from water,  ate any of the bread he multiplied, or ate any of the fish he "caught" without net or hook that he cooked in the last chapter of John's Gospel.

The better treatments get close to what I think the truth is by pointing out that the point of the temptation wasn't really to assuage his own hunger, for Jesus dying of hunger in the wilderness after being led there by the Spirit would have served the devil's purposes equally well.  Rather, the devil was calling into question the claim that Jesus was the Son of God, and asking that the miracle be done to establish that claim.  In a sense, this was a demand that the proof of something mental and internal (the leading of the Holy Spirit of Jesus into the wilderness) be backed up by exercising a miracle.   This has considerable traction based on my personal experience: I have talked elsewhere about the need to maintain one's health and alertness to maximize the ability of the Holy Spirit to work through one's physical brain.  Forty days and nights is putting a considerable strain on one's body, and I would have to believe that Jesus' ability to maintain contact with the Holy Spirit was being severely challenged.  That challenge, in my case, worked out to a more difficult time perceiving the Holy Spirit's thoughts within me.  I can see how this would be part of the challenge facing Jesus.

However, there is a much more subtle danger here whose subtlety is founded on the fact that nobody has any real capability to do what Jesus did.  That is, nobody in the world today will be tempted to turn stone into bread because the state of Christendom has rendered no one capable of believing that they can multiply bread apart from growing it or getting it from people who already have it.  Since the purpose of this website is to help train people that are capable of turning stone into bread (or making bread out of "nothing"), correctly handling this temptation as Jesus did is of vital importance.

In light of this consideration, Jesus' response of "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." has been widely misunderstood.  Those looking for a way out of temptation sieze on the "It is written", and conclude that throwing bible verses at the Devil and the temptation is the way to go.  It isn't, for the next temptation shows that the Devil can not only handle bible verses thrown at him, but lob a few back as well.  Others taking the "selfless" tack use this verse to preach a form of aceticism alien to the Jewish culture that Jesus extended and embedded into Christianity.

The symbiotic interpretation is rather simple: all miracles spring as a result of a process of cooperation between the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Host, the details of which were lost in the persecutions of the first and second centuries AD.  All miracles are powered by the Holy Spirit at the instigation of the Host.  However, when the request happens to be coming from the sworn enemy of the Holy Spirit, the logical thing to do is to ask the Holy Spirit whether to do the miracle.  If the Holy Spirit is the active agent of the miracle, then asking His permission before attempting the miracle is a good and proper thing to do.  I state that Jesus, prior to his response, asked the Holy Spirit, "I know we can do this, but should we do this?"  In response, the Holy Spirit said "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God".  This sentence came up in Jesus' mind as a thought stream of spoken words.  He recognized it as scripture, and by that thought and by the fact that it came from the Torah, acted on the implication that the verse was an answer to the putative question.  The Holy Spirit's contribution was the verse.  Jesus' contribution was "it is written", followed by citing to the Devil that which I say he got from the Holy Spirit.

There is today a great reluctance to put the thoughts that pass through one's mind that are generated by the Holy Spirit on an equal level with the Written Scriptures.  Yet, if the symbiotic thesis is true, then every thought that is generated by the Holy Spirit is necessarily good and will result in good if selected and acted upon.  The problem, of course, is determining which thoughts come from the Holy Spirit and which do not.  This is where the written Scriptures come in.  Jesus' view of the scriptures was one of helping people make living contact with those who God sent to speak His words to them.  In John 5:39, Jesus said "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me".  In Acts 17:10-15, the Berean Jews were praised, not for swallowing the words of Paul without any critical thinking, but went to the Scriptures to see if Paul's words were backed up by the Scriptures they already accepted as true.  The result was that the fruit from Berea was so great that the Devil was unable to find any Berean native who would oppose Paul, forcing him to import troublemakers from Thessalonica to stop the working of God.  These examples show scripture being used to validate a message originating from the working of the Holy Spirit within the messenger.

I will address, as a part of Stage 2, the establishment of protocols for helping to determine the origin of thoughts.  In the meantime, I give this recommendation: Thoughts that come in response to a mental question you pose to yourself that you want the Holy Spirit to answer that are NOT quotes from Scripture, or which cannot be backed up by Scripture, are very likely not from the Holy Spirit.  On the other hand, if you get a thought that is a Scripture quote, or which immediately brings to mind an applicable scripture passage, then that thought deserves a more careful scrutiny because the probability that it is from the Holy Spirit is very high.  If nothing comes to mind, then the answer is to wait for an answer.  The last possiblity is getting two alternating thoughts, both of which cite scripture, but they seem to be in conflict.  I will address this possibility in the next section of this page.  (An aside: I call this a "recommendation" and not a protocol.  A protocol is a recommendation given in a step-by-step format that is also accompanied by a careful analysis that demonstrates the adequacy of the recommendation in addressing the problem that the recommendation purports to solve.  Often, it is the step-by-step format that facilitates the demonstration of adequacy.  The difference between a recommendation and a protocol that gives the same recommendation is that the latter enables the recommendation to be more precisely carried out with confidence that it will work.  Often, the difference between success and failure in performing a recommendation lies precisely in the amount of confidence one has while doing it.  This is why the results of research by think tanks can be summarized in one page, but the justification for the summary can take up hundreds to thousands of pages.  One should not only know what to do, but also know why it is the right and effective thing to do.)

The Second Temptation

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

The bulk of the commentary on this passage centers around the partial quotation of Psalms 91:11-12.  Satan skips over the part where it says "to keep thee in all thy ways", so some have rested their interpretation of Jesus' refusal to act based on the fact that Jesus was in Jerusalem ("the holy city") because the Devil had taken him there and not because he went there himself of his own volition.  We need to remember that it is not the jumping off of the temple that is bad since Jesus later does a greater miracle by walking on water: The devil's proposal would have had Jesus submit to gravity for a while, then thwart it by being rescued by angels.  Jesus' walking on the water is a denial of the power of gravity over his earthly body altogether from the beginning of the miracle to the end.  Rather, I believe Jesus once again asked the Spirit within whether to jump or not, and the Spirit answered by a thought sentance scripture quotation of Deuteronomy 6:16

Recall that in the "recommendation" I gave in the previous section, I did not address what to do if one gets two contradictory thoughts, both of which seem to come from Scripture.  It should be obvious that Jesus faced a variant of this, in that one thought came from his mind and the other from outside.  The resolution, for Jesus, was to favor the one from inside, not outside, and my recommendation in that variant would be to do the same. 

This advice, of course, is going to create a lot of trouble for me, for the focus by the preachers on the misquotation by the devil of the original passage evades the issue of which takes precedence: scriptures quoted to you by another person, or a thought-sentence-scripture "spoken" by the Holy Spirit from his residence within the human heart in response.  It seems rather inconsistent for bible expositors to insist that scriptures spoken by the devil to manipulate the Christian are to be disregarded, but scriptures spoken by preachers, or even non-believers, to manipulate the Christian are to be seriously considered, if not slavishly obeyed.  The behavior of Israelis with regard to terrorist acts against them is mainly due to non-Jews telling them to be "a light to the nations" and "to be an example!"  In response to Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech regarding the use of force to replace debate, a group of Islamic Scholars accused Christianity of hypocrisy by not "turning the other cheek" when attacked by Islamist terrorists.  This indicates that the following strategy is being followed:  If the Christians under consideration are Conservative, they will be requested to do something, with the request based on a quote from scripture taken out of context or on a plea to "be like Jesus!"  If the request is granted, then the goal of the non-believer getting what they wanted is accomplished!  If the request is denied, then the non-believer accuses the Christians of hypocrisy for not following the scripture.  If the accusation is met by pointing out the improper use of scripture, the complexity of Christianity is then brought forth and complained about, or the phrase "I don't understand.  I think the scripture is obvious enough, so why don't you follow it?" is brought forth. 

I have some good news when it comes to combatting this form of "religious" manipulation by the ir-religious: the symbiotic response of "I don't get a thought from God telling me to do that for you right now", or "God tells me to do something else", where that something else is also scriptural or cites scripture, really stumps them.  If they ask me what I am talking about, I launch into an enthusiastic account of how the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and makes them a better person, which is exactly what happened to me.  I talk about the presence of God being literally within my brain, and gush about how wonderful it is to have him there and guiding me from bible-verse-spouting manipulators like Jim Jones.  While I am talking, I know that the Holy Spirit is working on my listeners to convince them that what I am saying is true.  While I am talking, I also am sensitive to how the Holy Spirit is leading me to talk about this important subject.  Eventually, they either are convinced, or degenerate into behavior that is patently obvious manipulation.

Being able to effectively deflect "scriptural" manipulation using historical texts that are "inspired" by obeying thoughts generated by the Holy Spirit that cites those same historical texts becomes more important when Stage 4, manipulation of physical reality through conscious cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit, begins to manifest itself.  The chief drive of the current age is to pursue, acquire, and exercise power.  Like Pharaoh's magicians, they will yield only when someone demonstrating greater power bests them.  Like Simon Magus, they will either seek to acquire that greater power, or like the Pharisees and Sadducees, attempt to manipulate the miracle worker to serve themselves and their agendas.  At the same time, there will be those coming who have deep needs that only the exercise of divine power can satisfy.  The wisdom and knowledge to discern between the two, and deal effectively with each, comes from heeding, always, the voice of the Holy Spirit that comes as thoughts citing Scriptures that appear in the Bit Stream.

My recommendation for the more general case of two conflicting scripture-thoughts is based on the time-criticality of the action called for by the thoughts.  If the conflicting thoughts come up as part of a general discussion or train of thought, and no immediate action is required, then spend the time analyzing the scriptural basis for each using traditional methods.  Any attempt to make the situation or the decision time critical when it is obviously not should be regarded with suspicion and caution.  If immediate action is required, always go with the first scriptural thought  This may seem simplistic or unusual, but it is not if one keeps in mind the fact that "first" is a relative term when it comes to dealing with thoughts coming from an Entity residing in your brain Who can see the future.  The Holy Spirit, being God and the entity behind prophecy, can pre-generate thoughts that pop up into your mind long before the Heart is able to react to them.  The second scriptural thought, if it is contradictory, is the Heart trying to use scripture to manipulate the Inner Man in the same way the Devil tried to use scripture to manipulate Jesus.  This is especially the case if a non-scripture thought came up first, followed by the first scripture thought advising otherwise, follwed by the second scripture thought attempting to justify the first non-scriptural one: this behavior is merely the Heart scrambling for control, because the Holy Spirit would have lead with the scripture first, then follow through with a non-scripture thought that helps to interpret the scripture within the situation.  By the way, that first scriptural thought doesn't actually have to quote a scripture, but merely reference a scriptural thought that you had earlier in the day or week, such as during your devotions where a certain scripture gripped your mind and you meditated on it a lot.  That is evidence that the referenced scripture is the right one to follow, since being able to see what you will need a week in advance is a piece of cake to a Being capable of predicting and handling time-lines and time-forks spanning centuries and involving billions of independent decisions. 

The Third Temptation

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

I am convinced that the order of the temptations in the Matthew account is the correct one based on several internal evidences.  Firstly, the stakes and the inducements increase in size and intensity, cumulating with the biggest thing the Devil could possibly offer Jesus.  Secondly, the Matthew account has each temptation taking place at a higher elevation than the preceding one, emphasizing the higher and higher stakes involved with each temptation using a pattern that the Luke account does not have.  Thirdly, the use of the phrase "If thou art the Son of God" by the devil is logically abandoned after the second temptation in the Matthew account while being inexplicably re-tried in the Luke account.  Fourthly, the audience being impacted is progressively larger with each temptation.  Thus, the audience of the first is limited to just the devil and Jesus, while the audience of the second are the locals of the Temple and the religiously faithful.  The audience of the third is potentially the entire world.  Luke's order has the third, and last, temptation has all the air of a "letdown", going from the entire world to the local yokels.  Fifthly, the desperation of the devil is logically sequenced, where he quotes scripture for the second temptation after the first failed, and he offers everything he has as a final desperate gamble for success.  Again, the order of the Luke account conveys the picture of the Devil making a pitiful and lame stab at success on the off chance that Jesus can be caught off-guard.  Sixthly, and most importantly, the Luke account has Jesus ordering the devil in the second temptation to "get thee behind me", but the devil doesn't.  The Matthew account has Jesus ordering Satan to "Get thee hence", and the devil does.  Thus, the Matthew account is more consistent with what we know about the power relationship that Jesus, the disciples, and Christians, have over demonic forces.

The attempt to subvert the trust of Jesus in the immediate and present guidance of the Holy Spirit is apparently abandoned in favor of a more direct attempt at retaining control. The standard treatment of this passage by bible commentators and preachers is that Jesus is being offered a "short cut" to saving the world so that the right way to save the world, by saving the people in it from their sins by dying on the cross, is abandoned. 

Readers familiar with John Elderedge's work recognize this temptation as being the tactic of "Let's make a deal!".  And like Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles, we would be correct in assuming there is "a catch".  The offer of all the kingdoms of the world is an empty one, since the price demanded assures that Jesus cannot rightly own them.  By worshipping Satan, Jesus acknowledges that Satan is superior to him, so His rulership would be compromised by having to serve Satan.  Jesus' reply explicitly ties who one worships with who one serves.  What Satan is proposing is what is known in the corporate world as a "re-org", with Satan coverly proposing that he remain the captain of the world ship while offering Jesus the position of First Officer.   

While the standard treatment is broadly correct, there is a single detail that makes this temptation a symbiotic one, and that revolves around the concept of "the one you worship is the one you serve".  I have said the following so many times in my United Methodist church that if they hear it from someone else, they would conclude that I said it to them first: Christians serve God, not people.  This is because service and serving implies an authority relationship that includes a master as well as the servant and the one served.  Because Jesus is our Lord and Master, but not physically with us, those who are served by Christian Service are necessarily people.  However, none of those people are our master.  Imagine a party at a mansion whose master has commanded the servants to serve the guests, one of whom demands that the servants allow him to take away and sell the silverware, telling them "You must serve me, because your master commanded it!"  If this sounds like a replay of my discussion on manipulation using scripture, then you are correct.  Who you worship is the one you serve and the one you obey.

This point of "the one you obey" lies at the heart of the Symbiotic process of the Holy Spirit communicating with the believer via words expressed as thoughts.  The whole of post-Pentecost Christianity can be summed up in the following protocol: figure out which thoughts are from the Holy Spirit, and always obey the ones you are sure come from Him.  The Scriptures are the thoughts from the Holy Spirit that were given to the prophets, confirmed to be from the Holy Spirit, and written down in readable form.  Thus, thoughts from the Holy Spirit that tell you to read the Bible, tell you what to think about what you have read, or which are scriptures that are fed into your Bitstream when a situation arises, are to be obeyed.  Prayer is a conversation between you and the Holy Spirit that takes place by you thinking or saying thoughts that respond to thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit, and obeying the thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit in response to yours.  A "Godly" Sermon is a spoken exposition by the pastor of thoughts that he got from the Holy Spirit and was told to pass on to you.  Christian Education boils down to educating children and new Christians on the thoughts known to have come from the Holy Spirit and which were written down, educating them on how to recognize thoughts that come from the Holy Spirit, showing them the many ways that such thoughts are "obeyed", and mentoring them on how to correctly obey such thoughts with the goal of getting them to the point where they can be "all taught of God".  Corporate worship and life within the Body of Christ consists of every member of the Body recognizing which thoughts with regard to each other come from the Holy Spirit, and obeying them, striving to correctly sing their small part in The Greater Choir.  Obedience, of course, takes on many forms, ranging from simply hearing and believing to doing, with doing ranging from giving permission to suppress a compulsive thought, to giving someone a cup of cold water, leaving a can of corn in the back trunk to be later put into the food closet, forgiving your enemy, turning the other cheek, putting a lesson plan together for Sunday School, casting out demons, chasing money changers out of the temple, and facing down the tyrant ruler of a corrupt empire.  If the Holy Spirit is really and truly within you, then the Kingdom of God is within you, and you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you. 

And that last sentence encapsulates another symbiotic aspect of this particular temptation, and revolves around the curious absence of the second tactic of the Devil as given by Eldredge, which is "I'm too much for you."  If the first tactic of "I am not here" doesn't succeed, then the Devil usually transitions to an attack mode, initiating such persecution that the Christian is often discouraged and falls away.  This is what Jesus was talking about with regard to the seed that fell on rocky soil in the Parable of the Sower.  However, the devil did not try that here.  What happened?

The devil does things, or avoids doing something, for very good reasons, even though those reasons are not obvious to us.  Every species has a specific set of characteristics and capabilities which determine their modes of defense and attack, and this is true for Homo/Deus.  Here is Mark 16:14-18:

14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

It is obvious that the demonstration of such capabilities would be extremely advantageous in any battlefield with a spiritual dimension.  Verse 17 outlines capabilities to combat spiritual enemies, while verse 18 outlines only a few of the abilities available "against" physical threats.  Recall my discussion on what to do if one gets two conflicting scriptural thoughts, where I founded the correctness of my recommendation on the Symbiote's ability to see the future.  The book of Acts is full of accounts of allied capabilities, and Paul's first letter to the Corinthians contained advice on harnessing spiritual capabilities for the purpose of worshipping God and convincing unbelievers.  While there are a lot more beneficial miracles than miracles of destruction, an interesting pattern was recently called to my attention by the Spirit when I was meditating on the moral aspects of the physical principle of symmetry: the slaying of Ananias and Sapphira is the symmetric opposite miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, the blinding of Saul/Paul is the symmetric opposite miracle of the giving of sight to the blind man, the withering of the fig tree is the symmetric opposite of the healing of the man with the withered hand, and the handing over to the Devil of church offenders by Paul is the symmetric opposite of casting demons out.  This principle is reflected in the Old Testament when Elisha imposed the leprosy taken away from Naaman upon his greedy servant Gehazi. I have, like all physicists, a deep belief in symmetry that leads me to conclude, from these examples, that every miracle has a symmetric opposite, implying that there is a wider selection of defensive and offensive capabilities at our disposal than we think or believe.

It is high time that we recognize in ourselves what the devil is obviously seeing, which is that the Homo/Deus symbiote that is born when a human being is saved is an extremely dangerous one!  Thus, any attack by the Devil on Jesus would have resulted in a humiliating defeat. 

However, one would be hard pressed to see anything remotely dangerous about the present day Church and present day Christians.  My current working hypothesis is that this failing is a matter of both faith and training, since the trend that is seen by field biologists is that instinct becomes less and less of a factor in passing on survival behaviors as a species relies more on intelligence as a critical survival factor.  A few instincts do remain within Homo Sapiens, but the vastly greater species superiority latent within Homo/Deus dictates that the transmission of defensive and offensive capabilities be totally by training.  Doubtless that training starts with helping the New Species unlearn and disregard instincts retained by the Host.  For instance, to strike back when struck is instinctual, but Jesus approved of turning the other cheek when the strike is a ritualistic one.  The wise man understands that there is a time to kill and a time to heal, a truly wise man knows when to kill and to heal, and Homo/Deus knows how to kill and to heal.  This kind of training requires a great deal of faith and trust in the instructor and in the attainability of the potentially more beneficial capabilities that can be attained, but only when the old has been eliminated from one's habits, thinking, and doing.  While Jesus' main mission was to become the sacrifice that would atone for and abolish every sin of all who come to him, he could have accomplished that immediately after his Baptism.  Nor was his three year ministry intended to relieve the suffering of mankind, since he never travelled further than 50 miles from his place of birth after his baptism.  Rather, his purpose was to train the disciples to carry on his work in a greater way than he did.  A great deal of that time was spent helping them get "the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" out of their system.  I do not recall a time when Jesus was unwilling to heal, but the unbelief of the people of Nazareth rendered him unable to heal.  My experience indicates that mental preconceptions tend to filter out thoughts before they are even considered for the possiblity that they come from the Holy Spirit.  An examination of the Gospels reveals that many of Jesus' miracles took the disciples by surprise.  Students desiring to taste the powers of the age to come should not be surprised or discouraged if they discover that it takes them more time and work to unlearn the old than to learn the new.

I discuss the potential power latent within the New Species because part of "the deal" the devil was offering to Jesus would have logically required that there be a truce between the Devil's forces and Jesus' troops (i.e. us).  Obviously the Devil's forces would work to undermine "the deal" where they could get away with it, while Jesus' forces would scrupulously honor it.  Such a truce would doubtless require that the New Species not exercise certain capabilities unique to them and uniquely iminical to the Devil's forces, such as casting them out of human beings, and whose exercise would promply put a stop to any such cheating.  Whatever the devil was bargaining for, it is obvious that underlying his efforts was the desperate, but unspoken, plea of "PLEASE DON'T HIT ME!"

To His credit, Jesus not only saw through the subterfuge, but went ahead and HIT HIM, telling him to depart, which the latter promptly did.  It should be noted that the first miracle Jesus does after returning from the wilderness experience "full of the Holy Ghost", was to cast out a demon from a demon-possessed man in the synagogue.  (That a demon could be in a Jew and in a synagogue at all is itself an interesting occurrance, doubtless telling us something of the singular lack of power "owned" by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Priests.  The persistent presence of an active demon within a church today should certainly call into question the spiritual competence of the pastor and lay leadership.)  This capability became so wide-spread that people not directly associated with Jesus or his inner circle were casting out demons in His name, which is why the disciples urged Jesus to put a stop to those "poaching" on "their turf" because "they do not follow us".  That he refused to do so is indicative of a divine disregard for the niceties of human power relationships when they hinder helping the people.

The strategic aspect of Jesus' choice is rooted in the biology of species synthesis and survival.  Field biology and the theories of darwinian evolution tell us that there are two ways that a new species can survive.  The first way is to occupy a less optimal ecological niche and cooperate with the existing and dominant species occupying the most favorable niche for the new species.  This eventually leads to a loss of species capabilities as the new species does not use them while adapting to better survive in the less optimal niche.  The second way is for the new species to use its species specific capabilities to destroy or drive out the dominant species to make room for itself in the niche most favorable for its survival.  Darwinian evolution theorizes that this is the optimal way for a species to retain and maintain those capabilities that are required to survive within that niche.  Jesus' choice was the second, which was for the New Species to fight it out with the Devil and any foolish enough to support with him.  This strategic decision is reflected in a certain phrase that Matthew reports that Jesus consistently used during his ministry, which is illustrated in the follow-on to the temptations from Matthew 4:

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God?  Space does not permit a full discussion of the implications of the phrase "Kingdom of heaven," that being a subject planned for another essay, but I will give a brief preview here.  Understand that God has always had a Kingdom, although in the light of the true scale and extent of time, the existence of space, time, and population has allowed, for an extremely brief period of time, the establishment of kingdoms as we know them.  In reality, the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven is God Himself.  The Kingdom has always existed as the union between the Father and the Son as mediated by the Holy Spirit.  All the language Jesus employed that said that his Kingdom was not of this world and yet exists within us was an expression of the fact that the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes us part of the Trinity, and thus a part of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus himself said that the miracles he did was proof that the Kingdom of God was among them.  In his response to the accusation that he cast out demons by Beelzebul ("But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matthew 12:28)), he explicitly tied the presence of the Kingdom of God with the presence of the Spirit of God.  Once we truly grasp that the center of any City established by God would be His Temple, and that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), then perhaps we will not commit Jacob's mistake of attaching spiritual significance to a place, but repent of our blindness and say, "Surely the Lord is in me and I did not know it!  How awesome is Your Work, oh Lord!  How should I live now that You have made me the House of God and the Gate of Heaven?"

13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

The above quotation comes from Luke 4:13-15, not Matthew 4.  Both accounts agree that Jesus' ministry began first with spirit-filled preaching, like John the Baptist's, and that miracles began to be worked by him after his defeat of the Devil.  I cite the Luke account because it indicates that the power of the Spirit began to manifest in Jesus after the temptations were overcome.  This is important for our work in Stage 4, since a full restoration of the power of God in the Church must necessarily be evidenced by "greater works" than Jesus did.  I make the following important observation: this power did not come because Jesus overcame the temptations.  Merely overcoming temptation does not bestow power, for that was the premise of the pharisees and the basis for the countless rules, regulations, and customs they imposed on themselves, their followers, and eventually the people.  Rather, this power became manifested when Jesus, our Example, after receiving the Spirit, demonstrated the ability to follow the Spirit and walk after the Spirit relibably.  At this moment, my working model for conducting advanced Stage 4 operations is as follows:  Receive the Spirit, demonstrate reliability in following the Spirit's leading, preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven by the Spirit's leading, then work miracles to back up that preaching, also by the leading of the Spirit.  This is the pattern followed by Jesus, who commanded the disciples not to start preaching, but wait at Jerusalem until the Spirit came (the 'arrival' of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus preached 'was at hand').  After the Spirit's coming, Peter preached a message, and the record states that the Spirit confirmed the preaching with signs and miracles.  This is also the pattern followed by Stephen and Phillip, who were elected to their deaconates because they were already full of the Holy Spirit.  They both then preached the Word, then demonstrated it by signs and wonders.  This is the pattern followed by Saul/Paul, who received the Spirit, preached the Risen Lord boldly in Damascus and Jerusalem, followed the leading of the Spirit by undertaking the first missionary journey when the Spirit spoke to the leaders of Antioch, and worked his first miracle of blinding Elymas to convince Sergius Paulus to become a believer after he heard Paul preaching the Gospel to him. 

We can now address the misunderstanding that the disciples had with what Jesus said at the Last Supper (and throughout his ministry), and how it manifested itself as not honoring Jesus' strategic direction as the Exemplar and Master Template for the New Species.

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