Two different realms, two entirely different worlds that are never more than a step away from each other are Penitence and Condemnation. For all the sorrow of the latter, it seems not many people escape it. This is your surprise Christmas gift from me.
I struggle with telling this; it is so completely alien to Westerners. We are so deeply soaked in a fundamentally perverted grasp of reality that it’s a fight just to get the mind’s attention. The revelation of God and His moral character is precluded by all the false assumptions, down to the very use of language as communication. Western Civilization remains thus far Satan’s greatest accomplishment in making his realm seem like home, and the limits of reality.
Let’s review a bit here. God describes human existence in terms of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) feudalism. Such is the way He wants us to approach life, so whatever operating assumptions we use must build on that. He says that Satan is not His enemy, but a faithful servant, the Divine Lictor and Jailer. Our Creator reveals Himself as an Eastern Potentate, a Divine Sheikh whose power and wealth are in the people first — mostly His family. While earthly rulers would rely on DNA mostly, there was also covenant family. With God, DNA is not a factor in literal terms, but a parable for holding a strong affinity for Him as family. In essence, we are all covenant family, but there is the assumption that we can draw closer in consanguinity in effect by absorbing what the blood of His Son purchased for us. Closer to the Son is closer to the Father’s favor.
And can we dispense with the Western obsession about “going to Heaven when you die”? The language and image are not in Scripture. All we can know about that is the Lord decides and we who are the Elect can know about it through our convictions, but that the question is largely ineffable to the human intellect. The whole focus of the New Testament is not on winning your place in Heaven, but in seeking peace with the Creator who rules Creation. Get to know Him. This Fallen Realm is where we are right now, and the whole thing about “Heaven” is just a figure of speech for the Spirit Realm. The term “Hell” is the English equivalent to being under Satan’s dominion as someone in custody. Visions of an eternal flaming punishment are associated with some final change in all things when this realm of existence ends. At that point, Satan will be placed in his own prison, as it were, an entirely different kind of “place.” It’s not enough that we take literally Christ’s parable using the Hinnom Valley where rubbish was burned, but we miss the whole point by imposing a Western mythology that smothers the meaning Christ gave it.
The Fallen Realm is under Satan’s custody, but if you start taking everything literally and legalistically, you’re going to miss the point every time. There isn’t some war over your eternal soul between Christ and Satan. You are Satan’s by default because you are born in his custody. You have to find out how to gain the Sheikh’s favor and with it a pardon and release. It’s not a question of “earning” your way out, but the Western imagery has infested Christian thinking despite words to the contrary. It has nothing to do with satisfying a sentence, a legal debt as we think of it. Whatever we might imagine as legal proceedings in the Divine Court follow ANE protocols and customs, not Western Anglo-Saxon legal traditions. Even the ANE concept of mercy is radically different than ours. But the biggest problem is how we restrict the implications of this whole thing to this realm of existence by instinct, even as we completely fail to understand the nature of this realm.
We can gain a pardon that is partially realized through samples of familial authority here, but the full realization comes after we leave here — we have to die. We can know we are going to leave here for something far better, and do what we can to explain to others how they can win their own release. Creation is not fallen; we are. We can surely delight in all the things God made, visible through the lens of His moral perspective awakened in our hearts. But this is no longer the home of our souls; we are just visiting the other souls in prison before our final departure.
Or, we can remain more like mere slaves owned by Our Sheikh who have no familial expectations. In that ancient social structure, the Western “free man” is most associated with criminals who have no allegiance to anyone, and certainly not eligible for favorable treatment as the Sheikh’s kin. Nobody in their right mind wants any part of that “free man” stuff because everyone serves someone, wittingly or not. If you aren’t a feudal servant of God, a family member in effect, you are a slave and you are consigned to Satan’s dominion. All slaves are there, and everyone in this realm remains in some ways attached to those limitations by virtue of living in this realm. The Fallen Realm is under Satan’s titular control for now. When it is finally redeemed, it will be nothing like this, so far as our intellect can discern things.
And our fallen nature, with the intellect, belongs in the prison. That nature knows it belongs to Satan. It’s not like a good family kinship, but more like an addiction, because that’s the essence of Satan’s power over us. It’s not just sin to which we are addicted, but it’s the condemnation — AKA guilt, shame and remorse — to which we are addicted, as well. It holds us. In the Old Testament, addiction was portrayed as idolatry. In fundamental moral terms, they are the same — a confining, constricting false mindset that blinds us to reality. In creating a universal conscious assumption that lines up with condemnation and keeps us from grasping any part of the world God made for us, we remain addicted to the brutal existence of Satan’s minions. Western culture as a whole is very nearly a perfect reflection of that false sense of condemnation that chains you to your sins.
This was not some evil plot slipped past God in the night. This was a plan submitted to God and implemented by His permission. That’s because it does not interfere with God doing what He does. It makes one hellish barrier for us to cross in our escape, but it remains within the limits of what God in us can do if we seek Him. So long as our minds remain dominated by the barbaric Anglo-Saxon system of justice, wherein one is always in a state of fear, we are never far from moral panic because we imagine our Father in terms of the grouchy old Norse deities. While any real image of God includes an element of mystery that makes some of His actions seem to our human sensibilities as capricious, we know it is always for our good. Our real problem is realizing that the Father’s whims are in our best interest for the simple reason that they are in His best interest. We must learn to embrace what He wants, because that’s what He gives. With the grouchy Norse bastard-god you can’t be so sure of that. Catch him in a bad mood when he isn’t drunk and he’ll turn on his own blood kin with murderous torment and death.
Our Divine Sheikh is nothing like that Norse deity. But as long as you cling to those false Western assumptions about reality, your gut instinct makes you act as if God is like that Norse grouch. And a signal manifestation of that is a sense of condemnation for things over which you have no real power. It’s as if that Norse god is playing games with us for his own amusement. He already planned to trash us, but wants us to hope and plays with us until he gets tired of it. That’s what our subconscious Western mind thinks of God. It’s a prison in itself. The deliverance includes leaving behind that false perception of God and getting to know Him via His revelation of the ANE feudal world. That’s in the gospel message, but Westerners can’t see it. Western minds see the false god Satan has burned into their thinking.
It’s the false sense of condemnation that keeps us from our inheritance, however much of it is available to us here. It’s not a question of more or less than what you might expect, but that inheritance is of a different quality than most Westerners can grasp without some help. It does require that you move the focus of your conscious awareness from your head to your heart. The “brain” built into your heart is the only part of you where God speaks. With the heart we commit to the Father’s compassion for His family, and commit to His agenda in Creation. The heart is the only “intelligence” capable of making sense of the moral fabric of Creation, the very character of God Himself. It’s up to your intellect to learn how to obey and make sense of what the heart knows.
This is how false condemnation dies. This is how you enter the Land of Penitence.