Monday, 30 August 2021
But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:27
The previous verse referred to bringing the glory and the honor of the nation into New Jerusalem. The words now speak of exactly the opposite, meaning that which can never enter. John begins with, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles.” The words “that defiles” are an adjective signifying “common.” The same expression was used in Acts 10 when Peter was taught a lesson concerning those who are sanctified by God, even the Gentiles –
“The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’
14 But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.” Acts 10:9-16
The idea being conveyed in these words from Acts is that those of the nations are cleansed by God through faith in Christ. They are no longer common or unclean. Because of Christ, they may enter into New Jerusalem. But that which remains common may not. John continues with the words “or causes an abomination or a lie.”
The verb is a present participle and is rightly translated as, “or is causing.” It is an ongoing thing. The word translated as “abomination” is used for the last time in Scripture now. It is derived from a root meaning “to reek with stench.” Thus, it is that which emits a foul odor and is abhorrent and abominable. It was used when referring to Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17:5.
The word translated as “lie” signifies that which is false. To not follow Christ is, by default, to pursue that which is false. There is no other acceptable option for man to pursue. One can come to God through Christ, who is the Truth, or he follows a falsity. Such as have not come through Him are, by their very nature, abominable, and they follow that which is false.
John then explains this by saying, “but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” To be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is to have come to God through His offering of peace, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and who is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
It is the sacrificial aspect of the Lord that restores fallen man to a right and propitious relationship with God. Nothing else can do so, and when a person is so cleansed, it is an act of Christ, and it is considered an eternal decree of God that he is so cleansed. Thank God for Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God!
Life application: This is the last verse of chapter 21, and it reminds the readers of the fallen state of mankind apart from Christ. There shall be many excluded from the glory to come.
To understand things that make a person unclean, take time to read through the Law of Moses. There you will find the Ten Commandments, but there are also a host of other laws that Israel was obligated to. The general reckoning is that there were six hundred and thirteen laws. Anyone who doesn’t meet every one of these standards perfectly violates the law because, as James notes, “…whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in on point, he is guilty of all.”
To be guilty before the law, or to not bear the perfection of Christ who fulfilled the law, means the soul will be excluded from New Jerusalem. So, who then can be saved? No one apart from Jesus! He summed up His first advent with these words –
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18
For those under the law, it had to be adhered to exactingly. But Jesus came to fulfill the law which we could never fulfill. And He did so. In His fulfilling of it, He then offered His life as a Substitute for the sins of mankind. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that we are cleansed from defilement.
A second category John referred to is anyone who causes an abomination or a lie. A good example of what God finds abominable is found in Luke 16:14, 15 where the same word translated as “abomination” is used –
“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’”
The sin of idolatry is abominable because it puts something in our hearts that is a part of creation above the Creator. Idolatry, pride, etc. are reprehensible to God because they demonstrate our priorities are not directed toward Him, but He must always be first. The lie, or that which is false, is included here because without truth there is no basis for a relationship with others. Following falsity is to reject the truth. But in God, there is only truth.
There is good news to end the chapter though. One category of humans will be granted access into the paradise that God is preparing for man. It is those who have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. For man, it is impossible to meet the standards God has laid out. But what is impossible for man, God accomplished by coming in the form of a Man and living the life that we cannot live. Jesus is the One who met all of God’s standards perfectly, and Jesus is the One who became our Substitute after doing so.
Now, by faith in what He has done, we move from fallen Adam to the risen Christ. We move from death to life. We move from condemnation to salvation. How can we not praise the Lord who has done such great and marvelous deeds for His creatures? Hallelujah and Amen! Thank God for JESUS!
Lord God Almighty, though we have erred and strayed and done that which separates us from You, instead of destroying us, You have had compassion on us and sent Jesus. Thank You, O God for the marvelous work that You have wrought on our behalf. All glory to You, O God. Amen!